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forsake His Cross. Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. And he said, LORD, I am ready to go with THEE, both into prison, and to death." But JESUS said, 'I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow till thou hast denied ME thrice."

Yet again, when the supper was quite over, and our LORD was on His way with the chosen Apostles to the garden where HE suffered agony and was betrayed, He then most openly of all cautioned St. Peter, and in him all who are inclined to have trust in themselves, "6 All ye shall be offended because of ME this night." And when St. Peter, more forward and sanguine than the rest, came forward with his usual earnest protestation, "Though all shall be offended, yet will not I; though I should die with THEE, yet will I not deny THEE;" our LORD again repeated His warning, laying especial stress upon the circumstance of the cockcrowing, in order that it might be a kind of sign or token, when it happened, to recall the saint to himself. Thus we see, that up to the very last moment, when he was to be put to the proof, our LORD never ceased warning His favoured servant of the frailty of his good resolutions, and that St. Peter never ceased professing to serve HIм, apparently with too much confidence in himself.

Now then observe the process of the temptation and trial, under which the Apostle's firmness, on which he depended so much, and which his LORD taught him was so little to be depended on, presently almost gave way. First, our SAVIOUR took him with St. James and St. John, to be as it were His body-guard or sentinels, to watch by HIM whilst He was engaged in intense devotion, yielding Himself to His FATHER'S will. Here first St. Peter shewed some weakness, whether of body or of mind, or of both; for being exhausted and low-spirited, they all sank down in sleep, at the moment when, humanly speaking, it was most important for them to have kept awake. By their not doing so, Judas had an opportunity of coming on His MASTER (as the world thought) unawares, and betraying HIM into their hands. And again, as the Disciples did not resist the natural desire of sleep, but gave way to it, they wanted in some

measure that enduring grace and help from above, which GOD would surely have bestowed on them, had they prayed earnestly; and when tribulation arose for their LORD's sake, presently after, as the Jews took HIM and led HIм away, they were at once offended," or led into sin; "they all forsook HIM and fled," finding that He did not mean to defend HIMSELF, or to be defended with the sword of earthly warfare.

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They all forsook their MASTER and fled, and St. Peter among the rest; so far, however, his sin does not appear worse than that of the rest; only it is the more remarkable, and the more instructive to consider, on account of the earnest promises he had made of avoiding it. And it seems, among other instruction, to convey this serious warning to us all, that we prepare ourselves in our good resolutions to follow and obey CHRIST unreservedly; not marking out, as it were, in our thoughts beforehand, a particular path, in which if He lead us, we will abide with HIM, but not else; not taking for granted in our good resolutions, that such and such means will surely be in our power, such and such blessings be still granted us; for if we depend on these or any outward thing, sooner or later, in more or less degree, what we depend on is sure to fail us, and then our course of thought will be put out of order, and we shall hardly know what to do, say, or imagine; and any temptation which the Enemy may have leave to bring on us at that moment, will find us terribly unprepared, and will be inexpressibly dangerous.

Thus St. Peter, and probably all the Twelve, expecting that our LORD should immediately set up such an earthly monarchy as their fancies had framed, had prepared themselves thoroughly to serve Him faithfully in that kingdom; but when they began to perceive that His true kingdom was a state of great trial only, and not of soldierlike enterprise; when they gathered from His own expressions, that their cause was, in a manner, given up to the Evil Spirit for a time; that it was the hour of CHRIST's enemies and of the power of darkness; then with one accord they all forsook HIM and fled. If they had been more attentive to our LORD's warnings, or if they had forced themselves to keep awake, in order to pray earnestly for His good SPIRIT, possibly their good resolutions might have proved of a more stable and enduring kind; they might have resolved to stand by our LORD, not in

doing only, for which St. Peter shewed himself prepared, when he smote a servant of the high-priest and cut off his ear, but also in suffering, for which he and all showed themselves unprepared, when they forsook their LORD and fled.

Let us then always endeavour, in our good resolutions, to be prepared for any change of circumstances which God's Providence may bring upon us; not to be disconcerted or discouraged, nor refuse to serve HIм at all, because we find that we cannot serve Him in the particular way we at first intended.

But we must go on with the account of St. Peter's fall. Though he fled at first with the other Apostles, it seems that he recovered himself presently, at least in part, and followed the persecutors as they led his MASTER away, afar off, even to the high-priest's palace, and came in, and sat with the servant to see the end. This might, to be sure, have been mere curiosity; but the whole cast of St. Peter's character makes us rather think his conduct to have arisen from true loyal affection to our SAVIOUR, to whom, though he could do no good in His great extremity, yet he was anxious to keep as close to HIM as he could; to stay with HIM, and have HIM in sight, to the end. In this respect, then, St. Peter's conduct appears more loyal and brave than that of the other Apostles, excepting indeed the beloved Disciple, St. John, for he too followed his MASTER quite into the high-priest's palace; but perhaps there might not be the same courage in his doing so as in St. Peter's, because he, St. John, was known to the high-priest, and might hope for favour, if notice were taken of him.

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However, so it was, that St. John's then introducing St. Peter into the high-priest's hall, gave occasion to St. Peter, for the first time, openly to deny and disavow our SAVIOUR. For when St. John was bringing him in, through the interest which he, as an acquaintance, had with the servant, then saith the damsel that kept the door unto Peter, Art not thou also one of this man's disciples? He saith, I am not." This was the first denial, and it really seems to have been occasioned by an overearnest desire to get into the hall, and remain there near his MASTER. Such falsehoods are told every day for the sake of mere matters of expediency or fancy, much more to save one's life, and people think very little of them: but St. Peter, you see, accounted them worth bitter tears.

It must be owned, indeed, that his two following denials were more like presumptuous sin. As our LORD's trial went on, the course of it seemed more and more unfavourable to HIM; one high-priest, Annas, put chains on HIM, and sent HIM to the other high-priest, Caiaphas; moreover, the men that held HIM, mocked and smote HIM; and while this was going on, it may be, St. Peter's countenance expressed something of that horror and grief which was natural, on beholding such treatment of his best FRIEND and SAVIOUR. However, then it was, that, for some reason or other, the servants and soldiers began again to suspect and attack St. Peter, and charge him with having been with JESUS of Nazareth; and he answered with an oath, "I do not know the man." The charge being repeated, and that by one who might have it in his power to bring him into trouble, viz. by a kinsman of the high-priest's servant, whose ear Peter cut off; he was more alarmed, and sinned more deliberately, declaring with repeated curses and oaths, I know not this man of whom you speak."

Thus St. Peter openly, repeatedly, and of set purpose, denied CHRIST, and was ashamed of HIM before men. His vain confidence was the thing which led him altogether into this sin and danger, making him first rather boastful of his own good intentions, whereby he both hardened his own spirit, and tempted the Evil One, as it were, to tempt him. Next, self-confidence made St. Peter more neglectful of prayer, so that, when CHRIST looked to find him watching, he was heavy with sleep, not making the most of the few hours he had, to obtain the blessed help of God's SPIRIT, that he might stand in the sad trial. Accordingly, GOD deserted him, so far, for the time. He declared that he was none of that SAVIOUR's, to whom, if he had not belonged, he was aware in his heart that he could not have true life, neither in

this world nor in the world to come.

Such was St. Peter's fall,

so little thought of by him a moment before; so bitterly thought of and deplored a moment after.


Observe now the manner and process of his recovery. 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. And Peter went out and wept bitterly." The LORD JESUS, gracious and merciful, even with that look which searches out the reins and the hearts, did but

once turn towards His erring servant, and at once all His words of warning, seemingly so vain, came thronging into St. Peter's mind. One look was enough he remembered how thoroughly he had been warned; he felt how rashly he had neglected the warning; and when he thought thereon, he wept bitterly. It was no common sort of repentance, but a bitter, painful state of mind. He was full of indignation, of clearing of himself, of fear, of vehement desire; he acknowledged his fault, not only with his lips but in his life; and his sin was ever before him, not only as a deep, hard point of doctrine, which it concerned men to know, but also as a miserable, melancholy, most humbling truth, the remembrance of which seemed as if it would abide by him, as did David's remorse, and keep him as long as he lived from ever being quite so happy or so light-hearted again.

This was holy St. Peter's penitence; what is ours apt to be, when we have sinned like him? This is too serious and too large a question to be answered fully at this time; only there is one thing too plain and too material to be passed over; and that is, that very few persons, however they sin, repent as St. Peter did. Compare only the grief which men feel, after any great transgression, with that which seizes them on the death of a dear friend, or the disappointment of a favourite scheme. How often have you been hindered in your sleep, or in your meals, by sorrow and humiliation for your sins, in comparison with the effect which worldly care or regret have had on you? If this be so ;-if our sins, take them all together, are notoriously great and crying up to heaven, and yet our penitence, even among those who do practise it in some measure, is so very unlike the retirement, the deep thought, the bitter tears of St. Peter ;-does not this show that there is probably something wrong in our whole notion of repentance, and in that condition of ours which requires it so much? What our usual mistake is, I will try to explain next Sunday; and I beg your very particular attention to the subject, as no one thing, perhaps, so important, is so much mistaken. GOD, in the mean time, grant unto us all repentance unto salvation, not to be repented of, through JESUS CHRIST our LORD. Amen.

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