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which God has given to the Christian church to be their rule in all ages. And the precepts, that we find in those cpistles are no more to be regarded as precepts intended only for those to whom the epistle was sent, than the ten commandments, that were spoken from Mount Sinai to the children of Israel, are to be regarded as commands intended only for that people. And when we are directed to follow the good examples of the apostle Paul by the Holy Ghost, it is not merely as we are to imitate whatever we see, that is good in any one, let him be who he may. But there are spiritual obligations, that lie on Christians to follow the good examples of this great apostle. And it hath pleased the Holy Ghost in an especial manner to set up the apostle Paul, not only as a teacher of the Christian church, but as a pattern to other Christians. The greatest example of all, that is set before us in the scripture to imitate, is the example of Jesus Christ, which he set us in his human nature, and when in his state of humiliation. This is presented to us not only as a great pattern, but as a perfect rule. And the example of no man is set forth, as our rule, but the example of Christ. We are commanded to follow the examples which God himself set us, or the acts of the divine nature. Ephesians v. 1. “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children.” And Matthew v. 48. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father, which is in heaven is perfect.” But the example of Christ Jesus, when on earth, is more especially our pattern. For, though the acts of the divine nature have the highest possible perfection, and though his inimitable perfection is our best example, yet God is so much above us, his nature so infinitely different from ours, that it is not possible that his acts should be so accommodated to our nature and circumstances, as to be an example of so great and general use, as the perfect example in our nature which Christ has set us. Christ, though a divine person, was man, as we are men; and not only so, but he was, in many respects, a partaker of our circumstances. He dwelt among men. He depended on food and raiment, and such outward supports of life, as we do. He was subject to the changes of time, and the afflictions and calamities of this evil world, and to abuse from men's corruptions, and to temptations from Satan, as we are; was subject to the same law and rule that we are, used the same ordinances, and had many of our trials, and greater trials than we. So that Christ's example is the example, that is chiefly offered in scripture for our imitation. But yet the example of some that are fallen creatures, as we are, may in some respects be more accommodated to our circumstances, and more fitted for our instructions, than the example of Jesus Christ. For though he became man as we are, and was like us, and was in our circumstances in so many re
spects, yet in other things there was a vast difference. He was
tion as our example, is not only insisted on in the text, but also 1 Corinthians iv. 16. “Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.” And xi. 1. “ Be ye followers of me as I also am of Christ.” And 1 Thessalonians, i. 6. Where the apostle commends the Christian Thessalonians for imitating his example; "and ye became followers of us." And 2 Thessalonians iii. 7, he insists on this as their duty. “For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us."
For the more full treatment of this subject I shall,
I. Particularly mention many of the good examples of the apostle Paul, that we ought to imitate. Which I shall treat of not merely as a doctrine, but also in the way of application.
II. I shall show under what strict obligation we are to follow the good examples of this apostle.
I. I shall particularly mention many of those good examples of the apostle Paul, that we ought to imitate. And that I may be more distinct, I shall,
1. Mention those things, that respect his watchfulness for the good of his own soul.
2. Those virtues in him, that more immediately respected God and Christ.
3. Those that more immediately respect men.
4. Those, that were exercised in his behaviour, both towards God and men.
1. We ought to follow the good example, that the apostle Paul has set us in his seeking the good of his own soul.
First. We should follow him in his earnestness in seeking his own salvation. He was not careless and indifferent in this matter; but the kingdom of heaven suffered violence from him. He did not halt between two opinions, or seek with a wavering, unsteady mind, but with the most full deterınination and strong resolution. He resolved, if it could by any means be possible, that he would attain to the resurrection of the dead. He does not say that he was determined to attain it, if he could, by means that were not very costly or difficult, or by labouring for it a little time, or only now and then, or without any great degree of suffering, or without great loss in bis temporal interest. But if by any means he could do it, he would, let the means be easy or difficult. Let it be a short labour and trial, or a long one; let the cross be light or heavy; it was all one to his resolution. Let the requisite means be what they would, if it were possible, he would obtain it. He did not hesitate at worldly losses, for he tells us that he readily suffered the loss of all things, that he might win Christ, and be found in him, and in his righteousness. Philippians iii. 8, 9. It was not with biin as it was with the
young man, that came kneeling to Christ to inquire of him what he should do
to inherit eternal life, and when Christ said, Go and sell all that thou hast and give to the poor, he went away sorrowful. He was pot willing to part with all. If Christ had bid him sell half, it may be he would have complied with it. He had a great desire to secure salvation. But the apostle Paul did not content himself with wishing. He was resolved, is it were possible, that he would obtaip it. And when it was needful that he should lose worldly good, or when any great suffering was in his way, it'was no cause of hesitation to him. He bad been in very comfortable and honourable circumstances among the Jews. He had received the best education, that was to be had among them, being brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, and was regarded as a very learned young man. His own nation, the Jews, had a high esteem of him, and he was esteemed for his moraland religious qualifications among them. But when he could not hold the outward benefit of these things and win Christ, he despised them totally, he parted with all his credit and honour. He made nothing of them, that he might win Christ. And instead of being honoured and loved and living in credit, as before among his own nation, he made himself the object of their universal hatred. He lost all. and the Jews hated him, and persecuted him every where. And when great sufferings were in the way, he willingly made himself conformable to Christ's death, that he might have a part in his resurrection. He parted with his honour, his ease, his former friends and former acquaintance, his worldly goods and every thing else, and plunged himself into a state of extreme labour, contempt and suffering; and in this way he sought the kingdom of heaven. He acted in this matter very much as one, that is running a race for some great prize, who makes running his great and only business, till he has reached the end of the race and strains every nerve and sinew, and suffers nothing to divert him, and will not stand to listen to what any one says to him, but presses forward. Or as a man that is engaged in battle, sword in hand, with strong and violent enemies, that seek his life, who exerts himself to bis utmost, as for his life. 1 Corinthians ix. 26. “ I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air.” When fleshly appetites stood in the way, however importunate they were, he utterly denied them and renounced them; they were no impediment in the way of his thorough pursuit of salvation. He would not be subject to the appetites of his body, but made them subject to bis soul. 1 Corinthians ix. 27. “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection.” Probably there never was a soldier, when he bore his part in storming a city, that acted with greater resolution and violence, as it were forcing his way through all that opposed him, than the apostle Paul in seeking the kingdom of heaven. We have not only his own word for it; the history we have of his life, written by Saint Luke, shows the same. Now those, who seek their salvation, ought to follow this examplé. Persons, who are concerned for their salvation, sometimes inquire what they shall do. Let them do as did the apostle Paul; seek salvation in the way he did, with the like violence and resolution. Those, that make this inquiry, who are somewhat anxious year after year, and complain that they have not obtained any comfort, would do well to ask themselves, whether they seek salvation in any measure in this way, with that resolution and violence of which he set them an example. Aļas, are they not very far' indeed from it! Can it in any proper sense be said, that the kingdom of heaven suffers violénce at their hands?:
Secondly. The apostle did not only thius earnestly seek salvation before his conversion and hope, but afterwards also. What' he says in the third chapter of Philippians of his suffering the lpss of all things, tliat he might be found in Christ, and its being the one thing that he did to seek salvation; and also what he says of his so running as not in vain, but as resolving to win the prize of salvation, and keeping under his body that he might not be a castaway ; were long after his conviction, and after he had renounced all hope of his own good estate by nature.
If being a convinced sinner excuses a man from seeking salvation any more, or makes it reasonable that he should cease bis earnest care and. labour for it, certainly the apostle might have been excused, when he had not only already attained true grace, but such eminent de
To see one of the most eminent saints that ever lived, if not the most eminent of all, so'exceedingly engaged in seeking bis own salvation, ought for ever to put 10 shame those who are a thousand degrees below him, and are but mere infants to him, if they have any grace at all; who yet excuse themselves from using any violence after the kingdom of heaven now, because they have attained already, who free themselves from the burden of going on earnestly to seek salvation with this, that they have finished the work, they have obtained a hope. The apostle, as eminent as he was, did not say within himself, “ I am converted, and so am sure of salvation, Christ bas proniised it me; why need l labour any more to secure it? Yea, I am not only converted, but I have obtained great degrees of grace.?' But still lie is violentafier salvation. He did not keep looking back on the extraordinary discoveries be enjoyed at his first conversion, and the past great experience he had had, from time to time. He did not content himself with the thought, that he possessed the most wonderfuli testimonies of God's favour, and of the love of Christ already that ever any enjoyed, even to his having been canght up to the third heavens ; but he forgot the things that were behind. He acted
grees of it.