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and of deeper meaning. But the third time the question is asked, the Lord takes up and uses Peter's own word. And this third time touches him most deeply of all. For it reminds him of another question, thrice repeated, which of late had drawn from him a very different answer. Thrice the Lord asks the question, for thrice had His Disciple denied Him. Now in His restoring mercy He gives His penitent this threefold opportunity of confessing Him whom he had thrice denied. Then“ the Chief-shepherd” bids this restored one earnestly to feed His flock; 3 to feed them all ; now His lambs, now His sheep; 4 both the babes in Christ, and those that are of full age; those who require to be fed with the sincere milk of the word, and those who can digest its stronger meat. He bids him not only feed,—this is but part of his task-but also to shepherds them, which includes all. And other words he adds, intimating the baptism of blood in store.
THE SAME SUBJECT-continued.
St. John xxi. 18, 19 (former clause). Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest : but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God.
1 The first word “has more of see Abp. Trench, Synonyms of the judgment and deliberate choice,” the N. T. ad verb, other more of attachment and pecu
6 From the Lord's words here, liar personal affection.”—Abp Trench, writers in the interest of the Church Mirr. See also Synonyms of the N. T. of Rome have endeavoured to extract
2 Aug. in 8. Jo. Tr. cxxiii. 5; Ser. a supremacy for St. Peter. But no ccxcv. 4; ccxcvi. 3.
such meaning can be wrung from His 3 Collect for St. Peter's Day. 1 St. words. The charge is not given to Peter v. 2-4. See Vir. Ecl. ix. 23. St. Peter to the exclusion of the other
* On the various reading in v. 17 Apostles. They needed not as he to and its probable position, see Abp. receive it afresh. It can only mean Trench, Mirr. 466, note.
that now the lapsed Apostle is fors The second of the three words mally reinstated in the same position rendered in the E. V. feed bas this with the rest, not that he is raised force. On the return the first word above them.
In allusion to Peter's late alacrity in girding himself to go forth to meet his Lord, the Lord draws a contrast between this vigour of his youth and the feebleness of his age; between the active obedience of the beginning of his ministry, and the passive obedience of its close. Now he is comparatively young and strong; but pass some years of labour, and those hands, but lately stretched forth to swim, shall, after the pattern of his Master, be extended on a Cross. No more shall he gird himself for spiritual work, as of late he girded himself for physical exertion ; but another, the minister of malice, shall gird him, as the condemned malefactor is girt, for death, for martyrdom. In the expression, “ Whither thou wouldest,” may be a gentle reminder of his late desertion ; but in the “whither thou wouldest not,” we must not imagine aught of unwillingness to be implied. It can but mean that natural shrinking from a violent death which is common to us all; which may be so spoken of even where such a death is willingly endured. And even here the rendering of himself to death is spoken of as the faithful Apostle's own act and deed. Full well he seems to have borne in mind his Master's charge. About thirty years after these prophetic words were spoken, so ecclesiastical history informs us, Peter was crucified at Rome, under the archtyrant Nero.
THE SAME SUBJECT—continued.
St. John xxi. 19 (latter clause)-22.
And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me. Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved
I V. 7 above; Acts xii. 8; xxi. 11. * Aug. in S. Jo. Tr. cxxiii. 5. ? See the original word.
51 St. Pet. v. 1-5; 2 St. Pet. i. 3 Tertullian, de Præscript. Hæret. 13, 14. c. xxxvi.
6 Euseb. ii. 25 ; iii. 1.
following ; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee ? follow thou me.
So to His penitent Apostle the Lord gives again that call — in words which could not but call to mind that first summons, and on this same shore, from his former craft“Follow me."1 “It would seem that he took some paces along the rough and rocky shore, bidding Peter to do the same; thus setting forth to him in a figure his future life.” ? The command is promptly obeyed, not only by him to whom it was addressed, but by that other Disciple whom we have before found associated with him, our Evangelist himself. He who followed his companion after the dead,” will follow with him also after the living. And when the career of the one is thus disclosed by the power of prophecy, forth with arises a not ignoble curiosity to learn the future fortunes of the other. Yet if we may acquit this inquirer of any feeling of ill, and regard his question as the inquiry rather of a kindly concern than of a rising envy, there seems, no doubt, in the Lord's answer something of censure; some degree of rebuke implied in His answering question and counsel. So that while the Lord, we find, does in some sort answer His servant's question (though, as suited to the style of prophecy, after an ambiguous manner) He intimates to Him at the same time that our own duties are plain, and they are enough to occupy all our care. Peter's path had been pointed out. It was to follow his Master by the way of the Cross. And now he is curious to know also the career of his companion John. What is in store for him 25 The Lord, while censuring the question, yet intimates that his lot will be a different one. He is to tarry till the Lord shall come ;' till the Lord shall come in that approaching catastrophe of Jerusalem, the former part, as we know, of His last great double prophecy, significant of His final coming at the end of all things. He is not to taste of death till he has seen the Kingdom of God come with power ;3 till the Jewish polity be plainly passed away, and the Gentile world be crowding into the Church, and the Kingdom of Heaven be rooted in the earth. This he alone of the Apostolic band, so tradition tells us, lived to see. But the Lord's question and counsel here have an application beyond this pair of Apostles. They may help us in many a perplexity of mind to which we may apply them; help us, if not to solve, at least to regard with a quiet mind, those problems which are too high for us. Meanwhile our duty is clear. We know all that at present it concerns us to know. Leave thy questionings. Leave other men's matters. And “ follow thou me.” So the Lord repeats, with increased emphasis, to His too curious Disciple. And so must we too follow, if we would be at rest in our minds, and useful in our day and generation. We must be content to be ignorant of many things which it does
i St. Matt. iv. 18-20. Compare St. ? Abp. Trench. Matt. xvi. 24, a charge called forth 3 St. John xx, 2-8. by the conduct of this particular Dis- · The pronouns in the original are ciple. See also St. John xiii. 36, 37. emphatic; as who sbould say, “ Thy The Epistles of St. Peter show part is to follow me, not to be curious throughout how deeply his Master's concerning him.” See 1 St. Pet. iv. 15. words had sunk into his mind. See 5 Augustine (in $. Jo. Tr.cxxiv. 5) e. g., 1 St. Pet. ii, 21, 25; v. 1-5; 2 has a memorable passage on the modes St. Pet. i. 13, 14.
or conditions of life signified severally
by St. Peter and St. John. They are among English fanatics were found exquisitely drawn out in The Christian those who expected the return of St. Year for St. John's Day.
John; that some said he had been | Beza has here a curious note. seen in Suffolk. According to others He speaks of one Agyrtas who in his he was still in Transylvania, whither day gave himself out to be St. John, they wrote to him, urging him to and of Postellus, a lunatic at Paris, come quickly to England. And when who claimed to have the soul of the they encountered any foreigner from first Adam. The former, he says, was those parts, they were wont to inquire burnt at Toulouse. "But the latter," if by chance he might be the Apostle be adds, " is even as I write still tole- John. Dean Stanley (Sermons and rated at Paris, even by the Sorbonne." Essays, p. 277, note) has other legends In order to appreciate this last sen- to the same effect. tence, the impatience of which may 2 St. Matt. xxiv., xxv. be contrasted with the complacency 3 St. Mark is. 1. of the preceding, we must bear in 4 Euseb. iii. 23.
Compare with mind that Beza was the disciple and these closing words of his Gospel, the apologist of Calvin ; and Calvin, how closing words of the Revelation. ever that atrocious act may be ex- 5 P.. cxxxi. tenuated, was the slayer of Servetus. Compare the original of vv. 19, Lampe (Proleg. I. vi.) notes that
not now greatly concern us to know;' which it may be we should not be any the better for knowing; and of which if now we had solution, there would be no room left for any moral trial and probation. We must be content to have even our reasonable curiosity sometimes unsatisfied ; to acquiesce in the limits which the Lord of all has assigned to the human understanding. But what then? Need this render us faithless, hopeless, unloving? This shall not shake us who have learnt that “the great end of life is not to know, but to do." 3
THE SAME SUBJECT-continued.
St. John xxi. 23-25.
Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? This is the disciple which testifieth of these things,
? Compare the original of vv. 19, and the measure even of Divine reve22.
lation on this side the grave. . . . He 2 “ La dernière démarche de la knows not the reasons of what he raison, c'est de connoître qu'il y a une
knows. He knows ... that there is infinité de choses qui la surpassent. such a thing, but not .. why it is; ... Que si les choses naturelles la no, nor perhaps what it is." sur nt, que dira-t-on des surnatu- South, Ser. iii. relles ! Si on soumet tout à la raison, “ They are in the number of those notre religion n'aura rien de mysté- mysterious things which it surpasses rieux ni de surnaturel. Si on choque the reason of men to give account of." les principes de la raison, notre religion Id. Ser. lxvii. See Cic. Tusc. Disp. sera absurde et ridicule. La raison iv. 21, and the fine passage in Hooker ne se soumettroit jamais si elle ne (Eccl. Pol. 1. ii. 2) beginning, “ Danjugeoit qu'il y a des occasions où elle gerous were it for the feeble brain of so doit soumettre. . . . N n'y a de si man,” &c. See Deut. xxix. 29; Ecclus. conforme à la raison que ce désaveu iii. 21-24. de la raison. Deux excès : exclure la 3 From a Review of Sir William raison, n'admettre que la raison."- Hamilton's Lectures in the Times, May Pascal, Pensées, xiii. 1, 2, 3.
13th, 1859. See, too, a noble passage “Yet are there some things ... in Chrysostom on St. John, Hom. vii. beyond the capacity of human nature,