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afraid to expose himself in his Lord's defence, when he was surrounded and apprehended by his enemies; and though, in this last instance, his affection was ill-expressed, yet his motive was undoubtedly praiseworthy. His heart flamed with zeal and love, and therefore he was always forward to distinguish himself.
But the warmth of Peter's temper often betrayed him into great difficulties, and showed that the grace he had received was consistent with many imperfections. Though he sincerely loved Christ, and had forsaken all for him, he was, at one time, so ignorant of the true design of his incarnation, that he was angry and impatient to hear him speak of his sufferings, and brought upon himself a most severe rebuke. Not content with the ordinary services allotted to him, he offered himself to unnecessary trials, as in the above instance, when he pressed to walk upon the water. The event showed him his own weakness and insufficiency, yet his selfconfidence revived and continued. When our Lord warned him again and again of his approaching fall, he thought and boldly affirmed that it was impossible. He was sincere in his protestation, but the actual experiment was necessary to convince and humble him; accordingly, when left to himself, he fell before the first temptation. And here the impetuosity of his temper was still manifest. He did not stop at a simple denial of Jesus, he confirmed it by an oath, and, at length, proceeded to utter bitter imprecations against himself, if
* Mark xiv. 71. "He began to curse and swear." Aváleμatı-to imprecate the most dreadful curses upon himself, and call solemnly on God to execute them. This was, indeed, the most probable method to free himself from the suspicion of being a disciple of Jesus, for no such language had been, till then, heard among his followers.
he so much as knew him, whom he had seen transfigur
ed in glory upon the mount, and prostrate in an agony Such was the weakness and inconsist
in the garden.
ence of this prince of the apostles.
None of these excesses appeared in the conduct of the traitor Judas. He was so circumspect and reserved, that we do not find any of the disciples had the least suspicion of him. But, whilst his heart was full of wickedness, he could find fault with others, and charge their best expressions of love with indiscretion. When Mary anointed our Lord's feet with ointment, he was displeased at the waste, and professed a warm concern for the poor; but we are told the true reason of his economy: it was not because he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the bag, which contained the common stock, intrusted to him. The charge of the bag is an office full of temptation; and an attachment to the bag has been often at the bottom of many censures and misrepresentations which have been thrown out against the people of God. It has been, and it will be so; but the Lord has appointed, that wherever the Gospel should be preached to the end of the world, this action of Mary, with the observation of Judas upon it, and the motive from which he made it, should be handed down together, that we may not be discouraged at things of the same kind. Without doubt, the treason of Judas and his unhappy end, after having maintained a fair character so long, and shared with the rest in the honours of the apostleship, were to them an occasion of grief, and afforded their enemies a subject of reproach and triumph. But we may believe one reason why our Lord chose Judas, and continued him so long with his disciples, to have been
y John, xii. 5, 6.
that we might learn by this awful instance not to be surprised if some, who have made a show in the church, been chosen to important offices, and furnished with excellent gifts, do, in the end, prove hypocrites and trai"tors: Let him that thinketh he standeth takeheed lest he "fall."
A desire of pre-eminence and distinction is very unsuitable to the followers of Jesus, who made himself the servant of all; very unbecoming the best of the children of men, who owe their breath to the mercy of God, have nothing that they can call their own, and have been unfaithful in the improvement of every talent. We allow that every appearance of this is a blemish in the Christian character, and especially in a Christian minister; but if, on some occasion, and in some degree, human infirmity has wrought this way, though no example can justify it, yet those who, through ignorance of their own hearts, are too rigid censurers of others, may be reminded, that this evil frequently discovered itself in the apostles. They often disputed who should be the greatest; and when our Lord was speaking of his approaching sufferings, two of them chose that unseasonable time to preclude the rest, and petitioned that they might have the chief seats in his kingdom. The first offence was theirs; but when the ten heard it, they were all moved with indignation, and showed themselves equally desirous of superiority. It is plain, therefore, that, unless the apostles were hypocrites and mercenaries, some transient escapes of this sort (though confessedly criminal and indecent) are no sure proofs that such a person is not in the main sincere, disinterested, and truly devoted to the service of God and his Gospel.
No less contrary to the meek and gracious spirit of
Jesus, is an angry zeal, expressing itself in terms of ill-will and bitterness to those who oppose or injure us. One of the highest attainments and brightest evidences of true grace, is, from a sense of the love and example of Christ, to show bowels of mercy and long-suffering to all men, and, by perseverance in well-doing, to overcome evil with good. And a contrary behaviour (if frequent and notorious) will, like a dead fly in precious ointment, destroy its savour, if not the efficacy, of all we can attempt for the service of God in the world. However, if repeated falsehoods and studied provocations do sometimes, in an unguarded moment, extort from the disciples of Christ such expressions and marks of displeasure, as in their cooler hours they willingly retract and sincerely repent of before God; this ought not to be exaggerated beyond bounds, as an offence inconsistent with their profession; at least, not by any who would be afraid to speak dishonourably of the apostles James and John, who once went so far in their anger as to demand, that fire might be sent from heaven to devour their adversaries.
We might proceed to other particulars; but enough has been said, to show the general resemblance which the
z Luke, ix. 54. They thought they were influenced by a commendable zeal for their Master, and that their proposal was warranted by an authorized precedent. We do not find that they ever wished for fire to consume the Scribes and Pharisees, who were Christ's most inveterate enemies. But when the Samaritans rejected him, the vile Samaritans, whom they, upon a national prejudice, had been accustomed to hate; then their hearts deceived them, and they indulged their own corrupt passions, while they supposed they were animated by a zeal for Christ. Are we not often deceived in the same way? Can we not silently bear, or ingenuously extenuate, the faults and mis takes of our own party, while we are all zeal and emotion, to expose= censure, and condemn, what is amiss in others?
preaching of the Gospel in later times bears to our Lord's personal ministry. The doctrine is the same, the effects the same. It was, and it is, to many, a stone "of stumbling, and a rock of offence." The opposition it has met with has been always owing to the same evil principles of pride and the love of sin, which are latent in every unrenewed heart: though the pretexts are various, they may be reduced to a few leading motives, which are always at work. The professors of this Gospel have at no time been very numerous, if compared with those who have rejected it; and of these, too many have dishonoured or forsaken it: neither have those who have received it most cordially, and been most desirous to adorn and promote it, been wholly exempt from mistakes and imperfections. The tenour of their conduct has proved them partakers of a more excellent spirit than others; their faith in Jesus has not been an empty notion, but fruitful of good works, such as no man could do except God was with him. They have been governed by higher motives, and devoted to nobler aims, than the world can either understand or bear; yet they are deeply conscious of inherent infirmity, and sometimes, to their great grief, they give too visible proofs of it, which their watchful adversaries are glad to aggravate, and charge upon them as consequences of their doctrine. This should induce all who love the Lord Jesus to redouble their guard, and to pray with David that they may be led in the right way, because of their observers. If the question is concerning the infirmities, or even the vices of others, almost every one is ready to plead in their behalf; allowances are freely and largely made for human frailty, and none are willing to be thought harsh or censorious. But the believer in Jesus must look for no abatement or extenu