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of his excellent perfections, some of our principal re- SERM. lations, and some of our great obligations to him, (each of which hath much virtue and force to those purposes,) will interpose and represent themselves. Frequently thinking of him, we shall sometimes apprehend him with incessant toil labouring in the Acts x. 38. service of God, and in promoting the welfare of men ; sometimes we shall imagine him undergoing all kind of contumelies and bitter pains, suffering by the cruel hands and tongues of spiteful men; we shall, as it were, behold him bleeding under the scourge, and hanging upon the cross for our sakes. Sometimes he will appear to our minds crowned with majesty, reigning in sovereign power and glory, having all things in subjection under his feet; sometimes also he will be represented as our Judge, before whose tribunal we must all shortly stand, and be obliged to render an account of all our doings : which thoughts passing through our minds, will be apt to make some impression upon our hearts, to have some influence upon our actions. For, can that most amiable and most venerable idea of a person so entirely pure and holy, so meek and humble, so full of benignity and charity toward all men, (particularly toward ourselves,) be otherwise than apt to beget some especial love and reverence toward him; than incline us strongly to do well, yea, than teach us what and how we should do so, in conformity to such a pattern set before us? it occurring to our thoughts, that he is our Lord and Master, (who made us, and maintains us; who purchased us to himself, and redeemed us from miserable slavery by his own heart-blood ;) how can it fail to raise in us some awe, some sense of duty toward him ? Will not the apprehension of what he did and what he suffered for us powerfully mind us, that, according
SERM. to all justice and equity, in all ingenuity and grati
11. tude, we are bound to do only that which will please
him? If we think of Jesus, when we are setting upon any action, shall we not thereupon be apt thus to interrogate ourselves ? Shall I do otherwise than he did, or would have done, so rendering myself unlike or contrary to him ? Shall I be so unfaithful to my glorious Master, as to disserve him, or to neglect his service ? Shall I be so unworthy toward my gracious Redeemer, my best friend, my most bountiful benefactor, as to disoblige him, to wrong him, to dishonour him, to grieve him by thus doing? Shall I be so vain and rash as to cross him who is my King, able to control and subdue me; as to offend him who is my Judge, resolved to condemn and punish me? Shall I wilfully forfeit that friendship and favour of his, upon which all my happiness doth depend ? Shall I procure his displeasure and enmity, from which my utter ruin must inevitably follow ? Such considerations have a natural connection with our frequent thinking upon, and the presence, as it were, of our blessed Saviour to our minds; which therefore may be commended to us as an excellent instrument of bettering our hearts and our lives.
To conclude : Let us all always remember, and consider, that we are Christians, related unto Christ Jesus, and called by his name, and as so, in his name let us do all things.
Lord of all power and might; who art the author and giver of all good things ; graft in our hearts the love of thy name; increase in us true religion ; nourish us with all goodness; and of thy great mercy keep us in the same ; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
OF BEING IMITATORS OF CHRIST.
1 Cor. iv. 16. I beseech you, be followers of me: or, I exhort you, be
imitators of mea. ST. PAUL, by an impartial reflection upon his SERM. heart and life, being well assured, that he by the di- XXXIV. vine Spirit was enlightened with a certain knowledge . of all necessary truth, and endued with plentiful measures of divine grace; being conscious of a sincere zeal in himself to honour God, and benefit men; being satisfied, that with integrity he did suit his conversation to the dictates of a good conscience, to the sure rule of God's law, and to the perfect example of his Lord; that his intentions were pure and right, his actions warrantable, and the tenor of his life conspicuously blameless, doth upon all occasions (not out of any self-conceitedness, arrogance, or ostentation, from which he, by frequent acknowledgment of his own defects and his miscarriages, and by ascribing all the good he had, or did, to the grace and mercy of God, doth sufficiently clear himself; but from an earnest desire to glorify God, and edify his disciples) describe, and set forth his own practice, proposing it as a rule, pressing it upon them as an argument, an encouragement, an obligation to the performance of several duties. So by it he directeth
2 Παρακαλώ υμάς, μιμηταί μου γίνεσθε.
SERM. and urgeth the Ephesians to a charitable compliance, XXXIV.
- or complaisance; a sweet and inoffensive demeanour Cor. x. 32, toward other: Give no offence, saith he, neither to 33. iv. 16.
the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God: even as I please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved : be ye followers of me: so he guides and provokes the Philippians to endeavours of
proficiency in grace, and the study of Christian perPhil. iii. 16. fection: Nevertheless, saith he to them, whereto we 17.
have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing: brethren, be followers together of me, and mark such as walk so, as ye have us for an ensample. By the like instance and argument, he moveth the Thessalonians to a sober and orderly conversation, to industry in their calling,
to self-denial, and a generous disregard of private in2 Thess. iii. terest : For yourselves, saith he, know how ye ought 7, 8, 9.
to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disor. derly among you ; neither did we eat any man's bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail day and night, that we might not be chargeable to any of you ; not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an example to you to follow us. The same persons he commendeth, as having
by this means been induced to a patient constancy 1 Thess. i. in faith and good works: Ye know, saith he, what
manner of men we were among you for your sake, and ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction. The
practice of all virtue and goodness he also thus rePhil. iv. 9. commendeth under this rule and obligation; Those
things, which ye have learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do ; and the God of peace
shall be with you. Thus in our text (referring it to SERM. the context) he urgeth the Christians, his disciples at Corinth, to fidelity and diligence in the charges and affairs committed to them, to humility, patience, and charity; wherein he declareth himself to have set before them an evident and exact pattern. Which practice of St. Paul doth chiefly teach us two things; that we be careful to give, and that we be ready to follow good example: the latter of which duties more directly and immediately agreeth to the intent of this place; and it therefore I shall only now insist upon : the subject and scope of my discourse shall be to shew, that it is our duty and concernment to regard the practices of good men, and to follow their example. To which purpose we may observe,
I. That it is the manner of the apostles, upon all occasions, to inculcate this duty: we heard St. Paul: hear St. James: Take, saith he, my brethren, the Jam. v. 10. prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction : Ye Jam. v. u. have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord ; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy: and the apostle to the Hebrews: We desire, saith he, that every one of you Heb. vi. II, do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of'? hope unto the end : that ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises : and again, Wherefore seeing Heb. xii. 1. we are also compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. And St. Peter: Ye wives, be in subjection to your own 1 Pet.ii.1,6. husbands; even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling
BARROW, vol. II.