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him. What is man! wherein is be to be SERM. i
accounted of? What are even good men ! Vor
how little to be depended on ? man in his
best estate is but vanity ; in his best moral
state, or temper of mind in this world, but
uncertain. How changeable are his purpo..
ses? they seem to be strong, and he has
mighty confidence in them; in his own fond
imagination nothing is too hard for him
but anon his passions rise violently agitated
by temptations, presently his understanding
is darkned, pious and virtuous resolutions are
forgotten, and feeble as water, he yields to
the first assault. If the shortness of the
time, affording very little opportunity for
calm reflection ; the situation of the apostle
surrounded with inveterate enemies, not onc
fellow disciple near him, nor any person
who might in the least contribute to his af-
fistance and support, and the confusion he
was thrown into by his master's distress ; if
these circumstances do in some measure alle-
viate his tranfgreffion ; for, certainly, the
greater perturbation the mind is in, unhin-
ging it, and stunning its powers To, that they
are rendred uncapable of exerting themselves
regularly, the more pitiable is its condition,
approaching to a distraction ; and the less


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SERM.meditated and cool any evil purpose is, V. the less heinous ; yet these very circuin

stances prove the point before us, the weakness of human nature : for they clearly fhew, that man is obnoxious to such infirmities and distempers of mind aš render him insufficient for acting the part which becomes him, and persevering steadily in it. Distempers which, though they be partly natural, and so far compassionable ; yet do they also participate of moral evil, and com municate it to the actions proceeding from them; which therefore are far from being altogether excufable, as surely St. Peter's denial of his master was not, whatever may be faid or imagin’d, in some degree to extenuate it. Let us now proceed

Secondly, To consider one faulty occasion of this good man's great offence, as it appears from the state of the fact by the gofpel history, and it was self-confidence, which he carried so far as in express terms to contradict his Lørd, when he told him so circumstantially, before the cock crow thou Malt deny me thrice; which one would think, might have very sensibly affected his mind, and produced at least a jealousy of himself; if it was not peremptorily to be taken as a


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prediction of a future fact; but the answer Serm.
was pronounced, 'rashly enough, in direct V.
opposition, tho' I should die with thee, yet I
will not deny' thee. It is not at all to be
doubted buť Peter expressed the present real
sentiments of his heart, he was far from
intending to conceal a design then form’d to
act a treacherous part : That was an hypo-
crisy which so good a man could not be ca-
pable of. . But his fault was, speaking so
positively, without due deliberation, with-
out à becoming sense of his own frailty, and
a just apprehension of his danger. He
spoke the language of a sudden emotion, a
fervor that was natural to him, and even
a passion, rather than a calm, well weighed
judgment, which is the true foundation of
stable and lasting virtuous purposes. He did
not consider 'cooly, as he ought to have done,
the deceitfulness of sin, and the power of
temptation, having never met with such a
a trial before : But too presumptuously trust-
ing to the present warmth of his affection,
was sanguine enough to believe it would ne-
ver fail him.

I shall only obserye at present, that an at-
tention to what experience obviously teaches,
will tend to illustrate the point before us. No-
thing is more certain, or better known, than
Vol. I.



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SERM. that passions are the springs of hafty refoV. lution, and of action pursuant to it, whilst

they retain their strength : But they subside ; and then the contrary passions, in their turns prevailing, produce the quite contrary effects. Peter himself was an example of this ; when the heat of zeal was predominant, he was ready to venture on the most hazardous attempts in defence of his master; that very evening he drew his sword, and boldly attacked an armed company, who came to apprehend Jesus, which he did rashly enough too, and without waiting for orders; but foon that warmth abated, giving place to fear; and when this got the ascendant in his mind, he discovered a cowardice unworthy of a man, not to speak of a disciple of Christ.

'Tis thus commonly observed in the ordinary course of men's worldy affairs, and their manner of conducting themselves; not the most eager and passionate in forming and entering into designs, are the most to be depended on for persevering; but rather the cool and deliberate, because they having maturely considered what difficulties and disappointments may happen, are the better prepared to meet them, and the less disconcerted in the execution


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of their designs. It is still more fo in the SÈRM.
äffairs of religion than any other. For paf- V.
fion has, or ought to have, less share in
counsels of that fort : Especially it ought to
be remembred, that our religious purposes
above all others, are immediately under the
divine protection, and the superior aids of

divine grace are most necessary to our hold= ing them steadily. He, theřefore, who en

gages in any arduous service to God, with-
out cominitting himself to his care and di-
rection, without placing his principal con-
fidence in the fufficiency of God's grace,
änd his power, which is perfected in our
weakness; he that does so, I say, goes to
war unarmed, and exposes himself to the

hazard of a shameful defeat. It is here, Ć especially, that we ought to trust in the J

Lord with all our might, and he that trusteth
in his own heart altogether, is a fool, as So
lomon * speaks. I do not mean by this,
that good men, satisfied from themselves,
and rejoicing in the testimony of conscience
Concerning their fincerity, should not have
good hope of their persevering in it to the

end; but first, that the judgment of the
} mind
upon its present moral state, its tem-
I 2

per iri

* Prov. xxviii. 26,

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