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ceived a message of kindness from his forgiving Master; he was conscious, that his repentance was earnest and sincere ; still it was natural, that he should feel that there was a most painful uncertainty, as to the manner in which he should now be received. My brethren, so to feel was truly in the course of nature, but it was not in the course of grace; it is a weak faith, which hesitates to cast itself upon the infinite compassion of its God, when seeking him through "the
way, the truth, and the life,”? which he has ordained. Such was not Peter's faith; his heart does not appear for a single moment, to have harboured the remotest doubt of his acceptance. No sooner did he hear that it was the Lord, than without an instant's hesitation, an instant's misgiving, “girding his fisher's coat around him,' " he cast himself into the sea, and swam to the shore,” that he might be the first to throw himself at the
2 John xvi. 6.
feet of his indulgent Master. How beautiful an instance, of the actings of a truly scriptural faith! Would that it might be realized, in the experience of every individual whom we now address, and in our own soul! Does the revealed word of God assure you that, as a reconciled penitent, your transgressions are blotted out, your sins are forgiven? Then be assured, that you are not honouring your Lord and Saviour, if you do not live up to your high and holy privileges ; if you still keep at a distance from him; still tremble with a slavish fear; still follow him afar off, and with a sinking heart. This was not the spirit, which influenced Peter. He knew that his Lord had looked upon him in mercy ; he knew that he had deeply grieved and bitterly wept for sin ; he knew that he should meet with a kind and merciful reception. These were with him matters of positive knowledge, not of faint and uncertain hope; and, therefore, in the fullest dependence upon the infinity of his Master's love, he burst through the opposing element, to cast himself at his feet. Men, in their wisdom, may call this presumption; but be assured it goes by a far different name, in the courts of heaven. Never is God more highly honoured, than when you most implicitly depend, humbly and scripturally, upon that covenanted love, which is the brightest attribute of his all-perfect character; when you rely the most entirely, build the most largely, upon the simple declarations of his promises in Christ Jesus; and whatever have been your sins, your denials, or your wanderings, having truly lamented and forsaken them, you draw near, cleansed in the blood of Jesus, and cast yourselves with the most childlike confidence, into the arms of his mercy
But tenderly as our Lord dealt with his penitent and humble disciple, it was necessary, for the sake of others as
well as for the correction of Peter himself, that he should manifest before his brethren the present state of his feelings as regarded that Saviour, whom he had so lately and so disgracefully renounced. Three times had he publicly denied his Master, and, therefore, three times must he as publicly declare his renewed feelings of gratitude and love. when they had dined,” says the evangelist, “ Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?” Thou hast once said,
though all men should be offended because of thee, yet will not I.” Dost thou still assert this dangerous pre-eminence? Peter saith unto him, Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee.”! He does not again hazard a reply, as to the relative strength of his affections: I know that I love thee, but I dare not now venture to affirm, that I love thee more than these. Again the painful question was repeated, « Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?” " He saith unto him, Yea, Lord,
Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee." Yet a third time, is
I ” the inquiry urged upon him ; then, as we read, “ Peter was grieved because he said unto him a third time, Lovest thou me?” He replied, “ Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee; Jesus saith unto him”-prove the reality of thy love by the active sincerity of thiy obedience—“Feed my sheep.”
. Invaluable to the Christian is this brief narrative, because it sets before him in the plainest and most engaging manner, the method in which our blessed Redeemer accosts not Peter alone, but every truly penitent believer.
Consider, my brethren, the application of it to yourselves. The Lord, from the throne of his glory, has beheld your denials and your sins; he has also, in many instances, we trust, beheld your penitence and your tears; and he now
; asks you all individually, the penitent