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told them it was their duty to share in the sufferings as well as the glory of Christ. Corruption represented these sufferings as intolerable, and bade them shift for themselves whilst they might. So that they sinned against light and the loving constraints thereof. I grant it was a sudden, surprising temptation, yet it cannot be imagined that for so long a time they were without any debate or reasonings respecting their duty.

3. It was much against the honor of their Lord and Master. By their sinful flight they exposed the Lord Jesus to the contempt and scorn of his enemies. This some conceive is implied in the question of the highpriest; "The high-priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine." John, 18: 19. He asked him of his disciples, how many he had, and what was become of them now? And what was the reason they forsook their Master, and left him to shift for himself when danger appeared? But to those questions Christ made no reply. He would not accuse them to their enemies, though they had deserted him. But, doubtless, it did not a little reflect upon Christ, that there was not one of all his friends that dared own their relation to him in a time of danger.

4. It was against their own solemn promise made to him before his apprehension, to live and die with him. They had given their word, that they would not desert him; "Peter said to him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples." Matt. 26: 35. Here they break their promise to Christ, who never did so with them. He might have told them when he met them afterwards in Galilee, as the Roman soldier told his general, who refused his petition after the war was ended, I did not serve you so at the battle of Actium.

5. It was against Christ's heart-melting expostulations with them, which should have abode in their hearts while

they lived. For when others that followed him went back, and walked no more with him, Jesus said to these very men that now forsook him at last, "Will ye also go away?" John, 6: 67. Will ye also forsake me? Whatever others do, I expect better things of you.

6. It was against the warning of a late direful example in the fall of Judas. In him, as in a glass, they might have seen how fearful a thing it is to apostatize from Christ. They had heard Christ's dreadful threats against him. They were present when he called him "the son of perdition." John, 18: 11. They had heard Christ say of him, "Good had it been for that man, if he had never been born." An expression that might alarm the deadest heart. They saw he had left Christ the evening before. And that very day in which they fled, he hanged himself. And yet they fly. After all this they forsake Christ.

7. It was against the law of love, which should have knit them closer to Christ, and to one another. If, to avoid the present shock of persecution, they had fled, yet surely they should have kept together, praying, watching, encouraging, and strengthening one another. But as they all forsook Christ, so they forsook one another; for it is said they should go every man to his own, and leave Christ alone." John, 16: 32; that is, saith Beza, every man to his own house, and to his own business.

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8. Their departure was accompanied with some offence at Christ. For so he tells them, "All ye shall be offended because of me this night." Matt. 26: 31. The word is, nada, you shall be scandalized at me, or in me. Some think the scandal they took at Christ was this, that when they saw he was fallen into his enemies' hands, and could no longer defend himself; they then began to question whether he were the Christ or no, since he could not defend himself from his enemies. Others more rightly understand it of their shameful flight

from Christ, seeing it was not now safe to abide longer with him. As he gave himself up, they thought it advisable to provide as well as they could for themselves, and somewhere or other to take refuge from the present storm, which had overtaken him. But what were,

III. The grounds or reasons of their forsaking him? 1. God's suspending aids of his grace. They were not wont to do so. They never did so afterwards. They would not have done so now, had there been influences of power, zeal, and love from heaven upon them. But how then should Christ have borne the heat and burden of the day? How should he have trod the wine-press alone? How should his sorrows have been extreme, un mixed, unmitigated, if they had adhered faithfully to him? No, no, it must not be; Christ must not have the least relief or comfort from any creature; and therefore, that he might be left alone, to grapple hand to hand with the wrath of God and of men, the Lord for a time withholds his encouraging, strengthening influences from them; and then, like Samson when he had lost his locks, they were weak as other men. "Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might," saith the apostle. Eph. 6:10. If that be withheld, our resolutions and purposes melt away before temptation, as snow before the sun.

2. The temptation was great. As they were weaker than they were used to be, so the temptation was stronger than any they had met. It is called "Their hour and the power of darkness." Luke, 22:53. A sifting, winnowing hour, verse 46. Oh it was a dark and cloudy day. Never had the disciples met such a whirlwind, such a furious storm before. The devil desired but to have the winnowing of them in that day, and so would have sifted and winnowed them, that their faith had utterly failed, had not Christ secured it by his prayer for them.

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 themselves 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 The constant supplies

looks into it turn away his face? 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

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