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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. 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
sook Him and fled." He, who had witnessed a good confession, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God," the same now denied Him through fear of men. Surely we all have a solemn warning in what befell one so far above us as St. Peter. If he could fall, who shall say of himself that he shall stand sure? Indeed, we do not know ourselves, we do not know what is in us, what weakness and cowardice, until we are tried. How should we? Therefore let us take warning by the example of others; and, when we read of the sins and failings even of God's saints, let us take heed unto ourselves.
Time would fail us, were we to go through what more we read in holy Scripture of St. Peter. How that, when our Lord looked upon him, just as he had denied Him, "Peter went out and wept bitterly." How that our Lord appeared to St. Peter, apart from the others, on the very day on which He rose from the dead, perhaps to assure him of His forgiveness. How three several times He inquired of him, Whether he loved Him; and three several times gave him a charge to feed His sheep and His lambs. "Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me more than these? He saith unto Him, Yea, Lord, Thou knowest that I
love Thee. He saith unto him, Feed My lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me? He saith unto Him, Yea, Lord, Thou knowest that I love Thee. He saith unto him, Feed My sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me? Peter was grieved because He said unto him the third time, Lovest thou Me? And he said unto Him, Lord, Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love Thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed My sheep."
We read again, in the Acts of the Apostles how that, by the preaching of St. Peter, God opened a door of faith unto the Jews, on the day of Pentecost; and unto the Gentiles, in the case of Cornelius; in both of which St. Peter was His special instrument. How by St. Peter God wrought many and great miracles, even unto the raising of the dead. How, when Herod sought his life, God sent His angel and delivered him out of prison. Time would fail me, were I to go through these and other passages. Enough, however, has been said to furnish matter for useful meditation. Only this I will add, which we learn from early writers. That when St. Peter, at Rome, came, as on this day, to his martyrdom, and was about to be