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their Master ; which was increased by their disa tressed condition. Joy at any time; but doubly joyful to have a visit from their best friend, at the moment when they were tossed about with the waves, and threatened with immediate death. Joy to be delivered from their danger, and to have Christ with them.
This was followed by a display of Peter's love to Christ, and his confidence in him. Love, in his desire to go to him ; and confidence, that he could support him even on the boisterous deep. There seems to have been a mixture of ignorance and self-confidence in his conduct. He ought to have known, that there are some things in which the disciples are not called to imitate Christ; this of walking on the water is one.
Though Peter failed in this attempt, there have been some deluded persons, who have made the like attempt. To what extremes, my brethren, may the minds of good men sometimes be carried, under peculiar circumstances. None of us, if left to ourselves, are secure from such delusions.
It deserves to be mentioned on this occasion, that Peter did not attempt to walk on the water, till he had asked and obtained leave of Christ. “ Bid me come to thee," said he. Hence learn, that good men sometimes ask amiss. They know not what to pray for as they ought. Do ye not think that he was to blame on this occasion? Why not wait till Christ had reached the ship? I am apprehensive there was no small degree of pride in the heart of Peter, when he made this request. It seems as though he wish
ed to do as Christ did, and thus be the foremost of the disciples. His pride would have been fod extremely, had he succeeded. It would have been a flattering circumstance in his character, to have it said, Peter had walked on the water.
We have, my Christian friends, more pride and selfishness mixed with our acts of religion, than we are aware of. Hence the necessity of great caution in every thing we do. How often have we found ourselves influenced by these motives. We have reason to be ashamed before God, who knoweth our hearts, on the account thereof. We may be constant and warm in the affairs of religion, when our motives are entirely wrong. Sometimes, indeed, it is diflicult for the godly man to determine what are his motives. Hence he condemns himself when they are right; and at other times approves them when wrong. It requires great acquaintance with ourselves, and a constant attention to our own hearts, to distinguish when we do all to the glory of God.
It may be asked, why did our Lord grant Peter's request, if he asked amiss? I answer, to try him. We read of the Israelites, that “they lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. And he
them their request, but sent leanness into their souls.” (Psalm cvi.) At another time they asked a king, and he gave them one in his anger, and took him away
in his wrath. Hosea, xiii. 11. In this case, I believe Peter asked amiss, and the Lord granted his request as a trial to him ; and so it proved: for instead of its exalting, it degraded his character. For you are all sensible that this part of the history of Peter does not re
dound to his honour; and that Christ himself reproved him for his want of faith'in him. This will appear as we examine the sacred account. When Peter “ had come down out of the ship, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.” No doubt the other disciples, more prudent than Peter, looked on with great anxiety to observe what would be the issue. The affair was soon decided; for seeing the wind boisterous, he was afraid. He forgot at the moment the power of his Master, thought of nothing but his danger, and “ beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.”
This part of the history teacheth us several useful lessons; such as, that we ought not to run to meet troubles; they will come fast enough. Peter ought to have remained in the ship, as his fellow disciples did. When we leave our station, or the place allotted us, we always rush into danger. This same Peter, when his Master was on his trial, went imprudently among the servants of the high priest, who knew him, and instantly accused him ; this led on to that dark part of his history, in which he denied his Lord, and swore he did not know him. So here, this very forward man must needs leave the ship, and throw himself into danger, without any proper call of duty; and by doing so, has taught us to keep in our own place, till the Master call us to any hazardous enterprize.
Peter hath also taught us this important lesson, that whenever we are in trouble we should look to Jesus, who is “ mighty to save.”
We also learn, that a mind in trouble can pray without book. “Lord, save me.” Poor Peter had not much time to compose this prayer ; he was sinking: nor did he want it. Experience taught him to pray ; nor could he possibly have expressed himself more to the purpose by any previous meditation. It is short, comprehensive, and was delivered with all the warmth and importunity of a distressed man. Prayer maintains a sense of dependence.
We also learn that Jesus Christ will be sought unto by his followers, to do even those things for them which he had determined to do. We must, however, give Peter credit for his faith in Christ, which he now manifested. It was a time that tried what manner of spirit he was of. Re. mark, he did not call to the disciples in the ship, to come and take him in; no: but he forgot every method of help but one, and that was Christ. Lord, save me. And immediately he stretched forth his hand, and caught him." We proceed to notice,
II. Mankind, like Peter, in many instances, feel themselves sinking, and are indebted to Christ for their preservation. He hath, in various in. stances, stretched out his hand and caught them.
In many instances mankind feel themselves sinking
1. This is the case with sinners, under clear views of their guilt and condemnation. These views are in some instances greater than they are in others; but in all cases they produce the same fears, though not in an equal degree: for when a șinner has a just view of his guilt, as under the law; when he is convinced of his sin as against
God, and the punishment due to him for it; when he realizes the wrath of God against him for sin, he feels himself sinking, and cries with David, “ While I suffer thy terrors, I am distracted." To the borders of despair have some persons been driven by these discoveries, and have thought that God could not be just in saving them. But behold the mercy and goodness of Jesus Christ! Then, in the critical moment, when no created arm could help; then, when the destruction of these unhappy creatures appeared unavoidable, the Lord Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught them; I mean, he then sent relief to their sin-burdened souls, by granting a view in the gospel of his complete atonement. To you who have been delivered I appeal, for the truth of this observation.
2. This has been the case with the believer also under clouds and darkness of a spiritual nature. It is a common thing for those who have lately been brought to the knowledge of the truth, to think that their “ mountain stands strong,” that they shall always be as happy as they now are. This mistake prepares the way for extreme distress, when they shall afterward, lose their first love, or meet with the loss of their consolations. And such is the common lot of realChristians : yet when it happens, they are ready to give up all hope that they ever knew the truth. Their distresses are unspeakably great at such times. The reason why they are so, is this: they have known their danger and escape, their misery and remedy; they have known the joys of faith, therefore cannot bear the loss of them. An idea of deception, or of separation from Jesus