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was truly fulfilled to St. Peter and to the other apostles; the keys of the kingdom of heaven were truly given to him and to them ; i. e. they received power,—not power to pass on any the eternal sentence, that may not be changed, of life or death ; for that sentence no man can pass on his brother; that final sentence Jesus Christ alone will pass on all in the great day; but they received power, true and spiritual power, —both to admit into the Church by holy baptism, and to shut out of the Church by excommunication. And this power to admit, St. Peter exercised on the day of Pentecost, when “they that gladly received his word were baptized; and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls ... And the Lord added unto the Church daily such as should be saved.” Nor are instances wanting in holy Scripture of the exercise of that other power to shut out both evil livers and false teachers; even as St. Paul, in awful words, speaks more than once of having delivered unto Satan, (and so cast out of the Church of Jesus Christ,) men of unclean lives, and blasphemers of the true faith. The promises, therefore, made to St. Peter, and the spiritual powers assured to him, (of which we have read in this day's Gospel,) must not be so understood as made and assured to him alone,
but as made and assured to him and to all the apostles with him ; in that upon them also, after their measure, the Church was builded, as upon its foundation ; unto them also the keys of the kingdom of heaven were given, with power to receive into it, and to cast out of it, when our Lord, after His resurrection, breathed upon them, , and caused them to receive the Holy Ghost, and sent them in His name, with power to remit and to retain sins; and after them, in the measure which the Church needs, were these gifts continued to their successors.
And, as these places set forth the great faith and great earnestness of St. Peter, so another place sets forth his humility. When our Lord, at His last Supper, “ began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded. Then cometh He to Simon Peter, and Peter said unto Him, Lord, dost Thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith unto Him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me. Simon Peter saith unto Him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.” At the first, such was his humility, that
he doubted, and refused to suffer our Saviour to humble Himself to the task of washing his feet; but after, when he heard that thus only could he have part with his Saviour, he thought it not enough that his feet should be washed, but also his hands and his head; that so every part of his body might receive cleansing and blessing from the hands of our Saviour and from His washing.
But, as I said, to-day has also its lessons of warning. We have read of the faith, earnestness, humility, love of St. Peter ; but we read also of his rashness, self-confidence, weakness of faith, even to the denial of his Lord and Saviour. No doubt it becomes us to use great reverence in speaking of the holy apostle, even of his faults and failings. Still, again, no doubt these also are written in holy Scripture for our admonition. No doubt it is our duty to take warning from his fall, even as it is our duty to imitate, so far as we can, the singular graces of his character. There is one other instance, besides his denial of our Lord, earlier in the gospel, in which his faith failed him ; and this, no doubt, should have taught him not to be rash and hasty to make professions of his faith, but to distrust himself,—to distrust his present good feelings, however strong they might seem. When our Saviour came unto His
disciples walking upon the sea, we read that
they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I, be not afraid. And Peter answered Him, and said, Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water. And He said, Come. And when Peter was 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. And immediately Jesus stretched forth His hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” No doubt this should have taught him his own weakness, should have been a lesson and warning to him, against the time of his great trial. And on that sad and awful night, when his great trial came, and he failed, it was not through want of warnings, of many and solemn warnings. Three several times he made professions, three several times our Lord warned him. Three several times did he make professions : "I will lay down my life for Thy sake;" “ Lord, I am ready to go with Thee both into prison and death ;” “Though all men shall be offended because of Thee, yet will I never be offended. . . . Though I should die with Thee,
yet will I not deny Thee.” Three several times did our Lord warn him. “Wilt thou lay down thy life for My sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow till thou hast denied Me thrice.” And again, in the garden, three several times did our Lord return to His disciples, and each time did He find them, not watching and praying, but sleeping; “and He saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with Me one hour?
Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” And yet, after all this,
” Simon Peter did indeed draw his sword, and smite the servant of the high-priest; but very soon he and “all forsook Him and fled ;” and, when he entered into the palace of the highpriest, it was but to deny Him,—three several times to deny with an oath his Lord and Saviour, at the very time when that Lord and Saviour was about to yield up His life for him. Alas! how great is the weakness that lies hid in the hearts even of earnest-minded men, unknown even to themselves, and known only unto God. The same Peter, who had forsaken all to follow Christ, who, when others were offended and went no more after Him, had said, “Lord, to whom shall we go?” the same Peter now “for