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dence to keep off evils, so the second and more excellent is, to make them beneficial. Christians “ are more than conquerors through Christ that loves them.” They are always in an ascending state ; and believing, rejoice with an unspeakable and glorified joy. Death itself is not only disarmed, but made subservient to their everlasting good.Briefly, christian patience endures all things as well as charity, because it expects a blessed issue. It draws from present miseries the assurance of future happiness. A believer while he possesses nothing but the cross, sees by faith the crown of the eternal kingdom hanging over his head; and the “lively hope” of it makes him not only patient, but thankful and joyful. This sweetens the loss of all temporal goods, and the presence of all temporal evils. St. Paul in his chains was infinitely more contented than Cæsar or Seneca, than all the princes and philosophers in the world.

I will conclude this argument by a short reflection on the immoral maxims of several sects of philosophers.

The Cynics assert that all natural actions may be done in the face of the sun; that it is worthy of a philosopher to do those things in the presence of all, which would make impudence itself to blush-a maxim contrary to all the rules of decency, and corruptive of good manners; for as the despising of virtue produces the slighting of reputation, so the contempt of reputation causes the neglect of virtue. Yet the Stoics with all their gravity were not far from this advice. Besides, among other unreasonable paradoxes, they assert all sins are equal; that the killing a bird is of the same guilt with murdering a parent-a principle that breaks the restraints of fear

а and shame, and opens a passage to all licentiousness. They commended self-murder in several cases ; which unnatural fury is culpable in many respects, of rebelling against God, injustice to others, and cruelty to one's self. Zeno, the founder of the sect, practised his own doctrine ; for falling to the ground, he interpreted it to be a summons to appear in another world, and strangled himself. Aristotle allows the appetite of revenging injuries to be as natural as the inclination to gratitude, judging according to the common rule, that one contrary is the measure of another. Nay, he condemns the putting up with an injury as degenerous and servile.

He makes indignation at the prosperity of unworthy men, a virtue ; and to prove it, tells us the Grecians attri


buted it to their gods, as a passion becoming the excellency of their natures. But if we consider, the Supreme Disposer of all things may do what he pleases with his own, that he is infinitely wise, and in the next world will dispense eternal recompenses, there is not the least cause of irritation for that seeming disorder. He also allows pride to be a noble temper that proceeds from a sublime spirit. He represents his hero by this among other characters, that he is displeased with those who mention to him the benefits he hath received, which make him inferior to those that gave them; as if humility and gratitude were qualities contrary to magnanimity. He condemns envy as a vice that would bring down others to our meanness, but commends emulation which urges to ascend to the height of them that are above us. But this is no real virtue, for, it doth not excite us by the worth of moral good, but from the vain desire of equality or pre-eminence. And Plato himself, though styled divine, yet delivers many things that are destructive of moral honesty. He dissolves the most sacred band of human society, ordaining in his commonwealth a community of wives. He allows an honest man to lie on some occasions; whereas the rule is eternal, We must not do evil, that good may come thereby. In short, a considering eye will discover many spots, as well as beauties, in their most admired institutions. They commend those things as virtues which are vices, and leave out those virtues which are necessary for the perfection of our nature; and the virtues they commend, are defective in those qualities that are requisite to make them sincere. If philosophy were incarnate, and had expressed the purity and efficacy of all its precepts in real actions, yet it had abundantly fallen short of that supernatural, angelical, divine holiness, which the gospel requires. Till the wisdom of God removed his chair from heaven to earth to instruct the world, not only the depravation of the lower faculties, but the darkness of the human understanding, hindered men from performing their universal duty. The gospel alone brings light to the mind, peace to the conscience, purity to the affections, and rectitude to the life.




2. The second means by which our Redeemer restores us to holiness, is by exhibiting a complete pattern of it in his life upon earth.

For the discovery how influential this is upon us, we must consider, that of all the most noble works, the principal cause is an exact pattern in the mind of the agent which he endeavours to imitate ; and examples are of the same nature. He that desires to excel in painting or sculpture, must view the most accomplished pieces of those arts. Thus in morality, the consideration of eminent actions performed by others, is of admirable efficacy to raise us to perfection.

That examples have a peculiar power above the naked precept, to dispose us to the practice of holiness, appears by considering,—that they most clearly express to us the nature of our duties in their subjects and sensible effects. General precepts form abstract ideas of virtue, but in examples virtues are made visible in all their circumstances.—Precepts instruct us what things are our duty, but examples assure us that they are possible. They resemble a clear stream wherein we may not only discover our spots, but wash them off. When we see men like ourselves, who are united to frail flesh and in the same condition with us, to command their passions, to overcome the most glorious and glittering temptations, we are encouraged in our spiritual warfare.--Examples, by a secret and lively incentive, urge us to imitation. The Romans kept in their houses the pictures of their progenitors, to heighten their spirits, and provoke them to follow the precedents set before them. We are touched in another manner more by the visible practice of saints, which reproaches our defects and obliges us to the same care and zeal, than by laws though holy and good.

Now the example of Christ is most proper to form us to holiness, it being absolutely perfect, and accommodated to our present state.

(1.) It is absolutely perfect. There is no example of a mere man, that is to be followed without limitation.


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ye followers of me, as I am of Christ,” saith the great apostle. Nay, if the excellencies of all good men were united into one, yet we might not securely follow him in all things; for his remaining defects might be so disguised by the virtues to which they are joined, that we should err in our imitation. But the life of Christ was as the purest gold, without any alloy or baser metal. His conversation was a living law. He did “no sin, neither was any guile found in his mouth.” He was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners,”? Heb. vii. 26. He united the efficacy of example with the direction of precepts ; his actions always answered his words. Christianity, the purest institution in the world, is only a conformity to his pattern. The universal command of the gospel, that comprises all our duties, is, “ to walk as Christ walked.”

(2.) His example is most accommodated to our present state. There must be some proportion between the model, and the copy that is to be drawn by it. Now the divine nature is the supreme rule of moral perfections. We are commanded to be holy, “as God is holy." But such is the obscurity of our minds, and the weakness of our natures, that the pattern was too high and glorious to be expressed by us. We had not strength to ascend to him, but he had goodness to descend to us; and in this present state to set before us a pattern more 'fitted to our capacity. Although light is the proper object of sight, yet the radiancy and immense light of the sun in the meridian is invisible to our sight; we more easily discover the reflection of it in some opacous body; so the divine attributes are sweetened in the Son of God incarnate, and being united with the graces proper for the human nature, are niore perceptible to our minds and more imitable by us. This was one great design of his coming into the world, to set before us in doing and suffering, not a mere spectacle for our wonder, but a copy to be transcribed in our hearts and lives. He therefore chose such a tenor of life as every one might imitate. His supreme virtue expressed itself in such a temperate course of actions, that as Abimelech said to his followers, Judges ix. 48, “What ye have seen me do, make haste and do as I have done;" so our true Abimelech, our Father and Sovereign, calls upon us to imitate him. The first effect of predestination is to conform us to the image of the Son, who "was for this end made the first born among many brethren.” He assumed the human nature,

that he might partake of the divine, not only by his merit, but exainple.

This will appear more fully by considering, there are some virtues necessary to our condition as creatures, or with respect to our state of trial here below, which the Deity is not capable of; and those most eminently appear in the life of Christ. I will instance in three, which are the elements of Christian perfection-his humility in despising all the honour of the world, his obedience in sacrificing his will entirely to God's, and his charity in procuring the salvation of men by. his sufferings: and in all these he denied to his human nature the privilege due to it by its union with the eternal Word.

Humility, in strictness, hath no place in God. He requires the tribute of glory from all his creatures. And the Son of God had a right to divine honour upon his first appearance here below. Yet he was born in a stable, and made subject to our common imperfections. Although he was ordained to convert the world by his doctrine and miracles, yet for the tenth part of his time he lived concealed and silent, being subject to his mother and reputed father, in the servile work of a carpenter. And after his solemn investiture into his office by a voice from heaven, yet he was despised and contemned. He refused to be a king, and stooped so low as to wash his disciples feet. All this he did to instruct us to be “meek and lowly,” to correct our pride, the most intimate and radicated corruption of nature, Mat. xi. 29. For as those diseases are most incurable, which draw nourishment from that food which is taken for the support of life; so pride, that turns virtuous actions which are the matter of praise into its nourishment, is most difficultly overcome. But the example of the Son of God, in whom there is a union of all divine and human perfections, debasing himself to the form of a servant, is sufficient, if duly considered, to make us walk humbly.

Obedience is a virtue that becomes an inferior, either a servant or subject, who is justly under the power of others, and must be complying with their will; so that it is very distant from God, who hath none superior to him in dominion or wisdom, but his will is the rule of goodness to his own and others' actions. Now the Son of God became man, and was universally obedient to the law of his Father. And his obedience had all the ingredients that might commend it to our imitation. The value of obedience arises upon three

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