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This clearly implies, their subsistence in a separate state ; a state of consciousness, activity, and enjoyment. It also implies, that antecedently to their entering upon that happy state, they were imperfect. Though from the time of their conversion they loved universal holiness, and followed after absolute perfection, yet they never attained it here below. They were ready to acknowledge, In many things we all offend. They saw and lamented manifold defects in their conduct, and especially in their inward frame of mind toward God and man. Though they loved God's whole character, as far as they understood it, yet they were far from a perfect view of the divine glory and rectitude: they understood the will of God but imperfectly, and too often fell short of what they aimed at in their deportment both toward God and toward mankind. Sometimes a defect in their views of the majesty and purity of God the Judge of all, left them in some degree exposed to temptation, to presumption, spiritual pride, and levity of mind. And sometimes a defect in their views of the grace and compassion of the Father of mercies exposed them to sink into despondency and bondage; while they too exclusively contemplated his greatness, justice, and purity. Their best experiences here, were attended with many mixtures of what was of an opposite nature, or a counterfeit kind. Their zeal was sometimes damped by lukewarmness, and sometimes tinctured with unchristian bitterness. Joy in God was either hindered by distrust, or attended with undue self-exaltation. Faith was mixed with presumption, and godly sorrow alloyed with sinful dejection. The temptations of Satan, the trials of the present life, the opposition of enemies, the imprudence of friends, and the influence of bodily constitution, made these defects and alloys appear in different ways and degrees. Frequent misconceptions or misrepresentations might aggravate them far beyond the truth ; but so far as they were real, they occasioned a continual warfare, in which the believer had much reason to be ashamed and abased, and much reason to admire divine grace, that he was not utterly over

But now the spirits of the just, who have left this world, are made perfect. Their views of God are per

come.

fectly just, and their frame of heart perfectly corresponds with their sense of his loveliness, and of their obligations. Their minds are justly affected with God's glory and grace ; with his majesty and his mercy. The divine image is completely impressed upon them; and there is the most perfect symmetry or proportion in every part; there is nothing defective, and nothing redundant.

Let us try to conceive of one man absolutely perfect; of a family, a church, a town, a kingdom, a world full of just men made perfect ; perfect in love to God, to each other, to every being that is worthy to be loved ; and each one perfectly lovely, on account of the beauty of holiness—0 what a sweet idea of heaven!

And are you not travelling toward such a world ? And some of our acquaintance have reached it already: they have got to the end of their race, have reached the goal, and possess the glorious prize. Not merely a negative perfection, or a deliverance from sorrow, difficulty, temptations, and sin; but they positively enjoy God's presence and likeness, without any impediment to their bliss, or imperfection in their purity. They want nothing but the resurrection of their bodies, which they shortly expect; and the completion of Christ's mystical body, by the gathering in of the rest of his elect; and they quietly rely upon Almighty grace to accomplish this in due time.

We proceed to notice,

THIRDLY, The connexion of believers in this life, with those spirits of the just which are made perfect. Ye are come to them, says the Apostle.

All who have cordially received Jesus Christ are now the children of God, and heirs of glory; they have received the atonement, received the adoption of sons, and may thus know their election of God. If this be your case, you belong to the same blessed family with them: only you are at school, and their education is finished. But you have the same heavenly Father, who hath loved you, and given you a good hope through grace. The same Redeemer, who went through greater difficulties than any of his followers, is your forerunner, who has entered for you within the vail. You have

the same Sanctifier, the Holy Spirit, who is the earnest of the promised inheritance. And you have a just description of their happy state, and have been enabled by faith to realize it.

Surely such a prospect may well support you, under all the troubles, and distresses of this life, and prove a blessed antidote to the fears of death. It may also reconcile us to the death of our Christian friends, and should induce us to imitate their faith, and follow their example, whereinsoever they followed Christ.

Though I did, some years ago, lead you to the consideration of this subject, yet my mind has been so strongly turned to this passage again, by the circumstance of an addition being made to this blessed company here mentioned, by the dearest friend I had left in the Christian ministry on this side the globe, that I could hardly fix my thoughts on any other subject.

I refer to the Rev. THOMAS Scott, Rector of Aston Sandford, with whom I have enjoyed the most cordial intercourse nearly forty-two years; when Mr. Newton, of Olney, mentioned him to me, as one who was “likely to prove the Jonathan Edwards of Old England.”

Though he entered the ministry from motives which he afterwards utterly condemned, and was for some years afterward a proud Socinian, yet even before he embraced the gospel, he manifested remarkable conscientiousness. In the year 1775, he formed some -acquaintance with Mr. Newton, then at Olney, who wrote him nine letters, since printed in his Cardiphonia, though with little effect at the time. However, he was led on by degrees to inquire earnestly after the truth, at first with much reliance on his own understanding, but after with earnest, fervent prayer; which issued in his cordially embracing the doctrine of salvation by grace, and his becoming a most diligent, devoted servant of Christ. In the year 1779, he published an authentic narrative of his conversion, entitled, “ The Force of Truth ;" and soon after, , he came over to Northampton to visit my father, where he also met Mr. Hall, of Arnsby; and ever since that time, I enjoyed a share in his friendship, and have ever esteemed

him as one of the best men and the most judicious divines that I ever knew.

On the most important religious subjects we were of one mind; and though before his conversion he had strong prejudices against all dissenters, yet afterward he ever proved that he loved all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. And with me and my most intimate friends of my own denomination, he manifested the most cordial union of heart.

When he visited this city, some years ago, he readily complied with my request to give an address to our Students; and had they all been Episcopalians and he their Diocesan, or had he been of the same denomination and called to give a charge at their ordination, he could not have given more excellent advice, or have shown greater concern that they might become good ministers of Jesus Christ.

His writings will be a blessing to the church, for ages to come. His Essays, at first published in small numbers for the

poor, but afterwards reprinted in a handsome volume, are surely the best body of divinity of the size which I ever

I wish every one of my hearers possessed them : and I wish all who can afford it, had his Family Bible, in which the marginal references are far more judicious and appropriate than ever were selected before; and his notes and practical observations at the end of every chapter, make the best exposition, as to the main end of the Bible, I ever read. We have, indeed, several other valuable expositors, which I would not depreciate for a moment; though I think there is here a closer connexion of doctrine and practice than I can find quite equalled any where else.

saw.

CXLI.
THE EXAMPLE OF CHRIST.

1 Pet. ii. 21. Leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps. The subject proposed for consideration this evening is, the example of Christ: the magnitude of which makes me despair

of doing it justice, and leaves me much at a loss where to begin, and what to introduce or omit. The clear testimony of the apostle Peter, in the text, forbids any attempt to prove that he is to be considered as our example: it would be as idle as to prove the existence of the sun, when he shines in his strength. He is no Christian who has the effrontery to deny that Christ left us “ an example,” and requires his followers to tread in his steps. The word utroypauuov, rendered an example, imports an underwriting; as in modern times a master sets a copy with pencil or red ink, for the child to write upon, and mark over the same strokes with black; or as Quintillian (who was nearly contemporary with Peter,) recommended, that the letters should be well engraved on tablets, that thus the child might pass his style (or iron pen) over them, which being confined by the grooves or furrows, could not slip aside as on wax. So the succeeding phrase, that ye should follow his steps, is also very expressive.

There is, indeed, a sense in which some may be said to make too much of Christ's being our example ; i. e. presenting this as the only or the main end of his obedience, or even of his existence. But as such usually make much less of him, so we who deny that this was his chief end, ought to make more of his example than they ; since we think so much more highly of his person; and because the other greater ends which we assign to his obedience, give a greater weight to this end.

I would therefore endeavor,

First, To take a succinct view of the example of Christ.

When we view our Lord as our example, we must consider his conduct as to its conformity to the divine law. Though he was a Son, yet he learned obedience. He took on him the form of a servant; and being found in fashion as a man, he became obedient unto death, by which he honored the divine law.

The commands of God, to which he yielded obedience were of three kinds; those to which he was subject merely as a man, as a Jew, and as Mediator.

It is chiefly in the former respect, that he is to be considered as an example:

in re

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