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great life to all good resolutions and endeavours, to SERM. fee all that which God requires of us performed by
CLXXX*X. one in our nature, by a man like ourselves. Our SAVIour indeed had many advantages above us, being GOD as well as man, and his humanity being supported by the divine nature to which it was united, being clear from all the ill effects of original sin, and from all kind of vicious and inordinate inclination : but then it is a great encouragement to us, to consider that God doth not require at our hands a perfect and unfinning obedience, as the condition of our salvation and happiness; but only such an obedience to his laws, as is Gincere, and continually afpiring after greater perfection, which is very possible to us by the grace of CHRIST, even in this imperfect ftate ; that GOD considers our weakness, and how much we stand in need of his grace and assistance, and hath assured us that it shall not be wanting to us, if we heartily and earnestly beg it of him; and that strength which we may have for asking, is as good as if it were our own. If CHRIST were the Son of God; so are we in a lower degree, by grace and adoption : and as if we be the sons of God, the SPIRIT of “ God dwells in us,” to quicken and raise us to newness of life. And he that hath left us such an example, on purpose that we might follow it, will not surely leave us deftitute of power to enable us. to do so. It is a good argument to us, that he will enable us to do that in some degree in our own perfons, which he himself did for our example in our nature.
An example more suitable to our weakness might bem to have had more encouragement in it : but We are to consider that the Son of God assured
SERM. our nature, as compassed with infirmities, and liable CLXXXIX. « to be tempted in all things as we are, only with
« out sin;" so that his example could not posfibly have come nearer to us than it does, without great disadvantage to us, without wanting that perfection which is necessary to a complete and absolute pattern. In short, the SPIRIT of CHRIST dwells in us, and the same SPIRIT 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 our justification,
IV. It is an universal pattern. As the doctrine of our SAVIOUR, fo 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 capacities of men, and fitted for general direction and imitation in all sorts of goodness and virtue, either in the general 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 person, the greatest 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 hardest circumstances that
the providence of God shall see good to place SERM. them in.
CLXXXIX, He had the deepest and most comprehenfive knowledge; “ in him," as the apostle expresseth 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 abftrufe speculations and sublime mysteries, but in a way of plain and familiar instruction declared to his hearers those things which were most useful and necessary for them to know. He confused 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 nearest capacity : giving herein an example to the wise 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 condefcend and stoop to them for 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 be converfed with others, and mingled himself with all forts 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 men, and it was really true which was objected to him, that “ he was a friend 56 of publicans and sinners,” being sincerely desirous to do them the greatest kindness in the world, to reform their manners, and reclaim them to a better course ; fo that he was a pattern both of the contemplative and active life, and shews us how to mix Vol. X.
SER M. these to the greatest advantage; and by his own exCLXX xix.
: ample teacheth us that we cannot 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 fpiritual 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.
5. Of such virtues as are most needful; and for the practice of which, there is the greatest and most frequent occasion in humane life.
1. It is a pattern of the greatest and most subftan. tial virtues.
Of a fervent piety and devotion toward God. We read, that he often retired to pray, and some: times 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 prac
tice; from worldly objects and occurrences, he would · take occasion to raise some 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 come to do thy will, . 1
: “O my
" O my God.” He speaks of it with pleasure ; and SERM. « he delighted to do it,” he declined the will of CLXXXIX: God in no instance, how difficult and displeasing soever to flesh and blood.
The perfect purity and innocency of his life: he " was a lamb without spot or blemish,” i Pet. i. 19. “ He did no sin." Chap. ii. 21. “ Leaving us herein “ an example,” that though we cannot keep equal pace with him, yet“ we lhould follow his Iteps." “ He was holy, harmless, undefiled, 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 substancial 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 virtues.
Such was his sincerity ; “ 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 alked him of his disciples, and of his doctrine, John xviii. 19. he wonder'd at the question : “ why askelt thou me?' u ask them that heard me. I fpake openly to the