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ye stretched forth no hands against me : but this is your hour, and the power of darkness. Luke xxii. 51, 52, 53. They had kept at a distance during the attack but drew near, when they understood that JESUS, was in their power; for they were proof against all conviction, being obstinately bent on putting him to death. And the disciples when they saw their Master in the hands of his enemies, forsook him and fled, according to his prediction ; notwithstanding they might have followed him without any danger, as the priests had no design against them : Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled. Then the band, and the captain
, and officers of the Jews took Jesus and bound him. But it was not the cord which held him ; his immense charity was by a far stronger band; he could, with more case than Sampson, have broken those weak ties, and exerted his divinity in a more wonderful manner; he could have stricken them all dead, with as much ease as he had before thrown them on the ground: but he patiently submitted to this, as to every other indignity which they pleased to offer him; so meek was he'under the greatest injuries. Having thus secured him, they led him away: And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young man laid hold on him: and he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked. This, perhaps, was the proprietor of the garden ; who being awakened with the noise, came out with the linen cloth, in which he had been lying, cast around his naked body; and forgetting the dress he was in, and having a respect for JESUS, foliowed him.
He was first led to Annas, father-in-law of Caiaphas who was high-priest that year. Annas having himself discharged the office of high-priest, was consequently a person of distinguished character, which, together with his relation to the high-priest, made him worthy of the respect they now paid him ; but he refused singly to meddle in the affair ; ther, therefore, carried Jesus to Caiaphas himself, at whose palace the chief priests, eldets, and Scribes were assembled, having staid there all night to see the issue of their stratagem. This Ca. iphas was he that advised the council to put Jesus to death, even admitting he was innocent, for the safety": of the whole Jewish nation. He was advanced to the sacerdotal dignity by Valerius Gratus, Pilate's prede. cessor, and was divested of it by Vitellius, governor of Syria, after he had deposed Pilate from his procuratorship; and therefore seems to have enjoyed it during the whole course of Pilate's government.
Peter tlirice denies his having any knowledge of Jesus;
but on his Lord's turning and looking on him, he re
penteth. The trial of our blessed Lord in the high-priests palace, and Peter's denying him, being cotemporary events, might be repeated by the evangelical historians according to their pleasure. The evangelists Matthew and Mark describe the trial first, as it is the principal fact; but Luke after the denials of Peter. John has preserved the natural order here ; for he begins with the first denial, because it happened immediately after Peter entered the palace, then gives the history of the trial as the principal fact, concluding with the subsequent denials. But though this be the natural order, we shall view the denials together, previous to the trial, Hi order to form a better idea of them.
When Jesus was apprehended, the apostles, in great consternation, forsook him, and fled, according to the prediction concerning them : some of them, however, recovering out of the panic that had scized them, followed the band at a distance, to see what the issue would be. Of this number was Peter, and another disciple, whom John has mentioned, without giving his name, and who, therefore, is supposed to have been John himself. This disciple being acquainted at the high-priest's, got admittance for himself first, and soon after for Peter, who had come with him; And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that disciple was known unto the high-priest, and went in will Jesus into the palace of the high-priest. But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, and spake unto her, that kept the door, and brought in Peter. And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them. The maid servant who
kept the door, concluding Peter to be a disciple also, followed after him to the fire, and looking earnestly at him, charged him with the supposed crime; Then sailh the damsel that kept the door unto Peter, Art not thou also one of this man's disciples? This blunt attack threw Peter into such confusion, that he flatly denied his having any connection with Jesus, replying, I am not, and adding, I knore not, neither understand I what thou sayest. As if he had said, I do not understand there is any reason for your asking me such a question. Thus, the very apostle who had before acknowledged his Master to be the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, who was honoured with the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and had so confidently boasted of fortitude, and firm attachment to him in the greatest dangers, proved an arrant deserter of his cause upon trial. His shameful fears were altogether inexcusable, as the enemy who attacked him was one of the weaker sex, and the terror of the charge was, in a great measure, taken off by the insinuation made in it, that John was likewise known to be Christ's disciple; for, as he was known at the high-priest's, he was consequently known in that character: Art thou not also one of this man's disciples ? Art thou not one of them as well as he who is sitting with you ? Equivocation, mental reservation, and such like base arts, are below the dignity and courage of reasonable creatures; but downright lying, and that in the presence of John his fellow-disciple, is abominable, and can only be accounted for, by the confuşion and panic which had seized him on this occasion. As Peter's inward perturbation must have appeared in his countenance and gesture, he did not choose to stay long with the servants at the fire; he went out, therefore, into the porch, where he was a little concealed : And he went out into the porch, and the cock crew, namely, for the first time. And the maid saw him again, and began to say to them that stood by, This is one of them ; and he again denied it with an outh, I know not the man : thus aggravating his former crime by that of perjury.
Peter having been thus attacked without doors, thought proper to return and mix with the crowd at the fire : And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. From this circumstance, we may conclude, that the ensuing was the third denial ; and that Peter left the porch where the second denial happened, and was come again into the hall : Here one of the servunts of the highpriest, being his kinsman whose ear Peter cut off, saith, Did not I see thee in the garden with him ? Peter then denied again, and immediately the cock crew. The words of Malchus's kinsman, bringing to Peter's remembrance what he had done to that servant, threw him into such a panic, that when those who stood by repeated the charge, he impudently denied it; He even began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak. For when they heard Peter deny the charge, they supported it by an argument drawn from the accent with which he pronounced his answer. Surely, thou art one of them, for thou art a Galilean, and thy speech agreeth thereto; so that, being pressed on all sides, to give his lie the better colour he profaned the name of God, by imprecating the bitterest curses on himself, if he was telling a falsehood : perhaps, he hoped, by these acts of impiety, to convince them effectually, that he was not Christ's disciple.
This zealous apostle thus denied his Master three distinct times, with oaths and asservations, totally forgetting the vehement protestations he had made a few hours before, that he would never deny him. He was permitted to fall in this manner, to teach us two lessons: the first, that whatever a person's attainments might have been formerly, if once he passes the bounds of innocence, he commonly proceeds from bad to worse, one sin naturally draws on another; for which reason, the very least appearances of evil are to be avoided, and the greatest humility and self-diffidence maintained : in the second place, we may learn, that no sinner who repents, and has confidence in the goodness of God, should ever despair ; for he no sooner denied his