June 29th On St Peter & St Paul
Consider first, the wonders of God in these two glorious saints; reflect what they were before their being called by Jesus Christ, how admirable they were afterwards exalted by divine grace, and how perfectly they corresponded with divine grace, by their zeal and by their labours, by their lives and by their deaths. The wisdom of God came down from heaven to build a house, to found a city, to establish a kingdom here upon earth, which should ever be victorious over all the powers of hell, and should subsist till time itself should end. And see what choice he has made of men to be his principal instruments in this great work. See in the person of St. Peter, a poor, weak, illiterate fisherman, made the master-builder, under Christ, of this house and temple, and at the same time the strong rock and foundation of it; see him raised to be the first governor of this city, the prime minister of this kingdom of God upon earth, St. Matt. xvi. 18, 19, and St. John xxi. 15, &c. Oh! how true it is, that ‘God hath chosen the foolish things of the world, that he may confound the wise, and the weak things of the world that he may confound the strong: and the things that are contemptible, and things that are not, -that no flesh should glory in his sight,’ 1 Cor. I. 27, &c. O divine wisdom, how incomprehensible are thy ways, and how much exalted above the ways of men! O how do these thy dealings with us confound the proud and comfort the humble!
Consider 2ndly, in the person of St. Paul, another still more admirable instance of the power of divine grace and of the incomprehensible wisdom of the ways of God. An ignorant fisherman as St. Peter was, seems indeed nowise qualified to be a preacher and teacher of Jews and Gentiles, a founder of churches, an apostle, and prince of the apostles; but then he was humble and simple, and such God usually chooses for the greatest things. But as for St. Paul, he was not only not qualified to be preacher of the gospel, but positively disqualified by dispositions directly contrary to the humility and simplicity of the gospel. He was a blasphemous Pharisee, a fiery zealot, a bloody persecutor, a ravenous wolf, scattering and destroying the sheep of Christ. And yet he is made, in a moment, by a miracle of grace, a vessel of election, to carry the name of Christ before nations and kings and the children of Israel; he is changed in an instant from a wolf into a lamb; he puts off at once the Pharisee, the blasphemer, the persecutor; he lays down his own will at the feet of Christ, and has now no other passion but that of employing his whole life in propagating the name, the will and the kingdom of his God. O! here is a change of the right hand of the Most High! Here the wonders of God’s power, wisdom, and goodness, shine forth much more brightly than even in the raising of the dead to life.
Consider 3rdly, the lives of these two great saints after their call and election; their ardent zeal for the glory of their Lord; their unwearied labours in preaching and propagating his kingdom; their constancy in a long course of sufferings, dying, in a manner daily, for the cause of God; and above all things, that divine love and charity which continually burnt in their breast, which animated all their words and actions, supported them in all their labours and sufferings, kept them always in their interior united to their God, and was daily growing stronger and stronger in them, till it made them victorious over death, and brought them to true life, in the eternal enjoyment of the great object of their love.
Conclude to give praise and glory to God for all the graces and glory bestowed upon these two princes and pillars of his church. Study to learn the great lessons they taught both by word and work. But especially learn of them the practice of divine love – nothing else can make us saints.