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SER M. fection sometime have a peculiar advantage. Our XXXIV. 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 may 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 XXXIV. and blessing grant unto us; to whom be all glory and praise for ever and ever. Amen.
ABIDING IN CHRIST TO BE DEMONSTRATED
1 JOHN ii. 6.
He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk as he walked.
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 expres
Gal. ii. 20. sions occurring in holy scripture, do not denote any Eph. iii. 17. Gal. iv. 19. 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
and practice Christians; so that the meaning of St. SERM. XXXV. John's words seemeth plainly and simply to be this: Whoever pretends to be a Christian, (that is, to believe the doctrine and embrace the discipline of Christ,) ought to walk (that is, is obliged to order the whole course of his life and actions) as Christ walked, (that is, as Christ did live and converse in the world:) or, it is the duty of every one, professing Christianity, to conform his life to the pattern of Christ's life, to follow his example, to imitate his practice. This is the importance of the words, this the subject of our present discourse.
I. For illustration and confirmation of which point, we may observe, that the holy apostles do upon all occasions assume this supposition, when they would persuade their disciples to the practice of any virtue, or performance of any duty; enforcing their exhortations, by representing the practice of Christ as an unquestionable ground of obligation, and an effectual inducement thereto. Hence they incite them to holiness; But, saith St. Peter, as he 1 Pet. i. 15. that hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation: to charity; And walk in Eph. v. 2. love, saith St. Paul, as Christ also loved us: to patience; Because, saith St. Peter, Christ also suf-1 Pet. ii. 21. fered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow his steps. And, Let us, saith the apostle to Heb. xii. 1, the Hebrews, run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross: to humility; Let, saith Phil. ii. 5, St. Paul, the same mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but
SERM. made himself of no reputation: to charitable compliance, and inoffensive demeanour toward others, 1 Cor. x. 33. intimated by St. Paul, when he says, Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they might be saved: Be ye followers of me, as I am of Christ: and again, Let every one please his neighbour for his good to edification; for even Christ pleased not himself. Thus do the apostles take all occasion, from the like practice of Christ, to persuade the performance of duty; and the strength of their argument lieth upon the evidence of this supposition, that all professing themselves Christians are especially obliged to imitate Christ's example. And their authority may be backed and enforced by several
Rom. xv. 2, 3.
II. Doing so hath a reasonableness and decency grounded upon our relations to Christ: it is fit and comely that the manners of the disciple should be regulated by those of his master; that the servant should not, in his garb and demeanour, dissent or vary from his lord; that the subject should conform his humour to the fashion of his prince; especially that we should thus comply and conform to such a Master, such a Lord, such a Prince, whom (upon highest considerations) by a most voluntary choice, and in a most solemn manner, we have absolutely devoted ourselves unto: this reason our Lord doth John xiii. himself urge: Ye, saith he to his disciples, call me Master, and Lord; and ye say well, for so I am : if I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet.
III. Following Christ's example is requisite to