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SERMON V. Peter's denial of his Master, pracSo.. tically improved."

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Matth. xxvi. 94: Then began be to curse and to swear, saying,

I know not the man, and immediately the cock creme.

T HESE words relate an event in its - 1 kind one of the most remarkable

we meet with in feripture ; an emi*nent christian, nay, an apostle of Christ, * suddenly caught in a very heingus defection

from his duty, even the denial of his Lord With cursing. From whence, if we consider it seriously with all its .circumftances, many useful instructions to us will arife, which shall be the principal fubject of this discourse. But, in order to proceed the more distinctly, it will be neceffary, firft, to state the fact. The Apostle Peter, whose character by the accounts which the gospel history gives of

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him, Serm.him, appears distinguished among the dif: V. ciples by a warm and forward zeal in his

religious profession, tho' not always duely balanc'd with knowledge and deliberation he was the first on many occasions, to express his affectionate respect to his master, and readiness to undertake any service which should be enjoined him; he had the hou nour to make that excellent confession concerning our Saviour, recorded Matt. xvi. 16. Whereupon he was declared to be the rock, upon which the christian church is built; not exclusively, however, of the other Apostles, for the church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets ; that is, their doctrine : And to him were committed the keys of the kingdom of heaven : Not peculiarly neither, but he was the first, which is the full meaning of that promise, that opened the kingdom of God, or preach'd christianity to the Gentiles; but see how little reason there is to glory in any external priviledges, and what fatal reverses in their fpiritual state and affairs men are liable to, who possess the most eminent of them! Peter, soon after being thus honoured by his master, as we read in the same 16th of Matt, expressed himself so ignorantly, and

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inconsiderately, upon the design of our Sa-SERM. viour's coming, and the nature of his king- V. dom, as to dissuade him from undergoing the fufferings his father had appointed for him; thereby meriting to himself this severe rebuke, get thee behind me, satan, thou art an offence to me : for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. This eminent Apostle, I say, was warn'd by his lord, not only in common with the other disciples, but himself personally, of the extraordinary trial he was to meet with on the occasion of his master's entering into that most dismal scene which concluded in his death. A trial so severe, that it produced the unhappy effect of our Saviour's disciples forsaking him in his greatest extremity; which was a grievous circumstance in his sufferings ; foreseen indeed hy himself, and foretold long before by one of the ancia ent prophets, for thus is expounded Matt. xxvi. 31. the prediction of Zech. xiii. 7. fmite, the shepherd and the sheep Mall be scattered. But, as Peter was more earnest in his profess'd resolution of adherence to his master in all events, ver. 33. of this chapter, tho' all men should be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended; and ver. 35, tha' I

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fould

SERM.fhould die with thee, yet will I not deny thee.
IV. So he had a special warning of his danger,

nay, he was expressly told of the great par-
ticular transgression he would fall into, with
all the the most material circumstances of it.
Ver. 34. Verily I say unto thee, that this night
before the cock crow, (i.e. in that watch of
the night, which was commonly call’d by
the Jews the cock crowing; from midnight
to three in the morning, or before the fi-
nishing it, that is before three) thou shalt
deny me thrice. And accordingly he was
by providence permitted, to be in this fignal
instance a memorable and instructive exam-
ple of human weakness. We must at the
fame time observe, that with Christ's fore
fight of his frail servant's defection, there
Was mix'd a gracious care for his recovery,
which was even intimated to him; for to the
fame event refer these words of our Lord,
Luke xxii. 31, 32. Simon, Simon, fatan
bath fought to have you, that he may fift you
as wheat; but I have pray'd for thee, that thy
faith fail not, (that thou may’st 'not alto.
gether apoftatize from my religion, but obt
tain mercy to repent, and return to thy
duty :) and when thou art converted,

... ftrengtbexi

Pirengthen thy brethren. We need only add, SERM, in ftating the fact, that Peter's denial of his V.. mafter was attended with high aggravations, not only by the premonitions given him, and his own contrary purpose declared with great vehemence, which have been already taken notice of ; but by its being often repeated, three times in a very short space. The occasion does not seem to have been fo shocking, but that the spirit of a man might have fustain'd it, if he had not been thrown into a pannic, for scarcely could one in a calm ftate of mind believe, that the accusation of being Christ's disciple, if it had been prov'd and even confefs'd in judgment, could have expos’d him to death ; which yet he had undertaken to endurę, rather than deny his Lord ; and, finally, the temptation, still the farther it proceeded, grew the harder for him, and his fin increas'd from a flight denial at the first, to a passionate abjuration of his Master; for he denied with curfing and fwearing. .

From the fact thus stated, as it plainly appears in, there arise very important instructions to us, which we may profitably consider, concerning the fallibility, and weakness of human nature ; concerning the dan

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