"Lord, if it's You," Peter replied, "tell me to come to You on the water." "Come," He said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him. "You of little faith," He said, "why did you doubt?" And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Matt. 14:28-32

In the preceding chapter, we considered that memorable scene on the Lake of Galilee, when in the midst of the tempest, "toiling in rowing," the disciples were gladdened by the joyous advent of their Lord. At first, terror-stricken as they saw the mysterious form on the midnight sea, but calmed and quieted on hearing the familiar voice and the reassuring word.

In following out the sequel to this scene, let us direct our thoughts—
I. To the DISCIPLE around whom the main interest of the present incident gathers.
II. To the SCENE itself; and
III. To some of its LESSONS.

I. The DISCIPLE who forms the central figure in this gospel narrative, is one who has impressed on him a peculiar and powerful individuality. There are in his character, certain strong and well defined traits—marked lights and shadows familiar to the most unobservant reader. Had no name indeed been mentioned in this passage, we would at once have been led to figure on Peter as the apostle who went, in impetuous haste, down from the vessel's side, braved the stormy sea—walked upon it—sank in terror, and rose again in faith! Peter's is that composite character which one often meets with in the world, formed by a union of opposites. Bold, hasty, forward, ardent—a soul full of deep emotion and sudden impulse, who in the fever of the moment would do a brave and hazardous thing from which, in a calmer mood, he would be deterred. Thought with him was action. To determine was to attain. In such a mind as his, to doubt would have been a grave impropriety. He is the David of the New Testament—soaring at one moment with buoyant pinion to the skies, singing as he soars, "The Lord is my Light and my Salvation, whom shall I fear?" The next, struggling as a wounded bird on the ground—with the plaintive note, "My soul cleaves to the dust!"

Or, perhaps, we may more appropriately liken him to some of David's mighty men, capable of a bold and dashing exploit—killing, at one time, a lion in a winter snow-pit—at another, plunging through the slumbering Philistines, and filling their helmets with "the water of the well of Bethlehem"—bringing the longed-for drink to their hero leader. If Peter had been, like these—a soldier by profession—he would have been suited for the brilliant attack—the sudden raid—the impetuous assault (some daring feat of arms)—not for the slow, wasting decimating siege and trench work. His enthusiasm and ardor (honest and sincere at the time) were apt to be damped in the moment of trial and danger. For emergencies to which he fancied himself equal, the event proved he was not. A child of Ephraim boldly "carrying his bow," he turned faint in the day of battle! An Asahel, swift of foot, he becomes, in his trial-hour, a "Ready-to-halt." Facing the sullen visages of frowning Pharisees and armored Romans, his countenance falls—his knees tremble. Foolish—faint-hearted—he sinks into the renegade and coward!

Thus, doubtless, was Peter a defective character. He had great faults—but these, too, were softened and redeemed by many noble compensating qualities. Better all that striking energy of soul—that warm, outspoken, hearty enthusiasm—even although it proved often mistimed, often rash, sometimes culpable—better this, than that cold, repelling, apathetic, pulseless spirit, which never kindles into one earnest or loving emotion.

There were other types of character in that very fishing vessel, perhaps more beautiful and perfect. Take John, as the ideal of the Christian man—meek, calm, adoring. His befitting place—the bosom of Jesus in his life, and the cross of Jesus at his death. His the holiest legacy ever bequeathed by filial love—"Son, behold your mother!" His gentle heart is like some quiet river, unrippled by one wave, mirroring the rich garniture of loveliness fringing its banks, and murmuring, as it glides by, the tranquil music of love. Better this, than the maddening torrent, tearing over rock and precipice, as it hurries to its ocean home.

But rather give me that boisterous river, with its foam and thunder, its cataracts and wild music, than the fetid, stagnant pool, which sleeps on in dull torpid inaction. Better the fervent, enthusiastic Christian, than the men of Meroz—those who "do nothing"—the cold, timid calculators—men of dull drowsy routine in the religious life, in whose sight fervor and fanaticism are the same things; ever jealous of going too far, never suspecting whether they may not be going far enough; who, knowing that it is an apostolic caution, "it is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good," adopt the prudent way of avoiding blunders by not being zealously affected at all.

Peter's faults were the infirmities of a noble mind; and before he received his crown, he became a living testimony as to what the grace of God could do in modifying natural temperament. Peter, "speaking in his Epistles," is another man from the impetuous Fisherman, on the shores or on the bosom of his native lake. Tradition represents him as having, at his own request, been crucified with his head downwards, in token of humility. We may accept the legend, at all events, as has been remarked, as a significant emblem of the "inversion of his character." At the close of his existence, his old age is like the peaceful subdued sunset which often terminates a troubled day; or like the mountain which, close at hand, is torn and splintered—ploughed up with unsightly scars by spring floods and winter storms. But as we recede, and the soft autumn evening tints fall upon it—the jagged outline is lost; we see only a mass of mellowed glory!—Such was the evening of Peter's life.

II. Let us consider the description here given of one of these sudden impulses of this impulsive apostle, harmonizing as it does so entirely with the rest of his history and character. Judging from this peculiar temperament, perhaps when the mysterious phantom form was first seen on the waters, Peter may have been the most faint-hearted of all. While the calm John, or the cool, cautious Thomas, may have looked their danger sternly in the face, he may have seen, in the shadowy figure, nothing but the spirit of the Tempest, or the wings of the Angel of Death, and fled, cowering in terror, to the hold of the vessel. But no sooner does he listen to the comforting, "It Is I," than shame and sorrow overwhelm him that he had been so "slow of heart," and in the very rebound from faithlessness to newly awakened joy, he resolves by an heroic act to atone for these moments of unworthy cowardice. "Lord!" says he, "if it is You, tell me to come to You on the water."

Even yet, however, his voice trembles as he speaks. Neither his faith nor his motives will bear rigid scrutiny. The very word with which he begins his bold and presumptuous request implies a secret doubt"IF it is You."

Ah! how often does that guilty word mingle still in our deep midnights of trial—questioning God's voice, God's way, God's will, God's loving wisdom. How apt are we to indulge in unkind, unrighteous surmises; saying, like Martha of Bethany (the "Peter of her sex"), when the Master came to her in the midst of a still darker tempest, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died?" Let us "be still and know that He is God." There is no room for an "if" or a "why" in all His providential dealings. Shall we own the voice of God, as we stand in the natural world in the loaded air of summer noontide, when from the heavy clouds there issues bolt after bolt of living thunder? and in the moral world shall we refuse to acknowledge and adore the same? No; when out, buffeting the wintry sea of trial, "neither sun nor star appearing, and a very great tempest lying upon us;" while others may only hear the rougher accents of the storm, be it ours to recognize the soft undertones of covenant love, and to exclaim with one who had likewise Nature, Providence, and Grace in his eye when he penned his words—"The voice of the Lord is upon the waters. The God of glory thunders. The Lord is upon many waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful. The voice of the Lord is full of majesty . . . The Lord sits upon the flood, yes, the Lord sits king forever. The Lord will give strength to His people. The Lord will bless His people with peace."

But to return to the narrative—While there was doubt and misgiving on the part of Peter, in illustration of that strange union of opposites to which I have referred, there was in conjunction with these, boldness and presumption.

His own thought, doubtless, was to make an avowal of his faith, but what he did display was not faith, but a base counterfeit. It was a degenerate semblance and figure of the true. Rightly named, it was forwardness, fool-hardihood—the haughty spirit, which is inevitably succeeded by a fall.

Let us always be careful to give things their proper designation. Let us be specially on our guard against looking at vice and virtue through a distorted medium, giving the name of gold to what may, after all, be base alloy; confounding great heavenly principles with hollow semblances; calling evil good and good evil; putting darkness for light and light for darkness. How often do we hear revenge misnamed honor; passion, spirit; extravagance, generosity; free thinking, liberality; blasphemy, wit; and presumption, faith.

In the case before us, we may be apt, at first sight, to confuse and confound two feelings and emotions, in themselves widely different. Peter in appearance is very magnanimous nor do we deny (his Lord Himself owns it) that there was in his bold deed a certain amount of faith and confidence in Christ's ability and power. So far his conduct was commendable; but there was more of the reverse—more of pride, ambition, rashness.

His faith in his Divine Master would have been tempered with a wiser discretion, and a kindlier regard for the feelings of others, had he simply joined with his fellow apostles in inviting Jesus into their ship. But he lorded it over them. There was an implied assumption of superiority in the personal request, "Tell ME." We could not even have quarreled with his conditional "If," had he put it in the form, "If it be Your will, Lord." But with a rashness similar to that which drew down a later rebuke, when unbidden he cut off the ear of Malchus, he utters, on his own authority, and more in the tone of a mandate than a proposal, "TELL me to come." There is a struggle for pre-eminence, a craving to win the highest praise from his Master. He would wish to make himself out the boldest and bravest of the apostle-crew. It is the saying and the failing of a future occasion put in another form and other words—"Though all be offended, yet I shall not."

Doubtless, had an injunction to leave the vessel emanated from the lips of Christ, it would have been alike his duty and his joy to obey; there would then have been no sinking, no faltering. If the Lord had "given the word" He would have made Peter's "feet like hinds' feet," and set him upon these "high places." But this frail worm himself takes the initiative. He makes his own will and wish antecedent to the will of his Lord, and he must pay the penalty of his presumptuous daring.

Let us beware of such a spirit—this love of pre-eminence—this exalting our own reputation or good name at the expense of others. "Do not be high-minded, but fear." "Let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall." Self-denial is one of the most beautiful offshoots of humility; and Humility, remember, is the loveliest plant in the heavenly garden. The Lord of the garden delights to tend it and nurture it. The man on the white horse in Zechariah's vision, rode among the myrtle trees, which were in the bottom of the valley, not amid the oaks of Bashan or the cedars of Lebanon. The sweetest note of the lark, though she loves to carol in the sky, is said to be when she alights in her nest in the furrow. Let us seek the shade—not being wise in our own conceits; but "in humility consider others better than yourselves."

How kindly and considerately does Jesus deal with this bold and rash, yet ardent and devoted man. "Lord, tell me to come." He forbids him not. Had he done so, there would have been lost to Peter the most valuable lesson his Master ever taught him. Jesus uses the present opportunity to discipline him by his failure to become, as he afterwards did become, a spiritual giant and hero; out of his very weakness He made him strong!

Our Lord, as Man, had His own likings and partialities for individual character; and though that of John was probably cast in the human mold most resembling His own, yet His personal attachment to Peter is undoubted. He seemed to take a pleasure in training him, just as a faithful teacher takes special pleasure and pains in the training of an eager, ardent, impetuous child, or a faithful farmer in cleansing a fruitful, grateful soil of redundant and noxious weeds.

Peter makes his request. A single word is all he gets in reply. The same voice which, a few moments before, gently quieted by a threefold assurance the fears of all the affrighted crew, says, in answer to the bold outspoken one—"come!" He does not refuse, but neither does He give any warrant or promise of upholding power. Peter had said "Tell me;" Christ does not say "I tell." Peter had said "on the water." Jesus speaks of no footway there. Peter had said "unto You;" Jesus gives no such invitation. He utters only the one indefinite word, "come!" "Come," He seems to say, "bold one, make trial of your strength; come if you can; but it is on your own risk and responsibility; I give no pledge or warrant of success to your carnal presumption."

He does come! He descends the side of the lurching vessel—the next moment his feet are on the unstable waves. His faith is for the moment strong, and fixing his countenance on his great Redeemer, he travels in safety along that strangest of pathways. But a wandering eye is the first symptom of a mournful reverse. He turns his face from Christ; he transfers his glance to the rolling waves at his feet, and the storm sighing overhead. "When he saw the wind boisterous he was afraid." It was no new tempest that had sprung up; the sea was not opening its mouth wider than before; the sky was no blacker; the hurricane no louder; the waves were beating as high when he first sallied forth. But with his eye and his heart on the Lord of the storm, he had no room then for a thought of danger. Now it was different. Gazing on the tempestuous elements, he trembled at his own courage. He took his eye off the secret of his support, and down he sank like lead in that raging sea.

Ah! Peter is here a living impersonation of UNBELIEF, which is nothing else but a diversion of the Soul's Eye from God—a looking to the creature—to the world—to sight—to self—to sense—and ignoring the great Creator, the Blessed Redeemer, and the things Unseen! The disciple, while he retained his faith, saw no waves and heard no winds. The disciple, faithless, with his eye turned from his Lord, was awakened to the reality of the maddening elements around him; and then the Lord left him to taste the fruits of his rash over-boldness. Like Samson, he is shorn of his strength. Like that champion of Israel, he says, "I will go out as at other times and shake myself." But unbelief has caused his "strength to go from him, so that he has become weak as another man."

But pass we now to a more favorable turn in Peter's case. It has been said that he is the most gifted general—not who achieves most victories, but who is able to retrieve his errors; and effect triumphs out of untoward misfortunes and mistakes. Peter had presumed—faltered—was fast sinking. Is he to let the opportunity go without seeking, by some strong effort, to retrieve his honor, and convert that midnight sea into a moral battlefield where a great fall and loss is to be converted into a great victory? Is the bird taken in the net spread by itself not to make a bold attempt to penetrate the meshes and soar to his native sky?

Yes! as unbelief sank him, so faith is to raise him again. How is he raised? He honors Christ throughout in this memorable crisis. He might have dreamed at that moment of other ways of extricating himself from his peril. Was there no rope in the hold of the boat? Could he not have asked one of the Apostle rowers to stretch him one of those oars with which, a few minutes before, they had been toiling in vain to make head against the storm? Or, where was his natural or acquired skill in swimming, of which we read afterwards, when near the beach of that same lake on a later occasion, he plunged headlong into the water and swam manfully ashore! But he resorts to none of these expedients. Having dishonored Jesus by distrusting Him, he will honor him once more by fresh confidence in His power and love. "None but Christ" is His motto. His cry, "Lord, save me, else I perish!" Not all the props you can employ can raise up the battered downtrodden flower so well as the congenial sunshine. So this drooping flower turns his leaves to the Great Sun of Righteousness. The Apostle is sinking—but even as he sinks, he sinks "looking unto Jesus."

And as the Servant honored his Master—as the Disciple honored his Lord—so does the Lord and Master honor him and deal tenderly with him in return.

He might have righteously left him for a while in his anguish and trepidation, to feel the consequences of his rashness. With the horrors of death taking hold on him, He might have addressed him in words of cutting rebuke and upbraiding. But He will first restore His confidence. "Immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand and caught him." The Lord's hand was not shortened that it could not save. Peter's experience was that of the Psalmist—"When my foot slipped, Your mercy, O Lord, held me up!"

And now comes the gentle rebuke. It would not have been well for Peter—it would not have been well for the Church of the future, which was to read and ponder this scene—had the salutary needed reproof been allowed to pass. Gentle, however, it was! He does not address him as the presumptuous unbeliever—neither does He reprimand him for making the attempt to come. This might have had the effect of damping his energies for bolder deeds yet in reserve for him. Thus is he addressed by Him who "breaks not the bruised reed, nor quenches the smoking flax"—"O you of little faith, why did you doubt?"

That sensitive heart required no harsh or severe word to enforce the appeal. A look, you will remember—a glance of impressive silence, yet of deep significance—afterwards covered his face with bitter tears. So now, that one brief question would bring before him the memory of a hundred former acts of love and power, all of which would aggravate the unkindness of distrusting that Gracious Savior. It was equivalent to saying, "Peter! after all that I have done for you in the past, why have you now dishonored Me?—why refuse reliance now on my all-powerful arm? I still acknowledge that you have faith—but in this critical emergency it has shown itself to be small. Why have you wounded Me so by this unworthy doubting?"

The accused is silent. He attempts no reply. Perhaps his tears forbid it. Doubtless he returned to the vessel a humbled man. It was a night which to his dying hour would be much remembered. Yet could it fail to rivet his affections more strongly than ever around that Savior? If we put a "Song of the Night" into his lips, may it not be appropriately that of the Great Prophet—"Behold, God is my salvation. I will trust and not be afraid, for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song. He also has become my salvation."

Let us now ponder one or two of the PRACTICAL LESSONS suggested by this subject, though these indeed have already been so far anticipated.

I. We learn that Faith and fear may be found existing together in the minds of God's children, and that we must not make the existence of doubts and misgivings an evidence that we have no faith.

That Peter had faith, notwithstanding his distrust and fear, is obvious. It was faith, though mingled with other lower motives, which led him to venture on the water. It was faith which, as he was sinking, prompted the prayer, "Lord, save me." And in his rebuke Christ recognizes the existence of faith, though he speaks of it as small, "O you of little faith."

From this, the desponding child of God may draw a lesson of consolation and encouragement. You whose souls are harassed with fears—who are mourning over the coldness of your love, the weakness of your graces, the languor of your spiritual frame, learn here not to argue from the existence of doubt, that faith must be lacking or cannot be real. True it is, the further you advance in the Divine life the greater your faith will be, and the fewer will be your doubts. But Christ here does not refuse to stretch out an arm of mercy to one of little faith. If you have faith only as a grain of mustard seed, it tells what spirit you are of. For this is no plant of earthly growth that will blossom spontaneously in the soil of the unregenerate heart, it is "not of yourselves, it is the gift of God." The Bible speaks of various degrees of Faith. And there are different figures employed to denote the operation of this great principle. Its first and simplest act is represented as a "Looking to Christ," then a "coming to Christ," a "receiving Christ," a "laying hold of Christ," a "cleaving" to Christ, a "trusting" in Christ.

But the lowest in this scale, provided it be a real faith, gives a sinner an interest in Jesus and his salvation, as well as the highest. The faith of the "weak" as well as of the "strong" rests on the same one Foundation. But mistake us not! We do not mean to say that because the smallest degree or measure of faith is an index of spiritual life, that therefore there is no need of further degrees of it. If, there is true faith, it must, like every other Christian principle, be progressive. This must be the prayer of every heart in which that grace is real, "Lord, increase my faith." While with holy humble gratitude we can say, "Lord, we believe," we must ever be adding, "Help our unbelief."

II. We are taught here the great cause of all the doubts and misgivings of God's people. It is, as in the case of Peter, a lack of dependence on Christ. We have seen when that ardent Disciple first ventured on the watery element his footing was firm, because his faith in his Lord's power was firm; but as soon as his eye was turned from his heavenly Master on the boisterous elements around, then faith failed, and he began to sink!

What was the secret of Paul's boldness amid his great fight of afflictions? It was keeping the undeviating eye of Faith fixed on that same glorious Redeemer. With a martyr's stake casting its shadow on his path, or with the rage of Nero's lions in his ear, he could exclaim, "None of these things move me."

Is it not even so with us? Why is it that we who once, it may be, were confident in the Lord's faithfulness, and who stood firm, like a rock in the waters, against the temptations that were assailing us, may now be unable to resist their force? Is it not because we have turned away the eye of faith from a reigning Savior, and fixed it on the troubles and tumults and dangers around; reasoned about the strength of our temptations and the severity of our trials, the greatness of our difficulties, and the imminency of our dangers—forgetful of that blessed truth that Christ is able to save to the uttermost? We have doubted His ability and distrusted His faithfulness, and He has now left us to feel "how frail we are."

III. We learn from this narrative—What is the source of relief to the sinking soul, in its times of troubles and fear. It is Christ Himself—a renewed application to Him as a Savior.

You remember the well-known incident in old Roman story, when, in crossing a strait in the hour of maddening storm, coward hearts were tortured with terror, as they listened to creaking planks in their tiny vessel. The sea was lashing over them; their eyes were dimmed with the blinding spray—Death seemed to sit on every crested wave. A voice from one of noble bearing, sitting wrapped in a military cloak by the stern, blended with the accents of the storm—"The Bark cannot sink which carries Caesar and his fortunes!" It was enough. The revelation of the imperial presence and the imperial word was like oil cast on the fretful sea. Their courage rose—with undaunted souls they buffeted its waves, and were before long on the wished-for shore.

Reader, in the midst of your earthly troubles, turn in self-oblivion to the Heavenly Pilot. A nobler than Caesar is at your side! He tells you that there is nothing to fear—that there shall be no loss of any man's life—no, not even of the ship—but that you shall all get "safe to land." If duty has called you out to the troubled waters, let Faith—that divine principle—believing—trusting, honoring Jesus—bear you up amid every difficulty and every danger. Say with this same Apostle on another memorable occasion, "Lord, to whom can I go, but to You? You have the words of eternal life;" or with another sinking castaway, "Why are you downcast, O my soul? and why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God."

IV. Let us here note the means by which this application is made and final deliverance obtained. It is PRAYER—"Lord, save me, I perish."

How delightful to think that amid all the troubles of the world without, and all the tumults of the heart within, a Savior's ear is ever open—the gates to a throne of grace are never shut! Yes, though we may be conscious that much of our doubt, and darkness, and despondency can be traced to nothing but our own faithlessness—though we may be conscious that we have ourselves roused the storm which now and again may be desolating our hearts—there is yet room for calling upon Him who can say to the storms within as to the storms without, Peace—be still; and no tempest-tossed spirit in its sinking moments ever applied to Him for help, and applied in vain.

Are there any reading these pages thus tossed with tempest and refusing to be comforted—whose faith is weak—whose hearts are desponding—whose love is cold—who are mourning over the departure of seasons of spiritual light, and liberty, and joy? Let your hour of doubt and trembling be turned into an hour of prayer. You may have changed in your love to your Redeemer—forgotten and forsaken Him—rejected His grace, and distrusted His faithfulness—but He is unchanged in His love towards you! The storm may have hidden His face, but He is as near you as He was to Peter of old. For you there is still open, what there was to the sinking disciple—a Throne of grace! Go with the cry, "Lord, save me, I perish"—and you will find that the hour of supplication will be turned, as with him, into an hour of deliverance. For "immediately Jesus stretched forth His hand and caught him."

O wondrous power of Prayer! What miracles, what triumphs does it accomplish! It has turned the volleyed lightning in its path. It has scared away the brooding pestilence. It has unlocked the bronze gates of the sky, and brought down floods on the thirsty soil. It has smoothed the pillow of sickness. It has dried the widow's tears, and filled the mouths of her orphans. It has brought back the wandering prodigal to his Father's hearth and home. It has wrestled with an angel, and prevailed. It has arrested the ear and moved the arm of Omnipotence.

The telescope has with giant bound scaled the stars and traversed Immensity. The electric spark can now conduct its winged messages from sea to sea, and from continent to continent. It can stay armies on their march, and silence the thunders of battle, and give the momentous word and will on which depends the fate of thrones and the destinies of nations. But what is that to a power which transmits messages from the lips of the finite creature to the presence-chamber of the Infinite God?—finding its way where the eye has never roamed, the telescope never reached, science with its lightning-pinions never soared—penetrating the gates, unlocking the garners of Heaven!

Do we know this Power of Prayer? Feeling that we are perishing, have we sent up a cry for help to that God who is a refuge to His people in every time of trouble? If so, He will send help out of His holy hill of Zion. Why is it that our prayers seem so frequently to go unanswered—that, despite of them all, we feel that we are sinking still? Is it not because they are not the cries of those who feel their great and impacting need of Christ, and are really desirous that His hand be stretched out for their rescue? Let us go with the publican's lowly spirit, and with the sinking disciple's importunate entreaty, "Lord, save me, I perish! Lord, I look to You for safety. There is no safety in myself. I feel that I am a lost undone sinner, and unless plucked from the billows of sin, I shall perish everlastingly. But, Lord, from the depths I cry to You; help me, O helper of the helpless! Show me that man's extremity is God's opportunity," and then, as surely as in the case of Peter, Jesus will stretch forth His hand. It may not be, as with him, "immediately." But "the Lord is good to those who wait for Him, unto the soul that seeks Him." "Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and he WILL strengthen your heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord."

V. We learn, from the narrative before us, that distrust in Christ's faithfulness is displeasing to Him—Jesus REBUKED him, saying, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" That question, we have seen, carried an arrow of deep conviction to Peter's heart. He dared not answer it. His silence told how deeply it was felt! And does not that same question ring reproachfully in many of our ears; if we are now surrounded with trial or temptation—disposed to question or distrust the Redeemer's faithfulness. "Why," He seems to say, "Oh, why, unbelieving one, do you doubt? Look back on your past history; don't you remember the hours when you tasted My faithfulness and mercy; when My candle shined upon your head, and my peace lit up your soul with a joy infinite as heaven? Look back, and is not your pilgrimage journey crowded with Ebenezers, telling that the Lord has helped you? Don't you remember the hour of trouble when I wiped your tears; the hour of temptation when I dispelled your foes; the night of affliction when I soothed your sorrows, and whispered peace when all around was death; the hour of prayer and the season of communion, when I made the House of God as the very gate of heaven? And if darkness and tempest have now succeeded—if the calm has been changed into a storm, and I seem to have hid My face, Oh, why do you doubt? Shouldn't My faithfulness in the past be an encouragement for the future—a pledge and assurance that I will never fail you nor forsake you?"

VI. We learn again, from the deliverance given to the sinking disciple, that there is no situation in which Christ is not willing and able to help us.

When did He come to Peter and to his fellow voyagers? It was "about the fourth watch of the night," while morning had scarcely begun to dawn, and all nature was sunk in slumber! And who, after the toils of the preceding day, would have felt these slumbers more sweet, or nature's rest more refreshing, than the weary Man of Sorrows? But He who had gone to the lonely mountaintop, to seek a bed of rest, when elsewhere He had none, willingly forsook even this, to come to the help of His beloved disciples! What does this tell us, but that we can never go out of season to Christ; that there is not the hour in which He is inaccessible to our needs, or will refuse to give us help; that there is no danger from which He cannot extricate us; nor the trial which He will not overrule for the strengthening of our faith. He is able to save—He is willing to save. None are beyond the reach of His abounding grace and mercy.

As the ocean supports a navy as easily as the bubble on the breaker, or the sea bird sitting on its crested foam; as the earth supports the everlasting hills as easily as the tiny grass which clothes its sides, or the cattle which browse on them; so Jesus can save great and small; He is the spiritual Atlas carrying a ruined world. In the season of our deepest extremity, even when, like the apostle, we may seem on the brink of perishing—the waves of destruction about to close over us—with such a Savior there is no room to despair.

VII. Finally, we have here a lesson of rebuke and warning: Christ calls Peter's "a little faith." And yet, weak and faithless as he was, when we read this narrative, how are we overwhelmed and abased when we think of the poverty and meagerness of our faith, when compared even with that of the sinking disciple? We behold him in that hour of tempest, stepping down from the vessel and committing himself to the raging waters. He hears his Lord's voice, and, fearless of danger, travels along the unstable element to throw himself at His feet. We see, in the same moment, courage, ardor, prayer, love, devotedness; and yet the Savior reproves him, and his silence tells that he felt the rebuke was no more than was due. Surely if this could only be called a "little faith," what must He who so denominated it, think of ours?—when many of us can tell of lives that present one sad history of doubt, and distrust, and faithlessness—prayerless, careless, godless seasons, when the least vanities are cleaved to in preference to Christ, and we rush to every 'savior' but the one who died for us.

Do not let us harshly and censoriously deal with Peter until we have "considered ourselves." Let us look at his frailties side by side with our own. Our judgment on the apostle may well be tempered with mercy—our judgment on ourselves may well be mingled with shame. Let us be equally noble, as he was, in our avowal of attachment to our Great Lord. Let us be equally ready, when we stumble and fall, for his baptism of bitter tears. Let us be equally resolute in spirit for his martyr-death. If God sends us midnights of trial, let these be hallowed and consecrated to us, as they were to him, by a more loving trust in that loving Savior—leading us the more fondly to welcome the Lord's voice upon the waters, and to take as our motto and watchword for all the contingencies of an unknown future, "When I am afraid, I will trust in You!"