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God, and of yourselves, gives rise and being to this sin: They that know God will be humble, Isa. vi. 5. And they that know themselves cannot be proud, Rom. vii. 9.
Secondly, Consider the mischievous efsects it produces: it estrangeth the foul from God, Psal. cxxxviii. 6. It provokes God to lay you low, Job xl. 1 r, 12, It goes before destruction, and a dreadsul sall, Prov. x. 18.
Thirdly, As it is a great jin, so it is a bad sign, Hab. ii. 4. "Behold his heart which is lifted up, is not upright in him." .
Fourthly, How unsuitable it is to the sense you have, and the complaints you make of your own corruptions, and spiritual wants; and, above all, how contrary it is to your pattern and example: Did Christ speak, act, or think -as you do? O learn humility from Jesus Christ; it will make you precious in the eyes of God, Isa. Ivii. 15.- ,
Pattern 8. The contentation of Christ, in a low and mean condition in the world, is an excellent pattern for his people's imitation. His lot, in this world, sell upon a condition of deepest poverty, and contempt: Yet how well was he satisfied, and contented with it! hear him expressing himself about it, Psal. xvi. 6. " The lines are sallen unto me in pleasant places; "yea, I have a goodly heritage." The contentation of his heart with a sufsering condition, evidenced itself in his silence, under the greatest sufserings, Isa. liii. 7. "He was oppressed, and he "was afflicted: yet he opened not his mouth: He is brought "as a lamb to the staughter, and as a sheep before the shearers "is dumb, so he opened not his mouth." O that in this also the poorest Christians would imitate their Saviour, and learn to manage an afflicted condition with a contented spirit: Let there be no murmurs, complaints, or foolish charges of God heard from you, whatever straits, or troubles he brings you into: For,
First, The meanest, and most) afflicted Christian is owner of many rich, invaluable mercies, Eph. i. 3. 1 Cor. iii. 33. Is fin pardoned, and God reconciled? then never open your mouths any more, Ezek. xvi. 63. .
Secondly, You have many precious promises, that God will not forsake you in your straits, Heb. xiii. 5. Isa. xli. 17. And your whole lise hath been a lise of experiences of the saithfulness of God in his promises. Which of you cannot say with the. church, Lam. iii. 23. "His mercies are new-eyery mornipg, and "great is his saithfulness."; . '<
Thirdly, How useful and bencfkial are all vour asflictions fa you! They purge your sins, prevent your te-mptations, vweaa you from the world, and turn to your salvation: and How uar. reasonable then must your discontentednefs at them be?
Fourthly, The time of your relief and full deliverance from. all yoar troubles is at hand; the time is but short that you sliail have any concernment about these things, 1 Cor. vii. 29. If tbe. candle of your earthly comfort be blown out, yet remember it ia but a little while to the break of day, and then there will be no Deed of candles. Besides,
Fifthly, Your lot salls by divino direction, upon you, and a$ bad as it is, it is much easier and sweeter than, the condition of (Sbrist in this world was: Yet he was contented, and why not you? O that we could learn contentment from Christ in every condition. And thus I have laid before you some excellent pat. terns in the lise of Christ, for your imitation.
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^ Jotf xi. 6. Ht that faith he abideth in him, ought himself alfajp to walk, even as he -walked.
THESE words having been resolved into their parts, and their fense opened in the former sermon: The observayation was this;"''
That every nifln.it bound to the imitation of Christ, under penalty of forseiting his claim to Christ.
In prosecution of thia point, we have already fhewn what the imitation of Christ imports, and what the imitable excellencies in tho life of Christ "are: It now remains that I shew you, in the next places why all that prosess Christ, are bound to imitate his example, and then apply the whole. Now the necessity of this imitation of Christ, will convincingly, appear divers ways.
First, From the established order of Salvatioo, which is fixed and unalterable: God that hath appointed the end, hath also established the means and order by which H*en shall attain the ultimate end. Now conformity to Christ is the established me^ thod in which God will bring souls to glory, Rom. viii. 29. "For- whom he did foreknow, he also d^d predestinate, to be con"formed to the image of his Son; thathe might be the first-born •* among many brethren." The same God who hath predestinamen (0 ialvation, hath, in order thereunto, predestinated thitn^ up.tq conformity tQ Christ, and. this Qrder of heaven is, never, tp b« reverted; we may as well. hope. tp be. Caved without Christ, as tft be saved without coofp.nrii,ty tq Christ.
, fccawily, The mature of Christ-mystical requires, this, conformity, a&d renders it indilpensably necessary. Otbtrwile, the £pdv ©f Christ must he heterogeneous.; of a nature different, trona, ?he,«el9.d.; smdhqw mpBstrQus, and uacomely,. woujd this.bei This Wqmw represent C.hrjst to. the. wprld, i& a? image, ot; id/a, much like that, Dan. ii. 33, 33. "The head of fine gold, the ?' breast and arms of silver, the thighs pf brass* the legs of iron, V„*feefeet part of iron, and part of clay," Christ, the head, is cpre aud, holy, and theresoi every urtfuitableto.seniual, aud eastbr b ^embers. And therefore the appstle, in h^ description, ojf Vbrist-myjsrical, describes the members of Christ (as they ought to be) of the fame nature, aud quality with the head, 3 Cor. x v. 48, 4.9- "As is the heavenly, such ar* they also that are fieas' Tfeuiy; and as we have born the image of the earthy, fp we. *' (bail also beaj the image of the heavenly." That image, or re.-, semblance ojf Christ, w,hjc.h, sha.ll be, cpmplete, and. persect, aftee the resurrection, must be- begun, in, its, first draught here, by the, Wprk qf regeneration.
! Zhifdljr, This, resemblance, and conformity tp Christ, appears necessary from the communion, which all believers have with Christ, in the fame spirit of grace, and holiness,. Believers are, Cajled Christ's seilows, or copartners, fsal.xlv. 7. from their participation with him of the falme spirit; as it U » Thef. iv. ft. pod giveth the lame spiiit unto us, which he more plentifully ppurep aitf upon Christ. Now where the fame spirit, and principle is, there the fame fruits, and Qperations must be produced, according tp the proportions,, and measures of the spirit of grace, Sqmmunicated; and this reason i*, farther enforced, by the very design, and end pf God, in the infusion, of the Spirit of grace? for it is. plain, from £zek. xxxvi. 27- that practical holiness, and; qbedience, is the scope, and design, of that infusion of the Spirit. The very innate property of. the Spirit of God, in mer^ is tQ elevate their minds, and set their affections upon heavenly things, to purge their hearts from earthly dross, and sit them for a lise pf holiness, and obedience: Its nature, also, is assimilating, and ehangeth them, in whom it is, i/ato the fame image with Jtsus Christ, they heavenly head, ?,Cpr.iii. t8.
fyqrtbly, The pecessity of this imitation of Ch,risi roajr he argued, irpm the design, and. end pf Christ's exhibition, to the World, in a body of flelh. For though we detest that doctrine pf the Socinians, which makes the exemplary, life, of Christ to be the whole end of his incarnation; yet we must not run so far from an error, as to lose a precious truth. We say, the satissaction of his blood was a main, and principal end of his incarnation, according to Mat. xx. 28. We affirm, also, that it was a great design, and end of the incarnation of Christ, to set before us a pattern of holiness, for our imitation: For so speaks the apostle, 1 Pet. ii. 21. " He hath left us an example, *' that we should follow his steps." And this example of Christ greatly obliges believers to his imitation. Phil. ii. j. " Let this "mind be in you, v/hich also was in Christ Jesus."
Fifthly, Our imitation of Christ, is one of those great articles which every man is to subscribe, whom Christ will admit into the number of his disciples. Luke xiv. 27. " Whosoever doth "not come after me, cannot be my disciple." And again! John xii. 26. " If any man serve me, let him follow me." To this condition we have submitted, if we be sincere believers; and therefore are strictly bound to the imitation of Christ, not only by God's command, but by their own consent. But if we prosess interest in Christ, when our hearts never consented to follow, and imitate his example; then are we self-deceiving hypocrites, wholly disagreeing from the scripture -character of believers, Rom, viii. 1. They that are Christ's, being there described to be such as walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. And Gal. V. 25. " If we live in the Spirit, let us walk in the Spirit.
Sixthly, The honour of Christ necessitates the conformity of Christians to his example, else what way is there left to stop detracting mouths, and vindicate the name of Christ from the reproaches of the world? How can wisdom be justified of her children, except it be this way? By what means shall we cut off occasion from such as desire occasion, bu t by regulating our lives by Christ's example? The world hath eyes to see what we fratlife,- as well as ears to hear what we profefs: Therefore cither shew the consistency betwixt your prosession, and practice, or you can never hope. to vindicate the name, and honour of the Lord Jesns. The uses follow; for,
1. Information. .
First use, for information. Inser. 1. If all that profess interest in Christ, be stritlly bound to imitate his holy example; then it follows, that religion is very wjustly charged, by the world, with the scandals, and evils of them thai profess it. Nothing can be more unjust and irranV ooal, if we consider.
First, That the Christian religion severely censures loose, and scandalous actions, in all prosessors, and therefore is not to be censured for them. Tis absurd to condemn religion, for what itself condemns: looseness no way flows from the principles of Christianity, but is most opposite, and contrary to it. Tit. ii. it, 12." For the grace of God that bringeth salvation, hath "appeared to all men; teaching us, that denying ungodliness, "and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and "godly, in this present world."
Secondly, It is an argument of the excellency of Christian religion, that even wicked men, themselves, covet the name, and prosession of it, though they ouly cloak, and cover their evils under it. I consess it is a great abuse of such an excellent thing as religion is; but yet, if it had not an awful reverence paid it, by the consciences of all men, it would never be abused to this purpose, by hypocrites, as it is.,
Thirdly, .According to this reasoning, there can be no religion in the world; for name me that religion which is not scandalized by the practices of some that prosess it. So that this practice hath a natural tendency to Atheism, and is, no doubt, encour raged by the devil, for that end.
Inser. 2. If all men forseit their claim ts Christ, who endeavour not to imitate him in the holiness of his life, then how small a number of real Christians are there in the world? Indeed, if liberal talking, without accurate walking; if common prosession, without holy practices, were enough to constitute a Christian; then this quarter of the world would abound with Christians: But if Christ owns none for such, but those that tread in the steps of his example; then the number of real Christians is very small. The generality of men that live undy the Christian name, are such as walk after the flesh, Rom. viii. i. according to the course of this world, they yield their members a* instruments of unrighteousness Unto sin, Rom. vi. 13. Strict godliness is a mere bondage to them; narrow is the way, and sew there be that walk therein.
Inser. 3. What blessed times should we all fee, if true religion did once generally obtain, and .prevail in the world1. How would it humble the proud, meeken the passionate, and spiritualize those that are carnal! The perverse world charges religion with all the tumults, and disturbances that are in it; when as nothing in the world, butreliaion, advanced in the power of it, can heal, and cure these epidemical evils. O if men were once brought under the power of religion, indeed, to walk after Christ in holiness, ' obedience, meekness, and self-denial; no such. miseries as