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after this declaration, denied his Master; and the same night in which they had protested they would never leave him, all the disciples forsook him and fled. (Matt. xxvi. 56.) Nor, on the other hand, let the view of that frailty discourage, though it ought to caution us; for the time came when each of them behaved as they here spoke; and they who in his very presence acted so weak a part, through the influences of his strengthening Spirit, resisted unto blood, and loved not their lives unto the death, for the testimony of Jesus. (Rev. xii. 11.)
MATT. XXVI. 36-46. MARK XIV. 32-42. LUKE XXII. 40-46. JOHN XVIII. 1.
THEN Cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples. And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. And he took with him Peter, and James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, and he began to be sorrowful, sore amazed, and very heavy. Then saith Jesus unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he went a little farther, and was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, fell on his face on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, Abba, O my Father, if it be possible, (and all things are possible unto thee,) take away this cup from me: nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done.
And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? what could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation : the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. And he went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. And when he returned, he found them asleep again, (for their eyes were heavy,) neither wist they
what to answer him. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.
And being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly: (with strong crying and tears, Heb. v. 7,) and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. And when he rose up from prayer, and was come the third time to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow, and said unto them, Why sleep ye now, and take your rest? it is enough; rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. Behold, the hour is come, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise up, let us go; lo, he that betrayeth me is at hand.
On the most transient survey of this amazing story we cannot but fall into deep admiration. What a sight is here! Let our souls turn aside to behold it with a becoming temper: and surely we must wonder how the disciples could sleep in the midst of a scene which might almost have awakened rocks and trees to compassion.
Behold the Prince of life, God's incarnate and only-begotten Son, drinking of the brook in the way, (Psalm cx. 7); and not only tasting, but drawing in full draughts of that bitter cup which his heavenly Father put into his hands on this awful occasion. Let us behold him kneeling, and even prostrate on the ground, and there pouring out his strong cries and tears to him that was able to save him from death. (Heb. v. 7.). Let us view him in this bloody agony, and say, If these things be done in the green tree, what shall be done in the dry? (Luke xxiii. 31.) If even Christ himself was so depressed with sorrow and amazement, and the distress and anguish he endured were such, that in his agony the sweat ran from him like great drops of blood, when our iniquities were laid upon him, and it pleased the Father to bruise him, and to put him to grief, (Isa. liii. 6, 10); how must the sinner then be filled with horror, and with what dreadful agonies of anguish and despair will he be overwhelmed, when he shall bear the burden of his own iniquities, and God shall pour out all his wrath upon him? Behold, how fearful a thing it is to fall into the hands of the living God! (Heb. x. 31.)
Here was no human enemy near our blessed Redeemer; yet such invisible terrors set themselves in array against him, that his very soul was poured out like water; nor was there any
circumstance of his sufferings in which he discovered a greater commotion of spirit. Nevertheless, his pure and holy soul bare all this without any irregular perturbation. In all this he sinned not by a murmuring word, or an impatient thought: he shone the brighter for the furnace of affliction, and gave us at once the most wonderful and the most amiable pattern of resignation to the divine disposal, when he said, Father, not as I will, but as thou wilt.-May this be our language under every trial! Lord, we could wish it was; and we would maintain a holy watchfulness over our own souls, that it may be so! But in this respect, as well as in every other, we find that even when the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak. How happy is it for us that the blessed Jesus knows our frame, and has learnt, by what he himself suffered in our frail nature, to make the most compassionate allowance for its various infirmities ! Let us learn to imitate this his gentle and gracious conduct, even in an hour of so much distress. Let us bear with and let us pity each other, not aggravating every neglect of our friends into a crime; but rather speaking of their faults in the mildest terms, and making the most candid excuses for what we cannot defend. Let us exercise such a temper, even in the most gloomy and dejected moments of life; which surely may well be expected of us, who ourselves need so much compassion and indulgence almost from every one with whom we converse; and, which is infinitely more, who owe our all to the forbearance of that God, of whose mercy it is that we are not utterly consumed.
MATT. XXVI. 47-56.
MARK XIV. 43-52. LUKE
AND Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples.
And immediately, while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, Scribes and elders of the people, with lanterns and torches and weapons. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto
them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground. Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he; if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way: That the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none. Now he that betrayed him had given them a token, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he; take him, hold him fast, and lead him away safely. And he went before them. And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail Master, Master; and kissed him. And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him.
When they which were about him saw what would follow, they said unto him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword: And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus, Simon Peter, having a sword, stretched out his hand, drew it, and smote the highpriest's servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant's name was Malchus.
And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him. Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up again thy sword into the sheath for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?
In that same hour said Jesus unto the chief priests and captains of the temple, and the elders, and to the multitudes which were come to him, Are ye come out as against a thief, with swords and with staves,
to take me? When I was daily with you in the temple, teaching, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness. But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled. And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him and he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked.
The heroic behaviour of the blessed Jesus, in the whole period of his sufferings, will easily make itself observed by every attentive eye, though the sacred historians, according to their usual but wonderful simplicity, make no encomiums upon it. With what composure does he go forth to meet the traitor! with what calmness does he receive that malignant kiss! With what dignity does he deliver himself into the hands of his enemies, yet plainly shewing his superiority over them, and leading as it were even then captivity captive!
We see him generously capitulating for the safety of his friends, while he neglected his own; and afterwards, not only forbidding all the defence they attempted to make, but curing that wound which one of his enemies had received in this assault on him. With what meek majesty did he say, Suffer ye at least thus far! And he touched his ear, and healed him. We hear his words, we behold his actions with astonishment: but surely our indignation must rise within us when we see so amiable and excellent a Person thus injured and abused; when we see the Son of man betrayed with a kiss: betrayed by his intimate friend, who had eaten of his bread, and yet lifted up his heel against him, (John xiii. 18,) and at the same time forsaken by all his disciples, even by him whom he most tenderly loved, and who had so often leant on his bosom. Let us not wonder if some of our friends prove false; and others seem to forget us when we have the greatest need of their assistance. When we deserve so much less friendship than Christ did, let us not think it strange if we find but little more. Nor can we reasonably be so much amazed, as we might otherwise have been, to see sinners going on under the most awful rebukes of providence; when we consider that these wretches, who had been struck down to the ground by one word of Christ's mouth, should immediately rise up and stretch forth their impious hands against him, to seize and bind him; though they might well have known that they lived only by his indulgence and forbearance, and that the