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ed, and betrayed, Peter began to dread the consequences of his attachment to him, and at the only time when his friendship for his mas. ter could have been of any service, he deserted and denied him: must we not therefore conclude that man, as I before observed to
is weak and unstable in all his ways; and nothing is so uncertain as human friendship, and human resolution ?
When Peter made our Saviour fuch folemn assurances, he little thought he should fo foon and so openly contradict them: and thus it is with regard to every vice and infirmity of human nature. We are all of us perhaps, at some time of our lives, guilty of follies, which we did not think ourselves capable of committing: we cannot therefore entertain too humble an opinion of our own strength, powers, and abilities; we cannot too carefully avoid temptations, or whilft we stand, take too much heed left we fall.
But fecondly, From the example of Peter, we may learn that confidence and self opinion are seldom attendants on real merit; that extraordinary professions of friendship are by no means the infallible marks of truth or sinceri. ty, but that on the other hand, they should rather be considered as a just cause of suspicion, and the prophetic indications of future false. hood. Those who are really rich, feldom boast of their riches; and those who are truly virtuous, as feldom boast of their virtue: we cannot therefore be too cautious of reposing confidence in those, whose more than ordinary
zeal, and extravagant pretensions, seem over anxious to obtain it.
The circuinstance before us, therefore, may serve to put us upon our guard against a most pernicious doctrine, which hath of late years been zealously propagated amongst us, by the absurd enthusiasts of our age,—the doctrine of alurance. The methodists tell us, that when we are once entered into the number of the elect, when we are regenerate and born anew, Satan hath then no more power over us, no temptations can then overcome, no fins get the dominion over us: that we are then safe from all the tumultuous storms of passion, and landed in the harbour of innocence and felicity; a doctrine equally destructive of true religion with
any of those which are held by the church of Rome, as it must inevitably tend to put men entirely off their guard, to encourage spiritual pride and arrogance, and withal greatly to endanger their everlasting salvation. The religion of Christ can never countenance or support such vain chimeras. God never meant that a state of humanity should be a state of per fe&tion; but admonishes us if we stand ever so firmly to take heed left we fall. Peter, it is to be hoped they will acknowledge, had as much reason to rely on his own firmness and integrity, as any of these pretenders to incor, ruptible virtue, and yet, we see, all his resolution failed, when he was called upon to exert it, and all his pompous professions of inviolable attachment ended at last in the shameful defertion of his friend and benefactor Who
shall ever glory in his fincerity, that remem. bers Peter's ingratitude? or who, on the other hand, shall give himself over to a state of reprobation or despair, that calls to mind Peter's repentance?
Which naturally brings us to the third and last remark, which will of course suggest itself to us on this occasion, namely, that the only part of Peter's conduct worthy of our imitation, is doubtless his repentance, which we have reason to suppose was perfectly sincere, The tears which he shed, were tears of unfeigned sorrow and contrition, of which his conduct after the death of our Saviour was an indifputable proof; we find him in the remainder of his life acting the part of a diligent and faith
ful servant, endeavouring to atone for his past - failings, by the punctual and regular discharge of his duty; tried like the rest of our Lord's dis. ciples, by the bitterest afflictions, but diftin. guished by the interposition of divine power, which most miraculously delivered him from some of them.
Let then, my brethren, the example of Peter sink deeply into our hearts: let us carefully guard againlt that pride and seit-sufficiency which betrayed him into the shameful desertion of his great Lord and Mafier. Never let us permit a vain and deceitful world to have such an influence over our conduct, as to persuade us to relinquish all our nobler attachments to religion and virtue. Let us not, like Peter, neglect, despise, or deny our divine
Master, because he is neglected, despised, or denied by the rest of the world.
We have all of us, like Peter, made large and mighty promises to our great Lord and Master; have promised to go with him to prifon, and to death, and though we die for him, not to deny him. Let us not, like Peter, when the day of trial comes, desert and betray him: let neither our words nor our actions, after this, say, that we know him not.
But if, after all, born with the same weaknesses and imperfections, and liable to the same temptations as Peter was, we have any in any part of our conduct and behaviour resembled him; if we have in spite of all our professions in the general course of our lives, deserted and denied him, let us at least have the merit of imitating him in his repentance also: let us go out, and weep bitterly. There is yet time, whilft we have life, to atone, in, some measure, for our past conduct, by a hearty and sincere contrition to reconcile ourselves to the divine favour. If the remainder of our life is entirely devoted to his interest, and con, secrated to his service, he may graciously forgive our offences, pardon our weakness, and pass over our presumption: though we have hitherto been ungrateful and unprofitable ser vants, neglecting his commands, denying his power, and disputing his authority, he may, notwithstanding, on our fincere contrition and amendment, take us once more under his protection, employ us in the execution of his divine commandments, and if we behave fober
ly, diligently, and faithfully, may yet reward our assiduity, and in the last and great day, falute us with
Well have ye done, my good and faithful fervants, enter ye into the joy of your Lord.
ON THE THIEF UPON THE CROSS.
S E R M O N
LUKE XXIII. 43.
Verily I say unto thee, to-day shalt thou be with
me in Paradise
. THERE is not perhaps in the whole af
fecting narrative of our blessed Saviour's sufferings, as related by the holy Evangelists, a circumstance more striking or extraordinary than that which is now before us; that a licentious and abandoned profligate, condemned for a crime the most atrocious, one who, as he was to die the death, had most probably lived the life of the unrighteous; that he should become so suddenly and so unexpectedly the object of divine mercy, and obtain a gracious promise from his Redeemer, not only of pardon, but of immediate reward, muit doubtless be the subject of our admiration and astonishment; the fact notwithstanding, however surprising it may appear to us, is indisputable,