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3. Their remaining corruptions, yet unmortified, concurred. Their knowledge was but little, and their faith feeble. On account of their weakness in grace, they were called "little ones” in the text. And as their graces were weak, so their corruptions were strong. Their unbelief and carnal fears grew powerfully upon them.

Do not censure them, reader, in thy thoughts, nor despise them for this their weakness. Neither say in thy heart, Had I been there as they were, I would never have done as they did. They thought as little of doing what they did, as you, or any of the saints do; and as much did their souls detest and abhor it: but here thou mayest see whither a soul that fears God may be carried, if his corruptions be irritated by strong temptations, and God withholds usual influences.

IV. Let us view the issue of this sad apostasy, and you shall find it ended better than it began. Though these sheep were scattered for a time, yet the Lord made good his promise, in " turning his hand upon these little ones," to gather them. The morning was overcast, but the evening was clear. Peter repents of his perfidious denial of Christ, and never denied him more. All the rest likewise returned to Christ, and never forsook him any more. He that was afraid at the voice of a damsel, afterwards feared not the frowns of the mighty. And they that durst not own Christ now, afterwards confessed him openly before councils and rulers, and rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer for his sake. Acts, 5:41. They that were now as timorous as hares, and started at every sound, afterwards became bold as lions, and feared not any danger, but sealed their confession of Christ with their blood. For though, at this time, they forsook him, it was by surprisal. Though they forsook him, they still loved him; though they fled from him, there still remained a gracious prin

ciple in them; the root of the matter was still in them, which recovered them again.

Though they forsook Christ, yet Christ never forsook them: he loved them still; "Go tell the disciples, and (tell) Peter, that I go before you into Galilee.” Mark, 16:7. Let them not think that I so remember their unkindness as to own them no more ; no, I love them still.

INFERENCE 1. Did the disciples forsake Christ, though they had such strong persuasions and resolutions never to do it? Then we see that self-confidence is a sin incident to the best of men. They little thought their hearts would have proved so base and deceitful as they found them when they were tried. Though all men forsake thee (saith Peter,) yet will not I.” Good man, he resolved honestly, but he knew not what a feather he should be in the wind of temptation, if God once left him to his own fears.

Little reason have the best of saints to depend upon their inherent grace, let their stock be as large as it may. The angels, left to themselves, quickly left their own habitations. Jude 6. Upon which one well observes, That the best of created perfections are of them. selves defective. Every excellency, without the prop of Divine preservation, is but a weight which tends to a fall. The angels in their innocency were but frail, without God's support; even grace itself is but a creature, and therefore purely dependent. What becomes of the stream, if the fountain supply it not ? What continuance hath the reflection in the glass, if the man that looks into it turn away his face ? The constant supplies of the Spirit of Jesus Christ are the food and fuel of all our graces. The best men will show themselves but men if God leave them. He who hath renewed them, must also keep them. It is safer to be humble with one talent, than proud with ten; yea, better to be an humble worm, than a proud angel. Adam had more advantage to maintain his station than any of us. But though he was created upright, and had no inherent corruption to endanger him, he fell.

And shall we be self-confident, after such instances of human frailty ? Alas, christian! how canst thou con. tend with "principalities and powers, and spiritual wickedness ?" "Be not high-minded, but fear.” Consider well the instances of Noah, Lot, David, and Hezekiah, who all fell by temptations; yea, and that when one would think they had never been better provided to resist them. Lot fell after the Lord had thrust him out of Sodom, and his eyes had seen the direful punishment of sin, hell, as it were, rained upon them out of heaven. Noah, in like manner, immediately after God's wonder. ful and astonishing preservation of him in the ark ; when he saw a world of men and women perish in the floods for their sins. David, after the Lord had settled the kingdom on him, which for sin he rent from Saul, and given him rest in his house. Hezekiah was but just up from a great sickness, wherein the Lord wrought a wonderful salvation for him. Did such men, and at such times, when one would think no temptations should have prevailed, fall? Then "let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall."

2. Did Christ stand his ground, and go through with his suffering work, when all that had followed him forsook him ? Then a resolved adherence to God and duty, though left alone, without company or encouragement, is Christlike, and truly excellent. You shall have better company than that which has forsaken you in the way of God. Elijah complains, " They have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away." 1 Kings, 19 : 10. But all this did not discourage him in following the

Lord; still he was very jealous for the Lord God of hosts. Paul complains, "At my first answer no man stood by me, all men forsook me : nevertheless the Lord stood with me.” 2 Tim. 4: 16, 17. And as the Lord stood by him, so he stood by his God alone, without any aid or support from men. How

great à proof of integrity is this! He that professes Christ for company, will also leave him for company. But to be faithful to God, when forsaken of men; to be a Lot in Sodom; a Noch in a corrupted generation; oh, how excellent is it! It is sweet to travel over this earth to heaven, in the company of the saints, that are bound thither with us, if we can; but if we can have no company, we must not be discouraged from going on. It is not unlikely that, before you have gone many steps farther, you may have cause to say, "Never less alone, than when alone.”

3. Did the disciples thus forsake Christ, and yet were all recovered at last? Then, though believers are not privileged from backsliding, yet, by the grace of God, they shall be recovered. Though they fall, they shall rise again. Micah, 7:8. The highest flood of natural zeal and resolution may ebb, and be wholly dried up; but saving grace is "a well of water, springing up into everlasting life.” John, 4:14. The purpose of God, the frame and constitution of the new covenant, the meritorious and prevalent intercession of Jesus Christ, give the believer abundant security. "My Father, which gave them me, (saith Christ,) is greater than all: and none is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.” John, 10:29." The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his.” 2 Tim. 2:19. Every person committed to Christ by the Father, shall be brought by him to the Father, and not one wanting. Among the many glorious promises this is one, "I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.” As the fear of God in our hearts pleads in us against sin, so our potent Intercessor in heaven pleads for us with the Father. Upon these grounds we may, as the Apostle, Rom. 8:34, 35, triumph in that full security which God hath given us ; and say,

What "shall separate us from the love of God ?” Understand it either of God's to us, as Calvin, Beza, and Martyr do; or of our love to God, as Ambrose and Augustine do : it is true in both senses,

and a most comfortable truth.

4. Did the sheep fly when the Shepherd was smitten; did such men, and so many forsake Christ in the trial? Then learn how sad a thing it is for the best of men to be left to their own carnal fears in the day of temptation. This was it that made those good men shrink away so shamefully from Christ in that trial.

" The fear of man bringeth a snare.” Prov. 29 : 25. Oh what work will this unruly passion make, if the fear of God do not overrule it!

Helvidius Priscus, when, for doing what he thought his duty in the senate, he was threatened by Vespasian that he should die, nobly replied, " Did I ever tell you that I was immortal? Do what you will, and I will do what I ought. It is in your power to put me to death unjustly, and in me to die like a Roman." And shall a christian see his steadfastness outdone by a heathen? Oh think what mischiefs your fears may do yourselves and others. Learn to trust God with your life, liberty, and comforts, in the way of your duty; and do not so magnify his erring creatures, as to be scared, by their threats, from your God and your duty. The politic design of Satan herein, is to affright you out of your coverts, where you are safe, into the net. I will enlarge on this no far. ther; I have elsewhere laid down fourteen rules for its cure. (See his Saint Indeed.)

5. Learn hence, how much a man may differ from

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