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tempting him. There could be no real religion in a class of men who "denied that there was any resurrection." 3 What they practised, therefore, must have been in compliance with national custom, no effect of the conviction of the heart.

Now the leaven of hypocrisy, formality, unbelief, is a leaven which must corrupt whatever is infected by it. The hypocrite, in fact, seeks for no return from God. His only concern is the good opinion of men. As our Lord said concerning such, "They have their reward."

Then, if hypocrisy proceeds from a corrupt heart, formality does not amend one. Services in which the heart has no share, which are merely stated ceremonies, cannot influence the heart, and therefore can have none of the effect which it is the purpose of religious services to produce.

Unbelief, like that of the Sadducees, eats like a canker into the heart, and destroys all religious feeling. "Without faith it is impossible to please God: for he that cometh to God, must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." 5

Yet these are evils which are not peculiar to the Jews, or confined to one age or country. Who can say, I am pure from the sin of hypocrisy? I have never cared for the praise of man, more than the praise of God? Who can say that his prayers have never been "vain repetitions?" Who has always "asked in faith," nothing doubting: not tossed to and fro like a wave of the sea, between belief and

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unbelief? Who has not reason to pray that the imperfection of his best services may be pardoned, and the iniquity of his holy things forgiven?



MATT. XVI. 13-20.

13. When Jesus came into the coasts of Cæsarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man, am?

14. And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

15. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16. And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

17. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

Many mistaken notions, we see, prevailed concerning our Lord: and Peter might have been deceived by them, as well as others. But he had been preserved from such errors; and had been enabled to see that Jesus bore all the characters of the true Messiah. When others who beheld his miracles, instead of being convinced by them, uttered blasphemies, and ascribed them to Beelzebub, Peter was not thus perverted, knowing well, that as the fruit was

good, the tree must be good that bore it: "a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit," neither could "the evil one" perform works of mercy. When others were offended at the doctrines which

they heard, and murmured, "This is a hard saying, who can hear it?" Peter openly confessed and declared, "Thou hast the words of eternal life." '

This was the right heart, the proper disposition; not cavilling, and contending, but "receiving the word with meekness." And we are here assured that such a disposition is derived from the Spirit of God. Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. Now we are not told that God revealed the truth to Peter, as he afterwards did to the apostle Paul, by a special vision or declaration, or in any other way than he had manifested it to the rest of the people who had seen Christ's miracles and heard his word. But Peter had received the truth with readiness of heart and will, when others had disputed and denied it. And this willing and faithful heart is the gift of the Spirit."The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." Those who " receive " Christ, and "believe in his name," are "born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." 3

Therefore when Peter made that clear confession, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God, it was manifest that this was God's doing: that the Spirit had

John vi. 68.

21 Cor. ii. 14.

3 John i. 13.

wrought this conviction; had taken away the "evil heart of unbelief," and given the tender heart of humility and faith. Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee. Flesh and blood could not have taught thee this lesson; for no man can implant faith in another: flesh and blood would have taught thee a different lesson; would have led thee to doubt and dispute, or would have made thee shrink from this avowal. My father which is in heaven has taught thee to submit and believe; and, therefore, blessed art thou. Thy faith shall save thee.

The fact is clear, both from Scripture and from experience, that no man can rightly believe Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of the living God, but through the influence of the Spirit. What, therefore, is our part? What, but pray to Him from whom the Spirit proceeds, that he may give and preserve to us the same heart and faith which he gave to his apostle, and which entitled him to be called blessed. And never let us suppose that we can pray for this faith in vain. It would be impious to think this. For it would be judging worse of God, than of an earthly parent. Our Lord has himself taught us so; "Shall ye, being evil, give good gifts to your children, and shall not your heavenly Father give his Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" On the con trary, as there is no desire that ought to be so strongly felt, so is there no prayer which will be answered more graciously than this, that a deeper sense may be granted of what we owe to Christ Jesus: that "the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of

4 Luke xi. 13.

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glory, may give the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of our understanding being enlightened, that we may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to them that believe." 5

The avowal of Peter is rewarded by a gracious assurance to himself, and to those of like faith with him, in every age.

18. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

As much as to say, Thou art Peter, "which is by interpretation a stone." But the truth which has been revealed to thee, and which thou hast so plainly declared, is more than a stone; it is a rock, on which I will build my church: my church shall be founded on the confession that I am the Christ, the Son of the living God. Against the church built on this faith, the gates of hell shall not prevail. Death, and Satan the author of death, shall lose their power

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It has always been a disputed question, which is to be considered as the rock: the individual Peter, or the confession which he made? Augustin, whilst expounding after the first interpretation, does not reject the other. I adopt the latter, chiefly led by Chrysostom, whose words are: ἐπι ταύτῃ τῇ πετρα ηκοδομοίσω μου την ἐκκλήσιαν. τουτ' ἐστι, τῇ πίστει της ομολογιας. The sentence suffers greatly in a translation, because the difference between πerpos, a stone, and weтpɑ, a rock, cannot be preserved.

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