תמונות בעמוד

ing this

understood, and firmly believed, for the softening of the sinner's heart, for quelling the pride of human wisdom, and for bringing every thought and imagination of the soul into subjection unto the righteousness of God *."

The tempers and dispositions of our Saviour must be known in order to their being imitated ; and though the knowledge of them is easy in comparison with the imitation of them, yet even a correct, distinct conception of the moral character of Christ, as an exemplar to copy, is not to be obtained without close thought and serious meditation. The following hurried sketch may be in some degree useful for serv

purpose : Christ Jesus was, in the strictest and highest sense of the term, pious. He regarded his Father with supreme esteem and veneration, confidence and love. Regard to his will was the animating and regulating principle of all his conduct. He shrunk from no duty which he required, however difficult ; from no suffering, however severe, which he imposed. “ I must work the work of him who sent

Not my will, but thine be done.spect to the world, in the scriptural sense of that phrase, he maintained a noble superiority: Its frowns could not terrify, nor its flatteries seduce him from the path of duty; its pleasures and its power, its riches and its hunours, were in his estimation objects of no value: “ He loved not the world, nor the things which are in the world.” With respect to mankind in general, the temper of the Saviour was tender pity and enlightened benevolence. He loved his neighbour as him. self. He looked not merely “at his own things, but also at the things of others." While he condemned


With re

* Horsley.

crime, he pitied the criminal, and cherished towards the worst of his enemies feelings of forgiveness and tenderness. His disposition towards his peculiar people may be summed up in one word-love: a love peculiar in its nature and superlative in its degree; a love “that passeth knowledge." " Pure and disinterested in its motives, the love of Christ had solely for its end the happiness of those who were the objects of it. An equal sharer with the Almighty Father in the happiness and glory of the Godhead, the Redeemer had no proper interest in the fate of fallen men. Infinite in its comprehension, his love embraced those who were his enemies : intense in its energy, it incited him to assume a frail and mortal nature, to undergo contempt and death. Constant in its operations, in an agony the sharpest the human mind was ever known to sustain, it maintained its vigour unimpaired. Having loved his own, he loved them to the end *.”. Such was the mind which was in Christ Jesus.

Now, to have this mind in us, is just to cultivate and exercise these holy tempers and dispositions. It is to cherish an habitual and supreme veneration and love for the Supreme Being ; to be thankful for benefits ; submissive under privations and afflictions; active in doing and patient in suffering the will of God. It is to maintain the spirit of a pilgrim and a sojourner upon earth ; it is to be never unduly elated by worldly prosperity, nor unduly depressed by worldly, adversity; it is to love all mankind as brethren, and to cultivate a disposition to alleviate their sorrows, and add to their comforts, though at the expence of our individual interest and gratification ; it is, in fine, so to “ love the brotherhood," as to be ready to lay down


our lives for those, in whose room and for whose salvation the Saviour died.

If we would thus have the mind in us which also was in Christ, it is plainly necessary that we should both have just and comprehensive views of the Saviour's character, and be at once disposed and enabled to make that character the object of our imitation. In order to obtain the first of these, a careful study of the gospel histories is necessary. To enable us to form right judgments of the Saviour's character, is obviously one great object for which the evangelical histories were written.

The means which their authors, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, make use of in order to gain this purpose, though admirably fitted for answering their end, are somewhat singular. They enter into no laboured detail of his intellectual endowments or moral excellencies: They utter no lofty panegyrics ; they pronounce no eloquent encomiums: They are the historians, not the eulogists of Jesus. Had much of the biography of Jesus been occupied in this way, the ingenuity of infidelity would not have been slow in suggesting, that the partiality of friendship had cast his defects into the shade, while his excellencies were brought into the foreground of the picture; and it might have been suspected, that, like some modern historians, the evangelists had been less anxious to give an accurate portrait, than to display to advantage their own ingenuity and eloquence. The method adopted by the evangelists precludes the possibility of such a supposition. They give us a minute, simple, unadorned narrative of his actions, his doctrines, and his sufferings ; they tell us what he did, and what he said, and how he suffered. They do not so much give us a picture of the Saviour's character, as present us with the materials for forming such a picture for ourselves. In consequence of this pecu


harity, of all histories, the gospels require to be read with the closest attention, if we would derive from them all the information respecting the character of Christ which they are intended and calculated to communicate. And he who does read the evangelical historians with the requisite attention, will find his la-' bour richly rewarded. He will often find a simple incident, an apparently accidental expression, opening up a most unexpected and delightful view of the Saviour's character. -Our study of the Saviour's character must be marked by a desire to copy it. We must not be like the mere spectator, who admires a beautiful specimen of penmanship; we must be like the scholar, who studies it as an example which he is to endeavour to copy as closely as possible. This character of Christ is not merely an object to admire, but a model to imitate.

More however is necessary, much more than a just and comprehensive view of our Saviour's moral excellence, in order to our having the mind in us which also was in him. We must be at once disposed and enabled to cultivate the holy tempers and dispositions which were characteristic of our Lord Jesus. For this disposition and ability we must be indebted to the inAuence of the Holy Spirit. It is only by the effectual operation of the personal Spirit of Christ, that we can be formed to the temper and disposition of Christ: It is by his influence that we are“ created anew in Christ Jesus to good works.” If, then, we would wish to have the mind of Christ in us, let us be solicitous to have the Spirit of Christ in us. And how is this blessing to be obtained ? By fervent, humble, believing prayer : “ If ye being evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father, who is in heaven, give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him? Ask, and ye shall receive ; seek, and ye

shall find ; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: for every one that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”

II. The second object which we proposed to prosecate in this discourse, was the enforcement of the apostolic injunction, “Let this mind be in you which also was in Christ Jesus.” Here I might bring forward separately the motives which urge us to adopt the Saviour's sentiments, and cultivate the Saviour's dispositions. I might shew, that we ought to maintain the same sentiments as Christ Jesus, for they are true, important, and necessary; and that we ought to cherish the same tempers, for they are enjoined by God, and are essential to our true happiness. As such an illustration would, however, by its length, necessarily trespass on your patience, I shall content myself with a more general recommendation of conformity to the mind of Christ, by shewing that it is at once dutiful, honourable, pleasant, and advantageous.

1st, We ought to let the mind be in us which also was in Christ Jesus, for this mode of conduct is dutiful. To prove this, it is only necessary to repeat the text, and to remember, that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God.” But, as we are very apt to forget what we do not deny, and to neglect what we do not refuse, it becomes necessary to dwell on the evidence of undenied truth, and multiply motives to acknowledged duty.

All that Christ-a well-accredited divine messenger-reveals must be true, and therefore we ought to believe it: All the dispositions of the incarnate Son of God must be right, and therefore we ought to cherish them. Every argument, then, which en. forçes the belief of what is true in sentiment, and the

« הקודםהמשך »