Mark 14
Biblical Illustrator
And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper.
The home of Mary and Martha and Lazarus at Bethany, about two miles from Jerusalem across the Mount of Olives, had been the scene of some of the calmest and happiest moments of our Lord's life. We know something of the sweetness of a quiet home after work and anxiety and worry — the labourer knows it, the man of business knows it. We can therefore understand how restful to the Lord Jesus, after those angry scenes that had been gathering around Him all day in the temple, were the peaceful evenings of this week in the home at Bethany. There are two things which we should notice about that home as we follow Jesus thither.

I. IT WAS A HOME OF TRUE FAMILY LOVE, or Jesus would not have sought its shelter so often as He did. What tender memories cluster round the childhood that has been spent in such a home! What a foretaste of the home beyond the grave, the haven where we would be!

II. IT WAS A HOME WHERE JESUS ALWAYS WAS A WELCOME GUEST, whither He was summoned in every trouble, where He was the Companion, the Guide, and the familiar Friend. Are our homes like that? Is He felt and acknowledged to be the Master of the house? the unseen Guest at every meal? the unseen Hearer of every conversation? Is His blessing asked on every meal, on every undertaking, on every event? But now, as we stand with Jesus at Bethany, look what one of the sisters is doing to Him as He sits at meat, either in her own house, or in one of a similar type where she is hardly less at home. "Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus." Beloved, is there not something like that that we can do for Jesus in this Holy Week? Is there not something that we can bring and lay at His feet while we are watching with him through the hours of His Passion? Something that will be an earnest of our love — some secret sin which it would really cost us something to give up? And cannot we find something, too, in our family life, or in the part we have to play in it? Is there not some new departure we might make for Jesus' sake, to make our homes a little less unworthy to be His dwelling place?

(Henry S. Miles, M. A.)

What she is said to have done. This standard for our service is, you perceive, at once stimulating and encouraging. It is stimulating, for we are never to think that we have done enough while there is anything more we can do; and it is encouraging, for it tells us that though we can do but little, that little will be accepted, nay, considered by our gracious Master as enough. We are not to condemn ourselves, or to repine, because we can do no more. But something else must be noticed here.

I. MARY DID MORE THAN SHE WAS AWARE OF DOING. It is an affecting circumstance, brethren, that wherever our Lord was, and however engaged, His death seems to have been always in His mind. It was in His mind here at a social meal, and what we should have called a happy one, with those He loved the very best on earth around Him, and with the love of some of them towards Him in the liveliest exercise. It is a cheering truth, brethren, that we can never measure the use to which a gracious Saviour may turn our poor doings. As His designs in our afflictions often lie deeper than we can penetrate, so do His designs in the services to which He prompts us. We do this, and we do that, and we mourn that it is so little, and that so little good to our fellow men and so little honour to our God will come from it; but we know not what will come from it. That little thing is in the hand of a great, omnipotent God, and His mighty arm can bend and turn it we know not how or whither.

II. We must now ask what MARY'S MOTIVES PROBABLY WERE in this extraordinary act.

1. The strongest of them perhaps was a feeling of grateful love for her blessed Lord. He had just raised her brother from the dead; had just shown a sympathy and affection for herself and Martha, which might well astonish her; had put an honour on her family she must have felt to be surpassingly great. "Thank Him," she perhaps said within herself, "I could not when Lazarus came forth. I cannot now. My tongue will not move, and if it would, words are too poor to thank Him. But what can I do? Kings and great men are sometimes anointed at their splendid banquets. My Lord is to be at Simon's feast. I will go and buy the most precious ointment Jerusalem affords, and at that feast I will anoint Him. It will be nothing to Him, but if He will suffer it, it will be much to me." Do something to show that you are thankful for blessings, though that something be but little.

2. Mary was probably influenced also by another motive — a desire to put honour on Christ. "Let others hate Him, and spurn Him," she must have said, "Oh for some opportunity of showing how I honour Him." It is an easy thing, brethren, to honour Christ when others are honouring Him, but real love delights to honour Him when none others will.

III. LET US NOW COME TO THE JUDGMENT MEN PASSED ON MARY'S CONDUCT. They censured it, and strongly. Men are generally made angry by any act of love for Christ which rises above their own standard — above their own ideas of the love which is due to Him. They can generally, too, find something in the warm-hearted Christian's conduct to give a colour to their displeasure. "Why was this waste of the ointment made?" It was a plausible question; it seemed a reasonable one. And observe, too, men can generally assign some good motive in themselves for the censure they pass on others. And mark, also, Christ's real disciples will sometimes join with others in censuring the zealous Christian. "There were some that had indignation." But yet again, the censures passed on the servant of Christ often have their origin in some one hypocritical, bad man. Who began this cavilling, this murmuring against Mary? We turn to St. John's Gospel, and he tells us it was Judas — Judas Iscariot, the betrayer. Trace to their source the bitter censures with which many a faithful Christian is for a time assailed, you will often find it in the secret, unthought of baseness of some low, hypocritical man.

IV. The history now brings before us THE NOTICE OUR LORD TOOK OF THIS WOMAN'S CONDUCT. He, first, vindicated it. And observe how He vindicates Mary — with a wonderful gentleness towards those who had blamed her. The practical lesson is, brethren, to adore the blessed Jesus for taking us and our conduct under His protection, and while acting through His grace as He would have us, to feel ourselves safe, and more than safe, in His hands. "He that toucheth you," He says, "toucheth the apple of My eye." But this is not all — our Saviour recompenses this grateful woman as well as vindicates her. "Wheresoever," He says, "this gospel shall be preached, throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her." Our Lord had said long before, "Blessed are ye when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven." But here He anticipates this; there is a reward for this woman on the earth, and a wide and large one. And now, turning from Mary and her conduct, let us think of ourselves and our conduct. What have we done for Christ? "We love Him because He first loved us" — there is the secret of Christian obedience, Christian self-denial, Christian devotedness.

(C. Bradley, M. A.)

I. THE NATURE OF THE ACT. It was done to Christ. It was inspired by a right sentiment. If we give all that we possess to Christ still it is less than He deserves. Her regret is not that she gave so much, but so little.

II. THE LESSONS. An action is precisely of the value of the motive by which it has been actuated. We must, moreover, take into account the difference of positions and mental tendencies. Good intention, which is no other thing than love, may deceive itself, without doubt, but it does not always deceive itself. In the Divine flame which the Spirit kindles the light is inseparable from the heat. He who seeks to do the will of God will know the mind of God. Even in giving to the poor it is possible to make serious mistakes. True charity does not open the heart without expanding the mind.

(Alexander Finer, D. D.)

It well exhibits, in a single illustration, the appropriateness, the motive, the measure, and the reward of Christian zeal (Mark 14:3-9).

I. WE START OUT WITH A RECOGNITION, ON OUR PART, OF A SETTLED RULE OF ACTIVITY. All of Christ's friends are expected to do something for Him.

1. Work and sacrifice are not inconsistent with even the highest spirituality, leer this is the same Mary whose other story is so familiar to us all. She was the one who used to sit at Jesus' feet (Luke 10:39) in all the serene quiet of communion with her Lord; yet now who would say that Mary at the Master's head might not be as fine a theme for the artist's pencil? Piety is practical, and practical piety is not the less picturesque and attractive because it has in such an instance become demonstrative.

2. Our Lord always needed help while He was on the earth. There were rich women among those whom He had helped, at whose generous hands He received money (Luke 8:2, 3). And His cause needs help now.

3. It is a mere temptation of the devil to assert that one's work for Jesus Christ is vitiated by the full gladness a loving soul feels in it. Some timid and self-distrustful believers are stumbled by the fear that their sacrifices for our blessed Master are meritless because they enjoy making them. There used to be rehearsed an old legend of an aged prophetess passing through a crowd with a censer of fire in one hand and a pitcher of water in the other. Being asked why she carried so singular a burden, she replied, "This fire is to burn heaven with, and this water is to quench hell with: so that men may hereafter serve God without desire for reward or fear of retribution." Such a speech may appear becoming for a mere devotee's utterance; but there is no warrant for anything like it in the Bible. Heaven is offered for our encouragement in zeal (Romans 2:7). Hell is often exhibited that it might be feared (Matthew 10:28).

II. Next to this, the story of this alabaster box suggests A LESSON CONCERNING THE MOTIVE WHICH UNDERLIES ALL TRUE CHRISTIAN ACTIVITY.

1. In the case of this woman, we are told that her action grew out of her grateful affection for her Lord. Every gesture shows her tenderness; she wiped His very feet with her own hair (John 12:3). This was what gave her offering its supreme value.

2. Herein lies the principle which has for all ages the widest application. It is not so much what we do for our Saviour, nor the way in which we do it, as it is the feeling which prompts us in the doing of anything that receives His welcome. It is the affection pervading the zeal which renders the zeal precious.

3. It may as well be expected that the kindness which proceeds from pure love will sometimes meet with misconstruction. Those who look upon zeal far beyond their own in disinterested affection, will frequently be overheard to pass uncharitable misjudgments upon it. We find (John 12:4-6) that it was only Judas Iscariot after all, on this occasion, who took the lead in assigning wrong motives to the woman, and he did not so much care for the poor as he did for his own bag of treasure. No matter how much our humble endeavours to honour our Lord Jesus may be derided, it will be helpful to remember they are fully appreciated by Him.

4. This is the principle which uplifts and enobles even commonplace zeal When true honest love is the motive, do we not all agree that it is slight ministrations more than great conspicuous efforts which touch the heart of one who receives them? The more unnoticed to every eye except ours, the more dear are the glances of tenderness we receive. It is the delicacy, not the bulk, of the kindness which constitutes its charm.

IV. The final lesson of this story is CONCERNING THE REWARD OF CHRISTIAN ZEAL. Higher encomium was never pronounced than that which this woman received from the Master.

1. It was Jesus that gave the approval. Set that over against the fault finding of Judas! If we do our duty, we have a right to appeal away from anybody who carps. When Christ justifies, who is he that condemns? Some of us have read of the ancient classic orator, who, having no favour in the theatre, went into the temple and gestured before the statues of the gods; he said they better understood him. Thus may maligned believers retire from the world that misjudges them, and comfort themselves with Jesus' recognition.

2. Jesus said this woman should be remembered very widely — wherever the gospel should go. Men know what is good and fine when they see it. And they stand ready to commend it. Even Lord Byron had wit enough to see that —

"The drying up a single tear has more

Of honest fame, than shedding seas of gore."Some of the grandest lives in history have had only little show to make. Care burdened women, invalids on couches, ill-clad and ill-fed sons of toil, maid servants, man servants, apprentices and hirelings with few unoccupied hours, timid hearts, uneducated minds, sailors kept on ships, soldiers held in garrisons — these, with only a poor chance, have done such service that the world remembers them with its widest renown (Psalm 112:5, 6).

3. It was just this parable of Jesus which became Mary's memorial. A word sometimes lasts longer than a marble slab. We must learn to be content with the approval of God and our own consciences. Nothing will ever be forgotten that is worth a record in God's book. Those who die in the Lord will find their works follow them, and the worthy fame remains behind: "The memory of the just is blessed; but the name of the wicked shall rot." Only we are to recollect that love alone gives character and value to all zeal. That was a most suggestive remark of old Thomas a Kempis: "He doeth much, who loveth much; and he also doeth much, who doeth well."

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)


1. What Mary gave. The alabastron of precious and perfumed ointment. Rare and costly. Love does not measure its offering by a bare utility; nor by a legal claim.

2. What Mary did. Anointed with this precious ointment. Things worthy of our highest uses are honoured when used in the lowliest uses of religion. What is worthy of our head, honoured by being laid at the Master's feet.


1. Waste! because his plan was not adopted. He thought not of the good that was done, but of what might have been done.

2. He had an excuse. The poor! He was one of those who are always "looking at home;" who do so with shut eyes; who see little, and do less.


1. I shall not be here long. Jesus is not long — in this life — with any of us. Let us make much of this guest. Do what we can now.

2. You will always have the poor. These Jesus loved and eared for. This legacy was not forgotten (Acts 4:31-37). Nor are the spiritually poor forgotten.Learn —

1. To love Jesus and show it.

2. That no gift consecrated to Jesus is wasted.

3. The best gift is a broken heart, the perfume of whose penitence and faith is pleasant to the Lord.

(J. C. Gray.)

I. A MOTIVE. Mary no doubt intended well. Her right intention would hardly have been questioned by the murmuring disciples themselves. Whatever may be said of her work, nothing can be said of her motive but that it was purely and altogether good. Now motive is of first importance in the estimate we form of any act whatever, small or great. Motive of some kind there must be, or the act cannot be moral; it becomes merely mechanical. The motive too must be good, or the act cannot be otherwise than bad. It need not, however, appear so, and frequently does not. Words are not necessarily the garb of truth, nor appearances the signs and pledges of corresponding realities. However good the motive may be it does not follow that the act as such will be equally good. That is, there may be something more and higher in the motive than appears in the act. This may arise from ignorance, from our not knowing how to make the act better; or it may result from the nature of the act itself, as being essentially humble and commonplace. But a deeper cause is found in our inability to do what we would. We seem to do our very best, we put forth and strain our resources to the utmost, and yet, after all, come short, and sometimes sadly short, of our preconceived desires and hopes. There is, however, another and brighter side to this. Our work is not considered absolutely by itself. The motive that inspires it counts for something, it may be for much.

II. From the motive to this act let us pass to THE ACT ITSELF, WITH ESPECIAL REFERENCE TO THE IMPRESSION PRODUCED BY IT ON THOSE WHO WITNESSED IT. Mary intended well, I have said: she also as certainly did well. This appears in part from what has been already said, but the fact deserves and will repay still further exposition. "She hath done what she could," is the testimony borne to her conduct by the Saviour Himself, which alone were commendation sufficient, as it implies that she had acted up to the full measure of her ability. But to this He adds: "She hath wrought a good work on Me," thus greatly enlarging and heightening the commendation, especially as the term rendered "good" means what is noble and beautiful. Her work was thus good because it was the spontaneous overflow of a profoundly grateful affection for the restoration of her brother Lazarus to life. It was thus good because it was in effect an act of complete abandonment and loving devotion of her whole self to Christ as her one and only Saviour. No doubt there was something extraordinary in the form which this declaration took; but then there was something extraordinary in the sensibility of Mary's nature. But if Judas was first and chief he was quickly followed by others; for evil is alike contagious and confederate. Complaining is easy, and also infectious, and is often practised by some as though it were a virtue. Mark, then, our Lord's reply to their common protest, "Let her alone; why trouble ye her?" etc. A restrictive economy, He virtually tells us, a bare and rigid utility is not at any time the distinguishing characteristic of what is purest and noblest in human conduct. Utility has its own sphere. Economy is a duty even where it is not a necessity. But there are whole regions of thought and action into which neither the one nor the other can enter, or, entering, can reign alone. There must be beauty as well as utility, there must be generosity as well as economy, there must be splendour, magnificence, profusion, seeming waste even, or human life will lose much of its charm. The like profusion is seen in the Word of God as in His works. Shall men, then, in the service of faith and piety, be so unlike God as to confine themselves within the narrow range of a definite economy, or bind themselves to the strict and positive demands of a rigorous utility? Is this what they do in regard to any other kind of service, and with reference to interests that are purely secular and material? Shall it be called waste for a vehement and self-forgetting love to pour costly perfumes on the head and feet of an adored Redeemer, and yet not waste to consume them daily in the gratification of a bodily sense? No one inspired only with what is called the "enthusiasm of humanity" will say so. Still less will anyone who can profess in the words of the apostle, as giving the animating and impellent principle of his whole life, "The love of Christ constraineth me." But, in truth, utility has a much larger sphere than is usually assigned to it. That is not the only useful thing which simply helps a man to exist; nor is it, when viewed comparatively with other things, even the most useful. The same principle applies to faith and love, especially to the latter; while of this latter it may further be said, that its utility is greatest when utility is least the motive to its exercise. That is not love which looks directly to personal advantage, and knows how to regulate its fervour by prudential considerations of profit and loss.


1. Christ vindicated her conduct against the angry complaints of His disciples.

2. He did more: He accepted and commended her work as "good" — as truly and nobly beautiful. This itself would be recompense enough for her. She could, and would, desire nothing more, and nothing better. What more and better, indeed, could any one desire, for any work whatever, than the applauding "well done" of Jesus?

3. Yet more there was in her case. She received assurance of everlasting reputation and honour. Here was marvellous and unparalleled distinction, no deed of merely human creature was ever promised a renown so great. And though this renown could of itself add but little to her future felicity, yet the promise of it, as indicating what the Saviour thought of her deed, must have been to her a deep and unfailing source of most holy satisfaction and delight. Nothing of this kind is, of course, possible to us; nor need we desire it. We may, however, learn from it, or rather from both forms of Mary's recompense combined, that whatever is done for Christ shall not, even to ourselves, be in vain.

4. With gracious recompense, there was also natural result. "The house," says one evangelist, "was filled with the odour of the ointment." Mary accomplished more than she intended, anointing not only Jesus, but all who were with Him, and even the house itself. The fact is very suggestive, giving us at the same time a lesson both of admonition and of encouragement. Continuity and diffusion mark all we do. The thought is stupendously solemn, and ought to be solemnly laid to heart. It is one to inspire us with gladdening hope, or else to fill us with terrible dismay.

(Prof. J. Stacey, D. D.)

The affectionate Mary, in the devout prodigality of her love, gave — not a part — but the whole of the precious contents, and did not spare the vase itself, in which they were held, and which was broken in the service of Christ. She gave the whole to Christ, and to Him alone. Thus also she took care, in her reverence for Christ, that the spikenard and the vessel (things of precious value, and of frequent use in banquets and festive pleasures of this world for man's gratification and luxury) having now been used for this sacred service of anointing the body of Christ, should never be applied to any other less holy purpose. This act of Mary, providing that what had been thus consecrated to the anointing of Christ's body, should never be afterwards employed in secular uses, is exemplary to us; and the same spirit of reverence appears to have guided the Church in setting apart from all profane and common uses, by consecration, places and things for the service of Christ's mystical body, and for the entertainment of His presence; and this same reverential spirit seems also to animate her in consuming at the Lord's Table what remains of the consecrated elements in the Communion of His Body and Blood.

(Bishop Christopher Wordsworth.)

There is just one principle that runs through all the teaching of the two Testaments concerning what men do for their Maker, and that is that God does not want, and cannot otherwise than lightly esteem that which costs us nothing, and that the value of any service or sacrifice which we render for His sake, is, that whatever may be its intrinsic meanness or meagreness, it is, as from us, our very best, not given lightly or cheaply or unthinkingly, but with care and cost and crucifixion of our self-indulgence; and then again, that it is such gifts, whether they are the adornment of the temple, or the box of alabaster — that these are gifts which God equally and always delights in.

(Bishop H. C. Potter.)

It is on crushed grain that man is fed; it is by bruised plants that he is restored to health. It was by broken pitchers that Gideon triumphed; it was from a wasted barrel and empty cruse that the prophet was sustained; it was on boards and broken pieces of the ship that Paul and his companions were saved. It was amid the fragments of broken humanity that the promise of the higher life was given; though not a bone of Him was broken, yet it is by the broken life of Christ that His people shall live eternally; it was by the scattering of the Jews that the Gentiles were brought in; it was by the bruised and torn bodies of the saints that the truth was so made to triumph that it became a saying, that "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church." It is by this broken box, that throughout the wide world it is proclaimed how blessed and glorious a thing it is to do a whole thing for Christ. When the true story of all things shall be known, then will it appear how precious in God's sight, how powerful in His hands, were many broken things. Broken earthly hopes will be found to have been necessary to the bringing in of the better hope which endures forever. Broken bodily constitutions will be found to have been needful in some cases to the attainment of that land where the body shall be weary and sore no more; broken earthly fortunes, to the winning of the wealth beyond the reach of rust and moth and thief; broken earthly honour, to the being crowned with the diadem which fadeth not away. Yes! even for what we have to accomplish here, it often needs that we should be broken up into personal helplessness ere we can accomplish anything; that the excellency of the power may be not of man but of God. It is along a channel marred, and, as we should say, of no worth, that the precious ointment flows. Therefore, when any of God's people are broken and marred, let them bethink themselves of this shattered box, and how from it there flowed forth that ointment which anointed Jesus for His burial, and how it gave materials for that story which every gospel should tell.

(P. B. Power.)

If relics were needed for the instruction of the Church of God, we can well understand how among the choicest of them would be found the remnants of this alabaster box. This broken vessel would not only be a monument of love, but a preacher with varied eloquence; at once pathetic and practical, tender and even stern; appealing to sentiment, and yet thundering against mere sentimentality; its jagged edges preaching "fact" in this world which men are always telling us is a world of fact; and saying, "Religion is fact — fact from God to man, and back from man to God again." It may be that, as we studied these poor fragments of the past, our minds might pass from the stem teachings of those jagged edges to the sweet scent which diffused itself therefrom; and so, impalpable and invisible as that scent, sweet-savoured thoughts might steal into the secret recesses of our being, and we might be won to more decided action for our Lord. We can understand the broken vessel being carried into the exchange, the counting house, and the shop, and one man shrinking from it as he heard its story, and another pouring out his gold as its depth and power struck deep into his soul. We can picture it to ourselves on the table of the philosopher, as with his midnight lamp beside it, he sits contemplating it with his hands spread over his temples, and rises from his cold, unsanctified study, unable to understand why the woman did this deed, and why anyone should now be called to do the like; and we can imagine it now arresting with its broken form, now beguiling with even the remembrance of its perfume, some strong intellect, which longs to know the reality of things, and bows before the majesty and substance of true love as offered and accepted here. We can understand how it would make a missionary of this one, whose deeds would be known to all, and of another for Christ's sake a lone midnight watcher of the sick, whose deeds would be known to none — from the light of love shining from this broken vessel, as the lamps shone from the broken pitchers of Gideon, we can see thousands fleeing, as the bats and owls before the morning sun; and others, opening and expanding as the flowers into bloom and scent. Were relics needed for the conversion of man from his selfishness, his half-heartedness, his ignorance of the power of love, first above all things we would carry through the world the cross of Calvary and its thorny crown, and next to them this alabaster box.

(P. B. Power.)

Anointing was employed in the East for several purposes: first, for pleasure, it being a great luxury in that climate; and the ointments were prepared from oils with great difficulty. They represented the very best fragrance that could be compounded. They were used by a person upon himself; and it was a significant act of esteem when ointment was presented by friend to friend. Ointments were also used in the coronation and ordination of kings and priests; and so they came to signify sacredness through reverence. Ointments were further used in the burial of the dead, and so came to signify the sorrow of love. But in every case, whether for gifts, or for pleasure, or for sacred uses of consecration or burial, it was not the intrinsic value of the ointment, but the thought which went with it, that gave it significance. It represented deep heart feeling, loyalty; deep religious consecration; sorrow and hope. These various feelings, which have but very little expression awarded to them, choose symbols; and these symbols almost lose their original meaning, and take this second attributive meaning.

(H. W. Beecher.)

In climates where the skin gets feverish with dust, the use of oil in anointing the person is still a common practice. It is so in India; it was so in ancient Greece and Rome. It keeps the skin cool and soothes it, and is held to be healthful. In warmer climes the senses are more delicate, and the smells often more strong and disagreeable, and sweet odours are therefore greatly in demand. In Egypt today, the guests would be perfumed by being fumigated with a fragrant incense; and as spices are still used to give to the breath, the skin, the garments, an agreeable odour, so was it then. In any house the Saviour would have had His head anointed with oil. It was like the washing of the feet, a refreshment. In India these anointings with fragrant oils and perfumes are largely practised after bathing, and especially at feasts and marriages, so that the act of Mary was not something embarrassing and peculiar, but only the very highest form of a service which was expected and welcome. But, instead of the anointing with oil, which would have cost less probably than the widow's mite, she has provided a rich anointing oil. Judas estimated its value at three hundred pence; Pliny says it sold generally for three hundred pence a pound of twelve ounces. It was something of the same kind as attar of roses; made chiefly by gathering the essential oil from the leaves of an Indian plant, the spikenard, described by Dioscorides, 1,800 years ago, as growing in the Himalayas, and still found there, and used today in the preparation of costly perfumes. Except in drops, it was, of course, only used by kings and by the richest classes; was costly enough to be made a royal present. Three hundred pence would be worth as much in those clays as £60 would be in England today. Mary must have been a woman of property to be able to bring such a holy anointing oil; unless, as is equally probable, this amount was the total of her lowly savings, and she with her royal gift, like the widow with her lowly offering, gives all she had. If there be none other to anoint Him, she will not let His sacred head lack what honour she can bring. And if some reject Him, she will make it clear that to do Him the least and most transient honour is worth, in her view, the sacrifice of all she has. And so, with wondrous lavishness of generous love, she buys and brings to the feast the costly unguent. It is enclosed in an alabaster vase or phial, such as some which may be seen in the British Museum today, thousands of years old, and not unlike the alabaster vases that are still made in vast numbers and sold in toy shops and fairs for a few pence; the softness of the stone permitting it to be then, as now, easily turned in a lathe.

(R. Glover.)There is no word for "box" in the original; and there is no reason to suppose that the vessel, in which the perfume was contained, would be of the nature or shape of a box. Doubtless alabaster boxes would be in use among ladies to hold their jewels, cosmetics, perfumes, etc.; but it would, most probably, be in some kind of minute bottles that the volatile scents themselves would be kept. The expression in the original is simply, "having an alabaster of ointment." Pliny expressly says that perfumes are best preserved in alabasters. The vessel, because made of alabaster, was called an alabaster, just as, with ourselves, a particular garment, because made of waterproof stuff, is called a waterproof. And a small glass vessel for drinking out of is called, generically, a glass. Herodotus uses the identical expression employed by the Evangelist. He says that the Icthyophagi were sent by Cambyses to the Ethiopians, "bearing, as gifts, a purple cloak, a golden necklace, an alabaster of perfume, and a cask of palm wine."

(J. Morison, D. D.)

Just as soon as these people saw the ointment spilling on the head of Christ, they said: "Why this waste? Why, that ointment might have been sold and given to the poor!" Ye hypocrites! What did they care about the poor? I do not believe that one of them that made the complaint ever gave a farthing to the poor. I think Judas was most indignant, and he sold his Master for thirty pieces of silver. There is nothing that makes a stingy man so cross as to see generosity in others. If this woman of the text had brought in an old worn-out box, with some stale perfume, and given that to Christ, they could have endured it; but to have her bring in a vessel on which had been expended the adroitness of skilled artizans, and containing perfume that had usually been reserved for palatial and queenly use, they could not stand it. And so it is often the case in communities and in churches that those are the most unpopular men who give the most. Judas cannot bear to see the alabaster box broken at the feet of Christ. There is a man who gives a thousand dollars to the missionary cause. Men cry out: "What a waste! What's the use of sending out New Testaments and missionaries, and spending your money in that way? Why don't you send ploughs, and corn threshers, and locomotives, and telegraphs?" But is it a waste? Ask the nations that have been saved; have not religious blessings always preceded financial blessings? Show me a community where the gospel of Christ triumphs, and I will show you a community prospered in a worldly sense. Is it a waste to comfort the distressed, to instruct the ignorant, to baulk immorality, to capture for God the innumerable hosts of men who with quick feet were tramping the way to hell! If a man buys railroad stock, it may decline. If a man invests in a bank, the cashier may abscond. If a man goes into partnership, his associate may sink the store. Alas, for the man who has nothing better than "greenbacks" and government securities! God ever and anon blows up the money safe, and with a hurricane of marine disaster dismasts the merchantmen, and from the blackened heavens He hurls into the Exchange the hissing thunderbolts of His wrath. People cry up this investment and cry down the other; but I tell you there is no safe investment save that which is made in the bank of which God holds the keys. The interest in that is always being paid, and there are eternal dividends. God will change that gold into crowns that shall never lose their lustre, and into sceptres that shall forever wave over a land where the poorest inhabitant is richer than all the wealth of earth tossed up into one glittering coin! So, if I stand this morning before men who are now of small means, but who once were greatly prospered, and who in the days of their prosperity were benevolent, let me ask you to sit down and count up your investments. All the loaves of bread you ever gave to the hungry, they are yours yet; all the shoes you ever gave to the barefooted, they are yours yet; all the dollars you ever gave to churches and schools and colleges, they are yours yet. Bank clerks sometimes make mistakes about deposits; but God keeps an unfailing record of all Christian deposits; and, though on the great judgment, there may be a "run" upon that bank, ten thousand times ten thousand men will get back all they ever gave to Christ; get all back, heaped up, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. A young Christian woman starts to instruct the freedmen of the South, with a spelling book in one hand and a Bible in the other. She goes aboard a steamer for Savannah. Through days, and months, and years she toils among the freedmen of the South; and one day there comes up a poisonous breath from the swamp, and a fever smites her brow, and far away from home, watched tearfully by those whom she has come to save, she drops into an early grave. "Oh, what a waste! — waste of beauty, waste of talent, waste of affection, waste of everything," cries the world. "Why, she might have been the joy of her father's house; she might have been the pride of the drawing room." But, in the day when rewards are given for earnest Christian work, her inheritance will make insignificant all the treasure of Croesus. Not wasted, her gentle words; not wasted, her home sickness; not wasted, her heart aches; not wasted, her tears of loneliness; not wasted, the pangs of her last hour; not wasted, the sweat on her dying pillow. The freedman thought it was the breath of the magnolia in the thicket; the planter thought it was the sweetness of the acacia coming up from the hedge. No! no! it was the fragrance of an alabaster box poured on the head of Christ. One day our world will burn up. So great have been its abominations and disorders that one would think that when the flames touched it a horrible stench would roll into the skies; the coal mines consuming, the impurities of great cities burning, you might think that a lost spirit from the pit would stagger back at the sickening odour. But no. I suppose on that day a cloud of incense will roll into the skies, all the wilderness of tropical flowers on fire, the mountains of frankincense, the white sheet of the water lilies, the million tufts of heliotrope, the trellises of honeysuckle, the walls of "morning glory." The earth shall be a burning censer, held up before the throne of God with all the odours of the hemispheres. But on that day a sweeter gale shall waft into the skies. It will come up from ages past, from altars of devotion, and hovels of poverty, and beds of pain, and stakes of martyrdom, and from all the places where good men and women have suffered for God and died for the truth. It will be the fragrance of ten thousand boxes of alabaster, which, through the long reach of the ages, were poured on the head of Christ.

(Dr. Talmage.)

A man said to Mr. Dawson, "I like your sermons very much, but the after meetings I despise. When the prayer meeting begins I always go up into the gallery and look down, and I am disgusted." "Well," replied Mr. Dawson, "the reason is, you go on the top of your neighbour's house, and look down his chimney to examine his fire, and of course you get only smoke in your eyes!"


1. Unlikely as it must have seemed that the simple act of devotion here named should be known in all the world, it has literally come to pass. It is told in all the languages of men, till there is scarcely a patch of coral in the wide sea large enough for a man to stand upon where this incident is not known. It should increase our confidence in all our Lord's promises. It is a witness that the rest will be found true as their time comes.

2. Wherever this story has been told, it has received the commendation of those who have heard it. The Lord's judgment has been confirmed: not that of those who "had indignation within themselves," and considered the ointment wasted.

II. WHY WAS THIS WOMAN ABLE TO DO SO PRAISEWORTHY AN ACT? How did she know so much better than the others that Christ was to die, and that this was an appropriate act in view of His death?

1. She had paid attention to His words. She was a good hearer. Her ear was single, and her whole mind was full of truth.

2. Her act was the result of her character and feeling, not of her reasoning. She gave to Him, because she was Mary and He was Christ. It was the impulse of love.

(Alex. McKenzie, D. D.)

The time will come when to do a thing for Christ and to have it accepted by Him will be work and accomplishment enough. If He is pleased, we shall not care to look beyond for recompense. If the spikenard is pleasant to Him, we shall not ask that the house be filled with its fragrance. But the fragrance will fill the house. The poor are best cared for where Christ is the best served. Virtue is strongest where piety is purest. Let Him be satisfied and the world is blessed. Let us break at His feet the alabaster which holds our life, that the spikenard may anoint Him. Go out and stand before men and open the box of stone. Then men will be drawn to you and to your devotion. Soon kings will swing the golden censer, and nations will east incense on the glowing coals, and the perfume will make the air sweet: while many voices from earth and from heaven blend in the song of adoration unto Him that loved us.

(Alex. McKenzie, D. D.)

In this narrative of Mary's good work and the indignation of the apostles, we have an example of all those views and all those judgments which have their foundation in the favourite principle of utilitarianism, and which is so often falsely applied to the wounding of pious hearts, and to the hindrance of that justifiable worship in the Church of Christ, which seeks to express worthily the sentiment of reverence and of love, and which is in itself productive of the highest blessing.

I. (1) In Mary we have set before us an image of ardent love;(2) in Judas an example of great hypocrisy;(3) in the rest of the apostles an instance of the ease with which even good men are often scandalized when God's purpose happens to differ from their own preconceptions.

II. (1) In the acceptance of Mary's offering of the ointment, we have the mercy of God displayed in receiving and hallowing man's gift when bestowed on Him;(2) in the rejection of Judas, who impenitently hardened himself at the sight of Mary's devotion, an instance is given us of the righteous judgment of the Almighty against the sinner.

(W. Denton, M. A.)

It is commonly argued that whatever may have been the appropriateness of that earlier devotion which built and beautified the temple, it is superannuated, inappropriate, and even (as some tell us) unwarranted now. Those costly and almost barbaric splendours, it is said, were appropriate to a race in its infancy, and to a religion in the germ. But the temple and the ritual of Judaism have flowered into the sanctuary and the service of the Church of Christ. Not to Mount Gerizim nor Jerusalem do men need to journey to worship the Father, says the Founder of that Church Himself. "God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth." If one would show his devotion to Him, says this same Teacher, "sell all that thou hast and give to the poor." It is not to adorn temples and garnish holy places that Christianity is called nowadays, but to rear hospitals, and shelter orphans, and feed the hungry. It is a diviner thing to send bread to some starving household, or to minister in some plague smitten Memphis or New Orleans, to some fevered sufferer, than to build all the altars and adorn all the sanctuaries that ever were reared. No! it is not — not one whit diviner — noble and Christ-like as such service surely is. Let us come to a distinct understanding here as to an issue concerning which, in the popular mind, there is much confusion and much more misapprehension. If it be asked, Is there not an order and sequence in which things equally excellent may wisely and rightly be done, the answer is plain enough. If anybody is starving or houseless or orphaned, the first thing to do is to feed and shelter and succour them. And so long as such work is undone, we may wisely postpone other work, equally meritorious and honourable. But it should be clearly understood that if in some ages a disproportionate amount of time and money and attention have been given to the aesthetics of religion, in others the same disproportion has characterized that which has been given to what may justly be called the sentimentalism of religion. An enormous amount of indiscriminate almsgiving both in our own and other generations has bred only shiftlessness, indolence, unthrift, and even downright vies. God forbid that we should hastily close our hand or our heart against any needier brother! But God most of all forbid that we thrust him down into a condition of chronic pauperism by the wanton and selfish facility with which we buy our privilege of being comfortably let alone by him with an alms or a dole. Better a thousand times that our gifts should enrich a cathedral already thrice adorned, and clothe its walls already hung with groaning profusion of enrichment, for then, at least, someone coming after us may be prompted to see and own that, whatever fault of taste or congruity may offend him, there has not been building and beautifying without cost and sacrifice Those wonderful men of an earlier generation toiled singly and supremely to give to God their best, and to spend their art and toil where, often if not ordinarily, it could be seen and owned and adequately appreciated by no other eye than His. This, I maintain, is alone the one sufficient motive for cost, and beauty, and even lavish outlay, in the building and adornment of the House of God. We may well rejoice and be thankful when any Christian disciple strives anywhere to do anything that tells out to God and men, whether in wood, or stone, or gold, or precious stones, that such an one would fain consecrate to Him the best and costliest that human hands can bring. When any poor penuriousness cries out upon such an outlay, "To what purpose is this waste?" the pitiful objection is silenced by that answer of the Master's to her who broke ever His feet the alabaster box of ointment very precious, "Verily, I say unto you," etc. And why was it to be told? for the spreading of her fame? No, but for the inculcation of her example.

(Bishop H. C. Potter.)

"The Messiah, although going to death, let me lavish my all on Him," was Mary's thought; "Going to death, and therefore not the Messiah, let me make what I can out of Him," was the thought of Judas.

(T. M. Lindsay, D. D.)

There is a great principle involved in this woman's offering, or rather in our Lord's acceptance of it, which is this, that we may give that which is costly to adorn and beautify the sanctuary of God and His worship. God Himself enjoined on the Jews that they should make a tabernacle of worship of such materials as gold, and purple, and fine linen, and precious stones; and the man after God's own heart collected a vast treasure of gold and costly materials to build and beautify a temple which was to be exceeding magnificent. But since then a new dispensation has been given, which had its foundations in the deepest humiliation — in the manger of Bethlehem — in the journeyings of a poor, homeless man, with the simple peasants His companions — ending in the cross and in the sepulchre. Is there place in such a kingdom for generous men and women to lavish precious things on His sanctuaries and the accompaniments of His worship? Now this incident at the end of the Lord's life, taken together with that at its beginning, when God-directed men offered to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, teaches us that there is. Just as this woman was led by a Divine instinct to lavish upon His Person what was costly and fragrant, so the Church has, by the same Divine instinct, been led to pour at His feet the richest treasures of the nations she has subdued to His faith. The Church has done what she could. At least her faithful sons and daughters have. At first, in her days of persecution, she could worship only in catacombs, and in her days of poverty she could only offer what was rude; but when she subdued her persecutors and emerged from her poverty, then also she did what she could. The grandest efforts of architectural skill have been raised to the honour of Christ, the greater part built in the form of the cross on which He hung to redeem us. The noblest paintings are of His acts and sufferings; and the most elevating strains of music are accompaniments of His worship. It is too true that many have taken part in these offices who have not, like Mary, sat at His feet, and chosen the good part; but what we are now concerned with is, whether this incident warrants those who have first given themselves to Him to offer in and for His worship what has cost labour and treasure and skill.

(M. F. Sadler, M. A.)

The poor with you always.
Covetous men have put our Lord's words, "Ye have the poor with you always," beside the Old Testament sentence, "The poor shall never cease out of the land," in order to quiet the trouble of their own consciences when forced to think of the little they are daily doing for the poor; and then tell themselves, and too often tell others, that aspiration, self-denial, and liberality are, after all, mere spasmodic, ineffectual palliatives of a disease which is inveterate and hopeless, and that, the existence of poverty being an unalterable decree, there can be no true neglect in doing nothing in their power, if there can be no full success in doing all. To some other people this combination of texts supplies a convenient discouragement to throw on all suggestions for elevating the condition of the poor, and alleviating the pressure of their poverty; for it enables them practically to conclude thus: "To do this thing would be, more or less, to fly in the face of the Almighty: To alter the conditions He has so clearly laid down would be, in fact, to contradict His will." Of course this error also admits of an easy reply, too logical by far, how. ever, for men who would offer the argument. It is this. God may have willed, and has willed, that absolute equality of goods Shall be, in this world, an impossibility; that the terms rich and poor, being relative terms, shall always have persons to whom they may be applied, though a man who is rich as compared with a peasant may be poor as compared with a prince. But God has never revealed as His will that those conditions shall never be interchangeable; on the contrary, His word tells us that such interchange must be sought (James 1:9), and the history of the world, from day to day, shows us, as part of its natural course, a continual rising of some, and sinking of others, in the social scale. Then there is another class of objections to deal with. It is urged by those who really sympathize in good will for the physical and moral raising of the poor, and feel that the bettering of poor men's condition would be an admirable thing if only it were possible, but that its antecedent impossibility frustrates all efforts towards so desirable an end. There are very many such — people who feel Christian love to fellow men fill them with longing to promote their temporal, and through it their eternal good; people who, themselves blessed with ease and affluence in worldly things, feel themselves in some sort trusted by God to benefit their poorer fellows; who know the pity and the wrong of merely flinging money, in whatever sums, into the grasping hand of the loudest clamourer; who strive with all their might in seeking, and fail so often bitterly in finding, the true deserving poor; who go themselves amidst the haunts of squalor, the homes of misery, the very centres of disease, trying to make true Christian mercy the dispenser of their money, and to consecrate even filthy lucre to the holy ministry of Christian love. How many these are, of Christian men and Christian women, God only knows who only can reward; but yet how disappointing is their work! They see from day to day so little fruit; they meet from day to day so much resistance; what wonder if, while conscience urges them to persist in their work, despondency should often overwhelm them, and make the toil, which only hope can lighten, a crushing burden when hope is fled? Is it not too sadly true that when the self-indulgent love to cry, "the raising of the poor is resistance to God," the self-sacrificing often have to answer, "the raising of the poor is hopeless for man!" The one class lets them lie, and cries, "their poverty is destiny;" the other class labours even while it cries, "our labour is in vain!" And both have only quoted half the texts — the one side to excuse neglect, the other to explain despondency; while the whole text can force duty on the slothful and give courage to the zealous. For our Lord, indeed, spoke the truth of His day, of our day, and of all days, when He said, "Ye have the poor with you always;" but He said something more which we should lay to heart, "When ye will, ye can do them good." These glorious words settle all questions at once as to the title of man to interfere with the condition of the poor, and as to the alleged hopelessness of such interference. The thing may be done, and the thing may be done with success. To alter the condition of the poor is allowable; to alter it for the better is possible. "Ye can do them good!"

(W. L. Blackley, M. A.)

When the deacon, St. Lawrence, was asked, in the Decian persecution, to show the prefect the most precious treasures of the Church at Rome, he showed him the sick, the lame, the blind. "It is incredible," said Lucian, the pagan jeerer and sceptic, "to see the ardour with which those Christians help each other in their wants. They spare nothing. Their first legislator has put it into their heads that they are all brothers." "These Galileans," said Julian the apostate, "nourish not only their own poor, but ours as well." In the year 252 a plague raged in Carthage. The heathen threw out their dead and sick upon the streets, and ran away from them for fear of contagion, and cursed the Christians. St. , on the contrary, assembled his congregation, told them to love those who cursed them; and the rich working with their money, the poor with their hands, never rested till the dead were buried, the sick cared for, and the city saved from destruction.

(Archdeacon F. W. Farrar.)

Thomas Willet, one of the old Puritan divines, was a man of remarkable benevolence. He spent the income of his two benefices in comforting and entertaining the parish poor, often inviting them to the hospitalities of his house. When asked why he did so, his reply was, "Lest Joseph and Mary should want room in the inn, or Jesus Himself should say at last, 'I was a stranger, and ye took Me not in.'"

She hath done what she could.
I. That the Lord Jesus likes His people to be DOING CHRISTIANS. She "did something." She did "what she could." Hence the praises bestowed upon her. The great Head of the Church likes "doing" Christians. Christians who show their Christianity in their lives. True religion is not made up of general notions and abstract opinions — of certain views, and doctrines, feelings, and sentiments. Useful as these things are, they are not everything. The wheels of the machine must move. The clock must go as well as have a handsome case and face. It matters little what a man thinks, feels, and wishes in religion, if he never gets further than that. What does he do? How does he live?

1. "Doing" is the only satisfactory proof that a man is a living member of the Lord.

2. "Doing" is the only satisfactory proof that your Christianity is a real work of the spirit. Talking and profession are cheap and easy things. But "doing" requires trouble and self-denial.

3. "Doing" is the only evidence that will avail a man in the day of judgment. (Matthew 25:31, etc.)

II. That ALL TRUE CHRISTIANS CAN DO SOMETHING, and that all should do what they can. Now I know well the devil labours to make true Christians do nothing. Doing Christians are the devil's greatest enemies.

1. Satan will tell some that they are too young to do anything. Believe him not: that is a lie. Yet a little while and the enemy will say, "you are too old, and it is too late."

2. Satan will tell others that they stand alone too much to do any good. Martin Luther, Mahomet, Napoleon — all are cases in point. They all rose from the ranks. They stood alone at first. They owed nothing to position or patronage.

3. Satan will tell others that they have no power to do anything. He will say, "you have no gifts, no talents, no influence."

4. But Satan will tell some that they have no opportunities for doing anything — no door open on any side.

5. Do you ask me what you can do? I reply, there is something for every true Christian in England to do. Have you not the power of doing good by your life? you may work wonders by steady consistency and patient continuance in well-doing.

(Bishop J. C. Ryle.)

A young girl, in one of her pensive moods, wrote thus in her journal: If I dared I would ask God why am I placed in this world? and what have I to do? My days are idly spent, and I do not even regret their swift passing away. If I might but do some good to myself or another, if only for the short space of a moment each day!" A few days later her views were wider and brighter, and she wrote again: "Why, nothing is easier! I have but to give a cup of cold water to one of Christ's little ones." Paths of service are sure to open before willing feet. When the Spirit of God puts a benevolent impulse in the soul the providence of God will open a channel for its outflowing. Thousands of God's afflicted children would be inexpressibly touched if Christian young women would sing to them of His love and the "home beyond the tide."

(Bishop J. C. Ryle.)

I. THE INCIDENT HERE RECORDED COMPRISED THE CONDUCT OF A CERTAIN WOMAN ON A PARTICULAR OCCASION, TOGETHER WITH THE TREATMENT WHICH SHE RECEIVED; first, from some of the persons present, and secondly, from Jesus Himself. Those present, not having the same affection and veneration for Jesus which the woman had, found fault with her conduct. But what treatment did she receive from Jesus? "And Jesus said," etc. Here we see in the first place, how our Saviour defended the woman, and reproved and exposed those who had blamed her. Let us notice also in the second place, that Jesus not only defended the woman, but even praised and commended her.


1. We may hence infer that those works which Jesus Christ accounts to be "good" are such as spring from faith in, and love to Him.

2. Such good works, such acts of love and faith, will not always, nor even in general, obtain the favour and applause of the world. To the world the good works of the Christian are seldom either intelligible or gratifying. Propose, for instance, to worldly persons to join with you in supporting some charity at a distance; they will tell you how it is abused and perverted, and that there are poor at home to whom we are required to attend. Thus selfishness and avarice plead their cause, and lead men to evade their plainest duties.

3. We may infer from the passage before us that those "good works," those fruits of faith and love, which the world misunderstands, misrepresents, and censures, are yet graciously noticed, and favourably accepted by Jesus Christ. My brethren, what encouraging and consolatory reflections are these to all such as are endeavouring to serve the Lord Christ, and to be fruitful in good works! Regard not the sneers and reproaches of ungodly persons. Behave to them with meekness and kindness. Overcome their evil with good.

(Edward Cooper.)

I. THE MOTIVE OF CHRISTIAN DUTY. Love is that motive — the very principle which fills the mind of Deity. It was love which brought the Saviour down, and led Him through all the scenes of His earthly sufferings and the cross. Christ has loved you; therefore do what you may, for His sake. No higher motive than this can be urged.

II. THE AMOUNT OF SERVICE REQUIRED. The amount of ability is the measure of duty. What we can do, we ought to do — cheerfully and honestly. Use the balance of the sanctuary to make sure that thou art not defrauding thy God.

(S. Robins.)

Christ asks no impossibilities. That woman brought an alabaster box. What was it to Jesus? Why, He owns all the fragrance of earth and heaven; but He took it. He was satisfied with it. If it had been a wooden box He would have been just as well satisfied had it been the best one she could bring. I hear someone say: "If I only had this, that, or the other thing, I would do so much for God." In the last day, it may be found that a cup of cold water given in the name of a disciple gets as rich a reward as the founding of a kingdom; and that the sewing girl's needle may be as honourable in God's sight as a king's sceptre; and that the grandest eulogium that was ever uttered about anyone was. "She hath done what she could." There she sits at the head of the Sabbath school class, and she says: "I wish I understood the Scriptures in Greek and Hebrew. I wish I had more facility for instruction. I wish I could get the attention of my class. I wish I could bring them all to Christ. Do not worry. Christ does not want you to know the Scripture in Greek and Hebrew. Do as well as you can, and from the throne the proclamation will flame forth: "Crown that princess. She hath done what she could." There is a man toiling for Christ. He does not get on much. He is discouraged when he hears Paul thunder and Edward Payson pray. He says: "I wonder if I will ever join the song of heaven." He wonders if it would not look odd for him to stand amid the apostles who preached and the martyrs who flamed. Greater will be his wonder on the day when he shall find out that many who were first in the Church on earth are last in the Church of heaven; and when he sees the procession winding up among the thrones of the sorrowing ones who never again shall weep, and the weary ones who never again shall get tired, and the poor who never again shall beg, and Christ, regardless of all antecedents, will upon the heads of His disciples place a crown made from the gold of the eternal hills, set in with pearl from the celestial sea, inscribed with the words: "He hath done what he could."

(Dr. Talmage.)

A man in America, who depended for support entirely on his own exertions, subscribed five dollars annually in support of the Bombay schools. His friends inquired, "why he gave so much, and how he could afford it?" He replied: "I have been for some time wishing to do something for Christ's cause, but I cannot preach, neither can I pray in public, to anyone's edification, nor can I talk to people; but I have hands, and I can work."

She hath done what she could.
In many aspects this is one of the most encouraging expressions of our Lord. It was uttered in defence of a woman who ventured to approach Him under the unceremonious impulse of affection, destitute, so far as we know, of any recommendation from family circumstance or social distinction, but urged solely by an irresistible longing to do something, however humble or irregular, in behalf of this Divine friend, who has gained the unutterable, enthusiastic devotion of her soul.

I. THIS ANSWER OF OUR LORD'S PLAINLY AND POWERFULLY ASSERTS THE SUPERIOR WORTH OF THE HEART'S FEELING OVER ANY OUTWARD ACTS. The very form of the expression implies that, in one sense, she had done but little. Yet that little was enough. It was a test of her sincerity. It said distinctly that she was in earnest. It demonstrated the deep and tender attachment of her soul. One penny's worth, if it is only the utmost that self-denial can do, is as good for that as ten thousand shekels. The whole spiritual meaning of gifts consists in the disposition of the giver.

II. THESE WORDS BESTOW A BLESSING ON THE FEELING OF PERSONAL AFFECTION TOWARDS CHRIST. Have you ever had that mingled sense of gratitude and love towards a person which made you long, above all things, to find out some way of serving him, and made it a positive pain to be denied that privilege? Did Christianity not provide an outlet for this feeling, it would fail to secure a practical hold on human sympathies.

III. THESE WORDS AFFIRM, FOR TRUE GOODNESS, A COMPLETE INDEPENDENCE OF PLACE. Acceptance with God is as possible in small fortunes, or limited reputations, as in influential and powerful circles. No one, therefore, is excused from doing "what he can," nor is there one to whom the whole infinite wealth of Christ's favour is not offered.

IV. ABILITY IS THE MEASURE OF RESPONSIBILITY. No soul is tasked beyond its power. God's commandment never passes the line of a possible obedience, and so never goes over from justice to tyranny. What we fail to render in actual work (through our human frailty), He mercifully permits us through Christ to make up in those penitent and self-renouncing affections which gain forgiveness and open the way of reconciliation. Still, let us solemnly ask ourselves, even after making allowance for this, Have I done what I could? Has my service to the Master reached the full measure of the powers and gifts, the capacities of affection and the opportunities of well-doing, with which my Master has entrusted me?


1. This saying of Jesus is dangerously perverted and shamefully abused, if we take it as excusing us from the utmost effort in well-doing, and a laborious progress in Christ's service. We must summon into the Master's service every power, every energy, every affection, every hour of life. No laxities, and no apologies. Nothing less than entire consecration is demanded of us.

2. In order to serve Christ acceptably, we have not to revolutionize our lot, nor to seek other conditions than those Providence supplies. The place is nothing; the heart is all.

3. There is no service thoroughly right which does not directly acknowledge and honour the Saviour. The heart's offering to Him is the beginning of all righteousness.

(Bishop F. D. Huntington.)

The Father has appointed many ways in which we may walk toward His face, and run on His errands. Work is the way for strength; lying still is the way for infirmity, — if only there are trust and prayer in both. There is some instruction in a picture I have read of, which represents the lives of twin brothers diverging from the cradle. One, by study, becomes a learned and skilful physician, reaching great riches and honours by ministering to the sick. The other has no talent for books, and no memory, and so no science; he becomes a poor, strolling musician, but spends his days in consoling, by his lute, sufferings that are beyond all medicine. The brothers are shown meeting at the close of their career. The vagrant is sick and worn out, and the brother prescribes for him out of his learning, and gathers ingenious compounds for his relief; but, meantime, he to whom God gave another gift, touches his instrument for the solace of the great man's shattered nerves, and heals his benefactor's disordered spirit.

(Bishop F. D. Huntington.)

1. Willing service.

2. Costly sacrifices.

(Wm. Marsh.)

An American paper tells the story of a woman who, because tired of a life mainly spent in eating and dressing, resolved to devote herself and her money to a nobler purpose. At the close of the war, she went to a sandy island off the Atlantic coast, where about two hundred persons were living in poverty and ignorance, and there she established her home, with the intention of benefiting the inhabitants. She began by teaching, by example, how to cultivate the land lucratively. Then she established a school for the children, and afterwards a church. Now the island is a thriving nation, with an industrious and moral population, the change being the work of one woman.

Many true saints are unable to render much service to the cause of God. See, then, the gardeners going down to the pond, and dipping in their watering pots to carry the refreshing liquid to the flowers. A child comes into the garden and wishes to help, and yonder is a little watering pot for him. Note well the little water pot, though it does not hold so much, yet carries the same water to the plants; and it does not make any difference to the flowers which receive that water, whether it came out of the big pot or the little pot, so long as it is the same water, and they get it. You who are as little children in God's Church, you who do not know much, but try to tell to ethers what little you do know; if it be the same gospel truth, and be blessed by the same Spirit, it will not matter to the souls who are blessed by you, whether they were converted or comforted by a man of one or ten talents.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

It is the bubbling stream that flows gently, the little rivulet which flows along day and night by the farmhouse, that is useful, rather than the swollen flood or warring cataract. Niagara excites our wonder; and we stand amazed at the powerful greatness of God there, as He pours in from the hollow of His hand. But one Niagara is enough for the continent of the world, while the same world requires thousand and tens of thousands of silver fountains and gently flowing rivulets, that water every farm and meadow, and every garden, and shall flow on every day and night with their gentle quiet beauty. So with the acts of our lives. It is not by great deeds, like those of the martyrs, that good is to be done, but by the daily and quiet virtues of life.

(A. Barnes.)

She hath done what she could.
This encomium is just as sufficient and adequate for the ablest as the most infirm; it is enough for such as Elizabeth Fry, Hannah More, and Madame Adorna, and no more than enough for the unlettered woman carried out from an obscure lane last week, having died in the joy of her Lord, and her name never seen in printed letters, perhaps, till it was enrolled in the record of the dead. When I read a description of Kaiserswerth, near Dusseldorf, on the Rhine — of that vast establishment of Christian mercy, with its hospital, insane asylum, Magdalen retreat, charity schools, and institutions for training the most scientific nurses and accomplished teachers, graduating superintendents for the humane houses of both Europe and America, and a few miles away another building for the rest and refreshment of those that have been worn down by the fatigues of these voluntary labours of love, — when I see how, throughout, charity has been systematized by skill, and benevolence perfected by perseverance, and then behold the benefits flowing forth to be extended and multiplied, in ever enlarging proportions, over the whole sick and suffering and groaning earth, — I am as much ashamed and humbled before this devoted Pastor Fleidner, whose active spirit and benevolent genius have called up all this busy and organized kingdom of Good Samaritanism about him to glorify the age, as I suppose my sisters are before the beautiful and accomplished baroness who has laid down youth, rank, and wealth as an offering to sorrow and disease; or before the high-born, gifted, and admired English girl (Florence Nightingale) who came to Kaiserswerth as a pupil, and then reproduced the same wonders of consolation and healing for sick and destitute governesses, — not amidst the rural quiet and sweet verdure of her own paternal home in Hampshire, but in a dismal street in London. Yet we ought all to remember that these, too, only did what they could; that, if we do that, God's honours are impartial; that if we do not that, then ours is indeed the shame of the shortcoming.

(Bishop F. D. Huntington.)

This language of the Saviour most naturally associates itself with the closing up of life's great account. Of how many among us, when that trial hour comes, with all its retrospections and searching examinations, can those glorious words be spoken? We cannot recall nor judge the dead. They are in the hands of the All-Just. But we can speak to one another as yet living. How many of us are so striving righteously, and watching soberly, and praying earnestly, that this shall be the just and consoling eulogy — They have done what they could? The busy man of affairs, the successful one, the disappointed and losing one, the young adventurer, the older and long-trusted, and finally unfortunate one, — those that have prospered by others' industry, and those that have been ruined by others' crimes, — has each one of them done what he could? The wife or mother, whose very name is sacred, because the sacred office of forming character is her perpetual duty, the lonely woman that has only her own heart to discipline, the young girl that has so few cares for herself that God requires many of her for the less-favoured, — has each done what she could? The bereaved parent, the desolate widow suddenly summoned to take up the dreary and dreadful burden of solitary suffering, — has each done what she could? is each one doing what she can? Christ draws near to us and repeats the question. He turns and puts it, with twofold solemnity and sadness, to those that leave Him and pass away. To all that sit at His feet and follow in His steps in the spirit of her who poured the fragrant offering on His head, He is ready to speak the same benediction with His infinite love, — hiding in it the sure promise of life everlasting. I said we cannot adjudge the deservings of the departed. But we can guard ourselves against those hallucinations of mortal glory, and all those artificial illusions, which are so apt to cheat our souls, and obscure the plain truth. There goes to his august repose, enveloped in imperial pomps, the ruler of the world's mightiest, vastest empire. Fifty-seven millions of human souls, embracing nine different races of men, with a million soldiers, drew their daily breath subject to his direct and despotic will; but not all of so many millions could add one single breath to his prostrate lungs. Eight millions of square miles of territory were yesterday ruled by his word; now he needs not eight feet, out of it all. The guns of massive fortresses on the huge ramparts that guard widely divided waters made a continent tremble in their volleying answers to his edicts, and the haughtiest noblemen of the world bent at his smile or frown. Common cabinets and kings were perplexed and afraid at the cunning of his brain, as boys are of their master, and the armies of the strongest governments, after his own, felt the globe to be a more conquerable and practicable domain the moment they knew he was dead. But he is dead. And neither the millions of acres nor men, the fortresses nor the fears, the armies nor the brain, shall make it a whit easier, but harder rather, for his single soul — when it goes alone, disrobed of crown and purple, into the presence of the King of kings, whose right it is to reign — to answer that simple question, Hast thou done for Me — ah! for Me — what thou couldst? Canst thou stand with the lowly and powerless woman who crept with the box of ointment to her Redeemer's feet, and who shall have the story of that act of love told for a memorial of her wherever the everlasting gospel is preached, when the history of Cossack and Czar shall be dim as that of princes before the flood, and on to the end of time? But here, close by us, falls asleep a meek, patient girl, — a faithful sister, an obedient daughter, a mild and friendly counsellor of a few children that she knew, ruler of none on earth but her own patient spirit, and thereby made greater than he that taketh a city, or prevents its being taken. She, too, dies, and no anxious hemispheres dispute about the report, nor do kingdoms mourn, nor cowardly assemblies clap their hands, when the report is confirmed. And in the day when the secrets of all hearts shall be revealed, our only question is, which of these two shall be found nearest to Him who sitteth on the one throne, and shall wear the crown which is a crown of life.

(Bishop F. D. Huntington.)

An intelligent, industrious, and kind-hearted woman in Russia became a Christian. Her labours were transformed into Christian labours, and were followed up with an ardour and perseverance seldom exceeded. In her visits to the poor, she carried books and tracts as well as food and raiment; and when she found persons unable to read, which was frequently the ease, she made it a point to read to them, and to explain what they could not understand. Her prompt assistance was, in a great measure, instrumental in a zealous agent becoming extensively engaged in the circulation of the Scriptures. She gave him two of the first Finnish Bibles that ever passed through his hands; and when there was a great demand for the sacred volume in that language, she actually sold her watch, in order to furnish one hundred Bibles to the poor at reduced prices. She took, as her sphere for visiting, the whole city of St. Petersburg, perambulating it alone, and succeeded beyond all expectations. In the course of a few months she sold more than 1,500 Bibles and Testaments; and in this blessed work she persevered, while hundreds derived advantage from her visits.

"Children, I want each of you to bring a new scholar to the school with you next Sunday," said the superintendent of a Sunday school to his scholars one day. "I can't get any new scholars," said several of the children to themselves. "I'll try what I can do," was the whispered response of a few others. One of the latter class went home to his father, and said, "Father, will you go to the Sunday school with me?" "I can't read, my son," replied the father, with a look of shame. "Our teachers will teach you, dear father," answered the boy, with respect and feeling in his tones. "Well, I'll go," said the father. He went, learned to read, sought and found the Saviour, and at length became a colporteur. Years passed on, and that man had established four hundred Sunday schools, into which thirty-five thousand children were gathered! Thus you see what trying did. That boy's efforts were like a tiny rill, which soon swells into a brook, and at length becomes a river. His efforts, by God's grace, saved his father; and his father, being saved, led thirty-five thousand children to the Sunday school.

For a memorial of her.
The doing of works has been over-valued in one part of the Church's history, i.e., works as separate from the motives which led to them; and, as you know, for a long season language was held as if there was a merit in works, and as if they could make an atonement for sin, and wipe out a man's past misdeeds, and as if, if upon a death bed he made great sacrifices to Christ's church, that wiped out years of lust, covetousness, and cruelty. And so, by a revulsion of feeling, which always must beset the Church, it has come to pass, that amongst us men have been afraid of speaking of the great privilege, and of the great duty, of doing works of love for Christ's body, the Church; and there has come amongst us a mawkish, miserable sort of notion, that we are to cultivate inward feelings, affections, and the like, and that this is all of religion, and the whole of the reality of it, at which we are to aim. But this is not the whole of the truth of the thing; this is a very poor and miserable counterfeit of Christianity. Wherever Christianity truly takes hold of the deep of any man's heart, it will show itself, not only in guiding his feeling. but in guiding his actions, in leading him to a generous, devoted, and loyal-hearted service; it will make him bring his "alabaster box," and break it, and never count its price, and never reckon nicely whether he could lay out his money to better profit elsewhere; it will stop all such objections as — "Had it not better been sold and given to the poor?" for there is a munificence about love, and there is a grandeur in the giving of a loyal heart, which Christ loves to see, and which He will surely reward. In two ways this is set before us in the text.

1. In the readiness of our blessed Master to receive the offering; the way in which He at once stepped in between the woman and her reproof, the way in which He put down the objection, whether it was urged in hypocrisy, or whether in the darkness of a half-faith, that she had better have sold it and given it to the poor; the ready way in which He stepped in and at once acknowledged "She hath done what she could," "she hath done it against My burial." The woman, perhaps, knew not that Christ was near His end. But so it is, that love comes at the hidden truth of things, before the things themselves have been revealed. The man who is acting from love to Christ is a sort of prophet; he fore acts upon that which is yet hidden in the counsels of God.

2. By the remarkable promise added. See what enduring honour was this which Christ put upon this deed; see how far it goes beyond any worldly honour which we reckon the highest in order. Those who labour for God will reap an abiding honour, which is to be got in no path of earthly service. This little thing which seemed to err in the doing, this thing which seemed to be done so easily, so naturally, which cost this woman no thought beforehand, but which was just the impulse of a loving heart — this has lived on and been spoken of, though all the Roman empire has passed away. The great gulf of forgetfulness has swallowed it up, but the Lord our God endureth forever; and even the miserable works of man, when done for God, are gifted with endurance too. It is wove, as it were, into the web of God's greatness; and so it lasts on, and the blessing and the memory of it lives on in this world of change, long after the great world of things which surround it has sunk down beneath the distant horizon, and this comes up like some mighty mountain which was swallowed up by those that stood near it and seemed greater than it, but now in the far distance it stands out alone in the light of heaven and tells us that it is unlike all the rest. And so it has been often with things done for God, and for Christ, and for His Church.

I. ENCOURAGEMENT. The remembrance of this woman is a pledge that God will never forget His people. Worthless though their work is; mixed as it is in the motives from which it springs, even in the very best men; stained, therefore, as it is with sin; yet, for Christ's sake, it is accepted, and, being accepted, it shall be rewarded. Here, then, is a great motive to exertion in God's service. Sow largely this passing opportunity of time with the seeds of eternity. Put out your lives, and all you have, at interest, where God will pay again that which you lend Him. Make ventures for Him. Cast into the dark deep of His providence that which He will give you again with interest.

II. DUTY. The power of doing this comes from your being a Christian; therefore the necessity of your doing it is bound up in the fact of your being a Christian. You are not living as a Christian if you are not doing it. The power of working for God is the fruit of your redemption. It is because Christ has redeemed us that we can serve God with an acceptable sacrifice; that creation has received us back again into the place which sin had lost for us; that all things can be full of God to us; that we can in fact serve the Lord, knowing whom we serve, and sure of being accepted; that everything we have has become a talent — our station in life, our daily walk, our conduct in our family and in the world around us, that these are tasks set us by God, just as much allotted to us because we are Christians as the tasks of angels are allotted to them; so that it does not matter where or what I am in life; whether my life is mean as men judge, or great as men judge, it matters nothing; it is the aim of my life which makes the whole difference.

(Bishop S. Wilberforce.)

You are not to labour for visible success. This is one of the great reasons why those who had begun to work for God are seen to faint. They think to gather, when they should sow. They mean to do some great good, and they set about it heartily; it all turns to disappointment; and, as they were working for success, they sit down and work no longer. Remember, brethren, you are working not for success, but for God. You are to work in the dark. It is the very condition of life. In heaven we shall work in the light — shall see the work of God; but not here. In this life we must work in the dark; we must give to the unthankful; we must give, because Christ is represented in the poor and miserable around us, and because this is the only way we have of breaking our "box of spikenard" upon His body. And if we labour in love, there is a secret law of love bringing us to the result. The saints of God have found this. They have done something in love, because "the love of Christ constrained them" to do it; and, it may be in the next generation, or even in the generation after, it has begun to work mightily. They have founded some little institution with a liberal hand, and that little institution has swelled and grown into a mighty fortress, in which the truth of Christ has been stored for a whole generation; they have opened a door in the desert, and they knew not that multitudes, who should travel that way, would thank God for the refreshment thus afforded to them.

(Bishop S. Wilberforce.)

Human aggrandizement gives no permanent satisfaction. I had an aged friend who went into the White House when General Jackson was President of the United States, four days before President Jackson left the White House, and the President said to him, "I am bothered almost to death. People strive for this White House as though it were some grand thing to get, but I tell you it is a perfect hell!" There was nothing in the elevation the world had given him that rendered him satisfaction, or could keep off the annoyances and vexations of life. A man writes a book. He thinks it will circulate for a long while. Before long it goes into the archives of the city library, to be disturbed once a year, and that when the janitor cleans the house. A man builds a splendid house, and thinks he will get fame from it. A few years pass along, and it goes down under the auctioneer's hammer at the executors' sale, and a stranger buys it. The pyramids were constructed for the honour of the men who ordered them built. Who built them? Don't know! For whom were they built? Don't know! Their whole history is an obscuration and a mystery. There were men in Thebes, and Tyre, and Babylon who strove for great eminence, but they were forgotten; while the woman of the text, who lovingly accosted Jesus, has her memorial in all the ages. Ah! men and women of God, I have found out the secret; that which we do for ourselves is forgotten — that which we do for Christ is immortal. They who are kind to the sick, they who instruct the ignorant, they who comfort the troubled, shall not be forgotten. There have been more brilliant women than Florence Nightingale, but all the world sings her praise. There have been men of more brain than missionary Carey — their names are forgotten, while his is famous on the records of the Christian Church. There may have been women with vases more costly than that which is brought into the house of Simon the leper, but their names have been forgotten, while I stand before you tonight, reading the beautiful story of this Bethany worshipper. In the gallery of heaven are the portraits of Christ's faithful servants, and the monuments may crumble, and earth may burn, and the stars may fall, and time may perish; but God's faithful ones shall be talked of among the thrones, and from the earthly seed they sowed there shall be reaped a harvest of everlasting joy.

(Dr. Talmage.)

That woman could have got a vase that would not have cost half so much as those made of alabaster. She might have brought perfume that would have cost only fifty pence; this cost three hundred. As far as I can understand, her whole fortune was in it. She might have been more economical; but no, she gets the very best box and puts in it the very best perfume, and pours it all out on the head of her Redeemer. My brothers and sisters in Christ, the trouble is that we bring to Christ too cheap a box. If we have one of alabaster and one of earthenware, we keep the first for ourselves and give the other to Christ. We owe to Jesus the best of our time, the best of our talents, the best of everything. If there is anybody on earth you love better than Jesus, you wrong Him. Who has ever been so loving and pure and generous? Which one of your friends offered to pay all your debts, and carry all your burdens, and suffer all your pains? Which one of them offered to go into the grave to make you victor? Tell me who he is and where he lives, that I may go and worship him also. No, no; you know there has never been but one Jesus, and that if He got His dues, we would bring to Him all the gems of the mountains, and all the pearls of the sea, and all the flowers of the field, and all the fruits of the tropics, and all the crowns of dominions, and all the boxes of alabaster. If you have any brilliancy of wit, bring it; any clearness of judgment, any largeness of heart, any attractiveness of position, bring them. Away with the cheap bottles of stale perfume when you may fill the banqueting hall of Christ with exquisite aroma. Paul had made great speeches before, but he made his best speech for Christ. John had warmth of affection in other directions, but he had his greatest warmth of affection for Christ. Jesus deserves the best word we ever uttered, the gladdest song we ever sang, the most loving letter we ever wrote, the healthiest day we ever lived, the strongest heart throb we ever felt.

(Dr. Talmage.)

Is there a child in your household especially bright and beautiful? Take it right up to Jesus. Hold it in baptism before Him; kneel beside it in prayer; take it right up to where Jesus is. Oh, do you not know, father and mother, that the best thing that could happen to that child would be to have Jesus put His hands on it? If some day Jesus should come to the household, and take one away to come back never, never, do not resist Him. His heart is warmer, His arm stronger than yours. The cradle for a child is not so safe a place as the arms of Jesus. If Christ should come into your household where you have your very best treasures, and should select from all the caskets an alabaster box, do not repulse Him. It has seemed as it Jesus Christ took the best; from many of your households the best one is gone. You knew that she was too good for this world; she was the gentlest in her ways, the deepest in her affections; and, when at last the sickness came, you had no faith in medicines. You knew that Jesus was coming over the door sill. You knew that the hour of parting had come, and when, through the rich grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, you surrendered that treasure, you said: "Lord Jesus, take it — it is the best we have — take it. Thou art worthy." The others in the household may have been of grosser mould. She was of alabaster. The other day a man was taking me from the depot to a village. He was very rough and coarse, and very blasphemous; but after awhile he mellowed down as he began to talk of his little son whom he had lost. "Oh, sir," he said, "that boy was different from the rest of us. He never used any bad language; no, sir. I never beard him use a bad word in my life. He used to say his prayers, and we laughed at him; but he would keep on saying his prayers, and I often thought, 'I can't keep that child;' and I said to my wife: 'Mother, we can't keep that child.' But, sir, the day he was drowned, and they brought him in and laid him down on the carpet, so white and so beautiful, my heart broke, sir. I knew we couldn't keep him." Yes, yes, that is Christ's way; He takes this alabaster box.

(Dr. Talmage.)

Now, my friends, this woman made her offering to Christ; what offering have you to make to Jesus? She brought an alabaster box, and she brought ointment. Some of you have been sick. In the hours of loneliness and suffering you said: "Lord Jesus, let me get well this time, and I will be consecrated to Thee." The medicines did their work; the doctor was successful; you are well; you are here tonight. What offering have you to make to the Lord Jesus who cured you? Some of you have been out to Greenwood, not as those who go to look at the monuments and criticise the epitaphs, but in the procession that came out of the gate with one less than when you went in. And yet you have been comforted. The gravedigger's spade seemed to turn up the flowers of that good land where God shall wipe away the tears from you: eyes. For that Jesus who so comforted you, and so pitied you, what offering have you to make? Some of you have passed without any special trouble. Today, at noon, when you gathered around the table, if you had called the familiar names, they would have all answered. Plenty at the table, plenty in the wardrobe. To that Jesus who has clothed and fed you all your life long, to that Jesus who covered Himself with the glooms of death that He might purchase your emancipation, what offering of the soul have you to make? The woman of the text brought the perfumes of nard. You say: "The flowers of the field are all dead now, and we can't bring them." I know it. The flowers on the platform are only those that are plucked from the grim hand of death; they are the children of the hothouse. The flowers of the field are all dead. We saw them blooming in the valleys and mountains; they ran up to the very lips of the cave; they garlanded the neck of the hills like a May queen. They set their banquet of golden cups for the bee, and dripped in drops of honeysuckle for the humming bird. They dashed their anthers against the white band of the sick child, and came to the nostrils of the dying like spice gales from heaven. They shook in the agitation of the bride, and at the burial hour sang the silver chime of a resurrection. Beautiful flowers! Bright flowers! Sweet flowers! But they are all dead now. I saw their scattered petals on the foam of the wild brook, and I pulled aside the hedge, and saw the place where their corpses lay. We cannot bring the flowers. What shall we bring? Oh, from our heart's affections, tonight let us bring the sweet-smelling savour of a Christian sacrifice. Let us bring it to Christ, and as we have no other vase in which to carry it, let this glorious Sabbath hour be the alabaster box. Rawlins White, an old martyr, was very decrepit; and for years he had been bowed almost double, and could hardly walk; but he was condemned to death, and, on his way to the stake, we are told, the bonds of his body seemed to break, and he roused himself up as straight and exuberant as an athlete, and walked into the fire singling victory over the flames. Ah, it was the joy of dying for Jesus that straightened his body, and roused his soul! If we suffer with Him on earth we shall be glorified with Him in heaven. Choose His service; it is a blessed service. Let no man or woman go out of this house tonight unblest. Jesus spreads out both arms of His mercy. He does not ask where you came from, or what have been your sins, or what have been your wanderings: but He says, with a pathos and tenderness that ought to break you down: "Come unto Me all ye who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Who will accept the offer of His mercy?

(Dr. Talmage.)

And Judas Iscariot.
As these verses, and especially the narrative of the Fourth Gospel, place in juxtaposition the grandest act of Mary and the vilest deed of the son of Iscariot, let us take this opportunity of contrasting the one with the other, that the brightness of the one character may allure us into the path which she trod, and that the baseness of the other may determine us with all speed to shun all sin, that we may not be destroyed by its plagues.

I. We here have Mary's love for her Lord arriving at its loftier elevation, pouring its costly treasure on those feet at which she was wont to sit with so much reverence, and learn lessons whose value is beyond rabies. It was not at first that she wrought this deed of munificence, the fame of which shall be coeval with the duration of the world which now is, but after continuing to receive and to profit by the instructions and works of her Lord for some time; the gracious impression on her mind and heart toward her Lord, once in its infancy, is full-fledged and full. grown; now the little leaven has leavened the whole lump.

II. Now let us glance at him who was called to be on earth one of the twelve, and called in heaven to sit on an apostolic throne; but who became covetous, and, in consequence, stole from the poor, and sold the Lord for thirty pieces of silver. He was not all this at once, even as Mary did not break her alabaster box the first time she saw Jesus, but the last, immediately before His death and burial. Judas Iscariot erred by allowing a creaturely thing, even mammon, to have an undue place first in his thoughts and then in his heart. Jesus was the object of Mary's regard, her thoughts were ever running after Him, until her heart was filled and ruled by His love, so that she would consider it a little thing to be allowed to pour a fortune down at His feet. She was spiritually-minded, and in that she found rest to her soul; Judas was carnally-minded, and he fearfully proved that to be so is death.

III. These opposites serve to show that a continued course of virtue or sin will lead to extraordinary acts of goodness or crime when opportunity or temptation arises. While the love of Christ leads to constant acts of beneficence for Christ, and extraordinary acts on great occasions, as with Mary, so, on the other hand, the disciple who allows himself to indulge at first in lesser acts of delinquency, waxes gradually worse and worse, becomes so habituated to wander from the straight line, that he is prepared to commit under strong temptation the greatest enormity, to do that of which at one time he would have cried with horror, "Is thy servant a dog, that he should do this thing?" Nip sin in the bud; cease from it at once, for you little know to what height of crime and depth of shame it may conduct; seek, by God's help, to eject from the heart the little leaven of perverseness ere the whole heart and life be corrupted and misguided thereby; the beginning of sin is as the letting out of water, there is the trickling stream at first, the overwhelming flood afterwards.

IV. We have the Lord's commendation of the one and condemnation of the other. How contrary his fate on earth to that of the woman of Bethany! Thus, the one who forgot self and thought only of her Lord, and gloried that she might become poor if He might but be honoured, the fragrance of her name fills the whole world with a sweet perfume, even as the ointment filled the house with a grateful odour; while the other, who, yielding to temptation, did not care that His Lord should be destroyed if he might be enriched and aggrandized, his fate is to stand forth among men as most destitute and desolate, cursed of God and man. And where are they now — the Christ-loving one and the money-loving one — brought into contact for a moment under this roof? The distance between them, the moral distance, has been widening ever since, and will evermore and evermore; the one has been soaring always nearer to the throne of infinite love and truth, following the Lamb whithersoever He goeth, increasing in likeness and devotedness to her Lord; the other, cut off from all sources of restoring life, and only exposed to what is evil, is always plunging into a lower depth of corruption, wandering ever to greater distances from his Father's house, his Shepherd's fold; it had been good for that man if he had never been born. A few lessons suggested by this subject:

1. We have a terrible lesson read to us here against the sin of covetousness. It is not necessary to have large sums of money entrusted to us to be covetous. No one can sin exactly as he did by selling again his Saviour for money, but professors, if not watchful, may allow their supreme love to wander from Christ, and to concentrate itself on earthly treasure, be it equal in value to five pounds or fifty thousand; the sin is not in the quantity of wealth which is preferred to the Saviour, but in giving to wealth or anything else our highest love instead of to Jesus. Those who do this are as guilty of soul-destroying idolatry as ever Judas was. Take heed and beware of covetousness; all the more need to beware thereof because it comes to us in such specious forms, and assumes such deceptive titles, as economy, carefulness, prudence, honesty, provision for the future, provision against old age; it is a sin which among men is treated with respect, and not held in abhorrence, as are sins of murder, adultery, and theft; and yet it has been the millstone which has sunk many besides Judas among the abysses of the bottomless pit; it is idolatry, says the Word of God; and we know that no idolator hath place in the kingdom of heaven.

2. The only safeguard against this and every other evil besetment is to imbibe the spirit and track the steps of Hazy. Her heart was full of Christ. Let Him have your heart, that He may wash it from all sin in His blood, and fill it with His perfect love. Regard Him as your one thing needful, the only one absolutely essential to your well-being. Having given Him your heart, and fastened its strongest love on Him, all boxes and bags containing treasure will be forthcoming at His demand; and in life, in death, in eternity, like Mary, you will be infinitely removed from Judas and all who are like-minded. Well, my fellow sinners, do you choose with Judas or with Mary? Not with Judas, you say. You would not, if you could, betray the Holy One and the Just. But his original offence, the root of the great betrayal sin, consisted in allowing something in preference to Christ to engage his thoughts and affections, even money, until he became wholly absorbed thereby; there was the seat of the mischief. As long, then, as anything has your heart, be it money, be it a fellow creature, be it a sensual indulgence, a carnal gratification, be it anything else, you do choose with Judas and not with Mary. You give your heart, like the apostate, to some creaturely thing or other, and as long as you do your soul is in danger of eternal ruin; that one sin of yours, unless it be abandoned, will destroy you. Oh, choose with the sister of Martha and Lazarus, and give the whole heart to Jesus.

(T. Nightingale.)

On a cold winter evening, I made my first call on a rich merchant in New York. As I left his door, and the piercing gale swept in, I said, "What an awful night for the poor 1" He went back, and bringing to me a roll of bank bills, he said, "Please hand these, for me, to the poorest people you know." After a few days, I wrote to him the grateful thanks of the poor whom his bounty had relieved, and added: "How is it that a man so kind to his fellow creatures has always been so unkind to his Saviour as to refuse Him his hearty" That sentence touched him to the core. He sent for me to come and talk with him, and speedily gave himself to Christ. He has been a most useful Christian ever since.

(Dr. Cuyler.)

On one occasion only did I hear Jenny Lind express her joy in her talent and self-consciousness. It was during her last residence in Copenhagen. Almost every evening she appeared either in the opera or at concerts; every hour was in requisition. She heard of a society, the object of which was to assist unfortunate children, and to take them out of the hands of their parents, by whom they were misused and compelled either to beg or steal. "Let me," said she, "give a night's performance for the benefit of these poor children; but we will have double prices." Such a performance was given, and returned large proceeds. When she was informed of this, and that by this means a number of poor children would be benefited for several years, her countenance beamed, and the tears filled her eyes. "Is it not beautiful," said she, "that I can sing so?" Through her I first became sensible of the holiness there is in art; through her I learned that one must forget one's self in the service of the Supreme."

(Hans Christian Andersen.)

Judas and Mary are at the two poles of human possibility. Perhaps in their earlier years both seemed equally promising. But now how vast the interval! Little by little Mary has risen by following God's light, and little by little Judas has fallen by following Satan's temptation.

1. Many begin well who perish awfully.

2. Self is the destruction of safety and sanctity alike.

3. Greed leads to much inward backsliding, and to much open apostasy.

4. There is meanness and cowardice in all evil. Evil lays plots and practises deceit, ashamed and afraid to act in the open.

5. The goodness of good men makes bad men worse when it fails to wake repentance in them.

6. The world thinks as Judas thought, that the lack of money is the root of all evil; but God says what Judas forgot, that the love of money is so.

7. To get one-third of the sum Mary had spent on ointment, Judas sides with the foes of Jesus, and becomes a traitor to his Saviour.

8. They who plot against the Saviour plot against themselves. It was Judas, not Christ, who was destroyed.

9. Beware of half-conversion and the blending, of worldliness and discipleship, for such mixtures end badly. The thorns springing up, choke fatally the grace that seemed strong and healthy.

(R. Glover.)

I do not think that Judas meant to betray Jesus to death. He sold Him for about £3 16s. He meant, no doubt, to force His hand — to compel Him to declare Himself and bring on His kingdom at once. Things, he thought, ought now to come to a crisis; there could be no doubt that the great Miracle Worker would win if He could only be pushed into action, and if just a little money could also be made it would be smart, especially as it would come out of the enemy's pocket. That was Judas all over. His character is very interesting, and I think much misunderstood. The direct lesson to be learnt is generally the danger of living on a low moral plane. It is like a low state of the body — it is not exactly disease, but it is the condition favourable to all kinds of disease. Dulness to fine feeling, religion, truth, leads to self-deception — which leads to blindness of the worst kind, and then on to crime. Nothing is safe but a high Ideal, and it cannot be too high. Aim at the best always, and keep honour bright. Don't tamper with truth — don't trifle with affection — and, above all, don't be continually set on getting money at all risks and at any sacrifice. We may all look a Judas and learn that.

(H. R. Haweis, M. A.)

Learn from this the greatness and danger of the sin of covetousness, the cause and root from which spring many other sins (1 Timothy 6:10). A mother sin, having many cursed daughters like itself. A stock upon which one may graft any sin almost. Hence come fraud, injustice, and all kinds of oppression both open and secret; cruelty and unmerciful dealing; lying, swearing, murder, etc.

1. It withdraws the heart from God and religion, hindering our love to God, and delight in His service; quenching our zeal for His glory; causing men to set their hearts upon worldly wealth and gain, which so takes them up that they cannot be free to love God, and to delight in His service as they ought to do (Matthew 6:24; Luke 14:1).

2. It chokes the seed of God's Word in the hearts of those who hear it, so that it cannot bring forth fruit in them (Matthew 13:22; Ezekiel 33:31).

3. Grievous judgments are threatened in Scripture against this sin (Isaiah 5:8; Habakkuk 2:9; James 5:1; Luke 6:24).

4. It is a sin very hard to be repented of. When other sins leave a man, e.g., in old age, this only clings faster to him. He that will follow Christ, and be a true Christian, must forsake all things in this world (at least in heart) to follow Him. But how difficult is this for the covetous man to do. Besides, such have many pretences and excuses for their sin: as, that hard times may come; and, "He that provides not for his own," etc., which is one main cause why it is so hard for such to repent.

(George Petter.)

The poor may think they are free from this sin, and in no danger of falling into it. But(1) look, does not the love of money or riches possess thy soul? If so, then, though thou be poor, yet thou mayest be in danger of this sin; yea, thou mayest be deeply tainted with it — if thy heart be in love with worldly wealth; if thou eagerly desire to be rich, and esteem wealth too highly, thinking only those who have it happy.(2) If discontented with thy present estate, it is a sign thou art covetous.

(George Petter.)

1. Remember, that we are in Scripture plainly forbidden to desire and seek after worldly wealth (Proverbs 23:4; Matthew 6:1).

2. Consider the nature of all worldly wealth and riches. It is but this world's goods (as the Apostle calls it), which serves only for maintenance of this present momentary life, and is in itself most vain and transitory; being all but perishing substance. Gold itself is but "gold that perisheth" (1 Peter 1:7; 1 Timothy 6:17; Proverbs 23:5; Luke 12:20).

3. Consider how vain and unprofitable to us all worldly wealth is, even while we enjoy it: not being able of itself to help or do us good (Luke 12:15). The richest men do not live longest. All the wealth in the world cannot prolong a man's life one hour. It cannot give us ease in pain; health in sickness; but most unable it is to help or deliver us in the day of God's wrath. Think of these things, to restrain and keep us from the love and inordinate desire of this world's goods. One main cause of covetousness is a false persuasion in men's hearts touching some great excellency in riches, that they will make one happy; but it is not so; rather the contrary.

4. Consider the account to be given hereafter to God, of all wealth here enjoyed; how we have used it, well or ill: for we are not absolute owners of that we have, but stewards only, entrusted by God with earthly substance to use it to His glory and the good of others. Think of this well, and it will be a means to curb the inordinate love and desire of worldly wealth.

5. Labour for faith in God's providence; to depend on His Fatherly care for things of this life. This will cut off covetous desires, which are fruits of infidelity and distrust of God's Providence (Matthew 6:30, 32; Romans 8:32; Psalm 55:22).

6. Labour for contentedness with present condition. This is true riches (Hebrews 13:5; Philippians 4:11; 1 Timothy 6:8).

7. Labour to make God our portion and treasure. Let thy heart go chiefly to Him, and be chiefly set on Him: thy love, joy, delight. Then thou art rich enough. In Him thou hast all things.

(George Petter.)



1. The world depends upon him for an opportunity. To the chief priests all plans and proposals failed, until Judas's came.

2. Hypocrites are the leaders of the enemies after abandoning Christ. Examples: Judas, Alexander the coppersmith, etc.

3. They have a knowledge of the failures of Christian brethren. A fortress attacked — an enemy disguised enters — has intelligence of the weakness of the fortification — joins the army outside — leads the assault to the weakest place. Zion trusts in the Lord.

4. They are too near to be seen. Gold and copper cannot be distinguished when held so closely as to touch the eye.


IV. THAT THE WORLD'S JOY AND THE CHURCH'S GRIEF MAY OFTEN BE ATTRIBUTED TO THE SAME CAUSE. "And when they heard it they were glad;" and "they were exceeding sorrowful." The same cause — how different the effects! Dismembering, abandonment of God, etc., produce similar effects. "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."

(William Nicholson.)

The Rev. W. Archer Butler remarks: "The apostasies of the table, the fireside, and the market may be as bad as those of Judas, Julian, or Demas." And is it not so? If, for some petty advantage — some poor worldly enjoyment — our religious duties are neglected, do we not thereby appear to acknowledge that Christ is of less esteem to us? If, for example, we forsake our public or private devotions to attend social parties and engagements, fearing lest we may be otherwise censured for not uniting in them, is not this one mode of slighting Christ for the world? Or, if we allow the pursuits of money getting or private pleasure to absorb our lives, or leave us but the narrowest margin for the service of Jesus and the promotion of His kingdom, is not this also, in no imaginary sense, "selling Him for silver?" Then what will the end be if this sin shall remain unrepented of and persisted in.

When Graveston, who betrayed the Spaniards at Bergen-op-Zoom to Queen Elizabeth, came to England to give her Majesty an account of his success, and to claim the reward, the queen gave him a thousand crowns, but said to him at the same time, "Get you home, that I may know where to send when I want a thorough-faced villain."

Three men who were travelling together found a treasure and divided it. Then they continued on their journey discussing of the use that they would make of their riches. Having eaten all the food which they had taken with them, they concluded to go away into the city to purchase some and charged the youngest with this errand, so he set out on his journey. While on the way he said to himself: "How rich I am! but I should be richer, did I only have all of the treasure. Those two men have robbed me of my riches. Shall I not be able to revenge them? That could be easily done, for I should have only to poison the food which I am commissioned to purchase. On my return I will tell them that I have dined in town. My companions will partake of the food without suspicion, and die, then I shall have all the riches, while I have now only a third." During this time his two companions said to each other: "We have no need that this young man associate with us; we have been obliged to divide our riches with him; his portion would increase ours, and we should be truly rich. He is coming back, we have good daggers, let us use them." The youth returned with the poisoned food; his fellow travellers assassinated him, then partook of the food direct, and the treasure belonged to no one.

When they killed the Passover.
No other festival was so full of typical meaning, or pointed so clearly to "good things to come" (Hebrews 10:1).

I. It was a FEAST OF REDEMPTION, foreshadowing a future and greater redemption (Galatians 4:4, 5).

II. The victim, A LAMB WITHOUT BLEMISH and without spot, was a striking type of "the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29; 1 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Peter 1:19).

III. SLAIN, not by the priest, but by the head of the Paschal company, the blood shed and sprinkled on the altar, roasted whole without the breaking of a bone, it symbolized Him who was put to death by the people (Acts 2:23), whose blood during a Paschal festival was shed on the altar of His cross, whose side the soldier pierced, but break not His legs (John 19:32-36).

IV. EATEN AT THE SACRIFICIAL MEAL (peculiar to the peace offering) with bitter herbs and unleavened bread (the symbol of purity), it pointed to that one oblation of Himself once offered, whereby Christ has made us at peace with God (Ephesians 2:14, 15), in which whosoever truly believes must walk in repentance and sincerity and truth (1 Corinthians 5:7, 8).


(G. F. MacLean, D. D.)

The Passover, commemorating the exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt, was the annual birthday of the Hebrew nation. Its celebration was marked with a popular joy and impressiveness suited to its character. The time of its observance was the fourteenth of the month Abib, called Nisan after the Babylonish captivity. It corresponded to that part of our year included between the middle of March and the middle of April. It is the fairest part of the year in Palestine. Fresh verdure covers the fields, and innumerable flowers of brightest tint and sweet perfume bedeck the ground. The fields of barley are beginning to ripen, and are almost ready for the sickle. To crown all, the moon, the Paschal moon, is then at the full, and nightly floods with splendour the landscape. As early as the first of the month, Jerusalem showed signs of the approaching feast. Worshippers from all parts of Palestine and other countries began to arrive, in increasing numbers, down to the very day of the Passover. They came in companies of various sizes, in family groups, in neighbourhood groups, in bands of tens, twenties, and hundreds. The city was filled to overflowing, and thousands encamped in tents in the environs. Josephus says that more than two-and-a-half millions of people gathered at Jerusalem in the time of Nero to attend the Passover. Universal hospitality was shown. Wherever a guest chamber could be found, it was thrown open. The only recompense allowed or taken was that the occupant of the apartment might leave behind for their host the skin of the Paschal lamb and the earthen vessel used at the meal.

(A. H. Currier.)

I. CONSIDERING THE EVENTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES ATTENDING ITS ORIGINAL INSTITUTION (Exodus 12) we may say, in general, that it signified deliverance through the lamb. The angel of death entered not where its blood was sprinkled. It declared that the corruption incurred in Egypt was expiated.

II. But the meaning of the Passover was not exhausted in the idea of atonement. For it consisted not only in the slaying of the lamb and the offering of his blood, but in THE JOYFUL EATING OF IT. The wine at the feast was a symbol of its blood. The quaffing of this as a cup of refreshment, and the feeding upon the savoury flesh, expressively indicated that it was the privilege of God's reconciled people not only to be saved from death by the lamb, but to receive from it conscious satisfaction, joy, and strength. They felt the benefit of His surrendered life in all their renewed and quickened powers.

III. LEAVEN, AS PRODUCING FERMENTATION, WAS A SYMBOL TO THE JEWS OF CORRUPTION. It represented the influence of idolatrous Egypt, which they were utterly to put away. Unleavened bread, therefore, was an emblem of purity. It signified that they who ate it had put away sin.

IV. THE BITTER HERBS ARE EMBLEMATICAL OF THE TRIALS AND DISCIPLINE WHICH FORM AN ESSENTIAL AND WHOLESOME PART OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE. Such trials are shadows made by the light. They are inseparable accompaniments of the gospel in its work of subduing the world to submission to Christ.

(A. H. Currier.)

Go ye into the city.
We might expect that Christ, knowing to how great effort the faith of His followers was about to be called, would, in His compassionate earnestness for their welfare, keep their faith in exercise up to the moment of the dreaded separation. He would find or make occasions for trying and testing the principles which were soon to be brought to so stern a proof. Did He do this? And how did He do it? We regard the circumstances which are now under review, those connected with the finding the guest chamber in which the last supper might be eaten, as an evidence and illustration of Christ's exercising the faith of His disciples. Was it not exercising the faith of Peter and John — for these, the more distinguished of the disciples, were employed on the errand — to send them into the city with such strange and desultory directions? There were so many chances, if the word may be used, against the guest chamber being found through the circuitous method prescribed by our Lord, that we could not have wondered had Peter and John showed reluctance to obey His command. And we do not doubt that what are called the chances were purposely multiplied by Christ to make the finding the room seem more improbable, and therefore to give faith the greater exercise. Again, there would have been risk enough of mistake or repulse in accosting the man with the pitcher; but this man was only to be followed; and he might stop at many houses before he reached the right. But Christ would not be more explicit, because, in proportion as He had been more explicit, there would have been less exercise for faith. And if you imagine that, after all, it was no great demand on the faith of Peter and John that they should go on so vague an errand — for that much did not hinge on their finding the right place, and they had but to return if anything went wrong — we are altogether at issue with you. There was something that looked degrading and ignoble in the errand, which required more courage and fortitude than to undertake some signal enterprise. And the apparent meanness of an employment will often try faith more than its apparent difficulty; the exposure to ridicule and contempt will require greater moral nerve than the exposure to danger and death. We believe that it is very frequently ordered that faith should be disciplined and nurtured for its hardest endurances, and its highest achievements, through exposure to petty inconveniences, collisions with mere rudeness, the obloquy of the proud, the sneer of the supercilious, and the incivility of the ignorant. Nowhere is faith so well disciplined as in humble occupations; it grows great through little tasks, and may be more exercised by being left to the menial business of a servant than by being summoned to the lofty standing of a leader. And we do earnestly desire of you to bear this in mind; for men, who are not appointed to great achievements and endurances, are very apt to feel as though there were not enough in the trials and duties of a lowly station for the nurture and exercise of high Christian graces. Whereas, if it were by merely following a man bearing a pitcher of water that apostles were trained for the worst onsets of evil, there may be no such school for the producing strong faith as that in which the lessons are of the most everyday kind. But there is more than this to be said in regard of the complicated way in which Christ directed His disciples to the guest chamber where He had determined to eat the last supper. He was not only exercising the faith of the disciples by sending them on an errand which seemed unnecessarily intricate, and to involve great exposure to insult and repulse — He was giving strung evidence of His thorough acquaintance with everything that was to happen, and of His power over the minds whether of strangers or of friends. You must consider it as a prophecy on the part of Christ that the man would be met bearing a pitcher of water. It was a prophecy which seemed to take delight in putting difficulties in the way of its own precise accomplishment. It would not have been accomplished by the mere finding the house — it would have been defeated had the house been found through any other means than the meeting the man, or had the man been discovered through any other sign than the pitcher of water; yea, and it would have been defeated, defeated in the details, which were given, as it might have seemed, with such unnecessary and perilous minuteness, if the master of the house had made the least objection, or if it had not been an upper room which he showed the disciples; or if that room had not been large; or if it had not been furnished and prepared. And whatever tended to prove to the disciples their Master's thorough acquaintance with every future contingency, ought to have tended to the preparing them for the approaching days of disaster and separation. Besides, it was beautifully adapted to the circumstances of the disciples that Christ showed that His foreknowledge extended to trifles. These disciples were likely to imagine that, being poor and mean persons, they should be overlooked by Christ when separated from them, and, perhaps, exalted to glory. But that His eye was threading the crowded thoroughfares of the city, that it was noting a servant with a pitcher of water, observing accurately when this servant left his master's house, when he reached the well, and when he would be at a particular spot on his way back — this was not merely foreknowledge; this was foreknowledge applying itself to the insignificant and unknown. Then, again, observe that whatever power was here put forth by Christ was put forth without His being in contact with the party on whom it was exerted. Christ acted, that is, upon parties who were at a distance from Him, thus giving incontrovertible proof that His visible presence was not necessary in order to the exercise of His power. What a comfort should this have been to the disciples. It is easy to imagine how, when His death was near at hand, Christ might have wrought miracles and uttered prophecies more august in their character. He might have darkened the air with portents and prodigies, but there would not have been in these gorgeous or appalling displays the sort of evidence which was needed by disquieted and dispirited men. But to ourselves, who are looking for the guest chamber, not as the place where the Paschal lamb may be eaten, but as that where Christ is to give of His own body and blood, the pitcher of water may well serve as a memento that it is baptism which admits us into Christian privileges; that they who find a place at the supper of the Lord must have met the man with the water, and have followed that man — must have been presented to the minister of the Church, and have received from Him the initiatory sacrament, and then have submitted meekly to the guidance of the Church, till introduced to those deeper recesses of the sanctuary where Christ spreads His rich banquet for such as call upon His name. Thus may there have been, in the directions for finding the guest chamber, a standing intimation of the process through which should be sought an entrance to that upper room, where Christ and His members shall finally sit down, that they may eat together at the marriage supper.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

Sunday School Times.
There are no chance meetings in this world. They all are providential. They are in God's plan. On many of them great possibilities hinge. You enter a railroad car, and take your seat among strangers. A proffered courtesy brings you into conversation with a fellow traveller. An acquaintance is the result. Years of helpful Christian co-work follow in the train of that first meeting. You visit a place of winter resort for health seekers. At the dinner table you meet a man unknown to you until then. An entire change in the aim and conduct of his life is one consequence of that meeting; and his labours for good may be far more effective than yours in your whole lifetime. You look in upon a celebrated preparatory school, where two hundred young men are at their studies. One face impresses you. Your meeting with him affects your course and his for all time, and involves the interests of a multitude. Your meeting of another young man in a Sunday school where you are present only for that one session has more influence over his life than all other agencies combined — and scarcely less over yours. You may even meet on the street one whom you wished not to see, one whom at that moment you were seeking to avoid; and as a result more lives than one are affected in all their human course, and in their highest spiritual interests. All these illustrations are real incidents; and there are thousands like them. It behooves us to consider well our duty in every meeting with another. We can fail to improve our opportunity and lose a blessing. We can fill our place just then, and have reason to rejoice eternally that we did so. Lord, what wilt thou have me to do — when next I meet one whom thou hast planned for me to see?

(Sunday School Times.)

"The Master saith!" Has the charm of the Master's name vanished in these latter days? Are we, men and women of the nineteenth century, children of a modern life and civilization which is ever extending itself with feverish restlessness and painful throes of new birth, are we grown familiar with strange voices, with forces unknown in that ancient world, and those ancient days spent under the blue Syrian sky; are we become superior to the claims, the force, the beauty, and the authority of a great personal life? Have we relegated Jesus of Nazareth merely to a place, however great, in the development of history? Is He merely the product of social forces and political and historical traditions? "The Master saith!" Being dead, doth He yet speak; yet so as through the faint vibrations of memory — of memory which grows weaker as the ages roll behind us into the eternity of the past; or is it a living voice still which I hear — a voice which no results of time can shake with the tremulousness of age? Do not our own hearts — we who have become disciples, we who, constrained by a force which we could not resist, have exclaimed, "Master, Thou art the Christ who hast conquered me, Thou art the Christ who hast died for me" — do not our own hearts passionately exclaim, "He liveth still to make intercession for us, and to rule us with the supremacy of perfect love"? Will ye also admit the Master within? Will ye hear Him? Will ye let Him talk with you? This night, as a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, I bring the word to you also: "The Master saith!" The voices of all His disciples are but weak echoes of the mightier and abiding voice which is His. "The Master saith!" But where? Hath His voice a local habitation and a name? Doth He reach me through the channel of my senses, or how doth He touch my living spirit? It is here that "the Master saith!" — even now. These poor temples of ours, they are for the most part but shapeless structures of stone and lime, yet they are clothed with the spiritual and unfading beauty of a Divine guest chamber; a voice which is not my voice overpowers my struggling will, subdues by gentle and beautiful processes my efforts to make my own will my law and arbiter of duty, and speaks through me. And most of all is it of infinite moment to know that there is one called "Master," and who does speak. This is what I need to know and feel. In Jesus of Nazareth life and duty are reconciled. In Him I recognize the Master whom I need. To Him, in whom gentleness was so perfectly blended with strength, I come, craving to touch but the hem of His garment, contented in that I have seen my Lord. "The Master saith!" If His voice is the voice of an authority, sublimely enforced through self-denial, patience, gentleness, suffering, and death, why should I crave more? Shall I not say, It is enough; He calleth me, and I must answer? He bids me arise, and I must arise. For me the highest virtue is obedience, for it is the Master who saith.

(J. Vickery.)

And as they sat and did eat.
The ingredients of this meal were few and simple, but the presence of Christ made it more than royal. It is not what men have to eat, but the company that makes a meal delightful. Agassiz, when a young man travelling in Germany, visited Oken, the eminent zoologist. "After I had delivered to him my letter of introduction," he says, "Oken asked me to dine with him. The dinner consisted only of potatoes boiled and roasted, but it was the best dinner I ever ate, for there was Oken. The mind of the man seemed to enter into what we ate socially together, and I devoured his intellect while eating his potatoes." So the presence of Christ as the realized embodiment of the Passover, and His Divine discourse, made that Paschal meal the most memorable ever eaten. It is a feast, moreover, whose solemn delight is a perpetual heritage of the Christian Church. Christ made it so by erecting upon it the sacrament of His supper, the equivalent in the new kingdom of God to the Passover in the old, and making its recurring celebration, there enjoined, the means of preserving the memory of all that then transpired.

(A. H. Currier.)

1. In the holiest society on earth, the unholy may have a place.

2. The highest goodness may fail to win to the obedience of faith.

3. There may be moral wrong without present consciousness.

4. The knowledge and appointment of God do not hinder the freedom and responsibility of man.

(J. H. Godwin.)

I. A FEARFUL ANNOUNCEMENT. Christ had already more than once predicted that He would be betrayed; but now He adds to the intimation the terrible news that it would be by one of themselves. A little of the horror of thick darkness which His words spread over them still pervades our hearts. The fact is more than anything else, suggestive of all that is dark and pitiful in human nature. It shows —

1. How measureless may be the evil a man may reach by simply giving way to wrong.

2. No privileges, no light, no opportunity, can bless a man without his own cooperation.

3. Privileges, if unimproved, injure the soul.

4. Without self-surrender to God, every other religious quality and tendency is insufficient to save the soul. Judas only lacked this one thing.

5. As the existence of a pure soul is itself a proof and a prediction of heaven, so such a soul seems to prove and predict a hell.


1. Perhaps to cure the pride of the disciples. The announcement that one of them will betray will help to abate their vehemence in seeking to know "who shall be greatest."

2. To give Judas a glimpse of the perdition before him, and thus awake repentance.

3. To intimate to him that, though the Saviour might die by his craft, it was with His own knowledge and consent.

(R. Glover.)

Shall betray Me.
What think you, my brethren, if a similar declaration were made in regard to ourselves? Should we sorrowfully ask, "Lord, is it I?" Should we not be more likely to ask, "Lord, is it this man?" "Lord, is it that man?" Would not Peter be more ready to say, "Is it John?" and John, "Is it Peter?" than either, "Is it I?" It is a good sign when we are less suspicious of others than of ourselves, more mistrustful of ourselves than of others in regard of the commission of sin; as indeed we ought always to be, for we have better opportunities of knowing our own proneness to evil, our own weakness, our own deceitfulness, than we can have of that of others; and therefore we have far more cause to ask, "Is it I?" — the question showing that we dare not answer for ourselves, — than, "Lord, is it my neighbour?" — the question indicating that we think others capable of worse things than ourselves. Peter was safe when asking, "Lord, is it I?" but in sore danger when he exclaimed, "Although all shall be offended because of Thee, yet will not I."

I. Suppose Judas to have been aware, as he might have been, both from ancient prophecy, and from the express declarations of our Lord Himself, that Jesus, if He were indeed the Christ, must be delivered to His enemies, and ignominiously put to death — might he not, then, very probably say to himself, "After all, I shall only be helping to accomplish what has been determined by God, and what is indispensable to the work which Messiah has undertaken?" I do not know any train of thought which is more likely to have presented itself to the mind of Judas than this. "The Son of man goeth as it is written of Him." But this determination, this certainty, left undiminished the guiltiness of the parties who put Christ to death. They obeyed nothing but the suggestions of their own wilful hearts; they were actuated by nothing but their desperate malice and hatred of Jesus, when they accomplished prophecies and fulfilled Divine decrees. Therefore was it no excuse for them that they were only bringing to pass what had long before been ordained. The whole burden of the crime rested upon the crucifiers, however true it was that Christ must be crucified. It did not make Judas turn trailer that God foreknew his treason, and determined to render it subservient to His own almighty ends. God, indeed, knew that Judas would betray his Master, but God's knowing it did not conduce to his doing it. It was certain, but the foreknown wickedness of the man causes the certainty, and not the fore-ordained performance of the deed, Oh! the utter vanity of the thought that God ever places us under a necessity of sinning, or that because our sins may turn to His glory they will not issue in our shame.

II. And now let us glance at another delusion to which it is likely that Judas gave indulgence. This is the delusion as to the consequences, the punishment of sin, being exaggerated or overstated. It may be that Judas could hardly persuade himself that a being so beneficent as Christ would ever wholly lay aside the graciousness of His nature, and avenge a wrong done by surrendering the doer to intense and interminable anguish. But, in all the range of Scripture, there is not, perhaps, a passage which sets itself so decisively against this delusion as the latter clause of our Saviour's address in the text — "It had been good for that man if he had not been born." There is nothing in the Bible which gives me so strong an idea of the utter moral hardness in which a man is left who is forsaken by the Spirit of God, as the fact that Judas's question, "Lord, is it I?" followed immediately on Christ's saying, "Woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed;" and that his going forth to fill his accursed compact with the priests was on the instant of his having been told that Christ knew him for the traitor. I pause on the word "then," and I am tempted to ask, could it, oh! could it have been "then?" Yes, "then" it was that, with the words, "It had been good for that man if he had not been born," — words vocal of an eternity of unimagined woe — then it was that, with these words rung out to him as the knell of his own doomed spirit, Judas proceeded to address Christ with a taunting and insolent inquiry, and then went out to accomplish the traitorous purpose which had called forth the tremendous denunciation. With what earnestness should we join in that prayer in the Liturgy, "Take not Thy Holy Spirit from us!"

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

There will be many that were gallant professors in this world wanting among the saved in the day of Christ's coming; yea, many whose damnation was never dreamed of. Which of the twelve ever thought that Judas would have proved a devil? Nay, when Christ suggested that one among them was naught, they each were more afraid of themselves than of him.


You will observe that the character of Judas was openly an admirable one. I find not that he committed himself in any way. Not the slightest speck defiled his moral character so far as others could perceive. He was no boaster, like Peter; he was free enough from the rashness which cries, "Though all men should forsake Thee, yet will not I." He asks no place on the right hand of the throne, his ambition is of another sort. He does not ask idle questions. The Judas who asks questions is "not Iscariot." Thomas and Philip are often prying into deep matters, but not Judas. He receives truth as it is taught him, and when others are offended and walk no more with Jesus, he faithfully adheres to Him, having golden reasons for so doing. He does not indulge in the lusts of the flesh or in the pride of life. None of the disciples suspected him of hypocrisy; they said at the table, "Lord, is it I?" They never said, "Lord, is it Judas?" It was true he had been filching for months, but then he did it by littles, and covered his defalcations so well by financial manipulations that he ran no risk of detection from the honest unsuspecting fishermen with whom he associated.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Scientific Illustrations and Symbols.
A secret sin works insidiously, but with wondrous quiet power. Its hidden ravages are awful, and the outward revelation of their result and existence may be contemporaneous. Until that revelation was made, probably no one ever suspected the presence in the man of anything but a few venial faults which were as mere excrescences on a robust character, though these growths were something rude. Oftentimes a large fungus will start from a tree, and in some mysterious manner will sap the life power on the spot on which it grows. They were like that fungus. When the fungus falls in the autumn, it leaves scarcely a trace of its presence, the tree being apparently as healthy as before the advent of the parasite. But the whole character of the wood has been changed by the strange power of the fungus, being soft and cork-like to the touch. Perhaps the parasite may fall in the autumn, and the tree may show no symptoms of decay; but at the first tempest it may have to encounter, the trunk snaps off at the spot where the fungus has been, and the extent of the injury is at once disclosed. As long as any portion of that tree retains life, it will continue to throw out these destructive fungi; and even when a mere stump is left in the ground, the fungi will push themselves out in profusion.

(Scientific Illustrations and Symbols.)

I. The first is, THE FACT SPECIFIED. "The Son of man is betrayed to be crucified." Do any ask, as those of old did, "Who is this Son of man?" This Son of man is none other than the very person, of whom the apostle spake as possessing in Himself "the great mystery of godliness;" He is "God manifest in the flesh." There is, first, the heinous character of the traitor that betrayed Him; secondly, the importance of hunting out and exposing the imitators of his black deed in the present day — and, God helping me, I mean to be faithful here; and then, in the third place, the sufferings of Him who was betrayed and crucified. Let me invite you to pray over these three things.

1. The heinousness of the traitor. He had made a glaring profession. He had attached himself to the disciples of Christ; he had become a member of the purest Church that ever was formed upon earth — the immediate twelve around our Lord. He was looked up to, a leading man. I beseech you, weigh this solemn fact — for a solemn one it is — that neither profession, nor diligent exertion, nor high standing among professors, so as to be beyond even suspicion, will stand in the stead of vital godliness. And there may be Judases even now, and I believe there are not a few, that are as much unsuspected as Judas Iscariot was. So artful was his deception, that none of the disciples suspected him. Nay more; the first feature of his character that is developed, the first view we have of him in his real character, is, that he was the last to suspect himself. All the others had said, "Lord, is it I?" — and last of all, Judas drawls it out, "Master, is it I?" Yet after all the standing he gained, after all the miracles he observed, after all the attachment he professed, this wretch, for thirty pieces of silver, is content to betray his Lord. Ah! only put a money bait in the way of the Judases, and you soon find them out; that will find them out, if nothing else will. Of course, His enemies are glad to have Him seized; but who would believe it possible, especially among those who have such a high opinion of the dignity of human nature, that this wretch, after eating and drinking with Christ, after following Him all His ministry through, can go and betray Him with a kiss? can say, in the very act of betraying Him, "Hail, Master?" — carrying on his devilism to the last.

2. But I want a word of interrogation with regard to imitators of Judas in the present day. Have you thrown "the bag" away? Have you done with carnal objects and pursuits? Do you scorn the idea of marketing about Christ, and selling Him — bartering Him? Are you really and honestly concerned about the truth of Christ, the interests of His cause, the purity of His gospel, the sacredness of His ordinances? Oh I try, try these matters. I would not for the world have a single masked character about me, of the Judas-like breed.

3. Let me now invite your attention for a moment to the other point — the sufferings of this betrayed and murdered Lord. "The Son of man is betrayed to be crucified." Is not this enough to make a man hate sin? If you do not hate sin in its very nature, you have never been to Calvary, and you have never had fellowship with a precious Christ. Wherever the blood of atonement is applied, it produces hatred of sin: oh that you and I may live upon Calvary, until every sin shall be mortified, subdued, and kept under, and Christ reign supreme!

II. I pass on to the second feature in our subject: THE OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT OF THIS FACT BY THE SUFFERER HIMSELF.

III. I pass on to the third particular of our subject — THE RESULT. "The Son of man is betrayed to be crucified;" but the matter did not end there. "The Son of man is betrayed to be crucified;" and then the powers of darkness have done their worst. "The Son of man is betrayed to be crucified;" and even death shall lose its sting, hell shall lose its terrors for all Mine elect, Jehovah shall get the glory of His own name, and I shall go through the valley of the shadow of death to My exaltation. To be brief I will just name three things as the result anticipated; for you know it is said, that "for the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross." And what was it? The redeemed to be emancipated; Christ to be exalted; and heaven to be opened and peopled. These are the results; and I said, when I gave you the plan of my sermon, that He should not be disappointed in any of them; nor shall He.

(J. Irons, D. D.)

Wrongs and indignities may be offered to Christ still, in sundry ways.

1. In His person. By vilifying Him, as do Turks, Jews, and heathen. Also, when any deny or oppose His Nature — either the Godhead or the Manhood, as do heretics. Also, when any profane the blood of Christ, by remaining unrepentant, or turning apostate.

2. In His office, as Mediator; putting any person or thing in His place.

3. In His names or titles; using them profanely.

4. In His saints and faithful members; wronging or abusing them.

5. In His messengers and ministers (Luke 10:16).

6. In His holy ordinances; the Word, sacraments, etc. (1 Corinthians 11:27). By this we may examine whether the love to Christ which we profess is true and sincere. Does this child love his father, or that servant his master, who can hear him abused and reproached?

(George Petter.)

There is latent evil lurking in all our hearts, of which we are not aware ourselves. We do not know how many devils of selfishness, sense, and falsehood are hiding themselves in the mysterious depths of our souls. If we do not learn this through that noble Christian humility which "still suspects and still reveres itself," we must learn it through the bitter experience of failure and open sin. How many examples there are to prove the existence of this latent evil! We have seen a young man go from the pure home of his childhood, from the holy influences of a Christian community. As an infant his brow had been touched with the water of baptism amid the prayers of the Church; as a child his feet had been taught the way to the house of God; in his home his parents had prayed for him that he might be an honest and useful man, whether he was to be poor or rich, learned or ignorant. He leaves his home and comes to the city to engage in business. He trusts in his own heart, in his own upright purpose, in his own virtuous habits. But there is latent evil in his heart, there is a secret selfishness, which is ready to break out under the influences which will now surround him. He becomes a lover of pleasure; he attends balls and theatres; he rides out with gay companions: he acquires a taste for play, wine, and excitement. He determines to make money that he may indulge these new tastes, and he devotes all his energies to this pursuit. In a year or two, how far has he gone from the innocent hopes and tastes of his childhood? His serene brow is furrowed with worldly lines; his pure eye clouded with licentious indulgence. The latent evil that was in him has come out under the test of these new circumstances...The moral of it all is, "Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life." But how can we keep our heart? We can keep our hands, by an effort, from wrong actions, and force them to do right ones. We can keep our lips from saying unkind or hasty words, though that is sometimes hard enough. But how keep our heart? How make ourselves a right spirit, a good temper? That seems simply impossible. How direct those tendencies which are hidden even from ourselves? Here, it seems to me, is the place and need of religion. If it be true that our soul lies open inwardly to God, and that we rest on Him, then is it not possible, is it not probable, that if we put our heart into His hands He will guide it? And the experience of universal man, in all ages, all countries, all religions, teaches this value of prayer. It is taught by and Seneca, no less than by Jesus Christ. Here is the place of religion: this is its need. We do not need to pray to God for what we can do ourselves. But what we cannot do for ourselves is to guide and keep and direct this hidden man of the heart. We have a right to come boldly to God for this; asking His spirit, and expecting to receive it. This is a promise we can trust in, that God will give His Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.

(J. Freeman Clarke.)

I. LOOK AT THE QUESTION, "Lord, is it I?"

II. LOOK AT THIS QUESTION IN CONNECTION WITH THE REMARK THAT CALLED IT FORTH. What did Judas sell Christ for? The old German story reports that the astrologer Faustus sold his soul to the evil one for twenty-four years of earthly happiness. What was the bargain in this case? The auctioneer had tempting lists to show; what was it that tempted Judas? He sold his Lord for thirty somethings. What things? Thirty years of right over all the earth, with all the trees of the forests, all the fowls of the mountains, and the cattle upon a thousand hills? For thirty armies? Or thirty fleets? Thirty stars? Thirty centuries of power, to reign majestically on hell's burning throne? No, for thirty shillings!

III. LOOK AT THE QUESTION IN CONNECTION WITH THE SIMPLE UNSUSPECTING BROTHERLINESS IT REVEALED IN THOSE TO WHOM IT WAS SPOKEN. When Christ's declaration was made. "One of you shall betray Me," it would not have been wonderful, judging by a common standard, if such words as these had passed through various minds — "It is Judas; I always thought him the black sheep of the fold; I never liked his grasp of that bag; I never liked the mystery of that missing cash; I never liked the look of him; I never liked his fussy whisper." No such thoughts were in open or secret circulation. The disciples already exemplified the principle, and carried in their hearts the Divine music of the language, "Love suffereth long, and is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." With lips that were tremulous, and cheeks that were blanched, each one said, not, "Lord, is it he?" but, "Lord, is it I?"

IV. LOOK AT THIS QUESTION IN CONNECTION WITH THE FEAR FOR HIMSELF, SHOWN BY EVERY ONE WHO ASKED IT. A preacher in a certain village church once gave easy lessons in Christian ethics through a scheme of illustration taken from the letters of the alphabet. Rebuking his hearers for their readiness to speak evil of their neighbours, he said that, regarding each letter of the alphabet as the initial letter of a name, they had something to say against all the letters, with one exception. His homily was to this effect. "You say, A lies, B steals, C swears, D drinks, F brags, G goes into a passion, H gets into debt. The letter I is the only one of which you have nothing to say." No rustics can require such elementary education more than do some keen leaders of society. Pitiless detectors of sin in others, begin at home. Think first of that which is represented by the letter I. It is a necessary word, for you can never get beyond it, never do without it, while you live, or when you die. It is a deep word, for who can sound the sea of its deep significance? It is an important word, for of all words which can lighten us with their flash, or startle us with their blow, there is no more important" word to us than this. Who is there? "I." Who are you? Conjure up this mystery — this "you," symbolized by the letter "I." Face it, speak to it, challenge it, and know if all is right with it. If indeed you can say, "I am a Christian"; "I believe, help, Lord, mine unbelief;" "I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me;" still you feel that two natures for the present war within you, and have need to offer 's prayer, "Lord, deliver me from the wicked man, myself." When the wind is rising, and the waves are treacherous, it is good for each man to look to his own ship, to his own ropes, to his own sails; not first to stand and speculate on the seaworthiness of other ships.

V. LOOK AT THIS QUESTION IN CONNECTION WITH THE LOVE THAT WORKED IN THE HEART OF THE QUESTIONER. Not one of them ever knew before how much he loved his Lord, but this shock brought the love out.

VI. LOOK AT THIS QUESTION IN CONNECTION WITH THE ANSWER TO IT. "Thou hast said." You can read what is on the open page, Jesus can look through the lids of the book, and read off the sheet — in print. You can see the whited sepulchre; He can see the skeleton within. You can see the fair appearance, He can see the wolf under the borrowed fleece. You can see the body, He can see the soul. Now the secret had come to light, as one day all secrets will.

VII. LOOK AT THIS QUESTION IN OTHER POSSIBLE APPLICATIONS. "One of you will go out of this place a lost spirit." "Lord, is it I?" "One of you, having refused the Divine love before, will refuse it again!" "Lord, is it I?" "One of you will go out with a harder heart than when he came in." "Lord, is it I?" "One of you, a waverer now, will be a waverer still." "Lord, is it I?" "One of you, now almost persuaded to be a Christian, will still remain only almost persuaded." "Lord, is it I?" "One of you, already a true disciple, will refuse, as you have refused before, to confess your faith!" "Lord, is it I?" Let us think, on the other hand, of certain happy possibilities in the fair use of these words. There will come a time, beyond what we now call time, when, in the rapture of immortality, and in the language of heaven, you will say, "Have I in reality come through death? Am I on the other side? Can it be that I am glorified at last? This, so wonderful beyond language to express, so bright beyond the most enchanted fancy to picture, what is it? Is it solid? Or is it a glory of dreamland? I used to sin, I used to be slow, I used to be weary, I used to have dim eyes, and dull ears! Now I see! Now I love! Now I can fly like the light! Lord, is it I?"

(Charles Stanford, D. D.)

Of Judas this fearful sentence is uttered by the Lord.


1. There is no evidence that Judas Iscariot was a man of bad countenance. Most men are much influenced by looks, and many think they can tell a man's character by the physiognomy. This may often be true, but there are many exceptions.

2. There is no evidence that, up to his betrayal of his Lord, his conduct was the subject of censure, complaint, jealousy, or of the slightest suspicion. His sins were all concealed from the eyes of mortals. He was a thief, but that was known only to Omniscience.

3. There is no evidence that, during his continuance with Christ, he regarded himself as a hypocrite. Doubtless he thought himself honest.

4. Let it not be supposed that Judas ought not to have known his character. He shut his eyes to the truth respecting himself. The aggravations of the sin of betraying Christ were many and great. The traitor was eminent in place, in gifts, in office, in profession; a guide to others, and one whose example was likely to influence many.


1. Though wicked men do not so intend, yet in all cases they shall certainly glorify God by all their misdeeds (Psalm 76:10). The wickedness of Judas was by God over-ruled to bring about the most important event in man's salvation. The wicked now hate God, but they cannot defeat Him.

2. Nor shall God's unfailing purpose to bring good out of evil abate aught of the guilt of those who work iniquity (Acts 2:28; Acts 4:27, 28).

3. From the history of Judas we also learn that when a man is once fairly started in a career of wickedness, it is impossible to tell where he may stop. In the next world surprise awaits all the impenitent.

4. All men should especially beware of covetousness (1 Timothy 6:10).

5. Did men but know how bitter would be the end of transgression, they would at least pause before they plunge into all evil. Oh! that men would hear the warning words of Richard Baxter, "Use sin as it will use you: spare it not, for it will not spare you; it is your murderer and the murderer of the world. Use it, therefore, as a murderer should be used."

6. How small a temptation to sin will at last prevail over a vicious mind. For less than twenty dollars Judas sold his Lord and Master. Those temptations commonly esteemed great are not the most sure to prevail.

7. Nothing prepares a man for destruction faster than hypocrisy or formality in actions of a religious nature. The three years which Judas spent in the family of our Lord probably exceeded all the rest of his life in ripening him for destruction. We should never forget that official character is one thing, and moral character another thing. All official characters may be sustained without any real grace in the heart.

8. The history of Judas shows us how man will cling to false hopes. There is no evidence that during years of hypocrisy he ever seriously doubted his own piety.

9. If men thus self-confident forsake their profession, and openly apostatize, we need not be surprised.

10. Thus, too, we have a full refutation of the objection made to a connection with the visible church because there are wicked men in her communion. The apostles certainly knew that among them was one bad man; but they did not therefore renounce their portion among Christ's professed friends.

11. How difficult it is to bring home truth to the deceitful hears of man. Hypocrites are slow to improve close, discriminating preaching. They desire not to look into their real characters.

12. The case of Judas discloses the uselessness of that sorrow of the world which worketh death, hath no hope in it, and drives the soul to madness. It is not desperation, but penitence, that God requires. Regrets without hatred of sin are useless, both on earth and in hell.

(W. S. Plumer, D. D.)

There once sailed from the city of New Orleans a large and noble steamer, laden with cotton, and having a great number of passengers on board. While they were taking in the cargo, a portion of it became slightly moistened by a shower of rain that fell. This circumstance, however, was not noticed; the cotton was stowed away in the hold, and the hatches fastened down. During the first part of the voyage all went well; but, far out towards the middle of the Atlantic ocean, all on board were one day alarmed by the fearful cry of "Fire!" and in a few moments the noble ship was completely enveloped in flames. The damp and closely-packed cotton had become heated; it smouldered away, and got into a more dangerous state every day, until at last it burst out into a broad sheet of flame, and nothing could be done to stop it. The passengers and crew were compelled to take to the boats; but some were suffocated and consumed in the fire, and many more were drowned in the sea. Now, the heated cotton, smouldering in the hull of that vessel, is like sin in the heart of a man. All the while it is working away according to its own nature, but no one perceives it or knows anything about it. The man himself may wear a smiling face; he may in appearance be making the voyage of life smoothly; he may seem to be happy. His family and friends may see nothing wrong about him; he may see nothing wrong about himself. But the evil spirit within may be growing stronger and stronger, and spreading wider and wider, until, in an unexpected moment, it breaks out into some awful deed of wickedness, which in former days would have made him start back with horror. Beware, then, of this fatal cheat. "Take heed," as the apostle says in another place, "lest any of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." It may smile bewitchingly before your eyes; it may promise the most grateful sweetness to your taste. But, oh I put no trust in it; at the last it will bite like a serpent and sting like an adder.

(Edgar Breeds.)

Jesus took bread.
I. LET US GLANCE AT THE GOSPEL FEAST, AS EXHIBITED TO OUR VIEW IN OUR PERIODICAL APPROACH TO THE TABLE OF THE LORD. What is it that we are to feast upon? What is it of which Jehovah Jesus says — "This is My Body, and this is My Blood"? It is His own Person — the glorious, perfect, complete God-Man. It is His redemption work, accomplished and perfected by Himself, which constitutes the gospel feast.

1. The redemption which constitutes good for our souls is perfect. Christ has not done His work by halves. He has not left His work in an unfinished state.

2. Moreover, the redemption that is in Jesus Christ is personal; and if it be not so, there is no eating of it. If you come to a meal, to make it personal, you must participate; you must receive for yourself.

3. Moreover, it is a permanent redemption.

II. LET ME PASS ON TO NOTICE THE ORDAINED GUESTS. He took and brake it, and gave to them — His disciples. I do not believe that Judas was there at that moment, though some people do. I shall not stop to argue that point, however. There are two things, and only two things, essential to a welcome guest. The first is, vital godliness, as an essential qualification; and the second is, the imputed righteousness of Christ as the essential robe.

III. LET ME NOW PRESS ON TO SPEAK OF THE ORTHODOX VIANDS THAT WE EXPECT TO FEAST UPON, OF WHICH MY PRECIOUS LORD SAYS — "Take, eat, this is My Body, and this is My Blood." The sacrificed Lamb is the great feast itself. This was ordered under the Levitical dispensation every morning and evening — a lamb to be sacrificed and presented to the Lord — the lamb of the Passover; and the same sacred emblem, pointing to the precious Christ of God, is declared to be the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world; and just such persons as I have been describing were welcome to partake of it. This feasting on the Lamb, the atoning Blood, the perfect satisfaction, and the sacred acceptance thereof, is announced by God Himself as a thing with which He is well pleased; and the soul that is under the teaching and the operation of the Holy Ghost can find nothing to feast upon short of It. If I go to some places I have nothing but a dinner of poisonous herbs: I mean the beauties of rhetoric, the eloquence of the creature, heathenish morality, and nothing to profit the precious soul that is born from above. The believer is able to do what the Israelites were commanded to do: he is able to eat a whole lamb; he is able to partake of a whole Christ. So we may well say again, "having Christ, I possess all things." Do not talk to me of feeding upon frames and feelings, and groping amongst "ifs" and "buts," and "peradventures," and probabilities, and contingencies, and conditions and uncertainties — they are enough to make all the people of God like Pharaoh's lean kine, if they do not absolutely starve them to death.

IV. LET ME NOW LEAD ON YOUR ATTENTION TO THE MASTER'S WORDS — "This is My body;" and "This is My Blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many." Mark, I beseech you, that this sacred gospel feast is intended to nourish not the fleshly, but the spiritual existence.

(Joseph Irons, M. A.)

It is hardly necessary to remark, that almost every transaction of human life has its appropriate ceremony, its established order and process. In our most familiar intercourse we have oar known forms of salutation. The system is natural in its origin, and beneficial in its effects. In religion above all other subjects, established forms are valuable. They fix attention on the duties which we assemble to perform. They give its due solemnity to the most interesting of all human concerns. They impress more deeply the sentiments of piety on the heart. They support uniformity and sympathy in the public worship of God. Would it not then be unwise and ungrateful if we did not commemorate by some appropriate ceremony the most important transaction of the gospel, the sacrifice and death of Jesus Christ. Such has been prescribed by Him who had the undoubted right to prescribe it, the Author of that religion, which it is intended to support. The fitness and propriety of a commemoration appointed by such authority will not be called in question.

I. THE MEMORY OF THE MOST INTERESTING EVENTS IS APT TO FADE FROM THE MIND, UNLESS OCCASIONALLY REVIVED BY REFLECTION ON THEIR RESPECTIVE CIRCUMSTANCES, OR BY SOME SUITABLE AND REGULAR COMMEMORATION. Even the sentiments of friendship require to be kept alive by tokens of regard. The disciples had seen the miracles of Christ. From the minds of those who had not teen them, at the distance of almost two thousand years, the genuine religion of the gospel might have been lost, had it not been cherished by the ordinances of the Church.

II. BEFORE THE PUBLICATION OF THE GOSPEL TO THE WORLD, THE NATIVES OF EVERY HEATHEN NATION HAD THEIR RESPECTIVE OFFERINGS TO THEIR GODS. They knew not from what authority their sacrifices were derived. They did but imperfectly understand the meaning of the ceremonies of their own worship. Their expectations were limited almost to temporal advantage. When we partake the sacrament we unite in an act of worship, of which we know the authority, intention, and benefit.

III. THE SACRIFICES OF THE HEATHENS, AND THE FESTIVALS THAT FOLLOWED THEM, WERE USUALLY ATTENDED WITH CRUELTY TO INOFFENSIVE ANIMALS, DISGRACED BY IMMORAL PRACTICES, AND PERFORMED AT RUINOUS EXPENSE. The sacrifices of the Jews were designed to typify one efficacious sacrifice of the Redeemer of the world. Our sacrament is not the sacrifice itself. It is only the festival after it; commemorating the sacrifice, and urging our claims to the benefits, which it was intended to convey. By the prudent regulations of our Church no indecent excess can disgrace this act of our worship. The exhortations to repentance, faith, and charity are Scriptural.

IV. The last recommendation of our ceremonies at the sacrament is THE FITNESS AND PROPRIETY OF THE SUBSTANCES EMPLOYED ON THAT SOLEMN OCCASION. From the wisdom and goodness of Him who prescribed them this was to be expected. Instead of the slaughter of animals, select and perfect, but within the reach of the poor; — instead of incense and spices which are only found in a few favoured regions of the earth, and which when found are more costly than appropriate, our Saviour has directed us to employ the simple elements of bread and wine; produced in every country; which may be obtained without delay or difficulty. These elements are fit emblems of the benefits to be derived from the solemnity; nay, "the strengthening and refreshing of our souls by the Body and Blood of Christ."

(W. Barrow, LL. D.)

I. THE BREAD. This signifies our need of spiritual food from Christ. We have a spiritual life within, as real as the physical life, and needing just as much a constant supply of nourishment. When General Grant took the Federal army at Chattanooga it was feeble and dispirited because it was almost destitute. The food of the army was hauled with difficulty over mountain roads and the supply was totally insufficient. His first movement, on assuming command — and it was that which eventually led to victory, — was to repair the railroads, and open up communication, so that the army soon had everything it needed. There is a like necessity in the spiritual life of Christ's army. We are worth very little in the service of Christ, except as we are spiritually nourished. The soul is easily starved by lack of appropriate food. And our spiritual nourishment must come from Christ.

II. THE BREAD WAS BLESSED BY CHRIST. The significance of this act was that God the Father was recognized as having a part in the work of the Son.

III. THE BREAD IS BROKEN BY CHRIST. Why is this? Here is a reminder of the sufferings of Christ. "This," said Christ, "is My Body which is broken for you" The broken bread is designed to bring to our minds His sacrificial work. And it is worthy of remark that our Lord broke the bread Himself. He did not delegate this to another. So did Christ voluntarily surrender Himself to death. "Therefore," He affirms in one place, "doth the Father love Me, because I lay down My life, that I might take it again. No one taketh it away from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again." There is a peculiar value in the sacrifice of Christ, in the fact that He was not forced to it. All He did and suffered was voluntary. It was because He loved us. It was in the infinite tenderness of His heart that He became our Saviour.

IV. THE BREAD WAS DISTRIBUTED TO THE DISCIPLES BY CHRIST. Here is suggested our complete dependence on Christ for salvation.

V. THE SECOND PART OF THIS SYMBOL. The use of the cup, as well as the bread, gives the idea of completeness. The two necessities for life are food and drink. When both are given there is fulness in the provision. The spiritual food symbolized in the supper covers all the needs of the soul. He who has Christ has what causes want to cease.

2. The doubling of the symbol also serves for emphasis. Thus Elisha, Hannah, and Job received double portions, that is, an unusual amount.

3. There is also climax. The giving of the cup presents not only the old thought suggested in the giving of the bread, but something more, which is even more important.

VI. THE CUP. The cup is symbolic of the Blood of Christ; and the blood of life. The juice of the grape, as it is violently pressed from the grape and procured by the grape's destruction, fittingly represents the Blood of Christ poured out for us.

VII. EATING THE BREAD AND DRINKING THE CUP. Our Saviour's directions to His disciples regarding the Supper were very simple. They were, "Take, eat." "Drink ye all of it." And the one hint our Saviour gave as to the meaning of this reception of the Supper was in His words: "This do in remembrance of Me." To this the apostle added the inspired comment: "For as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye proclaim the Lord's death till He come." From this language several things are plain. We are taught that our eating the bread and drinking the cup is a confession of Christ, a pledge to serve our Lord, and an act of fellowship as Christians. But it is, above all, a reception of Christ by faith. Our very act of taking the bread symbolizes the way in which we are to be benefited by Christ. We can not have Christ except as we open our hearts to Him. We are to give Him loving welcome. We are to rejoice in Him and accept Him, just as we do the food for the body, in the assurance that He will build us up in life and health. We must cherish the thought of Christ with the same loyalty with which we cherish earthly friendships. We remember earthly friends when they are out of our sight, recognizing their interests and rights, keeping ourselves in proper attitude towards them, and allowing no one else and nothing else to come between them and us in such way as to make us forgetful of them or indifferent towards them. The mother of Professor Louis Agassiz lived in Switzerland. In her beautiful old age Professor Silliman and wife called upon her and were charmed with her character. The morning they were leaving Switzerland she met them, and giving them a bunch of pansies said, with a beautiful play upon words, speaking of course in the French language: "Tell my son that my thoughts (mes pensees) are all for him, they are all for him." Now this is the way we should feel towards Christ. If we give Him all our heart, all our thoughts, we are communing with Him, we are receiving Him to ourselves, as He desires. As the elements of the Supper are taken into our system, so do we receive Christ into our souls.

(Addison P. Foster.)

Because the sacraments of the gospel are only two in number, it has sometimes been thought that they must be ordinances of minor importance. No mistake can be greater, or more calculated to depreciate the value of these divinely-appointed ordinances, which, from their very fewness, as well as from having received Christ's explicit command, should receive the Christian's strictest gard. The passage before us leads to inquiries respecting the meaning and design of this great sacrament.


1. Propitiation. The object of the Lord's Supper is not to commemorate Jesus as a Teacher, though in this He was unlike any other; nor to perpetuate the memory of His example, although His was the only perfect one ever afforded. It is, to keep constantly in mind that He who was the one illustrious Teacher, and the only perfect Exemplar, employing these together with His incarnate Deity, to add efficacy to the offering, yielded up His life a sacrifice for sinners.

2. The whole benefit of His death is available to those for whom He died. All He did is placed to our credit.


1. They confess their need of Christ. At the Holy Table supply and demand meet. Christ proffering and the disciple needing forgiveness, and all the attendant blessings purchased by His blood.

2. They confess their personal faith in Christ. At the Lord's Table disciples individually appropriate Christ's work to themselves. By receiving Christ they gain inward strengthening.

3. They consecrate themselves to Christ. Eating at His Table, they proclaim themselves His friends, and consent to His claims as their Saviour and Lord. Christ there enters into covenant with them, and they with Him.


1. Brotherhood. The bond which unites disciples to the Master links them to each other.

2. Love. Ill-will is banished by the very desire to sit with Christ at this feast, and in its warm and sacred atmosphere animosities can no more exist than an iceberg in the gulf stream.

(P. B. Davis.)

Picture the scene: our Lord's last night on earth — He fully aware of it — the Paschal supper, commemorative (through fifteen centuries) of the deliverance of Israel from Egypt — our Lord surrounded by twelve persons, one of whom He knew to be His betrayer, and who went out from this meal to execute his purpose — our Lord full of thoughts, not for Himself, but for them, and in this instance leaving them something to do for Him when He was gone. Holy Communion is —

I. THE COMMEMORATION OF THE DEATH OF CHRIST AND OF ALL CONTAINED AND IMPLIED IN THAT DEATH (1 Corinthians 11:26). In that act of worship we express our faith in

(1)the fact,

(2)the intention,

(3)the efficacy of the death (as the completion of the earthly life, and as the prelude to the resurrection life) of Christ, very God and very man.

II. A TOKEN OF THE MANNER IN WHICH ALONE OUR SPIRITUAL LIFE IS MAINTAINED. The bread and wine are not merely gazed upon, but eaten and drunk; and that in church, as a religious act. This would be, not merely unprofitable, but irreverent also, if there were not a deep meaning in it. The key is John 6, which expresses in words the same truth the sacrament expresses in act. If we are to have life through Christ, it must be, not merely by hearing of Him, or contemplating Him as an external object, but by receiving Him into heart and soul as by a process of spiritual digestion.


1. Form a high estimate of this ordinance, It is what we make it; great or small, according as we seek and expect much or little from it.

2. But let your high estimate be a spiritual estimate. Reverence, not superstition. "Feed on Him, in thy heart, by faith."

3. Realize Christ's presence.

4. Make due preparation.

5. Beware of delay in becoming a communicant.

6. Beware of coming once or twice and then ceasing.

7. Beware of becoming familiar with the sign and not with the thing signified.

(Dean Vaughan.)

When we consider the acts of Christ on this eventful night, we are led to see how vast is the importance given to the Holy Communion. He puts it in juxtaposition with the Paschal supper. As an Israelite ceased to be of Israel — became an alien and outcast from the House of God, forfeited the grace of God and his inheritance in God — if he did not keep the Passover and partake of the Lamb; so He would have us learn that, in like manner, unless Christians partake of the Lamb of God in His New Institution, they are not members of Him, they cut themselves off as dead branches from a vine, they lose His grace, they are no more members of His Kingdom.

(S. Baring Gould, M. A.)

It is just because you are a sinner that you need the help which God gives through the Eucharist. You know your own weakness; you tell me you are afraid of the sin of yielding to temptation after having communicated. Yes; but is it not almost certain that if you do not communicate you will yield? while, if you will only come in simple faith and trust, looking for God's blessing, it is through the Holy Sacrament that God will give the grace and strength which will enable you to resist the temptation and come off victor in the fight. There was a labouring man some time since in one of our northern towns, who, owing to some mistake, had been misinformed as to the hour of service. He came when the Celebration of the Holy Communion was just over, and when they came out of Church they found him waiting sadly outside. The clergyman explained how the mistake had arisen, and expressed his sorrow for it. "Never mind, master," said the man; but the poor fellow could not help adding, "only I did so build upon it." He knew his own weakness, and his need of Divine grace and supernatural assistance; and so he was coming, not as if there was any virtue in the bare act of coming, not as if the Sacrament itself could save him, but because he had grasped the great truth that it is through the Sacrament that God imparts grace, and strength, and life to us His children, unworthy as we are of the least of His benefits.

(Prebendary Gibson, M. A.)

In times of persecution men would risk their lives to get their Communions. A hundred years ago, during the French Revolution, when religion was abolished by the French Parliament, when Sunday was done away with, the clergy were hunted into the thickets like beasts of prey, and none might conduct or attend a service on pain of death, did people go without this means of grace? No! From time to time a messenger hurried with a mysterious watchword from house to house; "the black swamp," he would mutter, and pass on without greeting or farewell. But the persons addressed understood him. Shortly after midnight, men and women, dressed in dark clothes, would meet silently by the black swamp below the village, and there, by the light of a carefully-guarded lantern, one of the homeless priests would give the Body and Blood of the Lord to the faithful of the neighbourhood. They all knew that at any moment, before the alarm could be given, the soldiers might be upon them, and a volley of grape-shot might stretch them bleeding and dying on the ground. What matter? man might kill their body, but Jesus had said that He would raise them up at the last day.

(M. A. Lewis.)

The word is thirteen times translated "testament" in the A.V., and twenty times "covenant." Its Hebrew equivalent properly means "covenant." But its classical import is "latter will" or "testament." Neither of the translations does full justice to the unique transaction referred to. Indeed no human word could. And to have used a Divine word would simply have been to speak an unintelligibility. The reference is to that arrangement or disposition of things, in virtue of which mercy, and the possibility of true and everlasting bliss, are extended to the sinful human race. It was a glorious device, culminating in the atoning sacrifice of the Lamb of God.

1. It was a covenant, inasmuch as there is, inherent in it, an element of reciprocity. God, on His part, does something. He does much, But the blessing involved in what He does is suspended, so far as men's enjoyment of it is concerned, on acquiescence on their part, or cordial acceptance, or faith.

2. It is also of the nature of a testamentary deed. For there is involved in it a disposition or disposal of the effects or goods which constitute the property of God; in virtue of which disposition it is that men, who acquiesce or believe, become His "heirs." The deed is a real testament, for it is duly and solemnly attested and testified.

3. And it is also really a last will, for it is a final expression of the will and wish of God.

(J. Morison, D. D.)

The Magna Charta of British history is not a more forcible witness to our national love of liberty, and our need of it as a condition of progress, than are these institutions to the universal needs of redeemed men. Ordinances that have persisted through innumerable and violent changes, and reasserted themselves in the face of gigantic efforts to suppress them, offer the strongest presumption that they are founded on true reason and spiritual necessity: and though they may have only a secondary and never a primary place, yet they are likely to be requisite still for the expression and nourishment of this life of the soul. Man is not all reason and will. He is still ensphered with sense, and dowered with imagination, and the whole of him cannot be fed, developed, and perfected without the beneficent ministry of symbol. Carlyle, no fanatic ritualist, says, with as much truth as beauty, "Would'st thou plant for eternity, then plant into the deep, infinite faculties of man, his fantasy and heart; would'st thou plant for year and day, then plant into his shallow, superficial faculties, his self-love and arithmetical understanding;" and again, speaking in "Sortor Resartus" of "Symbols," he writes: "Of kin to the so incalculable influences of concealment, and connected with still greater things, is the wondrous agency of symbols. In a symbol there is concealment and yet revelation; here, therefore, by silence and by speech acting together, comes a double significance. And if both the speech be itself high, and the silence fit and noble, how expressive will their union be! Thus in many a painted device, or simple seal-emblem, the commonest truth stands out to us proclaimed with quite new emphasis."

(Dr. John Clifford.)

"A poor widow sent me a dollar and thirty-three cents, in silver change, saying that it was all she found in her dead husband's pocket book, and she wanted to give it to God. I told this to the children and their parents in the Church of the Ascension, in Chicago, and they soon found a way to use this widow's mite 'for God.' They said: 'We will make a communion service of it.' So they added to it their gold rings and pieces of jewelry, and pocket pieces of silver, and a lady gave her dead boy's silver cup, and so they kept on adding pieces of silver and gold till we had enough; and then the artist made us a very beautiful chalice and paten all of silver and gold. Now I must tell you what came of it, and that shall be my second story. When that dreadful fire which destroyed our churches and homes in Chicago was seen approaching our little church, a little girl, seven years old, came with her father to see what they could save. It was four o'clock in the morning, and there was no light except what came from the fire. But little Louisa Enderli found the Communion Service and saved it. She was soon lost from her father, and for four weary miles she made her way among the crowd of people who were hurrying away from the burning district. The wind blew the burning sand and cinders in her eyes, and almost blinded them; but she defended them as best she could with one hand, and clung to her precious treasure with the other, refusing to give it up till she had it in a place of safety. For three days she was lost from her father, she having been sheltered and cared for by a kind German family. When her father at last found her, she threw her arms about his neck, saying, 'O, papa, I saved the Communion! I saved the Communion!' But even then she could not give it up till she had placed it safely in the rector's hand. I think that was an act of Christian heroism worthy of the martyrs who died for their Lord's sake in the older days."

(Rev. Charles P. Dorset, rector of the Church of the Ascension, Chicago, Illinois.)

"The only thing I want," said a dying bishop of our church, Bishop Hamilton, "is to place my whole confidence more and more perfectly in the precious blood!"

(The Fireside Parish Almanack.)

A certain Asiatic queen, departing this life, left behind her three accomplished sons, all arrived to years of maturity. The young princes were at strife as to who should pay the highest respect to their royal mother's memory. To give scope for their generous contentions they agreed to meet at the place of interment, and there present the most honourable gift they knew how to devise, or were able to procure. The eldest came, and exhibited a sumptuous monument, consisting of the richest materials, and ornamented with the most exquisite workmanship. The second ransacked all the beauties of the blooming creation, and offered a garland of such admirable colours and delightful odours as had never been seen before. The youngest appeared, without any pompous preparations, having only a crystal basin in one hand, and a silver bodkin in the other. As soon as he approached he threw open his breast, pierced a vein which lay opposite to his heart, received the blood in the transparent vase, and, with an air of affectionate reverence, placed it on the tomb. The spectators, struck with the sight, gave a shout of general applause, and immediately gave preference to this oblation. If it was reckoned such a singular expression of love to expend a few of those precious drops for the honour of a parent, O how matchless I how ineffable was the love of Jesus in pouring out all his vital blood for the salvation of his enemies!

(Student's Handbook of Scripture Doctrines.)

The Preacher's Monthly.
I. THE REALITY AND CHARACTER OF THE LIFE BEYOND DEATH. Christ speaks of it as "the kingdom of God." This is not the idea of mere existence, but of being in the highest form of organization. The Father-King will pervade all life with His own spirit. The law will be the Father's rule, which is love.

II. THE SPECIAL FORM OF LIFE IN THE FATHER'S KINGDOM HERE ANTICIPATED. "I will drink it with you new." This implies —

1. Close and intimate association between the Redeemer and the redeemed.

2. The mutual presence and intercourse of the redeemed.

3. Their sacred employment. The Saviour says He will drink, and they shall drink, the wine of the Pascal feast new in the Father's kingdom. He had just said: "This cup is the new covenant in My blood." The heavenly festival is a memorial celebration of redeeming love. To the redeemed it will be a cup of grateful love, and of grateful retrospection.

(The Preacher's Monthly.)

And when they had sung an hymn.
Jesus sung an hymn, and when before was heard music so pleasing to God, so grand and beautiful to listening angels? We know not what harmonies from the power of sound the Creator produces for the ceaseless joy of His intelligent creatures who fill the vast amplitudes of the sky. We know not what sublime, and to us, inconceivable realities are expressed by those descriptions given by that apostle who leant on Jesus's bosom, and heard with prophetic ear the voice as of many waters, as of a great thunder, and the voices of harpers harping with their harps; but sure am I that there was a harmony and a glory in this hymn they never heard before. For the beauty of its harmony was moral; it was harmony from the inner spirit of man; it was harmony between man and Christ; it was the melody of meekness, of obedience, of peace and joy; it was like the music of law and order from those glittering stars of night beneath which they sung — such a harmony as the character of Christ forever sounds in the ears of God.

(N. Macleod, D. D.)

One of the commonest objections to the constant use of stated forms of common prayer is, that at times they must inevitably jar upon our feelings, compelling us, for example, to take words of joy and praise on our lips when our hearts are full of grief, or to utter penitent confessions of sin and imploring cries for mercy when our hearts are dancing with mirth and joy. But if we mark the conduct of our Lord and His disciples, we cannot say that even this objection is final or fatal. He and they were about to part. He was on His way to the agony of Gethsemane and the shame of the cross. Their hearts, despite His comforting words, were heavy with foreboding and grief. Yet they sang the Hallel, used the common form of praise, before they went out, — He to die for the sins of the world, and they to lose all hope in Him as the Saviour of Israel. No Divine command, nothing but the custom of the Feast, enjoined this form upon them; yet they do not cast it aside. And this "hymn" was no dirge, no slow and measured cadence, no plaintive lament, but a joyous song of exultation. Must not these tones of irrepressible hope, of joyous and exultant trust, have jarred on the hearts of men who were passing lute a great darkness in which all the lights of life and hope and joy were to be eclipsed? If our Lord could look through the darkness and see the joy set before Him, the disciples could not. Yet they too joined in this joyous hymn before they went out into the darkest night the world has ever known. With their example before us, we cannot fairly argue that settled forms of worship are to be condemned simply because they jar on the reigning emotion of the moment. We must rather infer that, in His wisdom, God will not leave us to be the prey of any unbalanced emotion; that, when our hearts are most fearful, He calls on us to put our trust in Him; that when they are saddest He reminds us that, if we have made Him our chief good, our chief good is still with us, whatever we may have lost, and that we may still rejoice in Him, though all other joy has departed from us. And when He bids us trust in Him in every night of loss and fear, and even to be glad in Him however sorrowful our souls may be, — O how comforting and welcome the command should be! for it is nothing less than an assurance that He sees the gain which is to spring from our loss; it is nothing short of a pledge that He will turn our sorrow into joy.

(S. Cox, D. D.)

Religion is a thing of principles, not of forms; spirit, not letter. It is a life, a life which reveals itself in various ways under all the changes of time, a life which consecrates every faculty we possess to the service of God and man. It uses forms, but is not dependent on them. It may modify them in a thousand different ways, to suit them to the wants, emotions, aspirations of the soul. There was a most true and sincere religious life, for example, among the Hebrews, and under the laws of Moses. Worship then took the form of offerings and sacrifices, fasts and feasts. All these, in so far as they were Hebrew, and were specially adapted to Hebrew life, have passed away; but the religious life has not passed with them. It has clothed itself in simpler and more universal forms. Our worship expresses itself in prayers, hymns, sacraments, and above all in the purity and charity which bids us visit the poor and needy in their affliction, and keep ourselves unspotted from the world. In due time, these forms may be modified or pass away. But the life which works and speaks through them will not pass away. It will simply rise into higher and nobler forms of expression. No man, therefore, can live and grow simply by adhering to forms of worship and service, let him be as faithful and devoted to them as he will. They may feed and nourish life, but they cannot impart it. They will change and pass, but the life of the soul need not therefore suffer loss. If that life has once been quickened in us through faith and love, it will and must live on, for it is an eternal life, and continue to manifest itself in modes that will change and rise to meet its new necessities and conditions. Religion accepts us as we are, that it may raise us above what we are; it employs and consecrates all our faculties, that our faculties may be refined, invigorated, enlarged in scope. If we can speak, it bids us speak. If we can sing, it bids us sing. If we can labour and endure, it bids us labour and endure. If we can only stand and wait, it teaches us that they also serve who only stand and wait. Whatever we can do, it bids us do heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto men, and yet do for men, that it may be unto the Lord. If we really have this life, it will reveal itself in us as it did in Him who is our life — in a love too profound and sincere to be repelled by any diversities of outward form; in a spirit of praise too pure and joyous to be quenched by any of the changes and sorrows of time; and in an earnest consecration of our every capacity and power to the service of Him who loved us, and gave Himself for us, and for all.

(S. Cox, D. D.)

For one I would not rid myself of the hope that we shall sometimes — perhaps on great anniversaries commemorative of earthly histories — literally sing, in heaven, the very psalms and hymns which are so often the "gate of heaven" to us here. It would be sadder parting with this world than we hope it will be when our time comes, if we must forget these ancient lyrics, or find our tongues dumb when we would utter them. How can we live without them? Are they not a part of out very being? Take them away, with all the experiences of which they are the symbol, and what would there be left of us to carry into heaven?

(Prof. Austin Phelps.)

The Jewish Psalms, in which is expressed the very spirit of the national life, have furnished the bridal hymns, the battle songs, the pilgrim marches, the penitential prayers, and the public praises of every nation in Christendom, since Christendom was born. It is a sentence from the Jewish Psalm book, which we have written over the portico of the chief temple of the world's industry and commerce, the London Exchange. These psalms have rolled through the din of every great European battlefield, they have pealed through the scream of the storm in every ocean highway of the earth. Drake's sailors sang them when they clove the virgin waves of the Pacific; Frobisher's, when they dashed against the barriers of the Arctic ice and night. They floated over the waters on that day of days, when England held her Protestant freedom against Pope and Spaniard, and won the naval supremacy of the world. They crossed the ocean with the Mayflower pilgrims; they were sung around Cromwell's camp fires, and his Ironsides charged to their music; while they have filled the peaceful homes of England and of Christendom with the voice of supplication and the breath of praise. In palace halls, by happy hearths, in squalid rooms, in pauper wards, in prison cells, in crowded sanctuaries, in lovely wildernesses, everywhere these Jews have uttered our moan of contrition and our song of triumph, our tearful complaints and our wrestling, conquering prayer.

(J. Baldwin Brown, B. A.)

At a gathering of children one Christmas Day a gentleman present related the following very interesting incident: A little girl, only three years of age, was very curious to know why Christmas evergreens were so much used, and what they were intended to signify. So Mr. L — told her the story of the Babe of Bethlehem, the child whose name was Jesus. The little questioner was just beginning to give voice to the music that was in her heart; and after Mr. L — concluded the narrative, she looked up in his face and asked, "Did Jesus sing?" Who had ever thought of that? The text is almost conclusive proof that our Lord did sing; it is, at any rate, quite conclusive proof that He sanctioned the use of song on the part of His disciples.

, bound naked to the stake, continued to sing hymns with a deep untrembling voice.

(A. W. Atwood.)

I remember a remarkable instance which occurred in my father's lecture room during one of those sweet scenes which preceded the separation of the Presbyterian Church into the old and new schools. At that time controversy ran high, and there were fire and zeal and wrath mingled with discussion; and whoever sat in the chair, the devil presided. On the occasion to which I refer an old Scotchman, six feet high, much bent with age, with blue eyes, large features, very pale and white all over his face, and bald-headed, walked up and down the back part of the room, and as the dispute grew furious he (and only he could have done it) would stop and call out, "Mr. Moderator, let us sing 'Salvation';" and someone would strike up and sing the tune, and the men who were in angry debate were cut short; but one by one they joined in, and before they had sung the hymn through they were all calm and quiet. When they resumed the controversy, it was in a much lower key. So this good old man walked up and down, and threw a hymn into the quarrel every few minutes, and kept the religious antagonists from absolute explosion and fighting. It is the nature of hymns to quell irascible feeling. I do not think that a man who was mad could sing six verses through without regaining his temper before he got to the end.

(H. W. Beecher.)

On one of the days that President Garfield lay dying at the seaside, he was a little better, and was permitted to sit by the window, while Mrs. Garfield was in the adjoining room. Love, hope, and gratitude filled her heart, and she sang the beautiful hymn, commencing, "Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah!" As the soft and plaintive notes floated into the sick chamber, the President turned his eyes up to Dr. Bliss and asked, "Is that Crete?" "Yes." replied the Doctor; "it is Mrs. Garfield." "Quick, open the door a little," anxiously responded the sick man. Dr. Bliss opened the door, and after listening a few moments, Mr. Garfield exclaimed, as the large tears coursed down his sunken cheeks, "Glorious, Bliss, isn't it?"

A little boy came to one of our city missionaries, and holding out a dirty and well-worn bit of printed paper, said, "Please, sir, father sent me to get a clean paper like this." Taking it from his hand, the missionary unfolded it, and found it was a paper containing the beautiful hymn beginning, "Just as I am." The missionary looked down with interest into the face earnestly upturned to him, and asked the little boy where he got it, and why he wanted a clean one. "We found it, sir," said he, "in sister's pocket after she died; she used to sing it all the time when she was sick, and loved it so much that father wanted to get a clean one to put in a frame to hang it up. Won't you give us a clean one, sir?"

I will smite the shepherd.
1. As descending from ancient patriarchs who were shepherds. They were types of Him.

2. He knows His sheep, and marks them for His own (John 10:3, 14). God sets His seal on them (2 Timothy 2:19).

3. He feeds their souls and bodies in green pastures (Psalm 23) and drives them to the sweet streams and waters of comfort, by the paths of grace and righteousness.

4. He defends them from the wolf and enemies; they being timorous, simple, weak, shiftless creatures, unable to fly, resist, or save themselves.

5. He nourishes the young and tender lambs.

6. He seeks them when they go astray, and rejoices to find them.

7. He brings them to the fold.

(1)The fold of grace.

(2)The fold of glory.

(Dr. Thomas Taylor.)

In that Christ is our Shepherd, we may comfort ourselves in —

1. His love. More love is included in the title "Shepherd," than if He should call Himself our father, brother, kinsman. The good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep, which every father or brother will not do.

2. His care. The sheep need care for nothing but the Shepherd's presence (Psalm 23:1).

(Dr. Thomas Taylor.)

In that Christ was smitten with the sword, let us learn patience in affliction of every kind.

1. He suffered for no necessity or desert, but by voluntary humility, whereas we deserve fiery trials.

2. He suffered not for His own cause, but ours; and shall not we for His?

3. He despised the shame; and why should not we?

4. The end of His cross was the exaltation at God's right hand; and we expect the same.

(Dr. Thomas Taylor.)

Though Christ was smitten, it was not by chance, fortune, or altogether by malice of wicked men; but all by the counsel and decree of God. If thou art smitten, comfort thyself.

1. It is God's hand.

2. God intends by this means to bring about some good purpose in thee.

3. God not only sends thy trouble, but also regulates and checks it.

(Dr. Thomas Taylor.)

Why were the disciples thus scattered?

1. Their own weakness and carnal fear made them fly to save themselves. They had not counted the cost of their profession. Nor had they yet received the Holy Spirit, which afterwards kept them strong and stedfast.

2. God in His wisdom would have Christ deserted, because He was to be known to tread "the winepress of God's wrath alone."

3. Thus it behoved the Scripture to be fulfilled, in regard of Christ Himself, who voluntarily undertaking the grievous burden of our sin, must be forsaken by all for the time.

4. To teach us, that all our safety depends on our relation to the chief Shepherd. Without Christ we lie dispersed, ungathered, and forlorn.

(Dr. Thomas Taylor.)

I will go before you into Galilee.
It is quite certain that, in the manhood of Christ, there was, in a very large degree, the truest poetry of the heart. His sympathies with nature — His love of the beautiful everywhere — His tenderness to childhood and to weakness — the delicacy of His action — the play of His fancy — all show that vivid imagination, and fervent glow, and quiet sensibility, and creative habit, and deep perception which, I speak it humanly, always make life a poem. Can we wonder that to such a mind as His, that country, so endeared, so sanctified, — lovely in nature, but lovelier still in all its sacred recollections — should have such an attraction that He could scarcely consent even to go to heaven without another look at its beauty, and a last taste of its sweetness! And did my Saviour — did He — even thus? Then forever He has consecrated the pious memories of early years, and the yearnings of our manhood after the sacredness of the past!

II. But, as far as we may presume to judge, this was not the only feeling which led the risen Jesus back to Galilee. We know, indeed, from St. Peter's words to Cornelius, that when "God raised up Jesus, the third day, He showed Him openly indeed, but not to all the people, only to chosen witnesses, chosen before of God, who did eat and drink with Him after He rose from the dead." Indeed we know that "He appeared to above five hundred brethren at once," and this manifestation was most probably on that mountain in Galilee, where He had made such a special appointment for the reunion. We may well believe — and it is in complete accordance with the whole mind of Christ — that He went down to Galilee for this very object — to gather, and assure, and comfort, and strengthen those to whom His miracles and teaching had been already blessed in that part of Palestine. And it was only like our dear Master, and consistent with all His faithful love, that He should thus pause, before He went on further — to reassure and bless His own in distant places.

III. And of this, more and more, be quite sure, that Christ will always come back to His own work in the soul which He has once made His own. And this blessed lesson again I read in that loving journey to Galilee. Whom Christ calls, to them He returns. No time dims, no changes reach, no distance appals, that love!

IV. I see, too, in the visit to Galilee, a probation and discipline to His own more immediate followers. They were to have the joy of His presence, but they must make an effort. They must show their constancy and their faith by an act of toil and trust. They must go — at His word — all the way to meet Him in Galilee. "He went before them." He always goes before His people. And sometimes precedence looks like desertion. Obey and believe, and the recompense will be a full and mantling cup. "Go where I send you;" — this is His constant language — "Go where I send you; I shall be there."

V. One, and perhaps the greatest, cause why He passed those "forty days" on earth — after He had finished His great work — was to show and prove His identity; to demonstrate that the Risen was the Crucified; that nothing was changed of His love and being. He was the same! the same Man! the same Brother! the same Saviour! the same God! And there were the very wounds to bear their evidence! This visit to Galilee was singularly fitted to evidence the oneness. He goes the very same journey which He had taken often before, to the same places, where He had spent the greater part of His life, and where the witnesses to the identity would be the greatest in number, and the most competent to attest. He seeks the same lake, which He had made the centre of His previous ministry. He stands with His disciples — on the very shore where He had spoken to them and called them. The voice, the accent, the manner, the spirit are the same, They recognize it in a moment. He eats food, where He had so often eaten it before. And how much we owe to that identity, I need not say. The Man of Weakness is the God of Power. The Crucified is the Intercessor. Sure proof that the ransom is accepted, and the whole debt is paid by Christ! Positive evidence that we have now a God in sympathy. And one more voice I hear from Galilee. The risen Christ walked the whole land — from Dan to Beersheba: He revealed His authority: He showed His power: He made all His own! An earnest of that day when He shall come and "reign in Mount Sion and in Jerusalem, and before His ancients gloriously;" and "His feet shall stand upon the Mount of Olives;" and then "there shall be one Lord, and His name One," and "all Israel shall be saved."

(James Vaughan, M. A.)

Such a promise as was never heard of before — that a dead man shall rise within a few days, and promise to do so. Note the consolations with which our Lord sustains His disciples.

1. That there shall be a certain end of this evil ready to swallow them up.

2. That there shall be a short end after a few days; three or four.

3. That there shall be a happy end. For

(1)Christ should rise again from the dead with power and glory.

(2)Whereas they have run away from Him, He will come to them again.

(3)Though they have left their Shepherd, yet He will become their Shepherd again, and guide them as a shepherd goes before his sheep.

(Dr. Thomas Taylor.)

Why in Galilee?

1. That our Lord and His disciples may more surely enjoy one another without fear of the Jews; and that He may instruct them in the things concerning the kingdom of heaven.

2. Because Christ had more disciples and favourites in Galilee to whom He would familiarly offer Himself, and manifest His resurrection, than in Judea.

3. His disciples belonged to Galilee, and He would bring, them to the place where He found them.

4. They must follow their calling till Christ came, and for the time before they can get into Galilee, He will be there before them, waiting for them

(Dr. Thomas Taylor.)

Although all shall be offended, yet will not I.
it consisted in —

1. His vehement contradiction of the words of Christ.

2. His preferring himself to and putting himself above the rest of the apostles.

3. His self-confidence and boastfulness of his own strength. The remedy against temptation is such a knowledge of our own natural weakness, as may lead us to distrust ourselves, to rely on God, and to seek His protection in all things.

(W. Denton, M. A.)

Peter's action in this instance was at the same time commendable for some things and faulty for others.


1. His purpose and resolution of mind, not to take offence at Christ, which purpose and resolution he professes sincerely and from his heart, speaking as he really thought.

2. It is also commendable in him, that he was so zealous and forward above the other disciples to show his love to Christ


1. In that he directly contradicts the express words of Christ, whereby He had plainly told him and the rest, that they should all be offended at Him.

2. In presuming rashly and confidently upon his own strength or ability to hold out constantly, and to stick close to the Saviour in the time of trouble and danger now at hand.

3. In arrogantly preferring himself to his fellow disciples, affirming that though all should be offended, yet he would not.

(George Petter.)

Enthusiasm is the glow of the soul; it is the lever by which men are raised above their average level and enterprise, and become capable of a goodness and benevolence which, but for it, would be quite impossible. There is not too much enthusiasm of any sort or for any object, in a world like ours, and Christians had better not join in sneering at a force, which, in its purest form, founded and reared the Church of Jesus Christ. True, enthusiasm often loses its way, spends itself on mistaken causes, on imperfect systems, on worthless ideals, but that is no reason for saying that all enthusiasm is bad. Mistaken enthusiasm, like Peter's, will in time be rudely tested by experience; and meanwhile those who have any reason to hope that their enthusiasm is not mistaken, can afford to be generous and hopeful about others. He that is not against us is, unconsciously perhaps, on our side.

(Canon Liddon.)

Here we have an instance (as many elsewhere) of Peter's temerity and rashness, not well considering his weakness, and what spirit he was of. He betrays great infirmity, arrogating much more than was in him.

1. He directly contradicts his Lord, who said, "All ye;" Peter says, "No, not all" — he will not; not this night — no, never.

2. He believes not the oracle of the prophet Zechariah (Zechariah 13:7), but would shift it off with pomp of words, as not concerning him; he was not one of the sheep that should be scattered, though the Pastor was smitten.

3. He presumes too much upon his own strength, and of that which is out of his own power, never mentioning or including the help and strength of God, by whom alone he could stand. He neither considers his own frailty, which will overthrow him, nor yet the power of God, which can sustain and uphold him.

4. He sets himself too much above other men; as if all men were weak in comparison with Peter, and Peter the champion.

5. He is bold, hardy, and vainly confident in a thing yet to come, in which he has never tried his strength. Knowing his present affection, he will take no notice of his future peril; nay, he disclaims and almost scorns the danger, little thinking how close it is to him.

(Dr. Thomas Taylor.)

Louis XV, in his disgusting depravity, exposed himself to the smallpox, then the dread of all society. Though flattered for a time into the belief that there was no danger, he was at length undeceived; but, owing to the prevalence of court intrigue, the information was only conveyed to him at the latest possible moment. He caused his guilty companions to be sent away, telling them that he would recall them should he recover from his disorder. Just before dismissing one of the most degraded among them, he said: "I would fain die as a believer, and not as an infidel. I have been a great sinner, doubtless; but I have ever observed Lent with a most scrupulous exactitude; I have caused more than a hundred thousand masses to be said for the repose of unhappy souls; I have respected the clergy, and punished the authors of all impious works; so that I flatter myself I have not been a very bad Christian."

There is a famous speech recorded of an old Norseman thoroughly characteristic of the Teuton. "I believe neither in idols nor demons," said he; "I put my sole trust in my own strength of body and soul."

(S. Smiles.)

A scientific gentleman, deputed by the Government, was, not many years ago, examining the scene of a fatal explosion. He was accompanied by the underviewer of the colliery, and as they were inspecting the edges of a goaf (a region of foul air), it was observed that the "Davy" lamps which they carried were afire. "I suppose," said the inspector, that there is a good deal of fire damp hereabouts. "Thousands and thousands of cubic feet all through the goaf," coolly replied his companion. "Why," exclaimed the official, "do you mean to say that there is nothing but that shred of wire gauze between us and eternity?" "Nothing at all," replied the underviewer, very composedly. "There's nothing here where we stand but that gauze wire to keep the whole mine from being blown into the air." The precipitate retreat of the Government official was instantaneous. And thus it should be with the sinner: his retreat from the ways of sin — those "goafs" of poisonous air — should be instantaneous. Sir Humphrey Davy's lamp was never designed, as a substitute for caution if accidentally or unknowingly carried into foul air, whereas many do so knowingly and habitually.

Thou shall deny Me thrice.
"The Dougal, an old line of battle ship, which has been lying in Portsmouth Harbour since her return from a cruise on the China station, in 1871, has been recently docked for the purpose of alterations, so as to fit her for taking the place of the Vernon, torpedo and depot ship. During an examination of her interior, one of the workmen came across a live shell in a disused corner of the ship. The projectile must have lain where it was found for over fourteen years." This was a startling discovery; but had no examination of the interior been required, the missile would not even now have been found. How forcibly the story illustrates the need we have for careful and frequent search into our own hearts! Possibly the projectile had been placed in the "disused corner of the ship" by an enemy; or, on the other hand, it may have been concealed ready to hurl at the foe. Anyhow, it was a dangerous thing to have stowed away, for at any moment it might have exploded, and destroyed the vessel. Self-examination is ever beneficial, and often leads to the startling discovery of some most dangerous evil that lay long concealed in the disused corners of the heart. That we may be fitted to take our right place in God's service, and go forth to our work with His approval, let a thorough examination be made, and let all evil be removed.

(Robert Spurgeon.)

Note how suddenly even a good man is turned from good resolutions, if but a little left to himself, or if he remit but a little of his own watchfulness. In a few hours this confident disciple, who scorned to think of denying his Master, denies and forswears Him too.

1. We stand by grace, which, if not every moment renewed, we must needs fall; as in the case of a man supported by a crutch — remove the crutch, and he falls down; or set a staff upright, withdraw the hand, and you need not push it down, it goes of itself.

2. The suddenness of the temptation, which comes like lightning, and our proneness to be kindled with it.

3. The freedom of the Spirit, who comes and goes at His own pleasure.(1) This should keep us humble, no matter how holy a state we get into. The gun may at any time suddenly disappear under a cloud.(2) Let us watch our graces well, and forecast temptation.(3) Let us depend on the Spirit of God to perfect and accomplish His own good motions, and leave us not to ourselves, who can quickly quench them.

4. No wonder if the righteousness of hypocrites be as the morning dew (Hosea 6:4).

(Dr. Thomas Taylor.)

I will not deny Thee in any wise.
I. We may learn from this transaction NOT TO BE TOO FORWARD IN OUR PROFESSIONS, or too confident in our own strength, lest confidence should at last increase the guilt and shame of failure; and in the event of nonperformance, our professions be turned to our reproach. The chief of the apostles mistook the firmness of his own spirit. In the day of peace it is easy to form good resolutions, and to be confident that we shall perform them. To resolve in private and act in public are very different things, requiring very different degrees of firmness, both in exerting the powers of the understanding and in regulating the affections of the heart. Rash resolutions are foolish, and rash vows cannot be innocent. Yet our weakness is itself the decisive proof that vows and resolutions ought to be made. But let them be made as reason and duty require — deliberately not ostentatiously; not so much to be heard as to be kept; not so much to man as to God.

II. TO HOPE THE BEST, AND TO DEPEND THE MOST UPON THOSE WHOSE TEMPERS ARE NOT SO WARM AND FORWARD, BUT MILD, AND COOL, AND FIRM. In St. John we find no forward professions, no hasty declarations of invincible spirit. He was firm and faithful, but meek and unoffending. His zeal united gentleness. Zeal should be with moderation. The passions must not rule the conduct. The feelings of a good man are ruled by his religion. "Every thought should be brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." Without such guidance feeling is bold, forward, and capricious, liable to error, and will involve us in sin; but conviction and principle are steady and permanent; truth and right are forever the same.

III. THAT IF WE BE SURPRISED INTO ANY FAILURE IN OUR DUTY WE MAY BE FORGIVEN UPON REPENTANCE AND REFORMATION. But this great privilege must not be allowed to relax our care, or encourage our presumption. St. Peter delayed his repentance only till he knew his fault. Hand-in-hand with conviction came contrition.

(W. Barrow, LL. D.)

The Preacher's Monthly.
The text shows St. Peter exercising the supreme influence.

I. HERE IS PETER'S UNDOUBTED SUPREMACY. History circles around great names. Men are not all original. The apostles could not do without Peter.

II. THIS SUPREMACY WAS INTELLECTUAL, MORAL, SPIRITUAL; NOT ECONOMICAL, LEGAL, OR MERELY OFFICIAL. His supremacy rose out of qualification. There are no spiritual leaderships which can be irrespective of character. A true man must always influence others powerfully.

III. THE VALUE OF SUCH CHARACTERS AS THAT OF PETER IN THE CHURCH. Each age needs men who can call onward and upward because they are beyond and above.

IV. HERE IS NOBLE PURPOSE AND NOBLE FEELING COMING SHORT IN ACTION. The sequel is, "they all forsook Him and fled." Not even the grandest human inspirations have staying virtues in them. These must be sought from the Holy Spirit.

(The Preacher's Monthly.)

I stand on a mountain in Colorado six thousand feet high. There is a man standing beneath me who says: "I see a peculiar shelving to this rock," and he bends towards it. I say: "Stop, you will fall." He says: "No danger; I have a steady head and foot, and see a peculiar piece of moss." I say: "Stand back"; but he says: "I am not afraid"; and he bends farther and farther, and after a while his head whirls and his feet slip — and the eagles know not that it is the macerated flesh of a man they are picking at, but it is. So I have seen men come to the very verge of New York life, and they look away down in it. They say: "Don't be cowardly. Let us go down." They look farther and farther. I warn them to stand back; but Satan comes behind them, and while they are swinging over the verge, pushes them off. People say they were naturally bad. They were not! They were only engaged in exploration.

(Dr. Talmage.)

The present Eddystone Lighthouse stands very firmly, but that was not the character of the first structure that stood on that dangerous point. There was an eccentric man by the name of Henry Winstanly, who built a very fantastic lighthouse at that point in 1696, and when it was nearly done he felt so confident that it was strong, that he expressed the wish that he might be in it in the roughest hurricane that ever blew in the face of heaven. And he got his wish. One November night, in 1703, he and his workmen were in that light house when there came down the most raging tempest that has ever been known in that region. On the following morning the people came down to see about the lighthouse. Not a vestige of the wall, not a vestige of the men. Only two twisted iron bolts, showing where the lighthouse had stood. So there are men building up their fantastic hopes, and plans, and enterprises, and expectations, thinking they will stand forever, saying: "We don't want any of the defences of the gospel. We can stand for ourselves. We are not afraid. We take all the risks and we defy everything;" and suddenly the Lord blows upon them and they are gone. Only two things left — a grave and a lost soul.

(Dr. Talmage.)

Peter, instead of being humbled and made self-distrustful by our Lord's warning, as he ought to have been, only heaps up more sin against himself by persisting in contradicting the Lord. Let us take note from this that the child of God, through strength of his corruption, may fall often into the same sin, notwithstanding good means against it.

1. It is a very hard thing to lead people out of themselves. Almost nothing but experience of former falls brings them to see their folly.

2. Till their mind is changed their action will be the same.

3. Weakness of grace causes even the best to fall over and over again into the same sins.

4. The same reason remains still which may move the Lord to leave His children to themselves; to try, excite, humble them, work more serious sorrow, make them more watchful, etc.

(Dr. Thomas Taylor.)

Every repetition of sin makes sin the stronger; for as the body, the more it is nourished and fed, the stronger it grows, so with sin in the soul; every new act is an addition of strength till it comes to a habit. Pluck up a twig, then, before it grows up into a plant. Dash out the brains of every sin in infancy.

(Dr. Thomas Taylor.)

Which was named Gethsemane.

II. THE STORY OF THE CONFLICT. Its intensity is the first fact in the story that strikes us. "His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling to the ground." This conflict wrung from the Saviour a great cry. What was it? "O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt." We have a glimpse of the conflict carried on by Christ for us, single-handed.


(Charles Stanford, D. D.)

The Preacher's Monthly.
I. Gethsemane suggests to reverent faith our blessed Redeemer's longing for human sympathy.

II. It reminds us of the sacredness of human sorrow and Divine communion.

III. It reveals the overwhelming fulness of the Redeemer's sorrow.

IV. It reminds us of the will of Christ yielded to the will of the Father.

V. It has lessons and influences for our own hearts.

(The Preacher's Monthly.)

I. WOE'S BITTEREST CUP SHOULD BE TAKEN WHEN IT IS THE MEANS OF HIGHEST USEFULNESS. Wasted suffering is the climax of suffering. Affliction's furnace heat loses its keenest pangs for those who can see the form of One like unto the Son of Man walking with them by example, and know that they are ministering to the world's true joy and life, in some degree, as He did.

II. FROM OUR LORD'S EXAMPLE WE LEARN THE HELPFULNESS IN SORROW OF RELIANCE UPON HUMAN AND DIVINE COMPANIONSHIP COMBINED. But to do both in proper proportion is not easy. Some hide from both earth and heaven as much as possible. Others lean wholly upon human supports; others, yet, turn to God in a seclusion to which the tenderest offices of friends are unwelcome. Our Lord's divinity often appears plainest in his symmetrical union of traits, mainly remark. able because of their combination. He was at once the humblest and boldest of men; the farthest from sin and the most compassionate towards the returning prodigal; the meekest and the most commanding. So, in the garden agony, he leaned upon human and Divine supports; the one as indispensable as the other. Whatever the situation, we are not to act the recluse. Life's circles need us and we need them. Neither are we to forget the Father in heaven. Storms and trial only increase His ready sympathy and succour.

III. OUR LORD'S CRUCIAL OBEDIENCE IN THE GARDEN AGONY REFLECTS THE MAJESTY OF THE HUMAN WILL AND ITS POSSIBLE MASTERY OF EVERY TRIAL IN PERFECT OBEDIENCE TO THE DIVINE WILL. However superhuman Jesus' suffering, He was thoroughly human in it. He had all our faculties, and used them as we may use ours. It is no small encouragement that the typical Man gives us an example of perfect obedience, at a cost unknown before or since. In the mutual relations of the human and Divine wills all merit is achieved and all character constructed. Learned authors dwell with deserved interest upon the world's "decisive battles," the pivots of destiny. The soul's future for time and eternity turns upon contests in which the will is in chief command. Intellect and sensibilities participate, but they are always subordinate. It were helpful to bear this in mind under every exposure. Let the inquiry be quick and constant, What saith the will? Is that steady and unflinching?

IV. JESUS' SOUL COULD HAVE BEEN "SORROWFUL EVEN UNTO DEATH" ONLY AS HIS SUFFERINGS WERE VICARIOUS. He was always sublimely heroic. Why such agony now? It was something far deadlier than death. It was the burden and mystery of the world's sin. The Lamb of God was slain for us in soul agony rather than by physical pain. His soul formed the soul of His sufferings.

V. GETHSEMANE'S DARKNESS PAINTS SIN'S GUILT AND RUIN IN FAITHFUL AND ENDURING COLOUR. It is easy to think lightly of sin. Having never known guilt, Christ met the same hidings of the Divine countenance as do the guilty. This was man's disobedience in its relation with God's law and judgment.

VI. GETHSEMANE THROWS PORTENTOUS LIGHT UPON THE WOE OF LOST SOULS. He suffered exceptionally, but He was also a typical sufferer; every soul has possibilities beyond our imagination; and terrible the doom when these possibilities are fulfilled in the direction to which Gethsemane points.

VII. OUR LESSON GIVES TERRIBLE EMPHASIS TO THE FACT AND SERIOUSNESS OF IMPOSSIBILITIES WITH GOD. Our time tends strongly towards lax notions of the Divine character and law and of the conditions of salvation. The will and fancy erect their own standards. Religion and obedience are to be settled according to individual notions, a subjective affair. Our Lord's agonized words, "If it be possible," establish the rigidity and absoluteness of governmental and spiritual conditions. God's will and plans are objective realities; they have definite and all-important direction and demands. Man should not think of being a law unto himself either in conduct or belief; least of all should he sit in judgment upon the revealed Word, fancying that any amount or kind of inner light is a true and sufficient test of its legitimacy and authority. But, how futile all attempts at fathoming Gethsemane's lessons.

(H. L. B. Speare.)





(J. H. Hitchens.)

I. Let us notice, in the outset, THE SUDDEN EXPERIENCE WHICH LED TO THIS ACT OF SUPPLICATION. He began to be "sore amazed and to be very heavy." Evidently something new had come to Him; either a disclosure of fresh trial, or a violence of unusual pain under it. Here it is affecting to find in our Divine Lord so much of recognized and simple human nature He desired to be alone, but He planned to have somebody He loved and trusted within call. His grief was too burdensome for utter abandonment. Hence came the demand for sympathy He made, and the persistence in reserve he retained, both of which are so welcome and instructive. For here emphatically, as perhaps nowhere else, we are "with Him in the garden." Oh, how passionately craving of help, and yet how majesterially rejectful of impertinent condolence, are some of these moments we have in our mourning, "when our souls retire upon their reserves, and will open their deepest recesses only to God! Our secret is unshared, our struggle is unrevealed to men. Yet we love those who love us just as much as ever. It is helpful to find that even our Lord Jesus had some feelings of which He could not tell John. He "went away" (Matthew 26:44).

II. Let us, in the second place, inquire concerning THE EXACT MEANING OF THIS SINGULAR SUPPLICATION. In those three intense prayers was the Saviour simply afraid of death? Was that what our version makes the Apostle Paul say He "feared"? Was He just pleading there under the olives for permission to put off the human form now, renounce the "likeness of men" (Philippians 2:7, 8), which He had taken upon Him, slip back into heaven inconspicuously by some sort of translation which would remove Him from the power of Pilate, so that when Judas had done his errand "quickly," and had arrived with the soldiers, Jesus would be mysteriously missing, and the traitor would find nothing but three harmless comrades there asleep on the grass? That is to say, are we ready to admit that our Lord and Master seriously proposed to go back to His Divine Father's bosom at this juncture, leaving the prophecies unfulfilled, the redemption unfinished, the very honour of Jehovah sullied with a failure? Does it offer any help in dealing with such a conjecture to insist that this was only a moment of weakness in His "human nature?" Would this make any difference as a matter of fact for Satan to discover that he had only been contending with another Adam, after all? Would the lost angels any the less exult over the happy news of a celestial defeat because they learned that the "seed of the woman" had not succeeded in bruising the serpent's head by reason of His own alarm at the last? Oh, no: surely no! Jesus had said, when in the far-back counsels of eternity the covenant of redemption was made, "Lo, I come: I delight to do Thy will, O my God" (Psalm 40:7, 8). He could have had no purpose now, we may be evermore certain, of withdrawing the proffer of Himself to suffer for men. There can be no doubt that the "cup" which our Lord desired might "pass from" His lips, and yet was willing to drink if there could be no release from it, was the judicial wrath of God discharged upon Him as a culprit vicariously before the law, receiving the awful curse due to human sin. We reject all notion of mere physical illness or exhaustion as well as all conjecture of mere sentimental loneliness under the abandonment of friends. In that supreme moment when He found that He, sinless in every particular and degree, must be considered guilty, and so that His heavenly Father's face and favour must at least for a while be withdrawn from Him, He was, in despite of all His courageous preparation, surprised and almost frightened to discover how much His own soul was beginning to shudder and recoil from coming into contact with sin of any sort, even though it was only imputed. Evidently it seemed to His infinitely pure nature horrible to be put in a position, however false, such as that His adorable Father would be compelled to draw the mantle over His face. This shocked Him unutterably. He shrank back in consternation when He saw He must become loathsome in the sight of heaven because of the "abominable thing" God hated (Jeremiah 44:4). Hence, we conceive the prayer covered only that. That which appears at first a startling surrender of redemption as a whole, is nothing more than a petition to be relieved from what He hoped might be deemed no necessary part of the curse He was bearing for others. He longed, as He entered unusual darkness, just to receive the usual light. It was as if He had said to His heavenly Father: "The pain I understood, the curse I came for. Shame, obloquy, death, I care nothing for them. I only recoil from being loaded so with foreign sin that I cannot be looked upon with any allowance. I am in alarm when I think of the prince of this world coming and finding something in me, when hitherto he had nothing. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint, my heart is like wax, when I think of the taunt that the Lord I trusted no longer delights in Me; this is like laughing God to scorn. Is there no permitted discrimination between a real sinner, and a substitute only counted such before the law in this one particular? All things are possible with Thee; make it possible now for Thee to see Thy Son, and yet not seem to see the imputed guilt He bears! Yet even this will I endure, if so it must be in order that I may fulfil all righteousness; Thy will, not Mine, be done!"

III. Again, let us observe carefully THE EXTRAORDINARY RANGE WHICH THIS PRAYER IN THE GARDEN TOOK. It is not worth while even to appear to be playing upon an accidental collocation of words in the sacred narrative; but why should it be asserted that any inspired words are accidental? The whole history of Immanuel's sufferings that awful night contains no incident more strikingly suggestive than the record of the distance He kept between Himself and His disciples. It is the act as well as the language which is significant. Mark says, "He went forward a little." Luke says, "He was withdrawn from them about a stone's east." Matthew says, "He went a little farther." So now we know that this one petition of our Lord was the final, secret, supreme whisper of His innermost heart. The range of such a prayer was over His whole nature. It exhausted His entire being. It covered the humanity it represented. In it for Himself and for us "He went a little farther" than ever He had in His supplication gone before. One august monarch rules over this fallen world, and holds all human hearts under His sway. His name is Pain. His image and superscription is upon every coin that passes current in this mortal life. He claims fealty from the entire race of man. And, sooner or later, once, twice, or a hundred times, as the king chooses, and not as the subject wills, each soul has to put on its black garment, go sedately and sufferingly on its sad journey to pay its loyal tribute, precisely as Joseph and Mary were compelled to go up to Bethlehem to be taxed. When this tyrant Pain summons us to come and discharge his dues, it is the quickest of human instincts which prompts us to seek solitude. That seems to be the universal rule (Zechariah 12:12-14). But now we discover from this symbolic picture that, whenever any Christian goes away from other disciples deeper into the solitudes of his own Gethsemane, he almost at once draws nearer to the Saviour he needs. For our Lord just now "went forward a little." There He is, on ahead of us all in experience! It is simply and wonderfully true of Jesus always, no matter how severe is the suffering into which for their discipline He leads His chosen, He Himself has taken His position in advance of them. No human lot was ever so forlorn, so grief-burdened, so desolate, as was that of the Great Life given to redeem it. No path ever reached so distantly into the region of heart trying agony as that it might not still see that peerless Christ of God "about a stone's cast" beyond it, kneeling in some deeper shadows of His own. No believer ever went so far into his lonely Gethsemane but that he found his Master had gone "a little farther."

"Christ did not send, but came Himself, to save;

The ransom price He did not lend, but gave;

Christ died, the Shepherd for the sheep, —

We only fall asleep."


1. Consider the High Priest of our profession (Hebrews 12:2-4). What good would it do to pray, if Christ's prayer was unsuccessful?

2. But was it answered? Certainly (Hebrews 5:7-9). The cup remained (John 18:11), but he got acquiescence (Matthew 26:42), and strength (Luke 22:43).

3. Have we been "with Him in the garden"? Then we have found a similar cup" (Mark 10:38, 39).

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

It is a delightful thing to be with Jesus on the mountain of transfiguration, where heavenly visitants are seen, and a heavenly voice is heard. It would seem good to be always there. But they who would follow Jesus through this earthly life, must be with Him also out on the stormy sea in the gloomy night; and again they must come with Him into the valley of the shadow of death. There are bright, glad clays to the Christian believer, when faith and hope and love are strong. But there are days also of trial and sorrow, when it seems as if faith must fail, and hope must die, and love itself must cease. It is one thing for a young couple to stand together in light and joy, surrounded by friends, at their marriage reception, or to share each other's pleasure on their wedding tour. It is quite another thing for a married pair to watch together through the weary night over a sick and suffering child, and to close the eyes of their darling in its death sleep, in the gray of the gloomy morning. Yet the clouds are as sure as the sunlight on the path of every chosen disciple of Jesus who follows his Master unswervingly; and he who never comes with Jesus to a place named Gethsemane has chosen for himself another path than that wherein the Saviour leads the way.

(H. Clay Trumbull.)

I. WITH REGARD TO THE POSITION OUR LORD WAS IN, HE STOOD THERE AS THE GREAT SIN BEARER. Here, beloved, we see what the burden was which our Lord bore: it was our sins.


(J. H. Evans, M. A.)

My life has been to me a mystery of love. I know that God's education of each man is in perfect righteousness. I know that the best on earth have been the greatest sufferers, because they were the best, and like gold could stand the fire and be purified by it. I know this, and a great deal more, and yet the mercy of God to me is such a mystery that I have been tempted to think I was utterly unworthy of suffering. God have mercy on my thoughts! I may be unable to stand suffering. I do not know. But I lay myself at Thy feet, and say, 'Not that I am prepared, but that Thou art good and wise, and wilt prepare me.'"

(Norman Macleod.)

Of all the smaller English missions, the Livingstone Congo stands conspicuous for its overflowing of zeal and life and promise; and of all its agents, young M'Call was the brightest; but he was struck down in mid-work. His last words were recorded by a stranger who visited him. Let each one of us lay them to our hearts. "Lord, I gave myself, body, mind, and soul, to Thee, I consecrated my whole life and being to Thy service; and now, if it please Thee to take myself, instead of the work which I would do for Thee, what is that to me? Thy will be done."

(R. N. Cust.)

It is beyond our power to ascertain the precise amount of suffering sustained by our Lord; for a mystery necessarily encircles the person of Jesus, in which two natures are combined. This mystery may ever prevent our knowing how His humanity was sustained by His divinity. Still, undoubtedly, the general representation of Scripture would lead to the conclusion, that though He was absolute God, with every power and prerogative of Deity, yet was Christ, as man, left to the same conflicts, and dependent on the same assistances as any of His followers. He differed, indeed, immeasurably, in that He was conceived without the taint of original sin, and therefore was free from our evil propensities: He lived the life of faith which He worked out for Himself, and He lived it to gain for us a place in His Father's kingdom. Although He was actually to meet affliction like a man, He was left without any external support from above. This is very remarkably shown by His agony in the garden, when an angel was sent to strengthen Him. Wonderful that a Divine person should have craved assistance, and that He did not draw on His own inexhaustible resources! But, it was as a man that He grappled with the powers of darkness — as a man who could receive no celestial aid. And, if this be a true interpretation of the mode in which our Lord met persecution and death, we must be right, in contrasting Him with martyrs, when we assert an immeasurable difference between His sufferings, and those of men who have died nobly for the truth: from Him the light of the Father's countenance was withdrawn, whilst unto them it was conspicuously displayed. This may explain why Christ was confounded and overwhelmed, where others had been serene and undaunted. Still, the question arises, — Why was Christ thus deserted of the Father? Why were those comforts and supports withheld from Him which have been frequently vouchsafed to His followers? No doubt it is a surprising as well as a piteous spectacle that of our Lord shrinking from the anguish of what should befall Him, whilst others have faced death, in its most frightful forms, with unruffled composure. You never can account for this, except by acknowledging that our Lord was no ordinary man, meeting death as a mere witness for truth, but that he was actually a sin offering; bearing the weight of the world's iniquities. His agony — His doleful cries — His sweating, as it were, great drops of blood; these are not to be explained on the supposition of His being merely an innocent man, hunted down by fierce and unrelenting enemies. Had He been only this, why should He be apparently so excelled in confidence and composure by a long line of martyrs and confessors? Christ wad more than this. Though He had done no sin, yet was He in the place of the sinful, bearing the weight of Divine indignation, and made to feel the terrors of Divine wrath. Innocent, He was treated as guilty! He had made Himself the substitute of the guilty — hence His anguish and terror. Bear in mind, that the sufferer who exhibits, as you might think, so much less of composure and firmness than has been evinced by many when called on to die for truth — bear in mind, that this sufferer has had a world's iniquity laid on His shoulders; that God is now dealing with Him as the representative of apostate man, and exacting from Him the penalties due to unnumbered transgressions; and you will cease to wonder though you may still almost shudder at words, so expressive of agony — "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death."

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

It is on the sufferings of the soul that we would fix your attention; for these, we doubt not, were the mighty endurances of the Redeemer — these pursued Him to His very last moments, until He paid the last fragment of our debts. You will perceive that it was in the soul rather than in the body that our blessed Saviour made atonement for transgression. He had put Himself in the place of the criminal, so far as it was possible for an innocent man to assume the position of the guilty; and standing in the place of the criminal, with guilt imputed to Him, He had to bear the punishment that misdeeds had incurred. You must be aware that anguish of the soul rather than of the body is the everlasting portion of sinners; and though, of course, we cannot think that our Lord endured precisely what sinners had deserved, for he could have known nothing of the stings and bodes of conscience beneath which they must eternally writhe, yet forasmuch as he was exhausting their curse — a curse which was to drive ruin into their soul as well as rack the body with unspeakable pain — we might well expect that the soul's anguish of a surety or substitute would be felt even more than the bodily: and that external affliction, however vast and accumulated, would be comparatively less in its rigour or accompaniments, than His internal anguish, which is not to be measured or imagined. This expectation is certainly quite borne out by the statements of Scripture, if carefully considered. Indeed it is very observable that when our Lord is set before us as exhibiting signs of anguish and distress there was no bodily suffering whatever — none but what was caused mentally. I refer, as you must be aware, to the scene in the garden, as immediately connected with our text, when the Redeemer manifested the most intense grief and horror, His sweat being as it were great drops of blood — a scene which the most callous can scarcely encounter: in this case there was no nail, no spear. Ay, though there was the prospect of the cross, there was hardly fear. It was the thought of dying as a malefactor, which so overcame the Redeemer, that He needed strength by an angel from heaven. That it was that wrung out the thrilling exclamation: "My soul is exceeding sorrowful." It is far beyond us to tell you what were the spiritual endurances which so distressed and bore down the Redeemer. There is a veil over the anguish of the incarnate God which no mortal hand may attempt to remove. I can only suppose that holy as He was — incapable of sinning in thought or deed — He had a piercing and overwhelming sense of the criminality of sin — of the dishonour which it attached to the world — of the ruin which it was bringing on man: He must have felt as no other being could, the mighty fearfulness of sin — linked alike with God and with man — the brethren of sinners, and the being sinned against. Who can doubt that, as He bore our transgressions in our nature, He must have been wounded as with a two-edged sword — the one edge lacerating Him as He was jealous of divine glory, and the other as He longed for human happiness? Though we cannot explain what passed in the soul of the Redeemer, we would impress on you the truth, that it was in the soul rather than in the body that those dire pangs were endured which exhausted the curse denounced against sin. Let not any think that mere bodily anguish went as an equivalent for the miseries and the tortures which must have been eternally exacted from every human being. It would take away much of the terribleness of the future doom of the impenitent, to represent those sufferings as only, or chiefly, bodily. Men will argue the nature of the doom, not the nature of the suffering capacity in its stead. And, certainly, a hell without mental agony, would be a paradise in comparison with what we believe to be the pandemonium, where the soul is the rack, and conscience the executioner. Go not away from Calvary, with thoughts of nothing but suffering a death by being nailed to a cross and left to expire after long torture! Go away, rather thinking of the horror which had taken hold of the soul of the forsaken sufferer; and as you carry with you a remembrance of the doleful spectacle, and smite your breasts at the thought of His piteous cry — a cry more startling than the crash of the earthquake that announced His death — lay ye to heart His unimaginable endurances which extort the cry: "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death."

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

It is this death — this travail of the soul, which from the beginning to the end of a Christian life is effecting or producing that holier creature which is finally to be presented without spot or wrinkle, meet for the inheritance of the saints in light. It is in the pangs of the soul, that he feels the renewing influence of the Holy Ghost, realized in the birth of the Christian character, who in any age of the world recovers the defaced image of his God. I think it gives a preciousness to every means of grace, thus to consider them as brought into being by the agonies of the Redeemer. It would go far, were this borne in mind, to defend it against the resistance or neglect, if it were impressed on you that there is not a single blessing of which you are conscious, that did not spring from this sorrow — this sorrow unto death of the Redeemer's soul. Could you possibly make light, as perhaps you now do, of those warnings and secret admonitions which come you know not whence, prompting you to forsake certain sins and give heed to certain duties, if you were impressed that it was through the very soul of the Redeemer being "exceeding sorrowful, even unto death," that there was obtained for you the privilege of access to God by prayer, or the having offers made to you of pardon and reconciliation? Do you think you could kneel down irreverently or formally, or that you could treat the ordinance of preaching as a mere human institution, in regard to which, it mattered little whether you were in earnest or not? The memory that Christ's soul travailed in agony to procure for you those blessings — which, because they are abundant, you may be tempted to underrate — would necessarily impart a preciousness to the whole. You could not be indifferent to the bitter cry; you could not look languidly on the scene as you saw the cross. This is a fact; it was only by sorrow — sorrow unto death of the Redeemer's soul — that any of the ordinary means of grace — those means that you are daily enjoying, have been procured. Will you think little of those means? Will you neglect them? Will you trifle with them? Will you not rather feel that what cost so much to buy, it must be fatal to despise? Neither, as we said, is it the worth only of the means of grace that you may learn from the mighty sorrow by which they were purchased; it is also your own worth, the worth of your own soul. When we would speak of the soul and endeavour to impress men with a sense of its value, we may strive to set forth the nature of its properties, its powers, its capacities, its destinies, but we can make very little way; we show little more than our ignorance, for search how we will the soul is a mystery; it is like Deity, of which it is the spark; it hides itself by its own light; and eludes by dazzling the inquirer. You will remember, that our Lord emphatically asked: "What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" It is implied in the question, that if the whole world were offered in barter — the world, with all its honours and its riches — he would be the veriest of fools who would consent to the exchange, and would be a loser to an extent beyond thought, in taking creation and surrendering his soul. Then I hear you say, "This is all a theory!" It may be so. "The world in one scale, is but a particle of dust to the soul in the other! We should like to see an actual exchange: this might assure us of the untold worth that you wish to demonstrate." And, my brethren, you shall see a human soul put on one side and the equivalent on the other. You shall see an exchange! Not the exchange — the foul exchange which is daily, ay, hourly! made — the exchange of the soul for a bauble, for a shadow; an exchange, which even those who make it would shrink from if they thought on what they were doing — would shrink from with horror, if they would know how far they are losers and not gainers by the bargain. The exchange we have to exhibit is a fair exchange. What is given for the soul is what the soul is worth. Come with us, and strive to gaze on the glories of the invisible God — He who has grieved in the soul, "for He emptied Himself, and made Himself of no reputation," that the soul might be saved! Come with us to the stable of Bethlehem! Come with us to Calvary! The amazing accumulation of which you are spectator — the fearful sorrow, on which you hardly dare to look — the agony of Him who had done no sin — the agony of Him who was the Lord of glory — the death of Him who was the Prince of Light — this was given for the soul; by this accumulation was redemption effected. Is there not here an exchange — an exchange actually made, with which we might prove it impossible to overrate the value of the soul? If you read the form of the question — "What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" you will see it implies that it is not within the empire of wealth to purchase the soul. But cannot this assume the form of another question — What would God give in exchange for the soul? Here we have an answer, not of supposition, but of fact: we tell you what God has given — He has given Himself.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

A minister, being asked by a friend, during his last illness, whether he thought himself dying, answered: "Really, friend, I care not whether I am or not. If I die, I shall be with God; and, if I live, God will be with me."

During the siege of Barcelona, in 1705, Captain Carleton witnessed the following affecting incident, which he relates in his memoirs: "I saw an old officer, having his only son with him, a fine young man about twenty years of age, going into their tent to dine. Whilst they were at dinner a shot took off the head of the son. The father immediately rose, and first looking down upon his headless child, and then lifting up his eyes to heaven, whilst the tears ran down his cheeks, only said, 'Thy will be done!'"

The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.
Two points specially claim our attention here.

I. THE COMMAND GIVEN — "Watch and pray."

1. Watch. The word is very simple. A physician watches a sick man. A porter watches a building. A sentinel watches on a city's wall.(1) To watch implies not to be taken up with other things.(2) To watch implies to expect the enemy's approach.(3) Watching also includes an examination of the points of attack. The physician will observe what course the disease is taking, what organs it is likely to touch. Thus he watches.

2. Pray.(1) This seems to refer to a habit of prayer. Not a wild cry in danger or sorrow.(2) Special prayer with reference to temptation is also implied. Prayer to be delivered from the presence of temptation, prayer for victory in temptation.


1. The two parts together form the safeguard. Watching supplies materials for prayer. Prayer makes watching effectual. To pray only is presumption. To watch only is to depend on self.

2. The command also suits us because of the enemy's subtlety. We need to discover his wiles by watching. We pray for wisdom to discern his specious assaults.

3. And because of our own weakness. (Compare vers. 29, 31, with 67, 68).

4. It is also suitable in consequence of our Lord's appointment. The battle is His. He appoints its laws. And He has said, "Watch and pray." The command speaks thus to true disciples. What does it say to those who are careless and unbelieving?

(W. S. Bruce, M. A.)

Christian World Pulpit.
Prayer is not only request made to God, but converse had with Him. It is the expression of desire to Him so as to supply it — of purpose so as to steady it — of hope so as to brighten it. It is the bringing of one's heart into the sunshine, so that like a plant, its inward life may thrive for an outward development." It is the plea of one's better self against one's weaker self. It utters despondency so that it may attain confidence. It is the expression and the exercise of love for all that is good and true. It is a wrestle with evil in the presence of Supreme Goodness. It is the ascent of the soul above time into the freedom of eternity.

(Christian World Pulpit.)

It seems as though there were no word so far reaching as the word "watch." Vigilance is the price of everything good and great in earth or heaven. It was for his faithful vigilance that the memory of the Pompeian sentinel is embalmed in poetry and recorded in history. Nothing but unceasing watchfulness can keep the heart in harmony with God's heart. It was a stormy, boisterous night. The dark clouds hung over us, and the wind came with tenfold fury. The sea roiled in mountains, and the proud ship seemed but a toy amid those tremendous billows. Far up on the mast, on the look out, the sailor was heard to cry, "An iceberg on the starboard bow." "An iceberg on the larboard bow!" The deck officer called to the helmsman, "Port the helm steadily!" and the sailors at the wheel heard and obeyed. The officers were aroused, for there was danger on board to three hundred precious souls. The captain spent a sleepless night, pacing the deck or cabin. Gigantic icebergs were coming against the vessel, and eternal vigilance was the price of our safety in that northern sea. And so it is all through human life.


Watching is never pleasant work; no soldier really likes it. Men prefer even the excitement and danger of the battlefield to the long weeks of patient vigilance, which nevertheless may do quite as much as a victorious battle to decide the issues of a campaign. Now it is just so in the spiritual war. The forces of civilization rendered our soldiers more than a match for all the barbarous courage of their swarthy foes, provided only by constant vigilance they were in a position to use those forces; and even so the omnipotence of God renders the true Christian more than a match for all the forces of hell, provided only he too is sufficiently vigilant to detect the approach of the foe, and sufficiently wise to confront him with the courage of faith when his approach is detected; but if he walks carelessly, or fails to exercise proper vigilance, the battle will be lost almost before the danger is realized, and Faith will forfeit her victory just because she was not ready to put forth all the supernatural powers that she may command. It is, alas! not an uncommon thing to meet with Christian souls that seem to know something of the life of faith, and yet, to their great surprise, find themselves overcome when they least expect it. We observe sometimes a certain tone of petulance in these admissions of failure, as if in their heart of hearts some sort of implication were cast upon the faithfulness of God, although they would shrink from expressing this in so many words. Now, clearly the cause of all such failures must lie with us, and it will be our wisdom to endeavour to discover it; while it is the worst of folly to charge God with unfaithfulness. What are we placed in this world for? Obviously that we may be trained and developed for our future position by exposure to the forces of evil. Were we so sheltered from evil as that there should be no need for constant watchfulness, we should lose the moral benefit which a habit of constant watchfulness induces. We know that it is a law of nature, that faculties which are never employed perish from disuse; and, on the other hand, faculties which are fully and frequently employed acquire a wonderful capacity. Is not this equally true in the spiritual world? We are being trained probably for high and holy service by-and-by, in which we shall need all those faculties that are now being quickened and trained by our contact with danger, and our exposure to apparently hostile conditions of existence. We are to be trained, by learning quickness of perception of danger here, to exercise quickness of perception in ministry and willing service yonder. Besides, Watchfulness continually provides opportunities for faith, and tends to draw us the closer, and keep us the closer, to Him by whom alone we stand. Were we to be so saved from evil by a single act, as that we should have no further need of Watchfulness, should we not lose much that now makes us feel our dependence on Him who is our constant safety? Have we not to thank God for the very daggers that constrain us to keep so near Him if we are to be safe at all? Let us point out what Watchfulness is not before we go on to consider what it is. And

I. WATCHFULNESS IS SOMETHING QUITE DISTINCT FROM NERVOUS TIMIDITY AND MORBID APPREHENSIVENESS — the condition of a man who sees an enemy in every bush, and is tortured by a thousand alarms and all the misgivings of unbelief. David did not show himself watchful, but faithless, when he exclaimed, "I shall now one day perish by the hands of Saul;" and we do not show ourselves watchful when we go on our way trembling, depressed with all sorts of forebodings of disaster. Let me offer a homely illustration of what I mean. I was amused the other day at hearing a soldier's account of a terrible fright that he had during the time of the Fenian scare a few years ago. It fell to his lot one dark night to act as sentinel in the precincts of an important arsenal, which it was commonly supposed might be the scene of a great explosion any night. The fortress was surrounded by a common, and was therefore easy to be approached by evil-disposed persons. The night, as I have said, was as dark as a night could be, and he was all alone, and full of apprehensions of danger. He stood still for a moment fancying he heard something moving near him, and then stepped backwards for a few paces, when he suddenly felt himself come into violent contact with something, which he incontinently concluded must be a crouching Fenian. "I was never so frightened," he said, "before or since in my life, and to tell you the truth, I fell sprawling on my back. Imagine my feelings when I found that the thing that had terrified me beyond all description was only a harmless sheep that had fallen asleep a little too near my beat." Now, dear friends, I think that this soldier's ridiculous, but very excusable, panic may serve to illustrate the experience of many timid, apprehensive Christians. They live in a state of chronic panic, always expecting to be assailed by some hostile influence, which they shall prove wholly incompetent to resist. If they foresee the approach of any circumstances that are likely to put their religion to a test, they at once make up their mind that fiasco and overthrow are inevitable; and when they are suddenly confronted by what seems an adverse influence, or promises to be a severe temptation, they are ready to give all up in despair. They forget that our Lord has taught us to take no anxious thought for the morrow, and has assured us that sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.

II. NOR AGAIN DOES WATCHFULNESS CONSIST IN MORBID INTROSPECTIVENESS, OR IN A DISPOSITION TO CHARGE OURSELVES WITH ALL SORTS OF IMAGINED FORMS OF EVIL. To their morbid sensibility everything has depravity in it; good and generous actions only spring from self-seeking; every natural affection is inordinate; every commonplace gratification a loving of pleasure rather than God. It is surely possible, believe me, dear Christian friends, to emulate the exploits of a Don Quixote in our religious life, and to run a tilt at any number of spiritual windmills, but this is not watchfulness. A clerical brother of mine, alarmed from his slumbers by a policeman who reported his church open, imagined that he had captured a burglar by the hair of his head in the tower of his church, when he had only laid violent hands in the darkness upon the church mop! It is quite possible to convert a mop into a burglar in our own spiritual experiences. Just once more let me ask you to bear in mind that Watchfulness does not consist in, and is not identical with, a severe affectation of solemnity, add a pious aversion to any. thing like natural mirth or cheerful hilarity. I have before my eyes at this moment the recollection of a dear and honoured brother, who, when something amusing had been related at his table, suddenly drew himself up when he was just beginning to join in the hearty laugh, and observed to me with much seriousness, "I am always afraid of losing communion by giving way to levity." I confess I admired the good man's conscientiousness, which I am sure was perfectly sincere, but I could not help thinking that he was confusing between sombreness and sobriety.

III. But having pointed out certain forms or habits of conduct which are not be mistaken for Watchfulness, though they often are, LET US PROCEED TO INQUIRE WHAT WATCHFULNESS IS; we have seen what it is not. And here it may be well to notice that two distinct words, or perhaps I should say sets of words, in the Greek, are translated in our version by the one word — watch. The one set of terms indicates the necessity of guarding against sleep, and the other the necessity of guarding against any form of moral intoxication and insobriety. Both these ideas are presented to us together in a single passage in the first Epistle to the Thessalonians: "Let us not sleep as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they who sleep sleep in the night: and they that be drunken are drunken in the night." Here the two dangers arising — the one from sleep, and the other from drunkenness — are brought before us at once; and the two words, which are each of them usually translated by the English word — watch, are employed to guard us against these dangers. "Let us watch and be sober." These dangers seem to be in some respects the opposites of each other — the one springs from heaviness and dullness of disposition, and the other from undue excitability. The one is the special danger incidental to monotonous routine and a dead level of quiet regularity, the other is the danger incidental to a life full of stir and bustle — a life where cares and pleasures, successes and failures, important enterprises and stunning disappointments, bringing with them alternating experiences of elation or depression, are only too apt to prove all-engrossing, and to exclude the vivid sense of eternal realities. The one danger will naturally specially threaten the man of phlegmatic temperament and equable disposition, the other will more readily assault the man whose nervous system is highly strung, whether he be of sanguine or melancholic habit. In the present passage the call to watch is coupled with the exhortation to pray, and similarly St. Peter warns us "to be sober and watch unto prayer." This suggests to us that Watchfulness needs first of all to be exorcised in the maintenance of our proper relations with God. If only these be preserved inviolate, everything else is sure to go well with us; but where anything like coldness settles down upon our relations with God, backsliding has already commenced, and unless it be checked we lie at the mercy of our foe. Oh, Christian soul, guard with jealous care against the first beginnings of listlessness and coldness and unreality in thine intercourse with God! Not less, perhaps even more, do we need to watch in the other sense which, as I have pointed out, the word bears in New Testament Scripture. Let us not only keep awake, but let us be sober. We need to remember that we are in an enemy's land, and that unless we are constantly breathing the atmosphere of heaven, the atmosphere of earth, which is all that we have left, soon becomes poisonous, and must produce a sort of moral intoxication. How often have I seen a Christian man completely forget himself under the influence of social excitement! But I hasten to say, Do not let us fall into the mistake of supposing that it is only the light-hearted and the pleasure loving that need to be warned against the danger of becoming intoxicated by worldly influences. The cares and even the occupations of life may have just as deleterious an effect upon us in this respect as the pleasures. Many a man of business is just as much intoxicated with the daily excitements arising from the fluctuations of the market or of the Stock Exchange, and just as much blinded to higher things by the absorbing interests connected with money making or money losing as the votary of pleasure can be at the racecourse or in the ballroom. Yet again, Watchfulness is to be shown not only in maintaining our relations with God, in resisting any disposition to be drowsy, and in guarding against the intoxicating influence of worldly excitement; it is also to be shown in detecting the first approach of temptation, or the first uprisings of an unholy desire. The careful general feels his enemy by his scouts, and thus is prepared to deal with him when the attack takes place. Even so temptation may often be resisted with ease when its first approach is discerned; but it acquires sometimes an almost irresistible power, if it be allowed to draw too near. But I spoke a few moments ago of the importance of watching, not only against the beginning of temptation without, but also against any disposition to make terms with temptation within. Here, I am persuaded, lies, in most instances, the secret cause of failure. Balaam was inwardly hankering after the house full of silver and gold at the very moment when he affected to despise it. But there is a danger on the other side, against which we have to guard with equal watchfulness. And it is the danger of incipient self-complacency.

(W. H. Aitken.)

It is the interest of every man not to hide from himself his ailment. What would you think of a man who was sick, and attempted to make himself believe that it was his foot that was ailing, when it was his heart? Suppose a man should come to his physician and have him examine the wrong eye, and pay for the physician's prescription, founded on the belief that his eye was slightly but not much damaged, and should go away, saying, "I am a great deal happier than I was," although the doctor had not looked at the diseased eye at all? If a man should have a cancer, or a deadly sore, on one arm, and should refuse to let the physician see that, but should show him the well arm, he would imitate what men do who use all deceits and delusions to hide their moral sores and weaknesses and faults, as far as possible, from themselves, from all persons, and then congratulate themselves that they are not in danger. Watchfulness requires that a man should be honest, and should know where he is, and where his danger is. Let others set their watch where they need it, and you set yours where you need it. Each man's watchfulness should be according to his temperament and constitution.

(H. W. Beecher.)

Undoubtedly this is a military figure; although watching may be a domestic figure, ordinarily it is military. A tower, a castle, a fort, is not content with simply the strength of its walls, and its various defences. Sentinels are placed all round about it, and they walk both night and day, and look out on every side to descry any approaching danger, that the soldiers within may put themselves at once in a condition to receive attack. Still more are a moving army watchful, whether upon the march or in the camp. They throw out advanced guards. The picket line is established by night and by day. Men are set apart to watch on purpose that no enemy may take them unawares; that they may constantly be prepared for whatever incursion the chances of war may bring upon them. It is here taken for granted that we are making a campaign through life. The assumption all the way through is, that we are upon an enemy's ground, and that we are surrounded, or liable to be surrounded, with adversaries who will rush in upon us, and take us captive at unawares. We are commanded, therefore, to do as soldiers do, whether in fort or in camp — to be always vigilant, always prepared.

(H. W. Beecher.)

Your excess of disposition, your strength of passion, and your temptableness are not the same as your neighbour's. Therefore it is quite foolish for you to watch as your neighbour watches. Every man must set his watch according to his own disposition, and know his own disposition better than anybody else knows it. If a fort is situated so that the weakest side is on the east, the commander, if he is wise, will set his watch there. He says, "I believe that if I defend this point, nothing can do me any harm," and sets his watch there. But suppose the commander of a fort, whose weak place was on the west side, should put his force all on the other side! If he would defend his fort successfully, he should put his soldiers where it is weak. Here is a man who watches against pride; but your temptation is on the side of vanity. It will not do for you to watch against pride, because pride is not your besetting sin. There is many a man who flatters himself, that because his neighbour has corrected his faults by gaining a victory over pride, all he himself needs to do is to gain a victory over pride. He has no difficulty in that, because he is not tempted in his pride. It is very easy to watch against an enemy that does not exist. It is very easy to gain a victory where there is no adversary.

(H. W. Beecher.)

Every man should know what are the circumstances, the times, and the seasons in which he is liable to sin. To make this matter entirely practical, there are a great many who neglect to watch until the proper time and seasons for watching have passed away. Suppose your fault is of the tongue? Suppose your temper takes that as a means of giving itself air and explosion? With one man it is when he rises in the morning, and before breakfast he is peculiarly nervous and susceptible. It is then that he is irritable. It is then that things do not look right. And it is then that his tongue, as it were, snaps, and throws off sparks of fire. With another man it is at evening, when he is jaded, and wearied with the care and labour of the day. He has emptied himself of nervous excitement, and left only excitability. And then is the time when he is liable to break down in various ways. Men must set their watch at the time when the enemy is accustomed to come. Indians usually make their attack at three or four o'clock in the morning, when men sleep soundest; and that is the time to watch against Indians. There is no use of doing it at ten o'clock in the morning. They do not come then. If it be when you are sick that you are most subject to malign passions, then that is the time when you must set your watch. Or, if it be when you are well that the tide of blood swells too feverishly in you, then that is the time when you must set your watch. If, at one time of the day more than another, experience has shown that you are liable to be tempted, then in that part of the day you must be on your guard. Everybody has his hours, his times and seasons, and his circumstances; and every man should learn them for himself; and every man should set his watch then and there. And frequently, by watching at the right time, you can easily carry yourself over all the rest of the day.

(H. W. Beecher.)

There is such a thing as dallying with temptation. Many a maiden will insensibly, and step by step, allow herself to be led to things that, if not wrong, are yet so near it that they lie in its very twilight and she is all the time excusing to herself such permissions and such dalliance, Baying, "I do not intend to do wrong; I shall in due time recover myself." There is many a man who takes the serpent into his hand, because it is lithe', and graceful, and burnished, and beautiful, and plays with that which in some unguarded moment will strike him with its poison fangs; and it is poor excuse, when this dalliance has led him to the very edge of temptation, and has struck the fatal poison into him, for him to say, "I did not mean to." The mischief is done. The damnation is to come. And it is poor comfort to say, "I did not mean to." Pass by it; come not near it; keep far from it, and then you will be safe. But it is not safe for innocent, or inexperienced, or unconscious, or Inconsiderate virtue, to go, by dalliance, near to things that carry in them the very venom of Satan. What should you think of a man who, coming down to New York, should say, "I have had quite an experience this morning. I have been up to one of the shambles where they were butchering; and I saw them knock down oxen, and saw them cut their throats, and saw the blood flow in streams from the great gashes. I spent a whole half-day there, looking at men killing, and killing, and killing." What would you say of a man who said, "I have been crawling through the sewers under the street; for I want to know what is at the bottom of things in this city?" What kind of curiosity would that be? What would you think of a man who went where he could see the offal of hospitals and dissecting rooms, and went wallowing in rottenness and disease, because he wanted to increase his knowledge of things in general? And yet, here are men who take things more feculent, more fetid, more foul, more damnable and dangerous — the diseases, the ulcers, the sores, and the filth of the appetites and the passions; and they will go wading and looking at things that a man should shut his eyes on if they were providentially thrown before him. Why, there are some things that it is a sin to look at twice. And yet there are men who hunt them up! Then again, there are men who live so near to cheating that, though they do not mean to cheat, circumstances cannot bend them without pushing them over. There are many men who are like an apple tree in my garden, whose trunk and roots, and two-thirds of the branches, are in the garden, and one-third of whose branches are outside of the garden wall. And there are many men whose trunk and roots are on the side of honesty and uprightness, but who are living so near the garden wall that they throw their boughs clear over into the highway where iniquities tramp, and are free. It is never safe for a man to run so near to the line of right and wrong, that if he should lose a wheel he would go over. It is like travelling on a mountain road near a precipice. You should keep so far from the precipice, that if your waggon breaks down there is room enough between you and the precipice. Otherwise, you cannot be safe.

(H. W. Beecher.)

And prayed, and spake the same words.
We may learn from this what we are to do in time of distress and affliction; we are not only to go to God by prayer for help, comfort, and deliverance; but we are to go to Him again and again: yea, often to call upon Him, and seek to Him in our distress, to be instant and importunate with Him; and so to continue as long as the affliction presses us.

I. PRAYER IS A DUTY AND SERVICE WHICH WE OWE TO GOD AND WHICH WE OUGHT CONSTANTLY TO PERFORM IN OBEDIENCE TO HIS WILL COMMANDING IT, though otherwise we should reap no benefit by it to ourselves, nor even obtain the things we ask. And here the very doing of our duty in uprightness of heart must comfort us (2 Corinthians 1:12).

II. Although God does not at once grant our petitions, YET HE TAKES NOTICE OF OUR PRAYERS AND IS WELL PLEASED WITH THEM.


1. To exercise and try our faith, hope, patience, and obedience in waiting upon Him.

2. To make us more fervent in prayer.

3. That the things we have asked, being for a time delayed, may be the more prized by us when we get them.

IV. THE REASON WHY GOD DOES NOT HEAR US AT FIRST, or so soon as we desire, may be and often is in ourselves, viz., IN THE FAULTINESS OF OUR PRAYERS. Either we ask such things as God does not see fit for us to obtain, and then it is a mercy in Him to deny them to us; or else we ask not in due manner, we pray not in faith, or not with such feeling and fervour as we ought; or else we are living in some sin unrepented of, which hinders the fruit of our prayer (James 4:2, 3; James 5:16; Psalm 66:18).

V. Though God has promised to hear our prayers, and to grant our petitions, so far as is good for us, and is according to His will; YET HE WILL NOT HAVE US LIMIT HIM A TIME in which to do so: nor is it fit for us so to do, but we are to wait His leisure, convinced that by so doing we shall lose nothing (Isaiah 28:16; Psalm 40:1).


1. By giving us the things we ask. Hannah, a child; Solomon, wisdom etc.

2. By giving us something as good, or better for us than that we ask; e.g. patience in time of trouble, and strength to bear it (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

3. By giving us inward comfort, by and in our prayers, and after them (Psalm 35:13).

4. By accepting our prayers as a service pleasing to Him. Now although God often delays to hear us the first way, yet He always hears us one of these ways, and that as soon as we pray to Him, if we pray in due manner, and as we ought; which being so, must encourage us to persevere, and hold out in prayer, when we do not immediately obtain those petitions which we ask of God.

(George Petter.)

Hence we may gather, that it is lawful for us to use a set form of prayer: not only to ask the same petitions of God in effect and substance of matter at sundry times, but also in the same form of words, or well near the same: yea, that this may be done even in private prayer alone by ourselves, for such was this prayer now made by our Saviour. And if in private prayer alone by ourselves (where usually more liberty may be taken to vary the form of words in our prayers), then much more when we pray with others, especially in public, it must needs be lawful to use a set form of words, and to ask the same petitions in the same words. Our Saviour taught His disciples a set form of prayer, which is that we call the Lord's Prayer, appointing both them and us to use it in the very same form of words in which it is framed (Luke 11:2)...And what are sundry of David's Psalms, but set forms of prayer, used by the Church in those times?...The Church of God has always used set forms of prayer in public and solemn meetings, nor was the lawfulness of this practice ever questioned till of late times by Anabaptists, Brownists, and such like.

(George Petter.)

He found them asleep.
Christian Journal.
The most violent passion and excitement cannot keep even powerful minds from sleep; Alexander the Great slept on the field of Arbela, and Napoleon upon that of Austerlitz. Even stripes and torture cannot keep off sleep, as criminals have been known to give way to it on the rack. Noises, which at first serve to drive it away, soon become indispensable to its existence; thus a stagecoach, stopping to change horses, wakes all the passengers. The proprietor of an iron forge, who slept close to the din of hammers, forges, and blast furnaces, would wake if there was any interruption to them during the night, and a sick miller, who had his mill stopped on that account, passed sleepless nights until the mill resumed its usual noise. Homer, in his Iliad, elegantly represents sleep as overcoming all men, and even the gods, except Jupiter alone.

(Christian Journal.)

Sleep on now and take your rest.
1. The first thought suggested by this text is that the Son of Man may even now be betrayed into the hands of sinners. Men are apt to imagine that had they lived in the time of Christ they would not thus and thus have treated Him. But they who despise Him unseen would have spurned Him to His face. The enemies of Christ's Church are the enemies of Christ. Even in our own day Christ may be betrayed. He may be betrayed by His own disciples. The disposition to surrender Him to enemies may still exist; a disposition to secure the favour of the world at His expense. In this sense, for example, it may well be said that the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners when the truth respecting Him is given up to errorists, or cavillers, or infidels; when His divinity is called in question; when His eternal Sonship is degraded or denied; when the sinless perfection of His human nature is tainted by the breath of dubious speculation; when His atonement is disfigured or perverted; when the value of His cross and bloody passion is depreciated; when His place in the system of free grace is taken from Him and bestowed on something else. To mention one other example; Christ is betrayed into the hands of sinners when His gospel is perverted; His example dishonoured; and Himself represented as the Minister of sin. O Christian! have you ever thought that every inconsistent and unworthy act of yours is one step towards be. fraying Him whom you profess to love?

2. Another thought which I suggest is, that when the cause of Christ is about to be betrayed into the hands of sinners, His disciples are to watch unto prayer, lest they enter into temptation.

3. Another thought, and that a melancholy one, is, that when Christ's disciples are thus left to watch, whilst He is interceding with the Father, they too often fall asleep. Some, in the touching language of the gospel, may be "sleeping for sorrow." But oh! how many others sleep for sloth and spiritual indifference. It is no time to sleep. The Church, Christ's weeping bride, and the dying souls of men are at your pillow, shrieking in your ears, like the shipmaster in the ears of Jonah, "What meanest thou, O sleeper? Arise; call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not."

4. But, alas! this warning voice is often heard in vain. Amidst a world lying in wickedness, amidst the untold miseries produced by sin, amidst the fierce attacks of open enemies on the Son of Man, His friends, His chosen friends, sleep on. And that sleep would prove to be the sleep of death, if we had not an High Priest who can be touched with the sense of our infirmities, and when He sees us thus asleep, comes near and arouses us. There may be some before me now, who, though sincere believers, have been overcome by sleep. Your senses and your intellects may be awake, your conscience has its fitful starts and intervals of wakefulness when scared out of its slumbers by terrific dreams. But your affections are asleep. You hear the gospel, but it is like the drowsy lull of distant waters, making sleep more sound; you see its light, but with your eyelids closed, and so subdued is its splendour that it only soothes the sense and deepens its repose. If this is your experience, I appeal to you, and ask you whether, even in this dreamy state, you have not felt the gentle hand of Christ at times upon you. Has not your house been visited by sickness? But it is not only in personal afflictions that the Saviour rouses you. Have you not felt His hand in public trials? Have you not felt it in the trials of the Church? Have you had no signal mercies since you fell asleep? Besides the voice of personal afflictions, and of public trials, and of private mercies, there is a voice in public mercies too. But when our Lord had for the third time fallen prostrate and arisen, when He came a third time to His friends, and found them sleeping, He no longer expostulated; He no longer asked whether they could not watch with Him one hour. There is something far more awful in this mild but significant permission to sleep on, than in all the invectives or reproofs He could have uttered. "Sleep on henceforth, and take your rest." That this may not prove to be indeed the case, we must arise and call upon our God; we must come up to the help of the Lord against the mighty. But, oh! remember, that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal. When the presumptuous Simon was at last aroused, and saw his Master's danger, he thought to atone by violence for past neglect. And many a modern Simon does the same. When once aroused they draw the sword of fiery fanaticism. But is there no danger from an opposite direction? Is it any consolation that the sword is in its scabbard, if the bearers of the sword are fast asleep instead of watching?

(J. A. Alexander, D. D.)

He that betrayeth Me is at hand.
I. WE SEE IN HIM WHAT RELIGIOUS PRIVILEGES AND ADVANTAGES IT IS POSSIBLE TO ENJOY AND YET BE DESTITUTE OF VITAL PIETY. How impressively does the fatal example of Judas admonish the hearers of the gospel, the members of Christian churches, and especially the junior members of Christian families. Value your privileges, but do not rest in them. Improve them, profit by them; but do not confide in them. Say not, "We have Abraham to our father;" "the temple of the Lord are we."

II. WE SEE IN JUDAS WHAT MELANCHOLY CONSEQUENCES THE INDULGENCE OF ONE SINFUL PROPENSITY MAY INVOLVE. Most men have some easily besetting sin; some propensity which is more powerful, some passion which more readily than others overcomes them. Let the young, especially, endeavour to ascertain what that is, each in his own case. The besetting sin of Judas was avarice. Notwithstanding his association with that purest, loveliest one, whose peerless elevation of character and disinterested benevolence appeared in all He said and did, Judas caught no portion of his magnanimity; there was in him none of the nobleness of mind which distinguished His master. His was always a mean, sordid, grovelling spirit. He was one of those grubs with whom you sometimes meet in society, who will do anything, bear anything, sacrifice anything for money; who have no idea of worth but wealth; who reverence none but those who bear the bag; whose reverence increases as the purse distends; if, indeed, they do not envy still more than they reverence even these. You may know them by their gait. There is always something low, shuffling, tortuous, sinister in their looks, and in their movements. They have generally one hand in the pocket, fingering about their silver or their copper gods. Their eyes are almost always cast on the ground, as Milton saw that Mammon, the meanest of all the devils, had his eye fixed on the golden pavement of the nether world. But though his besetting sin was avarice, Judas does not seem to have been aware of it, or he did not watch against it; and, as it often happens, he was placed in a situation which tended to draw it out, and to strengthen it. He was the treasurer of the little society with which he was connected. He kept the bag, and had the management of their pecuniary matters. His hand was often in that money bag; his eye was almost constantly upon it; and his heart was always with it. The melancholy effect of this was, that avarice soon grew into thievishness; the temptations presented by his office, though in themselves exceedingly trifling, were too powerful for his avaricious propensities to resist. What an idea of the character of Judas, this transaction gives us! — Of his meanness, his low, sordid avarice! This is seen in the paltry sum which he agreed to take as a sufficient recompense for so foul a deed. For a few pieces of silver he would deliberately clothe himself with everlasting shame. — Of his hardness of heart. This is seen in the time during which he maintained his resolution. This fearful deed was not done in the hurry of a moment; it was a deliberate act, it was Wednesday when he made the agreement with the chief priests; it was Friday morning before it was carried into execution. During that time he repeatedly saw his Lord. How could he meet His eye? He was present at the last supper; and when Jesus said, "One of you shall betray Me," he inquired, as welt as the rest, "Is it I?" His callousness appears also in the manner in which he betrayed the Redeemer — with the very token of affection; and he did it in the presence of his brethren. Lord, what is man? Such were some of the melancholy consequences of indulging, instead of watching against and subduing, his easily besetting sin. To derive from his example the instruction it is calculated to yield, we must endeavour to enter into his views and feelings; to understand how he felt and how he reasoned. A remark or two may assist us here. It is evident we observe, in the first place, that he had not the slightest apprehension of the serious consequences of his treachery. It was not his wish to inflict any pain on the Redeemer, or to do Him any injury; and nothing was farther from his thoughts than that he was delivering Him up to death. He was not a cruel monster who thirsted for human blood, and laughed at human woe. He belonged not to the savages of the French revolution, nor to the ferocious men of our own country, whose deliberate murders attained for them considerable notoriety some few years since. He was a poor despicability, who loved money above all things, and cared not to what meanness he submitted in order to secure it; but he had no sympathy with deeds of cruelty and blood. It would appear that he was as fully persuaded of the Messiahship of Jesus as any of the apostles; but in exact proportion to the strength of this conviction would be his confidence that Jesus could not suffer; as in common with the rest of his nation, he believed that the Christ would continue forever. It is also possible that, in making the offer to deliver his Master into the hands of the chief priests and rulers, he may have been influenced in some measure by resentment. While at supper in the house of Simon the leper, a pious woman anointed our Lord with very precious ointment. This conduct was censured by Judas and his brethren as an act of useless prodigality, but was vindicated and commended by our Lord as an act of piety which should receive honourable mention wherever the gospel was known. This incident may have greatly displeased Judas, for he appears to have gone directly from the house of Simon to the palace of the high priest; and it is not impossible that, in taking this step, avarice was quickened by resentment. But, as we bare repeatedly intimated, the prevailing motive was love of money By the habitual indulgence of his avariciousness, he had become the blind slave of that sordid passion. All generosity of sentiment, all nobility of mind, all sense of integrity and honour, had become extinct. In our own day persons have been known to perpetrate, with their own hands, the most atrocious murders under the sole influence of cupidity. It was not that their victims had done anything to offend them; it was not that they regarded them with any feelings of hostility; and yet they watched them carefully for successive days, drew them into their meshes, and then deliberately, and without the slightest compunction, murdered them. Like Judas, they did it for what they could get by it; and, in some instances, the wages of their iniquity were not greater than his. It is, we believe, an undeniable fact, that certain persons, well known to those who require their services, and to others connected with them, may be hired at any time, in the metropolis of England, for half-a-crown, deliberately to perjure themselves. It is not that they have any interest in the ease, or that they have any wish to injure one party, or to benefit another; like Judas, they do it simply for what they can get by it. These illustrations, it must be confessed, are taken from the very dregs of society — the lowest depths of social degradation. But if we look to higher regions, we shall find illustrations in abundance, and of a character scarcely less affecting. It is, we believe, a fact, that there are persons employed in Christian England in casting idols for the Indian market. Christian people make these gods and ship them out to India for sale. There they work amongst the teeming millions of that vast continent, deceiving, degrading, destroying the souls of men. It is not that these idol makers have any faith in the gods which they make; it is not that they have any interest in the prevalence of idolatry, or any wish that it should continue to curse the world; as in the case of Judas, their only object is what they can get by it. Take, for instance, the case when a question of vital interest is agitated, the constituency of the country is appealed to, the happiness of millions is involved in the issue, and how do many of our electors act? Some do not concern themselves in the least about the merits of the question; but make it known that their suffrages are in the market, and that the highest bidder may secure them Others have their opinions, but lures are presented, promises are made if they will vote in opposition to their convictions; and they do it. They thus sacrifice what they believe to be the truth, and the best interests of their country, at the shrine of mammon. It is not that they hate their fellow men: it is not that they wish to injure their country; but they act as Judas did; he sold his Master for thirty pieces of silver, and they sell their country for what they can get for it. Very much of this spirit is found amongst professedly religious people. Many are influenced in their selection of the place of worship they attend, or the church they join, chiefly by the prospect of gain which it holds out to them. If there be in a congregation one or two wealthy and benevolent families, you are almost sure to find many there; some because it is respectable, and others because there is something to be got by it. We once heard a Christian pastor relate the following: — N.S. and his wife were members of the church at — ; they avowed great attachment to the church, and great affection for the pastor, from whose ministry they professed to derive much good. They removed on account of business to some distance, where they had the advantage of attending a very faithful ministry and of associating with a united flock. But that church was not like their own; it was not home to them, and the preaching was not like that of their minister. Often did they come a considerable distance, and at no small inconvenience, to enjoy the privilege of a Sabbath day amongst their own friends. After some time they were brought back again to their old neighbourhood; and now everything was so delightful — Sabbaths, week-day services, intercourse with friends — it was all so good. A few months passed away, and it was observed that N.S. and his wife had lost much of the ardour of their zeal, and had grown slack in their attendance. Their pastor called on them one day to inquire of their welfare. N.S. seemed low, and had very little to say; he did remark, however, that he had received very little encouragement from his own friends and fellow members in the way of business, but that Mr. L.T. (a leading man in another community) had been very kind to him, that his bill for the last quarter amounted to the sum of £ — . A word to the wise is enough. The minister remarked when he left the house, "The bait has taken; N.S. will soon find some pretext for leaving us, and will go over to the — ." And so it was. Oh, Judas, thou art not dead; thy spirit lives, and works amongst us in ten thousand ways. "Every man looketh for his gain from his quarter."

III. THE CHARACTER OF JUDAS IS STILL FURTHER INSTRUCTIVE TO US, AS IT SHOWS HOW DEEPLY MEN MAY SORROW FOR SIN AND YET BE DESTITUTE OF GENUINE CONTRITION. We remark further that the repentance of Judas led him to make every reparation in his power. His sorrow was sincere, inward, deep; and he did not keep it to himself. Judas not only confessed his sin, but he also honoured, publicly honoured Him who suffered through his treachery; "I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood." And this is not all; Judas not only honoured the Redeemer who suffered through his treachery, but he also threw back the wages of iniquity: "He cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed." The price of innocent blood he could hold no longer. This indicates a great change in his views and feelings. His repentance, therefore, seems not only to come exceedingly near to that which is spiritual and saving, but absolutely to include its great elements.

(J. J. Davies.)

The career of Judas is simply —

I. AN EXAMPLE OF THE MEANING OF TEMPTATION. Man is under no iron law which compels him to sin. He does as he does, not because he has to, but because he wills to. The stress of habit may become desperate, but it is the sinner's own act that has brought him into such a state. So it was with Judas. Intelligently, deliberately had he leaned the whole weight of his obdurate heart against that door of mercy which the Saviour would have opened to him. In the very face of his destiny, with its notes of doom sounding louder and louder, like the peals of distant bells as one approaches the town, he went straight on to his deed. In selfishness and avarice he has cherished base suggestions, till they fastened their ruinous hold upon him. A pilferer, grown to be a thief, soon became a monster, balancing an innocent life against thirty denarii.

II. THE SOCIETY OF THE WORTHY DOES NOT INSURE LIKENESS TO THEM. The lion will crave blood wherever he is, and the buzzard be scenting carrion in every breeze. There is no salvation in friendships. There may be restraints, there is no certainty.

III. TREACHERY ALWAYS FAILS TO MAKE GOOD ITS PLEDGES. Falseness never pays. Judas was promptly given his price; but with it a burden, whose nature he little divined at the first. So long as he must carry this, his treasure was cankered. He thought by giving it back to find relief; but none was there. He could not imagine he should soon be seeking to hang himself, rather than prolong the moments that he might enjoy abundance. Whatever our infidelity, whether financial or social or religious, we must reap as we have sown. Condemnation is certain. There is only One whose voice can silence it. Confession of Him means everything. Betrayal of Him involves the loss of all hope and well-being. Repentance may not be possible for such. Repentance would have sent the guilty out by himself to weep bitterly; but remorse could find no stopping place short of the halter.

(De Witt S. Clark.)

1. Observe here Christ's meekness. He requires us to submit to the blows of our enemies. He submitted even to their kiss. How gracious the self-control that could allow such a liberty!

2. Apostasy should be very earnestly guarded against. When we fall, we fall not merely to the level we left, but to one much lower.

3. The very manner in which Christ was betrayed commends Him and condemns Judas. For is not the kiss itself an acknowledgment that love and homage were the things to which the Saviour was entitled? And if his act admits Christ's worth, how self-condemned he stands for practising treason against One whose right is love.

4. The cause of Christ is frequently betrayed still, with a kiss. Deadly attacks on it often contain complimentary acknowledgments of its worth. Sometimes the wicked life can adopt a bearing of punctilious respectfulness to everything religious.

(R. Glover.)

Natural, domestic, and home-bred enemies, are of all other the most hurtful and dangerous enemies of Christ and of His Church. I say, of Christ and of His Church, because there is the same reason of both; for such as are enemies of Christ, are also enemies of His Church, and so on the contrary. Judas was the worst and most dangerous enemy of all those that came to apprehend our Saviour; he did more than all the rest toward the effecting of this wicked plot against Christ; he was a guide to them all, and the very ringleader in this enterprize. He had opportunity and means to do that against our Saviour, which all the rest without him could not have done; that is, to entrap and betray Him. He knew the place where our Saviour used to resort, and at what time usually; he knew where and when to find Jesus, viz., in the garden at Gethsemane (John 18:2). Besides, he being so well acquainted with Him, was better able than all the rest of the company to discern our Saviour, and to descry Him from all others in the dark. And, lastly, he by reason of his familiarity with Christ, might have access to Him to salute Him with a kiss (as the manner of those times was), and to betray Him. So that by all this it appears that Judas, being one of our Saviour's own disciples, was in that respect the most dangerous enemy to our Saviour of all those who came to take Him. And as it was with Christ the Head of the Church, so is it with the Church itself, and all true members of it. Their worst and most dangerous enemies are commonly intestine and home-bred enemies, which he hid amongst them, and are near them in outward society, and join in outward profession with them. These are usually worse than open and professed enemies, who are out of the Church. In the times of the Old Testament, the false prophets and counterfeit priests, and other close hypocrites which arose and sprang up in the Church itself, did more harm in it than the open and professed enemies of God's people. So in the time of the New Testament, the false apostles, heretical teachers, and false brethren, did more hurt the Church than cruel tyrants and open persecutors of the Church. As Luther used to say, "Tyrants are bad, heretics worse, but false brethren worst of all." As they are commonly most malicious, so they have most opportunity to do hurt. And as ii is in the Church of Christ in general, so also in Christian families (which are, or ought to be, as little churches), commonly a man's worst and most dangerous enemies are those of his own house, if it so fall out that these turn against him.

(George Petter.)

We may see in Judas a true pattern and lively image of hypocritical, false, and counterfeit Christians, who make a show of love to Christ, and of honouring Him, when in reality they are enemies and despisers of Him. These salute Christ by calling Him, "Master, Master," and by kissing Him; and yet betray Him, at one and the same time, as Judas did. Many such dissembling and hypocritical Christians there are, and always have been, in the Church.

1. Such as make outward show of holiness and religion in their conduct before men, and yet live in secret sins unrepented of. These by their outward show of holiness seem to kiss and embrace Christ, but by their unreformed lives betray Him (Matthew 23:28; 2 Timothy 3:5).

2. Such as profess Christ and the gospel of Christ, and yet live profanely, wickedly, loosely, or scandalously, to the dishonour of Christ's name, and the disgrace of the gospel which they profess, causing it to be evil spoken of (Luke 6:46; Romans 2:24).

3. Such as pretend love to religion, and yet are secret enemies to it at heart, seeking to undermine it.

4. Such as make show of love to good Christians, but oppose them underhand and seek to bring them into trouble and disgrace (Galatians 2:4; 2 Corinthians 11:26). Let us take heed we be not in the number of these false-hearted Christians; and to this end we have need diligently to examine ourselves, touching the truth and sincerity of our love to Christ and His members, and whether our hearts be sincere and upright in the profession of Christ's name and truth. Also, whether our life and practice be answerable to the profession we make; for, otherwise, we are no better than Judas, kissing Christ and yet betraying Him. We speak much against Judas, and many cry out against him for his treachery in betraying Christ with a kiss; but take heed we be not like unto him, and as bad as he, or worse in some respect.

(George Petter.)

I. THE PERSON. Judas: praise. One of the chosen twelve. Our Lord must have foreseen this when He called him. The call of Judas facilitated fulfilment of Scripture. Called "the traitor" (Luke 6:16); "son of perdition" (John 17:12). Avaricious; dishonest in choice of means for securing what he may have deemed a lawful end.

II. THE MOTIVE. Various motives have been imputed.

1. Sense of duty in bringing Jesus to justice. But consider Acts 4:15, 23; Acts 5:27-40; where the high priests, etc., are silent when they might have repeated the charges of Judas. Especially note Matthew 27:4.

2. Resentment (comp. Matthew 26:8-17; John 12:4, 5). But two days elapsed before the deed was executed. Resentment would have subsided.

3. Avarice (Matthew 26:15). But had this been the chief motive, he would surely have bargained for a larger sum, and not have sold his Master for less than £4, as he did, nor would he afterwards have returned it.

4. Ambition (consider John 7:31; Matthew 16:16; Matthew 19:28), by some thought to be the true motive. To him Jesus was King. He would force Jesus to declare Himself. If Jesus were made a king, what might not he (Judas) become? He knew the power of Jesus, and thought that, at the worst, Jesus would escape from danger (Luke 6:30; John 8:59; John 10:39), hence Matthew 26:48 was ironical. He believed the Messiah would never die (John 12:34). Contrast the ambition of Judas with the lesson of humility he had heard.

5. Demoniacal possession (John 13:27).

III. THE TIME. Significant — the Feast of Passover. Type and anti-type. Multitudes at Jerusalem. Witnesses of these things (Acts 2:5-36). Many had beheld His miracles and heard of His fame in other parts. Night — a fit time for a dark deed (John 3:19).

IV. THE MANNER — a kiss. Perhaps Judas was sincere, after all, and meant this as a friendly act to force Jesus into an avowal of His kingship. If so, then one may be wrong though sincere, and mere sincerity will not save (Proverbs 16:25).


1. To Judas.

2. To Jesus.

3. To ourselves.Learn —

1. God maketh the wrath of man to praise Him.

2. Official standing, a power for evil in the hands of the unprincipled and ignorant.

3. Shows of friendship may be tricks of treason (Proverbs 27:6).

4. Seek to be not only sincere, but right.

5. The fulfilment of Scripture, a proof of the Messiahship of Christ.

6. If He be the only and true Saviour, have we accepted Him?

(J. Comper Gray.)

I. THE TIME OF CHRIST'S APPREHENSION. "While He yet spake." The Saviour was preparing Himself by fasting and prayer. He was exhorting and strengthening His disciples against the scandal of the cross. Now He was determined to be taken. Note here the incomprehensible providence of God, in that all the powers of the world could not apprehend Him till this time.


1. His name. A good name; signifying blessing or praise. Yet what a wretch was he! what a discredit to his name!

2. His office. One of twelve. A disciple turned traitor.(1) Christ had admitted him not His presence only, but to His near fellowship and society.(2) Not to that only, but to apostleship.(3) He had made him steward of His house and treasurer of His family; for He entrusted him with the bag.(4) He had conferred on him high gifts of knowledge and power to work miracles. What ingratitude, then, was his!

3. His attendants.(1) A great company of soldiers.(2) To these were joined captains of the temple, and some of the chief priests and elders.(3) There were gathered to him also a great many of the priests' and elders' servants.

4. The originators of the attack. The scribes and Pharisees.


1. Pre-arranged.

2. Executed. What treachery! The salutation of friendship debased to such a purpose!

(Dr. Thomas Taylor.)

Christian Age.
With reference to the call of Judas to the apostleship, we look upon it as only one of the innumerable mysteries in God's moral government, which no system of philosophy can solve at all, and which even Christianity solves but in part, reserving the final answer for a higher expansion of our faculties in another world. It involves the whole problem of the relation of God to the origin of sin, and the relation of His foreknowledge and foreordination to the free agency of man. The question why Christ called and received Judas into the circle of His chosen twelve, has received three answers, none of which, however, can be called satisfactory.

1. The view held by and others, namely, that Christ elected him an apostle not, indeed, for the very purpose that he might become a traitor, but that, through his treason, as an incidental condition or necessary means, the Scriptures might be fulfilled, and the redemption of the world be accomplished. This view, as Dr. Schaff observes, although it contains an element of truth, seems, after all, to involve our Lord in some kind of responsibility for the darkest crime ever committed.

2. The Rationalistic view, which is incompatible with our Lord's Divine foresight, that Jesus foresaw the financial and administrative abilities of Judas, which might have become of great use to the Apostolic Church, but not his thievish and treacherous tendencies, which developed themselves afterwards, and He elected him solely for the former. We cannot see how this view can be held by anyone who believes in our Lord's divinity.

3. The view held by Meyer and many others, namely, that Jesus knew the whole original character of Judas from the beginning, before it was properly developed, and elected him in the hope that the good qualities and tendencies would, under the influence of His teaching, ultimately acquire the mastery over the bad. But this implies that our Lord was mistaken in His expectation, and is therefore inconsistent with His perfect knowledge of the human heart. Alford despairs of solving the difficulty.Two things are clear from this sad subject:

1. The absolute necessity of a change of heart; without this, privileges, however great, may be abused to one's destruction: and

2. The danger of covetousness, or love of the world. This seems to have been the cause of Judas's ruin. For the rest, we must leave it to the light of a higher state of existence.

(Christian Age.)

I. THE ARRIVAL ON THE SCENE OF JUDAS AND HIS COMPANIONS. While Judas believed that Jesus was shortly to appear in great glory as the predicted King of the Jews, he followed Him loyally. "Hephestion," said a certain great personage of history, "loves me as Alexander, but Craterus loves me as king." So we may venture to say Judas did once upon a time love Jesus, not, indeed, as Jesus, but as king. "He was the father of all the Judases," remarks a Puritan, "who follow Him, not for love, but for loaves; not for inward excellencies, but for outward advantages; not to be made good, but to be made great."

II. THE PANIC. How are we to explain it? Was it the power of the human eye, like that by which the lion tamer quells the lion? This has been suggested by a modern critic. Was it magic? This was said by an ancient reviler. Was it all in the mere fancy of the simple folk who told the tale? This notion has found much popular favour. For my own part, believing, as I do, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, this phenomenon does not strike me as unlikely or unexpected. Pat out your hand, man, and arrest the locomotive when it comes thundering into the station, making the ground tremble; arrest the shot as it bursts blazing from the lip of the cannon; arrest the lightning as it stabs the cloud before it strikes the tree; arrest a ray of light, catch it and turn it out of its course; arrest the tidal wave, as King Canute essayed to do; arrest the force now travelling under ground, and which, as the scientific prophet tells us, is next year to burst out in many earthquakes I If you really could succeed in these arrests, and turn back these natural powers, could you arrest their Lord Himself?


IV. A BLOW STRUCK FOR JESUS — "And behold one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest's and smote off his ear."


VI. THE GREAT FORSAKING — "Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled." You pardon a politician when he forsakes a cause that he once thought perfect, because he has now found out its glaring imperfections: you pardon a theorist when he forsakes a theory that he once thought perfect, because he has now found out its fallacies; you pardon a merchant when he forsakes a concern that he once thought perfect, because he has now found out that it is hollow: you pardon one man when he forsakes another as his own confidential friend, though once, thinking him perfect, he had been ready to do any. thing or bear anything for him, with no incentive but a wish, and no reward but a smile; if now he has found him. out to be a person not safe, not true, not to be trusted. But he who forsakes Christ forsakes perfection. We can challenge any man to say that he thought Him perfect once, but that he has now found stains on that snow, spots in that sun.

(Charles Stanford, D. D.)

And they all forsook Him and fled.
We may take three views of the desertion of our Lord on this occasion; that event may be considered with reference to the deserters, to the deserted, and to ourselves.

I. The desertion of our Lord may be considered with reference to THE APOSTLES. In this view it affords an affecting instance of the inconstancy of man. The desertion of our Lord by the apostles affords also a proof of the melancholy consequences of the adoption of false notions. Men are sometimes found, it is true, both better and worse than their respective creeds; but it is undeniable that, whatever sentiment we really embrace, whatever we truly believe, is sure to influence our spirit and conduct. The apostles, in common with the Jews generally, had fully adopted the notion of a personal reign of the Messiah, of a temporal and worldly kingdom. Hence, ambition, of a kind (in their circumstances) the most absurd and unnatural, took full possession of their minds. They expected to be the chief ministers and counsellors of state of the largest, and, in every respect, the greatest empire in the world, an empire which was destined to absorb all others, and to become universal. Think of such a notion as this, for a few illiterate fishermen of one of the obscurest provinces of the civilized world! I do not say that it would have been otherwise — that they would steadfastly have adhered to their Lord, and have gone with Him to prison and to death, if they had been entirely quit of their false notions, and had had right views of the spiritual nature of His kingdom; for temptation, danger, fear, may overcome the strongest convictions; but it is easy to perceive that their false notions contributed to render them an easy prey to the enemy, while more correct views would have tended to prepare their minds for the trial, and to fortify them against it. We may learn from this how important it is that we should take heed what we believe. Let us prove all things, and hold fast that which is good.

II. The desertion of Christ by the apostles may be considered with reference to our LORD Himself; and here it may be viewed in two aspects: as an aggravation of His sufferings, and as a proof of His love.

1. As an aggravation of His sufferings. It should not be forgotten that our Lord was made in all points like unto His brethren. He had all the affections, passions, feelings, of human nature just as we have; the great difference being that, in us they are constantly liable to perversion and abuse, while in Him their exercise was always healthful and legitimate. In the language of prophecy, also, He complains of the desertion of His friends: "I looked for some to take pity, but there was none, and for comforters, but I found none." "Of the people there was none with Me." As "bone of our bone," as subject to all the sympathies of our common humanity, He felt it deeply, and on many accounts, when Judas came, heading a band of ruffians, and betrayed Him with the very token of affection. He felt it deeply when Peter denied Him in His very presence with oaths and curses. He felt it deeply when "they all forsook Him and fled."

2. This melancholy event may be considered further as a proof of the greatness of the Saviour's love. He met with everything calculated not only to test His love, to prove its sincerity and its strength; but also to chill, and to extinguish it. But as it was self-moved, it was self-sustained. Many waters could net quench it. All the ingratitude of man could not destroy it; all the powers of darkness could not damp its ardour. "Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end." Perhaps the unfaithfulness of the apostles was permitted, that Jesus might taste of every ingredient of bitterness which is mingled in man's cup of woe; that, being tempted in all points like unto His brethren, He might be able to sympathize with, and to succour them in their temptations. It may have been permitted also, in order to show that there was nothing to deserve His favour in the objects of His love. Say not that your sins are too great to be forgiven, or your heart too depraved to be renewed. Only trust Him: His grace is sufficient for you. And let this encourage the unhappy backslider, notwithstanding his frequent desertion of his Lord, to return to Him. Jesus did not disown the apostles, though they deserted Him in His distress; but after His resurrection He sent to them, by the faithful women, messages of tenderness and love: "Go," said He to Mary Magdalene, "go to My brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto My Father and your Father; to My God, and your God." And to the other women, "Go, tell My brethren that I go into Galilee, and there shall they see Me."

III. We proceed to consider this melancholy event with reference to OURSELVES. We may learn not a little from it. We may use it as a mirror in which to see ourselves. Some may see in it, perhaps, the likeness of their own conduct to their fellow men. When you thought they did well for themselves, then you blessed them. When you knew they did not need you, you followed them, and were at their service. When all praised them, you also joined in the laudation. But circumstances changed with them; and you changed too. The time came when you might really have served them, but then you withdrew yourself. Others may see in the desertion of the apostles, the likeness of their own conduct to the Saviour. Oh! how many desert Him in His poor, calumniated, persecuted brethren? How many desert Him in His injured, oppressed interest! Many will befriend and applaud a mission, a religious institution, a Christian church, a ministry, while it receives general commendation and support; but let the great frown upon it, let the foul breath of calumny pass over it and dim its lustre, let the bleak winds of adversity blow upon it, and blast it; and where are they then? They are scattered, and gone everyone to his own. We may learn from this event to solace ourselves under some of the severest trials which can befall us in the present world. Surely there are few things more bitter than this — to be deserted, when we most need their assistance, by those on whose friendly offices we are entitled to rely. But we may learn from this event not to wonder at it; it is no strange thing. We must not wonder, then, if when we are most deeply interested in any great undertaking, if when our labours and sacrifices for the good of our fellow creatures are most abundant, or when our afflictions and sufferings are most severe, that is to say, if when we most need the sympathy and support of our friends, we should be left most entirely to ourselves. Let us solace ourselves in God. "Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me." Let us live more in communion with Him. Let us look less to creatures, and more to the Creator. Let us depend less on outward things, and more on God. Finally, let us learn to anticipate the hour in which our most faithful friends must leave us. Oh! to have the great and good Shepherd with us then!" Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me."

(J. J. Davies.)

And he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked.
It strikes me that this "certain young man" was none other than Mark himself. He was probably asleep; and, aroused by a great clamour, he asked what it was about. The information was speedily given — "The guards have come to arrest Jesus of Nazareth." Moved by sudden impulse, not thinking of what he was doing, he rises from his bed, rushes down, pursues the troopers, dashes into the midst of their ranks, as though he alone would attempt the rescue, when all the disciples had fled. The moment they lay hold upon him his heroic spasm is over; his enthusiasm evaporates; he runs away, leaves the cloth that was loosely wrapped about his body behind, and makes his escape. There have been many who acted like Mark since then. First, however, you will say, "Why suppose it to be Mark?" I grant you it is merely a supposition, but yet it is supported by the strongest chain of probabilities. It was common among the evangelists to relate transactions in which they themselves took part without mentioning their own names. Whoever it was, the only person likely to know it was the man himself. I cannot think that anyone else would have been likely to tell it to Mark. Again, we know that such a transaction as this was quite in keeping with Mark's common character: the evangel of Mark is the most impulsive of all the evangels. He is a man who does everything straightway; full of impulse, dash, fire, flash; the thing must be done, and done forthwith. Once more: the known life of John Mark tends to make it very probable that he would do such a thing as is referred to in the text. As soon as ever Paul and Barnabas set out on their missionary enterprise they were attended by Mark. As long as they were sailing across the blue waters, and as long as they were in the island of Cyprus, Mark stuck to them. Nay, while they travelled along the coast of Asia Minor, we find they had John Mark to be their minister; but the moment they went up into the inland countries, among the robbers and the mountain streams — as soon as ever the road began to be a little too rough, John Mark left them. His missionary zeal had oozed out. For these reasons, the supposition that it was John Mark appears to me not to be utterly baseless.

I. HERE IS HASTY FOLLOWING. John Mark does not wait to robe himself, but just as he is, he dashes out for the defence of his Lord. Without a moment's thought, taking no sort of consideration, down he goes into the cold night air to try and deliver his Master. Fervent zeal waited not for chary prudence. There was something good and something bad in this, something to admire as well as something to censure. Beloved, it is a good and right thing for us to follow Christ, and to follow Him at once; and it is a brave thing to follow Him when His other disciples forsake Him and flee. Would that all professors of religion had the intrepidity of Mark! The most of men are too slow; fast enough in the world, but, ah! how slow in the things of God! Of all people that dilly-dally in this world, I think professed servants of God are the most drowsy and fuddling. How slothful are the ungodly, too, in Divine things; tell them they are sick, they hasten to a surgeon; tell them that their title deeds are about to be attacked, and they will defend them with legal power; but tell them, in God's name, that their soul is in danger, and they think it matters so little, and is of so small import, that they will wait on, and wait on, and wait on, and doubtless continue to wait on till they find themselves lost forever. The warnings of the gospel all bid you shun procrastination. I do beseech you fly to Jesus, and fly to Jesus now, though even it should be in the hurry of John Mark. I change my note. There is a haste that we most reprove. The precipitate running of Mark suggests an admonition that should put you on your guard. I am afraid some people make a hasty profession through the persuasion of friends. Nor are there a mere few who get their religion through excitement. This furnishes another example of injudicious haste. Many profess Christ and think to follow Him without counting the cost. They had never sought God's strength; they had never been emptied of their own works and their own conceits; consequently, in their best estate they were vanity; they were like the snail that melts as it crawls, and not like the snowflake upon the Alps, which gathers strength in its descent, till it becomes a ponderous avalanche. God make you not meteors or shooting stars, but stars fixed in their places. I want you to resemble, not the ignis fatuus of the morass, but the steady beacon of the rock. There is a phosphorescence that creeps over the summer sea, but who is ever lighted by it to the port of peace? And there is a phosphorescence which comes over some men's minds. Very bright it seems, but it is of no value; it brings no man to heaven.

II. It remains for me to notice THE HASTY RUNNING AWAY. Some who run well at first have hardly breath enough to keep the pace up, and so turn aside for a little comfortable ease, and do not get into the road again. There are two kinds of desertion which we denounce as hasty running away; the one temporary, the other final. Think what a fool Mark made of himself. Here he comes; here is your hero. What wonders he is going to do! Here is a Samson for you. Perhaps he will slay his thousand men. But, no; he runs away before he strikes a single blow. He has not even courage enough to be taken prisoner. How everybody in the crowd must have laughed at the venturesome coward — at the dastardly bravo! Therefore abstain from these inconsistencies for your own character's sake. Besides, how much damage you do the Church! And think what must be the dying bed of an apostate. Did you ever read of "the groans of Spira"? That was a book circulated about the time of the Reformation — a book so terrible that even a man of iron could scarcely read it. Spira knew the gospel, but yet went back to the Church of Rome. His conscience woke on his dying bed, and his cries and shrieks were too terrible to be endured by his nurses; and as to his language, it was despair written out at full length in capital letters. My eminent predecessor, Mr. Benjamin Keach, published a like narrative of the death of John Child, who became a minister of the gospel, but afterwards went back to the Church from which he seceded, and died in the most frightful despair. May God deliver you from the death bed of any man who has lived a professed Christian, and dies an apostate from the faith! But what must be the apostate's doom when his naked soul goes before God?

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

And they led Jesus away to the High Priest.

II. THE MIDNIGHT COUNCIL OF TRIERS. For blind men to be fair critics of Turner, for bats to be fair critics of sunshine, for worms to be fair critics of the open air, would be more conceivable than the possibility of men like these being fair judges of Jesus! How could such sinners understand the Holy One of God? Besides their unfairness from natural unfitness, there was unfairness from the fact that they were desperate conspirators, plotting against His life.

III. How He was tried.

(Charles Stanford, D. D.)

And Peter followed Him afar off.
A young man, it is told, was for several months in a backsliding state, which manifested itself in the usual way, — of conformity to a fashionable and unholy course of life, and a neglect of the ordinances and institutions of the house of God. During this time he called on a deacon of the church, who was a watchmaker, and asked him to repair his watch. "What is the difficulty with your watch?" said he. "It has lost time lately," said the young man. The deacon looked at him with a steady and significant eye, and said, "Haven't you lost time lately?" These few words brought the backslider to repentance, to the church, and to duty.


1. Then seniority and leadership in the church are no guarantee against falling into sin. In the order of choice, Peter was the oldest of the apostles. He was also their recognized leader. Peter is the last man that should have "followed afar off," both because of seniority and leadership, and the blighting influence that would naturally and inevitably result from his conduct. The power of leadership involves tremendous responsibility.

2. Then a man may backslide while blessed with the most faithful and efficient gospel teaching. Peter's experience shows that a man may sin shamefully while blessed with the most perfect gospel teaching.

3. Then a man may backslide while blessed with the most affectionate pastoral care. Jesus foresaw his dangers; told him of the enemy's purpose; warned him of this very fall, and in the true pastoral spirit bore him to God in prayer: "I have prayed for thee." Surely no man was ever blessed with such pastoral solicitude and fidelity, and yet, in spite of it all, Peter fell.

4. Then high professions of loyalty and love are not always to be relied upon. Peter's assurances partook somewhat of the nature of boasting. Great natures never burden you with vows and assurances. They are the product and sign of a weak; unreliable character. Peter soon found out, however, that it is one thing to make vows in the heavenly atmosphere of the upper room, but quite another thing to pay those vows amid the provocation of Gethsemane, and the excitement of the judgment hall. I have heard of a little boat that carried such an immense whistle that it took all the steam to blow it; so, whenever it whistled it stopped running. Too many in our churches are like that little boat; the whistle of their profession is too big for their supply of steam. It takes all their energy to blow it, to tell of their attainments, and what wonders they are going to do.

(T. Kelly).


1. The facts are very simple. When Christ retrieved the folly which this impetuous disciple had committed, and healed the ear of Malchus, it does not appear that the magnanimity of the Master had any effect in mitigating the malignity of the mob. Simon's stroke with his unusual weapon, instead of checking those belligerent people bearing swords and staves, came very near exasperating them. He simply put himself and his friends to flight, and then the crowd had it all their own way. It is a mournful record to read: "They all forsook Him and fled." But now, after this sudden and useless panic, it appears that at least two of our Lord's followers rallied their courage a little. They turned upon their flying footsteps, and started after the melancholy train. These were Peter and John. And the whole force of the dramatic incident we are studying is disclosed in the contrast of their behaviour. John ran with a will. As in the race afterwards for Christ's sepulchre he easily distanced Peter (John 20:4), so now he arrived first in the palace. Moreover, he soon showed how brave he was, and how much in earnest to retrieve his temporary defection he was, by urging his way directly through all obstacles into the very apartment where Jesus had been taken for trial; he "went in with Jesus, but Peter stood at the door without" (John 18:15, 16).

2. The meaning of all this is what makes it so important. One has no need of being deceived ever as to the exact commencement of any defection from Christ. Backsliding is earliest in the "heart," then it shows itself in one's "ways" (Proverbs 14:14). Absalom was a rebel while as yet he made no overt attack on his father's throne. The younger son was a prodigal before he started for the far country. Peter was a renegade and a poltroon from the earliest instant in which, listless and halting, he had begun to follow Jesus only "afar off." For an analysis of his experience would have disclosed three bad elements.

1. There was petulance in it. Simon's self-love was wounded when Jesus administered the somewhat extensive rebuke he had received (Matthew 26:52-54). He felt himself aggrieved. His defection began with sullenness. We cannot doubt that his countenance fell; he wore an injured expression.

2. There was distrust in his experience. We have seen that there was some reason for all the disciples to apprehend violence, instantaneous and passionate. Peter was fully responsible for that. The immediate result of his rashness was danger rather than deliverance. But could not Jesus be relied upon for rescue? Was not John fully protected afterwards?

3. There was unbelief in his experience. This disciple evidently had become ashamed of his adhesion to Jesus as the Messiah. An omnipotent Son of God was in his estimation for the moment letting things go too far, when He suffered Himself to be apprehended by a rabble and maltreated in this way without a word. Perhaps Simon lost confidence in His cause. If the words of Matthew are to be taken literally (Matthew 26:58), this disciple did not follow Jesus, even afar off, so much from affection as from curiosity; he went into the palace not to see Jesus, but to "see the end."


1. It took him away from Christ's personal presence. There was always to this disciple a peculiar exhilaration and help in the companionship of his Divine Lord. Under the shining of His countenance he constantly grows humble, gentle, and affectionate. Just as Mercury, that feeblest of all the planets in our solar system, seems most brilliant when likeliest to disappear, because nearest the sun, so Simon actually appears at his best when he is the most outshone; and the moment he wanders, he wanes. Duty is to most of us what this personal leadership was to the disciples. If we follow our religious duties close up, they will bring us near Jesus.

2. Again, this behaviour separated Peter from the sympathy of Jesus' adherents. In union there is strength. Those disciples ought not to have allowed themselves to be scattered during the trials of that passover night. For together they would have helped each other very much. Now we do not know what became of any of them except John. If Peter had been sitting by John's side he certainly would have been safer. He was easily influenced, and the beloved disciple soon recovered his courage and loyalty. Whenever professed Christians are seen to be falling away from each other by following the Master afar off, there is reason for alarm in reference to their spiritual interests. Only sin is solitary, and only guilt loves to live alone. Hence there is vast wisdom in the ancient counsel that believers should not forsake the assembling of themselves together, as the manner of some is (Hebrews 10:25).

3. Moreover, this behaviour threw Peter hopelessly into the companionship of his enemies. Peter fell into bad company the instant he fell out of good.


1. It would not be enough to ascribe it just to a sudden fright of alarm.

2. It was because his piety, at that period of his history, was fashioned more by feeling than by principle. Peter's spirituality blew in a gusty sort of way because his theological groundwork was faulty. We remember more than one occasion when he deliberately interfered with our Lord's communication of the doctrine of the atonement. As a master, a teacher, a leader, he loved Jesus personally; there he rested. Jesus away, he failed. Soft gales do not always waft to the heaven; they the rather often aid in an unperceived drift towards the open sea. Simon loved to have all things beautiful and serene. He was the man who grew ecstatic on the mount of transfiguration, and proposed that Jesus should stay there. His sensibilities were so shocked at the thought of the Saviour's maltreatment, that he protested against the official act of sealing the covenant of redemption with blood. The words were characteristic: "This shall not be unto Thee" (Matthew 16:22). Now let it be remembered that for nobody is there any hope of standing firm under stress of opposition, if his piety has been nurtured only in tender hours of emotional enjoyment. Spiritual impulses will be dangerously irregular and intermittent unless they have the help of steady purpose underneath. Carpenters never cut ships' knees from tropical palms. The grand doctrines of the cross must be wrought into the very fibre of one's soul, as the granite soil and the winter tempests of the mountains are wrought into the gnarls of the oak which the shipwright loves. That is to say, Christian character is reared out of a determinate wrestle with sin.


1. How can this sin be repeated in our time? We follow Jesus afar off when we refuse to defend the doctrines of redemption before unbelievers who scoff at a blood atonement — when we allow the rules and institutions of the Christian Church to be derided or belittled in our hearing — when we neglect the ordinances of God's house and refuse the fixed practice of family devotion — when we strain Christian liberty to see how much of indulgence in worldliness an unattacked church membership will bear. There is no difficulty whatever in modern experience in the way of repeating Peter's wrong.

2. It is a better question to ask, How can this sin of following Christ afar off be avoided in our time? John, and not Peter, is our pattern. The way to escape the taunts of maidservants in the hall is to go right up the steps into the presence of Jesus. It touches us to the heart to read the words which show how well Simon understood all his cowardice and folly long years afterwards (1 Peter 5:6-10).

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

All the council sought for witness against Jesus.
The world, in its best moods, exalts justice; and, in its worst moods, defeats it. Everything depends on the mood for the time being. Multitudes on the first day of Holy Week strewed the way with their clothes for their king to ride over; it was their mood. Only five days later a mob, bearing lanterns and torches, sought Him as if He were a thief, and led Him a prisoner over that same highway. The mood had changed. Mob law prevailed.

I. THE TRIBUNAL. No gathering of star chamber was ever more lawless.

1. The law decreed that no court should sit before sunrise; this trial followed immediately upon the midnight arrest — while Jerusalem was asleep.

2. The law required that anyone accused should have an advocate; here the Nazarene stood alone, with none to question in His behalf.

3. The law demanded that witnesses should be summoned for every prisoner; here no one was called to testify.

4. The judge of that court was Caiaphas, who had already declared the necessity of the death of Jesus, in order that the factions of the people might be harmonized.

5. Like a travesty reads the record: "The chief priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put Him to death." Their aim was to establish guilt, not to find justice.

6. It was the law that no sentences of death should be passed upon the same day as the trial; yet, in spite of their subterfuge, declaring the sentence of death just after sunrise, it was on the same day, since the Jewish day began at evening.

II. THE INDICTMENT. Full of flaws. Hopelessly confused. Even the testimony of bribed witnesses was too inconsistent to be of any use. The only seeming ground for a charge was a distortion of a saying in His earlier ministry concerning the destruction of the temple which He called His body, but which they declared was the pride of Jerusalem; but even this was no crime, as even His judges knew. Their case had failed. Their miserable charges were not sustained.

III. THE PRISONER. The one sinless Person among men. No enemy has ever found a flaw in His pure character. No charge, even of haste or imprudence, has ever been preferred. By His greatness and goodness, He throws all other human attainments into obscurity.

1. The best character is no protection against human hatred. The higher the character the more isolated it stands. The treatment accorded the Master will be meted out to His disciples. Persecution for righteousness' sake is a natural outcome of being righteous.

2. The best character does not always command friendship in the time of trial. It is not an infallible mark of piety to be always surrounded with friends.

IV. THE SENTENCE. Death, that cry of assassins; death, cold and cruel, blanching in a moment the ruddiest face; death, the breaking down of human life; death, the guardian of the cross; this was the word they hissed out — "He is guilty of death." To beckon such a death the laws of Moses and of the Romans were torn to shreds; mockery clothed itself in ermine; Pilate washed his guilty hands; and priests and rabble shouted themselves hoarse.

(David O. Mears.)

The Council of the Jews, commonly called the Sanhedrin, was composed of seventy-one persons. It consisted of three Courts or Houses, — the Sopherim, or Teachers of the Law, the College of the High Priest, and the house of the Elders. The president, or head of the Council, bore the title of Nasi, and was not necessarily the High Priest. In Numbers 11:16, we read that God commanded Moses to call together seventy of the Elders of Israel, and to put his spirit upon them. The Council was composed in like manner of seventy, to represent these Elders, chosen and ordained by Moses, and the seventy-first, the president, represented Moses; but as the Council was summoned by Moses, and not by Aaron, the High Priest was not necessarily the head of it. This president, or Nasi, was also called the Prince of Israel, and must be of the house of David, and the once became for many generations an inheritance of the family of Hillel, which descended from David. The First, or Upper House, was the House of the Lawyers, and it had originally supreme control of life and death. But when the Romans conquered Palestine, and converted Judea into a Roman Province, then this power was taken from them, and all those cases which had been tried by the Court of the Lawyers were heard by the Roman Prater. This House accordingly was practically dissolved; it had nothing to do, the sceptre was taken from it, and its lawgiver was divested of all power. The Second House was that of the Chief Priests; at the head of it sat the High Priest, and it was made up of the heads of the twenty-four priestly families and of the heads of the departments connected with the ministry in the Temple. The members all bore the title of "Chief Priests" (ἀρχιερεῖς). They decided in all spiritual matters, as to faith and heresy. This House remained in full activity after the practical abrogation of the First, and thus the High Priest became the virtual head of the Jewish Council. The Third House was that of the Elders, and was made up of representatives of the great Jewish families and of Rabbis of note. They went by the name of the "Elders," and continued to sit along with the Second House.

(S. Baring Gould, M. A.)

But He held His peace.
There is a silence which is often more eloquent than speech, means more than any words, and speaks ten times more powerfully to the heart. Such, for example, is the silence when the heart is too full for utterance, and the organs of speech are choked by the whelming tide of emotion. The sight of a great man so shaken, and quivering with feeling, that the tongue can give no voice to what the heart feels, is of all human rhetoric the most potent. Such, also, is the silence of a wise man challenged to speak by those whom he feels unworthy of his words. The man who can stand and listen to the language of stolid ignorance, venomous bigotry, and personal insult, addressed to him in an offensive spirit, and offers no reply, exerts a far greater power upon the minds of his assailants, than he could by words however forceful. His silence reflects a moral majesty, before which the heart of his assailants will scarcely fail to cower. Such was the silence which Christ now maintained in this hall.


And ye shall see the lion of Man.
I propose to inquire what the value of this oath is; what value we ought to attach to it as evidence that Jesus was the Messiah; and I suppose that this is to be determined on the same basis and grounds on which we determine the value of evidence in other cases. How is that?

1. By those extraneous circumstances which are corroborative or otherwise, of that which is testified to.(1) Jesus was the only being who ever appeared on this earth corresponding to the types of the ritualistic part of the Old Testament.(2) He was the only being who ever appeared, in whom the prophecies would be fulfilled in their double aspect. A King, a Conqueror, a Deliverer, a Great One; and yet suffering, despised, and rejected of men, etc. The Jews looked only at one aspect of these prophecies; and the half-truth misled them.(3) Our Lord's teaching was infinitely loftier than can be accounted for on any other supposition.(4) His miracles all pointed to Him as a Saviour; all of them beneficent, and all of them such, in their various characteristics, as to indicate His power over the forces of nature, over the spiritual world, and over the dead. All these things conspire to sustain the testimony which Jesus bore to Himself as the Christ, before the High Priest under oath.

2. The value of an oath may be affected by the circumstances in which it is given.(1) There was nothing, absolutely nothing, external to Himself, that could have originated in Christ the idea that He was the Messiah.

1. His home, an obscure and distant place,

2. His want of education,

3. His poverty,

4. His want of authority.How came He, then, with the idea that He was greater than Solomon, that He was Lord of the Sabbath; that He was the Light of the world; that He was the Deliverer that was to come — how came He by it? That a single individual, in these circumstances, should have had that idea, seems to me to indicate that He had a right to it.(2) Moreover, you will observe, when He took this oath, He stood wholly alone. What courage, then, must have been needed to maintain, in the face of death, that He was the Messiah.

3. The value of an oath, or of testimony given in such circumstances, is determined by the competency of the witness. Was the witness of sound mind, and had he the means of knowing that to which He testified? Need I ask this question regarding Jesus? Was He beside Himself? Was He carried away by fanaticism? Was there anything to awaken such fanaticism in that solitary man standing thus wholly alone, forsaken by His friends, with absolutely nothing to sustain Him in the very face of death but His own consciousness of the great fact that He was the Messiah? Nothing!

4. The moral character of the witness. And here again, need I say anything in regard to the moral character of Jesus? No sin was ever imputed to Him; He claimed to be without sin; in the Lord's Prayer He taught others to confess sin, but He never confessed sin Himself. The Bible claims this for Him: "Who was," says Peter, "without sin" — absolutely. And was such a person as that, with such a character as that one who would stand before the highest tribunal of His nation and, when adjured by the living God, perjure Himself? Taking these things together, it seems to me that no oath was ever uttered under circumstances to give it greater validity and greater significance, and that no oath can be thus uttered — never!

(Mark Hopkins, D. D.)

How was our Lord's testimony received? You will notice, here, the position which the High Priest assumed, and it is a position which very many men assume in regard to the evidence of Christianity. He asked the question, "Art thou the Christ?" Was he prepared to accept evidence? Let us see. Suppose our Lord had said "No"? Then He would have been an impostor, and would have been led off self-condemned. But now, when He said, "I am," was there the least tendency in the mind of the High Priest to accept the testimony? No; but instead of that, he condemned Him for blasphemy! It was as Christ had said in regard to that generation: "We have piped," etc. Whatever He might do, and whatever He might say, there was that determined position of opposition against Him, which precluded any evidence from having an effect. And that is the case with many men today: there is this position of opposition which precludes any fair consideration of evidence; and the oath of Christ to His Messiahship, which stands today such an oath as would convince any man of anything except that, does not weigh with them.

(Mark Hopkins, D. D.)

He who becomes a friend to the world's ways becomes an enemy to Christ's. When you begin to love them, you begin to dislike religion. When you begin to worship money you cease to worship God. When you begin to love the house of pleasure you begin to dislike the house of prayer. When you begin to love bad books you begin to lose your relish for the Bible. When you seek irreligious associates you draw off steadily from intercourse with the people of God. When the greedy lust of the world has eaten out a Christian conscience — when it has deadened the spiritual sense — when it has dry-rotted the whole heart — when it has banished Christ and possessed the soul's affection — then the man is ready to desert! Nay, he has deserted! What is any man worth to the Church, or to God, when his heart is the property of Satan? He may linger within the camp and even wear the uniform of a church member. But when the bugle calls to action he is not in the ranks! When a march of reform is ordered or a strife for God's law is waged, he is "missing."


And as Peter was beneath in the palace.
The palace of the High Priest was in all probability built much in the Roman style. There was what was called the vestibulum, an entrance adorned with pillars; in this was the ostium, or entrance hall, closed with doors. On one side lived the porter. This hall gave admission to the atrium, called in a Greek house the aule, a square or oblong apartment, open in the middle to the sky, with, in Roman houses, a small water tank in the middle, and beside it the image of the tutelary god and a small altar on which incense was burnt. At the further end of this great hall was a large and handsome room, opening to it by steps, called the tablinum. It was the grand reception room, and was richly adorned. In the tablinum, which was sometimes square, sometimes semi-circular, the court was held in the house of Caiaphas. Without, below the marble steps in the atrium, were the servants of the house. There was no image of a god there, but there was a brazier in the place of the altar of incense. That there was an impluvium or tank is likely enough; as so much importance was ascribed to washings, and water had been conveyed throughout Jerusalem by means of subterranean canals and aqueducts. Out of the tablinum sometimes a door opened into a small bedroom, which was without a window. It was in this little room that the false witnesses were kept concealed till summoned to appear. They were perfectly in the dark, and could not be seen, whereas Christ was visible distinctly because of the torches held, as Jewish law required, before Him to make His face clearly distinguishable. In the tablinum were also seats or benches, of marble, of alabaster, or costly woods. On these benches sat the council. Whilst the trial was going on in the tablinum, another trial was going on in the atrium, a step or two below the tablinum. The Master was tried in the upper court, and found guilty, though innocent. The disciple was tried in the lower court, and found guilty by his own conscience, or rather, let me say, by that Master who was receiving sentence a few steps above him. Both were irradiated by the red light of fire in the midst of the prevailing darkness. Probably the only lights then burning were the fire of charcoal in the brazier on the edge of the water tank, and the torches held aloft by the serjeants of the guard before Jesus. Very generally, the tablinum opened into a garden behind, so that those in the atrium or hall looked through it into the garden, which was surrounded by a colonnade. When this was the case, the seats were between the steps from the atrium and the garden door, and the little bedroom door was opposite the seats. Now, perhaps, you can picture the scene. In the foreground are the servants and soldiers moving about the hall, women bringing bundles of thorn, or shovels of charcoal to the fire in the brazier. Beyond, raised like a low stage of a theatre, is the tablinum, with the judges seated on the right. On the left, peering out of the dark door, are the evil faces of the hired spies and witnesses. A little forward, on a small raised platform, is Christ, with bound hands, and on either side stands an officer holding a flaring torch. Behind, like the scene in a theatre, is the garden, with the setting moon casting long shadows from the black cypresses over the gravel and high aloft in the sky twinkles one star.

(S. Baring Gould, M. A.)

Peter warming himself.
1. Peter had one reason for being there — to see what would be the issue of Christ's apprehension, and to while away the time: but God had another end in view. Had Peter favoured the revealed will of God, he had not been there with no business but to sit down and warm himself. But by the secret will and providence of God, Peter must be here, not only to accomplish the word of Christ, but for another special purpose. For the good of the Church, he is made an eyewitness of all Christ's sufferings in the house of the High Priest. Never did any evil befall any of God's servants, but by God's overruling power was turned to some good to themselves and others.

2. Peter was cold, and it was not unlawful to warm himself; but better he had been cold and comfortless alone in the darkness of the night, than to have sat within warming himself in such company.Peter was now colder by the warm fire, than he was without in the cold air; his heart grew cold, and his faith and zeal.

1. Let us resolve that that is a cold and comfortless place (though the fire be never so great) where Christ is bound, where Christ cannot be professed, where Christ is scorned, and the disciples of Christ are set upon as Peter was here.

2. Let us labour, how cold soever the weather be without, to keep the heart warm in grace; it had been better for Peter to have sat cold without and warm within, than for outward warmth to freeze and starve inwardly. The season is generally cold — heat of zeal counted madness, godliness disguised, etc.; let us labour in this general coldness to keep our heat.

3. When thou sittest at a warm fire, beware of temptation. Peter, when he followed Christ, suffering cold and want, was strong and zealous; but now he comes to the warm fire, he is quite overthrown. The warm fire of prosperity and outward peace has overthrown many, who in their wants and trouble stood fast in grace. If thou hast not prosperity and wealth, console thyself with the thought that thou art free from the snare which has caused others to fall. And if thou art in affliction, be not too much cast down; for in this estate thou art more secure than in its opposite. Prosperity is not always a sign of God's favour, but only when it provokes to humility and duty. Too much rankness hurts the corn, and too much fruit breaks the trees.

(Dr. Thomas Taylor.)

Peter's tempter is a woman, a silly maid, a very weak party.

1. To show him his frailty. Peter thought no man could cast him down, when lo! a woman does.

2. To humble his pride. How easily God overthrows the pride of man! He need not come in His own person He need not bring a champion or man of war against him; a mere woman shall be tempter too strong for as presumptuous a professor as Peter. The Lord, who resists all sinners, is said often to "resist the proud," i.e., after a special and severe manner, because they seek to draw God's glory upon themselves. Pharaoh. Jezebel. Herod. Historians write of a city in France that was depopulated and wasted, and the inhabitants driven away, by frogs. It is reported also, that a town in Thessalonica was rooted up and overthrown by moles. And we read of Pope Adrian being choked with a fly. Thus the Lord plays, as it were, with His enemies, scorning to come Himself into the field against them, but sending the meanest of His creatures to east them down. Let this humble us under the mighty hand of God; presume of nothing in ourselves, be proud of nothing, lest we know by woeful experience that a thing of nothing is strong enough to overthrow us. If our pride shall resist God, God's weakness shall resist us, and we shall know to our cost that the weakness of God is stronger than man. Never was pride of heart unrevenged with falls, sin, and shame.

(Dr. Thomas Taylor.)

But he denied.
1. He denies flatly and peremptorily.

2. He gives a double denial; implying more resolution. And both his denials are distinct and manifest lies.

3. He denies Christ before a multitude.(1) Bad enough to have denied Christ before one witness. How much worse before so many?(2) He who denies Christ before any man, shall be denied by Him before the Father. What a great sin to deny Him before all men!(3) In so great a company were a number of wicked men, and now Peter exposes the name of Christ to all their scorn and opprobrium. He animates and hardens them, and takes part with them in the rejection of Christ.(4) There were also some weak ones and well-wishes to Christ. Peter's action weakens and scandalizes these, and perhaps prevents some of them coming forward in defence of the Lord.

(Dr. Thomas Taylor.)

1. Because of Satan's malice. He will do all in his power to keep men from confessing Christ openly, and to make them deny Him.

2. The strength of our natural corruption makes it difficult to resist Satan's attacks.

3. Weakness of faith and graces.

(1)Think it not an easy thing to confess Christ in trial, nor a thing to be performed by our own power; but pray for the "Spirit of strength."

(2)Pray for wisdom when and how to confess.

(3)Pray for faith.

(Dr. Thomas Taylor.)

Many step out of the midst of sin but hang about the porch. They would not be outrageous sinners, but retain a snatch or taste; not open adulterers, but adulterous eyes, thoughts, and speeches; not noted drunkards, but company keepers and bibbers; not blasphemous swearers by wounds and bloods, but by faith, troth, God, etc. All this is to remain in the porch of sin.

(Dr. Thomas Taylor.)

In that Peter sticks in the porch, and comes back among those whom he had forsaken, learn how difficult it is for a man who has been long used to bad company and courses, to be brought to leave it altogether. He will either look back, or else tarry in the porch. Sin and sinners are like bird lime. The more Peter strives to get out, the more he finds himself limed and entangled.

(Dr. Thomas Taylor.)

1. He would give us and the whole Church an example of infirmity and weakness, by the fall of such a man.

2. The strongest must learn fear and watchfulness, and while they stand take heed lest they fall, lest the enemy suddenly overcome them as he did Peter.

3. To crush men's presumption, and teach them to attribute more to the word of Christ than their own strength. Had Peter done this, he had not so shamefully fallen.

4. To take away all excuse for men in after ages setting up Peter as an idol.

(Dr. Thomas Taylor.)

He that would avoid sin must carefully avoid occasions, which are the stronger because of our own natural inclination to evil. He that would not be burnt must not touch fire, or go upon the coals. Beware of evil company. Consider thine own weakness, and the power of evil to seduce.

(Dr. Thomas Taylor.)

He that would avoid occasion of sin, must hold him. self to God's commandment, and within the limits of his own calling. If Peter had done this, he had not fallen so foully. Christ having expressed His will and pleasure, he should not have so much as deliberated upon it, much less resolved against it. But he forgets the word and commandment of Christ, and so falls into sin.

(Dr. Thomas Taylor.)

Here is a notable rule to be observed in friendships. Examine the love thou showest to thy friend, by the love of God.

1. Take heed thy love be subordinate to the love of God; so that, if thou canst not please both, thou please not thy friend at the cost of God's displeasure (Matthew 10:37). Peter should first have loved Christ as his Lord, and then as his friend. Had he so done, he would have kept His word.

2. Love the Word better than thy friend. Peter should have stuck to Christ's road, instead of His person.

3. See thy love to thy friend be not preposterous, that thy affection destroy him not. The subtlety of Satan creeps into our friendships and fellowships, so that by our improvidence, instead of helping, we hurt them more than their enemies could do. We must pray for wisdom and judgment, that neither willingly nor unawares we either council or lead them into any sin, or uphold any sin in them, or hinder in them any good.

(Dr. Thomas Taylor.)

See how soon even God's children are corrupted with wicked company. Even Peter, a great and forward disciple of Christ, full of zeal and courage, who will pray, profess, and immediately before draw the sword in Christ's quarrel, now can deny Him among persecutors. Great is the force of wicked company to pervert even a godly mind.

1. There is a proneness in godly men to be withdrawn by evil company. As the body is infected by pestilential air, so the mind by the contagion of bad company.

2. There is a bewitching force in evil company to draw even a good mind beyond his own purpose and resolution.

(Dr. Thomas Taylor.)

1. There cannot be true fellowship with God and His enemies too.

2. Every man's company tells what he is. Ravens flock together by companies; and so do doves. h good man will not willingly stand in the way of sinners.

3. The practice of wicked men should make good men shun their company; for wherein are their sports and delights, but in things which displease God and grieve His Spirit, and the spirits of all who love God and His glory? What can a good man see in such company, but must either infect him, or at least offend him in almost everything?

(Dr. Thomas Taylor.)

It seems very sweet to sit warm among wicked men, to eat and drink and be jovial with them; but there is a bitter sauce for such meats. On the contrary, in company of godly men thou art under the shadow of God's mercy for their sakes. God loves His children and their friends. For Lot's sake His family was saved.

(Dr. Thomas Taylor.)

A great study in human nature is here presented.

I. THE ORIGIN OF PETER'S FALL. Do not overlook —

1. The quarrel in Peter's heart with Christ's methods. Christ's plan was to conquer by suffering; Peter's to conquer by resisting. This inward divergence produced the outward separation. Beware of quarrelling with God's dealings, or methods, or demands; the most common of all sources of backsliding.

2. Peter's pride helped his fall.


1. Following Christ "afar off" (Luke 22:54) — half-heartedly, not close, not to testify to the Sanhedrin for Him, but simply to see the end (Matthew 26:58). Close to Christ in the path of duty you are kept warm; sluggish and distant, the heart chills and grows feeble.

2. He entered into temptation.

3. A subtle snare is laid for him. If the three challenges had taken place in a reversed order, probably Peter would not have fallen by them. Had the men come first, his manhood might have risen to meet the challenge. But a housemaid does not put him on his mettle. Thrown off his guard, he tells his first lie, and it has afterwards to be backed up by more falsehoods and deadlier denials, putting a gulf between himself and Christ which, but for Christ's grace, would have been eternal.

III. THE COMMONNESS OF SIMILAR TRANSGRESSION. Not a question of who is guilty, but who is guiltless of this fault. All hiding of the face from Christ, all secrecy of fear, which leads people to assume we have nothing to do with Christ, all leaving Him unowned and undefended, is a sin identical in nature with Peter's. Each should ask, "Lord, is it I?"

(R. Glover.)

Let us take warning from this —

1. Not to rely on our own strength for steadfastness in the moment of trial, but to trust only in Divine grace.

2. Not to suppose our own power of resistance to temptation is greater than that of others. Rather, when we see another sin, let us in him see our own selves, and pray God for him as we would for ourselves. When we see another steadfast in the faith, let us pray that he may preserve that gift which he has unto the end.

3. To heed every warning that is mercifully given us. When the cock crew for the first time, it seems wonderful that St. Peter was not reminded of Christ's prediction, nor restrained from subsequent denials. But sin deafens the heart to every voice, and blinds the eye to all signs.

(W. Denton, M. A.)

There are MSS., you know, called palimpsest, i.e., written upon twice. The original inscription upon them, which was fair, and full of Divine wisdom, has been defaced, and in its place may now be seen letters and words and sentences in contrast to what was described before. So with the characters of men — even good men. Over their better nature you may see scratched in ugly scrawls very obvious imperfections and frailties. But, thank God, often do we witness, after the process of defacement, a process of restoration. Divine grace, through discipline of various descriptions, rubs out the evil and brings back the good, and causes the soul at last to reveal again most distinctly what had only been dimmed and not destroyed; even as there has been discovered a method by which such ancient writings can be made to exhibit once more what seemed — but only seemed — forever spoiled.

(Dr. Thomas Taylor.)

We see in Peter's fall the danger of a first false step. As he entered the house he denied his discipleship to the portress; he did wrong that good might come. He loved his Master; he sought to be with or near Him; he desired to see the end. What was the harm of merely a white lie to gain this great advantage? But the white lie led to black denial, and to a false oath. When he had assured Jesus that, though all might deny Him, yet would not he, Peter had supposed the case of his being brought up for trial before the Sanhedrin. And it is possible that he would have stood firm under such a trial, but this temptation came on him from an unexpected quarter, and when he was unprepared to meet it; that is why he fell. He would have confessed his discipleship before the High Priest, but he denied it to the young woman who kept the gate. From this we learn that we must be always prepared to meet temptation, and that the most treacherous and dangerous of temptations come upon us suddenly, without giving us time to prepare, and in a way unexpected. Peter's heart was sound from first to last; he never wavered in his love. His spirit was willing, but the flesh was very weak. This makes the difference between venial and wilful sin. Wilful sin is committed by deliberate consent of the will to what is evil. The fall of Peter was not wilful. Venial sin is the fault of infirmity, the fall through weakness against the propose of the heart. Such was the fall of Peter. We see in his repentance the harmfulness of venial sin. We are apt to make light of sin if it be not wilful. This sin of Peter's was not wilful, yet his heart was broken and contrite for it.

(S. Baring Gould, M. A.)

It is well known that there are varieties of detail in the four records of St. Peter's three-fold denial. The discrepancies have been spoken of as irreconcilable, and attempts to shake the credibility and trustworthiness of Holy Scripture have been based upon this supposition. Careful examination will show that "the incidents given by the different Evangelists are completely in harmony with the belief that there were three denials, i.e., three acts of denial, of which the several writers have taken such features as seemed to be most significant for their purpose." The multiplicity of charges may well be illustrated out of our own experience. We have witnessed, no doubt, a scene in which a crowd of people in a state of excitement are setting upon an individual whom they believe to have done something of which they disapprove. No sooner has one begun to accuse him of it than another comes up and adds to the charge, another insists upon it with gestures of violence, another can prove it if they will only let him speak, and then perhaps several cry out at once. The bewildered man tries to exculpate himself from the Babel of charges. He says anything and everything in the excitement of the moment, and at last, when matters become desperate, loses all control over his words. This is almost exactly what happened in the last "act of denial" in the courtyard of the High Priest's palace. St. Peter was driven to bay by a multitude of excited assailants, and perhaps hardly knowing, certainly not realizing, what he said, he appealed to heaven, and called down Divine vengeance upon his head if his denial were untrue.

(H. M. Luckock, D. D.)

I. The circumstances under which this great guilty act was performed ARE EXCEEDINGLY DRAMATIC. The story shifts its phases like pictures in a play.

1. The scene is laid in the quadrangle of the High Priest's house in Jerusalem, whither the miscellaneous mob of people had hurried Jesus after His apprehension in the garden of Gethsemane. It will be necessary for those who desire to understand this narrative to form for themselves a conception of Peter's precise whereabouts during such a grand crisis of his history. Eastern dwellings of the better sort appear to have been built around a four-sided court — an interior space like a private yard enclosed — frequently paved with flat flagging stone, and open to the sky overhead. Into this area a passage from the street led by an arched opening through one side of the house. Heavy folding doors guarded the entrance, leaving a smaller wicket gate near by for the convenience of visitors who came familiarly or one at a time. Usually this was kept by a porter. Such, in all likelihood, was the general fashion of Caiaphas' palace. Simon Peter was inside of the wicket standing there in the courtyard.

2. The company into the midst of which before this John, the beloved disciple, had found his way, and which he does not appear to have unused even to notice as he hurried through, was made up of servants and soldiers. Belated and bewildered by their unwonted excitements on the night of our Saviour's trial, they had kindled a "fire of coals" out in the area. The hour of this arraignment was unusual, the air was chilly, and the confusion was full of discomfort. The entire group appears irritable and maliciously disposed. The girls are coarse, the military men boisterous and brutal, the Levites insolently triumphant, as they see their victim now in what they deem the right hands, and the waiters abusive and impudent. Everything shows picturesquely there among the flitting dresses and uniforms. The flame makes all the quadrangle dance with uncouth shadows, and the faces of the men and maidens are ruddy under the red glow of the coals. Ill-tempered and testy with the raw air of the midnight, they jostle each other and join roughly in gibes about the discomfiture and capture of this Nazarene prophet at last.

3. Enter Simon Peter now, the chief actor in this awful tragedy of the denial. Into the midst of the throng comes a burly figure, a quick-stepping individual, evidently trying to do that peculiar thing which almost everybody, one time or another in his life, has tried to do, and nobody at any time has ever succeeded in accomplishing, namely, to look unconscious and unconcerned when absorbently anxious, and to seem unnoticed and unembarrassed when he knows the rest are all staring at him. That newcomer is our well-known friend Simon, the son of Jonas; and he is now endeavouring to act at perfect ease, although he is certain that he is and ought to be an object of suspicion from the beginning. "He sat with the servants (Mark 14:54), and warmed himself at the fire." Picture him now, away from all his friends, among the sullen enemies of his Lord. There is some evidence that this disciple imagined he might pass himself off for one of the crowd who went out to apprehend Jesus, if only he mingled unabashed with the chilly company around the coals. So he pressed nearer, and this was exactly what hastened his exposure.

4. Now commences the dialogue of the drama. A girl kept the outer door; this reminds us of the office of the damsel named Rhoda (Acts 12:13), whom we meet in another part of Peter's history farther on.

II. We must arrest our study of the melancholy story here, for it is high time that we should seek for THE PRACTICAL LESSONS TAUGHT IN THIS TRANSGRESSION OF PETER.

1. We see, for one thing, how commonplace is even the most notable of human sins. This denial of his Lord will always be quoted as the characteristic wickedness of Simon Peter. It stands out in history as one of the vast crimes of the world and the race. To deny Christ is so simple a thing that we can fall into it, and hardly know it at the time. This sin is not singular nor unusual. Christ's cause is on trial now as really as was Christ Himself in the High Priest's palace. We stand in jeopardy every hour. Satan's ingenious policy is to come suddenly upon us with the surprise of a question with ridicule in it. So small a matter as emitting family prayer because a stranger is in our dwelling, as putting on a ribald air when one twits us with being serious, may have in it all the meaning and the meanness of Peter's sin. "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."

2. Again: we see the immeasurable peril of just one act of wrongdoing. Indeed, one act never seems to remain alone. This first denial led to two more of the same sort; then to lying, then to profanity. It is as supreme a folly to talk of a little sin as it would be to talk of a small decalogue that forbids it, or a diminutive God that hates it, or a shallow hell that will punish it. Sin is registered according to heavenly measurements of holiness and majesty.

3. We see, likewise, a ready explanation of the mysterious falls into sin sometimes noticed in the lives of really good men. No one doubts that Simon Peter was a regenerate Christian man: how happens it that he crashes down into wickedness so suddenly? The answer to this question must be found in the disclosures of this disciple's previous history. He had for a long time been preparing for this disaster. One of the brightest of our modern writers has given us a simile somewhat like this. If a careless reader lets fall a drop of ink in among the leaves of a book he is just closing, it will strike through the paper both ways. When he opens the volume again, he can begin with the earliest faint appearance of the stain, and measure by its increase his progress towards the great black point of defacement. Open it now anywhere, and he will detect some traces of the coming spot. He can turn back to it; he can turn forward from it. So of this great base act of the Apostle Peter, which we call emphatically the denial. It is a stain in the middle of his life. Most of us have a profound admiration and a tender love for this old Bethsaida fisherman, even if we do deny he was ever set up for the first pope. But hitherto, as we have been studying his biography, we might often have seemed to see the denial coming. Along the way hints of it appear. One who reads the Gospels for the first time would be likely to remark, "Here is a man who will be in awful shame and trouble some day, for he thinks he stands safely; he is going to fall." This might be true of most self-confident Christians who lapse into sin; the wickedness has been growing upon them longer than they thought. "Men fall," so once said Guizot, "on the side towards which they lean."

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

We speak of a sudden death; when the doctor had long been warning the man who has just died that he might die at any moment. We speak of a sudden bankruptcy; which, however, the commercial prophets had long secretly foretold. We speak of the sudden fall of a tree in a tempest; when, under a fair bark and a leafy shade, it had long been only a thing of powder. We speak of the sudden fall of a soul; when in that soul the causation of that fall had long been working out of sight.

I. THINK OF THIS DEED IN CONNECTION WITH A CERTAIN WEAKNESS IN WHICH IT BEGAN. That sin began, not in a sin, but in a weakness. The strength of a rope is to be measured, not according to what it is in its strongest, but in its weakest point. The strength of a ship is to be estimated, not according to her strongest, but her weakest part; let but the strain come on that, let that be broken, no matter how strong in any other part she may be, the mighty ship, being conquered there, will go down. So it is with the strength of a soul. Peter had many strong points, but one weak one; and that one, undetected by himself, was at the beginning of this disaster. It was the weakness of excessive constitutional impulsiveness. Impulse is beautiful and good; but impulse is only like steam in the works of a factory, or wind in the sails of a yacht. Impulse is a good servant of the soul, but a bad master. Impulse may act with as much emotional force in a wrong direction as in a right. Even when its direction is right, if left to itself, it is not safe. But for this weakness, a soul might often be saved just in time from the special kind of danger to which other weaknesses specially lead. There is a man who feels it a pain to contradict, and a pleasure to acquiesce; and when in the company of errorists, this weakness is his danger. There is a man whose weakness is an agonizing consciousness of ridicule. There is a man, a favourite with us all, whose simplicity we love, at whose heroics we smile, but whose weakness is that he is apt to think too highly of himself. Did any man with all these foibles but take the steadfast poise of principles, did he but take time, he might be saved from the action of them all.

II. THINK OF THIS ACT OF PETER IN CONNECTION WITH HIS ENTRANCE INTO THE TEMPTATION TO COMMIT SUCH AN ACT. "Enter not into temptation," said the Master; and within a few minutes from the time of that order the servant entered into it. He loved Christ far too deeply to deny Him; be had never denied Him yet, and was not likely to do so now. Ah! he had never yet been tried. You, perhaps, are a man of splendid morality, but you hardly know how much your integrity depends upon circumstances; you have never yet had it tried. There may be no accident before a train starts from the station; but let there be an undetected flaw only in one axle, and, when the locomotive is spinning along the line at the rate of forty miles an hour, there may be a great crash of property and life. Peter thought himself an iron man; but there was a flaw in his iron, though he knew it not until he had entered into a trial for which he was not fitted; then the iron broke!

III. THINK OF PETER'S DENIAL OF CHRIST IN CONNECTION WITH THE ACCOUNT OF ITS THREE OCCASIONS. God pity that youth who has just uttered his first lie! If eventually saved from the evil it has already set working, God alone can save him. No liar can alter the law of the lie, and that law is, that the first lie has a generative power, that one lie compels another, that one lie requires another to back it, that one lie spreads and ramifies into endless evolutions.

IV. THINK OF PETER'S DENIAL IN CONNECTION WITH THE TREATMENT THAT CHRIST WAS RECEIVING AT THE TIME. A seer tells us that he once saw heaven, and had a glimpse of the treatment Jesus receives there. This is his report: "I saw also the Lord, sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple." Now turn to this place on earth, and see how the Holy One is treated there. Do you not now see how the pictured memory of this episode came into the phrase of John the Divine, "the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ"?

V. THINK OF PETER'S DENIAL OF CHRIST IN CONNECTION WITH CHRIST'S ACT OF RESTORING LOVE. Simultaneously, the startled man turned to look at his Master, and his Master turned to look at him. We are awed before the calm sovereignty of that look, no less than by its loving kindness. "He spoke with His eye," says Erasmus. We may not imagine what the look was like, but we know what effect it had upon the disciple. The outgoing power of the Lord that went with it struck his heart, as once the prophet's rod struck the rock, and made the waters flew. It touched, and set flowing, frozen memories. With only self to lean upon, lower and lower would have been the inevitable fall; but just in time the Lord lifted him by a look! Some structures can only be saved by being ruined. They have in them such slack work and such bad materials, that it is of no use to patch them, or to shore them up; the only thing to be done is to pull them down altogether and build them again. Some lives can only be saved by a desperate operation. Some souls can be saved only through being for an instant hung, as by a hair, over the pit of the lost. A certain man was seen for many years rich, prosperous, influential in the State; that very. man was afterwards seen, down on his hands and knees, in the livery of degradation, scrubbing the floor of a convict prison. In his days of worldly honour he had made profession of the Christian faith, and not without sincerity; but egotism was suffered to master him. He fell. In the shock of that fall, in the recoil that comes of despair, he was "saved as by fire."

(Charles Stanford, D. D.)

I. PETER NEVER MEANT TO DENY HIS LORD. He believed now, as clearly as he did that day at Caesarea Philippi, "Thou art the Christ," etc. He was honest in saying, "Though I should die with Thee, yet will I not deny Thee." He proved that soon after by drawing his sword in defence of Christ. Any believer may have a like assurance. There is the peril. If there should come to a Sabbath congregation a voice from heaven, declaring that someone there would one day turn out a thief, how impossible it would seem! Every one would think there must be a mistake; the message has come to the wrong church, or, at least, it does not mean me. Of course not. Satan says to us all, "Think of your faith, your virtue, your blood, your position." And when he has beguiled us into such self-complacency, he begins his manoeuvres, not asking us at first to do anything dishonest, but commencing on the borderline between his kingdom and the Lord's, knowing if we yield to him in things that are doubtful, we will soon yield to him in things that are sure. A leading member of a city church, caught in a shameful crime, wrote his friends: "I am astonished at the blindness and wickedness of my course."

II. PETER WENT VOLUNTARILY INTO THE WAY OF TEMPTATION. Peter thought very likely that he was safe in such company, because nobody would know him. A Christian had better not stay at the fire with the ungodly. Satan did not come to him as a "roaring lion," but in a mere whisper. Who could draw a sword at a young girl? If he had contemplated her question, he might have had ready an answer that would have been truthful without giving offence. Often the science of truth-telling is to look out for emergencies; to have ready an answer that shall be polite and true. But that is essentially the science of all virtue. It is the trials which take us by surprise that measure our strength; it is at these crises that destiny is made. And such unlooked-for assaults are sure to come to a Christian who goes voluntarily into the way of temptation. One who does not watch has no right to pray. A man, exhorted to abandon a habit of drinking that was fast dragging him to ruin, replied: "I magnify more than you do the grace of God. Without drinking anyone could save himself. I believe in grace that can save a man when he does drink." He held that delusion till he died a sot. That is a Divine law with reference to all sin. If you throw yourself from the top of the temple, God has power to keep your bones from breaking; but you had better not do so, for it is written: "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." The precept, "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall," means, if you are walking in slippery places, watch every little danger, every least step. One may slip as badly on a foot of ice as on an acre. Peter would not have fallen if he had remembered Christ's caution spoken to him: "Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation."

III. PETER REPENTED. There is no other way back to Christ for one who has fallen.


(T. J. Holmes.)

Let us endeavour to understand this melancholy event, Peter's denial of his Lord. In order to this, let us advert to the circumstances which attended it, and the causes which led to it; and then consider seriously the improvement which we should make of it.

I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES under which an offence is committed often greatly affect its character; they sometimes even change its complexion altogether. The first circumstance of aggravation is found in the repeated warnings which he received. Forewarned is forearmed; when, therefore, Peter had been warned by our Lord of his danger, we might have expected on his part the utmost vigilance and prayerfulness. The second circumstance of aggravation is found in the solemn protestations and vows which he made. After each warning he solemnly avowed his willingness to go with his Lord to prison and to death. Humility, self-abasement, prayers, tears, had been far more suitable in his case than those solemn protestations. And ever does it become us to say, "Hold Thou me up, and I shall be safe." The third circumstance of aggravation is found in the recentcy of the warnings and vows to which we have adverted. If the warnings had been given, and the vows made, some years before, they might have been forgotten; but they were all given and made the same night in which the offence was committed. A very few hours only could have elapsed between the last warning especially, and the first denial. A fourth circumstance of aggravation is found in the repetition of the offence. It was not once that he denied his Lord, but a second, and again a third time. And this leads to another circumstance of aggravation, that is to say, the profaneness and the perjury with which his denial was attended. We have just seen that the second time he did not simply deny his Lord, but he did it with an oath. He appealed to high heaven as his witness and his judge — when he swore falsely. The last circumstance of aggravation which we shall notice is, that all this was done in the very presence of the Redeemer. It was not done in a corner: it was not a secret offence, which might forever remain unknown; but it was done publicly, before many witnesses. John was there. It was in the presence of this faithful friend that Peter denied his Lord — with oaths and curses. Above all, Jesus was there.

II. Such are the circumstances of aggravation which marked the offence of Peter; we shall now advert with great brevity to the CAUSES of this strange conduct. How can we account for it?

1. One cause is found in the known character of Peter. He was a man of ardour, impetuosity, zeal; but, like many others of a similar temperament, he was destitute of moral courage. There is no necessary connection between physical and moral courage, some of the finest specimens of the former having proved themselves utterly destitute of the latter. How many there are who suffer from the same moral infirmity! Let our young friends especially guard against it, and labour to correct it. In order to this I would earnestly recommend two things.(1) An intimate acquaintance with some of the noble characters presented to us in history, as well as with some of the writings of choice spirits which have the most direct tendency to strengthen the mind. Let them steep their minds in the noble sentiments which are there so appropriately expressed.(2) An habitual realization of the Divine presence. Let them feel that God's eye is ever upon them; and let it be their study to approve themselves to Him.

2. We have another cause in the state of mind which he had recently indulged. I refer particularly to his overweening confidence and pride. The solemn warnings of his Lord ought to have humbled him; but his confidence was in himself, not in his God. "God will humble the proud, but will give grace to the lowly."

3. A third cause is found in the danger, real or imaginary, in which he was placed. It would not appear that there was any danger involved in the fact of his discipleship. John was a disciple; known as such to the High Priest, and yet he was in the palace, and appears to have apprehended no danger. But Peter had been active, in one sense mischievously active, in the garden. He had cut off the ear of the servant of the High Priest, and this might be construed into a crime; an attempt to rescue or prevent the capture of a criminal. Hence Peter's fears; his wish to be unknown; his denial. How closely rashness and cowardice are allied!

III. Let us now see what INSTRUCTION we may derive from this mournful spectacle. We regard it as an affecting illustration of the frailty of our nature; as a melancholy proof of what man can do under the influence of temptation, considered simply as a morally imperfect being. It thus presents one phasis at least of human character in an instructive light. Let us illustrate this. We may divide the human family into three classes. First, there are, in the worst sense of the term, wicked beings — beings whose moral nature is entirely perverted, whose good is evil; malevolent beings who can do evil for evil's sake, and have real delight in mischief. There are others who have by no means attained to this completeness in evil, who are, nevertheless, the slaves of some one dominant passion. And from his affecting ease we see what evil a man may commit, how low he may sink in moral degradation from mere frailty, from inherent defectiveness of character, when sore pressed by a temptation adapted to his weakness. It may be proper to remark here, that one act, whether good or bad, does not constitute a character. We should guard against the severity, the injustice of representing men as guilty of hypocrisy, of insincerity, because they have once, or even twice, under the influence of temptation, acted in opposition to their professions. The fall of Peter is further instructive to us, as it affords a striking illustration of man's ignorance of himself. How little man knows — can know of what is in him! The fall of Peter calls upon us to review our past history, and to look carefully into our own hearts. We may learn from the case of Peter the nature of true repentance. "Peter went out and wept bitterly." If we compare the case of Peter with that of Judas, we shall learn the nature of true repentance, we shall perceive the characteristic difference between that which is true and that which is false, that which is saving and that which is destructive. Wherein does the difference consist?

1. Judas saw clearly the enormity of his conduct, but it was only in and through its consequences; he had no perception of the evil of his conduct in itself.

2. The second point of difference between the repentance of Judas and of Peter is in the subject.

(J. J. Davies.)

He who once cracks his conscience will not much strain at it the second time.

1. Sin is very bold when once it is bid welcome. If it once enter, it knows the way again, and once admitted will plead, not possession, but prescription. An army is easier kept out than beaten out.

2. The sinner is less able to resist the second time than he was the first. Grace is weakened and decayed by yielding to the first temptation, and the strength of God, which only makes the way of grace easy, is plucked away by grieving His Holy Spirit.

3. The way of sin once set open, is as the gates of a city thrown open for an enemy, by which Satan bringing in his forces, strongly plants them, and quickly so fortifies them, that it will require great strength to remove them.

4. Every sin admitted, not only weakens, but corrupts the faculties of the soul by which it is upheld. It darkens the understanding, corrupts the will, disturbs the affections, and raises a cloud of passions to dazzle reason.

(Dr. Thomas Taylor.)

A dicer, they say, will grow to be a beggar in a night; and in a night Peter will grow from a dissembler to be a swearer and forswearer.

(Dr. Thomas Taylor.)

Why (it may be asked) does the Lord leave His saints and children to themselves, by withdrawing His grace from them, and so suffer them to fall into sin?

1. To correct their carelessness and carnal security.

2. To stir them up to more watchfulness over themselves for time to come, when they know their own weakness.

3. To pull down their pride, and humble them more thoroughly before God (2 Corinthians 12:7).

4. To drive out of them all confidence in themselves, and presumption of their own strength.

5. To make them more compassionate toward others (Luke 22:32).

6. That by this means He may make them examples, and grounds of comfort to other poor sinners.

(George Petter.)

Peter was now in great danger. He hears of the garden, and is likely to be revenged for his tumult, his quarrel, and wronging Malchus. He is pressed by evident signs that he was with Christ, and now if he bestir him not, he shall not avoid present danger; or if he do, he shall be branded for a common liar and perjured person forever; and therefore out of great fear he more stoutly denies his Master than before, and because neither his simple denial will serve him as in the first instance, nor his binding it with oaths and swearing as in the second, as if he had not done enough, he curses and imprecates himself, wishing not only mischief to himself, but calling on God, a just Judge, to avenge that falsehood, and inflict the deserved punishment if he knew Him of Whom they spake. Oh, fearful sin!

1. To deny his Lord and dear Master.

2. After so many warnings on Christ's part.

3. After so many confessions and professions of his own.

4. After so often, three several times, so much time of deliberation coming between. One might seem infirmity, but thrice argues resolution.

5. With lying and perjury.

6. With cursing and imprecation. Thus Peter is among the forwardest of those who make falsehood their refuge, and who trust in lies.

(Dr. Thomas Taylor.)

Benvenuto Cellini records in his autobiography the bitter experiences he endured in being tempted to lie to the Duke, his patron, lest he should forfeit the favours of the Duchess — he, who "was always a lover of truth and an enemy to falsehood, being then under a necessity of telling lies." "As I had begun to tell lies, I plunged deeper and deeper into the mire," till a very slough of despond it became to him.

(Francis Jacox.)

And Peter called to mind the word.
That the cock crew again was an ordinary and natural thing, but at this time ordained for a special end.

1. To put Peter in mind of his promise.

2. To bear witness to the words of Christ, which Peter will not, till now, believe to be true.

3. To reprove Peter of His sin.

4. To accuse Peter to his own conscience. He needs the voice of a cock to help him out of his sin! He is admonished by this voice, that the silly cock kept his watch, according to the word of his Creator; but Peter has not kept his watch with his Lord, but fearfully fallen in his station.

I. THE TIME OF PETER'S REPENTANCE. "Then." The fittest time for repentance is immediately after the sin, without delay.

1. Consider the exhortation in Hebrews 3:7. Hast thou a lease of thy life till tomorrow, that thou refusest to repent today?

2. Sin gets strength by continuance.

3. Nature teaches in other things to take the fittest season; to sow in seed time, to make hay while the sun shines, to take wind and tide which wait for no man. Let grace teach thee to know thy season, thy day of visitation.

4. Late repentance is seldom true repentance.


1. External.

(1)The crowing of the cock.

(2)The looking back of Christ.

2. Internal.

(1)Remembering the Lord's words.

(2)Weighing the Lord's words.

(Dr. Thomas Taylor.)

Peter went out —

1. In respect of the place. The hall and the porch were no places of safety or tranquility, but full of danger and fear and tumult, and no fit place for meditation.

2. In respect of the company. He sees that the longer he stays among wicked men, the more sins he heaps up against the Lord, and against his own conscience, and therefore he sees it high time to be gone.

3. In respect of the business in hand. He is to bewail his sin, to weep bitterly, to get out of himself; and to do this, he must be alone with God.

(Dr. Thomas Taylor.)

1. He that will cleave to God, must sever from God's enemies. The same grace that binds us to God, looses us from the wicked. Solitariness is better than bad company.

2. What comfort can a sheep have among a herd of swine, which wallow and tumble in foul lusts? or a silly dove among a company of ravens? How can a good heart but grieve in their society whose sports and pleasures are in such things as only grieve the Spirit of God? How can a Christian solace himself among such as care for none but brutish delights, in eating, drinking, sporting, gaming, attended with swearing, railing, drunkenness, and idleness?

3. What safety among evil men, whether we respect themselves or their practices? For themselves, they are so poisonful, so infectious, that we can hardly participate with them in good things and not be defiled. For their practices, how just is it if we join ourselves in their sins, that we should not be disjoined in their judgments!

4. This has been the practice of the godly (Psalm 26:4).

(Dr. Thomas Taylor.)

If we fall among, or be cast into bad company —

1. Let us not fashion ourselves to them.

2. Consider who thou art — a disciple, separated by grace — a son of God.

3. Look upon ungodly examples to detest them, to grieve at the dishonour of God, to grieve at the wickedness of man made in God's image.

4. See them, to stop them if possible. If there be hope of doing good, admonish them. Warn them of the wrath of God, coming on those who do such things. Win them, and pray for them and their amendment.

5. If their be no hope of winning them, yet by thy godly carriage convince them, check them, confute, shut their mouths. Let thy light shine in spite of their darkness, to glorify thy Father; and at least let them see thy watch end godly care to preserve thyself from their contagion.

(Dr. Thomas Taylor.)

We ought to take all occasions offered to think of our sins, and to be stirred up to humiliation and repentance for them. Especially, for example —

1. When in the public ministry of the Word we hear such sins reproved as we are guilty of.

2. When we come to Holy Communion.

3. When we read the Scriptures, or hear them read.

4. When we are privately admonished of our sins, either by the ministers of God, or by any other that have a calling to do it.

5. When God lays upon us any grievous affliction or chastisement; such as sickness, loss of goods, loss of near friends by death, etc. When we either see or hear of the judgments of God inflicted upon others for sin.

(George Petter.)

Repentance is wrought by the Spirit of God. But he works it in us by leading us to think upon the evil of sin. Peter could not help weeping when he remembered his grievous fault. Let us at this time —


1. He considered that he had denied his Lord. Have we never done the like? It may be done in various ways.

2. He reflected upon the excellence of the Lord whom he had denied.

3. He remembered the position in which his Lord had placed him — making him an apostle, and one of the first of them. Have we not been placed in positions of trust?

4. He bethought him of the special intercourse which he had enjoyed. Have not we known joyous fellowship with our Lord?

5. He recollected that he had been solemnly forewarned by his Lord. Have not we sinned against light and knowledge?

6. He recalled his own vows, pledges, and boasts. Have we not broken very earnest declarations?

7. He thought upon the special circumstances of his Lord when he had so wickedly denied Him. Are there no aggravations in our case?

8. He revolved in his mind his repetitions of the offence, and those repetitions with added aggravations: lie, oath, etc. We ought to dwell on each item of our transgressions, that we may be brought to a more thorough repentance of them.


1. Think upon our transgressions while unrepentant.

2. Think upon our resistance of light, and conscience, and the Holy Spirit, before we were overcome by Divine grace.

3. Think upon our small progress in the Divine life.

4. Think upon our backslidings and heart wanderings.

5. Think upon our neglect of the souls of others.

6. Think upon our little communion with our Lord.

7. Think upon the little glory we are bringing to His great name.

8. Think upon our matchless obligations to His infinite love. Each of these meditations is calculated to make us weep.


1. Can we think of these things with. out emotion? This is possible; for many excuse their sin on the ground of their circumstances, constitution, company, trade, fate: they even lay the blame on Satan, or some other tempter. Certain hard hearts treat the matter with supreme indifference. This is perilous. It is to be feared that such a man is not Peter, but Judas; not a fallen saint, but a son of perdition.

2. Are we moved by thoughts of these things? There are other reflections which may move us far more. Our Lord forgives us, and numbers us with His brethren. He asks us if we love Him, and He bids us feed His sheep, Surely, when we dwell on these themes, it must be true of each of us — "When he thought thereon, he wept."

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Peter's recollection of what he had formerly heard was another occasion of his repentance. We do not sufficiently consider how much more we need recollection than information. We know a thousand things, but it is necessary that they should be kept alive in our hearts by constant and vivid recollection. It is, therefore, extremely absurd and childish for people to say, "You tell me nothing but what I know." I answer, You forget many things, and, therefore, it is necessary that line should be upon line, and precept upon precept. Peter himself afterwards said in his Epistle, "I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them." We are prone to forget what we do know; whereas we should consider that, whatever good thing we know is only so far good to us as it is remembered to purpose.

(R. Cecil.)

Peter falls dreadfully, but by repentance rises sweetly; a look of love from Christ melts him into tears. He knew that repentance was the key to the kingdom of grace. At once his faith was so great that he leaped, as it were, into a sea of waters to come to Christ; so now his repentance was so great that he leaped, as it were, into a sea of tears, for that he had gone from Christ. Some say that, after his sad fall, he was ever and anon weeping, and that his face was even furrowed with continual tears. He had no sooner taken its poison but he vomited it up again, ere it got to the vitals; he had no sooner handled this serpent but he turned it into a rod, to scourge his soul with remorse for sinning against such clear light, and strong love, and sweet discoveries of the heart of Christ to him. Clement notes that Peter so repented that, all his life alter, every night when he heard the cock crow, he would fall upon his knees, and, weeping bitterly, would beg pardon for his sin. Ah! souls, you can easily sin as the saints, but can you repent with the saints? Many can sin with David and Peter, who cannot repent with David and Peter, and so must perish forever.

(Thomas Brooks.)

Nothing will make the faces of God's children more fair than for them to wash themselves every morning in their tears.

(S. Clark.)

A saint's tears are better than a sinner's triumphs. Bernard saith, "The tears of penitents are the wine of angels."

(Archbishop Secker.)

"And Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny Me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept."

I. THE FIRST ERROR OF THE APOSTLE WAS CONFIDENCE IN THE STRENGTH OF HIS OWN VIRTUE, FOLLOWED BY ITS NATURAL RESULT — THE WANT OF WATCHFULNESS. This was the commencement of his aberration, and the origin of all his subsequent sorrow. Our only strength is in humble and earnest reliance upon the grace of Christ. It is rare that an humble and watchful soul is overcome by temptation. Temptations are seldom nearer than when we suppose them most distant. If we commit our way unto the Lord, He will direct our steps.

II. THE FIRST SINFUL ACT OF PETER AROSE FROM VAINGLORY. He wished to make a display of his courage. One extreme is always liable to be succeeded by its opposite. Rashness is naturally followed by cowardice. He who smote off the servant's ear was seen, in a few minutes, hiding himself in the darkness among the trees of the garden.

III. THE VACILLATION OF PETER PRODUCED ITS NATURAL RESULT — INSUFFICIENT AND UNDECIDED REPENTANCE. He could not forsake his Master entirely. He dared not openly confess his fault, and meet the consequences of doing right. He followed Christ afar off. Thus difficult is it to do right, after we have once commenced the doing of wrong. A course only half-way right is as perilous a one as can be chosen. Nothing could have restored to Peter the moral courage of innocence, but going at once to Christ, confessing his sin, and avowing his attachment, no matter what the avowal might have cost him. We may be surprised into sin. Our only safety consists in forsaking it immediately. It we hesitate, our conscience will become defiled, and our resolution weakened. It is also of the utmost importance that our reformation be bold, manly, and entire.

IV. PETER HEARD JESUS FALSELY ACCUSED, AND HE UTTERED NOT A WORD IN HIS DEFENCE. He was the friend and the witness of Christ. It was his duty to act, and to act promptly. By quietly looking on, when he ought to have acted, Peter prepared himself for all the guilt and misery that ensued. Hence let us learn the danger of being found in any company in which the cause of Christ is liable to be treated with indignity. If we enter such company from choice we are accessory to the breaking of Christ's commandments. If our lawful duties call us into society, where the name of Christ is not revered, we can never remain in it innocently for a moment, unless we promptly act as disciples of Christ.

V. PETER ATTEMPTED TO ESCAPE FROM THE EMBARRASSMENTS OF HIS SITUATION BY EQUIVOCATION. "I know not," said he, "nor understand what thou sayest." This only in the end rendered his embarrassment the more inextricable. Let this part of the history teach us the importance of cultivating, on all occasions, the habit of bold and transparent veracity. Equivocation is always a sort of moral absurdity. It is an attempt to make a lie answer the purpose of the truth. He who does this when his attachment to Christ is called in question has already fallen. He denies his Lord in the sight of his all-seeing Judge, though his cowardice will not permit him to do it openly. The man who has gone thus far will soon be brought into circumstances which will openly reveal his guilt.

VI. PETER WAS RAPIDLY LED ON TO THE COMMISSION OF CRIMES IN THEMSELVES MOST ABHORRENT TO HIS NATURE, AND CRIMES OF WHICH, AT THE COMMENCEMENT OF HIS WRONG-DOING, NEITHER HE NOR ANY ONE ELSE WOULD HAVE BELIEVED HIM CAPABLE. He began by nothing more guilty than self-confidence and the want of watchfulness. He ended with shameless and repeated lying — the public denial of his Master, accompanied by the exhibition of frantic rage, and the uttering of oaths and blasphemy in the hearing of all Jerusalem. Thus, step after step, he plunged headlong into more and more atrocious guilt, until, without the power of resistance, he surrendered himself up to do the whole will of the adversary of souls.

(Francis Wayland.)

When King Henry II, in the ages gone by, was provoked to take up arms against his ungrateful and rebellious son, he besieged him in one of the French towns, and the son being near to death, desired to see his father, and confess his wrong-doing; but the stern old sire refused to look the rebel in the face. The young man, being sorely troubled in his conscience, said to those about him, "I am dying; take me from my bed, and let me lie in sackcloth and ashes, in token of my sorrow for my ingratitude to my father." Thus he died; and when the tidings came to the old man, outside the walls, that his boy had died in ashes, repentant for his rebellion, he threw himself upon the earth, like another David, and said, "Would God I had died for him." The thought of his boy's broken heart touched the heart of the father.


I. LET NO CHRISTIAN RELY ON HIS DISPOSITION OR FEELING FOR SAFETY FROM FALLING. Virtues lean towards their vices: liberty to license; liberality to waste. And when we see only our virtues, others see only our vices.

II. LET NO CHRISTIAN RELY UPON HIS PAST CONDUCT AS A SAFEGUARD. Peter had been nearest of all the disciples to Christ for three years. He had deep and pure affection.

III. LET NO CHRISTIAN PRESUME TO TRUST IN CONSCIENCE TO KEEP HIM RIGHT IN THE HOUR OF DANGER. There are many moral forces which hinder conscience. The danger of Peter had been distinctly pointed out.

IV. FROM THIS EXAMPLE LEARN TO REALIZE THE BITTER MEMORY OF GOOD WORDS WHICH COME TOO LATE. The great regrets of life consist in the memory of graces which might have made us good, but which we have neglected. And oh how awful is this bitterness!

(F. Skerry.)

The Weekly Pulpit.
The naturally warm and impetuous temperament is liable to extremes under the pressure of circumstances. This tendency to vacillation can only be corrected by a severe trial. There is one sentence in the history which shows that Peter began the downward course when he followed afar off. Had he been close to the Master's side all through the trial his courage would have stood the strain. The florist who forgot to close the skylights of his conservatory, saw his rare plants withered by the frost of the night. So the warm heart of the Christian can only live in the warmth of Divine love.

I. EVERY SIN IS IN THE FACE OF WARNING. Where there is no law there is no sin, and where there is no warning the transgression is more excusable.

II. EVERY SIN IN THE FACE OF WARNING AWAKENS A PAINFUL REFLECTION. It is not enough that sin is denounced by justice, and that warning is added to the denunciation; we must be brought into a state of observation and reflection in which to have a deep insight into the nature and consequences of sin. The very painful part of this state is the reappearance of the discarded warning. The mercy of God came to the apostle through a very humble channel; and how often we are awakened to reflection by unimportant incidents! God has blessed the tick of the clock, and the falling of a leaf, to rouse in man's breast a sense of responsibility. A thousand voices in nature call us to reflection, but sometimes a simple incident in daily life has done so more effectually. The hard-hearted father who had listened to remonstrance and warning for many a year, was at last touched. He had heard most of the temperance orators of the day, but he continued the drink. One Sunday afternoon he took his little girl to the Sunday school, intending himself to go after more drink. At the door of the school house he put the child down from his arms, but observed that tears started into her eyes. "Why do you cry?" he asked. The little one sobbed out her answer, "Because you go to public house, and frighten us when you come home." It was enough. He never entered a public house again. God can bless simple means to reach great ends. The narrative states, "The Lord turned and looked upon Peter." Nothing can hide us from the Saviour's view. It was a living and a life-giving look. It brought back moral sensibility. The living heart of Jesus travelled through that look to the cold heart of Peter. He was moved by it to reflection. The look spurned the offence but recalled the offender. It was a magnet, with both a negative and a positive pole. It repelled sin, but attracted the sinner. There is mercy in God's rebuke, and an invitation in His warning. The road back to rectitude, to truth, to honesty, to moral courage, and to discipleship was a thorny one.


1. His repentance was genuine. St. Matthew says, "He went out and wept bitterly." His spirit was broken and his heart contrite.

2. His penitence was effective. He was led to see the error, and to feel the power of forgiveness. Here is an illustration of the power of thought — dive to the depths of sin and rise to the lights of peace.

(The Weekly Pulpit.)

The old Greeks thought that memory must be a source of torture in the next world, so they interposed between the two worlds the waters of Lethe, the river of forgetfulness; but believers in Christ want no river of oblivion on the borders of Elysium. Calvary is on this side, and that is enough.

(Dr. Alexander Maclaren.).

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