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Leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.-1 Peter ii. 21.

THE persons to whom the apostle wrote this epistle are, in the beginning of it, styled "strangers." So they were, because dispersed and "scattered" in several kingdoms of the Gentiles; and they were pilgrims and sojourners in the earth itself; being "regenerated and born from above;"* and minding " a better country" than was to be found here below. The apostle endeavours to strengthen their faith, to enliven their hope, to fix their hearts upon "the incorruptible and undefiled inheritance," and to keep them in the way that leads to it.

In this chapter, where my text lies, he admonishes them to "abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul." He exhorts them to a "conversation" that would glorify God, convince the world, and adorn the gospel : their zeal ought to be so great of those works that are good, that they should not think much to suffer for "welldoing." Bona agere, et mala pati; "to do good, and to hold on in so doing, though very ill requited for it:" this is high and noble indeed; this is an honour not vouchsafed to "the elect angels," who are not capable of suffering. This is to be a Christian in truth and eminency; and to resemble Christ himself, "who suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow his steps." (Verse 21.) In the words which I have read, you may take notice,

1. Of one end of Christ in suffering; and that is, that he might leave us an example.—To say that this was the principal end of his passion, to deny his satisfaction as if it were impossible or needless, is heretical in a very high degree. To deny the blood of Christ to be the price of our redemption, is to "deny the Lord that bought us." And truly, the only propitiatory sacrifice for sin being rejected, there is no other remaining, "but a certain fearful looking-for of judgment and of fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries." (Heb. x. 27.) And yet, though Christ "bare our sins in his own body on the tree," (1 Peter ii. 24,) he is not only our Redeemer, but our example. He hath bequeathed blessings never enough to be valued, in his testament: he has also left us an incomparable example. The Greek word úroуpapuos, which signifies "example," is either taken from excellent writing-masters, who set a fair copy for their scholars to write after; or it is taken from painters, who draw a curious master-piece, for inferior artists' admiration and imitation.

• Δει ὑμας γεννηθηναι ανωθεν. (John iii. 7.)

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2. They were remarkable steps that Christ took when he was here in the days of his flesh.-And among them all he did not take one wrong one. He was "made of a woman, made under the law; (Gal. iv. 4;) and he did not in the least transgress the law. He came upon this earth to do his Father's will: "Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me) to do thy will, O God!” (Heb. x. 7.) And never did he any thing that was in any degree contrary to it.

3. The steps of Christ are to be followed.-Good men in scripture are our patterns, whose faith and patience we are to follow: "That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises." (Heb. vi. 12.) “The cloud of witnesses" is to be minded; (Heb. xii. 1 ;) and the bright side of it gives a good light unto our feet. But there is a dark side of the cloud, which may make us cautious: we must take heed of resembling the best of men in that which is bad, in their falls and infirmities. Abraham is renowned for his faith; yet not to be imitated in the carnal shifts [which] he made for the saving of his life. Barnabas

was to be blamed," for being "carried away by Peter's dissimulation." (Gal. ii. 13.) But Christ is such an example, as [that] to walk according to it, and to walk by the strictest rule, is all one; for our Lord did whatsoever became him, and exactly "fulfilled all righteousness." (Matt. iii. 15.)

4. Here is a special intimation (as appears by the context) of a Christian's duty patiently to bear injuries, and to take up the cross.— Though the gospel be the gladdest tidings, yet suffering is a word that sounds very harsh to flesh and blood. But the apostle bids us behold Christ in his sufferings, and not think much of our afflictions, which were but a drop compared with his, which were a vast ocean. The sufferings of Christ the Head were unconceivably greater than those which any of his members, at any time, are called to undergo. And, indeed, when he drank the cup [which] his Father gave him, he drank out the curse and bitterness of it; so that it is both blessed and sweetened to the Lamb's followers who are to drink after him.

5. The sufferings of Christ and his example being joined together in the text, here is a signification that by his death he has purchased grace to assist and enable us to follow his example.—Our Lord knows our natural impotency, nay, averseness, to follow him, or so much as to look to him. His death is effectual therefore to kill our sin, and to heal our depraved nature. "His power rests upon us," (2 Cor. xii. 9,) that we may tread the path in which he has gone before us. "I am able to do all things," says the apostle," through Christ strengthening me." (Phil. iv. 13.)

I am desired this morning to speak of Christ as our example; and to show how Christians are to follow him.

This is a theme that commends itself to you, by its excellency, usefulness, and seasonableness, in such an age, wherein there is such a sinful, sad, and almost universal degenerating from true and real Christianity. Glorious Head! hadst thou ever on earth a body more

unlike thee than at this day? How few manifestly declare themselves the epistles of Christ, written by the Spirit of the living God! Few professors have his image, who yet bear his superscription.

In the handling of this subject, I shall,

I. Premise some things by way of caution.

II. Show you in what respects Christ is an example to be followed. III. Produce some arguments to persuade you to the imitation of him.

IV. Close with some directions how this duty may be done effectually.

I. In the first place, I am to premise some things by way of


1. Think not, as long as you remain in this world, to be altogether free from sin, as Christ was.—He indeed was, from his conception in the womb, to his ascension far above all visible heavens, altogether immaculate and "without blemish." Some have fancied spots in the sun; but sure I am, in "the Sun of righteousness" there is none. The sins of all that are saved were "laid upon him; " but no sin was ever found in him, or done by him. The apostle tells us, that he was “holy, harmless, and undefiled." (Heb. vii. 26.) You are indeed to imitate Christ in purity; but perfect holiness you cannot attain to, while you carry such a body of death about you, and are in such a world as this. It may comfort you to consider, after the fall of the first Adam, and the sad consequences of it, how the Second Adam stood and conquered, and kept himself unspotted from the world, all the while he conversed in it. But as long as you remain on earth, some defilement will cleave to you to admonish you where you are, and to make you long for the heavenly Jerusalem. More and more holy you may and ought to be; but to be completely holy, is the happiness not of earth, but heaven.

2. Think not that Christ in all his actions is to be imitated.-There are royalties belonging to our Lord Jesus, which none must invade. He alone is Judge and Lawgiver in Zion; and that worship is vain which "is taught by the precepts of men." (Isai. xxix. 13.) Christ "is all in all." He "fills all in all." (Eph. i. 23.) When the fathers of the last Lateran council told Leo X., that "all power was given to him in heaven and earth; " as it was blasphemous flattery in them to give, so it was blasphemous pride and right antichristian arrogancy in him to accept, the honour. When our Lord was upon earth, there were several acts of power which he exerted; as, giving sight to the blind, raising the dead, and such-like; which Christians now must not think of doing. I grant, that the power of working miracles was communicated to the apostles and others; but it was res unius ætatis, “a thing that lasted little longer than one age." These miracles were necessary when the gospel was first to be planted in the world; but now they are ceased: and if there were

Elegit apostolos humiliter natos, inhonoratos, illiteratos; ut quicquid magnum essent et facerent; ipse in eis esset et faceret.-AUGUSTINUS De Civitate Dei, lib. xviii. cap. 49. "God chose men who were of humble origin, devoid of wordly honours, and illiterate,

but a general exactness of exemplariness in Christians' lives and practices, this might be majus omni miraculo, "a great deal more than miracles," toward the gospel's propagation.

3. Think not that your obedience can be meritorious, as was the obedience of our Lord and Saviour.-The apostle tells us, that "by the obedience of one," (that is, the Second Adam,) "many are made righteous; and to this obedience is owing that "abundance of grace" which believers receive, "the gift of righteousness," and also "reigning in life eternal." (Rom. v. 17, 19.) The merit of our Lord Jesus is so every way sufficient, that believers' merit is as needless as, all things considered, it is impossible. It was very orthodox humility in Jacob, when he confessed he was "less than the least of all mercies;" (Gen. xxxii. 10;) and Nehemiah, though he speaks again and again of the good deeds he had done, was certainly very far from the opinion of merit, as appears, Neh. xiii. 22: "Remember me, O my God, concerning this also, and spare me according to the greatness of thy mercy."

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4. You must not imagine that your greatest sufferings for the sake of righteousness are in the least expiatory of sin, as Christ's sufferings were.- "Christ was delivered for our offences," (Rom. iv. 25,) and 'by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." (Heb. x. 14.) The offering was but one, the sacrifice of himself ; and it was offered but once. Other sacrifices are unnecessary; it is unnecessary that this should be again offered. Our Lord upon the cross, with his last breath, cried out: TETEλEσTaι "It is finished." (John xix. 30.) As if he had said, "All is done, all is undergone, that was needful for my church's acceptation with God, and the full remission of all their trespasses." Understand, that no sufferings

that you can undergo for Christ's sake, are satisfactory for your iniquities. Do not, by such a thought, offer to derogate from Christ's complete satisfaction. We read of some "that came out of great tribulation." But did the blood of these martyrs justify them? such matter: They washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." (Rev. vii. 14.)

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II. In the second place, I am to show you in what respects Christ is an example to be followed.

1. Christ is to be followed in his great self-denial.—It had been a great stoop in the Son of God, if his Deity had been veiled with the nature of angels. A greater stoop it would have been to be made flesh; though he had been born of an empress, and had been as glorious a temporal monarch as the Jews fancied he would be. But this is exceedingly amazing, to behold Him that "thought it not robbery to be equal with God, making himself of no reputation, and taking upon him the form of a servant." (Phil. ii. 7.) He "did not abhor a poor virgin's womb," nor afterwards to be laid in a manger; and

to be his apostles; that how great soever they might afterwards become, and however wonderful might be the enterprises in which they engaged and were successful, it might be apparent that He was with them and in them, and performed those mighty works by his own energy with which they were endowed."-EDIT.

though he was Lord of all, "yet for our sakes he became poor, that we through his poverty might be rich." (2 Cor. viii. 9.) Thus "he pleased not himself;" (Rom. xv. 3;) neither did he seek himself and his own honour, but the honour and glory of him that sent him. (John vii. 18.)

How can he be a follower of Christ who is so utterly unlike him in being selfish? Our Lord knew the prevalency of self-love, and how opposite it is to the love of God, and [the] care of the soul; therefore he strictly requires self-denial : "If any man will come after me, аяаρуσασtш ÉαUToy, let him deny himself:" (Luke ix. 23:) seipsum abdicet, as Beza translates it: "Self-abdication is called for." A man must have no regard to himself, to his own ends and inclinations, as they are opposite unto and lead him away from God, and from his duty. O, act as new creatures, and as those that are not your former selves! Seek not your "own things." (Phil. ii. 21.) "Let nothing be done through vain-glory." (Verse 3.) Be ever diffident and jealous of yourselves. Self is the enemy that is always present, and most within us, and that has the greatest power to sway us. "We are not our own, we are bought with a price;" we should "glorify" the Lord that has bought us, as those that are debtors, (1 Cor. vi. 19, 20,) not to ourselves, but of ourselves to him.

2. Christ is to be followed in his patient enduring the world's hatred, and the slights and contradiction of sinners.—It was the Father's and the Son's love to the world, that brought Christ into it: and he came "not to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved." (John iii. 17.) Yet what strange kind of usage from the world did he meet with! The world was mad upon sin, venturous upon hell and wrath, and with contempt and hatred rejected the only Saviour. His person they are prejudiced against; his doctrine they contradict; and his design they oppose, though their deliverance and salvation were designed.

Christians should not think it strange that they meet with hard and unworthy usage from the world. Cain did quickly show his enmity against Abel his brother, "because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous." (1 John iii. 12.) "If the world hate you," says Christ, "ye know it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you." (John xv. 18, 19.) Now as Christ was unmoved by the world's malice either from doing his work, or from looking to "the joy that was set before him;" (Heb. xii. 2;) so should Christians also be. Conquer the world by contempt of its fury. Overcome its evil with good. And as Christ "made intercession for the transgressors," that cried, "Crucify him, crucify him," so do ye "love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you." (Matt. v. 44.)

3. Christ is to be followed in his resisting and overcoming the prince of darkness.-Satan assaulted the first Adam, and was too hard for

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