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out an imitation of him our faith is vain, but they also descend into particulars, and press this motive when enjoining each peculiar virtue. Do they exhort us to holiness? 6 As he who hath called
is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation.” (1 Pet. i. 15.) Do they incite us to charity ? - Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us,” (Eph. v. 2.) “ This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you,” (John xv, 12.) Would they arm us with patience ? - We must consider him
66 who endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest we be weary and faint in our minds," (Heb. xii. 3.) Would they teach us to condescend to our neighbour for his benefit ? " Let every one please his neighbour for his good to edification, for even Christ pleased not himself,” (Rom. xv. 2.) Do they urge us to forgiveness ? “ Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another; even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye,” (Col. iii. 13.) Similar language is used with regard to all other duties. If then we pay respect to those scriptures which we have professed to receive as the rule of our conduct, we must study and imitate the life of our Saviour,
3. The sacred vows that are upon us, the tender and solemn relations that we sustain to Jesus, enforce this duty. To him we were early and solemnly dedicated, and many of us in maturer years have publicly professed our subjection to hin. Unless we are willing to wipe from our foreheads, as a foul blot, the baptismal consecration unto him; unless we traitorously renounce the allegiance we have sworn unto him, it is our duty to imitate his example. He is our Sovereign and our Loril, to whom we unreservedly belong; and by bis authority over us he demands that we imitate him. He is our great Teacher, who alone can conduct us to immortality : will we call ourselves his disciples, and not copy him ? He is the “ Captain of our salvation :" can we expect from him the crown of victory, if we flee from his banners, and refuse to follow him in the holy warfare? He is our generous Redeemer, our tenderest Friend, who pitied us in our forlorn and desolate state, and rescued us from miseries inconceivable : shame on the cold, the insensible, the ungrateful heart, that is not melted by this love, and constrained to imitate that goodness which he displayed for our benefit!
4. A regard to the best interests of our fellow men, should induce us to follow the example of the holy Jesus. If all who profess his name were deeply imbued with his spirit and temper, what a light would they shed upon the darkened world, and how many would they attract to the Redeemer! It is from the character of those who call themselves Christians, rather than from the pure and benevolent precepts of the gospel, that the men of the world will ever judge of the nature of religion. Oh! let us be careful not to alienate them: let us imitate Jesus, and then perhaps we will draw them to the Saviour, or if not, we shall be “ pure from their blood.”
5. A regard to our own spiritual improvement and salvation, should induce us to study and imitate the example of Jesus. How many, who could with difficulty understand an abstract reasoning on duty, or if they understood it, would be but little affected by it, who are forcibly and compendiously taught by example? And if example at all times has an astonishing influence, there are many circumstances which show the superiority of that of the Redeemer to all others.
There is no other example so comprehensive : from that wonderful union of greatness and humiliation, which was never found in any other being, there is no situation in which a view of him will not teach us our duty. Dignified, rich, elevated men! he can instruct you, since he had uncreated dignities, and could command at his will the treasures of the universe. Poor, humble, afflicted Christian! he can instruct you; since he was reduced to the lowest sorrows. Dying men! he can teach you by the mode in which he met death. Living men! he can show
you by his life how to prepare for your last hour. Young persons ! the youth who dwelt at Nazareth, and who, at the tender age of twelve, reluctantly left the consecrated hill and the holy services of Zion, can urge you to early piety. Other lives afford instruction to men in particular circumstances and relations ; though they are burning and shining lights, they dissipate the gloom but for comparatively a short distance around them: but he, like the sun, is set in a higher orb, and with an everlasting and uncircumscribed light illumines the universe.
Other lives may be excellent examples of some particular virtues : as Job, of patience; Moses, of meekness; Paul, of zeal. But in Jesus there is a beautiful and attractive harmony of all the virtues; and from their perfect combination results the spotless lustre of his character, as the purest white is the effect of the union of all the primitive colours. And how advantageous is it, to have our whole duty exhibited in one single character, instead of being obliged to select particular virtues from different individuals, and unite them so as to form a consistent whole? If there were some few duties which Christ
could not exercise, because they result from relations which he did not sustain, yet even with regard to these he instructs us, by those dispositions which he exercised, and which are the foundation of these duties.
Other examples present us with only a short period of time, reaching merely from the birth to the death of those who exhibit them; but the history of our Redeemer extends backward before the foundation of the world, and stretches forward after he expired upon the cross, into that eternity which they only who inhabit it can comprehend. We are taught by him not only when he tabernacled in flesh, but also when he first raised the hopes of fallen man : when he appeared to the patriarchs and prophets when he comforted his martyrs, and cheered his children in every age; when he now sheds down into the souls of his followers joys unspeakable.
Other examples communicate no quickening influence give us no new strength to follow the splendid career of those we have admired. But the example of Jesus has a transforming efficacy upon the heart. He who diligently and prayerfully studies it, is "changed into the same image from glory to glory, even by the Spirit of our God."
Other examples are of persons who are not united to us by such endearing bonds as is Immanuel. Though we are warmed by the burning zeal of Paul, and the touching love of John, yet "was Paul crucified for us? Are we baptized into the name of" John? Can we be as much affected by their example as by that of Him, to whom we owe all that we have, and all that we are?
Other examples bear the stamp of imperfection. There are always many defects in the most holy of
mortals. Even the children of light have a light only like that of the moon, borrowed, and subject to decays and eclipses. It is the Sun of Righteousness alone which has a full, a self-originated, an inexhaustible, and unchanging light. It is the example of Jesus alone, which is at the same time a powerful encouragement to holiness and virtue, and the very standard of holiness and virtue. Since then, when we wish to attain to eminence in any art or science, we al-` ways propose to ourselves the most exalted models, let us do the same when we aim to acquire the art of holy living, the science of practical godliness.
It is then our duty and our interest, our privilege and our honour, to be followers of the Lord Jesus. Would we wish thus to follow him? Let us remember, that a conformity in our internal principles of conduct forms the first step of this imitation. Hence we are exhorted by Paul, to "have the same mind which Christ had,” [Phil. ii. 5.] and by Peter, to "arm ourselves with the same mind." [1 Pet. iv. 1.] Without this inward resemblance, all our external conformity to his example will be in vain; it will be destitute of a soul. We shall only be pictures without breath, gilded statues destitute of a vivifying principle, beautiful corpses with paint upon the cheek, but death at the heart.
We must then, in order to imitate Jesus, be animated by the same Holy Spirit that he possessed. Though in his divine nature the Redeemer was holy by essence, and underivedly, yet in his human nature, in which we are called to resemble him, he was holy by consecration and unction from the Spirit. Though we cannot have the plenitude of this spirit, as he had on whom it was poured out without mea