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SERM. “ thank worthy, if a man for conscience toward CLXXXIX. “ God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For
“ what glory is it, if when ye be buffetted for 65 your faults, ye shall take it patiently ? but if ss when yę do well, and suffer for it, ye take it « patiently; this is acceptable with God. For even “ hereunto were ye called : because CHRIST also « suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye “ should follow his steps.”
But though the example of our SAVIOUR be here propounded to us upon a particular occasion, and with a more especial regard to the particular virtue of patience under unjuft sufferings, which did fo eminently appear in our blessed SAVIOUR, the most meek and patient endurer that ever was, of the greatest and most wrongful sufferings ; yet the apostle does not limit this great pattern of all righteousness to the single virtue of patience, but propounds it to us, as an example of universal holiness and goodness; for fo he extends it in the next words, “ leaving us an example, that ye should follow his " Iteps, who did no sin, neither was guile found in « his mouth."
In this latitude and extent I shall discourse of it at this time, and that under these following heads;
1. That his life is a most absolute and perfect pattern.
II. That it is a very easy and familiar example. : III. Very encouraging to the imitation of it.
IV. An universal pattern fitted for the imitation of all sorts of persons, of what rank or condition foever.
V. In the nature of it very powerful to engage and oblige men to the imitation of it.
. 1. The 1. The life of our blessed SAVIOUR is a most SERM, absolute and perfect pattern of holiness and goodness, CLXXX complete and entire in all its parts, and perfect to the utmost degree, in the following whereof there is no danger of being misguided, no fear of miscarriage: whereas all other examples of mortal men are fallible and uncertain guides, which if we follow too closely, will sometime or other mislead us. In the lives of the best men recorded in fcripture, we may discern some spot and blemish, some error and oversight, fome fall or Nip; fo that the lives of the hoe lieft men are no sure rule, no perfect measure of our duty, and are therefore to be imitated with great wisdom and wariness, left we follow all their actions indifferently and implicitly, in confidence they are good, because they are theirs, we may fall into great errors and failings; and therefore in following the lives and examples of the best men, we must have an eye to the rule, and by that judge of the example which we propose to imitate ; otherwise we may easily be seduced by the authority of a great example.
But the example of our LORD is a living law and rule, his precepts and pattern are of equal perfection, and the imitation of his life and actions, is the very same thing with obedience to his laws, For the life of our blessed SAVIOU R here on earth, is the life of God in the nature and likeness of man ; he was God as well as man, and the divine nature is certainly the pattern of all perfection. As he was the Son of GOD, he was “the brightness of his “ FATHER's glory, and the expreis image and " character of his person;" and as he was the Son of man, though he had natural frailties and infirmia
SERM. ties, and was subject to hunger and thirst, weariness
; and pain, like other men; yet he had all the moral
And this is no small advantage to mankind, to have fo excellent a pattern of the same nature with ourselves to imitate, so perfect a copy to write after. For whoever would excel in any kind, must (as Quintilian says) optima quæque exempla ad imitandum proponere, “ propose to himself the highest and “ most perfect examples of that kind for his imitation;" and the example of our blesed SaviOUR is unquestionably such a perfect pattern of all goodness and virtue, to the perfection whereof though we can never attain, yet it is a great advantage to have it always before us, and in our eye, that we may correct the errors and deformities of our lives, by the unspotted purity, and perfect innocency of
his life, and that we may be always aspiring after SERM. farther degrees of goodness ; for surely we can no
CLXXXIX. way better learn how God would have men to live in this world, than by seeing how God himself lived, when he was pleased to become man, to assume our nature, and dwell among us.
II. As the life of our blessed SAVIOUR is a most perfect, fo likewise it is a familiar and easy example. The divine nature is the great pattern of perfection : but that is too remote from us, and above our sight; “ no man hath feen God at any “ time, nor can see him ;” and though his perfections are represented to our minds in some degree, yet they are not so glorious and dazzling an object, that we cannot bear to behold them with that stedfastness, with which we ought to eye our pattern; and therefore God hath been pleased to condescend so far to our weakness, as to give us a visible example of those virtues he requires of us, in “ his own " Son, appearing in the likeness of sinful Aesh ; " and the Son of God is an example of equal perfection with God himself, but much inore easy and familiar, and level to us, in which we may see the several virtues of a good life practised in such in. Atances, and upon such occasions, as do frequently happen in humane life. .
Nothing was ever more simple and open, more obvious, and easy to common imitation, than the life of our blessed SAVIOUR, in which there was nothing dark and mysterious, abstruse and intricate; it was all perfect innocency and goodness, and he carried on one plain, and intelligible, and uniforin design, which was to do all the good he possibly could to all men: this he pursued with all his might,
SERM. with the greatest vigour and industry, with an un *****; daunted courage and resolution, with an unwearied
diligence, with a constant chearfulness and ferenity of mind; this was “his meat and drink,” his great business and delight, his life and his happiness; he was not superciliously morose, had no affected fingularities, no peculiar austerities in habit or diet, different' from the common ufage of men : his conversation was kind and innocent, free and familiar, open and indifferent to all sorts of persons; for he was a physician, and every body had need of him, all mankind were his patients. He did not place religion (as fome have done since) in retirement from the world, and shunning the conversation of men, and taking great care to do no body good : not in profound mysteries and fine speculations, but in the plain and honest practice of the solid and subftantial virtues of a good life ; in meekness and humility, in kindnefs and charity, in contentedness in a low and mean condition, and a calm composure of mind under all accidents and events, in patience under the greatest reproaches and fufferings, and a perfect submiffion to the will of God in all his dispensations, how harsh and unpleasant foever.
Now there is nothing in all this, but what lies open to every man's understanding, and is easy to our practice and imitation, requiring nothing but an honeft mind, and due care and diligence to do what we may easily know, to follow our guide in a plain way, and in all the actions of our lives, to tread in those steps in which the Son of God, and the best inan that ever was, hath gone before us.
III. The life of our blessed SAVIOUR is likewise an encouraging example. It cannot but give