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SERM. vigorous, because countenanced and encouraged by XXXIV.
- the approbation of reason, our most noble faculty.
6. Examples also do please the mind and fancy in contemplation of them, thence drawing a considerable influence upon practice. No kind of studious entertainment doth so generally delight as history, or the tradition of remarkable examples : even those who have an abhorrency or indisposition toward other studies, (who have no genius to apprehend the more intricate subtleties of science, nor the patience to pursue rational consequences,) are yet often much taken with historical narrations; these striking them with a delectable variety of accidents, with circumstantial descriptions, and sensible representations of objects, do greatly affect and delight their fancies; especially the relation of notable adventures and rare accidents is wont to be attended with great pleasure and satisfaction. And such are those, which present to us the lives and examples of holy men, abounding with wonders of providence and grace: no attempts so gallant, no exploits so illustrious, as those, which have been achieved by the faith and patience, by the prudence and courage of the ancient saints; they do far surpass the most famous achievements of pagan heroes. It was, I dare say, more wonderful, that Abraham with his retinue of household servants should vanquish four potent and victorious kings ; and that Gideon with three hundred unarmed men should discomfit a vastly numerous host, than that Alexander with a well-appointed army of stout and expert soldiers should overturn the Persian empire. The siege of Jericho is so far more remarkable than those most famous ones of Numantia and Saguntus, as it is more strange
that the blast of trumpets and the noise of people SERM. shouting should demolish walls, than the shaking XXXIV. them with rams, or discharging massy stones against them. And he, that carefully will compare the deeds of Samson and Hercules, shall find, that one true exploit performed by the former doth much in force and strangeness surmount the twelve fabulous labours of the other: no triumphs indeed are comparable to those of piety; no trophies are so magnificent and durable, as those which victorious faith erecteth: that history therefore which reports the res gestã, the acts and sufferings of most pious men, must in reason be esteemed not only the most useful, but also the most pleasant; yielding the sweetest entertainment to well-disposed minds ; wherein we see virtue expressed, not in bare idea only, but in actual life, strength, motion ; in all its beauty and ornaments : than which no spectacle can be more stately; no object more grateful can be presented to the discerning eye of reason.
7. We may furthermore consider, that God hath provided and recommended to us one example, as a perfect standard of good practice ; the example of our Lord : the which declareth the use and efficacy of good example, as one principal instrument of piety. That indeed is the most universal, absolute, and assured pattern; yet doth it not supersede the use of other examples : not only the valour and conduct of the general, but those of inferior officers, yea, the resolution of common soldiers, do serve to animate their fellows. The stars have their season to guide us, as well as the sun ; especially when our eyes are so weak, as hardly to bear the day. Even, considering our infirmity, inferior examples by their imper
SERM. fection sometime have a peculiar advantage. Our IV. Lord's most imitable practice did proceed from an
immense virtue of divine grace, which we cannot arrive to; it in itself is so perfect and high, that we may not ever reach it; looking upon it may therefore sometimes dazzle and discourage our weakness: but other good men had assistances in measure, such as we inay hope to approach unto; they were subject to the difficulties, which we feel ; they were exposed to the perils of falling, which we fear: we may therefore hope to march on in a reasonable distance after them; we may, by help of the same grace, come near in transcribing their less exact copy.
To conclude : Since upon so many accounts we are obliged to follow good examples ; since they are of so great use toward our proceeding in the way to happiness; thence they conduce to the clear instruction of our understanding, to the forcibly inclining our reason, to the vehement excitement of our passions, to the delightfully affecting our imagination in subserviency to good practice; let us make that due and profitable use of them, which we should and may do. Let us, with diligent attention perusing the sacred history, meditate upon the lives of holy men therein propounded as patterns of a persevering faith in God, and conscionable obedience to his commandments. Let the light of their exemplary practice in all kind of piety and virtue continually shine upon our souls, to direct our minds, to inflame our affections, to quicken our resolutions, to detect the errors and correct the faults of our lives, that we, imitating their virtuous and pious conversation, may partake of those comfortable rewards, of that joy and bliss whereof they rest possessed. The which God Almighty, and our blessed Saviour, the SERM. author and finisher of our faith, by his gracious aid XXX and blessing grant unto us; to whom be all glory and praise for ever and ever. Amen,
ABIDING IN CHRIST TO BE DEMONSTRATED
BY WALKING AS CHRIST DID.
1 John ii. 6. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to
walk as he walked. SERM. To abide in Christ, to be in Christ, to put on XXXV. Christ; and reciprocally Christ's being in us, living, Rom. viii. dwelling, being formed in us; and the like expresGal. ii. 20. sions occurring in holy scripture, do not denote any Eph. iii. 17. Gal. iv. 16. physical inherence, or essential conjunction between
Christ and us, (such as those who affect unintelligible mysteries, rather than plain sense, would conceit,) but only that mutual relation accruing from our profession of being Christ's disciples, our being inserted into his body the church, being governed by his laws, partaking of his grace, with all the privileges of the gospel, relying upon his promises, and hoping for eternal salvation from him. By virtue of which relation, we may be said, in a mystical or moral manner, to be united to him, deriving strength and sustenance from him, as the members from the head, the branches from the tree, the other parts of the building from the foundation ; by which similitudes this mysterious union is usually expressed in scripture: in effect, briefly, to be in, or to abide in Christ, implieth no more, but our being truly in faith