19 OCTOBER (PREACHED 1770)
‘… As they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said.’ Luke 9:33
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: John 21:15–25
A want of experience makes us very apt to mistake and misapply the cordials the Lord gives us by the way. Peter did not say, ‘Now we have seen his glory, let us take courage and be willing to do and suffer for him, for he is worthy. Let us improve the remembrance of this to make us more earnest in pleading with our friends or obstinate countrymen to believe on him.’ Friends, neighbours, services and sufferings, were all forgot, and he only thought of building tabernacles and having his present comforts continued. There is much selfishness in our hearts, often when they seem best disposed. St Paul was better taught—he had been caught up into the third heaven, yet though he had an earnest desire to depart and be with Christ, he was willing to wait for his happiness, for the sake of being useful to his church.
We may observe our Lord’s gracious compassion to the weakness of his people. He accepted Peter’s willing mind according to his light, and though what he said showed ignorance, rashness and selfishness had too much place in him, we do not find he rebuked him upon this occasion. He knows our frame, he remembers we are but dust. He does not teach us all at once, but with patience and tenderness, as we are able to bear it. We should learn of him. If we advise (as we ought to do) young believers of what is amiss in their first joy, let us do it with candour and gentleness and make allowances for those mistakes which can only be corrected by experience. Fruit is not ripened as soon as it is formed, but it is not to be thrown away because it is yet green. If good in its kind, allow it time and it will come to maturity.
FOR MEDITATION: Methinks the Apostle strongly intimates the deep depravity of our nature, when he says, Ye have need of patience … We are selfish, ungrateful creatures, and if the Lord crosses us in one thing, we are prone to forget our many calls for thankfulness.… Notwithstanding all we know, and the fine things we can say to others upon the subject, we are liable to toss like a wild bull in a net, or to sink into despondency.
John Newton to John Ryland, 30 August 1790
SERMON SERIES: ON THE TRANSFIGURATION, NO. 7 [4/5], LUKE 9:33