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mending to our regard the divine histories. They were not framed as fruitless monuments of fame, as objects of curiosity or entertainment; but as copies to transcribe, as lights to guide us in our way to happiness. IV. We may farther consider that in the nature of the thing itself, good examples are of singular advantage to us, as having a mighty influence on our practice. This shown, 1. by a comparison of them with precepts, as they cause us with more speed, less trouble, and greater efficacy to comprehend things: this instanced in the diagrams of mathematicians, and the models of artificers, &c. The example of Joseph recommended to any one who would learn how to demean himself under the assaults of temptation: the pattern of Moses, to him who would learn wisdom, constancy, and resolution, in the conduct of honest and worthy designs; and that of St. Paul to those who wish for instruction how to discharge faithfully the ministerial or any other office. 2. Good examples do not only inform, but they persuade and incline our reason to good practice, commending it to us by plausible authority; a way of reasoning the most plain, easy, and suitable to all capacities. He who can say that Abraham, or David, or St. Paul, did so and so in such a case, must suppose that he has great reason to do the like : this subject enlarged on. 3. Examples incite our passions, and impel them to the performance of duty. 1. They raise hope by discovering to us, and assuredly proving the probability of good success in good designs, by the best of arguments, experience. 2. They inflame courage, as the Apostle to the Hebrews signifies, when he intimates that he mentions and sets before them the examples of the patriarchs, that he might thereby excite their courage, and cause them resolutely to undertake that obedience, and patiently to undergo those afflictions which they performed and sustained : Heb. vi. 12. 3. They provoke emulation, which is another strong principle of activity, moving us earnestly to desire, and thence eagerly to pursue, whatever privilege or advantage we see another to enjoy; this point enlarged on. 4. Examples work on modesty, that preserver and guardian of virtue, as Cicero calls it: for every good action of another upbraids, as it were, reproaches, and shames him who does not act conformably thereto. 5. Example awakens that curiosity which is natural to us, and of no mean efficacy on our actions; for whatever we see done, we are apt to be inquisitive concerning it; why and to what purpose it is done, what the grounds of it are, and what the fruits of the performance. 6. Examples also please the mind and fancy in contemplation of them, thence drawing a considerable influence on practice; no kind of studious entertainment being so generally delightful as history, or the tradition of remarkable examples: those of holy men recorded in Scripture considered in this point of view, and compared with such as profane history sets forth. 7. We may furthermore consider that God has provided and recommended to us one example, as a perfect standard of good practice; the example of our Lord. That indeed is the most universal, absolute, and assured pattern ; yet doth it not supersede the use of other examples: not only the valor and conduct of the general, but those of inferior officers, yea, the resolution of the common soldiers, serve to animate their fellows. Concluding recommendation, since good examples are of so great use in leading us into the ways of happiness, that we should meditate on them, and zealously strive to imitate them.
SERM O N XXXIV.
OF BEING IMITATORS OF CHRIST.
I CORINTHIANS, CHAP. IV.-VERSE 16.
I beseech you, be followers of me: or, I exhort you, be imitators of me.
St. PAUL, by an impartial reflexion on his heart and life, being well assured that he by the divine Spirit was enlightened with a certain knowlege of all necessary truth, and endued with plentiful measures of divine grace; being conscious of a sincere zeal in himself to honor 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 on all occasions (not out of any selfconceitedness, arrogance, or ostentation, from which he, by frequent acknowlegement 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 on them as an argument, an encouragement, an obligation to the performance of several duties. So by it he directeth and urgeth the Ephesians to a charitable compliance, or complaisance ; a sweet and inoffensive demeanor toward other: “Give no offence,’ saith he, “neither to 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 endeavors of proficiency in grace, and the study of Christian perfection: “Nevertheless,’ saith he to them, ‘whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing: brethren, be ye 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 interest: “For yourselves, saith he, “know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; neither did we eat any man's bread for nought; but wrought with labor 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 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 recommendeth 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 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 on : the subject and scope of my discourse shall be to show 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 on all occasions to inculcate this duty : we heard St. Paul : hear St. James:
* Take,” saith he, “my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction:’ ‘Ye 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 do show 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 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 husbands; even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him Lord.” And wherever the eminent deeds of holy men are mentioned, it is done with an intimation at least, or tacit supposition, that we are obliged to follow their example. II. We may consider that to this end (that we might have worthy patterns to imitate) the goodness of God hath raised up in all ages such excellent persons, furnishing them with rare endowments, and with continual influences of his grace assisting them, to this purpose, that they might not only instruct us with wholesome doctrine, but lead us also by good example in the paths of righteousness. For certainly what St. Paul saith concerning the sins and punishments of bad men, is no less applicable to the virtuous deeds and happy examples of good men: “All these things happened unto them for ensamples; and they are written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the world are come.’ III. “They are written for our admonition: it was a special design of God's providence in recording and recommending to our regard the divine histories. They were not framed as monuments of a fruitless memory and fame to them ; they were not proposed to us as entertainments of our curiosity, as objects of wonder, as matters of idle discourse; that unconcernedly we should gaze on them, or talk about them, as children look on fine gays: but they are set before us as copies to transcribe, as lights to guide us in our way to happiness. So that if we will not ingratefully frustrate the intentions of divine Provi