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him, what a fmall Portion of Happiness are fuch Men like to have in the other World? nay rather, what Uneafiness and Torment shall they not have, if they be put into that State? Can it be any Pleasure to them, to be continually in the Company of one whom they cannot heartily love, and whofe Nature and Temper is as contrary to theirs, as Fire is to Water? Are they like to have any Enjoyment of fuch a Perfon, nay, will it not rather be unfupportable to them to be near him? Can Bafenefs, and Luft, and Sottishness, and Villany, and Filthinefs, receive any Delight or Gratification from the Society and Communication of perfect Purity, and Holinefs, and Charity?
Ay; but it may be faid, that at the Moment of their Deaths, Chrift may, in Kindness to them, quite change their Nature, and make them like unto himself, and then all is well.
I answer, if it be fo, yet ftill what I affert is true, namely, That every one muft be, fooner or later, conformed to the Life of Chrift; must be poffeffed of his Nature and Temper, before he is capable of the Happinets that he hath purchased for us.
But then, fince the effecting fo fudden, fo miraculous a Change in us as is here pretended, is by no Means to be expected, fince Chrift has made no Promifes, given
no Encouragement to hope, that any that live unlike him, fhall, dying, be made like him. It will infinitely concern us all, while we are alive and in Health, to conform our selves to the Example of our blessed Lord, and to poffefs ourselves of that Spirit, and thofe Qualities, that he was fo remarkable for in the World: Which is all that I meant to press upon you; And God Almighty grant we may all do fo, &c.
A Cafuiftical Difcourfe.
I PET. ii. 21.
Leaving us an Example, that ye fhould follow his Steps.
Y Argument here is the Imitation of Chrift, or the following Chrift's Example. And in treating of it, I proposed to do thefe Three Things.
First of all in general, To fhew the great Obligation that lies upon all Chriftians to follow Chrift's Example.
Secondly, To explain the Extent of this Obligation; How far, and in what Inftances
Inftances Chrift's Life is an Example to us, and doth oblige us to Imitation.
Thirdly, To propofe fome of those Virtues that our Saviour was moft eminent for, and which are of the greatest Use in human Life, and ferioufly to recommend them to your Imi
The First of these Points I have already dispatched, and shall not now trouble you with a Repetition of any thing about it.
I proceed therefore to the Second, which is to give an Account how far, and in what Inftances Chrift's Life is an Example to us, and doth oblige us to Imitation.
And here the Cafe that comes to be dif cuffed, is this. Are we Chriftians, fo to propofe the Life of Chrift as the Pattern and Model of ours, as to take ourselves to be obliged to do every Thing that our Saviour did, and in the fame Manner that he did it? or, if we be not bound precisely to do this, What Rules and Measures are we to take in this Matter?
It is a very weighty Cafe, and deferves to be very carefully confidered, because indeed, upon the well adjufting of it does depend the Refolution of a great many particular Cafes of Confcience, which daily Y 2 happen
happen in human Life, and which, if Men have not right Notions of this general Point, do frequently bring both Inconveniencies upon themselves, and Harm to the Publick.
Now what I have to offer for the Refolution of this Cafe, I fhall, for my more diftinct Proceeding, comprize in fix Particulars. And the Firft of them is this:
I. Our Saviour cannot be fuppofed to have given us an Example in all the Paffages of his Life, because in some of them it is not poffible for us to imitate him. Several of our Saviour's Actions were wholly extraordinary, and the immediate Effects of a fupernatural divine Power. Such were all the Miracles and wonderful Works he wrought for the Confirmation of his Doctrine, and giving Teftimony to the World that he was a Prophet fent from God; as his curing all Diseases, cafting out Devils, opening the Eyes of the Blind, making the Lame to walk, and the Dumb to fpeak, feeding many Thoufands with a very small Quantity of Meat, raifing the Dead to Life, fafting forty Days and forty Nights, with many more Inftances of the like Nature. Now in these Things, I fay, we cannot pretend that Jefus Chrift was an Example to us, because they are above the Powers of human Nature to perform.