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S ER MON V,
Pete R's denial of his Ma for, prac-r . 'o . tically improved.
... Matth. #xvi. 74.
£<?gYz# Æ<? to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man, and immediately the cock crew.'
THESE words relate an event in its kind one of the most remarkable we meet with in scripture j an emi*ji£nt christian, nay, an apostle of Christ, * suddenly caught in ia very heinous defection 'from hjs duty,' even the denial of his Lord ^With cursing. From whence, if we consider it ferioufly with all its cir^mstances, many useful instructions to us wjli arise, which shall be the principal subject pf this discourse. But, in order to proceed the more distinctly, it will be necessary, frft, to state the fact. The Apostle Peter, whose character by the accounts which the gospel history gives of
H 3 himi
SERM.him, appears distinguished among the di& V. ciples by a warm and forward zeal in hi*
s-"v—> religious profession, tho' not always duely balanc'd with knowledge and deliberation j he was the first on many occasions, to express his affectionate respect to his master, and readinels to undertake any service which should be enjoined him; he had the honour to make that excellent confession concerning our Saviour, recorded Matt. xvi. 1-6. Whereupon he was declared to be the rock, upon which the christian church is built j not exclusively, however, of the other Apostles, for the church is built upon thefoundation of the apoftles 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 fee how little reason there is to glory in any external priviledges, and what fatal reverses in their spiritual 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
inconsiderately, upon the design of our Sa- S E R viour's coming, and the nature of his king- V dom, as to dissuade him from undergoing the sufferings his father had appointed for him j thereby meriting to himself this severe rebuke, get thee behind me, sat an, thou art an offence to me: for thou savouresl not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. This eminent Apostle, I fay, 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 pn> duced the unhappy effect of our Saviour's disciples forsaking him in his greatest extremity; which was a grievous circumstance in his sufferings; foreseen indeed by himself, and foretold long before by one of the ancient prophets, for thus is expounded Matt. xxvi. 31. the prediction of Zech. xiii. y. smite the foepherd and the sheep fiall 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 os thee, yet i#ill I never be offended; and ver. 35, tho' I H 4 should
SzKM.Jhould die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. So he had a special warning of his danger, nay, he was expressly told of the great particular transgression he would fall into, withall the the most material circumstances of it. Ver. 34. Verily I fay unto thee, that this nig^t 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 finishing it, that is before three) thtou shalt deny me thrice. And accordingly he-was by providence permitted, to. be in this signal instance a memorable and instructive example of human weakness. We must at the lame time observe, that with Christ's forelight of his frail servant's defection, there was mix'd a gracious care for his. recovery^ which was even intimated to him; fbr Wtfhe? fame event refer these words of onf Lord, Luke xxiii 31, 32. Simon, Simon, fat ah' hath fought to have y ou, that he may fist yd4 as wheat; but I have prafd for thee, that thy 'faith fail not, (that thou may'st':not altogether apostatize from my religion, but obi tain mercy to. repent, and return to' $f duty : ) and when thou art "converted,
Jirength&n thy brethren. need only a^d, S E R M, in stating the fact, that Peter's .denial pf his Y • piaster \^s attended with high aggravations, Wr*r:-'* ppt only by the premonitions given him, and bis own contrary purpose declared with„ great vehemence, which have been already t^^ nftticxof $ but by its being often repeated, three times, in a very short space. The occasion does not seem to have been so shocking, huf that the spirit of a man might t|ay$ ikstain'd it, if he had not been thrown injpa pannic, for scarcely could one in a calm state of mind believe, that the accusation of being Christ's disciple, if it had been prov'd and even confess'd in judgment, could have exposed him to death; which yet he had undertaken 'to endure, rather than deny his Lord: and, finally, the temptation, still the farther it proceeded, grew the harder for him i and his sin increas'd from a flight denial at the first, to a passionate abjuration. of his Master; for he denied with cursing and swearings „ - '..•,..
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 j concerning the dari- .