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SERM.ties of men, and fitced for general direction and imi-
CXCI. tation of all sorts of virtue and goodness ; such vir-

tues as are the greatest and most substantial, the most
rare and unusual, the most useful and beneficial to
others, the most hard and difficult to be practised,
and for the exercise whereof, there is the greatest and
most frequent occasion in humane life. There remains
now only to be spoken to, the
. V. And last advantage, which I mentioned of our
Lord's example, that it is in the nature of it, very
powerful to engage and oblige all men to the imita-
tion of it. But before I enter upon this, I propofed
to clear what hath been already said concerning our
Lord's example, from three or four obvious ob-
jections.

The first objection is, that a great part of our SAVIOU R's life consisted of miraculous actions, wherein we cannot imitate him.

This is very true; and for that very reason, be. caufe we cannot imitate him herein, we are not obliged to do it : but we may imitate the compassion and charity which he shewed in his miracles, by such ways and in such effects, as are within the compass of our power. We are not “ anointed, as he " was, with the Holy Ghost, and with power, " to heal all manner of sickness and disease :” but we may “ go about doing good,” as he did, fo far as we have ability and opportunity; we may comfort those in their sickne's and distress, whom we are not able in a miraculous manner to recover and relieve; and in difeases tliat are curable, we may help the poorer at the expence of our charity, and do that by nower and ordinary means, which our SAVIOur did by a word in an instant.

Secondly,

XCI.

Secondly, against the universality of our SA-SERM. VIOUR's example, it is objected, that he hath given, C> us no pattern of some conditions and relations of life, for which there seems to have been as great need and ! reason, as for any other.

To this I answer, that though his single state of , life did hinder him from being formally an example as to some of the most common relations, as of a father, and a husband; yet he was virtually so in the principle and practice of universal charity, which principle, if it be truly rooted in us, will sufficiently guide and direct us in the duties of particular relations.

And whereas it is further objected, that he hath left us no example of that, which by many is esteemed the only religious state of life, viz. perfect retirement from the world, for the more devour serving of God, and freeing us from the temptations of the world, such as is that of monks and hermits; this perhaps may seem to some a great oversight and omisfion: but our Lord in great wisdom thought fit to give a pattern of a quite different sort of life, which was, not to fly the conversation of men, and to live in a monastery or a wilderness; but to do good among men, to live in the world with great freedom, and with great innocency. He did indeed sometimes retire himself, for the more free and private exercise of devotion; as we ought to do : but he pass’d his life chiefly in the conversation of men, that they might have all the benefit that was possible, of his instruction and example. We read that “ he was “ carried into the wilderness to be tempted;” but not that he lived there, to avoid temptation. He hath given us an example of denying the world, without

leaving

M

3

SER M. leaving it; and of renouncing not only the pomp
CXCI. and vanity, but even the lawful enjoyments and con- die

veniencies of life, when it may serve to any good
end, either of glory to God, or of advantage to
men; teaching us hereby, that charity is a duty, no
less necessary than devotion ; that we cannot ferve
God better, than by endeavouring the good and
happiness of men. So that if our Saviour's'ex-
ample be of authority with us, that will soon decide
which is the most perfect state of life, to go out of
the world, or to live innocently and usefully in it.
And since neither our Saviour, nor his apostles,
have recommended it to us, by their example, nor by
one word of precept or counsel tending that way, it
seems very plain, that they did not esteem monkery
the most perfect, much less the only religious state
of life. There could not have been so deep a fi
tuation throughout the new testament concerning so
important a piece of religion, as the church of
Rome would bear us in hand this is : for to be pro-
fess’d of some monastical order they call “ entering
6c into religion," and they speak of it, as the most
direct and ready way to heaven ; and not only so, but
they give fair encouragement to believe, that to die,
or be buried in a monk's habit, will go a great way,
(they are loth to tell us how far), in the carrying of a **
bad man towards heaven, or at least to the abatement
of his pain in purgatory.

Thirdly, it is objected, that some particulars of our Saviour's carriage towards rulers and magistrates seem liable to exception, and not proper for our imitation; as his bold and free reproofs of the Scribes and Pharisees, many of whom were chief rulers, and of greatest authority among them; and

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his message to Herod, “ go and tell that fox.” SERM. This opprobrious and reproachful treatment of ma. CXCI. gistrates, seems directly contrary to an express law of God, Exod. xxii. 28. “ Thou shalt not revile the “ gods, or judges, nor speak evil of the ruler of thy “ people.” .

But to this the answer is plain, that our LORD used this freedom by the virtue and privilege of his prophetical office, and of his immediate commission from God; it being the office of prophets, and a part of their commiffion, to reprove kings and rulers with all freedom and plainness, because they were really superior to them in the execution of that office. In all positive laws of respect to superiors, there is an exception of the divine commission; be cause in that case, the prophet speaks in the name, and by the authority of one infinitely greater than the greateft upon earth; as in the Lord's name, and by his commission, any man may check inferior magiftrates, and that in such a manner as would be rudeness and insolence for any other not so warranted, to do it. And of this there are manifold examples in the prophets of the old testament; and what the tenour of their commission was, we may see in that given to the prophet Jeremiah, chap. i. ver. 10. “ Behold, I have set thee over the nations, and 6 over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull up, “ and to destroy, and to throw down, to build and " to plant,” (that is, to denounce judgment and calamities, or peace and prosperity to them) and ver. 17, 18. “ Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and “ arise, and speak unto them all that I command “ thee; be not dismayed at their faces, lest I con“ found thee before them. For behold I have made M 4

" thee

SERM.“ thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, bir
CXCI.. " and brasen walls against the whole land, against the

“ the kings of Judah, against the princes thereof, 5
« against the priests thereof, and against the people
“ of the land." This commission set him above
them all in the discharge of his office: and therefore
what our Lord did in this kind, by virtue of an
extraordinary commission, and the privilege of a :
prophet immediately sent by God, is not to be 3
drawn into example in ordinary cases; for we may
do that by special commission from God, which the
ordinary rules of duty and respect to princes and go-
vernors will by no means allow to be done.

The fourth and last objection is, that our blessed
Saviour does not seem to bear himself with that?
duty and respect towards his mother, which that re-
lation seems to require. And to speak according to
the first appearance of things, this seems to be, of
all other, the most exceptionable part of his life, and
to require some particular and extraordinary reason,
not so obvious at first sight, for the vindication of it.

There are, to my best remembrance and observa-se tion, but five passages, in the history of our Saviour's life, concerning his carriage towards his mother, and his discourse with her, and of her; in all which he seems rather to treat her with some appearance of neglect, than with any great shew of reve. rence and respect. Nor that we are to imagine, but that he did pay her an entire duty; for we know that “ he fulfilled all righteousness :" but for reasons best known to his infinite wisdom, he thought fit very much to conceal it in his publick behaviour, S and to have as little notice taken of it in the history of his life.

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