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Christ's Apology for His Disciples

Christ's Apology for His Disciples

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Published by glennpease
BY JOB ORTON


christ s compassionate apology for his drowsy disciples.

Matt. xxvi. 41,

The spirit indeed is willing, hut the flesh is weak.
BY JOB ORTON


christ s compassionate apology for his drowsy disciples.

Matt. xxvi. 41,

The spirit indeed is willing, hut the flesh is weak.

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Published by: glennpease on Nov 19, 2013
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CHRIST'S APOLOGY FOR HIS DISCIPLESBY JOB ORTO christ s compassionate apology for his drowsy disciples. Matt. xxvi. 41, The spirit indeed is willing, hut the flesh is weak. When the apostle is exhorting Christians to " lav aside every weight, and to run with patience the race that is set before them," he adds, "looking unto Jesus, the author (or leader) of our faith," Heb. xii. 1, 2. And amidst all the afflictions of life and the difficulties of our Christian course, a lively view of the pa- tience, tenderness, and compassion of our leader and fore-runner, is very animating and encouraging. We have many instances of these in the ew Testament ; and a very affecting and com- fortable one in the text. Our Lord, a little" before his death, re- 208 orton's practical works. tired into a garden for prayer, and took with him Peter, and James, and John. There he endured a great agony, and went through a scene of very deep distress. He commanded his dis- ciples to watch with him, that they might observe what passed, for their own instruction and the benefit of others ; to whom they might relate and transmit it. After he had spent some time in the most fervent prayer, he came to them, and found them sleeping. He saith to them, and particularly to Peter, who had been most forward in his profession of regard to his master, " What, could ye not watch with me one hour ?" keep awake so short a time, while I was in such an agony ? " Watch and pray, that ye enter not in temptation," that ye be not overcome by the temptations to which you will be exposed. He then adds in the text, " The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." A noted commentator * observes, that " this is not intended as
 
an excuse or mitigation of their sleeping in these circumstances, but as a motive to prayer and vigilance." I rather think it is to be considered in both these views. "The spirit is willing;" your hearts are honest ; you have a great love to me, and your resolutions to adhere to me are sincere ; " but the flesh is weak ;" the infirmities of the body prevail over the sentiments and reso- lutions of the spirit. On this account I pity and ex<;use your negligence and drowsiness ; but exhort you to be more careful for the future. This sense seems most agreeable to our Lord's general manner of treating his disciples. And taking the words in this light, they suggest much, both for our encouragement and our caution. And we may draw these three remarks from them : I. The faithful servants of Christ find the body a great hin- drance to the spirit. II. Christ maketh very compassionate allowances for the in- firmities of his servants. III. evertheless it is their duty to watch and strive and pray against them. I will illustrate these particulars, and add some suitable reflections. 1. The faithful disciples of Christ often find the body a great hindrance to the spirit; especially in religious exercises. Man is a creature " fearfully and wonderfully made ;" consisting of flesh and spirit ; a body composed of gross matter ; weak, frail, and reducible to dust ; and an immaterial, immortal soul. The prin- ciples of each are very different ; and yet they have a strange influence one upon the other. Every one knows and feels this, though none can clearly explain or understand it. The body is a clog to the operations of the mind ; so that it can take in but few ideas, extend its views but a little way, and keep its atten- tion fixed to any thought but for a short time. Hence our im- • Whitby in loc.
 
Dis. XXV.] Christ's apology for his disciples. 203 provements in knowledge are so inconsiderable ; attained veiy gradually, and with great labour ; and the memory frequently loseth what it hath attained. Where the heart is sincere, and desireth to serve God and engage in religious exercises with vi- gour and zeal, the body will not keep pace with its desires and attempts, but quickly flags and tires. In persons of the best constitutions this is often the case. Cares relating to the body distract the thoughts ; and the liveliness of the spirits hurrieth them away from one object to another, so that the most important concerns are not so coolly and justly considered as they ought to be. This is particularly the case of persons of weak consti- tutions and feeble spirits. A little attention wearies them. When they would be most thoughtful and lively, they are least so. A fear, a desire, a hope, an alarm, that would scarce affect others, is sometimes too weighty for them, disturbs their repose, and clogs their faculties. They are " servile to every skyey influ- ence." A storm, a shower, a sudden change of weather some- times throws the animal frame into such confusion and disorder, that the spirit is quite confused and disordered by it. Drowsi- ness or a kind of stupor often seizeth them, and they are scarce capable of a few minutes' fixed attention, or of retaining one sprightly, devout, or comfortable thought. And in proportion to the pains they take to shake off" the gloom, and keep up the ar- dour of attention and devotion, is their weariness afterwards. The flesh exposeth us to many temptations. Particularly to gra- tify its appetites beyond the bounds of temperance and reason ; to indulge in sleep beyond what is necessary and healthful; to be fretful and impatient under afl^lictions and infirmities ; and through fear of sorrow, loss, and pain, to sacrifice faith and a good conscience. These temptations are strong even when the spirit is sincere, willing, and solicitous to avoid the appearance of evil, and suffer, or give up, every thing for God and religion. So St. Paul describeth this case ; " The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh : and these are contrary the one to the other : so that ye cannot do the things that y-e would," Gal. V. 17; or rather, "ye do not perform the things that ye would." Further, the spirits of Christ's faithful disciples are often oppressed with unreasonable fears of death. In their de-

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