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mayed with the conceits of ordinary impossibilities : it is not the scattering of straws, or casting of mole-bills, 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
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 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 inuch 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 heaven.
“ 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 affright 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 hiin, 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 bis 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 come to thee on the waters :' he thought not on 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, wbile 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, 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 intidelity, and, in sinking, could say, “Lord, save me.” His foot could not be so swift in sinking, as his heart in imploring: be knew who could uphold him from sinking, and, being sunk, deliver him; and therefore he says, “ Lord, save me.
It is both a notable 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 bis Lord, whom Peter had offended in distrusting; it is Christ bis 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. As we 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 will 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 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 gave him a check: “ (thou of little faith, why doubtest 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 inuch 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 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. 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 foundst cause to censure the weakness and poverty of his faith, what mayest thou well say to inine! 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. O 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 bis 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. O let the righteous God smite me, when I offend, with his gracious reproofs; these shall be a precious oil that shall not break my head.”
The bloody Issuc healed. 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, then impassible and immortal, so there was in the agents; this a stranger, that a familiar; this obscure, that famous.
The same actions vary with time and other circumstances; and accordingly receive their dislike or allowance.
Doubtless thou hadst herein no small respect to the faith of Jairus, unto whose house thou wert going. That good man had but one only daughter, which lay sick in the beginning of his suit, ere the end lay dead; while she lived, his hope lived; her death disheartened it. It was a great work that thou meantest to do for hiin, it was a great word that thou saidst to him ; “ Fear not, believe, and she shall be made whole.” To make this good, by the touch of the verge of thy garment, thou revivedst one from the verge of death. How must Jairus needs now think, He who, by the virtue of his garment, can pull this woman out of the paws of death, which hath been twelve years dying, can as well, by the power of his word, pull my daughter, who hath been twelve years living, out of the jaws of death, which hath newly seized on her. It was fit the good ruler should be raised up with this handsel of thy divine power, whom he came to solicit.
That thou mightest lose no time, thou curedst in thy passage. The sun stands not still to give its influences, but diffuses them in his ordinary motion. How shall we imitate thee, if we suffer our hands to be out of use with good ? Our life goes away with our time: we lose that which we improve not.
The patient laboured of an issue of blood; a disease that had not more pain than shame, nor more natural infirmity than legal impurity. Time added to her grief; twelve long years had she languished under this woeful complaint. Besides the tediousness, diseases must needs get bead by continuance, and so much more weaken nature, and strengthen