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of the prophet ;. “O that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people !” We can pray for others, we cannot but weep
When we behold you listening unmoved, to truths which once had power to awaken your conscience and to melt your heart; when we see you join in the scoff, and the ridicule, against those with whom you once rejoiced to mingle ; when we find you no longer loving the name of Jesus as “the chiefest among ten thousand, and altogether lovely ; no longer anxiously striving to fulfil the least of his commandments ; 0, with what painful emphasis do those words of the apostle come home to our hearts : “ It is IMPOSSIBLE* for those who were once enlightened and have tasted the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy
2 Jer, ix. 1.
3 Cant. v. 10. 4 Marking its extreme difficulty.
Ghost, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance, seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame." 5
But the measure of Peter's iniquity was not yet full. “ After a while, came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely, thou art also one of this man's disciples, for thy speech bewrayeth thee. Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. Here was the completion of Peter's guilt; the disgraceful act of the denial repeated the third time, and now accompanied by horrible oaths, and imprecations. Ought we not, before such an example passes from our memories, earnestly to pray,
• Lead us not into temptation," 8 and permit us not, O Lord, to lead ourselves thither; since Peter fell, who can be safe? Lord, “hold thou up our goings, that our footsteps slip not."
Immediately, while he yet spake,” 5 Heb. vi. 4. 6 Matt. vi. 13. 7 Psalm xvii. 5.
continues St. Luke, “the cock crew." Surely no malefactor condemned to suffer for the violated laws of his country, ever heard his last hour strike upon the prison bell, with half the agony of feeling, with which that cock-crowing rang upon the ears of Peter! Still was there a sight which smote far deeper than that sound : - The Lord turned and looked upon Peter.” Who can pourtray the silent eloquence of that last look ? What volumes must it have spoken to the heart of the fallen apostle! Could he behold that well-known countenance, and again repeat, “I know not the man ?” Could he see his divine Master “ as a sheep before her shearers is dumb,”' and again break forth into oaths and imprecations ? Could he bear the reproach of that meek eye, and yet remain in the guilty scene amidst these enemies of his Saviour, and of his own soul ? No! that single glance was all that was required to send home the arrow of conviction and repentance to his bosom ; he instantly remembered the word that the Lord had spoken, and he "went out and wept bitterly.”
8 Isaiah liji. 7.
Blessed be God that such an act of sovereign grace, and pardoning mercy, has been bequeathed to us; that as we have witnessed Peter's fall, the fruit of his own presumption, we are enabled also to witness Peter's recovery, the fruit of his Saviour's love. It was that single look of his Redeemer which brought back the erring sheep to the fold of the good Shepherd. Have you, my brethren, and who has not ? in thought, or word, or deed, by your worldliness or pride, by your unchastity or uncharitableness, virtually denied a spiritual and humble, a pure and merciful Saviour? Then, while you receive the solemn warning, receive also the blessed encouragement of the scene before you. “ The Lord, amidst all his sufferings, took not his thoughts of mercy for a single moment from his sin
ning disciple. Be assured he has not taken his merciful regards from you;
he is still looking wistfully and affectionately for
your return. He did not wait, until Peter looked on him with an eye of penitence, before he looked on Peter with an eye of pity. He does not wait until
you repent, he freely offers his “ preventing grace to enable you to repent. He does not content himself with calling home his wandering sheep, but he seeks those that are lost; and when he has found them, he carries them home “on his shoulders rejoicing." Can you really
. believe this without saying from your heart, “ Draw me, and I will run after thee ;”! "Turn thou us, good Lord, and so shall we be turned ?" If I address
? any whose heart convicts him that by life and conversation he has denied him whose name he bears, and remember that every forbidden act is unquestionably an act of denial, to him I would
9 See the Tenth Article of our Church,
i Cant. i. 4.