Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

the Attention of Mankind: But the Examples of Persons of great Dignity are apt to strike the Beholders with Admiration, and, the higher the Dignity is, the more is the Example admired and regarded, and the fonder Men are to copy after it. Hence it has been a common Observation, that the Example of a King has great Weight; and good Princes, that are eminent for Piety and Virtue, are, in this Respect, as well as others, of signal Advantage to the World. It was therefore siting that an Example, designed to engage an universal Imitation, should be exhibited by a Person of transcendent 'Dignity and Worth.: And, if it were the Example of a Divine Person, supposing him at the same Time to be made Partaker of our Nature, and to dwell in human Flesh, this would carry the Force of the Example as far as it could possibly go. Now such is the Example of our Lord Jejus Christ, according to the Idea given of it in the sacred Writings: He is there represented as a Person of unparalleled Dignity and Eminence, the only begotten Son of God, by whom he made the Worlds; God manifest in the Flesh.

It is certain that the most glorious Exemplar that can possibly be set before us is that of God himself, the great Parent and Lord of the Universe, the absolutely perfect Be

ing. To resemble him, as far as he h imitable by his Creatures, is the noblest Excellence, the most worthy and laudable Ambition of any reasonable Being. And indeed the Design of all other Examples, as far as they are truly excellent and worthy to be imitated by us, is to lead us into a Conformity to him, the best and most perfect of Beings, the supreme underived Excellence, the great Original of moral Goodness and Beauty: But, considered in his own inaccessible Light and Splendor, who of us is able to approach him, or to fix his Views directly and immediately upon the Brightness of his infinite Glory? If therefore any Way can be found out of bringing his incomparable Perfections nearer to our View, and within the Reach of our Imitation j and of divesting that Divine original Pattern in some Measure of that amazing Brightness which is apt to dazzle and overwhelm us j surely this would be of inestimable Advantage to Mankind, and is what we mould be above all Things desirous of.

And this is admirably provided for in the Gospel. We are there taught, that the only begotten Son of God, the eternal Word, the Brightness of the Father s Glory, and the express Image of his Person, became Flesh , and dwelt among us. In him the Perfections

and and Excellencies of the Deity shine forth through the Vail of his FleJh with a milder Glory and Beauty, in a Manner condescendingly attempered to our View: In him we may behold what Temper and Conduct it is which God himself best approves, and which approaches nearest to his own Perfection. And whereas there are several Virtues, which the infinite Majesty and Sovereignty of God make him incapable of exercising, which yet are proper for us to practise; of these also his Son, by Reason of his taking upon him our Nature, and appearing in an humbled State, is made capable of giving us a lovely Example. Indeed if the Son of God had appeared here on Earth in a, Glory like that with which he is now arrayed in Heaven in his exalted State, where Angels, Authorities, and Powers are made fubjecT: unto him, and of which the Splendor, that surrounded him at his Transfiguration, was but an imperfect Specimen; his Excellency might have made us afraid, and kept us at an awful Distance; instead of engaging our Imitation, it would have filled us with Astonishment. He could not then have given us an Example of the humble suffering Virtues, which yet are of great and necessary Use in this present State; such as Patience, Meekness, SelfDenial, Humility, Submission, and Resignation, in which much of the Beauty of Virtue, and the Energy of Religion, doth consist, and which mightily tend to the Glory of God, arid to complete the good Order and Harmony of the moral World. One Design of his Coming was to shew us wh*t Virtues we are to exercise in this State of-Trial, a State in which we are obnoxious to many Afflictions and Sufferings j and therefore he cast a Shade over the Brightness of his Glory, and, though he was in the Form of God, took upon him the Form of a Servant, and, being found in Fashion as a Man, he humbled himself He appeared not as a Monarch, in which Cafe he must have infinitely outshone all earthly Motiarchs j but in a mean and low Condition, Vuited to the Generality of Mankind, and thereby brought nearer to the Imitation of the poorest and meanest of the human Race. And certainly it may be justly looked upon as un illustrious Advantage of the Gospel Scheme, and what should mightily recommend it to our Esteem, that it proposeth a Pattern and Example of such wonderful Dignity, and yet so managed and ordered as to be. brought down to us within the Reach of our Imitation. Surely, if any Thing mould kindle in us a noble and generous Ambition, this should do it: For who that believes that the Son of God came

tn our F/e/h, to instruct us by his own Practice what we are to do, and how we are to conduct Ourselves here on Earth* would not be desirous to walk as he walked? To live and act as the incarnate Son of God did before us? Since by doing this we shall take a sure Method of pleasing God, of being raised to a Conformity to him in his imitable Perfections, and of pursuing such a Temper and Conduct as we know he will approve?

Fifthly, Another Thing that should be considered on this Occasion is, that it tends very much to recommend an Example, when it is the Example, not only of a Person of great Dignity, but of our most kind and generous Benefactor, who hath manifested the greatest Affection towards us, and to whom we are under the highest Engagements and Obligations. Such an Example miist needs come with a most endearing Force: For it is natural for us to imitate those we love* and to whom we are sensible we are much obliged, and who have done us signal Acts of Kindness. And in this also our Saviour s Example hath peculiar Advantages above that of any other. For never was there any Person on Earth to whom we can be under the ten-thousandth Part of the Obligations we are under to him. He hath given the most astonish

Vol. IV. U ing

« AnteriorContinuar »