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. 245 be so shamefully foiled by a servant-maid, so' as to deny my Saviour,"_But to such persons it may be justly answered, “Thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee.'

Whoever argues in this manner little knows his own heart ; and his strength, in the hour of temptation, will be little answerable to the fond opinion he conceives of it.

4. Peter's crime is still daily committed among Christians. Did Peter break his protestation, that he was ready to go to prison and to death with the Lord Jesus? We have daily instances of many thousands, who in their baptism, or on a sick bed, have vowed to give up their lives entirely to the service of Christ, but afterwards break such pious resolutions and vows. Did Peter deny his Lord and Master? Alas! what is more common than for those who profess him with the mouth, to deny him in their actions? Does not the ambitious man deny his Saviour whose humility was so conspicuous ? Does not the glutton, the drunkard, and the lacivious, deny the sober, the chaste, and temperate Jesus? Does not the revengeful and passionate man deny the meek, the mild, and forgiving Jesus? And though all these may make their boast of Christ, and call themselves by his sacrel name, yet in reality they say, 'I know not the man.' Was Peter by his pusillanimity and fear of man prevailed upon to tell a lie? What is more common among Christians, than to make use of expressions contrary to the purity of truth? And if Peter, by the extreme danger of his life, was prompted to grievous sins, and surprised by the rapidity of sudden and repeated temptations; many commit the very same sin only for the sake of a fleeting pleasure, or petty advantage; so that if he sunk in à violent hurricane, others are overset by a gentle breeze. What little cause have we therefore to reproach Peter, and think ourselves superior to him! On the contrary, it better becomes us to humble ourselves before God, and supplicate for his grace, who again received him into favour,

THE PRAYER.

OMNISCIENT and ever-living God, who knowest our hearts better than we do ourselves, and thy sacred Word, hast given a clear testimony of this truth ! keep us, we beseech thee, from an overweening opinion of our own strength and sufficiency. May we every moment learn to depend on thee, and to implore thy Almighty aid to secure us from falling into the snares of temptation. Grant, O Lord, that by the

. example of Peter, and his grievous fall, we may be more cautious, and shun all opportunities that may lead us into sin; and that when we are unhappily fallen, we may fly to thy mercy to raise up again, for the sake of thy beloved Son Jesus Christ, our Medi. ator and Advocate. Amen.

CONSIDERATION VI.

THE RECOVERY OF PETER AFTER HIS FALL.

· AND immediately, while Peter yet spake, the cock crew the second time. And the Lord turned, and looked on Peter: And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.” (Mat. xxvi. 74, 75. Mark xiv. 72. Luke xxii. 60, 61, 62. John xviii. 27.)

We have hitherto considered Peter's threefold heinous fall, who had extremely wounded his conscience by denying his Master three times succes. sively, and at last confirmed his denial by oaths and imprecations. At present, we shall turn our thoughts

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to Peter's recovery from this grievous fall, or rather consider how he was again raised up by his Lord and Saviour. His fall proceeded from his own weakness; but to raise again was beyond his ability.-Here we shall take notice,

First, Of the means by which he was awakened to repentance.

Secondly, We shall consider the signs and fruits of his sincere repentance.

I. As to the means by which he was awakened to repentance, some were external, and others internal. The external were the crowing of the cock, and the piercing look of the Lord Jesus.

As to the former it is said, “And immediately, while he was yet speaking, the cock crew the second time.' When Peter had denied his master the first time, he likewise heard the first crowing of the cock. (Mark xiv. 62.) But his mind was at that time so seized with apprehensions of the danger he was in, that it made no impression on it. His conscience was lulled in so profound a lethargy, that it was not awakened by the first crowing of this wakeful bird. But the second crowing of the cock sunk deeply into his heart. He had, as St. Matthew and St. Mark relate this transaction, already began to curse, and to aver with the most terrible imprecations on his own soul, that he was not a disciple of Christ. But the cock by his crowing interrupted him in his impious career. While he was yet speaking, the cock crew;' upon which, Peter was immediately struck dumb, put an end to his oaths and imprecations, and now entirely bent his thoughts on getting away from this dangerous place. Had he attended to the first crowing of the cock, and called to mind the words of the Lord Jesus, his fall would not have been so great; and he would not have proceeded from lying to swearing, and from oaths to imprecations. But the consequence of paying no regard to God's first warning is, that a man sinks deeper into sin, and becomes more entangled in the snares of satan.

The other external cause of Peter's repentance was à significant and penetrating look from the blessed Jesus: “ The Lord turned about, and looked on Pe. ter.' The crowing of the cock was not sufficient to bring him to a sense of his baseness; but it was immediately followed by a look from Jesus, which penetrated into hisinmost soul, and awakened his lethargic conscience.

But what imagination is capable of forming an idea of this look of the Son of God, who was the express image of his Father? Though an affectionate and benign, and at the same a majestic, sweetness beamed forth from the eyes of the Lord Jesus at other times; yet there was something extraordinary in this piercing look, which had such a wonderful effect on Peter's heart. What strong emotions did the blessed Jesus express in this look! A compassionate love mixed with grief, and an ardent desire of reclaiming his disciple, shot from the eyes of the Son of God; and in this look, an effulgent beam of divine grace darted into Peter's benighted soul. Though we do not read that our Saviour, when he looked at Peter, spoke a single word to him, yet Peter saw a multitude of ideas in this expressive look ; and, with the utmost confusion, experienced in it his master's unalterable affection to him, notwithstanding his infamous perfidy to his Lord and Saviour. This look of his master, as it were, thus addressed him, “O Simon, Simon! art thou a stranger to this well-known face? How have I deserved this base ingratitude at thy hands, which penetrates and grieves my very soul? Is it not enough, that the traitor Judas has betrayed me? And must I also be so shamefully denied by thee? Where are thy mighty promises, and boasted resolution of going to prison and to death with me? Alas! how soon hast thou forgot all my former kindness, and thy sanguine

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protestations !” These, or words of the like import, though he did not hear them with his ears, were loudly proclaimed to him by his conscience, which was now roused and awakened by his master's piercing look:

These two external means produced an internal motive of repentance; which was the recollection of our Saviour's words, by which he had forewarned Peter of this grievous fall. When the cock had awakened his conscience, and an expressive look from Christ had enlightened it, and delivered him from the power of darkness ; his memory presented to him, in large and legible characters, these words of his Lord and master, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice.' With these words, it doubtless occurred to his mind, how injuriously and basely he had then behaved towards the Lord Jesus; how arrogantly he had set himself above all the other disciples, and what mighty things he had promised, relying on his own strength, yet without making good the very least of his protestations. What a flood of anguish and sorrow must have overwhelmed his soul, at the recollection of the words of Christ? It is not to be doubted, that the Spirit of grace, at the same time, did not fail to put him in mind of some other consolatory words of Christ; namely, that he was his Mediator and intercessor, and had prayed for him, that his faith might not fail. These and other com- . fortable words to the same purpose, were, indeed, the only solace, by which Peter must have been supported under his inexpressible trouble on this occasion, otherwise he had probably sunk into such a dejection of mind, which, like that of Judas, might have plunged him in the abyss of despair ; though there was a wide difference between Peter's fall and the perfidy of Judas. For if Judas did not swear and curse so profanely as Peter; yet he committed the horrid crime of betraying and delivering up his mas

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VOL. I

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