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think. Great God! thou decidest the destiny | soul about to destroy itself. It was the Apostle of my immortal soul, plunge it into hell, if the of our salvation, preaching in bonds.-It was sentiments of my heart are not conformable to the subduer of the heart, the omnipotent God, the words of my tongue.” Hence, when St. repressing the efforts of the devil, and depriving Peter disavowed his knowledge of Jesus Christ, him of his prey. 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 figured on the holy mountain; if I have heard more severely felt, in proportion as the inflicthis sermons; if I have attested his miracles; if ing hand is dear to us. We are not astonished that indeed be true, may I be the object of thy to see an enemy turn his rage against us; the everlasting abhorrence and revenge."
case is common. But when we find perfidy, The sixth circumstance is the period at which where we expected fidelity, and where we had St. Peter disowned Jesus Christ. At the in- cause to expect it; and when it is a friend who stant Jesus Christ displayed the tenderest betrays us, the anguish of the thought is diffimarks of his love, St. Peter requited him with cult to sustain. So it was with Jesus Christ. the most cruel ingratitude. At the moment That the Jewish populace were armed against Jesus Christ was about to redeem St. Peter, him, was not surprising; they knew him not. this apostle disowned his Master. At the mo- That the Pharisees should solicit his death is ment Jesus Christ was about to lay down his less astonishing; he had exclaimed against their life for St. Peter, at the moment he was going sins. That the Roman soldiers should join the to endure for him the death of the cross, this Jews, is not surprising; they considered him as apostle refused to confess him.
the enemy of Cesar. That the priests should Ah! human virtue! how feeble thou art, accelerate his condemnation, is no marvel; they whenever the breath of the Almighty, by which thought they were avenging Moses and the thou art sustained, comes to be resumed! And prophets. But that St. Peter, who ought to if the Lots, the Moseses, the Davids, the Josi- have supported him in his anguish, should agahs, and so many more;—if these pillars of the gravate it;—that he, who ought to have attestchurch have been shaken, what shall not these ed his innocence, should deny him;—that he, frail foundations be!-If these suns, irradiated who ought to have extended his hand to wipe " to shine in the midst of a crooked and per- away his tears, should, in some sort, lend his verse generation," have sustained eclipses, arm to assassins;—it was this which pierced the what shall it not be with the smoking flax! If Saviour's soul, and caused this reproachful the cedars of Lebanon have been almost rooted glance of his eyes on St. Peter. ap, what shall it not be with the hyssop of the 2. It was the compassionate Redeemer, pitywall!
ing a soul on the verge of destruction. One But let us no longer leave our apostle in the trait we cannot sufficiently admire, that during sad situation in which he has been considered. our Saviour's passion; that amid the severest Among the difficulties opposed to the perseve sufferings, he was less concerned for himself, rance of the saints, the sins to which they are than for the salvation of those for whom he liable seems to be the strongest. Which side suffered. Some days before his death, he was soever we embrace, we apparently fall into employed in supporting the disciples against
“Will he for ever precipitate in hell, the scandal of the cross. In the admirable the man for whom the availing sacrifice of the prayer, addressed to the Father, he in some cross has already been presented? But also will sort, forgot himself, and prayed solely for them. he ever receive into paradise, a man contami- In the garden of Gethsemane, amid the most nated with so foul a crime? Will he resume tremulous conficts, which he sustained against his grace after it is once given? But will be the Father's justice, he interrupted the supplicontinue it with him, who renders himself un- cations for divine assistance, to go and exhort worthy?" Here Providence removes the ditli- the disciples to watchfulness and prayer, and culty which theology cannot solve. It extends to arm them against the devil. On the cross, to the fallen a gracious hand. That St. Peter he prayed for his murderers; and would have the friend of Jesus Christ should be excluded shed his blood with pleasure, if he might have from his grace, seems impossible. That St. rejoiced over those who shed it, and obtained Peter should ever be readmitted to his favour for them forgiveness and salvation. seems not less inconceivable. Jesus Christ More affected with the wound received by came to his aid, and enabled him to recover his disciple, than with what concerned himself, from his crime. Here is the solution of the his soul dissolved in compassion: he seemed to difficulty. Then, adds our evangelist, Jesus say, “Simon, son of Jonas, I devote myself in Christ turned toward St. Peter, and looked at- sacrifice without reluctance, if it may obtain tentively at him. This is the second part of thy salvation. I submit with pleasure, to the my discourse.
justice of my Father, if thy restoration may be II. My brethren, how expressive was that obtained. But when I see thee, at the moment look! How eloquent were those eyes! Never of my death, withdrawing thyself from that was discourse so energetic! Never did orator mercy, the whole of whose treasures I have express himself with so much force! Jesus opened; when I see thee accounting the blood looked on Peter. It was the Man of griefs of the covenant,' I am going to shed, an uncomplaining of a new burden, added to that, holy thing;' when I see that I die, and die in under the pressure of which he already groaned. vain with regard to thee, if thou shouldst not It was the compassionate Redeemer, pitying a recover from thy fall, my passion becomes the
more severe, and the anguish of my death is Such, on some occasions, is the imbecility of redoubled.”.
the human mind, as neither to resist a temptaThis leads us to a third reflection. The look tion to sin, nor to endure the recollection of a of Jesus Christ discovered an upbraiding as- former crime; and the same base principle pect, by which the Saviour would reclaim the which induces a man to sin, frequently excites sinner. Hence, on casting his eyes upon him, despair, on the recollection of its turpitude. he selected the circumstance of the crowing of Judas wept with despair; he could not support the cock. The crowing of the cock, was as the recollection of his crime; he saw, he felt, much the signal to realize the prediction of he confessed its atrocity; and having returned Jesus Christ, as to remind St. Peter of his pro- to the priests the thirty pieces of silver, the mise; and Jesus looked in that moment, that awful reward of his treason, he went out, and Peter might recollect his vows, his oaths, his hanged himself. protestations; he looked to claim bis promise, The damned, on seeing the period of their or at least to confound him for his defect of repentance past, and the hour of vengeance fidelity.
come, shed tears of despair in hell. This is But, however just these explanations may the "outer darkness, in which there is weepappear, they do not fully unfold the sense of ing and gnashing of teeth.” the text. There is something miraculous in But the faithful while spared in the church, the history: and the interpretations already shed tears of repentance: of this sort were given, offer nothing to the mind, but what those of St. Peter. might occur in a natural way. This look of You may first observe his anguish. He not Jesus Christ was, like the words of his mouth, only wept, but he wept bitterly. Forming im“sharper than a two-edged sword, piercing perfect notions of vice, as we mostly do, it is even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, not surprising that we should think a repentand of the joints and marrow,” Heb. iv. 12. ance, superficial as ours, adequate to its expiaWhen the disciples were going to Emmaus, tion. But regarding it in a just light, consi. they found an unction in the discourse of Jesus dering the majesty of Him it insults, the awful Christ, which induced them to say, “Did not cloud it interposes between God and us, the our hearts burn within us, while he talked with alarming influence it has in the soul of our us by the way, and while he opened to us the neighbour, and the painful uncertainty in which Scriptures.” Luke xxiv. 32. As if they had it places the conscience; we cannot shed tears said, It is not necessary that our eyes should too bitter for the calamity of wilful transgresidentify the person of Jesus Christ, to be assur- sion. ed he has appeared to us; it is not necessary that You may, secondly, remark the promptitude we should associate the testimony of the wo of the apostle's tears. “Then,” says the evanmen,
with the predictions of the prophets; it is gelist, that is, “as soon as Jesus Christ had not necessary to investigate the removal of the looked on him.” The most laudable resolustone, the emptiness of the sepulchre, and the tions are doubtful, when they look solely at folding of the linen, to ascertain his resurrec- the future, and neglect to promote a present tion. We have arguments superior to these: reform. In general, they are less the effects the ascendancy he obtained over our minds, by of piety, cherishing a desire to abandon vice, the power of his word, and the fire which kin-than the laxity of the flesh; which, by hope dled our hearts, are proof sufficient, that we of repentance after indulgence, would prevent have conversed with Jesus. Such indeed was remorse from interrupting the pleasures we this look. It was a flash of fire, which irradi- expect from a vicious course. I fear every ated the eyes of the apostle, which forcibly re- thing for a man, who, when exhorted to revealed the knowledge of himself
, which con- pent, replies, to-morrow, at a future period. I strained him to give glory to God; which dissi- fear every thing for such a man; I fear the pated all his terrors; which raised his drooping winds; I fear the waves; I fear affliction; I fear courage; which calmed all his fears; which con- the fever; I fear distraction; I fear the habit; I firmed his feeble knees; which reanimated his fear exhausting the treasures of patience and expiring zeal.
long-suffering. St. Peter deferred not to a Hence you perceive the eloquence of the precarious futurity, the care of his salvation. speaker, the intelligence of the hearer, the en- As soon as Jesus Christ had looked on him, ergy of the Saviour's looks, and the sensibility he perceived it; as soon as he called, he anof St. Peter's heart. By this single glance of swered; as soon as the hand was extended, he the Saviour's eyes, inexpressible anguish was excited in his soul; his recollection was restor- Observe, thirdly, the precaution attendant ed, he came to himself, his heart expired, his on his tears; "he went out.” Not that he was countenance was appalled, a vapour arose in ashamed to acknowledge his Master, in the his eyes, which descended in a torrent of tears. place where he had denied him, but distrustJesus Christ spake by his looks, St. Peter re- ing himself; presumption having cost him too plied by contrition. This is the third part of much, he made a wise use of his past temerity. iny discourse.
My brethren, would you know the true III. My brethren, the recollection of sin source of barrenness in your devotion; would causes grief of different kinds: three sorts of you find the cause of so many obliterated vows, tears it particularly causes to be shed. Tears so many sacred purposes vanished away, so of despair, tears of torment, and tears of re- many projects dispersed as smoke, so many pentance. Tears of despair are shed on earth, oaths violated, you will find them in the detears of torment in hell, and tears of repentance fects of precaution. The sincere Christian in the church.
fortifies that place in liis heart, whose weakThe anguish of despair is felt in this life. I ness sad experience has discovered; he profits
by his loss, and derives advantage from his re- so many defects, so many offences, I feel that lapse. He says, that object was fatal to my I love thee still; I feel that strong temptations innocence; I must no more look upon it; that can never eradicate a love, which is graven on company drew me into this sin; I must instant- my heart; I feel, when thy perfections are disly withdraw; it was in the court of Caiaphas cussed, that they affect, penetrate, and fill my disowned my Saviour, I must shun that place. soul; I feel delighted that my Redeemer is in
In fine, adequately to comprehend the na- vested with such abundant glory and strength; ture of St. Peter's repentance, we must dis- when thy gospel is preached, I feel my heart cover all the effects a sight of his sin produced burn within me; and I admire and adore the in his soul. Here I would have my hearers God, who has revealed a scheme of salvation suspend the effects of fatigue; they are incapa- so grand, so noble, so sublime. I feel, notble of attention, too far prolonged, though we withstanding this awful deviation, inconceivadiscuss the most interesting truths of religion. ble sorrow, and inconceivable shame, which, I would, authorized by custom, add another to me, is an evident test, that the God I oftext to that I have read. It occurs in the fend, is in reality, the God I love." Gospel according to St. Johın. Jesus said to Can it be imagined, that St. Peter's avowal Peter, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me of his weakness, rendered his love less estimamore than these? He saith unto him, Yea, ble to his Master? Can it be conceived, that Lord, thou knowest I love thee: He saith un- Jesus Christ is less delicate in his attachment to him, feed my lambs.” What has been said than man? Knowing the fidelity of a friend, of lawful love,--that those whose hearts are having a thousand satisfactory tests of his atunited, never differ with the object of their tachment, do you cease to love him, when he affection, but it tends to augment the flame,— has committed a fault, for which he is woundmay be said of divine love. This is obvious ed the first? “ The Lord knoweth whereof from the text we have cited; Jesus Christ and we are made.” Our faults, howsoever glaring St. Peter alternately retaliated, for the eclipses (if followed by repentance,) though they may their love had sustained.
suspend, for a period, the influence of his love, It is true, the apostle replied only to part of can neither change its nature, nor restrict its the question of Jesus Christ. He was asked, duration. St. Peter had no sooner said to his “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more Master, “Lord, thou knowest that I love thee,” than these?" On all other occasions, he would than he was re-established in his ministry by frankly have replied, “Yea, Lord, thou his prompt reply, “Feed my sheep." knowest that I love thee more than these." O how worthily did this apostle repair the Ah, Lord! I well know the allusion of thy offence he had given the church, by his devowords; I fully perceive that thou wouldst hum. tion to its interests. Methinks I see him gatherble me, by the recollection of the promise Iing, on the day of Pentecost, the souls which, have made, and which I have basely violated; perhaps, he had caused to stray! Methinks I “Though all men should be offended with seem to hear those pathetic addresses proceed thee, yet will I never be offended." I am fully from his mouth, which, like streams of lightimpressed with the mortifying history thou ning, enkindle every thing in their course; sofwouldst retrace. I am the least of all my tening those very souls, which the cross of brethren: there is not one to whom I can dare Christ was unable to move; extorting from to give myself the preference.
them this language, highly expressive of comir St. Peter replied with humility, he replied punction, “ Men and brethren, what shall we also with sincerity and zeal. If we wish a do?" Methinks I see him flying from Pontus believer to be humble, we never wish him to to Galatia, from Galatia to Bithynia, from bo vain. If we do not require him to say, “I Bithynia to Cappadocia, from Cappadocia to am conscious of being so established in grace, every province of Asia, from Asia to Rome, as never to be shaken;" we wish at least, that leaving all his course strewed with the wreck he should feel the cheering and reviving flame of Satan's power; with trophies of temples of divine love, when its embers are most con- demolished, of idols dethroned, of pagans concealed in the ashes. We wish him not to verted, correspondent consequences of a minismake an ostentatious display of piety, but to try, which, at its first commencement, had conevidence the tender attachment he has for verted eight thousand men. Methinks I see God, even when, through weakness, he has him led from tribunal to tribunal, sometimes happened to offend him. This was the dis- before the Jews, and sometimes before the Ro. position of St. Peter, and his humility implied mans, every where loaded with the reproach no defect of love. Simon, son of Jonas, of Christ, every where confessing his name; lovest thou me?" “Lord! I can presume no- finally fixed on a cross, and saying, as he died thing of myself, the past makes me tremble for the Redeemer, who had died for him, for the future; the example of distinguished “Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest saints, and mine still more, humbles and abases that I love thee.” my soul. Perhaps, like Job, I shall curse the Such was the repentance of St. Peter, and day of my birth; perhaps, like David, I shall such may ours now be! May those eyes which become guilty of murder and treason; perhaps, still seek us, as they sought him, pierce our I shall deny thee again; perhaps, I shall be so heart, as they pierced his; striking the convile, as to repeat these awful words, which science with sanctifying terror, and causing will, to me, be a subject of everlasting regret, those tears of repentance to flow, which are so “I know not the man, I am not one of his availing for the sinner. disciples;" and if thou wilt condemn me, thou They ought to produce those particular efhast only to crush a worm, on whom no de- fects on you, my brethren, whose sin has had pendance can be placed. After all, Lord! amid | a sad conformity to St. Peter's; who having
seen (while in France) Jesus Christ delivered fice to your net. Ascribe not to your courage
his disciples? Are not you attached to those,
formation. One of those happy occasions is OʻGod! if we are permitted to address thee, I just at hand. A crowded audience is expected though but “dust and ashes,” is it for the con- here on Wednesday next. A trumpet is blown firmation, or the confusion of our faith, that, on in Zion; a solemn assembly is convoked; a fast this subject, thou seemest inexorable; and a sub- is proclaimed. But shall I tell you, my breject on which we will never
cease to pray. On thren? After excepting the small number who this head, has the mighty God "forgoiten to will then afflict their righteous soul, and no have compassion?" No! I cannot persuade my- doubt, redouble their devotion; after excepting self that God has for ever abandoned so large the small number, and after examining the naa portion of his church. No! I cannot persuade ture of our solemn humiliations, that I am Jess myself that God has ceased to watch over the afraid of your sins, than of your fasts for naconsciences of those our unhappy brethren, tional reform? whom Satan has so long detained in security Before the great God;-before the Holy One and slumber. No! I cannot persuade myself, of Israel, whose love of holiness is infinite as that God should permit so many children to himself, we shall appear on Wednesday next, perish for the sins of their fathers; and to be for with minds still immersed in the cares, and agiever separated from the church, to which they tated with the pleasures of the preceding day; materially belong. Let our part be done, and we shall appear with dissipation, with a heart God's shall surely be accomplished. Let us be neither touched, nor broken, nor contrite: we afflicted for the affliction of Joseph. Let us shall each appear, and say, “I have sinned;" pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Let the ca- or in other words, “I have made my house a lamities of the church be ever on our mind. scene of voluptuousness, a seat of slander, a They are ever before the eyes of God; they ex- haunt of infamy: I have trampled my brethren cite him to jealousy; they cause him to emerge under my feet, and this opulence, with which from that cloud, in which he has so long been God has invested me to support, I have emconcealed for the exclusion of our prayers. ployed to oppress the wretched: I have amassed APPLICATION.
exorbitant gains on the right hand, and the left;
I have sacrificed friend, pupil, widow, orphan; I address myself to you, my brethren, whose I have sacrificed every thing to my private incharacters have never been defiled with so foul terest, the only god I worship and adore.” On a blot: offer not incense to your drag, nor sacri- this great God, who discovers the most latent
foldings of the heart, whose “sword divides | Shiloh, and this sacred temple in which he asunder the soul and spirit, the joints and mar- deigns to dwell with men. row;' in whose presence "all things,” the mind My brethren, are we yet spared to sound the and heart, the secret thoughts, the concealed alarm, to thunder? And sliall we not adopt a crimes, the dark designs, “all things are naked new mode of celebrating this fast, and endeaand manifest;"--on this great God we presurne vour to execute it? to impose by the exterior, by the tinsel of de- And you, our senators and governors! who votion, by covering ourselves with sackcloth have appointed this solemnity, let us apprize you and ashes, by bowing the neck to the yoke, and also of its appropriate duties. Come on Wedafflicting the soul for a single day; even, if we nesday next: like modern Jehoshaphats, prosshould put on sackcloth and ashes; if we should trate, at the footstool of God's throne, the digbow the neck to the yoke, and attlict the soul nities with which you are invested; and for for a single day. But this very exterior, of which you must give so solemn an account. which God says, “Is this the fast I have chosen? Come, and let all your glory consist in humiCallest thou this a fast, a day agreeable to the liation and repentance. Come, and surrender Lord?" Isaiah lviii. 5. This mere exterior is not into his Omnipotent hands, the reins of this reeven found among us: we have only to open our public, and swear that you will henceforth goeyes to admit the propriety of the charge. vern it by no maxims but his laws. And may
Before this great God, whose power is infi- God grant, may God indeed grant you, to set nite, and who seems to have displayed it of late so laudable an example before his church; and, years, solely to punish the crimes of men, and having inspired you with the noble resolution, to strike all Europe with terror and death, with may he crown it with effect! horror and despair;-before this God we shall Ministers of Jesus Christ, whom Providence presume to ask, not to be involved in the gene- calls on Wednesday next to administer the ral destruction: we shall presume to offer up word, your task is obviously great. With what this prayer, while each is resolved to insult him, a charge are you intrusted! On you principally to devour one another, to adhere to our crimi- devolves the duty of alarming and abasing the nal connexions, to persevere in our unlawful wicked. On you principally devolves the duty gains. Am I then extravagant in saying, that, of stopping the torrent of iniquity, which is folwhen I reflect on the nature of our solemn hu- lowed by these awful calamities. On you prinmiliations, I am less afraid of our sins, than of cipally devolves the duty of quenching the fasts we celebrate for national reform?
fames of celestial vengeance, enkindled against Not that this sort of fasts are always una- our sins. “Who is sufficient for these things." vailing; the mercy of God sometimes gives them But use your efforts, and expect the rest from effect, and endeavours in some sort to overlook the blessing of God. Speak as ministers ought our hypocrisy. “When he slew them, then to speak on like occasions. “Cry aloud, lift they sought him, and remembered that God up your voice like a trumpet, show Jacob his was their rock. Nevertheless, they did flatter transgressions, and Israel his sins.” If you teswith their mouth, and they lied unto him with tify the truth, what matter if they murmur their tongues, for their heart was not right with against your discourses. And may God, on him. But he being full of compassion, forgave this soleinn occasion, “teach your hands to their iniquity, and many a time turned away war, and your fingers to fight." May God inhis anger,” Ps. Ixxviii. 34–38. God has not spire you with magnanimity of mind corresonly acted on these principles with regard to pondent to the mission with which you are inhis ancient people, but even with regard to us. vested. On the approach of death, when we have sought And you, Christian people, what will you do the Lord by solemn prayer, “When we have on Wednesday next? It is not only your preremembered our rock, when we have flattered sence in this teinple,-it is not only hymns and with our mouth, and lied with our tongues, prayers, supplications, and tears, which we sopromising reformation, he has had compassion licit,--a fast should be signalized by more disupon us, and has retarded our destruction. On tinguished marks of conversion and repentance: that account we still live. On that account these are restitution, these are mutual reconthese hearers are still present in this temple, and ciliation, these are a profusion of charities, these the wicked among them have been precipitated are a diligent search for the indigent, who are into the gulf of Gehenna. But how long, think expiring as much through shame as want. you, can this sort of fasts produce the effects for Here, here, my dear brethren, is what we rewhich they have hitherto availed? Weigh quire. And let me obtain this request! Let me the words which follow the above quotation. even expire in this pulpit, in endeavouring to “When God heard this, he was wroth, and add some degree of energy to your devotion, greatly abhorred Israel: so that he forsook the and effect to your fast! Our prayers shall suptabernacle in Shiloh, the tent be had planted ply our weakness. O Almighty God! O God! among men.
And he delivered his strength who makest “judgment thy strange work,” let into captivity, and his glory into the enemy's our prayers appease thy indignation! Resist hand,” verse 59-62.
not a concourse of people, assembled to besiege Holland! Holland! here is the sentence of thy the throne of thy grace, and to move thy bowels destiny. God, after regarding our humiliations of paternal compassion! When our nobles, our for a certain time, after “ remembering that we pastors, our heads of houses, our children, when are but flesh," after enduring the prayers of de- all our people, when all shall be assembled on ceitful tongues, and the promises of feigned lips, Wednesday next in this house, with eyes bathed he will finally hear the cry of our sins, he will in tears, with hearts rent, for having offended abhor Israel, he will abandon bis pavilion in so good and gracious a God --when each shall