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fawning over the persons of the noble, no haunting the palaces of kings, no deference to the authority of
powerful and wicked men, no debates about human i politics and temporal interests, no desire after worldly
distinction or dominion, no leaning to an outward splendour and an external Messiahship, such as the Jews designed and feigned. On the contrary, never was there so unworldly a character, never such disinterestedness, never such superiority to all the glare and bustle and attraction of the world and worldly glory, He estimated things as they really were, and acted simply and invariably upon that estimate, He was not of the world; he was of another spirit, engaged in other pursuits, touched by other interests, bent on higher and nobler ends. And in no respect is his example more perfect in itself, and more necessary to us, than in his “overcoming of the world.” 25
Then mark the STRICT TEMPERANCE AND COMMAND OF THE INFERIOR APPETITES which our Lord exercised—a rare and difficult attainment! But what self-denial, what abstinence from indulgence, what freedom from every thing like the stain of excess, appeared in Christ! His temperance how pure, how elevated, how vigilant, how uniform, how natural! He wrought no miracle for the supply of his own wants -you hear of none of these wants. He pities the multitude, indeed, and feeds them miraculously ; but for himself, he has not where to lay his head. Whilst he sits instructing the Samaritan woman, he accounts that he has “meat to eat which his disciples knew not of;" whilst, as to them, they are compelled to go into the city to purchase food.26
Join to these virtues, THE FORTITUDE AND CONSTANCY which appeared in our Redeemer—that quality of mind which is compounded of courage, patience, and perseverance; which knows not how to yield in a
25 John xvi. 33.
26 John iv. 8.
great undertaking; which is daunted by no opposition, and faints under no discouragement; which endures contradiction, violence, injustice, oppression. With what fortitude does our Lord bear the incessant hostility and perverseness of the Jews! With what constancy and boldness does he arraign the vices and hypocrisy and cruelties of the scribes and pharisees ! When did he betray any symptoms of cowardice or the fear of man? When did he fly in dejection or irresolution ? No: “he fainted not, neither was discouraged, till he had set judgment in the earth." 27
THE PRUDENCE AND DISCRETION which ever adorned our divine Master must not be overlooked. These made a remarkable, though not a disproportionate, part of his character. He never invited attack by imprudence, nor provoked hostility by intemperate rashness. When no good could be effected in one spot, he withdrew to another. The questions dictated by curiosity or craft, he repelled by wisdom; proposing other questions, or inculcating a general doctrine,
or softening reproof, by the veil of a parable. The forethought, the consideration of circumstances, the adaptation of means to the desired end, the disposition of the several parts of his doctrine to their proper purposes and to the class of his auditory, his determination under a choice of difficulties, his address in defending his disciples when accused, his apologies before the bigoted Jews, marked our Lord's wisdom. The human heart lay open before him : difficult questions and sudden turns only served to display his consummate prudence. Yes,” he did all things well;" 28 his prudence was as conspicuous in the manner, as his benevolence in the execution, of his designs.
2. But I must not detain you longer on the separate
27 Isaiah xlii. 4.
28 Mark vii. 37.
graces of our Saviour's personal character, much as they might be extended. I must proceed to offer a few remarks on the UNION of them in his most holy life; for he combined all the various branches of moral excellency, and exhibited in equal perfection the graces and virtues the most opposite to each other, without the proximate failings, or any decay in vigour and consistency. And in this respect our Lord surpassed all human examples of virtue. It is a common remark, that a principle of opposition, and as it were compensation, runs throngh the works of the Almighty. The stronger virtues are seldom found without an alliance of austerity, nor the softer without weakness and feebleness. 29 Still more uncommon is it to find the stronger and softer qualities in due proportion. Whilst no example is to be found, except in the blessed Jesus, of all these being, not only united, but carried to the utmost height and preserved in one uniform tenor. Yet such was the case in our Lord.
His virtues were UNALLOYED WITH THE KINDRED FAILINGS. His temperance was unaccompanied with severity, his fortitude was without rashness, his constancy without obstinacy, his self-denial without moroseness, his devotion and piety without indifference to the affairs of life. And so on the other hand, his benevolence never sunk into weakness, his humility into fear of man, his love of retirement into inactivity, his tenderness into compliance with sin.
Not only so; THE OPPOSITE, AND APPARENTLY CONTRADICTORY, GRACES IN EQUAL PROPORTION. His elevation of mind, and sublimity in the conception of divine things, were connected with the utmost facility and simplicity. His superiority to the world, and spirituality of affection, were equalled by his affability and freedom in conversing with mankind. His temperance and fortitude
CARRIED TO THE UT.
IN ONE EVEN
were adorned with the opposite graces of meekness and forbearance; his love and benignity with courage and decision of character; his compassion for sinners with the most pointed rebukes of the incorrigible and hypocritical. His condescension in consorting with publicans and sinners, was united with the utmost purity and dignity; his incessant diligence with suavity; his zeal in the service of God, and in prosecuting his mission, with prudence and discretion. The active were thus allied with the contemplative virtues, the strong with the tender, the heroical with the retired. Each virtue was free from the proximate defect, and accompanied with the opposite excellency.
Further than this, all was MOST HEIGHT, AND CONTINUED TENOR. Christ had uniformity and consistency of virtue, in the strictest sense; he had strength of character. Power of every kind is less exhibited by violent efforts of short duration, than by a steady, unyielding agency and progression. It was not at one time, but at every time; not in one situation, but in every kind of situation; not at the beginning of his ministry merely, but throughout it; not in one or two respects, but in all, that the virtues of Christ were manifested. And this at the greatest height of which the human nature is susceptible, and which the law of God requires. There is no flaw, no stain in our Lord's character; not a single defect, much less any crime. It was a perfect model for our imitation. Christ had never occasion to retract any statement, to qualify any expression, to undo any thing he ever said or did.31 No omission, no slip, no error, no misapprehension, no gap or interruption in the cir30 Bowdler.
31 St. Paul had to acknowledge, “I wist not, brethren, that it was the high priest :”-Acts xxiii. 5—but never thus the holy Jesus.
cle of human excellencies, appeared in our blessed Saviour.
The result was, that there was a PECULIAR HARMONY, loveliness, and moral symmetry in our Saviour's personal character ; that beauty of holiness which arises from the combination and just proportion of all the various elements of which it is composed. Every thing was of a piece; every thing was most becoming; every thing was as it should be.
And this completes the picture. This shows that we have in our Lord the perfect model of every virtue for his disciples, both as it regards the separate graces of his character, and the union and combination of them in all their proportions, strength, and consistency.
But this leads us to consider the conduct and deportment of Christ, as compared with his pretensions.
III. IN HIS PUBLIC AND EXALTED CHARACTER AS THE FOUNDER OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION.
For all these separate parts of the life of Christ were subservient to one great purpose, the founding of the gospel Revelation ; and each part prepared and qualified him for that great undertaking.
In order, then, to catch a view of the excellencies of this result, we may notice the public character of Christ, in its suitableness to man; in its surprising novelty and sublimity; in its correspondence with the doctrines and precepts of his religion; and in the united impression and effect of the whole; all heightened by the artless manner in which the narration is written.
1. To begin with the topics which we have just been considering, it is impossible not to observe THE SUITABLENESS TO THE NECESSITIES OF MAN which appears in the founder of Christianity thus becoming our example. Man is led by example rather than by