John Owen (1616 Oxfordshire – 24 August 1683 Ealing)
A season of self-confidence: then the temptation is usually at hand.
The case of Peter is clear in this: “Yet will I not deny thee” (Mat 26:35)—that is, though all men should deny Thee, I will not. Though I were to die for it, I would not do it. This said the poor man when he stood on the very brink of that temptation that cost him such bitter tears afterward. And this taught him so far to know himself all his days. It gave him such acquaintance with the state of all believers that, when he had received more of the Spirit and of power, yet he had less confidence. He, therefore, saw it fit that others should have less confidence also, and therefore persuades all men to “pass the time of [their] sojourning here in fear” (1Pe 1:17); and not to be confident and high as he was, lest they fall as he did.
At the first trial he compares himself with others, and vaunts himself above them: “Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended” (Mat 26:33). He fears every man more than himself. But when our Savior afterward comes to him and puts him directly upon the comparison: “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?” (Joh 21:15), he is done comparing himself with others, and only cries, “Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.” He will lift up himself above others no more.
Such a season often comes. Temptations are abroad in the world, and false doctrines, with innumerable other allurements and provocations. We are ready, everyone, to be very confident that we shall not be surprised with them. Though all men should fall into these follies, yet we would not. Surely we shall never go off from our walking with God; it is impossible our hearts should be so stupid and foolish. But says the apostle, “Be not high-minded, but fear…let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (Rom 11:20; 1Co 10:11). Would you think that Peter—who had walked on the sea with Christ, confessed Him to be the Son of God, been with Him in the mount when he heard the voice from the excellent glory (Mat 17:1- 8)—should instantly fall a-cursing and swearing that he knew Him not, at the word of a servant-girl (Luk 22:57)—when there was no legal inquisition after him, no process against him, nor against anyone in his condition? Let them take heed of self-confidence who have any mind to take heed of sin.
10) John Owen