« VorigeDoorgaan »
boafted, and appealed directly to his Savior, as the fearcher of hearts, to judge of the matter in question-of his love, and the measure of it-appealed to him who had put the queftion, loveft thou me more than thefe ? To clear up his character and bear witness to the reality and measure of his affection toward him-Yea Lord, thou knoweft that I love thee.
In this appeal he not only fhewed his fincerity, but reflected honor on Chrift, by an acknowledgment of his divinity. The knowledge of the heart is the prerogative of Deity. "I the Lord fearch the heart, I try the reins, to give to every man according to his way, and according to the fruit of his doings. The Lord fearcheth all hearts, and understandeth the imaginations of the thoughts." The exalted Savior, afterwards made himself known as poffeffing this power, and appointed to exercise it, in adjufting the rewards of another life. "All the churches fhal! know that I am he who fearcheth the hearts and reins; and I will
give to every one of you according to your
works." But this had not been clearly revealed, when Chrift paid the vifit to his difciples at the fea of Tiberias. The Chriftian difpenfation was then scarcely set up. Darknefs ftill brooded on the minds, even of the apostles. It continued till the outpouring of the Spirit, on the day of Pentecoft, when the promise of " the Comforter, to teach them all things, and bring all things to their remembrance," was fulfilled. But Simon feems to have anticipated these public manifeftations and
discoveries to have at this time been convinced, that Chrift was omnifcient-THOU KNOWEST ALL THINGS; thou knoweft that I love thee.
In this appeal, Chrift was farther honored, by Simon's open, public reliance on his goodness. He had then lately difhonored Chrift, by a fhameful denial-a denial, when to have acknowledged him, would have done him the greatest honor. But fuch was his confidence in the goodness of his Lord, that he dared to truft himself with himhad no concern, that refentment of the part he had acted, would induce him, in whom he trufted, to overlook his penitence, and pass his humble confidence unnoticed-did not fear to trust himself in Chrift's hands, and leave it to him to make known his character to his fellow difciples.
In these things the faith of Simon, and the nature of his faith appeared. He not only believed Jefus to be the Chrift, but he believed the divinity of Chrift, His faith did not terminate in a bare affent, but convinced of his fufficiency, and of his juftice, and mercy and readiness to forgive the returning penitent, he gave himself up to Chrift and trufted in him to pardon his fins and fave him by his grace, Though fenfible of his own demerit, fear did not drive him away from the Savior, but induced him to return to him and put his whole truft in him.
SUCH is the nature of justifying faith. Those who are fubjects of it, deeply fenfible of their fins, "look to the Lamb of God, who taketh away the fin of the world," and place all their dependence
on him; and they are not disappointed-" Whofo believeth fhall not be ashamed.”
THUS Simon's faith and love were owned of Chrift; and this late offender not only pardoned, but continued in his office; a paftor of Chrifl's flock. Feed my lambs-Feed my fheep, were the replies to the appeals made by the offender, that he loved the Savior. In this manner was he directed,
III. To manifeft his love to Chrift.-It might have been thought that Simon had fallen from his office when he denied his Lord; with oaths and imprecations, denied his knowledge of him. If so, he was here reftored; Chrift entrufted him again with the care of his flock-which he had purchafed with his blood ;" and reappointed him to "give them their meat in due feafon." His having had this charge here given him, argued the pardon of his offences, and his refloration to fa. vor. He would not have been required to do the work of an apostle, had not his tranfgreffion been forgiven, and his fin been blotted out. Judas had no fuch trust reposed in him after his fall; no fuch duty required of him. "By his tranfgreffion he fell from his miniftry and apoflefhip, that he might go to his own place, and another take his office." Judas repented; but not with repentance unto life. His repentance led to death by his own hand. Diverfe was that of Simon, both in its nature and effects. His was "Godly forrow, which wrought repentance unto life"--which caused him to devote himself wholly to the service
of the Redeemer, and at last to lay down his life for his fake.
1. OUR fubject teacheth the folly of felf de. pendence. Who ever appeared to have stronger confidence in himself than Peter? Yet few have fallen more shamefully than he.
If we lean to ourselves, like things will probably befall us. Our ftrength is weakness. Our enemies are many and powerful; they are long verfed in the arts of deception; well acquainted with our weakness; know how, and when, and where to attack us to advantage. Left to ourfelves, we fhould doubtlefs be fnared and taken by them.
SIMON was naturally bold and refolute; had great love to Chrift, and zeal for his honor: Yet all did not enable him "to fland in the evil day." If Peter fell, who, left to himself, can stand? Not But God is able to make the weakest and moft feeble fland, and will make them ftand if they trust in him. 'My grace is fufficient for thee, for my ftrength is made perfect in weakness.” Bleffed are they who truft in him.
II. AN high opinion of a perfon's own ftrength, or love to God and the Redeemer, is moft com. monly the prelude to a fall. When one thinks himself ftrong, and feels fecure, he is foon taught his weakness and dependence, and the need he stands in of a divine guardian, by fome advantage gained over him by the enemy: Whereas, thofe who are fenfible of their own weakness, and truft
in God, are holden up, and made to ftand. "Moft gladly, therefore, will I rather glory in my infirmi. ties, that the power of Chrift may reft upon-me for when I am weak, then am I ftrong."
III. As felf knowledge is of great importance, necessary to our reforming that which is amifs, and to our trufting in him who is able to keep us, we should often try ourselves, as in his presencehis, to whom our hearts are open. It becomes us often to retire inward, and examine whether the love of Chrift dwelleth in us? Whether we love him more than thefe ? Than the world and the things of it? If Chrift is not uppermoft in our hearts, "we are not worthy of him." But if we can answer the queftion put to Simon, as he answered it, Lord thou knoweft all things; thou know. eft that I love thee, happy are we. We remain in a ftate of imperfection-may often have occafion to mourn fome practical denial of Chrift; ftill, if he who knoweth all things, knoweth that we love him, our love to him will not be overlooked; he will own us before his Father, and reward us with eternal rewards.
IV. CHRIST's difciples, while in the body, often err; if acquainted with ourselves, we must often know this of ourselves; do we then see our faults?
IF any who call themfelves Chriftians live in neglect of self examination, and are confequently ftrangers to themselves, there is great reafon to fear that they are ftrangers alfo to the Christian life. The Chriftian communes much with his own heart, and finds daily occasion to mourn be