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salem, and preach Christ, and claim for Christ sovereign honour—Let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God hath made that same Jesus whom ye have crucified both Lord and Christ. And then a little farther on we behold this same Apostle going undaunted to the common prison, and bearing stripes joyfully, rather than at man's bidding restrain his testimony-rather than cease to teach and to preach Christ Jesus !
You see by this, brethren, that St. Peter quite recovered himself out of the snare into which he had fallen; you see that his after life was one of deep devotion ; you see that at a later day he was ready to suffer persecution for his Lord. And so it was to his latest hour; so it was till he yielded up his breath, a martyr to the cause of Christ, being crucified at Rome, with his face downwards. He never again faltered, never drew back-never from present pain, present affliction, for a moment proved untrue to his beloved Master. To use his own beautiful words in his first Epistle—“He thought it not strange concerning the fiery trial which was to try him, as though some strange thing happened unto him, but he rejoiced inasmuch as he was a partaker of Christ's sufferings”—he felt happy in bearing reproach for the name of Christ, and in the midst of all that man could do, all the revilings, all the persecutions, he had to endure, he was calm and resigned, for he committed the keeping of his soul to God in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.
And now let us notice in St. Peter's repentance some lessons for ourselves : and this especially, the encouragement it holds out to those who have sinned and have repented, but who doubt of being restored. Such persons are inclined to despond, to look upon the past as for ever disqualifying them from any high religious attainment. Remorse for their sins past, cripples and cramps their efforts,—to be saved at all seems almost too much for them to expect—but to be distinguished among saints, to come in among the foremost in the Christian race, this they deem altogether impossible. Now St. Peter's example does away with such despondency. If he is our warning in his fall-our warning not to be over-confident, over-secure, but to lean more on God, and to distrust ourselves, so is he our pattern in his rising again. It has been well observed, “ That one so great should so fall is humbling to the highest of the saints, but that, having so fallen, he should be so restored, is the hope of all, who have in any measure done despite to the Spirit of grace.”
And note another thing. Not only was St. Peter's repentance effectual to his complete restoration, not only was it no hindrance to his running successfully in the Christian race, but it seems to have been to him (under God) a stepping-stone to higher things ; the very means by which his character was purified and ennobled, and all that was weak and faulty purged out of it. · Think of him as he was before his fall-many chief elements of a true religious life were wanting in himhe wanted humility, he wanted meekness, he wanted reverence, he wanted self-denial. We see him ever in the front; self-confident, setting every one right in turn, ever contradicting his Lord—a man certainly generous and warm-hearted, but with too good an opinion of himself; too little sensible of his infirmities; sadly ignorant of his own heart. That is St. Peter before his fall. But look at him afterwards; look at him when godly sorrow had done its work upon him—and you see him no more a boaster, no more filled with conceit of his own strength and merits, but a man, meek and lowly, doubtful of any excellence in himself, referring all to God, and doing all to His glory.
Contrast but his words as we see them before his fall, in the Gospel, with his language afterwards.-Although all should be offended, yet will not I. This be far from Thee, Lord, Thou shalt never wash my feet !-contrast, I say, this language of confidence and self-assertion, with the same Apostle's words at a later day— Why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk ? . . His name through faith in His name hath made this man strong. Contrast again his self-esteem in his question, Lord, we have left all, and followed Thee, what shall we have therefore? with that which forms the key-note of his Second Epistle, Be clothed with humility, and watch unto prayer.
Such was the effect of repentance on St. Peter, and it is written in the Bible for our comfort and instruction —for the comfort, as I have said, of all truly penitent hearts ; to shew us that though we have fallen-fallen very low—yet, by the grace of God, we may recover ourselves completely, may be better men, and more devoted to God, and more full of good works, than ever we were before we were brought down and humbled.
Lay we then to heart the story of St. Peter's recovery. Lay we it to heart for our comfort to save us from despair, to quicken us in the work of true repentance.
And from what we have seen of repentance in him, let us gather this-viz., that in all true repentance there must be these three things
Where these are present there is good reason to think that repentance is genuine-unto life: where these are wanting, it is to be feared that, however for the moment we may express ourselves repentant, we shall not bring forth any real fruit meet for repentance.
Remember, then, brethren, that the first step is selfcondemnation, an acknowledgment in our own heart within, and with our lips outwardly, that we have done wrong-offended God. Against Thee have I sinned, and done this evil in Thy sight! This acknowledgment stands at the very door of genuine repentance; and it is a much harder thing than you may be inclined to think it. The heart is quick to shape excuses ; we catch at every flimsy covering that may serve to cloak our sin from sight. To say we have sinned-yea, though we know our guilt, is not easy. When we hear God's voice crying, What hast thou done ? we run to hide ourselves, or we try to put Him off with an evasion, or we lay the blame on another—upon the circumstances, upon the power of the temptation, upon the nature which He has implanted in us. But such reasons, such excuses, such palliations, only make the matter worse. It is a law of spiritual life, that there can be no restoration to peace and God's love till we have got rid of the burden of our sin, and we cannot get rid of it till we have made a clean breast-till we
have confessed our wickedness— Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgression, and my sin is ever before me. That as David teaches us, is ever the right order—first, the full unreserved acknowledgment, and then the pardon consequent on it-God's perfect cleansing.
A second element, and closely connected with the former, is sorrow-lasting sorrow. We must not soon forget our sin, nor soon forgive it in ourselves.—We need the remembrance of it to keep us from a second fall. We need, too, the humiliation of it; we need it as a defence against pride, we need it as a constant spur to watchfulness, we need it to remind us of our unworthiness. For these, and for many other reasons, it is not well, it is not desirable, that we should cease to remember and lament our sin. God only knows with what provocations we have committed it; God only knows how near the iniquity has been our ruin! True—now that we are penitent He has cast it all behind His back, but what has been-has—we have departed from grace givenwe have gone astray from the path of God's commandments as sheep that were lost—we have sinned against light and knowledge, against mercies and warnings—to us belongeth confusion of face : to the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses ; but to ourselves belongs
—and for a very long time must belong—to think thereon and weep!
The third requisite for a true and lasting repentance is,—that we have a strong personal love of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It was this which in St. Peter was so conspicuous. He loved his Master even