The Training of the Twelve - 29 - Under-Shepherds (John 21)



John 21:15-17.

" I go a-fishing," said Simon to his companions, some time after they and he had returned from Jerusalem to the neighborhood of the Galilean lake. "We also go with thee," replied Thomas and Nathanael, and James and John, and two others unnamed, making with Peter seven, probably all of the eleven who were fishermen by trade. One and all went on that fishing expedition con amore. It was an expedition, we presume, in the first place, in quest of food, but it was something more. It was a return to dear old ways, amid familiar scenes, which called up pleasing reminiscences of bygone times. It was a recreation and a solace, most welcome and most needful to men who had passed through very painful and exciting experiences; a holiday for men fatigued by sorrow, and surprise, and watching. Every student with overtasked brain, every artisan with over strained sinews, can conceive the abandon with which those seven disciples threw themselves into their boats, and sailed out into the depths of the Sea of Tiberias to ply their old craft.

Out on the waters that night, what were these men's thoughts? From the significant allusion made by Jesus to Peter's youth in the colloquy of next morning, we infer they were something like the following:—"After all, were it not better to be simple fishermen than to be apostles of the Christian religion? What have we got by following Jesus? Certainly not what we expected. And have we any reason to expect better things in the future? Our Master has told us that our future lot will be very much like His own,—a life of sorrow, ending probably in martyrdom. But here, in our native province of Galilee, pursuing our old calling, we might think, believe, act as we pleased, shielded by obscurity from all danger. Then how delightfully free and independent this rustic life by the shores of the lake! In former days, ere we left our nets and followed Jesus, we girded ourselves with our fishermen's coats, and walked whither we would. When we shall have become apostles, all that will be at an end. We shall be burdened with a heavy load of responsibility; obliged continually to think of others, and not to please ourselves; liable to have our personal liberty taken away, yea, even our very life."

In putting such words into the mouths of the disciples, we do not violate probability; for such feelings as the words express are both natural and common in view of grave responsibilities and perils about to be incurred. Perhaps no one ever put his hand to the plough of an arduous enterprise, without indulging for at least a brief space in such a looking back. It is an infirmity which easily besets human nature.

Yet, natural as it comes to men to look back, it is not wise. Regretful thoughts of the past are for the most part delusive; they were so, certainly, in the case of the disciples. If the simple life they left behind them was so very happy, why did they leave it? Why so prompt to forsake their nets and their boats, and to follow after Jesus? Ah! fishing in the blue waters of the Sea of Galilee did not satisfy the whole man. Life is more than meat, and the kingdom of God is man's chief end. Besides, the fisherman's life has its drawbacks, and is by no means so romantic as it seems at the distance of years. You may sometimes go out with your nets, and toil all night, and catch nothing.

This was what actually happened on the present occasion. "That night they caught nothing."[29.1] The circumstance probably helped to break the spell of romance, and to waken the seven disciples out of a fond dream. Be that as it may, there was One who knew all their thoughts, and who would see to it that they did not indulge long in the luxury of reactionary feeling. "When the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore."[29.2] He is come to show Himself for the third time[29.3] to His disciples,—not, as before, to convince them that He is risen, but to induce them to dedicate their whole minds and hearts to their future vocation as fishers of men, and as under-shepherds of the flock, preparatory to His own departure from the world. His whole conduct on this occasion is directed to that object. First, He gives them directions for catching a great haul of fish, to remind them of their former call to be His apostles, and to be an encouraging sign or symbol of their success in their apostolic work. Then He invites them to dine on fish which He had procured,[29.4] roasted on a fire of His own kindling on the shore, to cure them of earthly care, and to assure them that if they seek to serve the kingdom with undivided heart, all their wants will be attended to. Finally, when the morning meal is over, He enters into conversation, in the hearing of all, with the disciple who had been the leader in the night adventure on the lake, and addresses him in a style fitted to call forth all his latent enthusiasm, and intended to have a similar effect on the minds of all present.

On the surface, the words spoken by Jesus to Peter seem to concern that disciple alone; and the object aimed at appears to be to restore him to a position as an apostle, which he might not unnaturally think he had forfeited by his conduct in the high priest's palace. This, accordingly, is the view commonly taken of this impressive scene on the shore of the lake. And whether we agree with that view or not, we must admit that, for some reason or other, the Lord Jesus wished to recall to Peter's remembrance his recent shortcomings. Traces of allusion to past incidents in the disciple's history during the late crisis are unmistakable. Even the time selected for the conversation is significant. It was when they had dined that Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him; it was after they had supped Jesus gave His disciples His new commandment of love, and that Peter made his vehement protestation of devotion to his Master's cause and person. The name by which the risen Lord addressed His disciple—not Peter, but Simon son of Jonas—was fitted to remind him of his weakness, and of that other occasion on which, calling him by the same name, Jesus warned him that Satan was about to sift him as wheat. The thrice-repeated question, "Lovest thou me?" could not fail painfully to remind Peter of his threefold denial, and so to renew his grief. The form in which the question was first put—"Lovest thou me more than these?"—contains a manifest allusion to Peter's declaration, "Though all shall be offended because of Thee, yet will I never be offended." The injunction, "Feed my sheep," points back to the prophetic announcement made by Jesus on the way to the Mount of Olives, "All ye shall be offended because of me this night; for it is written, I will smite the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad," and means, Suffer not the sheep to be scattered, as ye were for a season scattered yourselves. The injunction, "Feed my lambs," associated with the first question, "Lovest thou me more than these?" makes us think of the charge, "When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren;" the idea suggested in both cases being the same, viz. that the man who has fallen most deeply, and learned most thoroughly his own weakness, is, or ought to be, best qualified for strengthening the weak,—for feeding the lambs.

Notwithstanding all these allusions to Peter's fall, we are unable to acquiesce in the view that the scene here recorded signified the formal restoration of the erring disciple to his position as an apostle. We do not deny that, after what had taken place, that disciple needed restoration for his own comfort and peace of mind. But our difficulty is this: Had he not been restored already? What was the meaning of that private meeting between him and Jesus, and what its necessary result? Who can doubt that after that meeting the disciple's mind was at ease, and that thereafter he was at peace, both with himself and with his Master? Or if evidence is wanted of the fact, look at Peter's behavior on recognizing Jesus from the boat, as He stood on the shore in the gray morning, casting himself as he was into the sea, in his haste to get near his beloved Lord. Was that the behavior of a man afflicted with a guilty conscience? But it may be replied, There was still need for a formal public restoration, the scandal caused by Peter's sin being public. This we doubt; but even granting it, what then? Why did the restoration not take place sooner, at the first or second meeting in Jerusalem? Then, does the scene by the shores of the lake really look like a formal transaction? Can we regard that casual, easy, familiar meeting and colloquy after breakfast with two-thirds of the disciples as an ecclesiastical diet, for the solemn purpose of restoring a fallen brother to church fellowship and standing? The idea is too frigid and pedantic to be seriously entertained. Then one more objection to this theory remains to be stated, viz. that it fails to give unity to the various parts of the scene. It may explain the questioning to which Jesus subjected Peter, but it does not explain the prophetic reference to his future history with which He followed it up. Between "I allow you, notwithstanding past misdemeanors, to be an apostle," and "I forewarn you that in that capacity you shall not have the freedom of action in which you rejoiced in former days," there is no connection traceable. Peter's fall did not suggest such a turn of thought; for it sprang not from the love of freedom, but from the fear of man.

Not the restoration of Peter to a forfeited position, but his recall to a more solemn sense of his high vocation, do we find in this scene. Not "I allow you," but "I urge you," seems to us to be the burthen of Christ's words to this disciple, and through him to all his brethren. By all considerations He would move them to address themselves heart and soul to their apostolic work, and let boats and nets and every thing else alone for ever. "By the memory of thine own weakness," He would say to Simon for that end; "by my forgiving love, and thy gratitude for it; by the need of brother disciples, which thine own past frailty may teach thee to understand and compassionate; by the ardent attachment which I know you cherish towards myself: by these and all kindred considerations, I charge thee, on the eve of my departure, be a hero, play the man, be strong for others, not for thyself, 'feed the flock of God, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly.' Shrink not from responsibility, covet not ease, bend thy neck to the yoke, and let love make it light. Sweet is liberty to thy human heart; but patient, burden-bearing love, though less pleasant, is far more noble."

Such being the message which Jesus meant for all present, Peter was most appropriately selected as the medium for conveying it. He was an excellent text on which to preach a sermon on self-consecration. His character and conduct supplied all the poetry, and argument, and illustration necessary to give pathos and point to the theme. How dear to his impetuous, passionate spirit, unrestrained freedom! And what heart is not touched by the thought of such a man schooling his high, mettlesome soul into patience and submission? The young, frolicsome, bounding fisherman, girding on his coat, and going hither and thither at his own sweet will; the aged saintly apostle, meek as a lamb, stretching forth his arms to be bound for the martyr's doom: what a moving contrast! Had that passionate man, in some senses the strongest character among the twelve, been in other senses the weakest, then who could better illustrate men's need of shepherding? Had he learnt his own weakness, and through his knowledge thereof grown stronger? Then how better state the general duty of the strong to help the weak, than by assigning to this particular disciple the special duty of taking care of the weakest? To say to Peter, "Feed my lambs," was to say to all the apostles, "Feed my sheep."

In requiring Peter to show his love by performing the part of shepherd to the little flock of believers, Jesus adapted His demand to the spiritual capacity of the disciple. Love to the Saviour does not necessarily take the form of feeding the sheep; in immature and inexperienced disciples, it rather takes the form of being sheep. It is only after the weak have become strong, and established in grace, that they ought to become shepherds, charging themselves with the care of others. In laying on Peter and his brethren pastoral duties, therefore, Jesus virtually announces that they have now passed, or are about to pass, out of the category of the weak into the category of the strong. "Hitherto," He virtually says to them, "ye have been as sheep, needing to be guided, watched over, and defended by the wisdom and courage of another. Now, however, the time is arrived when ye must become shepherds, able and willing to do for the weak what I have done for you. Hitherto ye have left me to care for you; henceforth you must accustom yourselves to be looked to as guardians, even as I have been by you. Hitherto ye have been as children under me, your parent; henceforth ye must yourselves be parents, taking charge of the children. Hitherto ye have been as raw recruits, liable to panic, and fleeing from danger; henceforth ye must be captains superior to fear, and by your calm determination inspire the soldiers of the cross with heroic daring." In short, Jesus here in effect announces to Peter and to the rest that they are now to make the transition from boyhood to manhood, from pupilage to self-government, from a position of dependence and exemption from care to one of influence, authority, and responsibility, as leaders and commanders in the Christian community, doing the work for which they have been so long under training. Such a transition and transformation did accordingly take prace shortly after in the history of the disciples. They assumed the position of Christ's deputies or substitutes after His ascension, Peter being the leading or representative man, though not the Pope, in the infant Church; and their character was altered to fit them for their high functions. The timid disciples became bold apostles. Peter, who weakly denied the Lord in the judgment-hall, heroically confessed Him before the Sanhedrim. The ignorant and stupid disciples, who had been continually misunderstanding their Master's words, became filled with the spirit of wisdom and understanding, so that men listened to their words as they had been wont to listen to the words of Jesus Himself.

We have said that love to Christ does not impose on all His disciples the duty of a shepherd; showing itself rather in by far the larger number in simply hearing the shepherd's voice and following him, and generally in a willingness to be guided by those who are wiser than themselves. We must add, that all who are animated by the spirit of love to the Redeemer, will be either shepherds or sheep, actively useful in caring for the souls of others, or thankfully using the provision made for the care of their own souls. Too many, however, come under neither designation. Some are sheep indeed, but sheep going astray; others are neither sheep nor shepherds, being self-reliant, yet indisposed to be helpful; too self-willed to be led, yet disinclined to make their strength and experience available for their brethren, utilizing all their talents for the exclusive service of their own private interests. Such men are to be found in Church and State, sedulously holding back from office and responsibility, and severely criticizing those who have come under the yoke; animadverting on their timidity and bondage, as unbroken colts, it they could speak, might animadvert on the tameness of horses in harness, the bits and bridles that form a part of church harness, in the shape of formulas and confessions, coming in for a double share of censure.[29.5]

Now, it is all very well to be wild colts, rejoicing in unrestrained liberty, for a season in youth; but it will not do to be spurning the yoke all one's lifetime. "Ye, then, that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please yourselves." It is no doubt most agreeable to be free from care, and to walk about unfettered in opinion and action, and, shaking off those who would hang on our skirts, to live the life of gods, careless of mankind. But it is not the chief end of any man, least of all of a wise and strong man, to be free from care or trouble. He who has a Christian heart must feel that he is strong and wise for the sake of others who want strength and wisdom; and he will undertake the shepherd's office, though shrinking with fear and trembling from its responsibilities, and though conscious also that in so doing he is consenting to have his liberty and independence greatly circumscribed. The yoke of love which binds us to our fellows is sometimes not easy, and the burden of caring for them not light; but, on the whole, it is better and nobler to be a drudge and a slave at the bidding of love, than to be a free man through the emancipating power of selfishness. Better Peter a prisoner and martyr for the gospel, than Simon inculcating on his Lord the selfish policy, "Save Thyself," or lying in luxurious ease on the hill of Transfiguration, exclaiming, "Lord, it is good to be here." Better Peter bound by others, and led whither he would not, as a good shepherd to be sacrificed for the sheep, than Simon girding on his own garment, and walking along with the careless jaunty air of a modern pococurantist. A life on the ocean wave, a life in the woods, a life in the mountains or in the clouds, may be fine to dream and sing of; but the only life out of which genuine heroism and poetry comes, is that which is spent on this solid prosaic earth in the lowly work of doing good.

Note now, finally, the evidence supplied in Peter's answers to his Lord's questions, that he is indeed fitted for the responsible work to which he is summoned. It is not merely that he can appeal to Jesus Himself, as one who knows all things, and say, "Thou knowest that I love Thee;" for, as we have already hinted, every sincere disciple can do that. Two specific signs of spiritual maturity are discernible here, not to be found in those who are weak in grace, not previously found in Peter himself. There is, first, marked modesty,—very noticeable in so forward a man. Peter does not now make any comparisons between himself and his brethren as he had done previously. In spite of appearances, he still protests that he does love Jesus; but he takes care not to say, "I love Thee more than those." He not only does not say this, but he manifestly does not think it: the bragging spirit has left him; he is a humble, subdued, wise man, spiritually equipped for the pastorate, just because he has ceased to think himself supremely competent for it.

The second mark of maturity discernible in Peter's replies is godly sorrow for past shortcoming: "Peter was grieved because He (Jesus) said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me?" He was grieved because by the threefold interrogation he was reminded that the threefold denial of which he had been guilty afforded ground for calling his love in question. Observe particularly the feeling produced by this delicate reference to his former sins. It was grief, not irritation, anger, or shame. There is no pride, passion, vanity in this man's soul, but only holy, meek contrition; no sudden coloring is observable in his countenance, but only the gracious softened expression of a penitent, chastised spirit. The man who can so take allusions to his sins is not only fit to tend the sheep, but even to nurse the lambs. He will restore those who have fallen in a spirit of meekness. He will be tender towards offenders, not with the spurious charity which cannot afford to condemn sin strongly, but with the genuine charity of one who has himself received mercy for sins sincerely repented of. By his benignant sympathy sinners will be converted unto God in unfeigned sorrow for their offences, and in humble hope of pardon; and by his watchful care many sheep will be kept from ever straying from the fold.


John xxi. 19-22.

To be a dutiful under-shepherd is, in another view, to be a faithful sheep, following the Chief Shepherd whithersoever He goes. Pastors are not lords over God's heritage, but mere servants of Christ, the great Head of the Church, bound to regard His will as their law, and His life as their model. In the scene by the lake Jesus took pains to make His disciples understand this. He did not allow them to suppose that, in committing to their pastoral charge His flock, He was abdicating His position as Shepherd and Bishop of souls. Having said to Peter, "Feed my lambs," "Feed my sheep," He said to him, as His final word, "Follow me."

It is implied in the narrative, that while Jesus said this, He arose and walked away from the spot where the disciples had just taken their morning meal. Whither He went we are not told, but it may have been towards that "mountain in Galilee," the preappointed rendezvous where the risen Saviour met "above five hundred brethren at once." The sheep have doubtless been wending thither to meet their divine Shepherd, as in a secluded upland fold; and it is more than possible that the object of the journey in which Peter is invited to join his Master, is to introduce him to the flock which had just been committed to his care.

Be this as it may, Peter obeyed the summons, and rose at once to follow Jesus. His first impression probably was that he was to be the solitary attendant of his Lord, and a natural wish to ascertain the state of the case led him to look behind to see what his companions were doing. On turning round, he observed the disciple whom Jesus loved, and whom he too loved, following close in his footsteps; and the question forthwith rose to his lips, "Lord, and what of this man?" The question was elliptical, but it meant: John is coming after us; Is the same lot in store for him that you have prophesied for me? Shall he too be bound and led whither he would not; or shall he, as the disciple most dearly beloved, be exempted from the hardships I am fated to endure?

That another and a happier fortune was reserved for John seemed, we believe, probable to Peter. He could not but recall to mind that memorable scene in which John's mother made her ambitious request for her two sons; and in spite of what Jesus had said to them about tasting of His cup, and being baptized with His baptism, he, Peter, might well imagine that John's desire would be fulfilled, and that he would live to see the kingdom come, and to share its glories; especially as one and all of the disciples, down to the very last day of their Lord's sojourn on earth, still expected the kingdom to be restored to Israel very soon. If such was Peter's thought, it is not surprising that he should ask, if not with envy, at least with a sadder sense of his own loss, "Lord, what of this man?" Adversity is hard to bear at best, but hardest of all when personal ill-fortune stands in glaring contrast with the prosperity of a brother who started on his career at the same time, and with no better prospects than the man whom he has far outstripped in the race.

To such considerations, however, Jesus paid little respect in His reply to Peter's question. "If I will," He said, "that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me." "How stern and unfeeling!" one is tempted to exclaim. Might not Jesus at least have reminded Simon, for his comfort, of the words He once uttered to James and John: "Ye shall drink of my cup"? Would it not have helped Peter more cheerfully to follow his Master in the arduous path of the cross, to have told him that, in whatever manner John might die, he too would have to suffer for the gospel; that his life, whether long or short, would be full of tribulation; that participation in the glory of the kingdom did not depend on longevity; that, in fact, the first to die would be the first to enter into glory? But no, it might not be. To administer such comfort would have been to indulge the disciple's weakness. One who has to play a soldier's part must be trained with military rigor. Effeminacy, sighing after happiness, brooding over the felicity we have missed, are out of place in an apostle's character; and Jesus, to whom such dispositions are most abhorrent, will take good care not to give them any countenance. He will have all His followers, and specially the heads of His people, to be heroes,—"Ironsides," prompt to do bidding, fearless of danger, patient of fatigue, without a trace of selfish softness. He will give no quarter even to natural weaknesses, disregards present pain, cares not how we smart under rebuke, provided only He gain His end,—the production of character temptation-proof.

Having this end in view, Jesus took no trouble to correct Peter's misapprehensions about his brother disciple. Misapprehensions, we say, for such they indeed were. John did not tarry till the Lord came in the sense in which Peter understood the words. He lived, indeed, till the close of the first Christian century, therefore long after the Lord's coming to execute judgment on Jerusalem. But except for the longevity he enjoyed, the last of the apostles was in no respect to be envied. The Church was militant all his days: he took part in many of its battles, and received therein many scars. Companion with Peter in the Church's first conflict with the world, he was a prisoner in Patmos for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ, after Peter had fallen asleep. One might perhaps say that, owing to temperament, the life of John was less stirring than that of his brother apostle. He was a man of less impetuosity, though not of less intensity; and there was, perhaps, not so much in his character provocative of the world's opposition. Both by his virtues and by his infirmities Peter was predestined to be the champion of the faith, the Luther of the apostolic age, giving and receiving the hardest blows, and bearing the brunt of the battle. John, on the other hand, was the Melanchthon among the apostles, without, however, Melanchthon's tendency to yield; and as such, enjoyed probably a quieter, and, on the whole, more peacefull life. But this difference between the two men was, after all, quite subordinate; and, all things considered, we may say that John drank not less deeply of Christ's cup than did Peter. There was nothing glorious or enviable in his lot on earth, except the vision in Patmos of the glory yet to be revealed.

Yet while all this was clear to His prescient eye, Jesus did not condescend to give any explanations concerning the appointed lot of the beloved disciple, but allowed Peter to think what he pleased about the future of his friend. "If I will," He said, "that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?" not meaning to give any information, as contemporary believers imagined, but rather refusing to give any in the bluntest and most peremptory manner. "Suppose"—such is the import of the words—"Suppose it were my pleasure that John should remain on the earth till I return to it, what is that to thee? Suppose I were to grant him to sit on my right hand in my Messianic kingdom, what, I ask again, is that to thee? Suppose John were not to taste of death, but, surviving till my second advent, were, like another Elijah, to be wafted directly into heaven, or to be endowed in his body with the power of an endless life, still what is that to thee? Follow thou Me."

The emphatic repetition of this injunction is very significant. It shows, for one thing, that when Jesus said to Peter, "Feed my sheep," He had no intention of making him a pastor of pastors, a shepherd or bishop over his fellow-disciples. In Roman Catholic theology the lambs are the lay members of the church, and the sheep are the under shepherds—the whole body of the clergy, the Pope excepted. How strange, if this be true, that Peter should be checked for looking after one of the flock, and asking so simple a question as that, "Lord, and what shall this man do?" Jesus replies to him as if he were a busybody, meddling with matters with which he had no concern. And, indeed, busybodyism was one of Peter's faults. He was fond of looking after and managing other people; he tried once and again to manage the Lord Himself. Curiously enough, it is from this apostle that the Church gets the needful warning against the too common vice just named. "Let none of you," he writes in his first epistle, "suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evil-doer, or as a busybody in other men's matters;" literally, as a bishop intruding into another's diocese.[29.6] Evidently the frequent rebukes administered to Peter by his Master had made a lasting impression on him.

Heavy as was the load of responsibility laid upon this disciple at this time, it did not amount to any thing so formidable as that involved in being a visible Christ, so to speak, to the whole Church. Neither Peter nor any other man is able to bear that burden, and happily no one is required to do so. The responsibility of even the highest in the Church is restricted within comparatively narrow limits. The main business, even of the chief under-shepherds, is not to make others follow Christ, but to follow Him themselves. It is well that our Lord made this plain by the words addressed to the representative man among the apostles; for Christians of active, energetic, and earnest natures are very apt to have very exaggerated ideas of their responsibilities, and to take on themselves the care of the whole world, and impose on themselves the duty of remedying every evil that is done under the sun. They would be defenders-general of the faith wherever assailed, redressers-general of all wrongs, curates-general of all souls. There is something noble as well as quixotic in this temper; and it were not the best sign of a man's moral earnestness if he had not at some time of his life known somewhat of this fussy, over-zealous spirit. Still it should be understood that the Head of the Church imposes on no man such unlimited responsibility, and that, when self-imposed, it does not conduce to a man's real usefulness. No one man can do all other men's work, and no one man is responsible for all other men's errors and failures; and each man contributes most effectually and surely to the good of the whole by conducting his own life on godly principles. The world is full of evils-scepticism, superstition, ignorance, immorality, on every side—a sight saddening in the extreme. What, then, am I to do?" This one thing above all: Follow thou Christ. Be thou a believer, let who will be infidels. Let thy religion be reasonable, let who will pin their faith to a fallible human authority, and place their religion in fantastic ritualisms and gross idolatries. Be thou holy, an example of sobriety, justice, and godliness, though all the world should become a sweltering chaos of impurity, fraud, and impiety. Say with Joshua of old, "If it seem good unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

The repeated injunction, "Follow thou me," whilst restricting individual responsibility, prescribes undivided attention to personal duty. Christ demands of His disciples that they follow Him with integrity of heart, without distraction, without murmuring, envy, or calculations of consequences. Peter was, it is to be feared, not yet up to the mark in this respect. There was yet lingering in his heart a vulgar hankering after happiness as the chief end of man. Exemption from the cross still appeared to him supremely desirable, and he probably fancied that special favor on Christ's part towards a particular disciple would show itself in granting such exemption. He did not yet understand that Christ oftenest shows special favor to His followers by making them in a remarkable degree partakers of His bitter cup and His bloody baptism. The grand enthusiasm of Paul, which made him desire to know Jesus in the fellowship of His sufferings, had not yet taken possession of Simon's breast. When an arduous and perilous piece of service was to be done, those who were selected to be the forlorn hope seemed to him objects of pity rather than of envy. Far from volunteering for such a service, he would rather congratulate himself on having escaped it; and the highest conceivable virtue, in case one were so unlucky as not to escape, would, in his opinion, be submission to the inevitable.

Peter was deficient also as yet in the military virtue of unquestiomng obedience to orders, which is the secret of an army's strength. A general says to one, Go, and he Goeth; to another, Come, and he cometh: he appoints to one corps its station here, and to another its station there; and no one ventures to ask why, or to make envious comparisons. There is an absolute surrender of the individual will to the will of the commander; and so far as thoughts of preference are concerned each man is a machine, having a will, a head, a hand, a heart, only for the effective performance of his own appointed task. Peter had not yet attained to this pitch of self-abnegation. He could not do simply what he was bidden, but must needs look round to see what another was doing. Nor let us think this a small offence in him. It was a breach of discipline which could not be overlooked by the Commander of the faithful. Implicit obedience is as necessary in the Church as it is in the army. The old soldier Loyola understood this, and hence he introduced a system of military discipline into the constitution of the so called "Society of Jesus." And the history of that society shows the wisdom of the founder; for whatever we may think of the quality of the work done, we cannot deny the energy of the Jesuitic fraternity, or the devotion of its members. Such devotion as the Jesuit renders to the will of his spiritual superior Christ demands of all His people; and to none except Himself can it be rendered without impiety. He would have every believer give himself up to His will in cheerful, exact, habitual obedience, deeming all His orders wise, all His arrangements good, acknowledging His right to dispose of us as He pleases, content to serve Him in a little place or in a large one, by doing or by suffering, for a long period or a short, in life or by death, if only He be glorified.

This is our duty, and it is also our blessedness. So minded, we shall be delivered from all care of consequences, from ambitious views of our responsibilities, from imaginary grievances, from envy, fretfulness and the restlessness of self-will. We shall no longer be distracted or tormented with incessant looking round to see what is become of this or that fellow-disciple, but be able to go on with our own work in composure and peace. We shall not trouble ourselves either about our own future or about that of any other person, but shall healthily and happily live in the present. We shall get rid for ever of fear, and care, and scheming, and disappointment, and chagrin, and, like larks at heaven's gate, sing:—

"Father, I know that all my life

Is portioned out by Thee,

And the changes that will surely come

I do not fear to see;

But I ask Thee for a present mind,

Intent on serving Thee.

I would not have the restless will

That hurries to and fro,

Seeking for some great thing to do,

Or secret thing to know;

I would be treated as a child,

And guided where I go."

Thus, brother, "go thou thy way till the end be;" and "thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days."