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An EXHORTATION to CHRISTIANS, to imitate the Example of our
BLESSED LORD AND SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST, as displayed in his Life and Doctrines.
VHOUGH the Old and New Testaments not only did most essential good to the I exhibit many patterns of piety and souls and bodies of such as presented themvirtue in the accounts of patriarchs, pro- | selves to his view, and supplicated his divine phets, apostles, and other eminent servants aid, but he sought out poor objects on whom of God, a perfect example of holiness and | he might exercise his pity and compass obedience never appeared but in the per | sion. son of the Messiah, who came upon earth for the express purpose of doing the His last and most important work still will of his Father, repecting the salvation of remained to be done. He was to suffer maukind.
an ignominious death, even the death of
the cross, to reconcile offending man to an If we trace the Life of the blessed Jesus, offended God. In this he was to give an from the time of his incarnation to that of his instance of obedience to the divine will, and exaltation, we shall find that every circum love to sinful man, beyond the power of stance of it tended to that one grand and mortals. important end.
This awful event he predicted, and we At an early period he began to preach the find him struggling with the feelings of hugreat doctrine of repentance, and delivered man nature, and exclaiming, “0, my Fathis admirable sermon on the mount, contain ther, if it be possible, let this cup pass from ing a complete system of practical religion. me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou He afterwards gave proofs of his divine wilt.” Matt. xxvi. 39. mission, by working divers miracles, and displaying, in many instances, his power and At length, after being betrayed by a goodness. He then selected his disciples, faithless disciple, and undergoing the most instructed them in his holy doctrines, vested indign treatment from a clan equally cruel them with supernatural power, and com and perverse ; he was led to Calvary, the missioned them to preach the gospel of his place of execution, there crucified, and kingdom. This done, he persisted himself having conimended his spirit into the hands in the good work with indefatigable assi of his Father, gave up the ghost. His duity, recommending unfeigned piety to sacred body was committed to the tomb ; wards God, and universal benevolence to but through a divine power he soon burst mankind, by his preaching, his parables, and the shackles of death, re-appeared to his indeed by the whole tenor of his life and ac- ! disciples and others, and having given them tions. Nor was there a virtue which he did the most demonstrative proofs of bis identity. not countenance and exemplify; or a vice he was parted from them, and carried up he did not censure or condem. In a word, into heaven. Luke xxiv. 51. the holy Jesus went about doing good, according to the scriptural phrase ; that is, he 1 This summary account of the Life of our
blessed Lord premised, we shall proceed to He further demonstrates the necessity of a enforce upon Christians the imitation of conformity to his example, under the idea of his example from the following considera regeneration, that is, a change of the heart tions :
and conduct from evil to good, in his inter
view with Nicodemus, a man of great autho1st. Conformity in his people to the
rity with the Jews, declaring to him that example of himself was his grand design, as
except a man be born again (spiritually
considered) he cannot see the kingdom of well as the absolute will of his Father. The
God, John iii. 3. In a word, if we advert apostle Peter mentions it as one main end of
to the transactions of his life, we must be his sufferings, because Christ also suffered
convinced, that they have one uniform unfor us (says that apostle) leaving us an example that we might follow his steps.
deviating tendency to promote holiness, as Our blessed Saviour is called the way, the
a necessary evidence of a claim and title to
the benefits purchased by his death and truth, and the life; that is, as he redeemed
sufferings. our souls from death by his atoning sacrifice, so he is the truth and guide to our un
It appears from scriptural evidence, that derstandings, and the life or grand ac
one of the great purposes of God, in the tuating principle of our wills and affections,
Messiali's taking upon him human nature, leading us into those paths which terininate in endless felicity.
or becoming like unto us in every instance, sin excepted, was that we might also, as
far as our fallibility will admit, be like his · It is evident, also, from the whole tenor of Son; or, in other words, that as he, by our blessed Lord's life and doctrines, that taking our nature, was like unto us; so we, though the end of his mission was to deliver by imitating his example, might be like unto mankind from the curse annexed to the vio him, according to the import of the words lation of the moral law, he by no means of the apostle, Rom. viii. 26. The word inmeant its abrogation ; nay, he positively de- carnate is the great example of all sincere clares, that he came not to annul, but to genuine professors of the religion of Christ, fulfil the law. He punctually adhered, not and thence arose the precept of the lastonly to those parts of it which respected the mentioned apostle, Put ye on the Lord duties owing to God and man, but even to Jesus Christ. Rom. xiii. 14. The allegory the ritual ceremonies. His obedience was points out the duty, intimating, that as a as perfect as bis atonement for the delin garment is composed and made of the same quency of fallen man, wbichi rendered his fashion with the body, and applied to each merits completely adequate to the demands part according to its respective proportion, of law and justice ; so that when he ex so we should put on Christ, or imitate, as pired upon the cross, it might with the far as possible, his character, conforming utmost propriety be said, It is finished, to every particular part, in order to de meaning the important work of man's re- monstrate whose image and superscription demption. To corroborate this matter, he we bear, and be acknowledged as sous particularly. cautions his followers not to from our resemblance to our great head trust to the mere profession of his religion, 1 and representative, who disdained not to without practising the duties of it, as ap call us his brethren. . pears from his declaration. Not every one that saith unto me Lord, Lord, shall enter The apostle John writes to the same purinto the kingdom of heaven; but he that port in his first epistle, second chapter, and doeth the will of my Father which is in | sixth verse: He thal saith he abideth in heaven. Matt. viii. 21.
I him (Christ) ought himself also to walk.
meant its abrogatiome not to annnered, not
even as he walked. Here it is evidently, the fifth commandment, from the same ar: implied, that our actions should be framed gument which was used in the first promul. according to the copy set us by our great gation of it, Honour thy Father and Mo. Lord and Master, we should transcribe the ther (which is the first commandment with original as nearly as possible to the life. promise) that it may be well with thee, Those who contemplate seriously on the af. and thou mayest live long upon the earth. fection, fervour, and resignation, which the Ephes. vi. 2, 3. It is to be observed, that blessed Jesus, evinced in all bis devotions, though the gospel is built upon better pro. will thereby be taught and excited to holy mises than the law, it annexes all the promeditation and religious prayer. The sweet mises of the latter to obedience, according ness of bis disposition, his charity to his very to the apostle's words, 1 Tim. iv. 8. Godlie enemies, his reprehensions of the Scribesness is profitable unto all things, having and Pharisees, bis candid and ingenuous promise of the life that now is, and of behaviour to all men, inculcate powerfully that which is to come. . the virtues of patience, humility, candour, and justice in all our actions.
When our blessed Saviour, in his sermon
on the mount, particularizes the beatitudes, Upon the whole, the Life of our blessed he cites in one instance a temporal blessing, Lord should not only be the subject of our and that in the very words of the Old Tesadmiration, but also of our imitation. Then tament. Matt. v. 5. Blessed are the meek, shall we in the truest sense walk as he walk for they shall inherit the earth, which exed, treading in his steps, looking constantly pression corresponds with that in Psalm at our grand pattern, and glorifying him, as xxxvii. 11. But the meek shall inherit the he, by his obedience, glorified his Father. earth. This he did to shew, that that part
of the old covenant, which respects moral 2dly. The greatest blessings, both; tem. duties, and the rewards of obedience to the poral and spiritual, are annexed to a holy divine laws, remains firm, and included in and religious life, which essentially consists the conditions of the gospel. in following the example of the blessed Jesus.
Further, a religious life, according to the
rule and example of Jesus Christ, as pros In the Old Testament, a long and pros pounded in his gospel, is conducive to peace perous life were the promises of the cove of mind, and an approving conscience, than nant. The hopes of the Israelites were which no temporal blessings can be more built upon it, and it was the support of all important. An over anxious care about their duty. See Exodus xv. 26, and xxiii. worldly pursuits, involves the mind in per: 25, 26. Solomon enjoins holiness and obe-plexity and confusion. Vice and intemperdience upon the same principle. Fear the ance, of every kind, bring with them even Lord, and depart from evil. It shall be their own temporal punishments, and exhealth to thy navel, and marrow to thy pose their votaries to bodily diseases ; vor bones, Prov. iii, 7, 8; and again, rerse 16, can they be recognized by the abandoned Length of days is in her right hand, (that themselves without a degree of conscious is, wisdom,) and in her left hand riches horror. and honour. There are divers other passages to the same purport.
On the other hand, according to the wise
man's expression, Wisdom's ways are ways' Under the gospel dispensation, the con 1 of pleasantness,and allher palhs are paths sideration is more particularly enforced. 1 of peace. The mind of that man who follows: The apostle Paul calls children to observe the example of his blessed Saviour, and
walks even as he walked, is in general calm, the Lord ; therefore that essential requisite, composed, and serene. He is not affected, included in the phrases first cited, is given to an inordinate degree by any of the events to all those who seek it in sincerity and of this precarious state; he is not elated by truth. To a word, the followers of the exprosperity, nor depressed by adversity, be ample of Christ are, and will be, blessed cause he has a fixed regard to a superintend with grace here, and glory hereafter. Inr ing providence : he knows that the wise these centre all real felicity; man's chief end disposer of events cannot but do right, and being to glorify God, and enjoy him for ever. he is firmly persuaded that all things work together for good to those that love God, 3dly and lastly. These considerations. and keep his commandments. The due should induce us all to enquire seriously, discharge of our duty to God, and man must
whether we find in ourselves a disposition be attended with an approving conscience, to imitate the example of our great Lord wbich arms the mind against what are called and Master, as displayed in the sacred bisthe ills of life, and enables it to sustain their tory of his life, to which we have been lately most pointed attacks with Christian forti attending ? If it bas produced that happy tude and intrepidity. These are some of effect, lei us press forward towards the mark the principal temporal blessings that attend for the prize of the high calling of God in holy and religious life, as exemplified in Christ Jesus. As we have borne the image the character of our blessed Lord and Savi of the earthly, may we also bear the image our Jesus Christ. . . . . .
of the heavenly; for let us remember, that
in vain we are called Christians, if we live With respect to spiritual blessings, the
not according to the example and discipline most important are derived from a religious
of Christ, the great author of the institution, lite, according to the sacred text, before
The zeal of the primitive Christians, who cited, “ Godliness hạth the promise of this
were first denominated, so at Antioch, as life, and of that which is to come:" All
recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, in true Christians are the sons of God, because
imitating the example of their great Master, they are co-heirs with Christ, and partakers
was abundantly evident. Their very eneof the divine nature. It is observable, that
mies were observed frequently to say, “ See the only solid foundation for a good hope,
how those Christians love one another.” No respecting a future state of bliss, is built
bardship, no threatening, not even death upon duty. "We know, that we have pas
itself, could deter them from the prosecused from death unto life, (why?) because
tion of their duty. They might be said to we love the brethren," I Juhn iii. 14; im
follow their Master wherever he went, and plying, that the performance of our duty is
many of them sealed their profession with an indispensible evidence of our title to the
their blood. de les lli privileges of Christians, since we cannot be Christians without it.
We live in bappier days. We enjoy the
free exercise of religion, and have constantly These spiritual blessings are various, and
opportunities of doing and getting good. expressed in scripture under various forms, as a tasting of the heavenly gift, partaking • The sacred volume is expanded to our of the Holy Ghost, tasting of the good word view, and the brightest example presented of God, and the powers of the world to for our iinitation, even that of the great and come." Heb. vi. 4, 5, &c. These are an. immaculate Redeemer. If we follow it, tecedent to the blessings of the gloritied the reward is sure: if we wilfully neglect it, state, and designed as preparatory to their the punishment is certain. Therefore,' my réception. It is positively aflirmed in scrip- / beloved brethren, let me, by way of conclusioir, ture, that without holiness no mar shall see l seriously exhort you to think on these things.
1999 20tii Dollar inget TT is often matter of much surprize to me, which it so anxiously wishes? The vicious
1 that any reasonable being should reject man, if he hath any real understanding, can the Christian System, when fairly and never, with propriety, reject Christianity; truly proposed to him: a system, which, as since if ever he intends to repent,-and no a late elegant author expresses it, “ gives to man living, it is to be wished, intends virtue its sweetest hopes, to impenitent vice to die impenitent;-no religion, but the its greatest fears, and to true penitence its Christian, can afford him a solid, a rational best consolations.”
ground of hope. fr 0303 ló a If a man be really virtuous and honest, * I observe, farther, that if indeed there and is desirous to commend himself to the be an eternity awaiting us, if the soul of Deity by a rational and serious conduct, it | man be immortal, and must, in conseseems impossible to suppose, that he should quence, partake of the due reward of its have any objection to that system, which deedsmit man be immortal, and that he is, “ gives to virtue its sweetest bopes ;" which the universal voice of nature declares in places the duties of morality upon the every place and in every age-then, let who firmest and most extensive foundation, and will be wrong, the Christan must be right; which elevates the soul to the noblest and let whatever religion be true, the sincere most consistent ideas of God, and of the professor of Christianity cannot fail of his services which are acceptable to him. recompence ; cannot be unacceptable to
the Deity. Cicero's fine argument against If, therefore, desirous to obtain the divine Atheism may be applied to Christianity, attention, a man resolves to alter his life, with double force. “If there should hapand to abandon the paths of guilt, what re- pen," says he to his opponent, “ to be no ligion should he embrace so soon, so gladly, God, I shall certainly be as well off as your. as that, which gives to true penitence its self; annihilation will then be your lot as best consolations :” nay, which alone can well as mine. But if the matter shall be give any solid consolation to penitence, found otherwise; if there shall indeed be and assure it undoubtedly of the pardon for found a God, when we enter into a future
state ; how greatly shall I have the advan