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The inspired historian, having mentioned this fact, of the departure even of
many of the disciples,” immediately adds our Lord's own affecting comment
" Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe, and are sure, that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.”4 How near do such little incidents as these appear to bring us to the heart of Jesus, and of him whose life we are considering! we can almost behold the affectionate Redeemer looking round upon his “ little flock," and while marking their diminished numbers, making that inquiry which must have touched the hardest heart; we can imagine we see the zealous Peter pressing forward from the circle, and almost interrupting the reproachful inquiry, eager to disclaim, for his brethren and 4 John vi. 67-69.
5 Luke xii. 32.
himself, the possibility of such an act, burning to relieve his own bosom by a voluntary confession of a faith already matured unto certainty, and a regard which, even then, had ripened into love. Who can read his answer, “ Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life,” without rejoicing that a reply so encouraging to the heart of every believer was thus elicited, and without sincerely desiring to appropriate it to himself? Be assured, brethren, that there are states of mind in which these incidents, which the careless reader of his Bible is apt to consider trifling and unimportant, come home with the most irresistible energy and powertimes when we are unable to apprehend the blessed doctrines, or to apply the precious promises of Scripture ; but when a single brief, and touching sentiment like this, will carry balm to the wounded spirit, or suggest a prayer to the prayerless heart. Often have I
heard one of the most interesting writers of the present day declare, that at a period of his life, when his soul was powerfully tempted to “ deny the Lord who bought him," and to fall back into the mazes of infidelity from which he had even then but partially escaped, the only declaration of Scripture upon which he could find a momentary resting-place, was that which we are now considering, that during this awful and long continued conflict, in the solitude of a sick room, a prey to pain and weakness, greatly needing those consolations which the errors of a false religion, and the heartless dogmas of scepticism, never could supply, unable to close with the blessed offers of salvation through the blood of Jesus, and yet willing to cling, as with a dying hand, to his cross, the affecting exclamation which burst continually from his lips, and alone imparted even a hope of peace, was this : -“ Lord, to whom shall I go? thou
hast the words of eternal life." A cry of faith, faint and imperfect indeed ; so imperfect and so faint, that had man been the judge, it never would have reached the mercy-seat, and yet a cry which, presented by a merciful High Priest, entered into the ears of the Lord God of Sabaoth, and brought “ help from the sanctuary, and strength from out of Zion."6
But, my brethren, melancholy is the state of those, who leave the great question undecided till such an hour as that ; with a body weakened by suffering, and a mind impaired by disease, to have to struggle against our mighty enemy, and to seek, for the first time, a refuge from his attacks; to be asking, “ To whom shall I go?” when you ought to be saying, “I know whom I have believed ;”? to be preparing for the conflict, when you ought to be ready to say, “I have fought the good fight, I have 6 Psalm xx. 2.
7 2 Tim. i. 12.
kept the faith ;” to be putting on the helmet, at the
hour when you ought rather to be looking for the crown.
Why will you thus delay? Why will you not now voluntarily ask the question, which your
fears will then compel you to ask, “ To whom shall we go?” We are now able to reply to you,
- Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world.”8 Our gracious Redeemer now assures you, " Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out." Trifle not with these offers, I beseech you, my beloved brethren, as if they were for ever within your reach, and waiting your approval. It may not always be in our power thus to offer, or in yours to accept, these gracious proposals. There is a time when long indifference may have closed the ears, or habitual sin have hardened the heart, against every message of a Saviour's love. There is a time when the Spirit may cease to strive with you,
when he may “laugh at your 8 John i. 29.
9 John vi. 37.