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the business he was about, to speak with her when the defired it. Nor it feems did fhe understand her power fo well as the church of Rome hath done fince, when (as is to be feen in fome of their ma's-books) they addrefs to her in these terms: Jure matris impera redemptori; " By the authority of a mother, command the "Redeemer."
The fourth paffage is not much different from the former, Luke xi. 27. when a certain woman faid to him, Bleed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou haft fucked; he faid, Yea, rather blessed are they that hear the word of God and keep it. He does not deny what was faid in honour of her; but turns his difcourfe another way: and forefeeing the danger of a fuperftitious veneration of her, he seems to bring her down to the fame level with all fincere Christians; teaching us, that no external privilege or relation, how glorious foever, no not that of being the mother of the Son of God, was fo valuable, as doing the will of God: Yea, rather blessed are they that hear the ward of God and keep it.
The laft paffage is at the time of his death, John xix. 25, 26, 27. Now there ftood by the crofs of Jefus his mother: when Jefus therefore faw his mother, and the difciple ftanding by whom he loved, he faith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy fon: then faith he to the difciple, -Behold thy mother. And from that hour that difciple took her unto his own home. Here indeed he fhewed his great kindness and concernment for her, in committing her to the care of his best beloved friend; but yet without any extraordinary demonftration of respect in the manner of it.
These are all the paffages I know in the gofpel, which, concern our Lord's carriage towards his mother; which upon the whole matter, is fo ftrange, that we cannot imagine but there must be some special and extraordinary reafon for it; and we who have lived to fee and know what hath happened in the Chriftian world, are now able to give a better account of this great caution and refervedness in his behaviour towards her; namely, that out of his infinite wisdom and forefight, he fo demeaned himself toward her, that he might lay no temp
tation before men; nor give the leaft occafion to the idolizing of her. He always called her, woman; and by the privilege of his divinity and high office hardly -feems to pay her the respect due to a mother, that he might reftrain all Chriftians from worshipping her as a deity; or if they did, that they might have no colour or excufe for it, from any thing he faid or did. This is fo probable an account of that which might otherwise feem fo unaccountable, that I perfuade myself, that all unprejudiced perfons will readily affent to it. And which is farther remarkable in this matter, the Apostles of our Lord in all their writings ufe the fame refervednefs; and no doubt, by the direction of the fame spirit, concerning the bleffed mother of our Lord. For throughout the hiftory of the Acts, and all the epiftles. of the Apoftles, there is but once mention made of her, and that only by the bye, Acts i. 14. where it is said, that the difciples all continued with one accord in prayer and fupplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jefus. So far are they from propofing her for an object of our worship, that they only once make mention of her, and that joining with others in prayer and. fupplication to God, without any fpecial remark concerning her; much lefs do they fpeak of any devotion -paid to her.
And furely if this blessed among women, the mother of eur Lord, (for I keep to the titles which the fcripture. gives her) have any fenfe of what we do here below, the cannot but look down with the greatest disdain upton that facrilegious and idolatrous worship which is paid to her, to the high dishonour of the great God and our Saviour, and the infinite fcandal of his religion. How can fhe, without indignation, behold how they play the fool in the church of Rome about her? what an idol they make of her image? and with what fottishnefs they give divine honour to it? How they place her in their idolatrous pictures in equal rank with the ble thed Trinity, and turn the falutation of the Angel, AveMaria, Hail Mary, full of grace, into a kind of prayer, and in their bead-roll of devotion repeat it ten times for once that they fay the Lord's prayer, as of greater virtue and efficacy? And indeed they almoft justle out.
the devotion due to almighty God, and our bleffed Saviour, by their endless idolatry to her.
So that the greater part of their religion, both publick and private, is made up of that, which was no part at all of the religion of the Apoftles and primitive Christians; nay, which plainly contradicts it: for that exprefly teacheth us, that there is but one object of our prayers, and one Mediator, by whom we are to make our addresses to God. There is one God; and one Mediator between God and man, the man Chrift Jefus, fays St Paul, when he gives a ftanding rule concerning prayer in the Chriftian church. And yet notwithstanding all the care which our bleffed Saviour and his Apoftles could take, to prevent grofs idolatry of the - bleffed mother of our Lord, how blindly and wilfully have the church of Rome run into it; and in despite of the cleareft evidence and conviction, do obftinately and impudently perfift in it, and juftify themselves in fo abominable a practice? I come now to the
V. And laft advantage of our Lord's example, that it is in the nature of it very powerful, to engage and oblige all men to the imitation of it.
It is almoft equally calculated for perfons of all capacities and conditions, for the wife and the weak, for thofe of high and low degree; for all men are alike concerned to be happy. And the imitation of this example is the most ready and direct way to it, the most effectual means we can ufe to compafs this great and univerfal end; nay, it is not only the means, but the end, the best and most effential part of it. To be like our Lord, is to be as good as it is poffible for men to be; and goodness is the higheft perfection that any being is capable of; and the perfection of every being is its happiness.
There is a kind of contagion in all examples; men are very apt to do what they fee others do, though it be very bad; every day's experience furnifheth us with many and fad inftances of the influence of bad examples; but there are peculiar charms in that which is good and excellent. A perfect pattern of goodness does strongly allure and invite to the imitation of it, and a great example of virtue to a well-difpofed mind is a mighty temptation,
tation, and apt to infpire us with good refolutions, to endeavour after that in ourselves, which we fo much efteem and admire in others. And fuch is the example of our Lord, perfect as is poffible, and yet obvious to common imitation, and as much fitted for the general direction of mankind, in all forts of virtue and goodness, as any one fingle example can be imagined to be.
The virtues of his life are pure, without any mixture of infirmity and imperfection. He had humility without meannefs of fpirit; innocency without weaknefs, wisdom without cunning; and conftancy and refolution in that which was good, without stiffness of conceit, and peremptorinefs of humour: in a word, hist virtues were shining without vanity, heroical without any thing of tranfport, and very extraordinary without being in the least extravagant.
His life was even and of one tenour, quiet and without noise and tumult, always employed about the fame work, in doing the things which pleafed God, and were of greatest benefit and advantage to men. Who would not write after fuch a copy; fo perfect, and yet so familiar, and fit for our imitation ? Who would not be ambitious to live the life which God lived, when he was pleased to become man and dwell among us?
We are ambitious to imitate those whom we esteem, and are apt to have their example in great dearness and regard, from whom we have received great kindness and mighty benefits. This pattern, which our religion propofeth to us, is the example of one whom we ought to reverence, and whom we have reafon to love above any perfon in the world; it is the example of our Lord and Mafter, of our Sovereign and our Saviour, of the founder of our religion, and of the author and finisher of our faith; it is an example that carries authority with it, and commands our imitation. You call me Lord and Mafter, fays he himself, recommending to us the example of his own humility, John xiii. 13, 14. You call me Lord and Mafter, and ye fay well; for fo I am. If I then your Lord and Mafter have washed your feet, ye ought alfo to wash one another's feet, that is, ftoop to the lowest and meanest office to ferve one an
other; for I have given you an example, that ye should 100 do as I have done to you.
Yet farther, it is the example of our best friend and greatest benefactor, of him who laid down his life for us, and fealed his love to us with his own blood: and while we were bitter enemies to him, did and fuffered more for us, than any man ever did for his dearett friend. How powerfully muft fuch a pattern recommend goodness, and kindnefs, and compaffion to us, who have had fo much comfort and advantage from them? Had not the Son of God commiferated our cafe, and pitied and relieved us in our low and wretched condition, we had been extremely and for ever miferable, beyond all imagination. and past all remedy. All the kindnefs and compaffion, all the mercy and forgiveness he would have us practife towards one another, he himfelf first exercifed upon us; and furely we have a much greater obligation upon us to the practice of thefe virtues than he had. For he did all this for our fakes; we do it for our own. We have a natural obligation, both in point of duty and intereft: his was voluntary, and what he took upon himself, that he might at once be a Saviour and an example to us. He S that commands us to do good to others, was our great benefactor; he that requires us to forgive our enemies, fhed his own blood for the forgiveness of our fins; while we were enemies to him, laid down his life for us, making himself the example of that goodness, which he commands to us to fhew to others.
Are any of us reduced to poverty and want? let us think of him, who being Lord of all, had not where to lay his head; who being rich, for our fakes became a beggar, that we through his poverty might be made rich. Are we perfecuted for righteoufnefs fake, and exercised with fufferings and reproaches? Let us run with patience the race which is fet before us, looking unto Jefus, the author and finifher of our faith; who, for the joy that was fet before him, endured the cross, defpifing the flame.
When we are ready to be difcouraged in well-doing, by the oppofition we meet withal from the ingratitude of men, and the malicious interpretation of our good actions, perverting the best things, dene with the beft