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While we are in this world, we may lay our account to meet with afflictions. The danger, or the actual seeling of distress, are incident to human nature. But there is one affliction, the greatest of all others; an affliction we create to ourselves, and which doubles every uneasiness; I mean, that stubbornness of will, that impatience under suffering, which is the offspring of pride, and the parent of misery. This is that iron sinew, which will not bow to the will of its maker; this is the strong man within us, who will not yield except to the stronger than he. But, what presumption is it for creatures to contend with their Creator f "The potsherd may strive "with the potsherds of the earth; but shall the clay "fay to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou?" We may indeed exalt ourselves against the Almighty; we may contend, and, from our ignorance of his providence, we may seem to counteract his designs; but let us remember, that none who exalteth himself against God, shall prosper; and that the end is terrible destruction from the presence of the Lord. Let us not, then, foolishly contend with God, or presume to strive with our Maker; but let us humbly submit to his Providence, and, under every asfliction, consess that the judgments of the Lord are right.
In this manner, our Saviour himself acted while he was in the world; and we who prosess to be Christians, ought to imitate his example. He trod the rugged path of adversity with undaunted courage; he walked on in a course of suffering with the most cheersul resignation; and he did fo, that he might go before us in this road of danger, and leave us an example that we might follow his steps.
3. In imitation of Christ's example, we ought to en* tertain a sincere and cordial love to our brethren of mankind. There-is no virtue for which our Saviour was more distinguished; nor indeed is there any in which we ought to resemble him more. His love to the fons of men brought him into the world; it was his constant employment, during his ministry, to promote their happiness; and nothing gave him fo much pleasure, as to fee them hearkening to his instructions, and embracing the offers of his mercy. In a word, the gospel-history is a continued account of his amazing grace to mankind ; there we fee him descending from his Father's throne, employing his whole lise in acts of kindness and compassion, and at last dying, amidst agony and pain, for the redemption of the human race.
Now, in this respect, alfo, he has set us a noble example; an example, indeed, every way proper in itself to engage our attention, and which is alfo recommended to us by the highest authority. Our Lord himself proposes this pattern of love to our imitation: " A new commandment I give unto you, "that you love one another; as I have loved you, "that you alfo love one another (a)." And, to dispose Christians to acts of compassion and charity, the apostle puts them in mind of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, though he was rich, yet for our fakes became poor, that we, through his poverty, Wight be made rich. How then can we answer to God, to the world, and our own consciences, if, having such an example of love and charity set before Us, and such powersul motives to the imitation of it, we resuse to comply with this important duty? We »te not indeed permitted to testify our love to others >n the fame wondersul manner that the Son of God did: the nature and importance of his character and situation made the expression of his love difserent. But surely we ought to resemble him in mercy and compassion; we ought to entertain the fame cordial love to our brethren, and to express it, by doing them all the kind and charitable ossices in our power. ^et us, then, copy aster the example of our mercisul
(aJ John xiii. 34
sul Redeemer; let us be followers of Him who spent his whole lise in acts of kindness and love; and, laying aside all malice, and guile, and envy, and evilspeaking, let us love one another with a pure heart servently.
4. We ought to resemble Jesus Christ, by being humble and lowly, as he was. There is hardly any one part of his amiable character more frequently mentioned in the facred scripture than this; nor is there any in which he is more expressly proposed to us as an example. He was indeed humility itself; humility without the least mixture of pride, and lowliness without affectation. This appeared very remarkably through his whole life, and adorned every part of his character. Hence, with great propriety, he recommends his own example, in this respect, to our imitation: " Take my yoke upon you," fays he, "and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in "heart (£)." And the apostle inculcates humility upon us, by the consideration of Christ's example: "Let this mind be in you," fays he,'" which was "alfo in Christ Jesus; who being in the form of "God, thought it no robbery to be equal with God; "bait made himself of no reputation, and took upon *' him the form 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 (<:)."
By such expressions is the imitation of Christ's humility recommended to us in scripture: and surely his example in this respect ought to have the greatest influence on our conduct. He was the eternal .Son of God, who possessed every divine and human excellence in their highest persection; and yet, notwithstanding this, he humbled himself, and became of no reputation. And shall we then be arrogant and proud, we who are but his creatures, the work of his hands,
\t) Matth. xi. (,=) phil. ii. j, 6, 7, 8.
guilty and polluted sinners, and have therefore nothing of which we can reafonably boast? Can we value ourselves on the possession of wealth and riches, or be puffed up, because the glory of our house is increased, when He, who was the possessor of all things, chose to appear in a low condition, and to live in a state of poverty and want? And shall we, whose breath is in our nostrils, despise our brother, and behave with infolence to our sellow-creatures, when the Son of God himself condescended to converse with the meanest, and did not disdain the cry of a beggar? The example of our Lord's humility ought, doubtless, to make us humble; and we may well be ashamed of pride, when we reflect on the condescension of the Son of God. Let us, then, imitate our Redeemer in this most amiable virtue. Let us put oh humility as a beautisul robe; and, when we consider how lowly and condescending Jesus was, let us be vile in bur own eyes, and abhor ourselves in dust and ashes.
5. In imitation of Christ's example, we ought to be meek and self-denied under injury and reproach. This was another bright part of our blessed Saviour's character. Never did any man meet with greater injuries, or fo complicated a scene os insult, to provoke and irritate his spirit; and yet, under them all, he was mild and gentle. When his enemies treated him in the most cruel and injurious manner, when they loaded him with calumny and flander, instead of rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing, he was veady, on the contrary, to repay their injuries with We. ' Even his bitterest enemies were partakers of his kindness; he still continued to intreat them to accept of lise from him, and, with tears of compassion, bewailed their insidelity. And when, at last, his enemies laid violent hands upon him, and gratisied their malice with his blood; when, in the extremity of his sufferings, they reviled him, and insulted
over over his misery in the most barbarous manner: instead of resenting fo great an injury, or breathing out threatening and revenge, he freely forgave them himself, and prayed on the cross that his Father would forgive them alfo. Thus meek and patient was the Son of God. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth. He was brought as a lamb to the flaughter; and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, fo he opened not his mouth.
Here, alfo, is a noble pattern for our imitation. It was in order to set us an example, that Jesus sufsered with fo much patience and submission. It is with this argument the apostle Peter exhorted the Christians of his time, ** when they did well, and K suffered for it, to take it patiently, knowing that "hereunto they were called; because Christ alfo hath ** suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we "might follow his steps j who, when he was revil"ed, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threat"ened not; but committed himself to him that judgu eth righteoufly (a)." Shall we not blush, when we reflect how far short we come of this amiable example, and refolve, if possible, to resemble him more?
6. In imitation of Christ's example, we ought to regard this world-with a generous contempt, and place our affections on things above. Though Christ was the brightness of his Feather's image, yet he took upon himself the form of a servant; though he knew the sull value of earthly enjoyments yet he despised them; and though he could easily have commanded the wealth and riches of the world, yet he allowed them to be enjoyed by others. His sirst appearance was in a mean and low condition. On his nativity, no servile attendants waited, no sumptuous preparations were made. He was born in-a stable, and laid in a manger. Through the whole of his aster lise, he discovered the most sincere contempt for the worlds and all its enjoyments. He despised riches and wealth,
(*) i Ptt. ii. ao, v, t$