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are others besides Pharisaic persons who make light of Christ. He is despised also and rejected by all who are in an unawakened state of soul. To one who is wholly unacquainted with the value of money, and the advantages derivable from the possession of it in civilized society (as, for instance, to a South-Sea-Islander,) the largest offer of a pecuniary kind would be unthankfully received. And in like manner the inestimable gift is treated by the generality of mankind. They hear of the love of God without emotion, and of the gift of Christ without any desire after an interest in Him. A conviction of the worth of the soul, of its guilt, danger, and impotence, and also of the suitability of the “ inestimable
gift” to the wants and miseries of the lost soul, is an essential pre-requisite to a thankful reception of the sacrifice of Christ.
Moreover, faith in the “ inestimable benefit,' witli a view to personal comfort and salvation, is implied in a thankful reception of it. Without this in a greater or less degree, no thankfulness will be excited by the tender of a Saviour. A man looking at a treasure, unconscious of any propriety in it, would feel no gratitude for the sight. But the persuasion - This is mine," would open the secret springs of joy in his bosom. While unbelief prevails, no thankfulness can be felt. It is so faith” which “ worketh by love."
Some persons perhaps will say, We hope that we have received this on inestimable benefit" with thankfulness to the gracious Giver. Let them know that the petition of our collect is not therefore superfluous, nor unsuitable to their lips. Even these persons, admitting that their hope is founded, have need to pray for grace. For it is certain that they have not received the “ inestimable gift” so thankfully, nor embraced it so cordially, as it deserves. Nay, there are seasons when the believer is ready to quit his grasp, and seems to feel no gratitude for the gospel-proposal. If any thing like this ever occurs in our experience, surely it is “ needful “ to pray” that we may always most “ thank“ fully receive the inestimable benefit,” without being for a moment insensible of its value, or indifferent to its possession.
We proceed to implore “grace that we may
daily endeavour ourselves to follow the blessed “ steps of His most holy life.” This refers to the secondary end of the gift of Christ, as stated in the introductory part of our collect. He was given not only “ to be a sacrifice for sin,” but also “ to be an ensample of Godly life.” And all who “ thankfully receive the inestimable “ benefit” as “ a sacrifice for sin,” are anxious " themselves to follow the blessed steps of His “ most holy life." The end of Divine mercy is not answered with respect to us, unless our faith in Christ be productive of a constant imitation of Him.
“ The steps of Christ's most holy life” are « blessed" steps indeed; since wherever He trod, He left a blessing behind Him.
“ He went “about doing good.” To Him the words of our great Poet may be applied with still stricter propriety than to her of whom he wrote them:
Grace was in all His steps, heav'n in His eye,
Now wherever we see the print of our Lord's foot, there it is our privilege and duty to place our own. His “ensample of Godly, life” is
admirably suited for our direction. It is an epitome of morality and Godliness. In prosperity and adversity-in temptation and desertion -in our intercourse with God, and in our intercourse with men--in every age, rank, and station-His blessed example affords a perfect model of what we should study both to be and to do. Did we, possessing a competent knowledge of the evangelic story, and earnestly looking up to God the Holy Ghost for direction, ask ourselves, “ How would our great Exemplar act " in our circumstances” we should never be at a loss for a clew whereby to guide our steps aright. But we often dread the inquiry, and therefore neglect to make it.
We pray for grace " that we may endeavour " to follow the blessed steps of our Lord's most “ holy life.” An exact imitation is unattainable. But an endeavour to follow Him is essential to the character of a disciple. It is the criterion of grace received, for it can proceed only from Divine grace, and is always the consequence of its influence.
Our prayer supposes in those that use it, both earnest desire and strenuous exertion, things which are inseparable. If we are sincere in this request, we keep the pattern which Christ hath set us before our eyes, as a scholar does the copy which his master has written; and while we labour to transcribe it in our own conduct, conscious of inability we implore à larger measure of grace that our imitation may continually become more and more exact.
To imitate Christ is a Christian's “ daily" work. " He that saith, he abideth in Him, “ought himself also to walk even as He walked." Every day, and hour, and moment, affords VOL. II.
opportunities for an imitation of our pattern. The eye is not to be withdrawn from the copy for a moment, nor the work of imitation intermitted, till the transcript is complete; and that will not be till, following “ the blessed steps of “ His most holy life," we have followed Him through the valley of the shadow of death into His kingdom. For He hath not only shewn us how to live, but also how to die. With Him we must cry, Father, into thy hands I com“ mend my spirit,” before the course of obedience will be finished.
Reader, is Christ your pattern? Are you endeavouring daily to copy it in your own life? Do you pray for grace that you may be enabled to do so? All who embrace His sacrifice endeavour to imitate His virtues, and these shall all partake of His glory.
If indeed you are engaged in this arduous work of imitating your Lord and Saviour, you mourn because you resemble Him so little; for while gazing at His ensample you cannot but discern the imperfection of your attempts. If so, the words of our collect will be strongly recommended to your hearts, and your prayer for “grace through Jesus Christ our Lord" will ascend with fervency to the mercy-seat.
Be encouraged by remembering, that when you see Him as He is, you shall then be perfectly like Him.
THE THIRD SUNDAY AFTER EASTER.
Almighty God, who shewest to them that be in error the light of thy truth, to the intent that they may return into the way of righteousness; Grant unto all them that are admitted into the fellowship of Christ's religion, that they may eschew those things that are contrary to their profession, and follow all such things as are agreeable to the same, through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
YHRISTIAN experience is often paradoxical,
and to those who are unacquainted with its nature must appear contradictory and absurd. With respect both to the law and the gospel it contains mysteries which itself only can unravel. A believer, through faith in Christ Jesus, is freed from the law; and yet is bound by cords, which the same faith entwines around him, more strongly to the law than he was before he believed. By the gospel of Christ he is emancipated from slavery ; and yet, by the same gospel he is brought under more powerful obligations to an unremitted obedience than any which nature had imposed on him. The Christian is dead and alive, bound and free, at the same time though in different respects. He ceases from his own works, and yet has work to do which requires constant aitention and laborious exertion.
The work of a Christian is described in our collect. It is to “eschew all those things which
are contrary to his profession, and to follow all “ those things which are agreeable to the same."