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SERMON XXI.

FOR PASSION WEEK.

MATTHEW xxvi. 40.—What! could ye not watch with

me one hour ?"

THE application of the words of the text to ourselves, as disciples of a suffering Redeemer, is too plain to be mistaken: and this season of preparation for hallowing the hour of Christ's precious death is too closely connected with the scene in which they were uttered, not to force an observance of them on our hearts.

Our blessed Saviour was now about to close that life on earth, which he had spent in poverty and sorrow for us miserable sinners; and, as the last act of preparation for quitting this world, and going again unto the Father, he had retired in the silent hour of night, to the garden of Gethsemane for prayer. Deeply interesting as is every part of the Redeemer's spotless life, all seems absorbed in the solemnity of this mournful crisis : nor can an object of contemplation be conceived more deeply affecting, than the Son of the Highest, in this hour of agony and darkness, bending before his righteous Father, under the weight of a world's accumulated sins ; and (while affliction's bitter waters, as an overwhelming torrent came in unto his soul,) breathing out his anguish in the pathetic prayer, “ if it be possible, let this cup pass from me ;" yet qualifying that petition with the resigned exclamation, “not my will but thine be done.”

Our Lord had chosen three of his disciples to attend him to this scene of trial ; and after a plain but positive injunction,—“Tarry ye here and watch with me,” he departed a little from them, to pour out his afflicted soul to God. The "Man of Sorrows" had often been deserted by the careless and unbelieving; but he was now to see himself forgotten even by those whom he called especially “his own.” Though his “soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death, yet his own “familiar friends,” his disciples, whom he had chosen, he “findeth sleeping.” A heart so compassionate for the woes of others, could not but be touched by such appearance of indifference: yet, that charity, of which his whole life was one bright, pre-eminent example,----that “charity” which “hopeth all things,"

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which “suffereth long and is kind,” prompted only this mild rebuke; “ What! could ye not watch with me one hour?"

There had been something so unusually affecting in all that had immediately preceded this awful scene, that it might have seemed scarcely needful for any such admonition to have been urged on these favoured disciples. Jesus had but just concluded with them his last and sacred supper. He had told them that his “time was at hand.” He had even warned them, that “one of them should betray him.” He had declared that the Son of Man was now going as it was written of him, and had denounced woe to him by whom he should be betrayed. He had “taken bread, and blessed, and broken, and given to them :" he had “taken the cup, and given thanks,” and bidden them “all to drink of it.” He had told them, that the one was his “ body which was given for them ;" the other, his “ blood of the New Testament, which was shed for the remission of sins.” They had partaken of these holy symbols of their Redeemer's approaching sufferings. They had joined with him in a hymn to their Heavenly Father; they had heard Jesus declare, that all of them should be offended because of him that night; they had avowed a just abhorrence of the treachery which he had predicted, and with peculiar vehemence had affirmed, that though they should

and pray,

die with him, they would not deny him. Yet, with every thing that could conduce to watchfulness and awe, with all these protestations still as it were hanging upon their lips, and their Master's earnest injunction upon his, when he cometh to them in the midst of his agony, he “ findeth them asleep!”

The Scriptures present us with examples of weakness to check our presumption, as well as of firmness to encourage our fortitude ; and our Saviour's emphatic words on another occasion, “what I say unto you, I say unto all, watch!” may be applied to every one of us, as our respective cases may require. Yes, brethren, “watch

that ye enter not into temptation,” was not to be confined to those disciples alone. Then, indeed, was peculiarly the hour of the wicked, and the power of darkness; then was the Messiah's fortitude to be tried to the utmost, and the faith of his disciples to be most severely assailed. But Gethsemane's garden was not the only scene in which the Powers of Darkness were to reign; nor were those disciples the only persons bound by the most solemn and often renewed covenant, to Jesus Christ. The world itself is one wide scene of trial, where hosts of enemies surround us: and, both in the early days of our Lord's temptation, and in this concluding crisis of his agony, he has taught us, by his example, what, as fallen children of Adam, we are

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to expect; and how, as “heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ,” we are required to act.

Whatever could declare Christ's dignity, had long been signally manifested to his disciples. At his entrance on his ministry, the heavens had opened, and the voice of Omnipotence had pronounced him God's “beloved Son.” All nature had submitted to his command; winds had been hushed; the stormy waters calmed ; the blind had been restored to sight, the dead to life. Angels had descended from above to minister unto him ; legions of evil spirits had trembled and fled before him. Heaven, Earth, and Hell had owned him as “the Holy One of God.” The three chosen disciples, too, were those who had been admitted to behold the glories of his transfiguration ; when, apart from all the world besides, he took them up into a mountain, and his face became like the sun, and his raiment white as the light ;-when Moses and Elias appeared in glory to them, “and spake of his decease, which he was to accomplish at Jerusalem.” He had warned them also, of the troubles that were coming on him and on the earth ; had told them that, to fulfil Jehovah's councils, it must needs be that he should suffer. And, therefore, with all these evidences of his power, all this prophetic announcement of the trials awaiting the Master whom they professed to love, well might the sorrowing Jesus

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