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Christ's service, and to inspire us with such zeal and affection as many waters may not be able to quench, nor the floods to drown! (Cant. viii. 7.)
Let us not imagine this miracle was merely intended for a demonstration of Christ's Divine power over all that passeth through the paths of the sea (Psalm viii. 8); it was also the work of wisdom and bounty. By the sale of so many large and fine fishes a seasonable provision was made for the subsistence of his disciples at Jerusalem, while they were there waiting for the descent of the Spirit, (Luke xxiv. 49.) Let every circumstance of this kind encourage us to trust him, as the Lord of nature and of grace, who will withhold from us no necessary supply of either, while we are making it our humble and faithful care to promote his glory.
JOHN XXI. 15—24.
So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, loves 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. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, when thou wast young, thou girdest 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. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.
Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved 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. 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, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.
What if our Lord Jesus Christ should put the same question to us that he did to Peter, in this remarkable passage, and should thus repeat it again and again? Are there none of us who should be at a loss for an answer? None of us to whom he might say, I know that you have not the love of Christ in you? Or are there none of us who apprehend, that, if we had ourselves been thus pressed, we could, at the very best, only have said, Lord, thou that knowest all things, knowest that I cannot tell whether I love thee or not?-Blush, and be confounded, O my soul, if thou must reply with such uncertainty to a question of so great importance, and in a case where all the ardour of the heart might be so justly expected!
But are there not still some of us who through Divine grace could reply with pleasure, Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that, notwithstanding all the unhallowed and lamented infirmities of our lives, we do indeed love thee ?— And, if we are thus really conscious to ourselves of such an unfeigned affection, let it be our daily joy, that he who implanted this Divine principle in our hearts, discerns and sees it there; and, knowing all things, he perfectly knows this, however we may be suspected, however we may be censured.
Let us learn also by what method we are to express our love, according to our ability and opportunity; even by feeding his sheep, and promoting the interest and edification of his church. Let ministers especially do it; and let them not forget those dear creatures, the lambs of the flock. Jesus the compassionate Shepherd as we see, did not forget them; but taught his servants with the greatest tenderness both by his precepts, and by his example, to gather them in their arms, and carry them in their bosom. (Isa. xl. 11.)
Happy are those ministers who, instead of indulging a vain curiosity in things wherein they are not at all, or but very little concerned, are spending their lives in such faithful ser
vices; feeding the flock of God: and taking the oversight of it, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; that when the chief Shepherd shall appear, they may receive an unfading crown of glory; (1 Pet. v. 2, 4.) a crown, which will infinitely more than repay, not only their labours, but their sufferings too!
Happy Peter who, having worn out his better years in the service of Christ, courageously stretched out his aged arms to be bound, and, being borne away to tortures and death, shed the last slow ebb of his blood as a martyr for him who had loved him and given himself for him.—And not less happy the beloved disciple, so willing to hazard his life in the same cause; though he was not in fact called to lay it down as a martyr ! Our gracious Lord, who sees every purpose, and every affection, as it rises in the heart, favourably accepts of the willing mind, and will, through the riches of his grace, entitle them to the reward of equal suffering, who have waited with a like readiness, though they have not been called out to the severity of the like trial.
1 COR. XV. 7. LUKE XXIV. 44-49. ACTS I. 4.
AFTER that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And being assembled together with them, he commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.
And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
We have surely perpetual reason for thankfulness, when we think of that commission which Christ gave to his disciples: nor is it a circumstance of little importance, that they had it in charge, when they published this message of grace, to begin at Jerusalem; though the religious opportunities that were abused by that ungrateful city had already been so great, and their provocations so many. Amazing condescension of the Prince of Peace, that he sent his ambassadors of peace to them when they had hardly laid aside the weapons with which they had slain him, and were scarce rested after the cruel fatigue which their officious malice had given them in abetting his murder! Behold, he offers them all the invaluable blessings purchased by his blood, while it was yet, as we may say, warm upon mount Calvary! and on the same principles, even unto this day, where sin hath abounded, there is grace abounding much more. (Rom. v. 20.)
Christ opened the understanding of the apostles, to apprehend the sense of scripture. Let us study that sacred book with a humble dependance upon the aid of that blessed Spirit by whom it was dictated. And let these apostles who were thus divinely taught, be reverently regarded as our surest guides, when we are studying the oracles of the Old Testament; considering the extraordinary commission with which Christ sent them forth, the power from on high with which he invested them, and the ample credentials which he hereby gave them.
MARK XVI. 15-19. ACTS 1. 6-12. LUKE XXIV. 50-53.
WHEN they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
And he led them out as far as to Bethany.
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 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 shall they 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 hands on the sick, and they shall
So then after the Lord had spoken these things unto them, he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, and while they beheld, he was parted from them, and taken up, and a cloud received him out of their sight, and carried him up into heaven, and he sat on the right hand of God.
And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath-day's journey: and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God.
Thus did our victorious Saviour ascend on high, and lead captivity captive: the chariots of God which attended him were twenty thousand, even thousands of angels! (Psalm lxviii. 17, 18) and being gone into heaven, he is there seated on the right hand of God; angels, and authorities, and powers being made subject to him; (1 Peter iii. 22.) Let us his humble followers look after him with holy joy and pleasing expectation; congratulating his triumphs, and trusting through his grace to share them.
Like the apostles, let us bow down and worship him; and while we continue here below, let us make it our daily labour and care to seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right-hand of God: (Col. iii. 1.) And, instead of amusing ourselves with the vain dreams of temporal grandeur and felicity, or with curious inquiries after those times