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state of life, whether public or private, whether bond or free, whether high or low, is capable of being conducted and governed by the same spirit and temper, and consequently every state of life may carry us to the same degree of likeness to Christ. So that though we can in no respect conie up to the actions, yet we must in every respect act by the spirit and temper of Christ. Learn of me, saith our blessed Lord, for 1 an meck a:vd lowly in heart. He doth not say, ye
in the state and condition that I am in, for that was in possible; yet though ever so different in state and condition, he calls upon us to be like him in meekness and lowliness of heart and spirit, and makes it necessary for us to go through our particular state with that spirit and temper, which was the spirit and temper of his whole life. So far therefore as we can learn the heart and spirit of our Saviour; so far as we can discover the wisdom, purity, and beavenliness of his designs; so far we have learned what spirit and temper we ought to be of, and must no more think ourselves at liberty to act by any other spirit, than we are at liberty to choose another Saviour.
In all our actions and ways of life we must appeal to this rule, we must reckon ourselves no farther living like Christiaus, than as we live like Christ; and be assured, that so far as we depart from the spirit of Christ, so far we depart from that state to to which he has called us. For the blessed Jesus has called us to live as he did, to walk in the same spirit that he walked, that we may be in the same happiness with him wlien this life is at an end. And indeed who can think that any thing but the same life can lead to the same stute.
When our blessed Saviour was upon the cross, he thus prayed for his enemies, Father
Luke xxiii. forgive them, for they know not what
31. they do. Now all Christians readily acknowledge, that this temper of Christ is to be the
exact rule of our temper on the like occasion, that we are not to fall short of it, but must be perfectly like Christ in this charity towards our murderers. But then perhaps they do not enough consider, that for the very same reason, every other temper of Christ is as much the exact rule of all Christians, as his temper towards his murderers. For are we to be thus disposed towards our persecutors and murderers, because Christ was so disposed towards his? And is it not as good an argument, that we are to be so and so disposed towards the world, and all worldly enjoyments, because Christ was so disposed towards them? He was as right in one case as the other, aud no more erred in his temper towards worldly things, than in his temper towards his enemies. Should we not fail to be good Christians, if we fell short of that forgiving spirit which the blessed Jesus showed upon the cross ? And shall we not equally fail to be good Christians, if we fall short of that humble and meek spirit which he showed in all his life? Can any one tell why the temper of Christ towards his enemies, should be more the exact measure of our temper, than any other spirit that he showed upon any other occasion? Think, reader, if thou canst find a reason why thou mayest not as well forgive thy enemies less than Christ forgave his, as to love the world more than he loved it? If thou canst tell why it is not as dangerous to be wanting in the humility, meekness, and other tempers of Christ, as to be wanting in his charity towards his enemies? We must therefore either own, that we may be good Christians without the forgiving spirit which Christ then excercised, or we must own, that we
are not good Christians whenever we depart from the spirit of Christ in any other instances. For the spirit of Christ consisted as much in meekness, humility, devotion, and renunciation of the world, as in the forgiving his enemies: they therefore, who are contrary to Christ in any of these tempers, are no more like to Christ, than they who are contrary to him in this forgiving spirit. If you was to see a Christian dying without this temper towards those that destroyed him, you would be frighted at it; you would think that man in a dreadful state, that died without that temper in which Christ died. But then remember, that he judges as rightly, who thinks it equally dreadful to live in any other spirit, that is not the spirit of Christ. If thou art not living in that meekness and lowliness of heart, in that disregard of the world, that love of God, that selfdenial and derotion, in which our Saviour lived, thou art as unlike to him, as he that dies without that temper in which he died.
The short of the matter is this, the spirit and temper of Christ is the strict measure of the spirit and temper of all Christians. It is not in this or that particular temper of Christ, that we are to follow his example; but we are to aspire after his whole spirit, to be in all things as he was, and think it as dangerous to depart from his spirit and temper in one instance, as in another. For besides, that there is the same authority in all that our Saviour did, which obliges us to conform to his whole example: can any one tell why we should have more value for this world than our Saviour had? What is there in our state and circumstances, that can make it proper for us to have more affection for the things of this life, than our Saviour had? Is the world any more our happiness, than it was his happiness? Are riches, and honours, and pleasures, any more our proper good, than they were his? Are we any more born for this life than our Saviour was? Are we in less danger of being corrupted by its enjoyments, than he was? Are we more at leisure to to take up our rest, and spend our time in worldly satisfactions than he was? Have we a work upon our hands, that we can more easily finish, than he could finish his? That requires of us less mortifica
tion and self-denial, less devotion and watching, than our Saviour's required of him? Now as nothing of this can be said; so nothing can be said in our excuse, if we follow not our Saviour's temper in this respect. As this world is as little our happiness and more our danger, than it was his; as we have a work to finish that requires all our strength; that is as contrary to the world, as our Saviour's was; it is plain, there was no reason or necessity of his disregard of the world, but what is the same reason and necessity for us to disregard it in the same
Again, take another instance of our blessed Saviour's spirit: I came down from John vi. 38. heaven (saith he,) not to do my own will, but the will of him that sent me.
And again, My meat and drink is to do the will of of him that sent me. Now can any Christian show why he may think otherwise of himself, than our Saviour here thought? Or that he need be less devoted to the glory of God than he was ? What is there in our nature and condition to make any
difference of this kind ? Do we not stand in the same relation to God that our Saviour did ? Have we not the same nature that he had ? Are we too great to be made happy in the same way that he was? Or can any thing else be the happiness of our nature, but that which was the happiness of his? Was he a sufferer, a loser ? Did he leave the true happiness of human life, by devoting himself to the will of God? Or can this be our case, though it was not his? Can we be losers by looking to God alone, and devoting ourselves to his glory? Was it not the greatness and happiness of our Saviour that he lived to God alone? And is there any other happiness or greatness for us, but by making that the end and aim of our life, which he made the end and aim of his life? For we may as well seek out for another God, as for another happiness, or another way to it, than that in which Christ is gone before us.
He did not mistake the nature of man, or the nature of the world; he did not overlook any real felicity, or pass by any solid good; be only made the best use of human life, and made it the cause of all the happiness and glory that can arise from it. To find a reason, therefore, why we should live otherwise than he lived; why we should less seek the glory of God than he sought it; is to tind a reason why we should less promote our own greatness and glory. For our state and condition in this life, lays us under all the obligations that our Saviour was under, to live as he did: his life is as much our right way as it was his; and his spirit and temper is as necessary for our condition, as it was for his. For this world and all the things of the world signify as little to us, as they did to him; we are no more in our true state, till we are got out of this world than he was; and we have no other way to arrive at true felicity and greatness, but by so devoting ourselves to God, as our blessed Saviour did. We must therefore make it the great business and aim of our lives, to be like Christ; and this not in a loose or general way, but with great nicety and exactness, always looking to his Spirit, to his ends and designs, to his tempers, to his ways and conversation in the world, as the exact model and rule of our lives.
A gain, Learn of mę, (saith our blessed Saviour) for 1 am meek and lowly of heart. Now this passage is to be considered, not as a piece of good advice, that would be of use to us, but as a positive command, requiring a necessary duty. And if we are commanded to learn of Christ meekness and lowliness, then we are commanded in the same positive manner, to learn his meekness and lowliness. For if we might take up with a meekness and lowliness of heart that was not his, then it would not be necessary to learn them of him. Since therefore