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the mean grandeur and pride os lise; those shining,'' but deceitsul toys, which the bulk of mankind pursue with such activity and ardour. Nay, fo poor was his condition, that, as he himself tells us, " the foxes have w holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the "Son of man had not where to lay his head (4)." What amazing condescension was this! and how justly may it discredit all the grandeur and greatness of this world!
Vain, foolish men, who mistake their own happiness, are apt to place their affections on earthly things, and to value themselves on a large share of worldly enjoyments; but the Son of God, whose judgment was according to trtith, chose to be born in a lowcondition, and to live in poverty, that he might teach us mortisication'and contempt for the world.
In this manner, then, we ought to live in imitation of Christ's example, inwardly pious and devout towards God, submissive and resigned to his will, mercisul and kind to our sellow-creatures, humble and lowly in every part of our behaviour, meek and patient under affliction, and, with regard to this world, despising its pomp, and placing our affections oil things above.
II. We proceed, idly, To persuade you to comply with this important duty, by some few arguments addressed to your consideration.
r. Consider, that it was one great design of God, in sending Christ into the world, to set us an example that we might follow his steps.
And here we would not be understood to mean, that this was the only, or even chief design of his coming; for, it plainly appears, from several pasfages in the facred Scripture, that the great and principal design which God had in sending his Son into fie world, was to reconcile sinners to himself, and . •'. U accomplish
(l) M*U. Tiii.
accomplish their falvation from eternal death. Christ came, not merely to teach us our duty by his doctrine, and to lead us to the practice of it by his example, hut chiefly to act the part of a Mediator between God and man, to reconcile us to God, and to obtain eternal redemption for us- This, our Lord himself tells us, was his Father's design in sending him: ** God sent not his Son," fays he, " into the world, "to condemn the world, but that the world through ** Him might be faved (r)." But, though this was the grand and principal design of his mission, it does not hinder but that other noble and worthy purposes might alfo be served by it. Such, plainly, is the case before us. Though God sent his Son into the world to deliver his people from the guilt of sin, and to fave them from eternal misery, as the most essential part of his mission -, yet he alfo sent him to lay before US a fair transcript of our duty, in the example of his life, and by that means to lead us to the practice of it. If this then was the design of God in sending Christ into the world, are not all prosessing Christians obliged, in point of duty, to place the example of Christ before them, as a standard for their imitation? Ought we not, in compliance with the intention of God, to have him always in our eye, and to endeavour aster the lfearest possible resemblance of him? Consider, God is our Sovereign; He has the Tustest claim to our obedience; his almighty power and everlasting love have done great things for us: and, does not this lay us under the strongest obligations to serve and obey him? Ler us then shew our regard to God, by complying with this his gracious design. Let us follow- our Redeemer in the practice of every virtue; and, as we prosess to abide in him, let us walk as he alfo walked.
2. Consider, likewise, that the example here proposed to your imitation, is abfolutely pure and persect,
(r) John iii. xj.
rect, and so carries in it the force of a law. Every ather -example in this world, however sair and lovely, is stained with imperfection. But the example we recommend to .your imitation, is altogether pure and spotless; it is the lise of the Son of God himself, who possessed every divine excellence in its highest perfections who taught the most excellent and instructive precepts, and whose whole conduct was nothing else but one sair and unblemished transcript of the precepts which he taught. He was holy, harmless, and undesiled; his lise was a standing pattern of real and substantial goodness, the very beauty of holiness made visible in human nature. In an easy and samiliar manner he conversed publicly in the world. His example, like a light placed on an eminence, was sitted for the most extensive usesulness'. And, what is apt to excite our attention, and animate our endeavours, he exemplisied, in our own nature, as compassed with sinless. insirmities, all his divine precepts. For these reasons, his example is every way sair and lovely, persect and complete, a pattern worthy of our imitation. Who would not wish to resemble the Son of God, and to follow so persect an example? If, then, we possess any ambition, let the contemplation of bur Saviour's lise influence our desires, and inspire us with the most vigorous resolutions, let us endeavour to imitate this glorious original, that so we may be changed into the same image from glory to• glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord.
3. Consider, sarther, That the example here proposed to your imitation, is that of your Lord and Master, your best Friend, and most generous Benesactor. And, surely, this is a consideration that ought to have the greatest influence on your conduct. You prosess to be the followers of Jesus; you acknowledge him for your Lord and Master. Is it not then highly reasonable, that you should resemble Him?
U z The The followers of the ancient philofophers regarded the practice of their respective masters more than the precepts which they taught, 2nd were caresul to record their actions, in order that they might have the benesit of their example. Were those then fo ambitious of imitating their particular teachers, even when in rr.2ny things they were faulty and vicious; and (hall n*--t we, who propels to be Christians, resemble the gTeat Anther of our religion, whose precepts and practice were equally persect? If we prosess to be the disciples of Jesus, this- certainly obliges us to an imitation of him: nay, it is an honour for the disciple to be as his master, and the servant as his lord. "Te call me," faid our Saviour to his disciples, "Master and Lord, and ye fay well ; for fo I am. "If I, then, your Lord and Master have washed your *' seet, you alfo ought to wash one another's seet: "for I have given you an example, thaf* ye should "do, as I have done unto you."
Bat, again, he is your best friend; he condescends to call you his brethren, and he has engaged you by the most endearing acts of kindness: And does not this lay you under an obligation to resemble your great benefactor, and to love him with all your heart? If you have any sense of gratitude within you, this will lead you to imitate the example of Him, who laid down his lise for you, and sealed his love to you with his blood.
4. Consider, likewise, how base and dishonourable it is to call ourselves the disciples of Christ, while we take no care to be like him. Nothing, indeed, can be more inconsistent. By our prosession of Christianity, we declare ourselves the followers of Jesus, the greatest and molt persect teacher that ever appeared in the world. Now, what is a follower of Christ, but one who hearkens to his instructions, and walks as he alfo walked? We are, therefore, guilty of the highest absurdity and contradiction,
when when we prosess to be the disciples of Christ, and, at the fame time, neglect to imitate his example. Such conduct .is plainly inconsistent with itself; it is as our Lord beautisully expresses it, to have a name tolive while we are dead, or to prosess to know God, when in works we deny him. Are we not ast.amed, then, to make such- an empty prosession; and can we expect either the approbation of God, or the testimony of a good conscience? No; such a hope were vain. If we justify ourselves, by pretending to be the disciples or Christ, while we are really strangers to his bpirit, our own heart* will condemn us; and if our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts, and will condemn us alfo. Be not deceived, therefore; it is a corresponding practice which gives trutb and dignity to your prosession; without works, your faith is dead, and you youriehes the ehildren of the devil.
Consider, in the last place, that, by neglecting toImitate the example of Christ, we expose religion tC" reproach, and reflect dishonour on its blessed Author. Of all the arguments that were ever brought against religion, none has made greater impression, than the irregular lives of its prosessors. This has inflicted the deepest wound, and given occasion to its enemies to blaspheme that worthy Name by which we arc called. An impious and immoral prosessor of Christianity, is the greatest enemy to the cross of Christ. He consirms the insidel in his unbelief; he hardens the sinner in wickedness; and exposes religion to contempt. When they, who pretend to be the followers of Christ, are unlike their Mailer, and, instead of that holiness for which he was distinguished, are unjust, intemperate, and ungodly; what must the world think? Will they not be ready to fay, that religion, and the persect example of Jesus Christ, are not-calculated, in their own nature, to influence die character aud conduct of men? I will net preU 3 tend