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duties of religion, and be forward and active in your endeavours to promote it: For, these things you may do, and yet be careless and indisserent in your heart. We are apt to deceive ourselves in this instance, and therefore we have great need to be jealous and watchsul. The inward temper of the foul is sirst to be considered, and then the expressions of it in the life and practice. I asle you, then, Are your hearts divided betwixt God and the world? Do you secretly indulge any sinsul lust or passion? Have you no hearty concern for the glory of God, or the salvation os others? And, provided things go well with yourselves, as to your private worldly concerns, can you live regardless whether religion flourish or decay t It this be the case with you, whatever zeal you may pretend, it is but vain ostentation; and the Searcher of hearts, the insallible Judge of men, will, in the day of his wrath, pronounce you indifferent, and banish you from his presence.
Be persuaded, therefore, ye who are of this indifserent spirit with respect to religion, who care fornone of those things, to hearken and comply with our Saviour's advice to the church of Laodicea; "Be "zealous, and repent (a)." Awake, thou that steepest, arise from the dead, and Christ will give thee both lise and light. Consider how hatesul your indifference is to God, and what aggravated misery and ruin, it will, if persisted in, briug upon yourselves. Bewail, then, your past indifference, and miserable trifling in those things which concern your everlasting peace. Be frequent in prayer to God for the quickening and enlivening influences of the divine Spirit; and, in humble dependence on his promised grace, whatsoever your hand sindeth to do for the glory of God, the good of others, and the salvation os your own precious fouls, do it with alsyour might j for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave, whither vou are hastening.
T 2 - S E R~
(a) Rev. iii. 19.
THE EXAMPLE Of CHRIST, A PERFECT STANDARD FOR THE IMITATION OF CHRISTIANS.
i John ii. 6.
He ilat faith he abidetk in Him, ought himself also ft to -walk, even as He- walked.
WHEN we consider that we are expressly com* manded, in the gospel, to imitate the example of Christ; when we survey the fair and unblemished original itself, and reflect on the peculiar obligations Christians are under to follow it; we may justly be .surprised, that any who pretend to the Christian name, should live in the careless neglect of this plain and important duty. But, surprising as it is, we need only look abroad through the world, and observe the conduct of mankind, to be convinced that, by many who pretend to be his followers, the example of the Son of God, the great Author and Finisher of our faith, is treated with contempt, or regarded with indifference. Of this strange inconsistency between the prosession and practice of Christians, wise and good men, in all ages, have ever complained. But, on what must the blame be laid? On
the the example itself, or on any inability of men to follow it? It is in vain to dissemble the matter; the whole of the blame is justly to be charged on our owh unbelief, or want of consideration. But, whatever may be the cause of this, one thing is certain, and can never be sufficiently lamented, that the unsuitable lives of Christians, their impiety and wickedness, has done more real injury to the cause of religion, has brought more scandal and reproach on the Christian character, and been a greater obstacle to the success of the gospel, than the daring attacks of its avowed enemies. Certainly, then, it greatly concerns us, as we prosess to be the disciples of Christ, as we regard his honour, and the credit of his religion in the world, to hearken to this important instruction in the words of the text; " He that faith "he abideth in Him, ought himself alfo fo to walk, "even as He walked."
These words are introduced here by the apostle, in prosecution of one part of his design in this epistle, which was, to lay down fome plain marks of the sincere and genuine Christian. With this view, in the three preceding verses, he insists on the observation of Christ's word, or the keeping of his commandments, as one j and then, in the words of the text, he mentions the imitation of his example, as another: u He that faith he abideth in Him, ought himself alfo "fo to walk, even as He walked." As if he had faid, "Whoever pretends to be a Christian, or, as the "apostle Paul expresses it, nameth the name of "Christ, is indifpensibly obliged, ia virtue of thi3 "his prosession, and in evidence of its truth, to order "the whole of his life and converfation, as Chriik "lived and conversed in the world."
In discoursing on this subject, we propose, by divine assistance, First, To show you in what manner we, who prosess to be Christians, ought to live, in imitation of Christ's example. Secondly, We shall en's 3 dcavour deavour to persuade you to comply with this important duty, by fome arguments addressed to your consideration.
I. We propose, Firjl, To show in what manner we, who profess to be Christians, ought to live, in imitation of Christ's example.
We might here inquire into the manner of our Saviour's lise, considered as a pattern for our imitation; we might describe his amiable temper and disposition j and display to you those eminent virtues which were fo conspicuous in his character. But, as this would lead us into too extensive, though an important sield of discourse, we shall consine ourselves to a sew of those divine and heavenly virtues, which were the leading parts of his character, and which, therefore, we should more serioufly endeavour to copy.
i. In imitation of Christ's example, we ought to be inwardly pious and devout towards God. This was a distinguishing part of our Saviour's character; his mind was continually sixed upon- God, and he maintained a constant correspondence with his heavenly Father. Hence, we sind him frequently lifting up his foul in pious ejaculations, and always employing himself in fome spiritual and divine exercise^ While others were engaged in the business and amusement of the day, or buried in the silence or ease of the night, he frequently retired from the world to converse with his God, and fometimes spent whole nights in that delightsul employment. The most exalted piety was exemplisied in his lise, and the most servent devotion animated his behaviour j. devotion* not breaking out in sudden flashes, like the seed in the parable, which foon sprung up, and foon withered away; but steady and regular, like that all-perfect Being, the object of it, with whom there is no variableness nor shadow of turning.
Is not this a noble pattern for our imitation? It
is is true, indeed, we cannot, in this impersect state, attain to that high degree of servor and purity, which our blessed Lord possessed -, for he was God, as well as man; the Holy Spirit was not given him by measure, but he was anointed with that facred unction above his sellows. Hence, he had no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth; his whole lise was holy and heavenly, without spot or blemish. In this state of impersection, therefore, it is altogether impossible for us to be persectly conformed to this divine pattern. But, though we cannot equal the Son of God in the measure of our piety, we may resemble him in the kind; though we cannot keep equal pace with him, yet we may follow his steps. Our love to God may indeed be weak, and, at times, almost a dying flame-, but, on the whole, it may be still increasing, and, like the morning light, shining brighter and brighter, till it blaze in everlasting day. Animated, then, by this great example, let us make religion our principal business; let us not continue estranged from God, the Author of our being, whose favour is better than lise, and at whose right hand are pleasures for evermore; but let us acquaint ourselves with him, and, by the exercise of faith and love, maintain a constant correspondence with him.
2. In imitation of Christ's example, we ought to be submissive and resigned to the will of God. This was, in a peculiar manner, the character of Jesus Christ. He was the greatest, and, at the fame time, the most submissive and patient sufferer, that ever fojourned in this valley of tears. In every age, there have been great examples of the sufferings and resignation of good men; but our blessed Lord has never been equalled, either in the degree of his suffering, c; in the resignation of his spirit. In the most distresssul circumstances of lise, he cheersully submitted to his Father's will; nay, he was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.' Let us then imitate our Saviour in this most necessary virtue.