« PreviousContinue »
is sufficient, yet he is sovereign, and will use his own pleasure whether he will save you or not.
If you put off salvation till hereafter, salvation will not be in your power. It will be as a sovereign God pleases, whether you shall obtain it or not. Seeing, therefore, that in this affair you are so absolutely dependent on God, it is best to follow his direction in seeking it
, which is to hear his voice to-day : “ To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your heart.” Beware also of discouragement. Take heed of despairing thoughts, because you are a great sinner, because you have persevered so long in sin, have backslidden, and resisted the Holy Ghost. Remember that, let your case be what it may, and you ever so great a sinner, if you have not committed the sia against the Holy Ghost, God can bestow mercy upon you without the least prejudice to the honour of his holiness, which you have offended, or to the honour of his majesty, which you bave insolted, or of his justice, which you have made your enemy, or of his truth, or of any of his attributes. Let you be what sinner you may God can, if he pleases, greatly glorify himself in your
which God has given to the Christian church to be their rule in all ages. And the precepts, that we find in those epistles are no more to be regarded as precepts intended only for those to were spoken from Mount Sinai to the children of Israel, are to whom the epistle was sent, than the ten commandments, that be regarded as commands intended only for that people. And when we are directed to follow the good examples of the apostate whatever we see, that is good in any one, let him be who he may. But there are spiritual obligations, that lie on Chrishath pleased the Holy Ghost in an especial manner to set up tians to follow the good examples of this great apostle. And it the apostle Paul, not only as a teacher of the Christian church, but as a pattern to other Christians. The greatest example of all, that is set before us in the scripture to imitate, is the example of Jesus Christ, which he set us in his huinan nature, and which God himself set us, or the acts of the divine nature. Ephesians v.1. “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children." And Matthew v. 48. “Be ye therefore perfect, pattern. For, though the acts of the divine nature have the
phen in his state of humiliation. This is presented to us not only as a great pattern, but as a perfect rule. And the example" of no man, is set forth, as our rule, but the example
are even as your Father, which is in heaven is perfect.” But the example of Christ Jesus, when on earth, is more especially our highest possible perfection, and though his inimitable perfection is our best example, yet God is so much above us, his nature so infinitely different from ours, that it is not possible that his acts should be so accommodated to our nature and circumstances, as to be an example of so great and general use, as the perfect example in our nature which Christ has set us. Christ, though a divine person, was man, as we are men; and not only so, but he was, in many respects, a partaker of our circumstances. He dwelt among men. He depended on food and raiment, and such outward supports of life, as we do. He was subject to the changes of time, and the afflictions and calamities of this evil world, and to abuse from men’s corruptions, and to temptations from Satan, as we are; was subject to the same law and rule that we are, used the same ordinances, and had many of our trials, and greater trials than we.
So that Christ's example is the example, that is chiefly offered in scripture for our imita
But yet the example of some that are fallen creatures, as we are, may in some respects be more accommodated to our circumstances, and more fitted for our instructions, than the ex
For though he became man as we are, and was like us, and was in our circumstances in so many re
ample of Jesus Christ,
spects, yet in other things there was a vast difference. He was the head of the church, and we are the members. He is Lord of all, we are his subjects and disciples. And we need an example, that shall teach and direct us how to behave towards Christ our Lord and head. And this we may have better in some, that have Christ for their Lord as well as we, than in Christ himself. But the greatest difference lies in this, that Christ had no sin, and we all are sinful creatures, all carry about with us a body of sin and death. It is said that Christ was made like to us in all things, sin only excepted. But this was excepted, and therefore there were many things required of us, of which Christ could not give us an example. Such as repentance for sin, brokenness of spirit for sin, mortification of lust, warring against sin. And the excellent example of some, that are naturally as sinful as we, has this advantage; that we may regard it as the example of those, who were naturally every way in our circumstances, and laboured under the same natural difficulties, and the same opposition of heart to that which is good, as ourselves; which tends to engage us to give more heed to their example, and the more to encourage and animate us to strive to follow it. And therefore we find that the scripture does not only recommend the example of Christ, but does also exhibit some mere men, that are of like passions with ourselves, as patterns for us to follow. So it exhibits the eminent saints of the old testament, of whom we read in the scripture, that they inherit the promises. Hebrews vi. 12. “ That ye be not slothful, but followers of them, who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” In the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, a great number of eminent saints are mentioned as patterns for us to follow. Abraham is, in a particular manner, set forth as an example in his faith, and as the pattern of believers. Romans iv. 12. “And the father of circumcision to them, that are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had, being yet uncircumcised.” And so the prophets of the old testament are also recoin mended as patterns. James v. 10.“ Take my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affiction, and of patience." And so eminently holy men under the new testament, apostles and others, that God sent forth to preach the gospel, are also examples for Christians to follow. Hebrews xiii. 7. “Remember them, that have the rule over you, who have spoken to you the word of God; whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation." But of all mere men, no one is so osten particularly set forth in the scripture, as a patteru for Christians to follow, as the apostle Paul. Our observing his holy conversaVOL. VIII.
tion as our example, is not only insisted on in the text, but also 1 Corinthians iv. 16. “Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me. And xi. 1. “Be ye followers of me as I also am of Christ." And i Thessalonians, i. 6. Where the apostle commends the Christian Thessalonians for imitating his example; "and ye became followers of us." - And 2 Thessalonians ïii. 7, he insists on this as their duty. “For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us.”
For the more full treatment of this subject I shall,
1. Particularly mention many of the good examples of the apostle Paul, that we ought to imitate. Which I shall treat of not merely as a doctrine, but also in the way of application.
II. I shall show under what strict obligation we are to follow the good examples of this apostle.
I. I shall particularly mention many of those good examples of the apostle Paul, that we ought to imitate. And that I may be more distinct, I shall,
1. Mention those things, that respect his watchfulness for the good of his own soul.
2. Those virtues in him, that more immediately respected God and Christ.
3. Those that more immediately respect men.
4. Those, that were exercised in his behaviour, both towards God and men.
1. We ought to follow the good example, that the apostle Paul has set us in his seeking the good of his own soul.
First. We should follow him in his earnestness in seeking his own salvation. He was not careless and indifferent in this matter; but the kingdom of heaven suffered violence from him. He did not halt between two opinions, or seek with a wavering, unsteady mind, but with the most full determination and strong resolution. He resolved, if it could by any means be possible, that he would attain to the resurrection of the dead.
He does not say that he was determined to attain it, if he could, by means that were not very costly or difficult, or by labouring for it a little time, or only now and then, or without any great degree of suffering, or without great loss in his temporal interest. But if by any means he could do it, he would, let the means be easy or difficult. Let it be a short labour and trial, or a long one; let the cross be light or heavy; it was all one to his resolution. Let the requisite means be what they would, if it were possible, he would obtain it. He did not hesitate at worldly losses, for he tells us that he readily suffered the loss of all things, that he might win Christ, and be found in him, and in his righteousness. Philippians iii. 8,9. It was not with him as it was, with the young man, that came kneeling to Christ to inquire of hiin what he should do