Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

light streaming upon the lands on the other side, this truth shows us the Divine power which made the worlds standing by our side and waiting to be our helper. It shows us how by faith and prayer we may draw it to ourselves, draw it into our very hearts, make it our own, and with it beat these mountains to dust, sweeping them out of our way, and going forth into the laughing sunshine all the stronger for the strength we had spent. “There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth.” To expend this kind of power in this way is most surely to augment it. To lay out God-given strength in subdning our sins and doing the duties that are nearest, is to hoard in strength, and to lay it up securely in our souls with the light of a clearer wisdom and the fire of a holier courage in it for the next conflict. Take heart, my brother! If thy temptations are greater than thy forefathers', thou shalt have greater strength than they from thy God. “Thy shoes shall be iron and brass, and as the days thy strength shall be.”

In an age like this, when it is so difficult to snatch leisure from the overcrowding of business and other occupations, we should learn to use well such leisure as we have. The quiet home and the quiet Sunday are invested with a greater value than heretofore, by the greater activity and restlessness surging around them in this generation. They seem to me to be set over against the characteristic temptations of our time. Standing apart from the fierce rush of business and pleasure, like Divinely built sanctuaries, they invite those who bave been buffeted and worn down in the great world without, to enter into them to rest ambile, and in quietness to renew their strength. Let business men value them. Keep your love of father and mother, and brother and sister, and kin, pure and strong within you. Never allow your love of the little child to lose any of its freshness or beauty. In an after day of temptation, out there in the great world, those beautiful home loves, though counting for nothing on the ledger, may be the guardian angels standing between you and some deadly sin. book forward to the Sunday as a day for laying hold upon God's strength. bemember the Sunday and its ministers in your week-day prayers, and the Sunday will help you in your week-day toils and conflicts. Drink into the spirit of the Bible. Go forth into the world with a pure herrt, keeping in the straight Faths of duty, and you are as safe, and in your measure as much with God, when E contact with those crowds of sinful men, ag Aaron when alone in the Holy of Holies, or John in the Isle of Patmos. “To the pure all things are pure;” and because thus pure-safe.

Abingdon.

PETER'S DENIAL OF CHRIST.

BY THE REV. J. P. BARNETT. dr was by a somewhat severe disciplinestitutional enthusiasm rushed into extravabat Peter was finally fitted to become the gant developments, and became a dangerous Miltent servant of Christ which the Chris- | infirmity; which, however, even at the

history represents him to have been. worst, was but the infirmity of a great and Bere were elements in his natural character noble soul, with an eagerness which forbade ich required extensive modification ere steady thought and calm self-examination,

was fully eligible for the apostolic re as its most serious vice. He was intensely Consibilities which he received t the honest in his ardour ; but that ardour was Sinds of his Master, and which he faith not invariably regulated by the sobrieties of 5 sustained through many trying years. an enlightened judgment, and was therewas too prompt, too ardent, too impul- fore sometimes open to influences by which

and consequently too self-sufficient. | it might be too readily perverted. was just the man to go grievously wrong It is necessary to bear these considerakuid not go gloriously right. His con- ' tions in mind in judging of the flagrant sin

which Peter committed when he profanely and violently denied his Lord.

He fell into this great sin in the face of repeated warnings. Let ihe chief of these be noted.

On one occasion Jesus held a long conversation in tho synagogue at Capernaum with the spectators of his miracle of the ft eding of the five thousand, who had followed him thither, "not because they saw the miracle, but because tbey did eat of the loaves and were filled." In this conversation Jesus proclaimed himself as " the living bread which came down from heaven." This teaching was too spiritual for the taste of those to whom it was addressed, and " many of them went back, and walked no more with him." How natural that Jesus, under such circumstances, should turn to the twelve, saying, " Will ye also go away?" They had been with him from the first; they had witnessed his miracles; they had listened to his discourses; they had borne his reproofs; they had accepted his leadership; they had endorsed his teachings; they had shared his perils and privations—would they now follow the example of the rest, cease to be his disciples, throw up their apostleship, turn a deaf ear to his instructions, and abandon all the high spiritual benefits which their continued uuion with him could not fail to secure to them? "Will ye also go away?"

The question, though lovingly and pathetically spoken, was a searching one. One man, however, among the twelve was ready with a reply both for himself and his brethren. That man was Peter. "Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God." What other reply was possible? Had they not by this time been trained to "a higher life "? Had they not gone too far to recede? They could not return to John the Baptist, for he had already fallen a victim to the cruelty and the cowardice of Herod, and would certainly, had he been living, have sent them back to Christ. As to committing themselves again to their old Babbis, the very thought of such a fate was unendurable. Besides, why should they wish to go away ?" Thou hast the words of eternal life." Yes, they subscribed to what he had just said: "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life." Tho language which offended so many was the language in which their hearts rejoiced. Yea, more.

Jesus had said, "As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father, Bo he that eateth me shall live by me." Peter was prompt in responding to this as well as to the former. "We believe and are i euro that tbou art that Christ, the Son of the living God." He had before avowed his faith in Christ's words as the medium of the spiritual life: he now avows hi; faith in Christ himself as tho source and substance of that life.

The question, "Will ye also go away?" was intended to test the fidelity of the disciples. Many unworthy ones wore gone: would those who remained prove similarly unworthy? The ready repudiation volunteered by Peter was immediately followed by the application of the test in a more pointed form: "Have I not chosen Too twelve, and one of you is a devil?" Ah, little did Peter imagine, when he fo promptly assumed the responsibility of representing his brethren in this noble confession, that thero were two of those brethren of whom those words ought to have been spoken more cautiously, and that he himself was one of the two! Little did he think that one of them would go down to to lowermost depths of meanness, and betray his Master with a kiss into the hands.of his enemies for thirty pieces of silver! And little did he think that there was another, and that other even himself, who, when the cause of Christ should come to look like a failing cause, would, from the sheer predominance of terror, disavow all knowledge of, and all connection with, the glorious Victim, and deal out oaths and curses to make the people the more readily believe him! Yet so it was! There is no snare more subtle and more fatal than presumption. You who are nearest to Christ; you who know him best and love him most; you who are most prompt and ardent in his service; you who are ready, as you fondly imagine, to leave all, to brave all, and to bear all, that you may show yourselves to be his to the last,—remember that you must distrust your own hearts, and evermore rest in Him who alone can make your life that which, in your best and happiest moments, you wish it to be. Yon cannot tell what there is in your nature to which the temptation to forsake Christ may appeal. Warm as may be your zeal, if you are indulging in any self-confidence, the time for demonstrating the folly of such indulgence may unexpectedly come, to the disgrace of your character and to the peril of your soul. Judas did not accept the warning here so solemnly presented by Christ. Probably he thought himself the hit of the company to be described by the words, ■ One of you hath a devil." Peter did not accept it; for he was as self-sufficient afterwards as before. "Let him that thinketh be standeth take heed lest he fall."

And now a year or more has passed. Circumstances are closing in upon the Muter. His enemies are thirsting for his blood. To the dieciples everything wears M aspect of gloom. There is a feeling of uneasiness among them, for the final tragedy is approaching. Jesus enters into »house with his friends to eat the passorer. He tells them that ft is the last time. He converts the feast into an occa»ion for instituting an ordinance which shall help to fix him perpetually in their remembrance. He talks to them tenderly and graciously. At length he once more sldresses them in the voice of warning. Speaking to ail, but with special emphasis to Peter, he says, " Simon, Simon, behold S«sn hath desired to have you, that TM mayfift you as wheat." Jesus wished I'tter to be cognizant of his great weakness, aud gently to suggest that the vory "dour and enthusiasm in which he was priding himself, and whioh he had fed •ad flittered into a frightful presumption, was the avenue through which the enemy *ould gain the surest and easiest s«cn to his soul. The testing-time "as at hand; Bna in the tragedies which »ere about to take place, the man of a temperament like his would be in danger of losing his integrity, and of falling headlong "to grievous 9in. The warning was administered faithfully; yet not Bo as either toirritate or to dishearten. "Satan hath *e^ni" this. The language was calculated to remind the poor disciple that Jesus was ■'preserver, to make him forget himself, TM to tarn his heart to a full trust in his j*Kl. "I have prayed for thee, that thy aith fail not: and when thou art oonverted, "tangthtn thy brethren." kWhat more "nphatie intimation could he receive of his

,'M opposed to his false, security?

What was the effect? Surely Peter is J°» a humbled, though by no means a "sponding man! Surely his presumption 3J? »U melted away beneath the warmth of T" gentle and generous warning! Surely '<« man will fall at the feet of his Master, ladcry, "Without thee I can do nothing! 1*1 thou me up, and I shall be safe!"

No .- the man was the victim of a strange infatuation; and, apparently as if he had accepted the words which Christ had spoken to keep him from despair as words meant to buoy him up in his own strength, he exclaimed, "Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison and to death." Poor Peter! he did not know his own heart, and it was only by stern and terrible experiences that he could be taught to know it. Those experiences were at hand; and the secret was at length frankly disclosed to him. "I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowost me." If Peter received this intimation with incredulous surprise, let us not blame him; knowing, as we do, that men are far more apt to deceive themselves thau to be deceived by others, and that none of us would be less incredulous than he if we were told how much of depravity tnere is in our hearts, and what fearful sins that depravity will assuredly lead us to commit, unless we are restrained and protected by Him w!m says, "My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness." And now the crisis has arrived. Jesus is led away to the high priest's house. His disciples have given way to the terror of the hour, and most of them have fled. John, however, is known to the high priest, and goes in with Jesus. Peter has not this privilege; but his heart is full of anxiety, and he advances as near to what is taking place as possible. He finds his way into the palace, and stands at the door of the apartment where the examination is being conducted. ,What melancholy forebodings, what heavy griefs, must have weighed down his spirit at that moment! Through John's interposition he is at last admitted. To go in must have demanded great courage; for not only had he to incur the malignant contempt which the enemies of Jesus felt for all his disciplos, but lie would be the object of a special hatred by reason of the rash and foolish employment of the sword of which he had just before been guilty. To enter into that judgment-hall was to be noticed, to be singled out, to be questioned, to,be taunted, to become a target for deadly jokes and gibes. It was virtually to share the virulent persecution which Jesus himself was suffering. But he went. How could he do otherwise—the man whoso love was so ardent, and whose professions had been so high? His heart would not let him remain

away. He wanted to be there, to «ee all, to hear all, and to be ready with his testimony should that be needed. He went; and there was the spectacle! his Master in the hands of his enemies clamouring for his blood! That mas the trying moment! Peter's courage gave way: he saw nothing but failure, defeat, ignominy! What good can be done now? It is a hopeless case! The feeling of despair overmasters every other feeling in his soul. He is challenged: "Art not thou also one of this man's disciples?" "I am not!" Doleful words! The die is cast. He is now committed to falsehood; and, as always Bo again, one lie necessitates another. "Art not thou one of his disciples?" "Man, I am not!" "Surely thou art one of them. Did I not see thee in the garden with him? Besides, thou art a Galilean: thy speech betrayeth thee." But he began to curse and to swear, saying, "I know not the man "! Who could have believed it? This was the disciple who could dare 6o much and endure so much; his faith and courage shattered in a moment, and his soul wrought up to a very paroxysm of profanity and falsehood!

The cock crew; and "the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had Baid unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.''

Let us not reproach this man. He did a foul wrong; but he showed a beautiful penitence, and proved that he had a noble heart underneath those strong passions whioh were so often his bane. Jesus did not reproach him. That look was not a look of anger: it was rather a look of love, which gushed forth upon his soul, and restored its balance; a look which said, "Poor Peter!"

"When thy deathly need is obdurest,
Thou shall not be denied, aslnm here.
My Toice to God and angels shall attest,
Because I kyiow this mem, let him be clear."

Let us not reproach him, especially as perhaps we often perpetrate a similar sin in essence, without thinking that we are sinning at all, and therefore without repenting. We h've in false times. We are willing to follow Jesus as long and as far as it is respectable to do so; but I fear that many among us would deoline to follow him to the high priest's house, to the bar of Pilate, to the cross, through evil report as well as through good report.

We should be too likely to forsake him in the hour of his trial. Were the crisis to come to us as it came to Peter, I am afraid that some of us would be no firmer than he. We might not curse and swear, for that is nowadays a sin against good breeding, a fact which would weigh against it with many muoh more seriously than the fact that it is a sin against God. But should we all be too honest and too faithful to say in effect, "I know not the man "? Let us not imagine that because we deny the Lord in a less boisterous and ostentatious way than Peter did, we therefore grieve him less, or less dishonour ourselves. The temptations in our case to swerve are feeble in the extreme as compared with, those which swept with such desolating fury over his soul.

"He went out, and wept bitterly." That solitude, and the tears which graced it, did him good. In it his spirit underwent the chastening which it needed. How exhilarating it is to see him once more strong enough to meet, his brethren, to stand beneath the cross, to go to his Master's grave, and to take his place in the new economy a wiser and truer man, well fitted now for the apostleship with aU its toils and dangers! How pleasant to hear him, after the resurrection, when asked for the third time, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?" answer for the third time, "Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee"! How gladdening to think of him ag going on with his glorious work, a true and mighty preacher of the good news of God to the world, undeterred by peril, firm in persecution, and consenting finally to follow his Master through the ignominy and agony of the cross.

Whatever superiority Peter had as u Christian and as an apostle was drawn from Christ. In a true humility and an honourable gratitude, he might have looked up to the throne of the ascended Redeemer from the cross on which he died, and said, "Thy gentleness, O my Master, hath made me great!" Jesus in his glory is a 3 gentle as he was in his humiliation. Jv you think of him as dwelling in heaven in a stiff, stately authority? No! he doe? not forget the troubled, struggling world whose soil he once trod, whose air he one breathed, and whose sorrows he once carried in his capacious heart! Let fch.9 gentleness of Jesus make us great also. Let us keep near to him, so that we mar

catch the sweetness of his eye, the music of his voice, the zephyrs of his love, the inspirations of his grace. For then shall Birmingham.

we know the blessedness of those who "follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth."

ABEAHAM'S TRIAL.

BY THE LATE BET. JAMES SMITH.

Geeat men and good men have always been tried men; and generally the greater the grace, and the more elevated the station, the greater the trial. We sometimes overlook this when we long to be exalted and employed in public. Little men make much and talk much of little trials; but great men, very gracious men, suffer in silence, and hide their sorrows from others. How much we read of the trials of the Lord's people in his word, the tests they were put to, the crosses they had to carry, the faith they exercised, the courage they displayed, and the patience they manifested. How honourably Paul speaks of Abraham: "By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, That in, Isaac shall thy seed be called" (Heb. xi. 17, 18).

Abbaham's Teial. "God did tempt Abraham," we read. To tempt here is to try, to examine, to prove if genuine, if strong. The nature of some things has to be proved, and the strength of others, because there are counterfeits. There is counterfeit grace, and weak grace. God, therefore, tries grace, and proves it to be genuine; he tries it also that we may know its strength. God had promised Abraham a son: he had waited long, he had received the son promised, and that son was the joy of his heart and the sunshine of his house. He was now near to manhood, a fine, healthy, lovely lad, enthroned in his mother's heart, and the stay of his father's old age. God now requires that son to be given up, to be given up in sacrifice, to be sacrificed by his father's own hand. Think of sacrificing a son, an only Bon, a son such as Isaac was! Yet' Abraham was required to take him from his home, travel with him three days, and at the end of that time offer him in sacrifice on the top of the mountain pointed out. This was a trial, and the command seems to have come upon him suddenly, and when it was not at all expected; perhaps just after the father and son had been enjoying each other's company and conversation in a particular way. How mysterious often are the ways of God! How frequently the command is given, or the sacrifice required, without any reason being assigned. Abraham was thus tried. Now observe—

His Honourable Conduct. "He offered up Isaac." He offered him up as required. He offered him up where he was directed. He offered him up without questioning, or asking the reason why; without interceding that his Isaac might be spared; without praying to be spared the trial. He seems to have obeyed the command readily, without hesitation or delay; calmly, without excitement or confusion; religiously, from a right motive, and that God might be glorified; consistently, with his profession, character, and high standing as the friend of God. How much der/ends on the spirit in which we present our sacrifices! How frequently all is spoiled by the motive from which, or the manner in which, we present our offerings to God! How much more ready are we to receive from God than we are to return anything to God! We laugh when he gives us our Isaacs, but we weep when he requires us to return them to him; whereas we should be as willing to surrender as to receive. Notice now—

The Principle Of Action. "By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered

« AnteriorContinuar »