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thee their master, that It is I, was as much as a hundred names. Thou art the Good Shepherd : we are not of thy flock if we know thee not by thy voice from a thousand. Even this one is a great word, yea an ample style, It is I. The same tongue, that said to Moses, I AM hath sent thee, saith now to the disciples, “ It is I; I, your Lord and Master; I, the commander of winds and waters; I, the sovereign Lord of Heaven and Earth; I, the God of Spirits.” Let heaven be but as one scroll, and let it be written all over with titles, they cannot express more than, It is I. O sweet and seasonable word of a gracious Saviour, able to calm all tempests, able to revive all hearts ! Say but so to my soul, and, in spite of hell, I am safe.

No sooner hath Jesus said, I; than Peter answers, Master. He can instantly name him, that did not name himself. Every little hint is enough to faith. The Church sees her Beloved, as well through the lattice, as through the open window.

Which of all the followers of Christ gave so pregnant testimonies, upon all occasions, of his faith, of his love to his Master, as Peter? The rest were silent, while he both owned his master, and craved access to him in that liquid way.

Yet what a sensible mixture is here of faith and distrust! It was faith, that said, Master : it was distrust, as some have construed it, that said, If it be thou. It was faith, that said, Bid me come to thee, implying that his word could as well enable as command; it was faith, that durst step down upon that watery pavement: it was distrust, that, upon the sight of a mighty wind, feared. It was faith, that he walked : it was distrust, that he sunk: it was faith, that said, Lord, save me.

Oh the imperfect composition of the best saint upon earth ; as far from pure faith as from mere infidelity! If there be pure earth in the centre, all upward is mixed with the other elements; contrarily, pure grace is above, in the glorified spirits; all below is mixed with infirmity, with corruption. Our best is but as the air ; which never was, never can be, at once, fully enlightened : neither is there in the same region one constant state of light. It shall once be noon with us, when we shall have nothing but bright beams of glory; now, it is but the dawning, wherein it is hard to say, whether there be more light than darkness. We are now fair as the moon, which hath some spots in her greatest beauty; we shall be pure as the sun, whose face is all bright and glorious. Ever since the time, that Adam set his tooth in the apple, till our mouth be full of mould, it never was, it never can be, other with us. Far be it from us, to settle willingly upon the dregs of our infidelity; far be it from us, to be disheartened with the sense of our defects and imperfections: We believe ; Lord, help our unbelief.

While I find some disputing the lawfulness of Peter's suit; others quarrelling his, If it be thou : let me be taken up with


the wonder at the faith, the fervour, the heroical valour, of this prime apostle, that durst say, Bid me come to thee upon the waters. He might have suspected, that the voice of his Master might have been as easily imitated by that imagined spirit, as his person; he might have feared the blustering tempest, the threatening billows, the yielding nature of that devouring element : but, as despising all these thoughts of misdoubt, such is his desire to be near his Master, that he says, Bid me come to thee upon the waters. He says not, 66 Come thou to me ;

this had been Christ's act, and not his : neither doth he • Let me come to thee;" this had been his act, and not Christ's : neither doth he


say, Pray that I may come to thee,” as if this act had been out of the power of either : but, Bid me come to thee. I know thou canst command both the waves and me: me to be so light, that I shall not bruise the moist surface of the waves; the waves to be so solid, that they shall not yield to my weight. All things obey thee : bid me come to thee upon the waters.

It was a bold spirit that could wish it; more bold, that could act it. No sooner hath our Saviour said, Come, than he sets his foot upon the unquiet sea ; not fearing, either the softness or the roughness of that uncouth passage. We are wont to wonder at the courage of that daring man, who first committed himself to the sea in a frail bark, though he had the strength of an oaken plank to secure him : how valiant must we needs grant him to be, hat durst set his foot upon the bare sea, and shift his paces? Well did Peter know, that he, who bade him, could uphold him ; and therefore he both sues to be bidden, and ventures to be upholden. True faith tasks itself with difficulties; neither can be dismayed with the conceits of ordinary impossibilities. It is not the scattering of straws or casting of molehills, whereby the virtue of it is described, but removing of mountains.

Like some courageous leader, it desires the honour of a danger, and sues for the first onset ; whereas, the worldly heart freezes in a lazy or cowardly fear, and only casts for safety and ease.

Peter sues ; Jesus bids. Rather will he work miracles, than disappoint the suit of a faithful man. How easily might our Saviour have turned over this strange request of his bold disciple ; and have said, “What my Omnipotence can do is no rule for thy weakness? It is no less than presumption in a mere man to hope to imitate the miraculous works of God and man. Stay thou in the ship and wonder; contenting thyself in this, that thou hast a Master, to whom the land and water is alike.” Yet I hear not a check, but a call; Come. The suit of ambition is suddenly quashed, in the mother of the Zebedees: the suits of revenge prove no better in the mouth of the two fiery disciples : but a suit of faith, though high and seemingly unfit for us, he hath no power to deny.

How much less, O Saviour, wilt thou stick at those things which lie in the very road of our Christianity!

Never man said, “ Bid me to come to thee in the way of thy commandments,” whom thou didst not both bid and enable to come.

True faith rests not in great and good desires, but acts and executes accordingly. Peter doth not wish to go, and yet stand still ; but his foot answers his tongue, and instantly chops down upon the waters. To sit still and wish, is for sluggish and cowardly spirits. Formal volitions, yea velleities of good, while we will not so much as step out of the ship of our nature to walk unto Christ, are but the faint motions of vain hypocrisy. It will be long enough, ere the gale of good wishes can carry us to our haven. Ease slayeth the foolish. O Saviour, we have thy command, to come to thee out of the ship of our natural corruption : let no sea affray us, let no tempest of temptation withhold us. No way can be but safe when thou art the end.

Lo, Peter is walking upon the waves : two hands uphold him; the hand of Christ's power, the hand of his own faith ; neither of them would do it alone. The hand of Christ's power laid hold on him ; the hand of his faith laid hold on the power of Christ commanding. Had not Christ's hand been powerful, that faith had been in vain : had not that faith of his strongly fixed upon Christ, that power had not been effectual to his preservation. While we are here in the world, we walk upon

the waters : still the same hands bear us up. If he let go his hold of us, we drown; if we let go our hold of him, we sink and shriek as Peter did here, who, when he saw the wind boisterous, was afraid, and beginning to sink, cried, saying, Lord, save me.

When he wished to be bidden to walk unto Christ, he thought of the waters ; Bid me to come to thee on the waters : he thought not of the winds, which raged on those waters; or if he thought of a stiff gale, yet that tempestuous and sudden gust was out of his account and expectation. Those evils, that we are prepared for, have not such power over us, as those, that surprise us. A good waterman sees a dangerous billow coming towards him, and cuts it, and mounts over it with ease; the unheedy is overwhelmed. O Saviour, let my haste to thee be zealous, but not improvident : ere I set my foot out of the ship, let me foresee the tempest: when I have cast the worst, I cannot either miscarry or complain.

So soon as he began to fear, he began to sink. While he believed, the sea was brass; when once he began to distrust, those waves were water. He cannot sink, while he trusts the power of his Master; he cannot but sink, when he misdoubts it. Our faith gives us, as courage and boldness, so success too: our infidelity lays us open to all dangers, to all mischiefs.

It was Peter's improvidence, not to foresee; it was his weakness, to fear; it was the effect of his fear, to sink; it was his faith, that recollects itself, and breaks through his infidelity, and in sinking could say, Lord, save me.

His foot could not be so

swift in sinking, as his heart in imploring: he knew who could uphold him from sinking, and, being sunk, deliver him ; and therefore he says, Lord, save me.

It is a notable both sign and effect of true faith, in sudden extremities to ejaculate holy desires ; and, with the wings of our first thoughts, to fly up instantly to the Throne of Grace, for present succour. Upon deliberation, it is possible for a man, that hath been careless and profane, by good means to be drawn to holy dispositions ; but, on the sudden, a man will appear as he is : whatever is most rife in the heart will come forth at the mouth. It is good, to observe how our surprisals find us: the rest is but forced ; this is natural. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. O Saviour, no evil can be swifter, than my thought: my thought shall be upon thee, ere I can be seized upon by the speediest mischief: at least, if I overrun not evils, I shall overtake them.

It was Christ his Lord, whom Peter had offended in distrusting; it is Christ his Lord, to whom he sues for deliverance. His weakness doth not discourage him from his refuge. O God, when we have displeased thee, when we have sunk in thy displeasure, whither should we fly for aid, but to thee, whom we have provoked? Against thee only, is our sin ; in thee only, is our help. In vain shall all the powers of heaven and earth conspire to relieve us, if thou withhold from our succour. offend thy justice daily by our sins, so let us continually rely upon thy mercy by the strength of our faith. Lord, save us.

The mercy of Christ is, at once, sought and found ; Immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him. He doth not say, “ Hadst thou trusted me, I would have safely preserved thee ; but since thou wilt needs wrong my power and care with a cowardly diffidence, sink and drown;" but rather, as pitying the infirmity of his fearful disciple, he puts out the hand for his relief. That hand hath been stretched forth for the aid of many a one, that hath never asked it; never any asked it, to whose succour it hath not been stretched. With what speed, with what confidence, should we fly to that sovereign bounty, from which never any suitor was sent away empty ! Jesus gave Peter his hand; but withal he


him a check : O thou of little faith, why doubtedst thou? As Peter's faith was not pure, but mixed with some distrust; so our Saviour's help was not clear and absolute, but mixed with some reproof. A reproof, wherein there was both a censure and an expostulation; a censure of his faith, an expostulation for his doubt: both of them sore and heavy.

By how much more excellent and useful a grace faith is, by so much more shameful is the defect of it; and by how much more reason here was of confidence, by so much more blameworthy was the doubt. Now Peter had a double reason of his

As we

confidence; the command of Christ, the power of Christ : the one in bidding him to come, the other in sustaining him while he came.

To misdoubt him, whose will he knew, whose power he felt, was well worth a reprehension.

When I saw Peter stepping forth upon the waters, I could not but wonder at his great faith ; yet behold, ere he can have measured many paces, the Judge of Hearts taxes him for little faith. Our mountains are but motes to God. Would my heart have served me, to dare the doing of this, that Peter did ? Durst I have set my foot where he did? O Saviour, if thou foundest cause to censure the weakness and poverty of his faith, what mayest thou well say to mine? They mistake, that think thou wilt take up with any thing. Thou lookest for firmitude and vigour in those graces, which thou wilt allow in thy best disciples, no less than truth.

The first steps were confident ; there was fear in the next. Oh the sudden alteration of our affections, of our dispositions ! One pace varies our spiritual condition. What hold is there of so fickle creatures, if we be left never so little to ourselves ? As this lower world, wherein we are, is the region of mutability : so are we, the living pieces of it, subject to a perpetual change. It is for the blessed saints and angels above, to be fixed in good. While we are here, there can be no constancy expected from us, but in variableness.

As well as our Saviour loves Peter, yet he chides him. It is the fruit of his favour and mercy, that we escape judgment; not that we escape reproof. Had not Peter found grace with his Master, he had been suffered to sink in silence: now, he is saved with a check. There may be more love in frowns, than in smiles: whom he loves he chastises. What is chiding, but a verbal castigation ? and what is chastisement, but a real chiding? Correct me, O Lord, yet in thy judgment, not in thy fury. Oh let the righteous Good smite me, when I offend, with his gracious reproofs; these shall be a precious oil, that shall not break my head.




The time was, O Saviour, when a worthy woman offered to touch thee, and was forbidden ; now, a meaner touches thee, with approbation and encouragement. Yet, as there was much difference in that body of thine which was the object of that touch, (being now mortal and passible, than impassible and im

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