Shame and the Recovery of Faith


But this raises another question, though Peter can find Christ by faith outside the hall, is there no comfort to be found in His sensible presence? Does faith make sight a vain and fruitless exercise? Does the blessing of believing take away the joy of seeing Him? Was the womb not blessed that held Him (Luke 1:28) and was there not some blessedness in the eyes that saw Him and the arms that embraced Him?

Was it further temptation that made Peter flee as a burnt child from the fire? Was the voice of the maid able to drive him from the Son of the virgin, or the challenge of the servant from the presence of the Lord? Was not that look able to confirm him, which was able to convert him? Did Peter fear the fall from the Rock, his Saviour because he had before fallen from the sand? What presumption! Did Peter flee from that place of blasphemy because it was the place where Christ suffered from the base reproaches of wicked men? Could the air of that place be so infectious? Was the blasphemy of a Jew more potent to pollute than the grace of Christ to sanctify the high-priest’s hall? The presence of Christ could make that place a heaven which the Jews had made a hell.

It was neither the vileness of the place or the threat of the servant that made Peter flee; they might tempt, but they could not wound. If the Lord gives strength the adversary cannot make to fall. The adversary may beckon him to turn, but he can with a finger be sufficiently armed against the torments of a devil, much more against a maid.

Such is the recovery of faith. Like bodily health, it recovers by degrees, from weakness to strength, from fear to confidence, and dares not trust in Christ without some trembling. Peter is assured of Christ’s love and yet he is ashamed of his own sin. Shame is ever sin’s companion. It is for this reason that he cannot look on the face of Christ whom he had denied. He could with the publican beat upon his breast and pray, but he could not look toward heaven, to the face of his master (Luke 18:13). He could pray to Christ but he could not accompany Him. It is the modesty of nature that makes a man better able to deliver his mind in absence rather than in presence. So the shame makes Peter more confident outside the judgment hall rather than within.

Dr. Edward Reynolds was born in 1599 in Southampton, England. He received his BA degree at Oxford in 1618. In 1622, before studying for his masters, Reynolds became a chaplain to the king and preacher at Lincoln’s Inn, London. The puritanical inclinations of Dr. Reynolds were well known; his character of piety and decorum were evident even in his college years. Edward Reynolds is known as the Bishop of Norfolk, but he was bishop for only the final fifteen years of his life and ministry. Prior to that he was the rector of Braunston, Northamptonshire, for almost thirty years. Although Reynolds was a Presbyterian by conviction, he had a reputation of moderation in his church polity. This was evidenced in his role in the Westminster Assembly. He was the only member to sit on all three of the major committees on the Confession of Faith, and with his moderate spirit provided balance in the discussions.
These devotions are taken from the works of Edward Reynolds. They have been edited for © 2013 thinkgospel.