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While before Day, he went out, and departed into a solitary Place, and there prayed. Mark i. 34. So, on another Occasion, after performing many miraculous Cures on Multitudes that came to him, we read, that he withdrew himself into the Wilderness and prayed. Luke v. 16. And, again, be went out into a Mountain to pray, and continued all Night in Prayer to God. Luke vi. 12. And, as he frequently retired for solitary secret Prayer and Intercourse with God, so he often prayed with and before his Disciples, who were his own proper Family and immediate Attendants. Thus we read, Luke ix. 18, that he was alone praying, and his Disciples were with him. He was alone, i. e. he was retired apart from the Multitude; but his Disciples were with him, when he prayed. The fame Thing is signified, Luke xi. 1, where it is said, that, as he was praying in a certain Place, when he had ceased, one of his Disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, &c. On which Occasion he gave them excellent Directions, and very encouraging Promises to engage them to a persevering Importunity and Earnestness in Prayer. Before his Transfiguration, he took Peter, James, and John with him, and went up into a Mountain to pray. Luke ix. 28. And, in his Entrance on his last Sufferings, he ofFerX 3 ed.
ed up an admirable Prayer before his Disciples, in which, with the most tender and affectionate Concern, 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 sacred Exercise, both by himself alone, and with his Disciples: And therefore those that allow themselves in the hahitual 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, mould 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 Father, 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; 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 ask the Father in -my Name (faith he) be will give it you. John xvi. 2-5. *■■■'•
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