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suffering Redeemer are speedily superinduced; you become as totally different a person in the society of the men of the world from what you have ever been, while living in close communion with your God, as Peter amid the high priest's servants, differed from Peter at the paschal supper. Your own comfort, your own ease, your own pleasures, are soon preferred to Christ; and being thus gradually alienated from him you once have loved, your affections are seared, your heart is hardened, and your conscience is ultimately prepared, for the still greater sin of denying and abjuring him. If

you would be safe, there must be no compromise, no temporising : you must not consider how you shall act when in the company of the ungodly; you must resolve that you shall not be found in such company; you must say, with David, " I will not know a wicked person ; "5 the language of Jacob must

5 Psalm ci, 4.

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be the firm resolution of your heart; “O my soul, come not thou into their secret ; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united ;” with Caleb, , you must determine, at all hazards and costs to “ follow the Lord FULLY,” and the event will be, that you will be kept in the hour of temptation, and will know by blessed experience, that “ God which passeth all understanding.'

It was while Peter was thus seated among the servants in the hall, that, as we read, “ a damsel came unto him," saying, 66 Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee;" but he denied before them all, saying, “ I know not what thou sayest.'

“ Observe carefully, my brethren, the tendency of this first reply of Peter; it was not a direct and positive denial; Peter, when accused of having been with Jesus of Galilee, had not yet attained sufficient hardihood to declare that he never was with the Saviour, that he knows not the man--but he rather trusts, that an equivocating answer will be sufficient to secure his safety, and yet enable him to escape the guilt of a more distinct and absolute falsehood. so I know not what thou sayest,” I do not distinctly hear, I do not quite understand the charge. Alas! is not this the manner in which too many even at the present hour, endeavour to satisfy their own consciences, and at the same time to keep well with the world ; not quite to deny their Lord, but so to escape from sinful compliances, that, while they evade the guilt of the committal, they may also evade the danger or the ridicule of the refusal. It is this misplaced ingenuity, brethren, which, while it deceives your friends, injures the cause of your Redeemer, grieves his Holy Spirit, and does not clear your own souls. The straight path, is the only safe path for the Christian, for it is the only path which leads to life ; every other,

6 Gen. xlix. 6. 7 Numb. xiv. 24. 8 Phil. iv. 7.


after all its windings and all its turnings, infallibly leads down to the chambers of death.

Peter had scarcely time to congratulate himself upon the success of his evasion, when “ another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth ; and again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man.” Observe how the sin darkens as it proceeds; it is no longer an equivocation ; by whatever name it might have been before denominated, it is now an absolute and undeniable false hood: "I do not know the man; falsehood, backed by perjury, strengthened by an oath. Who could believe that the man who is thus solemnly swearing, that he does not even know our gracious Redeemer, was the same who, but a short time since, had uttered that most affecting declaration : “ Lord, to whom shall we go, thou hast the words of eternal life?" Had Judas declared,



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-6 I know not the man,

we should have been ready to reply, “Truth, for thou hast never known him ;' but, when Peter makes the same declaration, pity and regret stifle every word of condemnation.

Doubly painful to a Christian are the transgressions of a child of God, when, beholding what he is, we remember what he has been. When we see those among you who have tasted that the Lord is

" gracious,”! who have sat at their Father's table and eaten at their Father's board, content to feed with the prodigal“ upon the husks which the swine did eat; when we behold you who have once loved the service of your God, and the name of your Redeemer, again turning aside to folly, leaving the “

paths of pleasantness and peace,” and denying, by your lives and conversations, the Lord who bought you; then it is that we cannot but take up the lamentation 9 1 Pet. ii. 3.

i Luke xv, 16.

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