OVER-CO FIDE CE. BY S. D. McCO ELL, D. D.

"MATTHEW xxvi. 35.

THERE are some souls that sin scorches and shrivels clear away, but there are some whom it purifies like silver in the furnace. The " Denial" of St. Peter is the story of a sin and a repentance. One night, a dozen men were reclining around a table, after supper, in a room in Jerusalem, dark-beared, loose-robed Jews. They were unusually silent and restrained. The principal figure was quiet and thoughtful. The rest were either watching Him, or muttering something half articulately to the neighbors nearest them. It was a farewell supper, but there was no pledging of health, or jingling of glasses. Their Leader and Companion, with whom they had spent years of closest intimacy, was going to death to-morrow, and He knew it. After a while, one of them near the door arose quietly, and stealthily slipped out. He had gone to get his thirty pieces of silver. Then the inner sadness of the soul of Christ came suddenly to the .surface. He told them 67

68 OVER-CO FIDE CE. plainly that He was going away from them, that after a while they would follow Him, but they

could not do it now. He told them that a deep disgrace was coming upon Him, and that they would all forsake Him. This touched Peter in a tender place. If there was any point upon which he was sure of himself, it was his courage. othing was going to frighten him into leaving his friends. "Though all men should forsake Thee, yet will not I." Probably he did not mean to boast, but he seemed to put more confidence in his own faithfulness than that of the rest of them. At any rate he did not know what he was talking about, and ought to have kept quiet. It was not much more than a sentimentalism. o doubt he really had a good deal of affection for his Master, but he loved himself more. At any rate, friendship is not a thing which bears to be much talked about. Patting it into words soils it. Whoever loves a friend honestly, will have his love, like Cordelias, "More richer than his tongue." "Though I should die with Thee, yet will I not deny thee," says Peter. But our Lord knew him better than he knew himself, for the stern answer came : " Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Before the cock crow thrice, thou shalt deny me three times." The story of Peter's fault is so well known that it does not "need to be told. It was the sin of a good man. It was a sin which was the turning point of a gcflgid man's Uife. It was the driving and -A V. .<*

OVEB-CO FIDE CE. 69 ruinous storm of a tropical nature, which cleansed the air and made it pure. What are its lessons ? The first is that men yield readily to tempta-

tions which come upon the strong side of their nature. In the attack of a fort, the skillful general often tries to find a place where the garrison has trusted to its inaccessibility, and so left unguarded. It is a curious fact that threefourths of the men who are accidentally drowned are good swimmers. One's real belief in his own power, helped out by his vanity, leads him beyond his strength. Peter was a brave man, and an honorable one, and yet his sin was a cowardly and contemptible one. Another lesson is a most trite one. Avoid the beginning of evil. When Peter once told a lie he could not stop. He told it three times, and he would have told it a hundred times if he had been asked the question a hundred times. Did you ever tell a lie and then keep on telling it because you were ashamed to confess that it was alie? Another lesson is as to the use to make of our sins the power to make of "our dead selves stepping stones to higher things." Judas and Peter both committed the same sin, and both repented alike, but their repentance was of different kinds. Judas repented and hanged himself. Peter repented and went back to his duty. The end of this story was by the shore of the Lake of Galilee. There Peter was at his old

TO OYER-CO FIDE CE. trade of fishing again, with not any of his old boastf illness or self-sufficiency a still, backward, self-distrustful man. There, on the very spot where he had first left all to follow Christ, he

saw Him again, and three times answered the question, "Simon, Son of Jonas, lovest thou me?" not with any boastful profession, but humbly, "Lord, thou knowest all things. Thou knowest I love thee." Grod grant that as we every day follow St. Peter in his sin, we may at last be like him in his repentance.

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