« AnteriorContinuar »
And as he was thus diligent in the more fecret and private Exercises of Devotion, by himself and with his Apostles ; so he was no less asiduous in the Exercises of public Worship. It was his constant Practice to frequent the Synagogues on the SabbathDays; and there he joined with the public Assemblies in Prayer and Praise, and in hearing or reading the holy Scriptures, and giving Exhortations from them; which were the usual stated Parts of the Synagogue Service: He himself gave an excellent Example of a right and profitable Observation of the Sabbeth, though he justly guarded against the superstitious Excess to which the Pharisees had carried it. We find him also frequently at the Temple on their folemn Festivals; and, as he was made under the Law, so no Doubt he was careful and exact in observing the Rites and Ordinances prescribed in the Law, nor could his bit, tereft Enemies ever charge him with nego lecting or transgressing them, though they took Notice, that he and bis Disciples tranjgreffed the Traditions of the Elders. Mait, Xy. 2. Luke xi. 38. He came to John to be baptised of bim, and when John said to him, with Astonishment, I have Need to be baptised of thee, and comest thou to me? He gave this Reason for it, Thus it becom
eth me to fulfil all Righteousness. Matt. iii, 14, 15. What was said, in a more imperfect Sense, of Zachariah and Elifabeth might be justly applied to him, with the greatest Propriety, and in it's utmost Extent, that he was righteous before God, and walked in all the Commandments and Ordinances of the Lord blameless.
Thus have we considered our Saviour's CharaEter, with Relation to his Temper and Conduct towards God, bis heavenly Father. It appeareth that his whole Life was a Life of Devotedness to God; the Serving and Glorifying him was the principal End he had in View, and the Business to which he applied himself, with an unwearied Ardour, Zeal, and Diligence. He yielded a perfect Obedience to all the Divine Commands, and an intire Rengnation to the Will of God in all Things, even in the most difficult Instances. And be was also asiduous in immediate Acts of Devotion, and the Exercises of religious Worship, both public and private.. Thus hath he left us a perfeet Example, with Respect to the Duties we owe to God. Nor was be less exemplary in Charity and Benevolence towards Mankind; which is what I propose to fhew in the farther Prosecution of this Subject,
On the Example of Christ.
EPHESIANS v. 2,
And walk in Love, as Christ also bath
HE principal Ingredients in a good
and excellent Character are Piety towards God, and Charity and Benevolence towards Mankind; and of both these our Lord Jesus Christ hath exhibited to us a most perfect Example. The latter is what we are now to consider. St. Paul, when he here exhorteth Cbriftians to walk in Love, very properly urgeth the Example of Christ, as what should have a great Influence. to engage them to it; Walk in
Love, as Christ also hath loved us. He gave many signal Proofs of bis disnterested Benevolence and Loving-Kindness towards Mankind through the Course of his facred Life, but especially in the last concluding Scene of it, when he gave himself for us (as the Apostle here addeth) an Offering and a Sacrifice to God of a sweet-smelling Savour : And accordingly, when aur. Saviour layeth it as his special Commandment upon his Disciples, that they should love one another, he proposeth his own Love to them, as furnishing both the most engaging Motive to mutual Love, and the most amiable and perfect Pattern of it: This is my Commandment (faith he) that ye love one another, as I have loved you. John XV. 1 2.
The Instances and Proofs of Christ's Benevolence and Love to Mankind are so many and various, that it is not eafy to make a distinct Enumeration of them.
His benevolent Difpofition appeared in the admirable Precepts of Love that dropped from his Lips: When he fümmed up
tbe whole Law, it was in Love, in Love to God, and Love to our Neighbour ; and by our Neighbour he hath taught us to understand, not merely those of the same City, Nation, or Religion with ourselves, but all Mankind, so as to be ready to do them Good, as far
as we have Ability and Opportunity. Not only hath he forbidden the Rendering Evil for Evil
, but he hath commanded us to render Good for Evil, to love our Enemies, to bless them that curfe us, and to pray for them that despitefully use us and perfecute
which is carrying Benevolence to the noblest Height. And his own Temper and Practice was every Way answerable to the Excellency of his Doctrine : He was the living unspotted Image of the fupreme Goodness and Benevolence. Not only was he far from injuring or wronging any Man, or doing the least Act of Injustice or Violence; but be went about doing Good, as St. Peter speaks, Aits x. 38. His Life was one constant Series of the most beneficent Acts of Goodness to the Bodies and to the Souls of Men. The Design of his Coming was, as he himself representeth it, to seek and to save that which was loft, Luke xix. 10. He came to preach the Gofpel to the Poor, to beal the Broken-hearted, to preach Deliverance to the Gaptives, and Recovering of Sight to the Blind, to set at Liberty them that are bruised. Luke iv. 18. He condescended to converse with the Poorest, the Meanest, and even with those that were called Publicans and Sinners, that he might have an opportunity of instructing them, and bringing them to a fincere Repentance: