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cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him, and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And tvhen Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?'
Now, you will be pleased to remember, that the command of Christ was Peter's warrant for venturing on the agitated lake of Tiberias. Without this command the attempt would have been presumptuous in the extreme: and, had he kept that in view during the perilous excursions, instead of the winds and the waves, he would have reached the object of his confidence without alarms of danger, or manifesting symptoms of distrust. It is said, indeed, that the wind was boisterous; and on a cursory survey of the passage, it seems as if this circumstance alone had occasioned his fears: but it is much more consistent with the divine narrative, and the rebuke with which he was afterwards accosted, to attribute these fears chiefly to his unbelief. The wind appears to have been high during great part of the night, and was, most probably, tempestuous at the time of Christ's appearance: but were it allowed to be otherwise at the instant of Peter's debarkation, this would only be admitting an apology for his timidity at the expense of his understanding. For he could not be so ignorant as to imagine that the watery element was more solid because less turbulent: and he must have known that the power which was able to consolidate the sea in a calm, was also able to make the foaming surge firm as adamant. The fact is, the renowned Cephas forgot his own request, and also the command and the almighty power of his Lord. He began to look at second causes—to reflect, perhaps, that he had precipitately left the bark where safety might have been reasonably expected, and was attempting to tread on a wave that threatened to ingulf him in a moment.
Now, thus it frequently happens with the trembling sinuer that is awakened to a sense of his danger; and who, as a wretch that deserves to perish, is encouraged to rely on Christ, as a complete Saviour from the guilt of sin, and from the curse of the divine law which h© is conscious of having violated in a thousand instances. The invitation and the promise exhibited to the dejected and burdened suppliant are not suspended on the performance of certain conditions, or on the conscious possession of holy qualities. It is not said, look into yourselves, or to something you have done, either to merit, or to predispose you to receive my salvation; but—' look unto me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth—I am the Lord; and beside me there is no Saviour— Thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help.—I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins—come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls— Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out—Verily, verily, I say unto you, he u
that hearcth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.'
Now, instead of attending entirely to these encouraging declarations, the selfcondemned sinner is apt to contemplate the magnitude of his guilt—to stand questioning whether it be not too enormous to be forgiven: or, on the other hand, whether, if pardonable, he be sufficiently humbled to receive the astonishing favour. But this is to act the part of Peter —to look at sin and its guilt (as he did at the wind and the waves) instead of the Saviour—to regard the suggestions of unbelief more than the invitation and the promise. The question in this case is not, whether my sins be great, or comparatively small—not whether I have attained a certain degree of humiliation, and am conscious that my compunction is proportioned to my guilt; but whether Christ have not unequivocally declared, without any reference to the depth of my contrition, or the magnitude of my sin, 'Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out ?—Whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die— Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life—he shall never perish.' Now, if this be true; if Jesus have made these infinitely gracious declarations, the trembling sinner is not to hesitate, but confidently to believe the soulcheering testimony—to come to him as a vile sinner—as a wretch that deserves to perish— and without looking into himself for any prerequisites in order to the reception of mercy, to cast his burden of guilt upon Christ as a sinbearing Saviour, looking to his atonement as the only ground of forgiveness; knowing and believing, that what he hath said, he will most assuredly perform. This is to receive by faith the testimony of God concerning his Son, rather than that of man—than of Satan—than of the clamorous accusations of a guilty conscience; and to give glory to the expiation of him that once suffered for sin—the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.