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leave events to his all-wise disposal-Jesus ordered his disciples to go in a small vessel to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the multitudes, who had been fed by him—they probably approving in their hearts the proposal that had been made to invest him with royal authority, were some. what averse to leave him; but, being commanded to go, complied-In the prosecution of their duty they were overtaken with a storm, which not only obstructed their progress but threatened their lives-In this state they were greatly terrified; but they soon found that the way of duty was the way of safety
In elucidating the miraculous interposition of Jesus on their behalf, we shall notice
I. The power he exercised
He came to them walking on the sea
[Jesus, after dismissing the multitudes, retired to a moun. tain to pray
And thus by his own example taught us all, and especially ministers, that, however pressing our public business may be, we should redeem time, even from sleep, for the purposes of private devotion
In the meantime his disciples, driven from their course, were contending with the storm-But Jesus went to their relief; and, having no boat or attendants to convey him, walked to them upon the tempestuous waters-]
This he did from the purest and most benevolent motives
[Had he been actuated by a vain ostentation, he would probably have continued walking on the sea, instead of going up into the ship, that the people of Capernaum also might behold him-But his disciples were to be his witnesses to the world; and, being very slow of heart to believe, they needed more abundant testimonies for their conviction-Now the walking upon the sea was known to be an indication of divine power
He therefore gave them this evidence on purpose to prove to them his Messiahship; and, by means of it, he wrought a conviction on their minds, which his other miracles had failed to produce1-]
a John vi. 15.
b'Hvάyxαcy, ver. 22.
© They were ordered to go over a small bay to Bethsaida; but striving against the winds which drove them out to sea towards Capernaum, they were, after many hours, only a league from shore. d Besides, he had just refused to be made a king. e Job ix. 8.
f Ver. 33. with Mark vi. 52.
The first effect produced by his appearance to them,
leads us to notice
II. The fears he occasioned
His disciples were extremely terrified at the sight of
[The day but just beginning to dawn, their view of him was very indistinct-They supposed him to be a spirit-They knew that it was an evil spirit who had raised the storm by which Job's family were destroyed, and they possibly night think that such a spirit had stirred up this tempest, and was now coming to overwhelm them utterly-Filled with terror, they cried aloud; accounting him an object of dread, whom, if they had known him, they would have regarded as their most seasonable, most welcome deliverer-But the trouble was necessary, in order to engage their more fixed attention to the miracle now exhibited before their eyes-]
Thus are the Lord's people frequently harassed by unnecessary fears
[All are called to sustain some conflicts in the path of duty-And in the midst of trouble the mind is apt to faint-If our difficulties or dangers be great, we are prone to indulge despondency, and to increase by imaginary fears the calamities under which we labour-How often has that been a source of trouble to us, which should rather have been an occasion of joy and gratitude!-How often have we forgotten, that God is pledged for our support, while we continue in the path of duty-And that there are a thousand unforeseen ways in which he can appear for us, when we think him most unmindful of our state! But, however distressing our fears may be for a moment, we shall have reason to be thankful for them, if they be the means of impressing us with a more abiding sense of Christ's love and faithfulness-Yea, they are often permitted, and even excited by him, for this very end-]
These fears however were amply compensated by III. The condescension he manifested
He instantly dispelled their fears in the kindest and most condescending manner
[He at first appeared as though he would pass by themBut, having tried them for a moment, he revealed himself unto them; and bade them dismiss their groundless fearsHe moreover went up into the vessel to them-And immediately the ship was wafted to its destined port]
8 Job i. 12, 19.
John vi. 21.
Thus does he at this time also allay the fears of his people
[Are they distressed by reason of fierce opposition? he reminds them that, with him on their side, they have none to fear-Are they overwhelmed with heavy trials? his presence with them is urged by him as an abundant ground of consolation and encouragementAre they desponding under an apprehension that they are forsaken by him? he gently reproves their unbelief, and assures them of his unremitting care Whatever be the source of their discouragement, he bids them not fear"-And commands his ministers to labour more especially in comforting their afflicted minds—Thus, by revealing himself to them, he removes their trouble; and, by his presence with them, carries them forward towards the haven of rest-]
1. There is no state in which Christ can not save us
[Our difficulties may be greatly multiplied, and appear utterly insurmountable-But "his hand is not shortened that it cannot save; nor is his ear heavy, that it cannot hear"He who "made the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed to pass over," and saved Jonah in the belly of a fish, can never be at a loss for means to deliver us-On the contrary, the greater be the obstacles to our salvation, the more will he magnify his power and grace in effecting it-]
2. There is no state in which Christ will not save us
[He sees us when we little think of it; and is often nearer to us than we imagine-Our conflicts may be long; and he may suffer all our endeavours to be frustrated-But he will appear for us in some unexpected way-And his presence with us shall both alleviate our labours, and crown us with success-Only let us invite him into the vessel with us, and we shall gain in safety the desired haven-]
i Isai. xli. 10-15.
m Isai. xlix. 14, 15.
k Isai. xliii. 1, 2, 5. ́
Isai. xl. 27-31. • Isai. XXXV. 4.
CCXCIX. PETER SAVED WHEN SINKING IN THE SEA. Matt. xiv. 30, 31. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
MEN'S constitutional propensities are apt to betray them into many errors-Whatever be the natural frail
ties of any person, they usually form the weak part of his character even to his latest hour-The force of them is no where more strongly exhibited than in the conduct of Peter-He was of a bold, forward, confident disposition-This led him on many occasions to act with indiscretion, and often brought upon him a just reproof-In the passage before us he needlessly solicited a trial of his faith-And the experiment terminated in his shameThe account given of it in the text, leads us to observe I. We should not needlessly seek trials, nor fear those to which we are called in the way of duty
[We are very apt to rush into temptation-And to think that we shall be able to endure it-But this is, in fact, to tempt God-It is the very thing to which Satan endeavoured to persuade our Lord-Peter indeed was actuated in part by faith and love-But there was evidently no small degree of ostentation in his request to our Lord-Though he did not venture without a call, yet he presumptuously asked permission to display the grace, which he fancied himself possessed of-And our Lord gave him the permission, in order to shew him his own weakness-Nor can we expect any different issue, if we presumptuously run into temptation-On the other hand, we should not fear, if we be called into trials in the way of duty-If there were the most inveterate enemies close to us, we should not fear-If there were the sea itself before us, we should go forward-" Before Zerubbabel the mountains should become a plain," and "the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed to pass over"-Wherever duty calls, we should go-And leave the consequences altogether to GodBut they who needlessly rush into difficulties, will fail in the hour of trial, as this same Peter did in the hall of judgmentThey only who wait for the pillar and the cloud, will be kept from falling-]
II. If we be at any time in trouble we should call upon
Jesus for help
[Here Peter did right-Indeed he could do nothing else -A sense of his weakness and danger brought him to his right mind-Thus should we do under every trouble, whether temporal or spiritual-Even where our own imprudence has brought us into the trial, we should call upon him for helpJesus is ever nigh at hand to help us-And is able to extricate us from any danger-His almighty hand stretched out, can save us instantly-As the sight of the brazen serpent healed those that were on the verge of death, so an humble
a Ps. cxxx. 1, 2. and xviii. 3--5. b See Jonah i. 12. and ii. 1, 2.
petition to the Saviour will bring us all-sufficient help-fis word to all is, " Call upon me in the time of trouble, and I will hear thee, and thou shalt glorify me"-]
III. Though he may rebuke our unbelief, yet he will not refuse the aid which we solicit
[Faith is that which most honours God-Hence Jesus always noticed the faith of persons even more than their humility or love-On the other hand, unbelief most dishonours him-Other sins pour contempt on the law, but unbelief reflects upon the lawgiver as destitute of truth, or power, or love-This therefore Jesus notes with peculiar disapprobation -Justly did he reprove it in Peter; as he will also in us-But he will not be extreme to mark it-He reproved it in a distressed parent; but granted his request-So he will make us to feel his displeasure; but he will not shut his ear to our cry -If we had all the guilt of the universe, or the most deeprooted lusts that ever man had, our prayer should prevail for the removal of them-And the soul that once appeared to be sinking to perdition, shall be securely embarked in the same vessel with Jesus-Nor shall it be long ere it be brought in safety to the haven of eternal rest-]
1. The presumptuous
[Learn from Peter to shun vain confidence, as you do from Lot's wife to avoid a worldly spirit-Be not high-minded, but fear-Yet when the pillar and the cloud move, fear not-Be strong, not in your own conceit, but in the grace that is in Christ Jesus-]
2. The doubting
[Unbelief is a sad enemy in the time of trial-It will weaken us, and expose us to great danger-Guard against it, and pray, "Help thou my unbelief" Be thankful however for the smallest portion of faith-If it be ever so small, it shall remove mountains, and save the soul at last-" Believe in the Lord, so shall ye prosper; believe his prophets, so shall ye be established"-]
3. The confirmed believer
[Labour to unite fear and confidence, caution and boldness- -You are as a light in the world; and in the hour of trial many eyes will be upon you-Be strong then in faith, giving glory to God-So shall you be preserved in every danger; and the church be edified by your example-]
c Matt. viii. 10. and xv. 28. and Luke vii. 50. d Mark ix. 23. VOL. III.