« PreviousContinue »
dation, and apt to inspire us with good resolutions, to endeavour after that in ourselves, which we fo much esteem and admire in others. And such is the example of our Lord, perfect as is poflible, and yet obvious to common imitation, and as much fitted for the general direction of mankind, in all sorts of virtue, and goodness, as any one single example can be imagined to be.
The virtues of his life are pure, without any mixture of infirmity and imperfection. He had humility without meanness of spirit ; innocency without weakness, wisdom without cunning; and constancy and refolution in that whieh was good, withoạt stiffness of conceit, and peremptoriness of bumour: in a word, his yirtues were thining without vanity, heroical without any thing of transport, and very extraordinary without being in the least extravagant. His life was
even apd of one tepour, quiet and without noise and tumult, always employed about the same work, in doing the things which pleased God, and were of greatest benefit and advantage to men. Who would not write after such a copy; so 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 proposeth to us, is the example of one whom we ought «to reverence, and whom we have reafon to love above any person in the world; it is the example of our Lord and Master, of our Sovereign and our Saviour, of the founder of our religion, and of the authur and finisher of our faith; it is an example that carries authority with it, and commands our initation. You call me Lord and Master, says he himself, recommending to us the example of his own humility, John xiii. 13, 14. You call me Lord and Master, and se fay well; for so I am. If I then your Lord and Jer have washed your feet, ye ought also to wash one another's feet, that is, Atoop to the lowest and meanest office to serve one an
other; for I have given you an example, that ye should 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 sealed his love to us with his own blood : and while we were bitter enemies to him, did and suffered more for us, than any man ever did for his dearett friend. How powerfully must such a pattern recommend goodness, and kindness, and compaflion to us, who have had so mach comfort and advantage from them? Had not the Son of God commiferated our case, and pitied and relieved us in our low and wretched con-. dition, we had been extremely and for ever miserable, beyond all imagination. and paft all remedy. All the kindness and compassion, all the mercy and forgiveness he would have us practise towards one another, he himself firft exercised upon us; and surely we have a much greater obligation upon us to the practice of these virtues than he had. For he did all this for our fakes; we do it for our own. We have a natural oblie gation, both in point of duty and interest : his was voluntary, and what he took upon himself, that he might at once be a Saviour and an example to us.
He that commands us to do good to others, was our great benefactor; he that requires us to forgive our enemies, fed 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 shew 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 beg. gar, that we through his poverty might be made rich. Are we perfecuted for righteousness fake, and exercised with sufferings and reproaches ? Let us run with patience the race which is set before us, looking unto Jefus, the author and finisher of our faith; who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the crofs, despising the same.
When we are ready to be discouraged in well-doing, by the opposition we meet withal from the ingratitude of men, and tlie malicious interpretation of our good actions, perverting the beat things, dene with the beft
mind and to the best ends, to some ill purpose and design, consider him who endured such contradiction of finners against himself, left you be weary and faint in your minds.
Can we be proud, when the Son of God humbled himself, and became of no reputation; emptied hinaself of all his glory, and was contented to be despised and rejected of men ? Shall we be covetous, and thirst after the things of this world, when we consider how the Son of God despised them, and trampled upon them Shall we concemn and despise the poor; nay, can we chuse but esteem them for his fake, whom they resemble, and whose low and indigent condition in the world hath made poverty, not only tolerable, but glorious ? Can we be peevish and froward, and apt to fly out into passion upon every little occasion, when we consider the meekness of the Son of God, and with what serenity and evenness of mind he demeaned himself under great and continual provocations ? Shall we be discontented in any condition, when we conlider how contented the Son of God was in the meanest and most destitute condition ; how he welcomed all events, and was so perfectly resigned to the will of his heavenly Father, that whatsoever pleased God, pleased him ? Shall we be so ready to separate from the communion of the church of God, upon pretence of something that we think amiss, or less pure and perfect, (which will always be in this world) when the Son of God lived and died in the communion of a church guilty of great corruptions both in doctrine and practice, such as can with no colour be objected to ours ?
Shall we resent injuries, Nanders and calumnies so heinoully, as to be out of all patience, when we consider with what meekness of temper, and how little disturbance of mind the Son of God bore all these? How he gave his back to the fmiters, and his cheeks to them that plucked off the hair, and withheld not his face from shame and spitting? How he was led as a lamb to the Naughter, and as the seep before the shearer is dumb, so he opened not his mouth; being reviled, he reviled not again ; when he suffered, he threatned not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously ? Such vile and bar. barous usage the Son of God met withal; and yet un.
der all this, he possessed his soul in patience : and do we expect to be better treated than he was ? Was goodness itself contented to be traduced, and evil spoken of, perfect innocence to be flandered and persecuted ; and shall we, who are finners, great finners, think ourselves worthy to escape these things, and too good to have that done to us, which was done to one infinitely better than we are? It is our Lord's argument, and there is great weight and reason in it; if the world hate you, ye know, that it hated me, before it hated you. Renueniber the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than the lord. If they have perfecuted me, they will also perfecute
you ; it is enough for the disciple, that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord: if they have calle! the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more mall they call them of the houshold? Can we entertain thoughts of revenge, when we have
of forgiving before us, who poured out h's blood for the expiation of the guilt of them that shed it, and spent his last breath in fervent and charitable prayers for his betrayers and murderers ? Lord, endow us with the like temper ; but do not try us with the like sufferings.
Thus, by setting the example of our Lord' before us, and keeping this pattern always in our eye, we may continually correct all our own errors and defects, all the diItempers of our minds, and the faults and irregularities of our lives ; we may argue ourselves into all kind of virtue and goodness, and from such an example be strongly excited, and sweetly led to the practice of it.
Let us not be discouraged by the consideration of our own weakness, for he who hath given us such an example of virtue, is ready likewise to give us his Holy Spirit, tu aslift and enable us to conform ourselves to this pattern of our Lord and Master, and to follow the blessed Iteps of his holy life.
such a pattern
Now the God of peace, &c.
SER MON CXCII.
The sufferings of Christ considered, as a proper
means of our salvation.
Preached on Good Friday.
I Cor. i. 23, 24.
But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a fum.
bling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness ; but unto them which are called, both Jerus and Greeks, Chrift tbe power of God, and the wisdom of God.
HE sufferings of the Son of God for the fins of
nen, as they are a subject never improper to be
'infifted on; so are they more especially seasonable at this time, which the Christian church hath, for so many agés, fet apart for the folemn commemoration of them, in order to our more due preparation for the receiving of the facrament at Easter; which, next after the Lord's day (which was fet apart by the Apostles for a weekly commemoration of our Saviour's resurrection) is the first and most folemn festival that is taken notice of in ecclesiastical antiquity, to be generally observed by ChriItians; at which time all Christians that were admitted to those sacred mysteries, did receive the holy sacrament ; and for this reason I have pitched upon this subject at this time.
Among all the prejudices that were raised against the Christian religion, when it first appeared in the world, this was the greatest of all other, that the first author of this doctrine should come to so miserable and fhameful an end, as to die upon the cross ; that the Son of God Thould be delivered into the hands of men, to be fo cruelly and ignominiously handled. This both Jews and Greeks laid hold on, as the most popular objection against