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Goodness and Condescension of our blessed Lord, who hath been pleased to stoop so low for our Benefit, and hath vouchsafed to instruct us in a Way fo plain and easy, and hath represented the most sublime and excellent Things by Images drawn from such Things as are most obvious and familiar to us.
Let us therefore often consider and review the excellent Parables of our Saviour: Let us observe their admirable Tendency, and endeavour to lay them
them up in our Memories, and in our Hearts. Some of them exhibit illustrious Proofs of the Divine Foreknowledge of our Lord, and open to us the Nature of his Church and Kingdom, and what shall be the State of Things in it till his second Coming. And all of them in general are of a practical Nature and Tendency, not designed to amuse us with curious and useless Speculations, but to instruct us in Matters of the greatest Consequence. They are designed, as hath been shewn, to guard us against an inordinate Love to this present World and the Indulging a Life of Luxury and Sensuality, and to engage us to make a right Use of earthly Riches: To recommend and inculcate an universal Benevolence towards Mankind, and the Forgiveness of Injuries, which is one eminent Branch of it: To make the
most amiable Representations of the rich Grace and Mercy of God towards penitent returning Sinners, and at the same Time. to repress and mortify the Pride of those who are puffed up with a vain Conceit of their own Righteousness and Merits, and a Contempt of others: To Thew the utter Insufficiency of a bare external Profession of Religion, when not accompanied with the Fruits of real Piety and Righteousness: To orge us to a persevering Afiduity and Earnesiness in Prayer; and to engage us to watch, as well as pray, and to labour to be in a continual Readiness for the Coming of qur Lord. To put us upon improving the Means, of Grace that are now put into our Hands, and the Talents that are committed to our Trust: And, finally, to impress our Hearts with a strong and affecting Sense of the great Realities of an unseen eternal World, the unchangeable Happiness of the Righteous, and the Misery of the Wicked, in a future. State. Such as these are the important Lessons which Christ's Parables are intended to teach and to inforce: And let it be our Care to Thew the good Effect they have upon us by reducing these excellent Documents to Practice. And how happy shall we then be ! We shall then adorn the Doctrine of God our Saviour in all Things, and shall shew
forth the Beauty and Glory of Christianity in our whole Life and Conversation, and shall make it manifest how much we profit under the admirable Lessons of our incomparable Divine Teacher, which, with so much Condescension, and in a Way so familiar and adapted to our Capacities, he hath vouchsafed to teach us,
I would conclude with observing, that as it is the Duty of Parents, and a Duty of great Importance, to endeavour to bring their Children into an early Acquaintance with the holy Scriptures, which are able to make us wise unto Salvation ; so it may
be of particular Advantage to endeavour to make them betimes acquainted with the Parables of our Saviour, and with the Design and Meaning of them ; which will in an easy and familiar Manner tend to season their tender Minds with excellent Instructions, and to make Impressions upon them, which, it is to be hoped, will prove lasting, and be of great Vse in their future Conduct,
I have given you an Example, that ye mould
de as I have done unto you.
AVING, in some former Dircourses, laid before
you sundry Observations tending to thew Chrift's great Excellency as a Teacher, I propose, next, to consider him as having exhibited a bright Example for our Imitation : And indeed the guiding Men by Example, as well as Precept, necessarily entereth into the Character of a good and perfect Teacher. Both these concur in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the highest Degree of Eminency.
none was ever equal to him in the Excellency of his Doctrines and Instructions, so none ever equalled him in the Purity, Beauty, and Perfection of his Example. As never Man Spake, so never Man lived and acted, like him. I had Occasion to take fome Notice of bis Example before, as giving an Authority to what he taught ; but it well deserveth a distinct and particular Consideration, since it is of excellent Use, and of great Importance.
To introduce what I shall offer on this Subject, I have chosen these remarkable Words of our Saviour to his Disciples : I have given you an Example, that ye mould do as I have done unto you. - They were spoken on a particular Occasion, and have a special Reference to that admirable Pattern of Humility and Condescension, which he had just fet before them in washing his Disciples Feet; but they are equally applicable to the Whole of the Example he hath given us in his holy Life and Conversation here on Earth, which we are indispensably obliged to imitate.
Before we enter on a particular Consideration of our Saviour's Example, it may be proper to premise fome general Observations, which will tend to prepare our Way for what Thall be farther offered on this Subject.