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high priest became us; was fitted to expiate all our sins, and to secure to us ' an inheritance undefiled and unfailing,' in the everlasting love of God; an high priest who was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens?'
THE PRIEST HOOD OF CHRIST.
HOLINESS OF HIS CHARACTER.
IMPORTANCE OF THIS ATTRIBUTE.
HE THAT SAITH HE ABIDETH IN HIM, OUGHT HIMSELF ALSO SO TO WALK EVEN AS HE WALKED.
1 JOHN II. 5.
last Discourse I considered the importance of the holiness of Christ in his character of high priest, as being necessary to give him that distinction, without which the attention and confidence of men could not have been excited towards him; as necessary to enable him to magnify the law of God; and to become a propitiation and an intercessor for the children of Adam.
The subject which naturally offers itself next for our consideration is, the importance of this attribute to Christ, as an example to mankind.
That Christ was intended to be an example of righteousness to the human race, is completely evident from the passage of Scripture which I have chosen for the theme of this Discourse. • He that saith he abideth in him ;' that is, be who professes himself a Christian, ‘ought himself also so to walk even as
he walked. Every Christian is here required to follow the example of Christ. But every man is bound to become a Christian: therefore every man is required to follow the same example. I have given you an example,' said our Saviour, when he washed his disciples' feet,' that ye should do as I have done to you,' John xiii. 15. And again: 'If any man will serve me, let him follow me,' John xii. 26. "Be
followers of me,' says St. Paul, even as I also am of Christ,' 1 Cor. xi. 1. • Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,' says the same apostle, urging upon the Philippians the duty of humility, and arguing at length their obligation to be humble from our Saviour's example, Phil. ii. 5, &e. In the like manner he urges upon the Romans the character of benevolence, from the same source of argument, Rom. xv. 1, &c.; and the Hebrews to patience and fortitude in the Christian race, Heb. xi. 1, &c. It will be useless to multiply passages any farther to this purpose. Even these will probably be thought to have been unnecessarily alleged.
The example of Christ is formed of his holiness directed by his wisdorn, or more properly by his understanding. Of all its parts holiness is the substance and the soul. Without this attribute he would only have been a more sagacious singer, and therefore a more malignant example, than other men. A proper exhibition of the example of Christ, in which its nature and usefulness are sufficiently displayed for the present purpose, will, of course, be a proper exhibition of the importance of this attribute to Christ in this character.
The excellence of Christ, as an example to mankind, I shall attempt to exhibit under the following heads :
I. He was an example of all virtue.
By this I intend, that he was an example of piety, benevolence, and self-government, alike. This truth has been suíficiently illustrated in the two first sermons on this subject. To add any thing, therefore, to what has been so lately said must be unnecessary.
1. By the example of Christ, considered in this light, we are decisively taught that virtue is no partial character.
The apprehension, not unfrequently entertained, that a man may love God and not love his neighbour, and yet be a virtuous man, that is, in the evangelical sense ; the contrary ap
prehension, much more frequently entertained, that a man may love his neighbour and not love God; and the opinion, still more generally adopted, that a man may love both God and his neighbour, and thus be virtuous, while he yet does not confine his passions and appetites within scriptural bounds, are completely done away by the example of Christ. • He that saith he abideth in him,' is in the text required to walk as he walked and in Rom. viii. 9, St. Paul declares, that if any man hath not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his. But if any man has the spirit of Christ, it will dictate the same conduct which it dictated to Christ. If he is Christ's therefore, in other words, if he is a virtuous man, the subject of that holiness of which Christ was the subject, and beside which there is no virtue, he will · walk as Christ also walked.' This is one of those commands of our Saviour which he himself has made the test of our discipleship, and of our love to him. If therefore we are his disciples indeed,' if we • love him,' we shall keep' this 'command;' and be as he was, pious, benevolent, and self-governed, alike.
2. Christ performed all the duties of life prompted by these three great divisions of virtue.
This conduct of our Saviour teaches us irresistibly, that he who does not carry the virtue which he professes into practice. or who does not perform those acts, or external duties, which are the proper effusions of such a spirit as that of Christ, is not a disciple of Christ. Christ habitually prayed to God. He who does not thus pray is, therefore, not a disciple of Christ. Christ praised God, blessed and gave thanks for his food, worshipped God in his house, and celebrated all the institutions of the sanctuary. He, therefore, who does not these things, since he walks not as Christ also walked,' has not' the spirit of Christ,' and ' is none of his.' Christ also universally befriended, in all the ways of justice and charity, his fellow men, by furnishing that relief to their wants and distresses which they needed. In vain will that man pretend to be his disciple who is unjust in his treatment of others, or who does not readily open his heart and his hand to relieve his fellow-creatures in their wants and distresses; or who does not, like the Redeemer also, administer to them advice, reproof, and consolation, as they need ; and employ, with sincere and tender assection, all the proper means in his power to promote their salvation. Christ spoke the truth at all times with perfect exactness. No liar, no prevaricator, no sophist, can be bis disciple. Christ abstained from every fraud, and from every hard bargain, from gaming, from reproaches, from obloquy, from obscenity, from jesting with sacred things, from loose and irreverent observations concerning God, his works, word, and institutions, from all . idle words,' and from wrath, bitterness, and revenge. He who indulges himself in these, or any of these, is not Christ's disciple.
At the same time, the example of Christ in this respect teaches us in the most decisive manner, that he who performs one class of these external duties, and neglects the others, or who abstains from one class of sins, and commits another, is not a disciple of Christ. For example: a man may pay his debts, speak truth, and give alms to the poor ; yet, if he does not pray to God in his closet, his family, and the church, he is not a disciple of Christ.
Generally: the example of Christ teaches us, beyond. a debate, what may indeed be clearly proved from the nature of the subject, that virtue has not, and cannot have, a partial ezistence. No man can love God without loving his neighbour; or his neighbour, without loving God; or both, without restraining his passions and appetites. He who supposes bimself to do one of these things when he does not the others, is guilty of a gross self-deception, and is employed in preventing his own attainment of eternal life.
II. Christ was an example to all classes of men.
It ought, I think, rationally to be expected, as plainly it ought to be most earnestly desired, that the person intended by God to be the great pattern of righteousness to mankind, should so appear, and live, and act in the world, as to become such a pattern to men of every description. Such a pattern Christ has in fact become; a fact derived, in a great measure, from the lowly circumstances in which he was born, lived, and died.
Had our Saviour appeared, as the Jews expected him to appear, in the character of a prince and conqueror, reigning with unprecedented splendour, perpetual triumph, and universal dominion, he would, as an example, have been useful to but few of mankind, and to them in comparatively few re