we shall commonly succeed in our endeavours of amendment with much less struggle and exertion than we might at first apprehend. In a word, there is no need for us to fill our imaginations with the notion of “ some great thing” which we are called to do-we have only to “ wash and be clean," wherever we find that we are in any respect defiled or unholy.-There are, indeed, very great things in operation for the immortal soul of man ;—there are things which it requires all the merciful exertions of Heaven to execute ;-there was a sacrifice of Redemption necessary to be made ;—there was a sanctifying Spirit required to prompt and to purify the heart; these great things have been done, and are ever doing, and without them our feeble efforts, alas ! would be but ineffectual and vain ;—yet it is our part, my brethren, to apply our hearts, with undivided diligence, to the simple performances which are ever within our reach ; and when in the contemplation of those great mysteries of our Faith, for the annual commemoration of which we are now preparing, we tremble as we say, “ Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle ? who shall dwell in thy holy hill ?” no mysterious or repulsive reply is given us, but we are reminded, that it is “ He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart."

[ocr errors]



MATTHEW, xxvi. 34.

Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, ,

that this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.

THERE are few circumstances in the sacred writings either more affecting or instructive, than the relation of the temporary apostacy of St Peter. Nothing can be more lamentable than that such a stain should be found in the character of so good a man ; that it should appear, too, at that very moment when we might suppose all his best principles and feelings would have opposed its intrusion. This melancholy picture of human weakness, accompanied as it is with the many other touching circumstances in the narrative, renders it, in truth, one of the most pathetic which we can well contemplate. The instruction which it conveys is, at the same time, equally powerful, and such, perhaps, as is more generally applicable than any other. For the honour of human nature, we inay hope that deep-rooted vice is no very common spectacle ; but where, alas ! shall we not find weakness and infirmity ? Where shall we find a mind superior to temptation, or that may not, on some occasions, be misled into great offences,—by temptations, too, that appear of a very trivial and ordinary kind ? This is the truth which is so strikingly illustrated in the incident before us.

* Preached during Lent.

None of our Lord's disciples was more ardently attached to his Master than Peter, or seemed to entertain stronger impressions of the Divinity of his character. None of them, we may well believe, formed a more decided purpose to lay down his life for Him, if it should be required-yet, when the trial came, we find that the determination of this Apostle was shaken by the first occurrence of danger or alarm. This remains, then, as one of the most memorable examples upon record, of the instability of human virtueand it is impossible to contemplate it, therefore, without great apprehension concerning ourselves. The truth likewise is, that, when we examine our own conduct, we shall find in it but too many instances of resemblance to this fatal sin of St Peter. They cannot indeed have occurred on occasions of such awful importance, and they may not appear in all the same colours of cowardice and ingratitude-yet how often have resolutions, that we thought secure, been found to fail,-how often have frivolous seductions, or unmanly fears, turned us aside from the plain course of duty,—how often have we rejected the supreinacy of Conscience, and denied all knowledge of its authority !--The example of St Peter, or the recollections of our own weakness, would yet carry little instruction if they afforded us no preventatives for the repetition of such disorders. We can easily, however, discover the causes of these failures, and by proper assiduity, accompanied with humble dependance upon Divine

« VorigeDoorgaan »