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THE EXAMPLE OF CHRIST.
PHILIPPIANS, II. 2. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ
Man is better taught by example than by pre cept. He learns more by seeing another act, than by being told how to act himself. Hence the sincere servants of God are deeply grateful for the perfect model supplied to them by the holy life of their Lord and Saviour. They endeavour to walk, as he also walked. They put on the Lord Jesus Christ, in opposition to the making provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof. They learn of Him, who left them an example that they should follow his steps. They aim, as the text expresses it, to have the same mind in them, which was also in Christ Jesus. We can scarcely, then, propose a more important subject for our consideration, than the excellencies of our Saviour's personal character. The theme, however, is so copious, that the difficulty lies in the selection of topics, Still
we inust consider it in its detail, if we would derive
real benefit for our own conduct. As the ray of light must be divided by means of the prism, before the various colours which are mingled in it to form the perfect white, can be duly observed ; so we must examine the separate virtues of our blessed Master, in order to gain a complete conception of the different graces which are united in the perfect whole. I propose th
then to notice, I. Some of the distinct qualities of our Lord's character.
II. The combination and harmonious conjunction of these qualities.
III. The loveliness of the whole, and its suitableness to us as an example.
Let us consider,
I. SOME OF THE DISTINCT QUALITIES OF OUR LORD'S CHARACTER.
We may begin by noticing the extraordinary SPIRIT OF DEVOTION which adorned our blessed Saviour. When twelve years of age, he was engaged in the Temple with the doctors, in his Father's business. When he entered on his public ministry, he committed himself in solemn prayer to God.' Before he chose his twelve Apostles, as well as at his Transfiguration, he spent a considerable time in devotion. During his ministry he resorted to the synagogue on the Sabbath. He devoutly referred every act of his life and ministry-his mission, his doctrine, his miracles, his sufferings, his resurrection, to the will and appointment of his Father. He honoured the word of God by reasoning from it, appealing to it, and exhorting his followers and others to search into and obey it. He encouraged a spirit of prayer in his disciples by commanding them to pray, and by supplying them with a model of prayer. He sanctioned these encouragements to prayer by his own example; by going out into a desert place to pray, by rising up early, and by continuing all night in prayer to God; by pouring out earnest and frequent addresses to his heavenly Father as new exigencies arose; by his solemn intercessory supplication previous to his last sufferings; by his strong crying and tears during his agony; and by commending his soul to his Father as he expired on the cross.
His ZEAL, DILIGENCE, AND FORTITUDE, were equally remarkable. He was always in action, always in character, always a teacher, always waiting for opportunities of imparting instruction. He was the same person at the table of Matthew or the Pharisee, as in the synagogue or the temple. The zeal of God's house eat him up; and twice did he purge it from the profane uses by which the Jews had defiled it. Such was his ardour of mind, his earnestness,
and determination in his work, that it was his meat and drink to do the will of Him that sent him. He neglected even his ordinary food in order to do good. Such was his diligence, that the labours and movements of a long life were crowded, as it were, into the very few years of his public ministry. On one occasion, after teaching, preaching, and healing through one whole day till the sun was set, the sacred historian observes that the next morning, rising up a great while before day, he said unto his disciplies, Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, for therefore came I forth. His FORTITUDE, at the same time, was so great, that he reproved his enemies in the most undaunted manner, though they were often the very rulers who had his life in their hands; that he went boldly up to Jerusalem before his disciples, and entered the city in triumph; that he rebuked Peter for wishing his sufferings not to fall on him; and went forth to meet Judas. Before Pilate, Herod, and Caiaphas, he failed not, neither was discouraged, And his fortitude had this peculiarity, that he knew beforehand all his sufferings, and therefore had to meet with the whole pain of anticipation, as well as of actual endurance. Man knows nothing certainly of his future afflictions, and is supported by the hope of being exempted
from them; but the eye of Christ pierced through the long melancholy vista before him.
Let us next advert to our Saviour's WISDOM AND PRUDENCE. Nothing was more conspicuous in the character of our Lord than these qualities. He discovered on all occasions a surprising discernment of circumstances and knowledge of the heart. He fulfilled every thing in the most appropriate time and manner. He stopped precisely where he ought, and never pressed beyond the proper limits of duty. He answered, not merely the words of those who addressed themselves to him, but detected and met, as it were, their very thoughts. He taught the disciples his doctrine, and especially that which related to his sufferings, as they were able to bear it. He turned every incident, however trivial, to an important purpose. He knew when to yield and convey himself away, and when to refute openly his accusers. His parables and discourses are models of profound wisdom and address in the instruction of mankind. Nothing more clearly proves the measure of any one's prudence than proper behaviour and answers on difficult and sudden emergencies. Our Lord was thus tried continually, but he was never taken by surprise ; nay, his character was exalted by every such trial. When he was asked by the Pharisees, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath-day? he ap