Page images
PDF
EPUB

lifting up his voice in the streets, not breaking the bruised reed, nor quenching the smoking flar, calling his disciples, not servants, but friends and brethren, and comforting them with an exuberant and parental affection. Let us pause an instant, and fill our minds with the idea of one who knew all things heavenly and earthly, searched and laid open the innost re, cesses of the heart, rectified every prejudice and removed every mistake of a moral and religious kind, by a word exercised a sovereignty over all nature, penetrated the bidden events of futurity, gave promises of admission into a happy immortality, had the keys'' of life and death, claiined an union with the Father; and yet was pious, mild, gentle, humble, affable, social, benevolent, friendly, affectionate. Such á character is fairer than the morning-star. Each separate virtue is made stronger by opposition and contrast;' and the union of so many virtues forms a brightness which fitly represents the glory of that God who is invisible, who dwelleth in the light which no man can approach unto, whom no man bath seen nor can see.

These reflections will prepare us for considering, :: III. THE LOVELINESS OF THE WHOLE OF OUR SAVIOUR'S CHARACTER, AND ITS SUITABLENESS Tè US AS AN EXAMPLE.oesi

Our Lord's life was as LOVELY AND NATURAL, as it was excellent in all other respects. This might indeed be collected from our preceding remarks; but we must stop to consider it still more attentively, as it forms a very peculiar feature of the whole example of our Master. Every thing is artless and attractive in the Redeemer's conduct. There is no attempt to supa port a part by labour and effort, no exhibition of a few splendid acts on extraordinary occasions, no seclusion from the ordinary habits of mankind; but all is fainiliar, gentle, and practicable. Jesus Christ took upon him human. nature as it came from the hands of its Maker, and did not, like the Stoics, attempt to fashion it anew, except so far as sin had corrupted it. “ His piety," observes a great author *, ;“ was without affrightment of precedent or prodigious instances of actions greater than the imitation of men. The instances of it were actions of a very holy, but of an ordinary life; and we may observe this difference in the story of Jesus from ecclesiastical writings of certain beatified persons, whose lives are told rather to amaze us and to create scruples, than to lead us in the evenness and security of a boly conscience." The amiableness and naturalness, if I may use the word, which appear in all that our Lord

* Bishop Jeremy Taylor.

said and did, on all occasions, in every emergency, and before all persons, form a striking contrast to the ostentation and glare of merely human virtue. Christ's life is not one of mere justice and greatness, but of overflowing grace and benignity. He speaks of the supernatural truths and glories of heaven with as much ease as we do of the usual affairs of life. He is fa, miliar with every subject he touches. Nothing is overstrained or artificial; nothing above nature and common life. Simplicity and majesty are equally conspicuous in him; and are both adorned with a loveliness which affects and wins the heart.

Such an example was EMINENTLY SUITABLE in this, as well as in other respects, to us in our state of infirmity and conflict. We all feel the advantage of a pattern for our direction. But where was a suitable one to be found? Amongst men there are no perfect models; in the best there are things to be shunned as well as imitated. Neither is the character of the Almighty a sufficient exemplar ; for though we are to be followers of God as dear children, yet God is infinite, his glory is dazzling, we know not where to fix our minds, we cannot come to our own particular case of conflict and weakness. Shall we, then, imitate angels. Yes ; but still their example does not reach our wants. They have no enemies, no temptations, no self-denial, po

combat. We can no more emulate the seraphic piety of angels, than we can ascend the heavens with the morning lark. It is in our incarnate Lord alone that everything is lovely and engaging, every thing suited to our weak and frail state. Christ had our infirmities, he bore our conflict; like us he was tempted, and like us he felt suffering to be difficult even to a holy mind. This is an example brought down as near to us as possible, and exactly suited to our frailty and weakness. We behold in it the image of God, and can contemplate the divine character as the sun through a glass, which softens, without really diminishing, its glory.

Again, our Lord's example is not that of a warrior, or a statesman, or a scholar, or a noble. It is not a character rarely seen, and therefore adapted only to the imitation of a very small part of mankind, but it is one of daily occurrence; and conversant, not only with the things of heaven, but also with the most common incidents of life. It is surprising how little there is of our Lord's conduct which is not imitable. His retirement in the wilderness for forty days, and his denunciations on the Scribes and Pharisees, together with his miracles, are almost the only exceptions.

Besides, the very circumstances of poverty and suffering in which he appeared, make his example still more adapted for us, situated as

we are in a world of sorrow, where the immense majority of mankind are suffered by Divine Providence to remain in dependence and subordination to others. Our Lord is an example of suffering virtue. He exhibits what is most wanted, the milder and more lovely and retired and patient graces.

+ Our Saviour, further, is our most suitable example, as he was both a public and domestic teacher, and thus instructs the ministers of God's word and sacraments, and the parents and guides of youth in every age, in their most important and difficult duties. What inimitable beauty is there in our Lord's discourses and parables! What simplicity, and yet what førce! He is not an abstract systematic teacher. He enters upon no long trains of reasoning. He illustrates spiritual truths by images the most familiar and the most striking. He draws the best lessons from incidental objects and occasions. He adorns bis discourses with those simple beauties which are most easily retained in the memory, and most deeply penetrate the heart.

I only add, that our Lord's blessséd life is a most suitable, because it is a most endearing example. We cannot separate, and wish not to separate, from it the thought that this perfect pattern of virtue was exbibited in the adorable and mysterious Person, who became man, and

« EelmineJätka »