« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
SERM.“ world, I ever talight in the synagogue, and in the
,“ temple, whither the Jews always resort, and in fe“ cret have I said nothing.” And this is no common virtue, and therefore our SAVIOUR gave it as a singular commendation to Nathanael, John i. 47. “ Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no « guile.” Perfect sincerity is a great foundation of goodness; it is foundness at the heart, and, like pera fect health, seldom to be seen ; there is hardly any 'thing wherein men, otherwise good and virtuous, do oftner trip and falter,
Another virtue, which is not very usual, was eminent in our SAVIOUR, I mean true humility, without affectation and secret pride lurking under it. This appeared very remarkable, and very natural in his whole life, which was all of it the greateft instance of humility that ever was, and therefore with great afsurance he propounds himself to our imitation in this, Matth. xi. 29. “ Take my yoke upon you, and learn " of me: for I am meek and lowly in fpirit.” And St. Paul sets this virtue before us, as being the con. ftant teniper of our LORD, and visible 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 as which was also in CHRIST JESUS, who being cc in the form of God, thought it no robbery to be « equal with God, but made himself of no reputa« tion (he emptied himself of all his majesty and • glory) and took upon him the forın 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 cross.” Here was humility indeed, from so
great great a height to stoop so low, from the top of glory SERM.
: CLXXXIX. and majesty, to the lowest pitch of meanness and mi-a fery. Here's a patter for us ; and how should it shame 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 as 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 not how to be humble. Let the example of our Lord's humility bring down the haughtiness of men, and when we consider how he abased himself, let us " be vile in our own eyes, and abhor ourselves “ in duft and alhes.”
And then his contempt of the world, and the enjoyments 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. 6. 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 over-prize them, not to seek them too earnestly, nor love them inordinately. That he despised them, should keep us from admiring them, and doting 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 en
SERM. joyments of this world, should make us value them
only in order to that end. . And then his excessive 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. 66 but herein God commended his love to us, in that “ whilst we were sinners, Christ died for us.” And this pattern of love our SAVIOUR propounds to our imitation, John xv. 12, 13. « This is my ob coinmandment, that ye love one another, as I have “ loved you. Greater love than this hath no man, 6 that a man lay down his life for his friend.” The highest pitch of humane friendship that ever was, was « to die for a friend :" but our Lord died not for his friends, but for his enemies, that he might make them his friends, by gaining them to the obedience of his laws : “ ye are my friends, if you do whatso, “ ever I command you.” The same pattern the apoftles of our LORD propound to us, Eph. v. 2. “ Walk in love, as CHRIST also hath loved us, « and given himself for us." 1 John iii. 16. “ Here« by perceive we the love of God, because he laid s down his life for us ; and we also ought to lay « down our lives for the brethren." Here is a pattern of the highest and most unusual kind of love proposed to our imitation; not that every man, by virtue of this example, is to lay down his life for another, because that is not practicable; for then by the fame reason that I am obliged to lay down my life for ano, ther, he would be as much obliged to lay down his life for me; and so by my dying for him, I should hinder him of doing a duty to which he was equally
obliged, and take it out of his hands: but the mean- SERM. ing of this precept is, that as Christ died for a ci common good, so we ought to bear that common affection to mankind, and especially to our brethren, who are endeared to us by a nearer relation, as in imitation of the exam ple he hath given us, to be ready by our single life, if there be occasion, to redeem the lives of many of our brethren, and to expose ourselves to save them. This I conceive is all that can reasonably be collected from our obligation to imitate our Lord's example.
3. The life of our blessed Saviour is likewise a pattern of such virtues, as are most useful and beneficial to others.
In his readiness to do good to all persons in all kinds ; by instructing their ignorance, and supplying their wants, spiritual and temporal ; by resolving their doubts, and comforting them in their sorrows; by healing their diseases and infirmities, which he indeed did in extraordinary and miraculous ways, because he was destitute of ordinary means; and we are to do it by ordinary means, and such as are in our power, which when they are, there is no need of miracles. And then in his seeking occasions and opportunities for it, not content with those that offer'd themselves, but enquiring after them; and in his unwearied diligence in this work ; for so he went about doing “ good,” spent whole days from morning to night, for the service and benefit of others; neglected himself, and the ordinary refreshments of nature, out of his great zeal “ to work the work of him that sent “ him,” to bring glory to God, and good to men,
And in the delight he took in this employment, it was “ his meat and drink” to be doing of it; he K 4
SERM.esteemed it his happiness, yea, a greater felicity to con CLXXXIX: fer benefits upon others, than any man finds in re
ceiving the greatest benefit from others : for that it feems was a noted saying of his, a kind of motto with him, as St. Paul testifies, Afts xx, 35. “ It is « more bleffed to give than to receive." - And in all this, he persisted in despite of the greatest discouragements from the ingratitude and malice of men, who maligned him for his kindness, and put an ill construction upon his most charitable actions, and were ready " to stone him for his good works :" but this did not discourage him, and take him off; fo he might do good, he was contented to hear and suffer ill:
And then in his condescension to others, and consideration of their weakness, and complying with them in lawful and indifferent things, for their edification, and to gain them in greater matters ; this St. Paul tells us, was our Lord's temper, and he urgeth christians with the example of it, Rom. xv. 1, 2, 3. “ We then that are strong, ought to beat " the infirmities of the weak, and not to please our “ felves.. Let every one of us please his neighbour 6 for his good to edification : for even CHRIST “ pleased not himself.” Where we have liberty and can yield, we ought to abate of our own humour, for the good and edification of others; and not peevishly and stify to infift upon leffer things, to the hindrance of a greater good; « for even CHRIST “ pleased not himself.” He who had all authority to command, and right to be obeyed, and who could not err in any thing ; yet he condescended to the weakness and infirmities of others, and in all indifferent things did not consult his own inclination, but their interest and edification.