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And if the family of Jesus Christ is "named on earth," it is more especially named in heaThere it exists, there it shines in all its lustre. But who are the members of this family of Jesus Christ? They are "the redeemed out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation." They are the ambassadors of the gospel, who have "turned many unto righteousness; they shine as the brightness of the firmament, and as stars" of the first magnitude. They are martyrs, come up out of great tribulation, they are "clothed in white robes, which they have washed in the blood of the Lamb." They are all saints, who having fought under his banner, participate the laurels of his victory. They are angels who excel in strength, and obey his voice. They are winged cherubim, who fly at his command. They are seraphim burning with his love. They are the thousand millions which serve him, and ten thousand millions which stand before him. They are the "great multitude, whose voice is in the sound of many waters," and whose obedience to God is crowned with glory; but they cast their crowns before the throne, and cry continually, "Hallelujah-let us be glad and rejoice, and give glory unto him."
Such is the spiritual family of Jesus Christ, and such is the Christian family. Many of its members lie scattered in different parts of the earth, but the part which is most numerous, excellent, and consummate in virtue, is in heaven. What a consolation! But language is too weak! What a consolation to the believer, against whom old age, infirmities, and sickness have pronounced the sentence of death! What a consolation to say "My family is in heaven; a gulf separates me, but it is not like the gulf which separates the damned from the glorified spirits, of which Abraham said to the rich man," between us and you there is a great gulf fixed." It is a gulf whose darkness is enlightened by faith, whose horrors are assuaged by hope; it is a gulf through which we are cheered and animated by the voice of Christ;a gulf from which one final struggle shall instantly make us free.
This idea of death, and of the felicity which follows, is extremely delightful; and I do most sincerely believe it; at least I have never yet met with a thought, which could dissuade me from thinking that the glorified saints shall enjoy, in heaven, the society of those with whom they have been so intimately connected on earth. But how real and pleasing soever this thought may be, it is, my dear brethren, far too contracted. Let us form more exalted notions of the happiness God has prepared for us. Our family is in heaven, but not exclusively composed of the small circle of friends of whom we have been deprived by death. Recollect what we have just said. Our family is composed of the redeemed "out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation:"of the ambassadors of the gospel, “who have turned many to righteousness, who shine as the brightness of the firmament, and as the stars for ever and ever:"-of martyrs, "who came up out of great tribulation, who have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." Our family is composed of those illustrious saints, who have fought under the banner of Christ, and they now sit down on his throne. Farther, our family is composed of those angels that excel in strength, and obey the voice of God:"-of those cherubim which fly at his command. Our family is composed of those thousand, thousand millions, and ten thousand millions which stand before him, and cast their crowns before the throne of Him who conferred the dignity upon them, crying continually, “Hallelujah, let us be glad and rejoice, and give glory unto him!" Jesus Christ is the first-born of this household; God, who is all and in all, is head of the whole: these are the beings to whom we are about to be united by death.
What a powerful consolation against the fear of death! What an abundant remuneration of delight, for the privation of persons, whose memory is so dear! O my friends, my children, and all of you, who have during my abode on earth, been the objects of my tenderest and most ardent attachment;-you, who after having contributed to my happiness during life, come again and surround my dying bed, receive the final tests of an attachment, which should never be less suspected than in these last moments;-collect the tears, which the pain of parting induces me to shed;-see, in the anguish of my last farewell, all that my heart has felt for you.
But do not detain me any longer upon earth; suffer me at the moment when I feel my loss, to estimate my gain; allow me to fix my regards on those ever-during connexions I am about to form;-on the angels who are going to convey my soul to the bosom of God;-on the innumerable multitudes of the blessed, among whom I am going to reside, and with whose voices I am going to join in everlasting praises to my God and Saviour.
Death is sometimes represented to me under an idea happily calculated to assuage its anguish. There is not one of you, who has attained maturity of age, but has frequently seen those persons snatched away by death, who constituted the greatest happiness of your life. This is inevitably the lot of those to whom God accords, the precious shall I say? or the sad privilege of running the race of life. They live, but they see those daily taken away, whose company attached them to life. I look on death as reuniting me to those persons, whose loss had occasioned me so many tears during my pilgrimage. I represent myself as arriving in heaven and seeing this friend running to meet me, to whom my soul was united as the soul of David to Jonathan. I imagine myself as presented to those ancestors, whose memory is so revered, and whose example is so worthy of imitation. I represent those children as coming before me, whose death affected me with a bitter anguish which continued all myciety, and participating the same felicity. May days: with those innocent creatures I see my heaven hear my prayer! To God be honour and self surrounded; whom God, to promote their glory for ever. Amen. happiness, resumed by an early death.
Among the transports excited by objects so elating, if any wish yet remain, it is to see you speedily associated with me, in the same so
tation. We shall see, secondly, Jesus Christ
ST. PETER'S DENIAL OF HIS MASTER. covering from his fall: and replying, by his
MATT. XXVI. 69, &c. LUKE xxii. 61, &c. Now Peter sat without in the palace; and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest. And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth. And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man. And after a while came unto him them that stood by, and said to Peter, surely thou also art one of them, for thy speech betrayeth thee. Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And im-tance of a day, an hour, a moment. And if mediately while he yet spake, the cock crew. it is awful to approach a death, obvious (so to And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter; speak) to our view, how much more awful, and Peter remembered the word of the Lord, when that death is surrounded with tortures, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, with racks, with pincers, with caldrons of boilthou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went ing oil, and all those instruments invented by out, and wept bitterly. superstitious zeal and ingenious malice. If, however, there ever were occasions to deplore the weakness of man, it is on account of the fears excited by the idea of martyrdom. Follow us then while we illustrate this assertion.
The object which excited his fear, was martyrdom. Let us not magnify the standard of moral ideas. The fear of martyrdom is inseparable from human weakness. The most desperate diseases afford some fluctuating hopes of recovery; which diminish the fears of death. It is an awful thing for a man to see the period of his death precisely fixed, and within the dis
Ir is laudable, my brethren, to form noble designs, to be immovable at the presence of danger, and to cherish dignity of sentiment and thought. This virtue distinguishes the heroes of our age; it equally distinguishes the heroes of religion and piety. They defy the whole universe to shake their faith; amid the greatest dangers, they adopt this language of triumph: "What shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors, through him that hath loved us," Rom. viii. 34, 35.
But how laudable soever this disposition may be, it ought to be restricted; it degenerates into presumption when carried to extremes. Many, by not knowing how to proportion their strength to their courage, have fallen in the day of trial, and realized the very maxim, "They that love the danger, shall perish by the danger." This is exemplified in the person of St. Peter. His heart, glowing with attachment to his Master, every thing was promised from his zeal. Seeing Jesus on the waters, he solicited permission to walk like the Saviour; but feeling his feet sink beneath the surface of the unstable element, he distrusted either the power or the fidelity of his Master; and unless he had been supported by his compassionate arms, he had made shipwreck, to express myself with St. Paul, both of his faith and his life together. Seeing Jesus led away to the high-priest's house, he followed without hesitation, and resolved to follow even to the cross. Here, likewise, on seeing the Jews irritated, the soldiers armed, and a thousand terrific appearances of death, he saved his life by a base denial; and, unless his wavering faith had been restored by a look from his Lord, the bonds of union had been totally dissolved.
In the examination of this history, we shall see first, the cowardice of an apostle, who yielded, for the moment, to the force of temp
We shall consider, first, the fall of St. Peter; and it will appear deplorable, if we pay attention to the object which excited his fear, and to the circumstances with which it was connected.
That men must die, is one of the most certain and evident propositions ever advanced. Neither vice nor virtue, neither religion nor infidelity, nor any consideration, can dispense with this common lot of man. Were a system introduced teaching us the art of living for ever on the earth, we should undoubtedly become our own enemies, by immolating the hope of future felicity, for a life of such inquietude as that we should enjoy on the earth. And if there had been such a life, perhaps we should have been base enough to give it the preference of our religious hope. If it had failed in securing the approbation of the mind, it would, at least, have interested the concupiscence of the heart. But whatever is our opinion, die we must; this is an indisputable fact, which no one dares to dispute.
Prudence, unable to avert the execution of the sentence, should be employed in disarming its terrors: destitute of all hope of escaping death, we ought to employ all our prudence in the choice of that kind of death, which is most supportable. And what is there in the severest sufferings of martyrs, which is not preferable to the death we expect from nature? If I consider death as an abdication of all I enjoy, and as an impenetrable veil, which conceals the objects of sense, I see nothing in the death of the martyr, that is not common to every other kind of death. To die on a bed, to die on a scaffold, is equally to leave the world; and the sole difference is, that the martyr finding nothing but troubles, gibbets, and crosses, in this life, detaches himself with less difficulty than the other, who dies surrounded by inviting objects. If I consider death, with regard to the pains which precede and attend its approach, I confess it requires courage more than human, to be unmoved at the terrific apparatus exposed to the eyes of a martyr. But, if we except
some peculiar cases, in which the tyrants have had the barbarity to prolong the lives of the sufferers, in order to extend their torments, there are few sudden deaths, which are not attended with less pain than natural death. There are few death-beds, which do not exhibit scenes more tragic than the scaffold. Pain is not more supportable, because it has symptoms less striking; nor are afflictions the less severe, because they are interior.
If I consider death, with regard to the just fear of fainting in the conflicts, in which I am about to be vanquished by the king of terrors, there are superabundant aids reserved for those who sacrifice their lives for religion. The greatest miracles have been achieved in favour of confessors and martyrs. St. Peter received some instances of the kind; but I will venture to affirm, that we have had more than he. It was on the verge of martyrdom, that an angel opened the doors of his prison. It was on the eve of martyrdom, that Paul and Silas felt the prison shake, and saw their chains broken asunder. It was in the midst of martyrdom, that Stephen saw the heavens open, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God. It was also in the midst of martyrdom, that Barlaam sung this psalm, "Blessed be the Lord, my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight."
If I consider death, with regard to the awful tribunal before which it cites me to appear, and with regard to the eternal books about to be opened, in which are registered so many The fourth circumstance is derived from the vain thoughts, so many idle words, so many high office with which St. Peter was invested; criminal courses, the weight of which is heavy from the commission he had received from on my conscience; I see nothing still in the his Master, in common with the other memdeath of a martyr, that is not to be preferred bers of the apostolic college, "to go and preach to a natural death. It is allowed that the ex- the kingdom of heaven;" and from this declaercise of repentance, in dying circumstances, ration, "Thou art Peter, upon this rock will I the prayers, the repeated vows, the submission build my church." This man, called to build to the will of God, who leads us through the up the church, gave it one of the greatest valley of the shadow of death, are tests of our shocks it could possibly have received. This reconciliation to him. But these tests are of man, called to preach the gospel of Jesus ten deceitful. Experience but too frequently Christ, declared he knew him not. This man, realizes what we have often said, that the dy-constituted an established minister of his reliing take that for willing obedience, which is gion, became an apostate, and risked the drawbut constraint. A martyr has purer tests of his ing with him into the same gulf, the souls with sincerity. A martyr might preserve his life, by whose salvation he had been entrusted. Some the commission of a crime; but rather than faults affect none but the offenders, but others sin, he devotes it in sacrifice. have a general influence on all the church. And such, ministers of the living God, are our faults! Our example is contagious, it diffuses a baneful poison on all those, over whom Providence has appointed us to watch.
The oaths he used to confirm his denial are a fifth circumstance. Not content with dissimulation, he denied. Not content with a threefold denial, he denied with an oath; a circumstance not in the text, but noted by the other evangelists
My brethren, do you understand in these provinces, all that is execrable in the crime of perjury! I doubt it. A perjured man is one who takes the God who bears the motto of "Faithful and true Witness," to attest an assertion, of the falsehood of which he cannot be ignorant. A perjured person is one who defies the power of Almighty God: who says, in order to deceive, "Great God! thou holdest thunderbolts in thy hand, launch them this moment at my head, if I do not speak as 1
Lastly, if I consider death, with regard to the futurity into which it will cause us to enter, I see nothing but what should excite in the martyr transports of joy. He has not only the promise of celestial happiness, but celestial happiness of the highest degree. It is to the martyr, that Jesus Christ calls from the highest abodes of heaven; "To him that overcometh, will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne," Rev. iii. 21.
But the fall of St. Peter, though deplorable in itself, becomes still more so, by its concomitant circumstances. Let us review them.
It was first, the simple charge of a servant maid, and of a few spectators standing by, which shook his courage. Had the apostle been cited before the sanhedrim;-had he been legally called upon to give an account of his faith; had the cross, to which he promised to follow his Master, been prepared before his VOL. II.-41
eyes;-you would have said, that the magnitude of the danger striking his senses, had confounded his reason. But none of these objects were, in reality, presented. The judges, solely engaged in gratifying their fury against the Master, did not so much as think upon tl servant. A maid spake, and her voice recalled the idea of the council, the death, and the cross, and filled his soul with horror at the thought. Secondly, St. Peter was warned. Jesus Christ had declared to him, in general, that "Satan had desired to sift him as wheat;" and, in particular, that he would three times deny him that very night. A caution so salutary ought to have induced him to redouble his vi gilance; to fortify the place, the weakness of which had been pointed out; and to avoid a danger, of the magnitude of which he had been apprised. When a man is surprised by an unforeseen temptation; when he falls from a precipice, of which he was not aware, he is worthy of more compassion than blame. But here is a crime, known, revealed, and predicted.
The third circumstance is derived from the abundant knowledge communicated to our apostle. Against the offence of our Saviour's humiliation, he had been peculiarly fortified; he had heard a voice from the excellent glory on the holy mountain; he had been apprised, more than any other disciple, that the sufferings of Christ were connected with the scheme of redemption.
soul about to destroy itself.-It was the Apostle of our salvation, preaching in bonds.—It was the subduer of the heart, the omnipotent God, repressing the efforts of the devil, and depriving him of his prey.
figured on the holy mountain; if I have heard his sermons; if I have attested his miracles; if that indeed be true, may I be the object of thy everlasting abhorrence and revenge."
think. Great God! thou decidest the destiny | of my immortal soul, plunge it into hell, if the sentiments of my heart are not conformable to the words of my tongue." Hence, when St. Peter disavowed his knowledge of Jesus Christ, it was saying in fact, "Yes, Great God! if I 1. It was the man of griefs, complaining of know this man, of having connexion with a new burden, added to that, under the preswhom I am now questioned, to be my Master; sure of which he already groaned.-We canif I have heard celestial voices, saying, "This not doubt but the denial of St. Peter, augmentis my beloved Son;" if I have seen him trans-ed the passion of Jesus Christ. A wound is the more severely felt, in proportion as the inflicting hand is dear to us. We are not astonished to see an enemy turn his rage against us; the case is common. But when we find perfidy, where we expected fidelity, and where we had cause to expect it; and when it is a friend who betrays us, the anguish of the thought is difficult to sustain. So it was with Jesus Christ. That the Jewish populace were armed against him, was not surprising; they knew him not. That the Pharisees should solicit his death is less astonishing; he had exclaimed against their sins. That the Roman soldiers should join the Jews, is not surprising; they considered him as the enemy of Cesar. That the priests should accelerate his condemnation, is no marvel; they thought they were avenging Moses and the prophets. But that St. Peter, who ought to have supported him in his anguish, should aggravate it;-that he, who ought to have attested his innocence, should deny him;—that he, who ought to have extended his hand to wipe away his tears, should, in some sort, lend his arm to assassins;-it was this which pierced the Saviour's soul, and caused this reproachful glance of his eyes on St.
2. It was the compassionate Redeemer, pitying a soul on the verge of destruction. One trait we cannot sufficiently admire, that during our Saviour's passion; that amid the severest sufferings, he was less concerned for himself, than for the salvation of those for whom he suffered. Some days before his death, he was employed in supporting the disciples against the scandal of the cross. In the admirable prayer, addressed to the Father, he in some sort, forgot himself, and prayed solely for them. In the garden of Gethsemane, amid the most tremulous conflicts, which sustained against the Father's justice, he interrupted the supplications for divine assistance, to go and exhort the disciples to watchfulness and prayer, and to arm them against the devil. On the cross, he prayed for his murderers; and would have shed his blood with pleasure, if he might have rejoiced over those who shed it, and obtained for them forgiveness and salvation.
More affected with the wound received by his disciple, than with what concerned himself, his soul dissolved in compassion: he seemed to say, "Simon, son of Jonas, I devote myself in sacrifice without reluctance, if it may obtain thy salvation. I submit with pleasure, to the justice of my Father, if thy restoration may be obtained. But when I see thee, at the moment of my death, withdrawing thyself from that mercy, the whole of whose treasures I have opened; when I see thee ‘accounting the blood of the covenant,' I am going to shed, an unholy thing;' when I see that I die, and die in vain with regard to thee, if thou shouldst not recover from thy fall, my passion becomes the
The sixth circumstance is the period at which St. Peter disowned Jesus Christ. At the instant Jesus Christ displayed the tenderest marks of his love, St. Peter requited him with the most cruel ingratitude. At the moment Jesus Christ was about to redeem St. Peter, this apostle disowned his Master. At the moment Jesus Christ was about to lay down his life for St. Peter, at the moment he was going to endure for him the death of the cross, this apostle refused to confess him.
Ah! human virtue! how feeble thou art, whenever the breath of the Almighty, by which thou art sustained, comes to be resumed! And if the Lots, the Moseses, the Davids, the Josiahs, and so many more;-if these pillars of the church have been shaken, what shall not these frail foundations be!-If these suns, irradiated "to shine in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation," have sustained eclipses, what shall it not be with the smoking flax! If the cedars of Lebanon have been almost rooted up, what shall it not be with the hyssop of the wall!
But let us no longer leave our apostle in the sad situation in which he has been considered. Among the difficulties opposed to the perseverance of the saints, the sins to which they are liable seems to be the strongest. Which side soever we embrace, we apparently fall into error. "Will he for ever precipitate in hell, the man for whom the availing sacrifice of the cross has already been presented? But also will he ever receive into paradise, a man contaminated with so foul a crime? Will he resume his grace after it is once given? But will he continue it with him, who renders himself unworthy?" Here Providence removes the difficulty which theology cannot solve. It extends to the fallen a gracious hand. That St. Peter the friend of Jesus Christ should be excluded from his grace, seems impossible. That St. Peter should ever be readmitted to his favour seems not less inconceivable. Jesus Christ came to his aid, and enabled him to recover from his crime. Here is the solution of the difficulty. Then, adds our evangelist, Jesus Christ turned toward St. Peter, and looked attentively at him. This is the second part of iny discourse.
II. My brethren, how expressive was that look! How eloquent were those eyes! Never was discourse so energetic! Never did orator express himself with so much force! Jesus looked on Peter. It was the Man of griefs complaining of a new burden, added to that, under the pressure of which he already groaned. It was the compassionate Redeemer, pitying a
more severe, and the anguish of my death is redoubled."
This leads us to a third reflection. The look of Jesus Christ discovered an upbraiding aspect, by which the Saviour would reclaim the sinner. Hence, on casting his eyes upon him, he selected the circumstance of the crowing of the cock. The crowing of the cock, was as much the signal to realize the prediction of Jesus Christ, as to remind St. Peter of his promise; and Jesus looked in that moment, that Peter might recollect his vows, his oaths, his protestations; he looked to claim his promise, or at least to confound him for his defect of fidelity.
But, however just these explanations may appear, they do not fully unfold the sense of the text. There is something miraculous in the history: and the interpretations already given, offer nothing to the mind, but what might occur in a natural way. This look of Jesus Christ was, like the words of his mouth, "sharper than a two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow," Heb. iv. 12. When the disciples were going to Emmaus, they found an unction in the discourse of Jesus Christ, which induced them to say, "Did not our hearts burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the Scriptures?" Luke xxiv. 32. As if they had said, It is not necessary that our eyes should identify the person of Jesus Christ, to be assured he has appeared to us; it is not necessary that we should associate the testimony of the wo men, with the predictions of the prophets; it is not necessary to investigate the removal of the stone, the emptiness of the sepulchre, and the folding of the linen, to ascertain his resurrection. We have arguments superior to these: the ascendancy he obtained over our minds, by the power of his word, and the fire which kindled our hearts, are proof sufficient, that we have conversed with Jesus. Such indeed was this look. It was a flash of fire, which irradi-expect from a vicious course. ated the eyes of the apostle, which forcibly revealed the knowledge of himself, which constrained him to give glory to God; which dissipated all his terrors; which raised his drooping courage; which calmed all his fears; which confirmed his feeble knees; which reanimated his expiring zeal.
Hence you perceive the eloquence of the speaker, the intelligence of the hearer, the energy of the Saviour's looks, and the sensibility of St. Peter's heart. By this single glance of the Saviour's eyes, inexpressible anguish was excited in his soul; his recollection was restored, he came to himself, his heart expired, his countenance was appalled, a vapour arose in his eyes, which descended in a torrent of tears. Jesus Christ spake by his looks, St. Peter replied by contrition. This is the third part of my discourse.
III. My brethren, the recollection of sin causes grief of different kinds: three sorts of tears it particularly causes to be shed. Tears of despair, tears of torment, and tears of repentance. Tears of despair are shed on earth, tears of torment in hell, and tears of repentance in the church.
The anguish of despair is felt in this life.
Such, on some occasions, is the imbecility of the human mind, as neither to resist a temptation to sin, nor to endure the recollection of a former crime; and the same base principle which induces a man to sin, frequently excites despair, on the recollection of its turpitude. Judas wept with despair; he could not support the recollection of his crime; he saw, he felt, he confessed its atrocity; and having returned to the priests the thirty pieces of silver, the awful reward of his treason, he went out, and hanged himself.
The damned, on seeing the period of their repentance past, and the hour of vengeance come, shed tears of despair in hell. This is the "outer darkness, in which there is weeping and gnashing of teeth."
But the faithful while spared in the church, shed tears of repentance: of this sort were those of St. Peter.
You may first observe his anguish. He not only wept, but he wept bitterly. Forming imperfect notions of vice, as we mostly do, it is not surprising that we should think a repentance, superficial as ours, adequate to its expiation. But regarding it in a just light, considering the majesty of Him it insults, the awful cloud it interposes between God and us, the alarming influence it has in the soul of our neighbour, and the painful uncertainty in which it places the conscience; we cannot shed tears too bitter for the calamity of wilful transgression.
You may, secondly, remark the promptitude of the apostle's tears. "Then," says the evangelist, that is, "as soon as Jesus Christ had looked on him." The most laudable resolutions are doubtful, when they look solely at the future, and neglect to promote a present reform. In general, they are less the effects of piety, cherishing a desire to abandon vice, than the laxity of the flesh; which, by hope of repentance after indulgence, would prevent remorse from interrupting the pleasures we I fear every thing for a man, who, when exhorted to repent, replies, to-morrow, at a future period. I fear every thing for such a man; I fear the winds; I fear the waves; I fear affliction; I fear the fever; I fear distraction; I fear the habit; I fear exhausting the treasures of patience and long-suffering. St. Peter deferred not to a precarious futurity, the care of his salvation. As soon as Jesus Christ had looked on him, he perceived it; as soon as he called, he answered; as soon as the hand was extended, he arose.
Observe, thirdly, the precaution attendant on his tears; "he went out." Not that he was ashamed to acknowledge his Master, in the place where he had denied him, but distrusting himself; presumption having cost him too much, he made a wise use of his past temerity.
My brethren, would you know the true source of barrenness in your devotion; would you find the cause of so many obliterated vows, so many sacred purposes vanished away, so many projects dispersed as smoke, so many oaths violated, you will find them in the defects of precaution. The sincere Christian fortifies that place in his heart, whose weakness sad experience has discovered; he profits