« AnteriorContinuar »
ed up an admirable Prayer before his Disciples, in which, with the most tender and affectionate Conctrn, he recommended them to his heavenly Father, and prayed for their Preservation, for their Sanctification, and for their being Sharers in his heavenly Glory. Thus it appears how cffiduous and fervent he was in that facred Exercise, both by himself alone, and with his Disciples: And therefore those that allow themselves in the habitual Neglect of this Duty, in vain pretend to be Followers of the holy Jesus. If he was so careful to render this Instance of religious Homage to his heavenly Father, should not we do so, who have so many Sins to bewail, so many Wants to be supplied, and who stand in such continual Need of the Influences and Aids of God's Grace and Spirit? His Prayers were accepted, on his own AcCount, as he was perfectly pure and holy, the only Begotten of the Fat her, full of Grace and Truth. And how encouraging is' it to think that, in his prevailing Name, we are commanded to offer up our Prayers j and that, though they be mixed with many Infirmities, they shall be accepted through him, if offered up from sincere and upright Hearts! Whatsoever ye ajk the Father in -tny Name (faith he) he will give it you. John
And as he was thus diligent in the more secret and private Exercises of Devotion, by himself and with his Apostles; so be was no less ajjiduous in the Exercises of public Worship. It was his constant Practice to frequent the Synagogues on the SabbathDays; and there he joined with the public Assemblies in Prayer and Praise, and in hearing or reading the holy Scriptures, and giving Exhortations from them j which were the usual stated Parts of the Synagogue Service: He himself gave an excellent Example of a right and profitable Observation of the Sabbeth, though he justly guarded against the superstitious Excess to which the Pharisees had carried it. We find him also frequently at the Temple on their solemn Festivals; and, as he was made under the Law, so no Doubt he was careful and exact in observing the Rites and Ordinances prescribed in the Law, nor could his bitterest Enemies ever charge him with negr le£ling or tranfgrejjing them, though they took Notice, \hd\he and his Disciples transgressed the Traditions of the Elders. Matt. Xv. a. L»ke xi. 38. He came to John to be bciptifed of him, and when John said to him, wish Astonishment, I have Need to be baptised of thee, and contest thou to me? He gave this Reason for it, Thus it beeameth me to fulfil all Righteousness. Matt. iiU 14, 15. What was said, in a more imperfect Sense, of Zachariah and 'Elisabeth might be justly applied to him, with the greatest Propriety, and in it's utmost Extent, that he was righteous before God, and walked in all the Commandments and Ordinances of the Lord blameless.
Thus have we considered our Saviours Character, with Relation to his Temper and Conduct towards God, his heavenly Father. It appeareth that his whole Life was a Life of Devotedness to God j the Serving and Glorifying him was the principal End he had in View, and the Business to which he applied himself, with an unwearied Ardour, Zeal, and Diligence. fie yielded a perfect Obedience to all the Divine Commands, and an intire Resignation to the Will of God in all Things, even in the most difficult Instances. And he was also qjjiduous in immediate Acts of Devotion, and the Exercises of religious Worship, both public and private.. Thus hath he left us a perfect Example, with Respect to the Duties we owe to God. Nor was he less exemplary in Charity and Benevolence towards Mankind; which is what I propose to shew in the farther Prosecution of this Subject.
On the Example of Christ.
Ephesians v. z\
*?- Aid walk in Love, as Christ also hath loved us.
TH E principal Ingredients in a good and excellent Charabler are Piety towards God, and Charity and Benevolence towards Mankind; and of both these our Lord Jesus Christ hath exhibited to us a most perfect Example. The latter is what we are now to consider. St. Paul, when he here exhorteth Christians to walk in Love, very properly urgeth the Example of Christ, as what should have a great Influence to engage them to it: Walk in
Love, as Christ also hath loved us. He gave many signal Proofs of his disinterested^ Benevolence and Loving-Kindness towards Mankind through the Course of his facred Life, but especially in the last concluding Scene of it, when he gave himself fir us (as the Apostle here addeth) an Offering and a Sacrifice to God of a sweet-smelling Savour: And accordingly, when our Saviour layeth it as his special Commandment upon his Disciples, that they Jhould love one another, he proposeth his own Love to them, as furnishing both the most en-* gaging Motive to mutual Love, and the most amiable and perfect Pattern of it: 'This is my Commandment (faith he) that ye love one another, as I have loved you. John xv. it.
The Instances and Proofs of Christ's Benevolence and Love to Mankind are so many and various, that it is not easy to make a distinct Enumeration of them.
His benevolent Disposition appeared in tbe admirable Precepts of Love that dropped from his Lips: When he summed up the •whole Law, it was in Love, i« Love to God, and Love to our Neighbour $ and by our Neighbour he hath taught us to understand, not merely those of the fame City, Nation, or Religion with ourselves, but all Mankind,so as to be ready to do them Godd, as far