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alluding to his former professions of love and fidelity, demanded whether he would now maintain, that he loved him more than the rest of his disciples. Peter's answer shews, that he was humbled and improved by his fall. He appealed to his LORD's knowledge of his heart, that he felt the most fervent affection for him; but made no vehement professions of it, nor presumed to say, that he loved him better than the rest of his bre thren. Jesus, knowing that Peter wished to give a sensible proof of his affection, intimated that the most acceptable manner of testifying his regard, would be to discharge with fidelity his apostolic office, and pay attention to the weakest members of his church; not only instructing the illiterate part of the community, but extending his care even to children.
To impress with the greater force, upon the mind of Peter, the duties belonging to him as a minister of the Gospel, our LORD repeated his question and injunction, requiring him to be careful of the whole flock (as he kindly denominated his disciples), and to suffer none to be ignorant of divine truths, whom he had power or opportunities to instruct.
That it might never be forgotten by him or any one present, our LORD a third time repeated his question, Peter, lovst thou me? Peter, reflecting with regret that he had ever given cause to his beloved Master to doubt his attachment, was greatly grieved, and earnestly professed his profoundest regard; appealing once more to our LORD's knowledge of the human heart for the proof of his professions, which enabled him to distinguish between frailty and treachery. To prove that he did so, our LORD confirmed him in his apostolic office, by a repetition of his command to FEED HIS SHEEP. He then assured Peter, that he should be strengthened to perform his duty and prove his love, not only by labours but suf
ferings, and die a martyr in his cause. Our LORD there. fore exhorted Peter to recollect the example he had set him, and endeavour to imitate it both in his life and death. This Peter was now ready to do, and prepared to attend his LORD, resolving never to forsake him or his cause. Turning about he observed, that John was also determined to follow his LORD at all events; he was therefore curious to know, whether this beloved disciple would likewise die a martyr: but as this was no immediate concern of Peter's, our LORD did not think fit to gratify his curiosity, but made him an ambiguous answer; which gave rise to a conjecture, that John would never die. But this was built upon a mistake.
In our LORD's behaviour to Peter, we have a representation of the kindness of GOD to penitent sinners, and an example to behave with meekness towards those who have formerly injured us and repented of it. From his injunction to Peter to feed his lambs, we may infer, that whoever undertakes the instruction of the young and ignorant in the truths of Christianity, per. forms acceptable service to our blessed REDEEMER. From his question to Peter, Lovest thou me? we may understand that the love of CHRIST is necessary to enable ministers of the Gospel to go through the duties of their office. It is observable that our LORD did not at this time invest Peter with any authority over the rest of the Apostles, but merely restored him to his apostolic office which he had forfeited by denying his Master, yet the Papists from this instance, draw an argument for the Pope's supremacy derived from Peter.
By our LORD's prophecy that Peter should suffer crucifixion, he at once proved his own knowledge of future events, and Peter's affection for him. The zeal. ous disciple, so far from forsaking his Master, resolved
*now to adhere to him with inviolable fidelity, let the , hazard be ever so great, and obeyed with alacrity our LORD's invitation to follow him. John certainly understood, that Christ's call to Peter, “ Follow me," extended to all his Apostles, therefore, without waiting for a particular command, he silently prepared to go wherever his beloved LORD should think
proper to send him. Peter's curiosity shews the nature of the human mind, which, instead of keeping fixed on important subjects, is apt to wander to useless questions.
Our Lord's answer teaches us not to concern selves with other people's affairs, any farther than our own happiness, or the good of society or individuals requires. Our business is to follow our Saviour, to walk in the way that he walked, and to imitate, to the best of our ability, his blessed example.
Many errors have arisen in the Church, from mistak. ing the words of Christ and his Apostles; we should therefore be very desirous to understand the true meaning of them. The best rule for this purpose is to take them literally where we can; and where they are evi. dently figurative or ambiguous, to endeavour to discover their insport, by comparing them with plainer texts of scripture. Some passages, indeed, of the prophetic kind, are unavoidably involved in obscurity, and will remain so, till the events they relate to elucidate them; and others have a reference to things long since past, of a local nature, which we cannot comprehend for want of knowing the circumstances to which they referred. Let us not then neglect our duty, to attempt the investigation of what is absolutely impenetrable, but apply to ourselves our Saviour's answer to Peter, What is shat to thee? follow thou me. This account of what passed at the sea of Tiberias, is
part of the history of our LORD written by St. John ; who, to enforce the belief of what he related, added his solemn attestation to the truth of it. No person was so well acquainted with the particulars of our Lord's life and discourses as this beloved disciple, therefore his testimony is extremely valuable. Let us then pay due attention to it, and be thankful to our blessed Re. deemer, that he graciously provided for its being trans. mitted to us.
OUR LORD MEETS ALL HIS APOSTLES ON A MOUNTAIN
From Matt. Chap. xxviii.-Mark, xvi.--Acts, i.
Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And he was seen of above * five hundred brethren at
After that he was seen of James. And when they saw him they worshipped him, but some doubted.
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned.
And these signs shall follow them that believe. In my name they shall cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues, they shall take up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them they shall lay their hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
Cor. xv. 6.
And Jesus shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, beingseen of his Apostles forty days, and speaking to them of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS. Shortly after our Lord's interview with his Apostles at Jerusalem, the eleven went into Galilee to a certain mountain near the sea of Tiberias, agreeably to his command. As he had already appeared to above twenty people *, the fame of his resurrection was spread abroad; and, in all probability, his promise of meeting his disciples in Galilee was also made known to numbers not only in Jerusalem, but through Judea : therefore, we may suppose, that on so solemn an occasion a great multitude besides the eleven would collect together; and considering that this was the first time with many of them of their seeing our Lord since his resurrection, it is not to be wondered at, that some doubted even the evidence of their own senses. Those to whom he had before given such satisfactory proofs of the reality of his body, needed no further conviction, but fell down and worshipped him.
As the circumstances of our LORD's appearance to James are not recorded, it is in vain to conjecture where or when it happened.
* St. Paul, in the 6th verse of the xvth chapter of 1 Corinthians, . expressly declares, that our Lord was seen by above 500 brethren at once; and I have inserted this text in the present section, as it throws light on an expression in St. Matthew's Gospel, viz. “but some doubted.” It can scarcely be supposed this relates to the Apostles; for they were all thoroughly convinced, that our Lord was risen from the dead in the same body; therefore, I have adopted the opi. nion of Mr. West, that it was on the mountain in Galilee our Lord was seen by above soo of his disciples.