תמונות בעמוד

him. What is man! wherein is be to be S E R M. .. accounted off What are even good men! V.V how little to be depended on? man in his' 'r^"J'' 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 j but anon his passions rife violently agitated by temptations, presently his understanding is darkned, pious and virtuous resolutions arc forgotten, and feeble as water, he yields to the first assault. If the shortness of the time, affording very little opportunity for calm reflection j the situation of the apostle surrounded with inveterate enemies, not one fellow disciple near him, nor any person who might in the least contribute to his assistance and support, and the confusion he was thrown into by his master's distress j if these circumstances do in some measure alleviate his transgression j for, certainly, the greater perturbation the mind is in, unhinging it, and stunning its powersTo, that they are rendred uncapable of exerting themselves regularly, the more pitiable is its condition, approaching to a distraction y and the less. .,, meditated

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

x~~*mm* stances prove the point before us, the weakness of human nature: for they clearly shew, that man' is obnoxious to such infirmities and distempers of mind as render him insufficient for acting the part which becomes him, and persevering steadHy in it. Distempers which, though they be partly natural, and so far companionable j yet do they also participate of moral evil, and communicate it to the actions proceeding from them; which therefore are far from being altogether excusable, as surely St. Peter's denial of his master was not, whatever may be said 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 gospel history, and it was self-confidence, which he carried so far as in express terms to contradict his Lord, when he told him so circumstantially, before the cock crow thou /halt 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

prediction prediction of a future fact; but the answerSERM. was pronounced, rashly enough, in direct V. opposition, tho' I Jljould die with thee, yet I v "J will not deny thee. It is not at all to be doubted but Peter expressed the present real sentiments 6f his heart, he was far from Intending to conceal a design then form'd to act a treacherous part: That was an hypocrisy which'so good a man could not be capable of. But his fault was, speaking so positively, without due deliberation, without a becoming sense of his own frailty, and a just apprehension of his danger. He spoke the language of a sudden emotion, a ffervor that was natural to him, and even a jpaUlbn, rather than a Calm, well weighed judgment, which is the true foundation of stable and lasting virtuous purposes. He did nos 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 trusting to the present warmth of his affection, was sanguine enough to believe it would never sail him.

I shall only observe at present, that an attention to what experience obviously teaches, will tend to illustrate the point before us. Nothing is more certain, or better known, than

Vol. I. I that

SeRM.that passions are the springs of hasty resoV. lution, and of action pursuant to it, whilst

u""v 'they retain their strength : But they subside; and then the contrary passions, in their turns prevailing, produce the quite contrary effects. Pettr 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 i but soon 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 os 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

.of of their designs. It is still more so in the S Erm. affairs of religion than any other. For pas- Vj lion has, or ought to have, less (hare in'- l~"'L"mJ 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 holding them steadily. He, therefore, who engages in any arduous service to God, without committing himself so his care and direction, without placing his principal confidence in the sufficiency of God's grace, iind his power, which is perfected m our 'weakness; he that does so, I fay, goes to war unarmed, and exposes himself to the hazard of a shameful defeat. It is herd, especially, that we Ought to trust in the Lord with all our might, and he that trusteth in his own heart altogether, is a fool, as Solomon * speaks. I do not mean by thi?, that good men, satisfied from themselves, and rejoicing in the testimony of conscience concerning their sincerity, mould not have good hope of their persevering in it to the end j but first, that the judgment of the mind upon its present moral state, its temI 2 per

!"JfK * Prov. xxviii. 26,

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