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promote that great End, and no ways hinder it. But if we so place our Affections, and bestow our Time upon them, that one would think we make Them our great Design, and not the other; then we cannot be innocent, but are horribly unjuft both to God, and our own Souls.
These are the general Rules by which we ought to steer ourselves in the Practice of the Apostle's Precept of not conforming to the World. The farther applying them to Particulars, is left to every one, as he
finds himself concerned. Mat. 6.33. The Sum of all is, We should firft seek the
Kingdom of God, and the Righteousness thereof, and seriously endeavour in all our Conversation to recommend ourselves to our Lord and Master, by a diligent Observance of all his Commands, and abstaining from all the Pollutions of the Flesh and che World. And as for those Gratifications and Liberties that our Religion allows us, we should, as to them, use the World, as tho’ we used it not; taking them only by way of Convenience and Accommodation for our more easy Passage thro' this World into the other.
Our Obligations to live as Christ lived.
[Delivered in Four Sermons]
1 Pet. ii. 21. (Latter Part of the Verse.) Leaving us an Example, that ye should fol
low his Steps.
HE whole Verse runs thus: For
St. Peter here is exhorting
therefore highly reasonable it is that we should not repine at any hard Measures we meet with in the World. The Force and Strength of this Argument lies in that which St. Peter addeth in the last part of this Verse, namely, that Christ's Life was framed for our Example; that it was design'd to be a pattern for Christians to walk by, and that we are all of us bound to follow his Steps, He left us an Example, &c.
This Point of the Example of Christ is that I have now design'd to treat of; and in speaking to it I shall not restrain it to one Instance, that of bis Sufferings; (nor indeed do St. Peter's Words so restrain it, tho' it must be granted he brings it in upon that Occafion) but I shall consider it in its full Latitude with respect to his whole Life and Conversation in the World.
I. And in treating of this Argument I
shall endeavour these three Things. First of all in general, To shew the great Obligation that lies
all Christians to follow Chrift's Example.
II. Secondly, To explain the Extent of
this Obligation ; How far, and in what Instances Christ's Life is an Example to us, and doth oblige us to Imita
III. Thirty, III. Thirdiy, To propose some of those
Virtues that our Saviour was most eminent for, and which are of the greatest Use in human Life, and seriously to recommend them to your Imitation.
I begin with the first Thing, The Obligation that lies upon Christians to follow Chrift's Example. And this shall be my Argument at this Time.
And I think it the more needful to be insisted on in regard of a Notion that some People are too forward to entertain, which asserts, that the Life of Christ was not design'd for an Example to us, but for a Means to procure God's Acceptance of us. They explain their mind thus: No Man can be accepted by God, and entitled to his Favour, unless he be perfectly righteous in the Eye of God.
of God. Now to make a Man so, he must either have a perfect inherent Righteousness of his own, or the perfect Righteousness of another must be imputed to him, as to all Intents and Purposes to be made his own, and to be look'd upon as such. The former fort of Righteousness no Man can pretend to; nor is he obliged to have it under the second Covenant. The latter sort of Righteousness therefore is that we must rely upon, and by which we are to expect to be justified. Now this is no U4
other than the Righteousness of Jesus Christ, who only was perfectly righteous: This Righteousness of his being made ours, being imputed to us, is that that must make us perfectly righteous in the sight of God. As therefore the End of Christ's Death was to satisfy for the Breach of God's Laws in our stead, we having all sinned, and so deserved God's Wrath ; fo the End of his Life was actually to fulfil the Law in our stead, that we might be accounted righteous before God, as if we had fulfilled it our selves. As his passive Obedience, his Death and Sufferings, were designed for this End to he imputed to all Believers, for the excufing them from the Punishment due to their Sins; so his active Obedience, the Righteousness of his Life, was designed for this End to be imputed to all Believers to make them appear righteous before God, tho' they were not righteous in their own Persons. Now the Instrument, say they, whereby this Righteousness, this Obedience of Christ, both Adive and Passive, is made ours; the Hand that conveys it to us, is no other than a lively Faith ; that is in their Sense, a Believing in Jesus Christ, a disclaiming all our own Righteousness, and confidently applying his Righteousness to ourselves. And whoever doth this, is, in God's Account, a righteous Man without more ado, having all Christ's Rightecusness to inputed to him as to be made his own.