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SERM, as vice ordinarily is conceived and propagated, (men by a XXXIV.
preposterous and perverse curiosity being inveigled to try what they see others affect or enjoy,) fo may virtue also by the same means be engendered and nourished; the general ways of producing and maintaining those contrary habits being alike. As, therefore, it is a great blemish
and reproach to human nature, that, Juven.
Faciles imitandis Turpibus et pravis omnes fumus we, as the Satyrist truly observeth of us, have a great proclivity to follow naughty examples; so there is from hence some amends, that we have also some inclination to imitate good and worthy precedents; the which is somewhat more strong and vigorous, because countenanced and encouraged by the approbation of reason, our most noble faculty.
6. Examples also do please the mind and fancy in contemplation of them, thence drawing a confiderable influence upon practice. No kind of studious entertainment doth so generally delight as history, or the tradition of remarkable examples: even those who have an abhorrency or indisposition toward other studies, (who have no genius to apprehend the more intricate fubtleties of science, nor the patience to pursue rational consequences, are yet often much taken with historical narrations; these striking them with a delectable variety of accidents, with circumstantial descriptions, and sensible representations of objects, do greatly affect and delight their fancies; especially the relation of notable adventures and rare accidents is wont to be attended with great pleasure and fatisfaction. And such are those, which present to us the lives and examples of holy men, abounding with wonders of providence and grace: no attempts fo gallant, no exploits so illustrious, as those, which have been achieved by the faith and patience, by the prudence and courage of the ancient saints; they do far furpass the most famous achievements of Pagan heroes. It was, I dare say, more wonderful, that Abraham with his retinue of household servants should vanquish four potent and victorious kings; and that Gideon with three hundred unarmed men should SERM.
. discomfit a vastly numerous hoft, than that Alexander with XXXIV. a well-appointed army of fout and expert soldiers should overturn the Persian empire. The siege of Jericho is so far more reniarkable than those inost famous ones of Nu-' mantia and Saguntus, as it is more strange that the blast of trumpets and the noise of people shouting should de'molith walls, than the shaking them with rams, or difcharging maffy stones against them. And he, that carefully will compare the deeds of Sampson and Hercules, shall find, that one true exploit performed by the former doth much in force and strangeness surmount the twelve fabulous labours of the other: no triumphs indeed are comparable to those of piety; no trophies are so magnificent and durable, as those which victorious faith erecteth: that history therefore which reports the res gefiæ, the acts and sufferings of most pious men, must in reafon be esteemed not only the most useful, but also the most pleasant; yielding the sweetest entertainment to well-disposed minds; wherein we see virtue expressed, not in bare idea only, but in actual life, strength, motion; in all its beauty and ornaments : than which no spectacle can be more stately; no object more grateful can be presented to the discerning eye of reason.
7. We may farthermore consider, that God hath provided and recommended to us one example, as a perfect standard of good practice; the example of our Lord: the which declareth the use and efficacy of good example, as one principal instrument of piety. That indeed is the most universal, absolute, and assured pattern; yet doth it not supersede the use of other examples : not only the valour and conduct of the general, but those of inferior officers, yea, the resolution of common soldiers, do ferve to animate their fellows. The stars have their season to guide us, as well as the fun; especially when our eyes are so weak, as hardly to bear the day. Even, considering our infirmity, inferior examples by their imperfection sometime have a peculiar advantage. Our Lord's most imitable practice did proceed from an iinmenfe virtue of
SERM. divine grace, which we cannot arrive to; it in itself is so XXXIV. 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 affiftances 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 fame grace, come near in transcribing their less exact copy.
To conclude : Since upon so many accounts we are obliged to follow good examples ; fince they are of so great use toward our proceeding in the way to happinefs; 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 affe&ting 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 confcionable obedience to his commandments. Let the light of their exemplary pra&ice 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 reft poffefsed. The which God Almighty, and our blessed Saviour, the author and finisher of our faith, by his gracious aid and blessing grant unto us; to whom be all glory and praise for ever and ever. Amen.
ABIDING IN CHRIST TO BE DEMONSTRATED
BY WALKING AS CHRIST DID.
He that faith he abideth in him, ought himself also go to
walk as he walked.
Gal. ii. 20.
Gal, iv. 19.
To abide in Christ, to be in Christ, to put on Christ ; and SERM, reciprocally Christ's being in us, living, dwelling, being
XXXV. formed in us; and the like expressions occurring in holy Rom. viii. Scripture, do not denote any physical inherence, or essential conjunction between Christ and us, (such as those Eph. ii. 17. 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 mysical 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 fimilitudes 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. 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
SERM. is, is obliged to order the whole course of his life and XXXV. 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 occafions 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 obli
gation, and an effectual inducement thereto. Hence they 1 Pet. i. 15. incite them to holiness: But, faith St. Peter, as he that
hath called you is holy, fo be ye holy in all manner of conEph. v. 2. versation: to charity; And walk in love, faith St. Paul, 1 Pet. ii. 21. as Christ also loved us : to patience; Because, faith St.
Peter, Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, Heb. xii. 1, that we should follow his steps. And, Let us, faith the
Apostle to 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 Phil. ii. 5, the cross: to humility; Let, saith St. Paul, the fame mind 6, 7.
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 made himself of no reputation: to charitable compli
ance, and inoffensive demeanour toward others, intimated 1 Cor. s.33. 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 Chrift: and again, Let every one please his neighbour for Rom. xv. 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 reasons.