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66 Thou

temptation, while you hope to escape the sin : such prayers rise not above the cloudy atmosphere of earth; they never reach the mercy-seat of God.

But again, had not our Lord, in reference to these very trials, and these very sufferings, which were awaiting himself, distinctly declared unto Peter, canst not follow me now?” Why then was he not content with the gracious promise, 66 Thou shalt follow me afterwards ?” Why did he not wait till that appointed time, when he should be providentially called to sufferings, and to death, and being thus called, would have been certain to receive grace equal to his day? Alas! the time when these reflections might have sunk deep into his heart with most powerful effect, and have arisen to the throne of grace in all-availing prayer, had been slumbered fruitlessly away; he had not watched, he had not prayed, he had neglected to a “put on

2 Eph. vi. 11.

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the whole armour of God,” and he was now about to cast himself unarmed upon

the thick bosses of the bucklers”3 of his spiritual enemies. Who that knows the strength of Satan, and the weakness of unassisted man, can doubt for a single moment that defeat, and shame, and ruin, were the inevitable result?

Very profitable is it to the Christian, to mark, step by step, the manner in which the powers of darkness advanced to the unequal conflict; how they favoured the approach of their intended victim, and shielded him from the attacks of other opponents, that “ the fiery darts of the wicked one "4 might be pointed with a surer aim, and strike with a more deadly effect. No opposition was made by the conspirators, to his following his Divine Master; no active adherent of the chief priests, and elders, drove him back; notwithstanding his act of violence to the servant of the high priest, he is per3 Job xv. 26.

4 Eph. vi. 16.

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mitted to arrive perfectly unmolested at the gates of the palace; there, however, an unexpected impediment did arise, and we are for a moment induced to hope, that he may still escape that scene of temptation. The gates of the palace are locked ; his entrance, therefore, appears impossible ; nothing seems left for him but to return to his companions, and betake himself, as they had done, to a place of safety. Alas! not so, does Satan suffer himself to be deprived of his expected prey; a friend is found, even in the high priest's palace, to open the door, and bring in Peter. Thus it is invariably, upon the com

, mencement of every course of sin ; the indefatigable enemy of your souls, removes all obstructions, levels all opposition; if you will but walk with him upon forbidden paths, he will take care that, for a time at least, they shall be both smooth and flowery; if you but condescend to stand at the door of forbidden

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pleasures, never will he permit you to be kept waiting ; if you but entertain the guilty inclination, Satan himself will produce the favourable opportunity, and sooner than

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should be disappointed, he will find for you, as he did for Peter, some friend, whose offices of intended kindness, shall open a way for your present desires, and your future ruin.

" And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them, and warmed himself at the fire, and sat with the servants to see the end."

Observe in this, the continuation of Peter's delinquency. Had he not thus voluntarily intermingled with the avowed enemies of his Lord, there would have been no danger; for there would have been no opportunity of denying him. His entrance into the palace might be, perhaps, excused, from the supposition that it was from fervent love to his Divine Master, and with a zealous desire,

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at all hazards, to rescue, or to serve him; but his quietly taking his seat among the servants of the high priest, and waiting like them, at the hall fire, “ to see the end,” is perfectly inexcusable.

There is something almost more distressing in the sight of Peter, thus selfishly engaged at such a time, and in such a place, than in Peter subdued by fears, from which the boldest might have shrunk, and acting the denier and the recreant. But, my brethren, much as there is to

, humble, there is nothing in all this to astonish those who know the deep depravity of our fallen nature. This is the usual process of temptation : you enter upon some questionable path of morals or of conduct ; you intermingle with the men of the world, the servants of pleasure and vanity, the avowed or concealed enemies of

your

Divine Master; and what is the result ? Coldness of heart, and deadness of feeling towards a

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