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Saviour, or were apprehensive that they should fo foon lose their Master ; if they had, they could not have been so fupinely negligent and unconcerned for his Welfare, as immediately to fall asleep, as we read they did. But our Saviour, as he had a different Sense of what he was to undergo, fo was he differently affected: He began to be sorrowful, and very heavy; and expressed himself to his Disciples, that his Soul was exceeding forrowful, even unto Death. He began to feel the Weakness and Infirmities of human Nature upon the Approach of Death, and the Terror and Apprehension of it increased so fast, as to draw that Petition from him, o
Father, if it be posible, let this Cup pass from me. In which Prayer he was so earnest, and his
great, that the Sweat fell from him like Drops of Blood.
No one was ever more willing to fulfil the Will of God than he was : He came into the World to do the Will of his Father, and was ready to finish the Work set before him. But yet, in this last and sharp Trial, he found how great the Weakness of the Flesh was, and how powerful Impressions it had upon him: From whence probably arose the Reflection mentioned in the Text, The Spirit
indeed is willing, but the Flesh is weak; which he makes the Ground of his Exhortation to his Disciples, Watch and pray, that ye enter not into Temptation. When he returned from Prayer to them, he found them asleep, and, after expoftulating with them for the Unconcernedness it betrayed towards him in his Distress and Afiction, he exhorts them rather to employ their Time in watching and praying; for, though they had made a very forward and bold Resolution rather to die with him than deny him, yet he knew that a Resolution and Willingness to obey were not a sufficient Support against the Weakness of human Nature, but that they stood in need of all the Advantages that might be reaped from Watchfulness and Prayer. If he himself found Difficulties from the Weakness of the Flesh, he might well conclude how unable his Disciples would be, when their Time of Trial should come. So that the Words of the Text, The Spirit indeed is willing, but the Flesh is weak, seem rather founded on what our Saviour experienced in his late Agony, than from any thing that was criminal in his Disciples. They were alleep indeed, which was an unkind Part, when they saw in how great Distress their
Master was, but otherwise it was not faulty in itself. They did not apprehend the imminent Danger their Lord was in; if they had, their Fear and Anxiety would have interpofed to disturb their Reft. Nor did our Saviour blame their Sleep otherwise than as unseasonable at that Time, when the Danger that attended them required them to be otherwise employed. There was a great Storm ready to break, in which he foresaw they must bear a Part, as well as himself; and therefore there was a Necessity they should arm, and prepare themselves against it. Watch and pray, that ye enter not into Temptation : Which is a Warning for them to strengthen themselves against future Evil; and he does not much blame their Carriage as yet,
but rather tacitly acknowledges the great Forwardness they expressed to suffer with him, and for him; The Spirit indeed is willing. But then he knew the Greatness of the Temptation they were to undergo, and had lately himself experienced the Weakness and Inability of human Nature, and therefore recommends Watchfulness and Prayer to them, because the Flesh is weak.
The Words thus explained contain a very proper and suitable Exhortation to the Season
in which they were spoken, and to all Men in general : And the Reason of them is a powerful Excitement to us to pray continually for the Grace and Assistance of God's good Spirit, knowing, how ready and willing foever we may be to obey, that we are beset with too many and too strong Enemies to permit us long to continue in our good Resolutions; which should make us look about for Help, and, if I
so speak, enter into new Alliances with Heaven, for greater Supplies of spiritual Strength to oppose the common Enemy of Mankind.
But this Explication of the Text, how worthy soever of its Author, and agreeable to the Circumstances in which it was delivered, will not easily be digested; because it undermines the Foundation of the favourite Doctrine of Sins of Infirmity, which, upon the slender Encouragement of this Text of Scripture, has thriven wonderfully, almost to the Exclufion of all other Sins out of the World. For Men are very willing to list all their Sins under the Colours of Infirmity, and fo leave them to shift for themselves : Which, whatever else it fignifies, has this present Effect, it rids them of the Trouble and Pains of Repentance and Amendment,
and eases them of the Terror and Apprés hension of Guilt, which would otherwise be very unwelcome Companions to the Pleasures of Sin.
The Text, when used to this purpose, is thus explained : The Disciples are supposed to have committed some great Fault, for which our Saviour rebukes them; What, could ye not watch with me one Hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into Temptation: But then, checking himself, he makes this Excuse for them, The Spirit indeed is willing, but the Flesh is weak : Abfolving them for the Willingness that was in them, and throwing all the Blame and Guilt of Sin
the Weakness of the Flesh. Now to make the most of this: The Fault which the Disciples were guilty of, could be no other than falling asleep, and that after long and tedious Watching ; so that if the Weakness of the Flesh was applied as an Excuse to the Apostles Case, nothing else can be understood by it, but the natural Wants and Cravings of Nature, which are necessary to the Support of Life; such as Sleepiness, Hunger and Thirst, which no one doubts but may be so strong, without any Fault of ours, as to interrupt us when we might be better employed; and,