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Of tbe pračlical Character of Jesus Christ.
GOD, we are here assembled before thee to
awaken in our minds such ideas and sentiments as may fit us for worthily celebrating the holy fupper. Of what important, what falutary transactions does this feason remind us!
How un. grateful, how insensible fhould we be were we to remain cold and unaffected at it! It is consecrated to the commemoration of Jesus and his great work on earth; to the commemoration of our authentic teacher and guide, our magnaniinous deliverer and faviour. And in this commemoration we find whatever can foothe, comfort, quicken and rejoice us! Light in darkness, strength under a deep fense of our weakness, fortitude in afflictions, hope in death! Oh might the image of our loving, fuffering, dying Lord, who by his love, by his fuffer. ings and by his death brought falvation to the world, be ever before our eyes! Might all, and particularly his last discourses and actions, be deeply engraven on our hearts, bringing forth in them fruits of amendment and comfort an hundredfold !
Yes, blessed be to us the commemoration of our divine instructor, who has brought down to us from heaven every truth that has a tendency to improve and comfort us, and has transplanted us from the regions of darkness into the kingdom of light! Through him we know thee, the only true God; and know thee as our Father, who loves us, provides for us, and even vouchsafes his grace to his disobedient, prodigal children, when they amend and return to him. Through him we know the way that leads to thee and to eternal felicity. He has discovered to us this way; has cleared and smoothed it for us; has gone before us on it; has imprefied it with his venerable footsteps ; has confirmed his doctrine by his entire life and by his most holy death, and thus secured us against all fear of deception. Yes, may his doctrine be ever dear to us as divine truth; may it be the guide of our life and our comfort in death! Blessed be to us the commemoration of the Harmless, the Holy and the Just, in whose mouth was no guile, who never did wrong, who never did any thing but the best! Who went about doing good, taking under his care the ignorant, the erroneous, the sorrowful, the wretched! Whom compassion and charity, light, liberty, relief, deliverance and joy accompanied in all his ways; whose words were pure truth and wisdom, whose deeds the expression of
the sublimest virtue! God, what a pattern of the height of human perfection hast thou given us in the example of thy fon Jesus! How venerable, how amiable does innocence of heart, love towards thee and all mankind, an entirely virtuous, holy, generally useful life appear to us in the person and in the conduct of our Lord! Assist us then, o sovereign mercy, in following him, in stretching after him, in gaining a continually nearer and brighter resem. blance of him, in ever becoming more conformable to him! For these unspeakable benefits we humbly address thee, and conclude in that form of prayer which he himself vouchsafed to give us. Lord, teach us to pray. Pray thou thyself in us. Our father, &c.
PHILIPP. i. 5.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.
IN N the words of our text, the temper and conduct
of Jesus Christ are proposed as a model for ours, to the imitation of which we are under the strongest obligations, and with which we should constantly endeavour more and more to aslimilate. This is a proposition which in the scriptures of the New Testament very frequently occurs, is repeated on all oc. casions, and earnestly inculcated on christians. Cer,
tainly it must be of the greatest importance; it must be very closely connected with the design of chriftianity; it must form an essential part of it. No doubt but it is, pious hearers. We render our. selves unworthy of the name of christians, we forfeit all title to the privileges and felicities combined with it, unless we follow the example of our lord and master, and use all diligence to express it in our whole deportment.
Indeed Christ had many prerogatives that elevated him far above us and all mankind, and which render it impossible for us to do what he did, in all particulars. He was the Son of God: he was an extraordinary prophet and teacher : the Mediator and Redeemer of mankind. As such, he transacted many affairs and performed many actions which we cannot imitate; as neither our abilities, nor the relations in which we stand to God and man, nor our vocations, nor the circumstances in which we are placed, are adapted to them. But the virtuous, the pious, the beneficent, and magnanimous temper which is the principle of all the discourses and actions of Christ ; the pure nerous views he had in them ; the ardour, the fi. delity, the resolution with which he executed the will of his heavenly father, and the purport of his mission on earth; the humility, the meekness, the patience, the charity he displayed in his whole behaviour: these are what wc should propose for our pattern and rule in every part of our conduct. In these particulars we may and should have that mind
in us which was also in him ; and so walk as he also walked. To excite you, pious hearers, to this, I fhall endeavour by the divine afiistance, to collect the principal features in the practicable or moral character of our faviour which are difperfed in the evangelical history, and hold up to your view the charming portrait of his virtue and piety. May this picture, incomplete and defective as it will be, affect our hearts and be continually before our eyes! May it render virtue and piety truly venerable and amiable to us, and forcibly impel us to the practice of them!
I feel the difficulty, my friends, I feel how ardu. ous a talk it is to delineate the great, the exalted, the amiable character of our lord and master, and to place it in its proper light; and if I were ever defirous of greater abilities and talents, of a nicer fenfibility to moral beauty and excellence, it is at this moment when I am venturing on such an amazing object. In it everything that is grand, that is beautiful, that is good, that is excellent blend and unite. It is a portrait without a flaw; a virtue without de. fect; an entire life composed of unspotted rectitude, of unsullied dignity, of unremitted beneficence in sentiments and actions.
Christ was perfectly free from all faults and failings. No fin, no infirmity, no mean views, no impure motives, no negligence and indolence in good, ever once obscured the lustre of his resplendent merit. “ He was holy, harmless, undefiled,