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himfelf. Of fo little account was even Life to Him, Of fo little ought it to be to Us, where the Caufe of God is concerned: Indeed, where any Duty, of Importance fo great, as to require (for many there are, which do require) our firm Adherence, and moft perillous Vindication.
Mean while, This Contemplation of our Meek, but Conftant Saviour, leads us to that of a frail and Wavering Apostle. And, as the Hiftory hath done, fo it may be profitable for Us, to join the Remembrance of the Servant's (alas! Human) Infirmities, with that of the Mafter's Divine Perfections. The Latter profits, by fhewing what we fhould be; The Former we may profit our felves of, by feeing what we are; what we indeed are, then moft of all, when leaft fufpecting, that we are fuch.
Let us then look upon St. Peter in the High Prieft's Palace. St. Peter, Not only an Apostle, but one of that number, fingled out for a Companion of our Lord's Privacies, admitted to the Honour of his most intimate Friendship, and, upon all Occafions hitherto, expreffing his Senfe of thefe uncommon Favours, by all poffible inftances 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 Mafter. Here he refolutely ventured his Person, notwithstanding his Behaviour in the Garden juft before, when wounding the High Prieft's Servant, muft needs have expofed Him, more than all the reft of his Brethren, to the danger of being obferved, and ill treated by them, who dealt fo barbaroufly by his Lord. But alas! this St. Peter was presently fo changed from what he had been, that, terrified with the Impertinence of an Inquifitive Servant, he difowned, and denied Jefus ; repeated that Denial thrice; repeated it after fufficient fpace for Recollection, and at laft bound the Lye upon his Soul, with folemn Oaths, and dreadfui Imprecations.
St. Matth. xvi.
Ah! Where was now that gallant Faith, which made fo glorious a Confeffion of this Jefus being the Chrift, 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 Promife, that though all should
be offended, and leave their Dear Lord in his Distress, yet would He never be offended? Where that becoming Refolution, Though I fhould die with thee,
yet will I not deny thee in any wife? Where
Yet fo fudden, fo prodigious an Alteration our Lord foretold and permitted; And fuch he thought fit we fhould be acquainted there was, in this Great Man. Wifely to be fure; as for Other Reafons, fo particularly for Thefe. That this Example might effectually convince us, how frail even the Beft are, how little Masters of their own Paffions, how unfit to undertake for themselves, even when their Defires of doing well are most fervent, and their Refolutions moft fincere. In fhort, how vain all Confidences in our own Strength and Virtue muft needs be, which, by tempting us to imagine we are Something, provoke God to withdraw
that Grace, (the neceffity whereof we do not then fufficiently apprehend) and fo by woful Experience, make us feel, that in truth we are Nothing.
This Fall of St. Peter however, as it ought to be applied for a neceffary Mortification of our Vanity; So may it likewise serve us, for a Support under our Frailties and Temptations. But then This is a Comfort, which can be regularly adminiftred to none, except to Them, who are careful to be like him in that Repentance, whereof we have also an account, in the Scripture now under Confideration. For, as his Fault was fudden and furprifing: So was his Recovery fpeedy and effectual. Long it was not, before he was awakened into Recollection, by a pitying Look of his injured Mafter, and the Crowing of the Cock. Immediately upon the Reflection, he forfook the guilty Scene of his foul Offence, fought a convenient Place for retired Thoughts, melted away in Tears for the horror of his Crime, and from thenceforward became again the fame Faithful Affectionate, Undaunted St. Peter, he had been before. The Book of Acts informs us at large, what noble Reparation he afterwards made, for this Breach of Faith. How Vigorous and Bold he was in Preaching, how Forward and even Joyful in Suffering for, the Gospel of his once denied Lord. And the fame Jefus, who foretold, by what means he should Offend, did fhortly after let him underftand, by what Death he should glorify God. John xxi. Now all these are Teftimonies of greater Value, because they were the long and constant Practice of a fettled Faith, the course of many Years, the habit and the fenfe of the Man: Whereas his Crime, tho' exceeding great, was however of fhort Continuance; the effect of Fear and Infirmity in great measure; and not so much the Act of the Man, as the Violence of Paffions and Temptations, which had then almost unmann'd him.
The fame Methods muft We be fure to follow, when it fhall please God to fuffer any grievous Temptation
to overtake Us. We muft, upon the first fenfe of our Fault, burst through, and break our Snare; afflict our Souls with a Sorrow, that may carry fome proportion to the fad Occafion of it: Not tarry a Moment in the way of Temptation; never look back upon our Misdemeanors, without a juft Abhorrence; And, above all, use our utmost Diligence to bring Honour to Virtue and Religion, by our future Practice. 'Tis true indeed, We cannot do all, or any part of this, without the Affiftances of Divine Grace. 'Tis That alone can strengthen them that stand. 'Tis that alone, must Luke xxii. 61. raife up them that fall. But the fame Jefus,
who turned upon Peter, and brought him back to himself, will not leave Us to perifh in our Folly; but will find out fome happy, fome awakening Difpenfation. And provided we be as careful, as Peter was, to obferve, to ftrike in with, to improve it; will convert even our Temptations and paft Sins, to His Glory, and our own Profit. The fame powerful Interceffor prays for every fincere, though feeble Servant, that his faith fail not. But They, that are fincere, fhould remember, they are feeble too; and not, with this Apostle, fleep in the Hour of Danger; But Watch and Pray: Watch conftantly, 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 Prefervative fufficient against the Weakness of the Flesh.
Tuesday before Easter.
For the EPISTLE.
Ifaiah 1. 5.
5. God hath chofen 5. THE Lord God bath opened mine ear, and I was me for his Servant, and not rebellious, neither turned aray back.
inftructed me in my Errand, which I readily undertook notwithstanding I knew how ill it would be received.
6. I fubmitted to all
manner of contumelious Ufage, and was not difcouraged by it.
9. God will ftand by me, in this tryal I put my self upon; and all my Accufers fhall fail and fret away.
10. If among fo great a number of Slanderers and Scorners, there be found fome few who fear God, and hearken
7. For God, I know, will fupport me, fo that the Malice of my Enemies fhall not prevail to
my Destruction. Therefore I continue impenetrable to their Cruelty and Scorn, as affured, that I fhall not be put to Shame.
6. Igave my back to the fmiters, and my checks to them that plucked off the bair; Í bid not my face from frame and spitting.
8. He will plead my Caufe, and vindicate my Innocence, fo that I dare confidently chal
lenge all that speak or think ill of me, to come forth and make good their Charge.
11. But as for You, who think to fecure your Selves by wicked Means, go on in your vain Projects : But
7. For the Lord God will help me, therefore fhall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.
8. He is near that juflifieth me; Who will contend with me? let us ftand together. Who is my adversary ? let bis
come near to me.
9. Bebold, the Lord God will help me; who is be that fhall condemn me? lo, they all shall wax vid as a gar ment, the moth shall eat them up.
10. Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of bis fervant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let bim trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon bis God.
to his Meffenger: If these be under grievous Troubles, and have no Comfort; let not their Afflictions drive them to Defpair, but (after my Example ) put them upon a firm Dependance on the God they ferve, for Protection and Deli
11. Behold, all ye that kindle a fire, that compass your felves about with sparks; walk in the light of your fire, and in the sparks that ye bave kindled. This fhall ye bave of mine band, ye shall lie down in forrow.
know, that the end of all your fhort imaginary Satisfaction fhall be, to perish in Mifery and lafting Grief