"And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried,they shall call on my name, and I will hear them; I will say, It is my people; and they shall say, The Lord Is my God."- Zech. xiii. 8,9.
"He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." - Mal. iii. 3.
God's dealings with national, typical Israel are of very much interest to the church of Christ. Therein is discovered to us the attributes of the Lord, and in this nation we have a portraiture of the manifold vicissitudes that pertain to the children of Zion even to the present day. This people were exceptionally favored above all the nations of the earth. To them were committed the oracles of God; blessings peculiar and abundant were their heritage. At times they worshiped God in grateful praises for his sovereign graciousness unto them, but ah, how soon they forgot his works, they corrupted their ways, debased themselves in their forgetfulness and wandered treacherously from the Lord. They knew what it was to flourish beneath the smiles of the Lord, and to fade and die beneath his rebukes. How often the Lord wrought for his name's sake, (Ezek. xx. 9,) shewing them mercy and delivering them from their adversities. In reading the history of Israel we see that severe indeed were the fiery ordeals they were subjected to. Look at this: "Son of man, the house of Israel is to me become dross: all they are brass, and tin, and Iron, and lead; in the midst of the furnace; they are even the dross of silver. Therefore thus saith the Lord God. Because ye are all become dross, behold, therefore, I will got her you into the midst of Jerusalem. As they gather silver, and brass, and iron, and lead, and tin, into the midst of the furnace, to blow the fire upon it, to melt It; so will I gather you in mine anger, and in my fury, and will leave you there, and melt you. Yea, I will gather you, and blow upon you in the fire of my wrath, and ye shall be melted in the midst thereof As silver Is melted in the midst of the furnace, so shall ye be melted in the midst thereof and ye shall know that I the Lord have poured out my fury upon you." Ezek. xxii. 18-22. Ah, though the furnace was so severe there were ever some silver, some that were precious in the eyes of the Lord, a remnant according to the election of grace so in Zech. xlii. 8,9, "Two parts therein [saith the Lord] shall be cut off and die; but the third part shall be left therein." This third part are his very people, and they confess the Lord to be their God. By fiery trials the Lord separated them from their Idolatries, uncleanness and witchcraft. He purified them by the spirit of judgment and of burning from all the foreign mixtures that had become mixed with the pure worship that God had ordained among his people when he redeemed them from the house of bondage. Moab was the Lord's washpot, (Psalms lx. 8,) and Babylon was also the refining pot for Israel. Seventy years they were in that fiery furnace to purify them from Idolatry. Though the fires of exile and captivity were painful, their songs were hushed, and in sighing and weeping they spent this long night of affliction, yet all worked together for good. There they bemoaned themselves, and sighed and wept, but the morning came, and they came forth with singing (Isaiah xxxv. 10,) and laughter; yes, the bright shining silver sang, "The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad." Are "the third part" his people? Are they silver and gold? Then he will refine them as silver is refined, and try them as gold is tried. In graciousness and faithfulness, for his own glory and their good, the Lord will bring the third part through the fire.
It is not my intention to recite the narrative in particular, in which is told the fulfillment of this prophetic word in typical Israel, but, the Holy Spirit enabling me, I will present some glimpses of the subject as have ever been and are now experienced by those who are in truth the people of God. "I [Jehovah of hosts] will bring the third part through the fire." "He [Christ, the Word made flesh, the messenger of the covenant,] shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver," By these declarations of the Scriptures the Refiner Is no other than God. This being so it is our comfort, as believers in God, to be assured that he is not trifling or experimenting with his people; he is not using them as playthings when he turns his hand upon them (Isaiah i. 25,) and puts them in the refining pot. The little that we know of God persuades us to believe that he is holy and wise, gracious and almighty. All his ways are judgment, just and right is he. When his saints come forth of this and that, and all the fiery furnaces that the Refiner puts them into, will they not be to his praise and honor and glory? In very truth they will; my soul is exultant in truth they will; my soul is exultant in the thought. It is so sustaining and uplifting to have right thoughts of God. The Refiner is the Lord of hosts, the silver is his own elect, his redeemed and regenerated people, whom he hath eternally loved and hath predestinated unto eternal glory. The silver is owned by the Refiner. Who then shall question his sovereign right to do with his own as seemeth good in his sight? The sorest chastenings of our heavenly Father are for our profit. (Heb. xii. 10.) Our Refiner knows that there is much dross mingled with the silver In his people; we think we know it, too, but he better knows it than we, and what is more, he knows just exactly what fire and what degrees of fiery trials will separate this and that alloy from the silver, bring it to the surface, and that only his own hand that put us in the crucible and melted as can purge away the dross. Have you not prayed, dear child of God, that you might more brightly shine in the beauties of the Savior? Yes, you say,
"I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace;
Might more of his salvation know,
And seek more earnestly his face.
'Twas he who taught me thus to pray,
And he, I trust, has answered prayer;
But it has been in such a way
As almost drove me to despair."
O, there is much chaff to be burned up, and tin and dross to be purged away all the days that we are in the earthly house of this tabernacle. Well, child of God, how many times have you been in the refining pot? What fires have you been brought through? and in what furnace of affliction are you now being melted? To tell all your answer would be a long account. The Lord has many fires, and fire after fire to bring his chosen through; some of his dear children are seldom out of the melting pot. The furnace of affliction in which the Lord has his chosen may be, in his providence, some outward earthly trial. It may be the blasting of our temporal prosperity; we are called upon perhaps to see nothing but shattered hopes and blighted expectations. Perhaps by God's dispensation we find our bodily health declining, and wearing and painful sickness is our lot. Then how sore to meet with bereavements, when strong ties are rent and torn. But there are living troubles which are as a living fire; some such afflictions are never breathed to any other, but are as a continuing furnace to the soul. Then, when it pleaseth the Lord, he can so kindle a fire to melt us that the common cares of life area daily furnace to us. Or our Refiner's fire may be the fiery darts of the wicked, the buffetings of the messenger of Satan, the devil's cruel insinuations and accusations. What a harassed life some of God's dear children have; all their surroundings are such that we wonder they endure such fiery trials. O they are not utterly consumed, the Lord, the Refiner, loves them, and his invisible and gracious hand sustains them. A child of God cannot always say with Job, "I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came." - Job. iii. 26. Our circumstances may have been very different when trouble came. Trouble came; unsent? Never. Let us not believe such atheistical stuff. Trouble came, the fire burns, the child of God is in the crucible, and soon he is melted because of trouble. The affliction of the silver is not to destroy the silver, but to refine it. The bush that Moses saw burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed; and Moses said, "I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt." - Exodus iii. 3. And I am sure if we have eyes to see the elect of God in the refining pot, if we have a heart to enter somewhat into the intimacy between the Refiner and the silver, if we can view the scene taking place In the crucible, we shall say, This is a great sight, such a sight which if once seen can never be altogether obliterated from memory's vision.
To a right apprehension of what is to be witnessed as we contemplate the children of God in the fire it will be borne in mind that all is not silver in the pot, there is dross there also. The child of God has two natures, one pure silver, the other all alloy, veritable dross, though some of it may very much resemble silver. The silver is the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness, and the dross is the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts. (Eph. iv. 22-24.) Having this well understood I would that we together might look into the crucible and see the tribulation of the sliver therein, and let us know that while we are obtaining some glimpses therein that there is One who sees far more and deeper than we, One who sees all; the Lord, the Refiner, sitteth near by, his heart and his eyes are there perpetually. (1 Kings ix. 3.) He has dominion over the fire, and in wisdom regulates its intensity; nothing is taking place in the refining pot without him. By the heat of the fiery trial the child of God begins to be moved, as silver he is troubled; the varied alloys of our carnal nature also are agitated in affliction's furnace. That one and the selfsame person should be agitated by such contradictory emotions is a mystery. in the refining pot the child of God becomes melted; yes, the new man is molten, and is moved like melted, boiling silver in the refining pot, and the dross also is put in motion by the fiery ordeal. What strugglings what warfare is experienced by the tried soul. As the silver and the alloy are boiling, at certain stages they are so mixed, there is such confusion of the substances, that the child of God cannot himself determine what is silver and what is of the flesh. O this he learns, that he is frail and sinful. So mixed sometimes are the silver and dross that the poor soul in the furnace cannot determine whether he is a child of God or a child of the devil. "When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path." - Psalms cxlii. 3.
So our Refiner ever distinguishes, ever knows the sighs and yearnings of the silver. "The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the Lord trieth the hearts." - Prov. xvii. 3. While the child of God is in the crucible he is being tested indeed, for consider what darkness he is in much of the time. The providences of the Lord are often as an impenetrable cloud, and blind unbelief, that foul, God-dishonoring dross, comes the surface, and our tried souls are entombed in its dismalness. Ah, yes, there boils up out of, the depths of our sinful hearts murmuring and rebellions, and we pray, but all our prayers are not silver prayers, there are dross prayers, peevish cries; we pray, Take us out of the fire, but we are still kept in, the fire still burns, our Refiner blows upon it and it becomes the hotter. Yes, in affliction's furnace the believer will find thoughts bubbling up, imaginations of the carnal mind, and in passing through these fiery trials the Lord purposes to separate the dross thoughts from the silver thoughts. Many have been and are our thoughts of God, of his providences and of things that we imagine to be the truth; we cherish them as silver, but they are base alloy. Ah, what misconceptions we are liable to; we sometimes think that God is altogether such an one as ourselves. Silver thoughts are ever according to the testimony of the holy Scriptures, and those that are not sustained by the word of God, no matter how pretentious, no matter how we have gained them, no matter how they appear to shine, no matter how much we hug them to our bosom, they are nothing but very dross and scum, and in the refining pot we shall find it to be so to our soul's discomfiture. God's fires are where the wood, hay and stubble, where heresies are consumed. The false, the counterfeit, that religiousness that originates in our flesh, the erroneous ideas which we thought were right, and were friendly to Christ, are now in the furnace discovered to us to be opposed to that true and vital knowledge of God, (2 Cor. x. 5,) and all such by sore tribulations are separated from the faith which is of the operation of God. Yes, the refining pot is the place for the destruction of inherent Arminianism. Self-righteousness is only wood, hay, stubble, and affliction's fire will burn it up. As the dross comes to the surface we look into the refining pot, and nothing but this offensive scum is seen. We say, is this a child of God? Look at Jonah in the refining pot in Nineveh and its vicinity; he is exceedingly displeased, and very angry and even in the face of God he spits forth this: "I do well to be angry, even unto death." As we stand by and look upon this, depicted in the fourth chapter, do we not blush and feel ashamed that such behavior should be in any creature? Surely this is dross. Is there any silver in Jonah? Yes, look beneath this shameful scum, look at him in the belly of the whale, in the second chapter, and there the precious grace of God, the silver, is seen. The Lord of hosts sits as a refiner and purifier of silver, and as the dross comes to the surface it is his work, because of his great interest in the silver, to remove all the base scum away. Let us not overlook this one thing as we consider the elect of God in the furnace of affliction, that amidst all the severity of their trials they are given to prove the unfailing mercifulness of the Lord their God. Our Refiner loves his own, he ever has compassion for his silver. He, the Captain of our salvation, was made perfect through suffering when he was put to perfect grief for the atonement of our transgressions. He saw the travail of his own soul and was satisfied; yes, for the joy that was set before him he endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. So he sitteth as a Refiner and witnesseth the travail of soul of his tried people, his beloved silver ones, in the refining pot. He sees the end, that they shall come forth to his praise, they shall very gloriously reflect his own image.
"I feel at my heart all thy sighs and thy groans,
1'br thou art most near me, my flesh and my bones;
In all thy distresses thy Head feels the pain,
Yet all are most needful, not one is in vain.
Then trust me and fear not, thy life is secure;
My wisdom is perfect, supreme is my power;
In love I correct thee, thy soul to refine,
To make the eat length in my likeness to shine,"
The Refiner takes away from time to time the upboiling dross; he has no pleasure in this scum, for it mars the divine excellence of his silver. Yes, tried one, thy Refiner will take away the dross from the silver, and thou shalt come forth from the fires a vessel well pleasing in his eyes. (Prov. xxv. 4.) Though in your trials you find so much that is not pure and gracious and Christ-like, though your melted soul is feelingly buried in this all upboilng scum, and your heart aches to find there is so much of it, thy loving Refiner will purely purge away thy dross and take away all thy tin. (Isaiah i. 25.) By divine teaching errors are swept away, for God's word, his truth, is like fire. The gracious teachings of the Spirit of truth (John xvi. 13,) separates us from our mistaken ideas of doctrine, and we are made quite willing in our fiery temptations to have all heresies carted away to the dunghill. The people of God are glorified in the truth, but errors dim the lustre of the faith of God's elect. O the grievous scum of the depravity of our flesh, what shall cleanse this away? Only the hand of the once crucified One can purge it from thy aching conscience. Yes, the dear Refiner who sitteth near by will put forth his hand, and the voice of his pierced hand removing the scum will say to the heart of his silver underneath, This is my blood shed for the remission of sins. O blessed removal of the dross by the precious blood of the Lamb! At such a moment as this the silver, though still in affliction, can look up with smiles unto the face of the Refiner, saying, I have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace. Scum, vain imaginations, delusions, heresies, murmurings, unbelief, atheisms, all such are not evidences of the grace of God; they are not to be exhibited, looked upon or mentioned as evidences presenting us as the children of God; such is in all mankind. Such things are vile, they are not precious, and to be as God's mouth we must in our testimony take forth the precious from the vile. (Jer. xv. 19.) Sin in its every aspect is to be loathed, to be refused, to be condemned; we are not to smack our lips over it as though it were enjoyable, good to eat. O Lord, "thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity." - Hab. I. 13. And shall we feast our eyes on sin? Surely if we are of God, born again, born of God, if we are silver, our heart-aching prayer will be, Take away all iniquity, and we shall be ashamed, and mourn, and loathe ourselves for all our iniquities. Can such an one whose conversation is not chaste be found mingling among the saints; who tells, with a grin on his face, an obscene anecdote? Shall I by word or look, or in any other way, be a partaker? God forbid. O God, have mercy upon me. How dare such a person profess the name of Christ? How dare they invade the society of believers in the Lamb of God? Child of God, let that one whose life is such be unto you as a leper; keep no company with such. O pray to God to keep thee from this walking pestilence. O flee, in thy heart, to the pavilion of thy God, in the secret of his tabernacle thou shalt find a refuge, and there pour out thy sighs In the hour of temptation. Thy merciful, succoring God "shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler." - Psalms xci. 4. It is so gratifying, moving our souls in thanksgiving to God, that his grace was so sufficient for the apostle Paul that he could write, "Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe. -I Thess. ii. 10.
Many are the conflicting thoughts and the prayers of the elect of God while being brought through the fire, for in the Refiners fire, of whatsoever nature it may be, we are melted and sink down in the crucible, and wonder why it is that we have fallen into such temptations. In gloom because of the uprising dross, and agitated by our trials, we know in truth that no chastening is joyous, but grievous, and it is not easy for us to understand that any God-glorifying fruits can come out of such distracting, heart-burdensome, burning dispensations. Look into the refining pot and see the children of God therein; you say, I do, and I see some of them have hard thoughts of men, of things and of God; they murmur, and some in rather loud tones express their peevishness. This surely is dross and scum. Yes, but if you have good hearing incline your ear over the refining pot, and from underneath all this scum you shall hear the sighs and prayers of the melted silver. "How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me? - Psalms xiii. 1. "Why standest thou afar off, O Lord? why hidest thou thyself in times of trouble?" - Psalms x. 1. The very time when he is so much needed we fear he has withdrawn, and has taken away his mercies from us, and amazed and disconsolate we ask, "Will the Lord cast off forever? and will he be favorable no more? is his mercy clean gone forever? doth his promise fail for evermore? Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? - Psalms lxxvii. 7-9. Do not these complaints very clearly declare that the Lord is the One so needful, so desired? Look at Job when he was in the furnace, you may see the dross. Ah yes, he spake "words without knowledge." in the day of his grief and desperate sorrow his speech was as the speech of one that was desperate. (Job vi. 26.) The dross came to the surface, but let the dross be taken away from the silver and how affectionately we look at the molten silver, at Job in his afflictions. His bereaved soul cries out, "O that I knew where I might find him! that I might come even to his seat!" "Though he slay me, yet will I trust In him." And then so nourished was his faith and hope in God that he says, "He knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold." What a comprehensive view he had of God's providence, and how gracious was his soul's acquiescence to the afflicting dispensations of God when he exclaimed, "What! shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?" - Job ii. 10. All afflictions and chastenings endured by the chosen of God are for their good, and the fruit of it all is God-glorifying; so even while in the fire the silver is found to glorify the Lord God. For however inconceivable to the carnal mind, the child of God spiritually thrives in affliction. Melted in the fires we are separated from fleshly dependencies.
"Trials make the promise sweet,
Trials give new life to prayer,
Trials bring me to his feet,
Lay me low and keep me there"
"O Lord, by these things men live, and in all these things is the life of my spirit." - Isaiah xxxviii. 16. "They shall call on my name, and I will hear them." That is, the melted silver shall call upon the Refiner, I, the Lord, will hear them. He is so near the refining pot.
"He knows how deep their groanings are,
And what their secret sighs declare,
And for their comfort has expressed
That all such mourning souls are blest."
In trouble they visit their God and pour out a prayer while his chastening is upon them. The word prayer here means "a secret speech, a whisper." Yes, the cry of the tried heart is only for the ear of the Lord. So very gracious is our God that when the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I, saith the Lord, will hear them, I the God of Jacob will not forsake them. Prayers, silver prayers, from that heart prepared by the Lord are the forerunners of his decreed mercies. Such prayers are not tin prayers; silver prayers are not asking amiss, but asking according to the will of the Lord our Refiner.
"They shall call on my name, and I will hear them." In our affliction we are moved by the Holy Spirit to seek the Lord. No other one can afford us help. Ah, it may be before we were brought into trials we were careless, wayward ones; but now in our tribulations where shall we go? to whom shall we look? "When he slew them, then they sought him; and they returned and inquired early after God: and they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer." Listen to the silver praying, "Take away all iniquity."- Hosea xlv. 2. Take away this hateful dross that darkens my life, mars my peace and shuts out from view the face of my Redeemer. In the chastening fires we are brought into implicit reliance in the atoning blood of Christ, more and more endeared to us becomes the hope of the gospel, and we look with all desire to the merits of our Savior, and when the Comforter applies the blood of Jesus to our sin-aching hearts, then the scum is gone, and the silver face looks up to the face that looks down, and that look of the Lord, the Refiner, says, Thou art mine, my delight, my Hephzibah, and the happy silver says, The Lord Is my God. Many are the sighs and cries of the tried saints for resignation to the divine will, and that they might as dear children bear the indignation of the Lord, endure reproaches for the name of Christ, and that they might be kept ever worshiping the everlasting God. The furnace of affliction most surely brings the children of God into more intimate communion with the Lord; here their faith is purified, errors are purged, and they are brought into the necessity of a deeper and more extended knowledge of the characters that Christ sustains to his own. If passing through the fire is to burn up the dross, then let the Lord do with me as seemeth good in his sight. Unlike material silver from which all alloy has been purely purged away, and is then pure silver, the child of God becomes while in the world again and again mixed with dross. "How is the gold become dim! how is the most fine gold changed!" - Lam. iv. 1. Ah, it becomes tarnished, corroded with earth's defilements. The dross accumulates, It grows up from our depraved nature and mingles itself with the silver. Ah, some of the dear family of God are only out of the furnace for little moments. These little seasons are quietness and joy, and radiant in gratefulness, they reflect the smiling face of God. Then if needs be the Lord puts them in the refining pot again. Surely his purposes are wise and gracious. Though the silver be tried in a furnace of earth and purified seven times, (Psalms xii. 6,) will the silver in the end find fault? will there be a murmuring thought over any or all the seven fires? O there will be perfect acquiescence, there will not be a lisp of complaint, but this shall be the heart's sweet song: My Jesus hath done all things well. The Refiner in all graciousness clears away the dross, and looking into the furnace he sees the melted silver, sees in his tried ones his own image, and he says, It is my people, and the silver's heart responds, The Lord is my God. Would you see a child of God brought through the fire? then look at this picture. There stands Simon Peter in the palace of the high priest warming himself at the fire. Ah, Peter, the Lord has put you into the refining pot, and underneath satan kindles a fire, for he has desired to have thee that he may sift thee as wheat; he has insinuated that you are nothing but chaff, and you have thought you are the finest of wheat, all wheat and no chaff, for you have said, Although all should be offended, yet will not I. The fire is kindled, and Peter In the crucible will soon begin to be dissolved by the vehement heat of temptation, and we shall see what silver and what dross he is composed of. The Refiner is near by. "A damsel came unto him saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee." This was a hot fire, and Peter is melting hot within, the silver and the dross are all in commotion, and up to the surface comes the dross, and Peter "denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest." Another who saw him "said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth. And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man." What, do you think that an oath for confirmation will end the strife, silence your accusers and cause them to believe your lies? Ah, sinful Peter, this is very dross. The fire still burns, and Peter is boiling with emotions; yes, the silver Is In motion and the dross is in motion. About the space of one hour another accuser came, and his accusations and questionings were as a vehement flame under the refining pot. This accuser confidently affirmed, saying, of a truth this fellow also was with him, for he Is a Galilean, (the accuser was one of the servants of the high priest, being his kinsman, whose ear Peter cut off,) and he saith, "Did not I see thee in the garden with him?" O Peter, where is thy vehement courage now? will you cut him down with your sword? Ah, the once brave Peter is now a very coward. "Then began he to curse and swear, saying, I know not the man." What, lying, swearing, cursing? Whom was he cursing, himself, his accusers? Was it that he was cursing Jesus? O execrable scum! This is the very scum of scum. Can there be any silver in the refining pot? Yes, for our Savior told him before he was put in the furnace, "I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted strengthen thy brethren." While he was lying, while he was swearing to confirm his lying denials, yes; even while he was cursing, Peter knew, the silver knew, Jesus; the silver ached, the silver sighed, the silver was ashamed. The silver, deep down in the crucible, hidden from all human view, blushed and dared not lift up its face to the Lord. (Ezra ix. 6.) Three horrible boilings up of vileness; once, twice, thrice, enough: "Thou shalt deny me thrice." Not four times. "And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice." Look into the furnace, and there to our view is Peter, and we say he is all dross, all depravity, he exhibits the very scum of the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts. This is all that is outward of Peter in the crucible, and we say, O Peter, thou art so unlovely. "The Lord turned and looked upon Peter." It is the moment, the set time for the Refiner to skim away the odious scum. Christ looked, O that look! He looked upon Peter, he looked and looked and looked all the dross, all Peter's dense, corrupt scum away, and Peter is transformed. Jesus looked upon him with eyes of injured love; that look said, I have prayed for thee. He looked in such compassionate forgiveness. O that look was the look of the suffering Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world, and thus Jesus the Refiner took away the dross from the silver. The Refiner looked upon the silver, and Peter (not scum and dross Peter, but silver Peter,) looked upon the Refiner. Who can tell the story of what transpired in the soul of Peter when his eyes met the eyes of the suffering, compassionate Jesus? The lying, swearing, cursing Peter is transformed. The Lord with his eyes, which are as a flame of fire, so looked into the crucible that all the dross was cleansed away, and Peter went out and wept bitterly. O thou art silver Peter. Thy bitter weeping is sweet to us. O Peter, thou art lovely, thou art all fair, there is no spot in thee, nothing but silver now is seen. The brokenhearted, melted silver is all aglow with the likeness of the Lord, the Refiner, who himself is a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Jesus turned and looked upon Peter, and he went out and wept bitterly.
Frederick W. Keene
Signs of the Times
Republished - Vol. 164, No. 12 – December 1996