« 前へ次へ »
hin felf. Of so little account was even Life to Him, Of so little ought it to be to Us, where the Cause of God is concerned : Indeed, where any Duty, of Importance so great, as to require (for many there are, which do require) our firm Adherence, and most perillous Vindication.
Mean while, This Contemplation of our Meek, but Constant Saviour, leads us to that of a frail and Wavering Apostle. And, as the History hath done, so it may be profitable for Us, to join the Remembrance of the Servant's (alas! Human) Infirmities, with that of the Master's Divine Perfections. The Latter profits, by shewing what we should be ; The Former we may profit our felves of, by seeing what we are; what we indeed are, then most of all, when least suspecting, that we are such.
Let us then look upon St. Peter in the High Priest's Palace. St. Peter, Not only an Apostle, but one of that number, singled out fora Companion of our Lord's Privacies, admitted to the Honour of his most intimate Friendship, and, upon all Occasions hitherto, exprelsing his Sense of these uncommon Favours, by all possible instances of Gratitude, and Love, and more than common Zeal. He was drawn hither at this very time, most probably, from an affectionate Concern for his Master. Here he resolutely ventured his Person, notwithstanding his Behaviour in the Garden just before, when wounding the High Priest's Servant, must needs have exposed Him, more than all the rest of his Brethren, to the danger of being observed, and ill treated by them, who dealt fo barbarously by his Lord. But alas! this St. Peter was presently so changed from what he had been, that, terrified with the Impertinence of an Inquisitive Servant, he disowned, and denied Jesus ; repeated that Denial thrice; repeated it after sufficient space for Recollection, and at last bound the Lye upon his Soul, with solemn Oaths, and dreadfui Imprecations.
St. Matth. xvi.
Ah! Where was now that gallant Faith, which made so glorious a Confession of this Jesus being the Christ, the Son of the living God? Where that eager Courage, that did not fear to meet his Lord, walking upon the Sea? Where that bold Promise, that though all should be offended, and leave their Dear Lord in his Distress, yet would He never be offended? Where that becoming Resolution, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee in any wise? Where all that Fire and Intrepidity, which, but a very little while ago, had singly engaged a whole Band of Armed Men, in hope to rescue the Lord he now abjures? What shall we say to such Advantages, such Warnings, such Proofs of Affection, such boasted Firmness of Mind, such desperate Attempts, all lost and forgotten, upon the filly Surmises of a Servant or two, without any forınal Accusation brought, without any Hand laid on him? What two Men ever differed more from one another, than This Man, in an Hour or two, differed from himself ? From what himself had oft been proved, and had continued all along, till that very Hour or two: from what he hoped, and believed he should and no doubt intended fully to, continue, to the last Moment of his Life?
Yet so sudden, so prodigious an Alteration our Lord foretold and permitted ; And such he thought fit we should be acquainted there was, in this Great Man. Wisely to be sure ; as for Other Reasons, to particularly for These. That this Example might effectually convince us, how frail even the Best are, how little Masters of their own Passions, how unfit to undertake for themselves, even when their Desires of doing well are most fervent, and their Resolutions moft sincere. In short, how vain all Confidences in our own Strength and Virtue must needs be, which, by tempting us to imagine we are Something, provoke God to withdraw
that Grace, (the necessity whereof we do not then suffi-
This Fall of St. Peter however, as it ought to be appli-
stand, by what Death he should glorify God. John xxi.
Now all these are Testimonies of greater Value, because they were the long and constant Practice of a settled Faith, the courseofmany Years, the habit and the sense of the Man: Whereas his Crime, tho’exceeding great, was however of short Continuance; the effect of Fearand Infirmity in great measure; and not so much the Act of the Man, as the Violence of Passions and Temptations, which had then almost unmann'd him.
The same Methods muft We be sure to follow, when it Niall please God to suffer any grievous Temptation
Luke xxii. 61,
to overtake Us. We must, upon the first fense of our
But They, that are sincere, should remember, they are feeble too; and not, with this Apostle, seep in the Hour of Danger; But Watch and Pray: Watch constantly, Pray fervently, that they enter not into Temptation. As knowing by this Example, and feeling by their own Experience, that the Willingness of the Spirit is not Preservative sufficient against the Weakness of the Flesh.
Tuesday before Easter.
For the EPISTLE.
Isaiah l. 5.
5. God hath chosen 5. THE Lord God barb opened mine ear, and I was me for his Servant, and not rebellious, neitber turned
back. instructed me in my Errand, which I readily undertook notwithstanding I knew how ill it would be received. 6. I submitted to all
6. I gave my back to the smiters, and my checks to their manner of contumelious that plucked off the bair ; 1 bid not my fuce from frase Ufage, and was not dis- and spirring. couraged by it.
7. For God, I know, 7. For the Lord God will belp me, therefore fball 15 .will support me, so that be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and the Malice of my Ene- I know that I shall not be ashamed. mies shall not prevail to my Destruction. Therefore I continue impenetrable to their Cruelty and Scorn, as assured, that I fall not be put to Shame.
8. He will plead my 8. He is near that justifieth me; Who will contend with Cause, and vindicate me? let us ftand together. Who is my adversary ? let bis my Innocence, so that I dare confidently challenge all that speak or think ill of me, to come forth and make good their Charge.
9. God will stand by 9. Bebold, the Lord God will help me ; who is be iba me, in this tryal I put mall condemn me? lo, they all fall wax vid as a garmy self upon; and all ment, the morb shall eat them up. my Accusers shall fail and fret away.
10. If among fogreat 10. Wbo is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeye a number of Slanderers erb the voice of bis servant, that walketh in darkness, and and Scorners, there be barb no light? let him trust in tbe name of tbe Lord, and found some few who pay upon bis God. fear God, and hearken to his Messenger : If these be under grievous Troubles, and have no Comfort; let not their Amictions drive them to Despair, but (after my Example ) put them upon a firm Dependance on the God they serve, for Protection and Deli
come near to me,
II. But as for You, 11. Bebold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass your who think to secure felves about with sparks ; walk in the light of your pare, your Selves by wicked and in tbe sparks ibat ye bave kindled. Ibis shall ye bart Means, go on in your of mine banid, ye shall lie down in forrow. vain Projects : But know, that the end of all your short imaginary Satisfaction shall be, to perith in Misery and lasting Grief,