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For the Christian Spectator. On the character of the Apostle Peter. There are few scriptural charac ters more strongly marked, than that of the Apostle Peter. We cannot but love him for his ardent zeal, his generous feelings, his quick seusibility, his ingenuous promptness, his teachableness, his devotedness to Christ, his reverence and affection for him. The biography of this disciple is no where given in connection, but is learnt from insulated passages scattered through the New Testament. Astonished at the miraculous draught of fishes and overwhelmed with the sense of his unworthiness, he “sell down at the Saviour's feet, saying, Depart from me for I am a sinful man.” When Jesus, about to give a striking and impressive illustration of the duty of humility—offered to wash his disciples’ feet; Peter, unwilling to have his Master do any thing which might lower his character, from the honesty of his heart and with his wonted quickness, exclaims, “Thou shalt never wash my feet.” And when assured that this ceremony could not be dispensed with, he goes directly to the opposite extreme; “Lord! not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.” At the time when the Saviour revealed to his little family that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem and there, after enduring many insults, to suffer the death of the cross; Peter, we are told, with his constitutional promptness and indiscretion,
deluded by the carnal expectation that the Messiah would be a mighty temporal prince, seized him by the hand “and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord / this shall not be unto thee.” The evening previous to the crucifixion after the institution of the Supper and when on the way to the garden where the bloody scene began, Christ said to his chosen band, “Ye shall be offended because of me this night, for it is written, I will smite the Shepherd and the sheep.of the flock shall be scattered abroad;” the zealous disciple, unable to endure the thought of there being even a possibility of his forsaking his Lord, exclaims, “Though all men shall be of: fended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.” On the Saviour's replying, “Verily I say unto thee that this night before the cock crow thou shalt deny me thrice;” ignorant of his frailty, wounded to the quick by the supposition, with increased warmth he renews his protestations: “Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee.” Having enquired of Christ whither he was going, and being told that he could not then follow him; he with his usual earnestness as well as affection rejoins; “Why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake.” Accordingly when the band entered the garden for the purpose of apprehending Christ, Peter, determined to stand by him to the last, drew his sword upon them and smote the high priest's servant, and would probably have continued to fight his way, had not his Master commanded him to desist from violence and to sheath his sword. After the crucifixion when Mary Magdalene informed the disciples that Jesus had risen, Peter and John ran hastily to the grave; and while John, being perhaps of a more timid cast of character, merely looks into the sepulchre from without—Peter, quick and fearless, leaps down and is the first who gains certain assurance that the crucified Redeemer has of a truth arisen from the dead. When Jesus from the shore hailed his disciples fishing at a distance from land; as soon as Peter recognized his Master, he at once plunged into the water and hastened to him. When the Lord Jesus enquired of him three times in succession: “Simon, son of Jonas! Lovest thou me;” Peter, still possessed of his original generous sensibility,+conscious of his integrity of intention however weak might have been his resolution, cut to the quick because reminded of his former apostacy, hurt and grieved to the heart; he each time magnanimously replies: “Lord thou knowest that I love thee.” There is a circumstance yet unnoticed which places this disciple's character in a peculiarly happy light. St. Paul in one” of his epistles declares Peter to have been guilty of gross dissimulation at Antioch, of which he gives us an extended account, and for which he says he openly blamed Peter and “ withstood him to the face” “before them all.” Still, however, Peter afterwards in his own writings styles Paul his “beloved brother,”t and speaks in the highest terms of all his epistles, though recording and thus, as he knew, publishing his disgrace. This is a genuine specimen of the Christian spirit. We would mention still another fact as illustrative of Peter’s character. Although not related in Scripture, it is supported by the universal tradition of the early ages of the church. When called to suffer the martyrdom so long before
* Gal. Chap. II. t II. Peter, 3.15.
predicted by Christ, he was at his own request crucified with his head downward, deeming himself unworthy of the honour of having his body suspended upon the cross in the manner in which his Master’s was, whom he had once shamefully forsaken. Such are some of the outlines of this interesting character. We must love him for his excellencies, while we pity his infirmities and weep over his guilt in denying his Lord and Master. Several important reflections are suggested by a contemplation of the life of this apostle. Of these, one of the most obvious is the danger of self confidence. Christ requested of the band that apprehended Him that they would let his disciples “go their way, that the saying might be fulfilled which he spake: Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none.” He was well acquainted with human frailty. He knew how little, flesh and blood are to be relied upon in seasons of temptation. A determination never to yield to obstacles and always to resist danger with firmness, is highly praiseworthy in those who are running a virtuous career, and is of ten the means of accomplishing the greatest and most useful designs. This is a quality of the christian hero ; but his strength is derived from above. When he is in this sense truly strong, he feels how little his own frail resolutions are of thenselves to be trusted. “My strength,” said St. Paul, “is made perfect in weakness:” “for when I am weak then am I strong.” When in reproaches, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake, it was on the promise of the Lord alone that he rested: “My grace is sufficient for thee.” We are not however to seek danger in order that our strength may be displayed. But we are to avoid it so far as we can without injury to our Master's cause, Still, when brought into temptation, when obliged to struggle with it; then clothed with divine strength,supplicating God for support, we are to fight mansully