1 Peter 2:18-25
Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the fraudulent.…
I. THE LIFE OF OUR BLESSED SAVIOUR IS A MOST ABSOLUTE AND PERFECT PATTERN OF HOLINESS AND GOODNESS, complete and entire in all its parts, and perfect to the utmost degree, in the following whereof there is no danger of being misguided, whereas all other examples of mortal men are fallible and uncertain guides.
II. As the life of our blessed Saviour is a most perfect, so likewise IT IS A FAMILIAR AND EASY EXAMPLE. The Divine nature is the great pattern of perfection; but that is too remote from us, and above our sight; therefore God hath been pleased to condescend so far to our weakness, as to give us a visible example of those virtues He requires of us in "His own Son, appearing in the likeness of sinful flesh," practised in such instances, and upon such occasions as do frequently happen in human life.
III. The life of our blessed Saviour is likewise AN ENCOURAGING EXAMPLE. It cannot but give great life to all good resolutions and endeavours, to see all that which God requires of us performed by one in our nature, by a man like ourselves.
IV. IT IS AN UNIVERSAL PATTERN. As the doctrine of our Saviour, so His example was of an universal nature and design, calculated for all times and places.
1. It is a pattern of the greatest and most substantial virtues: piety, obedience, purity and innocence, universal charity.
2. He was a pattern of the most rare and unusual virtues: sincerity, humility, contempt of the world, kindness and benignity.
3. The life of our blessed Saviour is likewise a pattern of such virtues as are most useful and beneficial to others. In His readiness to do good to all persons and all kinds; by instructing their ignorance, and supplying their wants, spiritual and temporal; by resolving their doubts, and comforting them in their sorrows. And then in His seeking opportunities for it, not content with those that offered themselves, and in His unwearied diligence in this work.
4. Our Saviour is likewise a pattern to us of such virtues as are most hard and difficult to be practised, such as are most against the grain of our corrupt nature, and most contrary to flesh and blood. Christ denied His own life, and gave up Himself wholly to the will of God (John 5:33; John 6:38; Matthew 26:39, 42). He denied His own will also in condescension to the prejudices and infirmities of men for their edification and good (Romans 15:2, 3). He denied Himself, in the lawful pleasures and satisfactions, in the ease and accommodations of life: He lived meanly, and fared hardly. And He denied Himself likewise in one of the dearest things in the world, to the greatest minds, I mean in point of reputation: "He made Himself of no reputation" (Philippians 2:7). But that which I shall particularly take notice of, under this head, is His great meekness.
5. Our Saviour is likewise a pattern to us of the most needful virtues, and for the practice whereof there is the greatest and most frequent occasion in human life.
(1) The great humanity of His carriage and deportment, of which He gave manifold instances, in His free and familiar conversation with all sorts of people. He did not despise the meanest.
(2) Another very needful virtue, and for which our Lord was very eminent, was His disregard of the opinion of men, in comparison of His duty.
(3) Another virtue for which there is great occasion in human life, and for which our Lord was very remarkable, was His contentedness in a mean and poor condition; and such was His condition to the very lowest degree.
(4) The last virtue I shall instance in, and for the exercise whereof there is very great and frequent occasion in human life, is patience under sufferings, and such a perfect resignation of ourselves to the will of God, that whatever pleaseth Him should please us, how distasteful and grievous soever it be. And of this virtue our blessed Saviour was the greatest example that ever was.
V. OUR LORD'S EXAMPLE IS IN THE NATURE OF IT VERY POWERFUL, TO ENGAGE AND OBLIGE ALL MEN TO THE IMITATION OF IT. It is almost equally calculated for persons of all capacities and conditions, for the wise and the weak, for those of high and low degree; for all men are alike concerned to be happy. And the imitation of this example is the most effectual means we can use to compass this great and universal end; nay, it is not only the means, but the end, the best and most essential part of it. To be like our Lord, is to be as good as it is possible for men to be; and goodness is the highest perfection that any being is capable of; and the perfection of every being is its happiness. His life was even and of one tenour, quiet, and without noise and tumult, always employed about the same work, in doing the things which pleased God, and were of greatest benefit and advantage to men. Who would not write after such a copy. This pattern, which our religion proposeth to us, is the example of one whom we ought to reverence, and whom we have reason to love above any person in the world. Yet farther, it is the example of our best friend and greatest benefactor.
Parallel VersesKJV: Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.