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prediction, that before the cock crew he should deny hims thrice. And it is very remarkable that there are in this same chapter no less than four 'other prophecies of our Lord, which were all punctually fulfilled, some of them like this, within a few hours after they were delivered.
The next observation resulting from the fall of Peter is the melancholy proof it affords us of the inñrmity of human nature, the weakness of our best resolutions, when left to ourselves, and the extreme danger of confiding too much in our own strength.
That St. Peter was most warmly attached to Jesus, that his intentions were upright, and his professions at the moment sincere, there can be no doubt. But his temper was too hot, and his confidence in himself too great.When our Lord told him, and all the other apolles, that they would desert him that night, Peter was the first to say to him, “though all men should be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.” And when Jesus again afsured him, that before the cock crew he should deny him thrice, Peter insisted with still greater vehemence on his unfhaken fidelity, and declared, “ that though he should die with him, he should never deny him." Yet deny him he did, with execrations and oaths; and left a memorable lesson even to the best of men, not to entertain too high an opinion of their own constancy and firmness in the hour of temptation. « Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed left he fall."
And hence in the last place we see the wisdom and- the necessity of looking beyond ourselves, of looking up to heaven for fupport and aslistance in the discharge of our duty. If, when Peter was first forewarned by our Lord of his approaching denial of him, instead of repeating his professions of inviolable fidelity to him, he had with all humility confessed his weakness, and implored his divine Master to strengthen and fortify him for the trial that awaited him, the event probably would have been very
different. And it is surprizing that he had not learned .this lesson from his former experience. For when, con
fiding as he did now in his own courage, he entreated
Jesus to let him walk to him upon the sea, and was permitted to do fo; no sooner did he find the wind boisterous than he was afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand and caught him.” This was a plain intimation to him, (as I remarked in a former Lecture) that it was not his own arm that could help him, but that Almighty hand, and that outstretched arm, which then preserved him; and to which, when in danger, we must all have recourse to preserve us from sinking. “Trust then in the Lord,” (as the wise king advises), “ with all thine heart, and lean not to thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths*.”
• Prov, iiis.
LECTURE XXII. 4
IN the preceding chapter we saw that the chief priests and elders had, in their summary way, without the Thadow of justice, without any consistent evidence, decided the fate of Jesus, and pronounced him guilty of death. Their next care was how to get this sentence confirmed and care, ried into execution ; for under the Roman government) they had not at this time the power of the sword, the power of life and death; they could not execute a criminal, though they might try and condemn him, without a warrant from the Roman governor ; they determined therefore to carry him before Pilate, the Roman procura-tor of Judæa at that time. But then, to ensure success in that quarter, it was necessary to give their accusations against Jefus such a colour and shape, as should prevail upon the governor to put him to death. For this purpose they found it expedient to change their ground, for they had condemned him for blafphemy ; but this they knew would have little weight with a pagan governor, who, like Gallio, would " care for none of those things' which related solely to religion. They therefore resolved to bring him before Pilate as a state prisoner, and to charge: him with treasonable and feditious practices; with fetting himself up as a king in opposition to Cæfar, and persuading the people not to pay tribute to that prince. Accordingly we are told in the beginning of this chapter, that « when morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took council against Jesus to put him to death ; " that is, to obtain permifion to put him to death ; “ and when they had bound him they led him away, and dilivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor."
The evangelift, having brought the history of this dia'bolical transaction thus far, makes a short digreffion, to
inform us of the fate of that wretched traitor Judas, who had by his perfidy brought his Master into this situation.
“Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he faw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, I have finned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said. What is that to us? See thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and went and hanged himself.”
From the exprellion made use of in the third verse, “when Judas faw that Jesus was condemned, he repented bimself,” some commentators have thought that he did not imagine or expect that Jesus would be condemned to death ; but supposed either that he would convey himself away from his persecutors, or that he would prove his innocence to the fatisfaction of his judges ; or that at the most some slight punishment would be inflicted upon him. One would not wish to load even the worst of men with inore guilt than really belongs to them ; but, from confidering the character of Judas, and comparing together all the circumstances of the case, it appears to me more probable that the acquittal or condemnation of Jesus ne. ver entered into his contemplation. All he thought of was gain. He had kept the common purse, and had rob. bed it ; and his only object was, how to obtain a sum of money, which he determined to have at all events, and left consequences to take care of themselves. But when he saw that his divine Master, whom he knew to be perfectly innocent, was actually condemned to death, his conscience then flew in his face; his guilt rose up before him in all its horrors. The innocence, the virtues, the gentledess, the kindness of his Lord, with a thousand other circumstances, rushed at once upon his mind, and painted to him the enormity of his crime in fuch dreadful colours, that he could no longer bear the agonizing tortures that racked his soul, but went immediately and destroyed himfelf.
The answer of the chief priests to Judas, when he brought back to them the thirty pieces of silver, and de