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works. Think not that the Divine assistance, by which alone you can be renewed unto salvation, will be bestowed unasked, unsought, unsolicited, or solicited amiss. Nor think that it will be bestowed that it
may supersede the necessity of your own exertions; that it may
enable you to lead a careless life, without labouring to “ work out your salvation with fear and trembling."| Ask with right dispositions, and in the name of Jesus Christ, for the sanctifying aid of Divine grace; and it will not be withheld. Study to improve by that measure of grace which is bestowed; and more will be granted. “But grieve not" by transgression “the Holy Spirit of God 2 ;" lest you be abandoned to yourself, and given over to a reprobate mind.”3
1 Philip. ii. 12. 3 Rom. i. 28.
2 Ephes. iv. 30.
ON THE CHARACTER OF JESUS CHRIST.
The great pattern which a Christian is uniformly to propose for his imitation, is the character of his Saviour. “ Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart : and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”] “I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done." 2 “ Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example that ye should follow his steps." ; likeminded one towards another, according to the example of Christ Jesus."4—“Let that mind be in
you, which was in Christ Jesus.”5 When our Lord laid aside the glory which he had with the Father before the world was, and took human nature upon him ; “he was made like unto his brethren, and was in all points tempted,” although tempted in vain, “ like as we
Hence he is repeatedly styled in the Scriptures the Son of Man, the man Christ Jesus; and is described as growing not in stature only, but in wisdom and in favour with God. Hence, too, there appears an obvious reason for those expressions, in which he speaks of his inferiority to his father, and
i Matt. xi. 29.
2 John, xiii. 15. Si Pet. ii. 21. 4 Rom. xv. 5. in the marginal translation, 5 Philip. ii. 6 John, xvii. 5. Heb. ii. 17. iv. 15.
THE CHARACTER OF JESUS CHRIST.
his ignorance of a part of the divine counsels 1 : pressions which but for this consideration might have been deemed inconsistent with other expressions of his own 2, and with the doctrine of his divinity.
Regarding him, then, in the state in which he manifested himself in the flesh, as a man, conversant with men, encompassed with the infirmities and subject to the pains and sorrows of mortality; let us investigate, with some degree of detail, the example which he has left for our imitation.
The first duty required of men is piety towards God. The fervent piety of our Lord was his earliest and most prominent distinction. At the age of twelve years he left his mother and Joseph, and repaired to the Temple at Jerusalem ; where he was found by them in the midst of the Jewish teachers, hearing them, and asking them questions. In answer to the Virgin Mary, whose address to him implied considerable surprise, he said, “ How is it that ye sought me ? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business "3; employed in promoting the object for which I came into the world, the glory of my heavenly Father ? When occupied in the labours of his public ministry, we find that it was his custom regularly to attend the synagogues, the established places of worship on the sabbath, and to explain to the people the word of God. 4 On
every occasion he spoke with profound reverence of the Holy Scriptures. He exhorted his hearers to read and search them out: he interpreted such parts as related to himself: he affirmed that they could not be broken ; that not one circumstance recorded therein should pass away with
1 John, xiv. 28. Mark, xiii. 32. 3 Luke, ii, 48, &c.
% John, x. 15. 30. 4 Luke, iv. 16.
out being fulfilled. In one of his parables he speaks in the severest terms of those who despised or neglected the Scriptures; and declared that if the persons whom he described would not hear and obey Moses and the prophets, neither would they be convinced, though one should even be raised from the dead for their conversion. The rejection of Christianity by the Jews after his own resurrection practically confirmed the truth of the declaration. In all his actions he showed the warmest zeal for the glory of God. When he came into the Temple, and saw the outward court crowded with people who sold oxen, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; and with moneychangers, who supplied such individuals as wanted Jewish money in exchange for foreign coin, he drove them from the place with indignation : and affirmed to them that the house of God was to be a house of prayer, but that they had made it a den of thieves. All his own mighty works, his doctrines, his sufferings, and his resurrection, he ascribed to the glory of God his Father. To him he liabitually gave thanks on partaking or distributing of food. To him he prayed continually, at all seasons, sometimes alone, at other times with his disciples. He encouraged them to be earnest and constant in offering their petitions; and at their request drew up a form of prayer, admirable alike for piety, simplicity, energy, wisdom, and comprehensiveness, to direct and assist their devotions. In all things he submitted himself wholly to the will of God. And in his last agony, when he prayed with such perseverance and fervency that his Father would remove from him, if it were possible, the bitter cup ; he closed his supplication with these words : “ Nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done.” Thus completely did our Blessed Saviour in all things obey the
“ first and great commandment: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.”l
Let us proceed to the second great commandment, which Christ pronounces to be like unto the first : “ Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” 2 Of this command, love, in the language of Scripture, that is to say, perfect benevolence flowing from faith and necessarily including perfect justice, is the fulfilment. “He that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, thou shalt not commit adultery; thou shalt not kill; thou shalt nor steal; thou shalt not bear false witness ; thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." 3 Christ, by laying aside the majesty of his Divine Nature, and suffering upon the cross for our sins, gave a proof of love towards mankind, so wonderful as to exceed the grasp of the most capacious understanding, and the acknowledments of the warmest gratitude. Well do the Scriptures attempt, and they can do no more than attempt, to illustrate the transcendent love of Christ towards a depraved and guilty world, by contrasting his conduct with the strongest examples of human affection. 6 Greater love hath no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends. Scarcely for a righteous man will one die : yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But while we were yet sinners, and enemies, Christ died for us.” 4 During his abode upon earth, he was continually
| Matt. xxii. 37, 38. Mark, xii. 30. 2 Mark, xii. 31.
3 Rom. xiii. 8–10. 4 John, xv, 13. Rom. v. 7–10. See also Coloss. i. 21, 22.