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ample could not possibly have come nearer to us than it does, without great disadvantage to us, without wanting that perfe&tion which is necessary to a compleat andi absolute pattern. In short, the spirit of Christ dwells in us; and the same fpirit, which kept and preserved him from all fin, is equally able to mortify sin in us, and to enable us to do the will of God in such manner as he will accept to our justification.
IV. It is an universal pattern. As the doctrine of our Saviour, so his example was of an universal nature and design, calculated for all times, and places, and, as much as was possible, abstracted from the circumstances of a particular condition, that it might be the more equally suited to all callings, and conditions, and capacio ties of men, and fitted for general direction and imitation in all sorts of goodness and virtue, either in the geo neral principle, or in the particular instances of them. And for this reason he would not engage himself in any particular calling, or way of life, that his pattern might more equally and indifferently regard all mankind.
He was really a great perfon, the greateft that ever was in birth and dignity, being the only Son of God, the maker and heir of all things : and yet he submitted to the lowest condition, to all the degrees of poverty and meanness of contempt and sufferings, to teach men of high degree to be humble and serviceable to the good of others; and men of low degree to be contented and chearful in the meanest condition, and the hardeft circumstances that the providence of God shall see good to place themrin.
He had the deepest and most comprehensive knowa ledge ; in him, as the Apostle expresfeth it, were hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge : and yet he made no vain show and oftentation of it ; he did not puzzle his hearers with abstruse speculations and sublime mysteries, but in a way of plain and familiar instruction, declared to his hearers those things which were most use ful and necessary for them to know. He confuted the doctors, and confounded the wisdom of the wise, those who were conceited of their own knowledge and skill in divine things ; but was always ready to condescend to the weakness and ignorance of the meanest capacity ; giving herein an example to the wife and learned, not to make a show of their knowledge, but to make the best use of it; not to lift up themselves above others, but to condescend and stoop to them for their good. He sometimes retired from conversation and
company, that he might be alone and at leisure to attend upon God, and meditate on divine and heavenly things, without interruption and distraction ; but most frequently he conversed with others, and mingled himself with all sorts of persons, that he might give all the advantage, and do all the good he could to all men. Nay, he did not decline the conversation of the worst of nien, and it was really true which was objected to him, that he was a friend of publicans and finners, being sincerely desirous to do them the greatest kindness in the world, to reform their manners, and reclaim them to a better course; so that he was a pattern both of the contemplative and active life, and Thews us how to mix these to the greatest advantage ; and by his own example teacheth us, that we serve God better than by doing good to men ; and 'that he is as well pleased, when we lay out ourselves, for the benefit of others spiritual and temporal, as if we employed all our thoughts and meditations wholly upon himself and divine things ; that a perpetual retirement from the world, and shunning the conversation of men, is not the most religious life, but living among men, and doing good to them.
More particularly, the life of our blessed Saviour is a pattern to us,
1. Of the greatest and most substantial virtues. 2. Of the most rare and unusual.
3. Of the most useful and beneficial, : 4, Of the most hard and difficult : and,
5. Of such virtues as are most needful ; and for the practice of which there is the greatest and most frequent occasion in human life.
Į. It is a pattern of the greateft and most fubftantial virtues.
Of a fervent piety and devotion toward God. We read, that he often retired to pray, and sometimes spent whole nights in it: his mind was continually upon God, as appears by his frequent ejaculations upon all occasions, by his communication and discourse, which was always either instructive of men in divine truths, or persuasive to a holy practice; from worldly objects and occurrences, he would take occasion to raise fome spiritual meditation, and to speak of heavenly things.
And then , his ready and chearful obedience to the will of God in all things : in the volume of the book it is written of me, I am come to do thy will, O niy
God. He speaks of it with pleaļuse; and he delighted to do it; he declined the will of God in no instance, how difficult and displeasing foever to flesh and blood.
The perfect purity and innocency of his life: he was a Lamb without spot and blemish, i Pet. i. 19. He did no fin, Chap. ü. 21. Leaving us herein an example, that though we cannot keep equal pace with him, yet we should follow his steps. He was boly, harmless, undea filed, separate from finners, Heb. vii. 27.
And then his universal charity, taking all opportunities to do all the good, temporal and spiritual, that he could to all men, of which his whole life is one great and continued instance: these are all great and substantial virtues.
I have indeed said nothing of justice, both because there was little occasion for it, he having nothing to do in those matters wherein justice is concerned. He had no estate of his own, and he meddled not with those of other mens : and likewise because his life was all goodness, which is a virtue of a higher pitch than justice: he that was so good to all, we need not doubt of his justice, if there had been occasion for it.
2. He was a pattern of the most rare and unusual vir. tues.
Such was his fincerity; guile was not found in his mouth, i Pet. ii. 22. His conversation was free and open, without disguise and concealment ; and therefore when the High-priest asked him of his disciples, and of his doctrine, John xviii. 19. he wondered at the que. lion: Why askelt thou me?? Ask them that heard me. Vol. VIII,
I spake openly to the world, I ever taught in the lynagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always refort, and in secret have I said nothing. And this is no common virtue, and therefore our Saviour gåve it as a singular commendation to Nathanael, John i. 47. Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile. Perfect fincerity is a great foundation of goodness; it is found. ness at the heart, and, like perfect health, seldom to be seen ; there is hardly any thing wherein men, otherwise good and virtuous, do oftner trip and faulter.
Another virtue, which is not very usual, was emi. pent in our Saviour, I mean true humility, without af. fectation and secret pride lurking under it. This apeared very remarkable, and very natural in his whole life, which was all of it the greatest instance of humility that ever was; and therefore with great assurance he propounds himself to our imitation in this, Matth. xi. 29: Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me: for I meek and lowly in spirit. And St Paul sets this virtue before us, as being the constant temper of our Lord, and vifible in his whole undertaking, and in every part of it from first to laft, from his coming into the world, to his going out of it, Phil. ii. 5, 6, 7, 8. Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God, thought it no robbery to be equal with God, but made himself of no reputation, (he, emptied himself of all his Majesty and glory) and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men : and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the crofs.
Here was humility indeed, from so great a height to stoop so low, from the top of glory and majesty, to the lowest pitch of meanness and misery. Here is a pat: tern for us ; and how should it Mame and confound the pride of the sons of men, to see the Son of God so humble ? There is no virtue, I am sure, which we have so much reason, and yet none which we have so little inclination, to imitate. Pride was not made for men, says the son of Syrach : it does not become us, and yet it is the fashion; we know that we have no cause to be proud, and yet we know got how to be humble. Let the ex. ample of our Lord's humility bring down the haughti.
and when we consider how he abased him. self, let us be vile in our own eyes, and abhor ourselves in duft and ashes.
And then his contempt of the world, and the en. joyments and pleasures of it, to that degree, that he would have no part and share in the possessions of it, not so much as one of the first and almost lowest conveniencies of life, a settled abode and habitation, so that, as he himself tells us, he was in a more destitute condition than the brute creatures : The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head. Not that he designed to oblige us to a 'strict imitation of him in this particular; for he might, and we may lawfully possess and enjoy these things : but to teach us not to overprize them, not to seek them too earnestly, nor love them inordiDately. That he despised them, Mould keep us froni admiring them, and doating upon them ; that he would not have them in his possession, should keep them out of our hearts, and make us very loose and indifferent in our affections to them; that he valued doing good above all the enjoyments of this world, fhould make us value them only in order to that end.
And then his exceflive kindness and benignity to us, such as men very rarely shew to their best friends, and the best men; but such as no man ever shewed to his 'enemies : Peradventure for a good man one would even dare to die, says St Paul, Rom. v. 7. But herein Got commended his love to us, in that whilft we were finners, Cbrist died for us. And this pattern of love our Saviour propounds to our imitation, John xv. 12, 13. This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have love you.
Greater love than this hath no man, that a man lay down his life for his friend. The highest pitch of human friendship that ever was, was to die for a friend'; but our Lord died riot for his friends, but for his enemies, that he might make them his friends, by gaining them to the obedience of his laws: Te are my friends, if ye do what foever I command you. The fame pattern the Apostles of our Lord propound to us, Eph. t. 2. Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and given hini. self for us. John ü. 16. Hereby perceive we the