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BY AN ASSOCIATION OF GENTLEMEN.
FOR THE YEAR
PRINTED AND PUBLISHED BY S. CONVERSE,
FOR THE EDITOR.
deluded by the carnal expectation
For the Christian Spectator.
On the character of the Apostle that the Messiah would be a mighty
THERE are few scriptural charac ters more strongly marked, than that of the Apostle Peter. We cannot but love him for his ardent zeal, his generous feelings, his quick sensibility, his ingenuous promptness, his teachableness, his devotedness to Christ, his reverence and affection for him. The biography of this disciple is no where given in connection, but is learnt from insulated passages scattered through the New Testa
Astonished at the miraculous
draught of fishes and overwhelmed with the sense of his unworthiness,
he "fell down at the Saviour's feet,
temporal prince, seized him by the hand" and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord! this
shall not be unto thee." The evening previous to the crucifixion after the institution of the Supper and when on the way to the garden said to his chosen band, "Ye shall where the bloody scene began, Christ for it is written, I will smite the be offended because of me this night, Shepherd and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad;" the zealous disciple, unable to endure the thought of there being even a possibility of his forsaking his Lord, exfended because of thee, yet will I claims, "Though all men shall be ofsaying, Depart from me for I am a iour's replying, "Verily I say unto never be offended." On the Savsinful man." When Jesus, about thee that this night before the cock to give a striking and impressive il crow thou shalt deny me thrice ;" iglustration of the duty of humility-of-norant of his frailty, wounded to the fered to wash his disciples' feet; Pe- quick by the supposition, with inter, unwilling to have his Master do ter, unwilling to have his Master do creased warmth he renews his proany thing which might lower his testations: "Though I should die character, from the honesty of his with thee, yet will I not deny thee." heart and with his wonted quickness, Having enquired of Christ whither exclaims, "Thou shalt never wash my he was going, and being told that he feet:" And when assured that this could not then follow him; he with ceremony could not be dispensed his usual earnestness as well as affecwith, he goes directly to the oppo- tion rejoins; " Why cannot I follow site extreme; "Lord! not my feet onthee now? I will lay down my life ly, but also my hands and my head." At the time when the Saviour reveal the band entered the garden for for thy sake." Accordingly when ed to his little family that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem Peter, determined to stand by him to the purpose of apprehending Christ, and there, after enduring many in- the last, drew his sword upon them sults, to suffer the death of the cross; and smote the high priest's servant, Peter, we are told, with his constitu- and would probably have continued tional promptness and indiscretion, Vol. 4-No. I.
to fight his way, had not his Master commanded him to desist from violence and to sheath his sword. After the crucifixion when Mary Magdalene informed the disciples that Jesus had risen, Peter and John ran hastily to the grave; and while John, being perhaps of a more timid cast of character, merely looks into the sepulchre from without-Peter, quick and fearless, leaps down and is the first who gains certain assurance that the crucified Redeemer has of a truth arisen from the dead. When Jesus from the shore hailed his disciples fishing at a distance from land; as soon as Peter recognized his Master, he at once plunged into the water and hastened to him. When the Lord Jesus enquired of him three times in succession: "Simon, son of Jonas! Lovest thou me;" Peter, still possessed of his original generous sensibility, conscious of his integrity of intention however weak might have been his resolution, cut to the quick because reminded of his former apostacy, hurt and grieved to the heart; he each time magnanimously replies: " Lord thou knowest that I love thee." There is a circumstance yet unnoticed which places this disciple's character in a peculiarly happy light. St. Paul in one* of his epistles declares Peter to have been guilty of gross dissimulation at Antioch, of which he gives us an extended account, and for which he says he openly blamed Peter and "withstood him to the face" "before them all." Still, however, Peter afterwards in his own writings styles Paul his beloved brother," and speaks in the highest terms of all his epistles, though recording and thus, as he knew, publishing his disgrace. This is a genuine specimen of the Christian spirit. We would mention still another fact as illustrative of Peter's character. Although not related in Scripture, it is supported by the universal tradition of the early ages of the church. When called to suffer the martyrdom so long before
* Gal. Chap. II. + II. Peter, 3. 15.
predicted by Christ, he was at his own request crucified with his head downward, deeming himself unworthy of the honour of having his body suspended upon the cross in the manner in which his Master's was, whom he had once shamefully forsaken.
Such are some of the outlines of this interesting character. We must love him for his excellencies, while we pity his infirmities and weep over his guilt in denying his Lord and Master.
Several important reflections are suggested by a contemplation of the life of this apostle. Of these, one of the most obvious is the danger of self confidence. Christ requested of the band that apprehended Him that they would let his disciples "go their way, that the saying might be fulfilled which he spake: Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none." He was well acquainted with human frailty. He knew how little, flesh and blood are to be relied upon in seasons of temptation. A determination never to yield to obstacles and always to resist danger with firmness, is highly praiseworthy in those who are running a virtuous career, and is of ten the means of accomplishing the greatest and most useful designs. This is a quality of the christian hero; but his strength is derived from above. When he is in this sense truly strong, he feels how little his own frail resolutions are of themselves to be trusted. "My strength," said St. Paul, is made perfect in weakness:" "for when I am weak then am I strong." When in reproaches, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake, it was on the promise of the Lord alone that he rested: "My grace is sufficient for thee." We are not however to seek danger in order that our strength may be displayed. But we are to avoid it so far as we can without injury to our Master's cause, Still, when brought into temptation, when obliged to struggle with it; then clothed with divine strength,supplicating God for support, we are to fight manfully