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hand, to set up an imperfect example for our imitation, would be attended with still worse consequen
We know, from the instances of the saints recorded in Scripture, how apt men are to quote their imperfections as an excuse for themselves, and by copying after these, come short of that perfection to which they might have arrived.
Both these defects are remedied in the example of Jesus of Nazareth. His example is perfect, and, at the same time, has all that effect upon us which the example of one of our brethren would have had. When we behold the man Christ Jesus involved in diftresles similar to our own, clothed with all the innocent infirmities of our nature, and groaning like ourfelves under the finless miseries of life, we are touched with the feeling of his infirmities and his pains; our passions take part with the illustrious sufferer, and we behold him in some measure brought down to our own level. It is from these shades that this picture derives its beauty, derives its effect upon the world, and that, notwithstanding the glory that surrounds it, we recognise our own image, we trace the features and the lineaments of humanity, and by these, are drawn to copy after such an illustrious pattern of excellence and perfection.
The suffering state in which our Lord appeared, not only conduced to the efficacy of his example, but also to its more extensive utility, by presenting an ample theatre for the sublimest virtues to appear. It is observed by an historian, in relating the life of Cyrus the Great, that there was one circumstance wanting to the glory of that illustrious prince; and that was, the having his virtue tried by some sudden reverse of fortune, and struggling for a time under some grievous calamity. The observation is just. Men are made for suffering as well as for action. Many faculties of our frame; the most respectable attributes of the mind, as well as the most amiable qualities of the heart ; carry a manifest reference to a state of adversity, to the dangers which we are destined to combat, and the distresses we are appointed to bear. Had the Greeks consulted their own writers, they would have given them proper information on this head. To approve a man thoroughly virtuous, said one of their fages, he must be tortured, he must be bound, he must be scourged, and having fuffered all evils, must be empaled or crucified.
Who are the personages in history that we admire the most ? Those who have suffered some signal distress, and from a host of evils have come forth con. querors. If we look into civil history, need I call up to your remembrance the patriots of Greece, the he. roes of Rome; the wise, the great, and the good of every age, who grew illustrious as they grew distrefled, and in the darkest hour of adversity shone out with unwonted and meridian fplendour. If we look into sacred history, we shall find that the good and holy men, who are there pointed out as patterns to the world, like the Captain of their salvation, were made perfect through suffering. The most illustrious names that are recorded in the book of life, the patriarchs of the ancient world, the prophets of the Jewish state, the martyrs of the Christian church are witnesses on record of this important truth, that the most honorable laurels are gathered in the vale of tears, and that the crown of glory fits brightest on
the brows of those who have gained it with their blood. Jesus of Nazareth, too, was appointed to learn obedience by the things that he suffered. All the virtues of adversity shone forth in his life. The patience that acquiesces with cheerfulness, in all the appointments of Providence, the magnanimity which triumphs over an enemy by forgiveness, the charity which
prays for its persecutors, are striking and confpicuous parts of his character. But we injure his merit as a sufferer, if we consider it only as breaking out in single and occasional acts of virtue. His sufferings themselves, his condescending to become a victim for the fins of men, and to die for the happiness of the world, is an infinite exertion of benevolence that admits of no comparison, that is transcendent and meritorious. The consideration of this, more than the circumstances of his departure, more than the rocks which were rent, than the sun which was darkened, than the dead which arose, had we been present at the scene, should have made us cry out with the centurion, " Surely this man was the " Son of God."
In the third place, If we consider our Saviour as a priest, who was to make an atonement for the fins of men, the expediency of his making this atonement by sufferings and death, will be manifest. It is one of the doctrines revealed in the New Testament, that the Son of God was the Creator of the world. As therefore he was our immediate Creator, and as his design in our creation was defeated by fin, there was an evident propriety that he himself should interpose in our behalf, and retrieve the affairs of a world, which he had created with his own hands. But it is evident, at first sight, that redemption is a greater work than creation; that it requires a more powerful exertion to recover a world lying in wickedness, to happiness and virtue, than to create it at 'first in a state of innocence. In the work of redemption, therefore, it was expedient, that there fhould be a brighter display of the divine perfections, and a greater exertion of benevolence than was exhibited in the work of creation. Now, if God, without a satisfaction by sufferings, and by a mere aở of indemnity, had blotted out the sins of the world, such a display of the divine attributes would not have been given. But by the Son of God's appearing in our nature, and suffering the punishment which was due to our fins, a scene is presented, on which the angels desire to look. This, in the language of Scripture, was the glory that excelleth ; here the Almighty made bare his holy arm, and gave testimony to the nations what was in the power of a God to effectuate. Hereby all the perfections of the divine nature were glorifi. ed. That immaculate purity, which cannot look upon fin, and that astonishing love which could not behold the ruin of the finner, were awfully displayed. The majesty of the divine government was sustained, and the rigour of the law was fulfilled, justice was satisfied, mercy without restraint, and without mealure, flowed upon the children of men. In short, more glory redounded to God, and greater benevolence was made manifest to men, than when the morning stars sung together at the birth of nature, and all the fons of God shouted for joy.
In the last place, If we consider our Saviour in that state of glory to which he is now ascended, the pro- : priety of his being made perfe&t by sufferings will more fully appear. Because he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, therefore hath God highly exalted him, hath given him a name above every name, and committed to him all power in heaven and in earth. By the appointment of Providence, suffering hath ever been the path to honor. Ought not Christ, therefore, also to have suffered, and to enter into his glory? As, upon earth, he submitted to the lowest degree of abasement, and appeared in the form of a servant, he is now in heaven exalted to the highest pinnacle of honor, and appears in the form of God. As, in his state of humiliation, he was poor, and had not where to lay his head, he is now the Lord of nature, and inherits the treasures of heaven and of earth. Instead of the mock title of King of the Jews, which they wrote upon his cross, he is now in very deed the King of kings, and the Lord of lords. Instead of the crown of thorns, which pierced and wounded his blessed head, he is now for ever encircled with a crown of glory.
What dignity does it reflect upon all our race, that one who wears our likeness, who is not ashamed to call us brethren, now sits upon the throne of Nature, now holds in his hand the sceptre of Providence, and exercises uncontrolled dominion over the visible and invisible worlds! What abundant consolation will it administer to Christians in all their afflictions, what openings of joy will it let down into the vale of tears, when we recollect that the Governor of the world is a God who partakes of our own nature, who, in the days of his humanity, had a fellow-feeling of all our