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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 ing Proof of an unparalleled Love to Mankind, by his very taking upon him our Nature, and dwelling in our Flefj; but especially by his submitting, for our Sakes, to the most amazing Humiliations, and bitter Sufferings and Agonies. He came to recover us from our guilty polluted State, from the Dominion of Sin, the Power of Satan, the jujl Wrath of God, and eternal Death; and to procure for us the Pardon of our Sins, the Aids of the Holy Spirit, all the promised Benefits and Privileges of the New Covenant, a blessed' RefurreSlion, and Life everlasting: And surely the Example of this great Saviour of Mankind, who hath loved us with so pure, -so marvellous and disinterested a Love, and on whom we depend' for the most valuable Benefits, should have an Influence upon us, that one should think we could scarce know how to resist, except we be utterly lost to all the Principles of Ingenuity and Gratitude.
These several Considerations that have been mentioned should prepare us for receiving the Example that our Lord Jesus Christ hath set before us, and should make us sensible how well it deserveth our Attention, and how thankful we should be to God for it. We should regard the Pro\lding Juch an Example for us as one of the most glorious Instances of the Divine Wis3 dom dom and Goodness towards Mankind: But this will be of small Avail to us, if we do not make it our constant Care and Endeavour to imitate it in our own Temper and Practice. Our Saviour, in the Words which I have chosen for the Subject of this Discourse, expreffly declareth to his Disciples, I have given you an Example, that ye should do as I have done unto you. And, though this (as was before observed^ hath a special Reference to a particular Instance, yet it equally holds with Regard to the Whole of his sacred Life and Practice here on Earth. Hence we find him elsewhere saying to his Diseiples, Take my Yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in Heart j and ye Jhall find Rest unto your Souls. Matt. xi. 29. This Learning of him certainly includes not only our attending to his Instructions, bur our imitating his Example: And this also may be justly regarded as one Thing comprehended in that Following of Chrijl which he himself insisteth upon as an essential Condition of our Diicipleship: If any Man will come after me, i. e. will approve himself my sincere Disciple, and have an Interest in my Benefits j let him deny himself and take up his Cross, and follow me. Mark viii. 34. We are told, that whom God did joreknow he also did predejiinate to be conformed to the U 2 Image Image of his Son; which includes their being conformed to him in Grace and Holiness here, as well as in his Glory hereafter. Rom. viii. 29. Nothing can be more plain and express to shew the Obligations we are under to imitate Christ's Example, than those remarkable Words of the Apostle John, 1 John ii. 6. He that faith he ahidesh in him ought himself also so to wa!6, even as he walked. To profess to ahide in Christ, to be united to him by Faith and Love, and to have an Interest in his Benefits,—and yet take no Care to imitate the excellent Pattern he hath set before us, is a manifest Contradiction and Inconsistency. St. Peter observes, that Christ hath suffered for Us, leaving us an Example, that we Jhould follow his Steps, 1 Pet. ii. 21, intimating that this was one great Thing he had in View in the Sufferings he endured for our Sakes, that he might leave an Exa rifle for us to imitate. Let this Mind be ik you (faith the Apostle Paul) which was a'so in Christ Jesus. Phil. ii. 5. And he elsewhere expresseth himself thus, Be ye Followers, (or, as the Word might literally be rendered, be ye Imitators) of me, even as I also am of Christ. 1 Cor. xi. 1. He proposeth himself as an Example for their Imitation, but not absolutely, but inasmuch as he was a Follower of Christ: Where it
is plainly supposed that we are all under indispensable Obligations to follow or imitate Jesus Christ. And indeed the Expressions that so frequently occur in the New Testament, whereby all sincere Christians are represented as being in Christ, ahiding in hims having Christ formed in them, putting on the Lord Jesus Christ, having him to live and dwell in them, purifying themselves as he is pure; these several Ways of Expression, with others to the fame Purpose, are plainly designed to shew, how nearly it concerneth us, and how much it is expected from us, to do all we can that we may be formed to a Christ-like Frame and Temper, and to imitate him in his holy and excellent Conduct.
And now our Way is prepared by these general Observations for entering upon a more particular and distinct Consideration of our Saviours Character and Example; which is what I propose to dp in some following Piscourses.