By Thomas E. Peck, D.D., LL.D.,
Professor of Theology in the Union Theological Seminary in Virginia.
Mark vi. 17-28.
A CELEBRATED preacher of the French Reformed Church, to whom I am indebted for a good deal of what I now propose to say, calls attention, in a sermon on this text, to the marvellous simplicity of the style of the biographers of our Lord. One would suppose that men who were so deeply interested in John the Baptist, men who had as profound a reverence for his character and his mission as they undoubtedly had, would not have recorded so atrocious a crime as that of Herod against him without some expression of their own sentiments in regard to it. A man putting to death the greatest prophet of the age, a prophet of whom our Saviour says that a greater had never been born of woman, and for no other offence than for simply reminding him of the law which he had so flagrantly transgressed, I say one would think that these evangelists would not have suffered the record of such a crime to pass without some expression of their indignation against the wrong, and yet we find nothing of the sort from the beginning to the end of the narrative. It is simply a plain statement of facts. And this has been often noted as a characteristic of the style of these evangelists throughout. They suppress all their emotions; they never tell us how they think or how they feel in reference to the matters they record, although they are matters generally which might stir the souls of men to their very depths. Now how can we account for this? It certainly cannot be accounted for upon any other supposition than that they were penmen of the Holy Ghost. There is no surprise expressed here, because nothing can surprise God; there is no exhibition of the wickedness of the human heart that can surprise him who knew man from the beginning, and who had for thousands of years been testifying that “the thoughts of the imaginations of man’s heart were evil, and only evil, continually.” But while all this is so, while this is the most prominent characteristic, perhaps, of the style of these evangelists, yet it ought not to hinder us from endeavoring to derive those lessons which these facts were evidently intended to teach; nor ought it to hinder us from cherishing those emotions of indignation against outrage with which our better nature inspires us. This appalling revelation of the human heart, as we find it here in Herod and in the abandoned woman that he had taken to be his wife, is a lesson which God has left in his word for our learning, that we may, as in a mirror, behold ourselves and repent betime, and flee to that fountain which has been opened in the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and uncleanness.
I. And in the first place, it may be observed that the Herod who is here mentioned is he who is commonly known as Herod Antipas, a son of Herod the Great, one of the most atrocious villains that ever wielded the sceptre of government. But this man does not seem to have been altogether as bad as his father. We cannot even conceive of his father having been impressed, as this record tells us Herod Antipas was impressed, by the preaching of John the Baptist. A man who could slaughter so many innocent infants at a venture in order to be sure, as he thought, of one victim, must have been at that time utterly abandoned of God, judicially abandoned to infatuation of mind and hardness of heart. But this Herod, it seems, feared John, feared him not on account of any physical power that he had; there was no reason to fear him on this account, as the event showed it was very easy for him to arrest John and place him in prison and put him to death. It was the moral power of this austere prophet from the wilderness that impressed the conscience of this man, deeply sunk as he was in all the vices of the times. He feared John, and even “heard him gladly,” a very remarkable expression in reference to such a man as Herod Antipas. He not only heard this prophet, but he heard him gladly. No doubt he was impressed by John’s preaching as sometimes reprobate men are impressed now when they hear the glad tidings of salvation; when they not only hear the command to repent, but hear, also, that it is possible to obtain repentance; that God, in giving this command, has at the same time given the promise that he will bestow this repentance upon those who ask him. There was some transient relish, no doubt, in the mind of Herod of the good things which the gospel proclaims to save sinners from despair. There seem to be moments in the life of the very worst men in which the filth of their nature sinks to the bottom, as it were, and leaves a space above which is clear, which is for a little while transparent, through which the light of truth may shine; and possibly it was so with this man. Like the stony-ground hearers of the parable, he was temporarily impressed, and not only so, but he did many things. This impression was not so transient as that it was only regarded for a moment after it was made, but it even led to action on the part of this not yet abandoned wretch; he did many things. From these expressions it would seem that at that time Herod was not utterly given up of God, as he seems to have been soon afterwards. Truculent in his nature, as the members of that family generally were, bloodthirsty, tolerating no obstacle in the path of his ambition, always ready to do anything or dare anything in order that any master lust might be gratified, yet we find that his mind was not wholly barred as yet against the influences of heaven. And yet you see how this man acts: he takes to wife a woman whom, according to the law of Moses, he ought not to have dared to marry; not only according to the law of Moses, but according to the law of nature, for he not only is guilty of adultery, but incest, wresting from the bosom of his brother one who was his married wife and appropriating her to himself. This brother whom he robs of his wife was a Herod, but he does not seem to have been so fierce as the men of that family usually were. He seems to have been an exception to the rule in having a very mild and retiring temper, a man who would rather see himself wronged than assert his rights by any very energetic or violent means.
Well, now, John the Baptist comes to Herod the tetrarch, and says, “It is not lawful for thee to have her.” This stern prophet, who came in the spirit and power of Elijah, who never feared the face of man, comes to this proud king upon his throne and says, “It is not lawful for thee to have her.” It might have been suggested to John, possibly may have been suggested to him by some of his friends, that it would be a very useless thing to speak to such a man as Herod about such a matter as that: “Does not Herod know perfectly well already that he has violated the law of Moses? Can you hope to reach that man’s conscience, when he has deliberately transgressed the law which he professes to observe in order to gratify an imperious lust? What is the use of it? And then, John, you see that you are limiting the career of your own ministry; that you are putting yourself, in all probability, beyond the power of doing any good. Why, you have been preaching but for three years; you, a man in reference to whom wonderful prophecies went before; you, whose birth was so miraculous that all men pondered the circumstances of it in their hearts and inquired what this child should become in Israel! Are you going to cut short your ministry, as you are almost certain to do, by exasperating the wrath of such a tyrant, bringing yourself to an untimely end? Don’t you see that Herod has been impressed by your preaching; that he fears you; that he has some reverence for you; that he has heard you gladly, even gladly; that he has done some things at your instance, the like of which he was never known to do at the instance of anybody else? John, you have Herod more under your influence than any man in Palestine; you are the only man that can possibly do him any good; now do you intend deliberately to sacrifice all these prospects of usefulness in order to tell him a thing which he knows just as well as you can tell him, and in which he is determined to continue?”
Now, my brethren, that was very plausible reasoning, and reasoning, perhaps, which would influence a great many ministers of the gospel, but it did not influence John. John’s reply would have been: “I have been commissioned as a preacher of righteousness; I have nothing to do with these considerations in reference to my future usefulness or in reference to the peril to which I expose myself when I undertake to rebuke such a man as this. I have but one thing to do, and that is to be faithful to my calling, to preach the preaching which God bids me; and as God has given me the commission to rebuke sin wherever I find it, then I must rebuke it in him who is the highest in the land.” And, besides, he might have said, “The very fact that I have this influence over Herod makes it the more incumbent upon me to tell him about his sins, for he is likely to hear it from no one else. These kings are so unfortunate as to be in a position never to hear of their own faults. They are surrounded with an atmosphere of flattery and lies; they are surrounded with a set of sycophants and parasites who never think of anything but their own interests, and therefore will never offend him who is the fountain of honor, of influence and of emolument. I am independent of all these things, and it is especially incumbent upon me to tell this high-handed sinner about his sins, because no one else will be likely to tell him.” John would have replied “That as to the way in which Herod may receive my message, that is none of my concern. It may please God to send the arrow to his conscience and convict him and lead him to repentance. It may be that it will only aggravate his condemnation by making his rebellion against God more flagrant and more inexcusable; it is none of my concern. Success is a thing over which I have no control; it is my business, my sole business, to be found faithful as an ambassador of God and a witness for God.” This is the spirit which all the ministers of the gospel ought to cultivate. They are sent to men as men, without reference to any social or adventitious distinctions. To a minister of the gospel a man is a man, and a sinner is a sinner, whether he is clothed in purple and fine linen and fares sumptuously every day, or whether he is a beggar lying at the gate with the dogs licking his sores, for the man in purple and the man in rags are equally responsible to God. They have both sinned and they both need salvation.
II. Notice, in the next place, how this rebuke of John’s was received; of course very reluctantly received, very unwillingly submitted to, by either Herod or the infamous woman who claimed now to be his wife. But there is evidently this difference between the malice of Herodias and the malice of Herod: Herodias never seems for one moment to have relented; never for one moment to have lost sight of the purpose which she intended to accomplish in some way or other, that is, the death of John the Baptist. She was not only a very wicked, but evidently a very shrewd woman, and with a very determined will. She was determined to sacrifice everything to her malice in order to secure the death of this prophet. She was watching and waiting; watching and waiting, we do not know how long, but she never lost sight of the purpose; she waited until a “convenient day,” a day suited to her purpose to arrive, and then she put her plan into execution.
But now let us pause to inquire what this woman could hope to gain by putting John the Baptist to death. He had never troubled her at all except with the word of the law; he had never done her any wrong; he had never seen her perhaps at all, not even on the occasion when he said to Herod, “It is not lawful for thee to have her.” He had done her no wrong whatever, except the wrong which was involved in telling the truth, in delivering a solemn message from God. What, then, could she expect to gain from his death? If she was in the wrong, as she must have known she was, his death would not alter the case; if he was right, and if her trouble had come from the fact that it was God’s word that John had announced, if John were put out of the way it would not put God out of the way; if John’s head was taken off it would not silence the voice of God, which was ever ringing in the ears and in the hearts and in the consciences of men!
But why, brethren, say these things? Do sinners sin because there is any reason in it? Do they execute the purpose of their malice because there is anything really to be gained by it? Could anything be gained except the mere transient satisfaction of having gratified the passion? For it must be conceded that there is this much pleasure in sin: that it involves the gratification of some appetite of passion; and the gratification of a passion or appetite is the cause of a temporary satisfaction, whether the gratification be lawful or not. Herodias in this case was just like us all, and the picture which is held up to us here is a picture of ourselves, and this is the thing which we ought to endeavor to impress upon our hearts. God has ordained these things that we might be warned by the sins of those who have gone before us. It proves nothing at all that you are not conscious of any wickedness such as that of Herodias. When the prophet told Hazael what horrible atrocities he was going to perpetrate upon Israel, he exclaimed, “Is thy servant a dog that he should do this thing?” And there cannot be any doubt that Hazael was sincere, that he really thought at the time that he was utterly incapable of doing such things. He did not know himself, and so we do not know ourselves; we do not know the depths of sin within us, and hence these facts are an exhortation and a warning to us to watch and pray that we enter not into temptation. Herod evidently vacillated a good deal. And here let me call your attention to the explanation of the apparent discrepancy between the account of Matthew and the account of Mark in regard to this matter. In Matthew it is said that Herod wished to kill John, but he feared the people. In Mark it is said that he kept John: “Herodias could not kill him because that Herod feared John and kept him safe;” guarded or defended him. He kept him from the malice of the woman, defeating all her plans. That is the way that Mark has it. Now the infidel says, Here is a contradiction; one of your evangelists says he wanted to kill him. and the other says he saved him from being killed. How do you reconcile these two things? There is no difficulty at all in reconciling them if you only suppose that Herod was inconsistent with himself, that he at one time wanted to kill John and did not do it because he feared the people; and at another time when he was in a very different mood he saved John from the malice of his wife. This is a very simple explanation. There is hardly any man who is uniformly every day and every hour and every moment a bad man in deliberate intent; the man is bad, his nature is bad, and he may at any time be inflamed by temptation and exasperated to do any sort of wickedness. But sometimes the nature of the tiger or the hyena seems to be asleep. Herod was not at every moment meditating something bad, and there were some moments when he heard John gladly, and did many things; when he “feared” him, and at these times he kept John from the malice of his wife. And as has been justly observed, the Scriptures are very often charged with inconsistency in the accounts which they give us of men, simply because they are so perfectly true and faithful. Take the case of Zedekiah and Jeremiah. The King of Judah in the prophecy of Jeremiah is spoken of sometimes as taking care of the prophet against the malice of his courtiers; and then again he is represented as persecuting the prophet. Now if Zedekiah, the persecutor, had had his history recorded by one man, and Zedekiah, the protector of Jeremiah, had had his history recorded by another man, the German infidel would have said, Why, here is an inconsistency—a contradiction; but it so happens that these accounts are found in the same history and in adjoining chapters. The Bible is true and faithful in the account that it gives us of men, and therefore these accounts must appear inconsistent because the men are inconsistent with themselves. Why, what is any man but a bundle of inconsistencies? You never knew a man that was altogether good or altogether bad; you never knew a man that did not have two sides to his character, and if you had seen him altogether on one side you would have said that the man is bad. If you had seen him on the other side you would have said the man is a perfect saint and ready to be translated. Consistency is not the privilege of anybody on earth, and much less is it the privilege of men of violent tempers and passions like Herod Antipas, tetrarch of Galilee. So that the evangelist Matthew, under the guidance of the Spirit, gives us one aspect of Herod’s character in respect to John, and the evangelist Mark gives us another aspect of the same man. Herodias on the whole found it would be very difficult to wreak her malice upon John the Baptist, and yet she could not give up the darling project of her heart, and with the patience of determined malice, as well as with cunning and sagacity, she waited until the convenient day should come, a day convenient for her purpose, and it arrived. It was Herod’s birthday. He had all the lords and chief captains, mighty men, and the chief estates of Galilee assembled at a grand feast, and now is the time, says Herodias. Now is the time to get rid of John the Baptist!
Here, again, is something very strange. Is a festival, when people have come together to enjoy themselves and to enjoy good cheer, is that a good time to commit murder? Is that a convenient day, O Herodias, for the accomplishment of such an infernal purpose as thine? A time of feasting and of good cheer! Such times as these in the East, and especially in kings’ courts, or in the courts of those who were the representatives of kings, were times for the manifestation of grace, of favor, on the part of rulers. It was a time when the king would manifest the generosity and nobleness of his nature by pardoning some great criminal, by letting out of prison somebody who had been condemned to death. As we find at the passover, Pilate says to the Jews, “I must release unto you one at the passover; now which will you have, Barabbas or Jesus?” So that on all sides it seems strange that this woman should think a festival was a convenient day for the execution of her purpose of murder against the prophet of the Lord. But Herodias knew human nature a great deal better than we do, if we think it strange. She knew very well that such feasts as Herod was in the habit of holding in his palace were feasts in which the lusts of the flesh had full swing. She knew perfectly well that such a banquet as he proposed to give was an occasion on which there was an utter forgetfulness of God. She knew that people came together at that time in all the pomp and circumstance and parade of wealth or of high official position, and all the pomp and circumstance of fashionable life, in order to enjoy themselves, as they called it. They did not come together to do justice to anybody; they did not come together to do favor to anybody; they did not come together for any purpose on earth other than simply to enjoy themselves and gratify their passions. They were lovers of pleasure, and the lovers of pleasure have been uniformly hard of heart. Nobody knew that better than Herodias. She had experience in courts; she was brought up according to the most approved methods of fashionable life, and if she knew anything, she knew that these people, who were devoted to fashion, were people who had no heart; that if there is a place in the world where selfishness reigns with unbroken dominion, it is in the bosoms of those who think of nothing but fashion and folly. She knew, also, that the wine would flow freely; she knew the intoxicating revel that would take place on an occasion like that. Herodias, in other words, knew that it was a convenient day; that it was the most suitable season of any that could be had for the murder of a prophet of God. There was not anything in the heart or in. the life of John the Baptist which was not directly contradictory to the spirit of all the people who should be assembled there; they were diametrically opposed the one to the other; the one fearing God, the other forgetting God; the one looking upon the kingdom of God and his righteousness as the supreme object which every soul ought to pursue, the other losing sight of God’s kingdom entirely in the splendor and glory of the kingdoms of this world; the one knowing that there was no power that would last except the moral power of righteousness and holiness, and the other believing in no power at all but the power of lust and of brute force. And has it not always been so? Has not this been the uniform connection of things? Where was there ever a line of monarchs that made pleasure their chief end to the same extent as the line of the Roman emperors, men who spared no expense in order to multiply the instruments and appliances of luxury? And, of course, all who were able to do it followed the example of the court. Now, what was the character of these people, these lovers of pleasure, these people who lived for nothing but to gratify themselves? What was their character as to cruelty? Why, feeding the fishes in their fish-ponds with the flesh of their slaves! But worse than that, if possible, we find the virgins and matrons of Rome assembled in the vast amphitheatres, which would seat from 100,000 to 150,000 people, and assembled to witness for their amusement what sort of spectacle? Oh! my God, for their amusement! Hundreds of men slaying one another before their eyes, saturating the sand of the arena with their blood. This for the amusement not of the masses only, but of those who were the élite of that Roman world. The sham fights and sham deaths of the ordinary theatres could no longer satisfy the craving for excitement. They must have a real fight and a real death. The jaded eye could only be made to light up by the sight of real blood flowing from the wounds of dying gladiators. Now there—there is the picture of human nature! How true it is, those words of Milton, “Lust hard by hate,” “Lust hard by hate!” This is not the only instance in the history of the world which illustrates the same thing. When was the Bartholomew massacre conceived and executed, that atrocious crime by which from fifty to one hundred thousand of the purest people of France were put to death on the instant without a moment’s warning? old men and infants at the breast mercilessly butchered because they refused to bow down to a wafer and worship it as a god. That was all their crime, and when, now, I repeat, was that infernal butchery contrived? During the marriage festivities of Henry of Navarre! That was the time, because it was a time of feasting; it was a time of revelry; it was a time when everybody was thinking of gratifying himself, regardless of anything but his own desires. Herodias knew her man; she knew man; she knew what human nature was, and she knew that this fashionable revel was the very place for murder. It was the place where hardness of heart reigned, for self-indulgence, hardness of heart and cruelty go together.
And now notice, she is willing to make still further sacrifices. She sends her daughter, Salome (Josephus tells us the name of the girl), she sends her daughter into this banqueting-house to dance before this assembled mass of lords, high captains and chief estates of Galilee! You cannot well conceive how great degradation and disgrace this whole thing was unless you remember the customs and habits of those times. They did not know anything at all about the promiscuous dancing of modern times. No such thing was ever heard of in those days as a respectable, marriageable, but unmarried girl dancing with a man! It would have been considered by these Romans the very last disgrace. The only kind of dancing which was recognized was professional dancing; the performance of people who made dancing a profession, just as they made acting a profession. And here was the degradation to which Herodias, who was a queen, submitted when she would put her own daughter into the condition, the disreputable condition, of a professional dancer! And that, too, before a set of men who were half drunk, and no doubt in that costume that was no fuller than some of the costumes which are worn by the modern members of that profession.
My brethren, she knew her man and she knew the men that she had to deal with. So eager was she to get the head of God’s prophet, to get that testimony extinguished, to make it certain that John the Baptist’s voice should no longer be heard telling her of her sins, that she was willing to submit to all the indignity and loss of reputation which she might otherwise incur. She knew that the passions of these men would be inflamed by the spectacle! She knew into what passionate outbursts of admiration they would break when they saw this girl going through the intricate mazes of her dance, and she knew that such would be the admiration that Herod would be willing to grant her anything that she should ask. Just as it is with the fools of modern times who will express their admiration for people of the same sort in the most extravagant and in the most fantastic way. Given up to idolatry, they are also given up to worship the basest of idols, as the French of the revolution made a woman of that sort their god and the representative of their religion. So she, counting upon these depraved passions of the guests of Herod, knew that she would get what she wanted. She was not admitted to the feast; her daughter, Salome, was not admitted to the feast; there was no rare dish for either of them provided. Now she determined to have her dish, which is John the Baptist's head, and she was successful! Herod, heated with wine, intoxicated with admiration for this miserable girl, says, “Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee.” And then in a moment, with that profaneness which characterizes such people, swore unto her, “Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee, if it is the half of my kingdom!” There, it is done. And the girl comes out immediately and asks her mother, “What shall I ask?” It was not necessary to ask that question. She knew very well what her mother wanted. There was not an instant’s delay at any rate in the answer; it was short and terrible: “John the Baptist’s head!” And the dancing-girl trips back into the banqueting hall and says, “I will that thou give me, immediately, John the Baptist’s head in a charger.” Immediately! Her mother had no doubt instructed her upon that point. Herod may relent when he finds out what he has unwarily promised. He may relent, and he may try to get out of it, therefore say immediately! And Herodias is successful; she is victorious; she is triumphant when the executioner comes back with the head of God's precious prophet in a dish.
Now, is not this dreadful, my brethren? Does it not make our blood run cold? Does it not make our flesh creep? And yet it is my deliberate conviction that it was nothing but what might have been expected under the circumstances of the case. There was nothing there that might not possibly occur to us in this country and in this generation of the world, if there was such a man as John the Baptist alive. There never was but one, there never shall be another. But, then, there are men who, at a great distance from John the Baptist in dignity, are still faithful; men who lift up their voice in warning to sinners, no matter how they are found dressed, how they are found housed, in palaces as well as in hovels, clothed in purple and fine linen as well as clothed in rags. There are men in this world whom God enables to determine to keep a good conscience, come what will; men whom he inspires with courage to denounce the wickedness, not only of their generation in a mass, but to denounce the wickedness of this man and that man; and I do not honestly think that it is beyond the bounds of probability that before all of this generation shall pass away God may call some of his people to suffer unto death in this country, in these United States, the boasted home of liberty! God has been unmasking men and things to us in a very appalling way in the last few months. He has been showing us what is possible, and no man has a right to say that proscription and persecution for political opinions may not be followed by proscription and persecution for religious opinions.
One of the things which looks that way—one of the things which, it seems to me, is preparing for that state of things, which is breaking the way for it—is this insane pursuit of pleasure on the part of the people of this country, as if that were the chief thing for which mankind and womankind were made; and it is not only the people of the world that do it, but church members, and the members of the Presbyterian Church, the martyr-church of the world; the church which has furnished more victims for the stake, for the dragonade, for imprisonment, for the howling wilderness, for the dens and caves of the earth, than any other church since the outbreak of the Reformation. Oh! “tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon,” that the members of this martyr-church are among the foremost in this insane pursuit after the pleasures of the world.
Now, my brethren, when the standard-bearer faints, we begin to think that the cause is almost hopeless; and here is this church of ours, which God has made now, during three centuries at least, the standard-bearer against the hosts of the kingdom of darkness and death. When this Presbyterian Church begins to faint; when she begins to relax her solemn sense of the testimony which God has entrusted to her; when she begins to ape the fashions of the world; when, in spite of the protests of General Assemblies, Synods, Presbyteries, Sessions, we find the children of this church rushing into these amusements, what can we expect of the rest? Not only has the Presbyterian Church testified against these things, and warned her children, but the Episcopal Church has done it in her solemn Conventions, and the Methodist Church in her solemn Conferences; and even the papal body itself, in its most solemn Councils, has issued its warnings against these perils; but all in vain, for the only visible effect has been to chafe the torrent and to make its impetuosity the more conspicuous as it rushes madly on to hell, in spite of all the barriers which ecclesiastical councils and conventions have endeavored to erect. The time was, beloved friends, when a member of the Presbyterian Church would have said: “I don’t see the evil of these things; my conscience is not convinced that they are wrong; but I can make so small a sacrifice as that for Christ. I can make so small a sacrifice as staying away from the ball-room or theatre for Christ’s sake.” But where are the people now who say it? There may be some; I hope there are, I believe there are. But it is perfectly plain that there is a great multitude who do not. They say: “I will gratify myself in that feeling, in spite of general assemblies and councils! What right have they to talk to me? What right have they to dictate to -me how I shall enjoy myself?” That is the language of such; it is the language of the lover of pleasure; it is the language of her who liveth in pleasure, and who is, therefore, God being witness, dead while she liveth.
I cannot go any further, my brethren. There are some other interesting things in this narrative, but I cannot detain you longer. Now, the lesson which I wish to impress upon you, the lesson which this solemn narrative impresses upon all, is the indispensable necessity of watching and praying if we are to be delivered from temptation—watching and praying. It has been very well said that this is a thing which cannot be done by the lover of pleasure. The young woman who is dressing herself for the ball is not watching, and she never thinks of praying; and in the midst of the scenes of revelry, and in the intoxicating dance, she is far less inclined to watch and pray, and has far less opportunity than she has at other times. When she comes home in the small hours of the night, weary of the dance, intoxicated with the adulation and flattery which she has received, there is still less of a disposition to pray. She has forgotten God, she has been absorbed with the world and its vanities, and prayer is out of the question. Oh, the blind minds of men! Does it not seem strange that Christian people, those who profess to be Christian people, cannot see these things? Is it not strange that they should not recognize the fact that there is an utter—an utter—contrariety between such scenes and the spirit of the gospel and the spirit of one who professes to be a stranger and a pilgrim on the earth? Do they ever hear these words of the apostle: “Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, that ye may prove what is that good and perfect and acceptable will of God”? Now, lay these things to heart; watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.
 This sermon was delivered in the chapel of Union Theological Seminary, March 12, 1882. It was reported by one of the students of the Seminary. Dr. Peck, having revised the manuscript, consented to its publication, at the request of the students. Accordingly, the Presbyterian Committee of Publication, at Richmond, Va., issued the sermon in pamphlet form.—Ed.