Enjoying the Benefits of the Presence of Christ
After his denial Peter did not see Christ until His resurrection and then it was Peter who received such an invitation (Mark 16:7). There was none so forward and hasty to get to the garden. Was it grief over Christ’s misery or his own sin or was it fear of the majesty of Christ’s face or weakness in his own heart that drove him from the judgment hall to weep? Surely perhaps it was all of these. He departed from the face of the Lord and from the company of his tempters, provoked also by the shame of his fall, the experience of his fragility. He departed from the committing of more sin and the sight of more misery, because he did not know if he could find more mercy or be able to bear more sorrow.
But when Christ, through the power of his resurrection, had clothed himself with glory, and when by the angel’s message, Peter was unclothed of fear, there was none more eager to enjoy the benefits of the real presence of Christ. He ran and entered into the sepulchre, not hoping to see a weak and captive body, but a conquered and deceived grave, as he found it to be. He found there only the relics of weakness and the witness of power (Luke 24:12).
What was it made Peter rise up and run with such haste to the grave of Christ? When nature is raised up from her ruins and decay, when the conscience is cleansed from the guilt of sin and of the burden of sorrow, when a fallen saint has regained his measure of grace and tranquility, he is so much the more eager in heavenly pursuits. The remembrance of those past sins which had so disadvantaged his progress, and wounded him, now only serve to spur him forward in his way.
The very sins of the Christian, contrary to the barrenness of their own nature, are, by the mercy and wisdom of God made fruitful and of use to the Christian. The devil, in wounding the Christian, therefore wounds himself. Though the fiery darts of the devil may at first find an entrance, yet when they come to the bottom of a faithful heart they find there a rock of salvation from whence they are driven back into the face of him that threw them. When the devil batters any one virtue in a saint, he does nothing else but pull out a stone of his own building. Though he breaks David’s bones, though he sifts Peter’s faith, yet both, when they are restored, will be like a broken bone, stronger, and, like wheat that is sifted, finer. The restored saints will also by instructing and confirming others, draw more men from Satan than he had drawn graces from men before.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 thinkgospel.com. © 2013 thinkgospel.