Page images
PDF
EPUB

support them under it. This is why their resolutions have come to nothing; how should it be otherwise ? How should such a fallen creature as man be sufficient of himself to do any thing that is truly good ? How should such an impotent creature be able to do any thing that requires spiritual strength ? How should such a fickle creature be able to persevere by himself in a steady and consistent course of godliness ?

My brethen, I have not dwelt upon the circumstances of St. Peter's denial of his Lord, for the sake of lowering in your estimation the character of that great and good Apostle ; still less for the purpose of furnishing you with an apology for your own sins, in the example of human frailty exhibited by one so zealous as a Christian. I have done it only for the sake of showing you what was the cause of his fall, and that with the further view of persuading you to take heed lest the same cause, existing in you, lead, not merely to a fall which may be remedied, but to your total ruin.

Your trials are very different from that in which he failed; he had not at that time the faith and resolution required for a martyr; for remember it was not to any ordinary temptation that he yielded, but to the fear of a violent death ; and though he could not follow Christ now, yet he did indeed follow him afterwards. When he was “ converted” and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, he preached the Gospel boldly in defiance of every danger; he did actually go both into prison and to death; and through shame at his past conduct, or because (as it is said) he thought himself unworthy to suffer after the same manner as his divine Lord, whom he ever after served most faithfully, and, in the establishment of whose ehurch upon the rock of faith, he was a most effectual instrument, he by his express desire was nailed to the cross, with his head downwards; thus he did at last seal with his blood that testimony to the truth, which he was once, in the hour of weakness, afraid to bear.

But your Christian warfare is of a different sort; you are not as yet called upon to “resist unto blood, striving against sin;” perhaps there will “no temptation take you, but such as is common to man,” temptations to obey the lusts of the flesh, to love the world, to neglect the care of your souls, to forsake God, and to break his holy commandments. Take heed that you do not deny Christ, by yielding to these temptations ; for that is not the only denial of which you are capable, to say with Peter, “I know not the man;" what avails it, if you “profess to know him," but “in works deny him,” in heart deny him, deny him by fearing boldly to confess your faith before those who would ridicule you for it, deny him by not loving him, trusting in him, praising him for his goodness, praying to him for his guidance, following him faithfully as his servants and disciples, striving above all things to be made like unto him upon earth, that you may be admitted to his glorious and eternal kingdom in heaven? Thus you may still deny him among men; but if you do, he will deny you before God, and the holy Angels hereafter. How bitterly, but how vainly, will you wish that you

had confessed him more sincerely, when you will hear him utter those dreadful words, “I know you not, depart from me all ye workers of iniquity!"

“Watch ye therefore and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all those things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Watch over your own hearts perpetually, for they will deceive and betray you,

if

you do not narrowly observe them ; be on your guard against every temptation, both from within, and from without; “ be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour, whom resist steadfast in the faith ;" but think not of resisting in your own strength; he is too artful and powerful, your hearts are too corrupt, the world is too enticing, for man to be able to stand against them without help from above; therefore pray always; watch unto prayer; never think you can pray too much, or enough; pray frequently, pray earnestly, for the assistance of God's Holy Spirit; pray for the understanding to perceive what is right, for the will to choose it, for the heart to love it, for the power to accomplish it; pray, not only on the Sabbath day, and in the public congregation, but every day, every hour, in the midst of your earthly business and occupation, as well as at the stated times of more solemn devotion. He who is always in need of assistance cannot too frequently ask for it; prayer is the breath of the soul, the only food and support of the spiritual life; the world, sin, and Satan are conquered, and Heaven is won by prayer. Through neglect of prayer, an apostle fell; if with him you have fallen by the same neglect, with him may you repent, and rise again! God give us all grace to profit by his example, strengthen us to bear

every
trial, make a

way

for us to escape out of all temptations, give us “ the spirit of supplication,” and accept the prayers which he inspires for the sake of Him, who has commanded us for our own good to "watch and pray always,” His Son our Lord Jesus Christ.

SERMON VIII.

THE SEED ON THE ROCK.

St. LUKE, VIII. 13. They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy, and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.

What an intimate knowledge of the human heart our blessed Saviour displays in all his discourses, and how admirably he illustrates the subjects which he takes in hand! Surely “never man spake as he spake.” In the short passage which we have read as the Gospel for this day, * how exactly he has described in a few brief touches the reception, which the preaching of the word of God meets with from all the different sorts of hearers ! and by how very apt a similitude he has presented the matter to our view! There is

* Sexagesima Sunday.

« PreviousContinue »