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not read of the Apostle Peter, that warm and zealous disciple of Christ, who was willing to go with him to prison and to death; and who ardently engaged that though he should die with him, yet he would never deny him? But the great Redeemer, to check his rash confidence, and to give a striking instance to his own followers in all future ages, permitted this great champion of the faith to fall from his allegiance in the very moment when he had publicly declared his affection to his Master. Graciously did his Lord admonish him to beware of promising too much, and prophetically warned him, that notwithstanding the eagerness which he then manifested, he should, before a short interval, not only desert him in his afflictions, but thrice deny his knowledge of him. Conscious of his present attachment, and of a temper the most fervent and sanguine, he resents his Master's suspicions, and instead of being humbled by the prediction he had heard, he reiterates his assurances, and adds, that though all the other disciples should be so ungenerous, or so timid, as through want of faith or fear of persecution to desert their Lord, he would assuredly be faithful," Although all shall
be offended, yet will not I. And Jesus saith unto him, Verily, I say unto thee, that this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. But he spake the more vehemently. Though I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise. Likewise also said they all.” Who but in reading this animated account, must admire the firm spirit and steady friendship of these disciples of Christ; and in particular be pleased with that forward zeal which distinguished the Apostle Peter? Must not the reader eagerly pursue the account, and expect to find this faithful follower leading forward his companions, and with undaunted courage defending their persecuted and innocent Lord? Must he not expect to see them sacrificing their lives, or at least taken captive in the contest? But, on the contrary, we are informed, that although the blessed Jesus had mildly desired them but to watch with him, that he might have leisure to strengthen his mind by prayer; and although he informed them that his soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death," and again repeated his command, "Tarry ye here, and watch ;" yet in this season of distress and danger,
unmindful of the Divine Sufferer, who was ardently pouring out his supplications to his Heavenly Father, these friends, who had been so unreserved in their professions, and who, it might have been supposed, would have been most anxious for his preservation and his peace; at this critical season they fall asleep. With that unexampled mildness, which distinguished the character of Christ, he makes no reproach to the Apostle Peter, but says, "Simon, sleepest thou? Couldst thou not watch one hour?" What speech could have been so pathetic as this question? Well might they know not what to answer. These sleeping disciples are those, who a few hours before had engaged to support their Divine Master, and who appeared so solicitous to promote his interest: But their last and greatest trial is at hand. His inveterate and malicious foes have sent a band of men, with swords and staves for to take him, while the perfidious Judas gives his Lord the faithless kiss, which shall betray him to their hands. Now does the Apostle Peter for a moment evince his imprudent zeal, and without waiting the command of Christ, "he drew a sword, and smote a servant of the high priest, and cut
off his ear."
Our Saviour immediately
blamed his indiscretion, healed the wound he had occasioned, and then delivered him. self up to those who were sent to apprehend him, in obedience to the will of his Father. As soon as they beheld their Master in the power of his enemies, "then all the disciples forsook him and fled." The sequel of the history informs us, that Peter and one other disciple ventured to mix with the mul titude, who accompanied Jesus to the palace of the high priest, and being asked by a servant maid, who kept the door, whether he was not one of Christ's disciples? he meanly replied, I am not; and on the same question being twice repeated, he affirmed with curses that he did not even know the man. "And immediately while he yet spake, the cock crew and the Lord turned and looked upon Peter;" that look reminded him of all the promises he had broken, and of the accomplishment of that divine prediction which had warned him of the approach of temptation. Mortified, humbled, and penitent, "he remembered the word of the Lord, and Peter went out and wept bitterly." The character of this distinguished Apostle is particularly deserving the atten
tion of those who are in early life. It exhibits that warm and zealous inclination in the pursuit of goodness which is so apt to precipitate the youthful mind into the inconsiderate sallies of unrestrained passion. With a fervent and sincere attachment to his Great Master, he was thoughtless of the propriety of his actions, and careless of the consequence of his ungoverned fury; he consulted not his Lord when he drew the sword in his defence; he remembered not that his kingdom was a spiritual one, and that, as Jesus himself informed him, he could have summoned legions of angels to rescue him from violence, had he not resolved to submit himself to the will of God, and to accomplish the predictions of the prophets. The weakness of St. Peter, in the memorable incident above recited, was succeeded by all that conscious remorse which ever accompanies guilt in a noble mind; and we are informed that it rendered him cautious and circumspect in his future promises, so that when our Lord, after his resurrection, asked, if he loved him? he modestly answered, "Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee;" and when, as a trial of his disposition, the same question was thrice