Owen - BX9315 O81

88 CONFORMITY U exemplar in the eye of God for the communication of all grace unto us; so he ought to be the great exam- ple in the eye of our faith in all our obedience un- to God, in our compliance with all that he requireth of us. God himself or the divine nature in its holy perfec- tions, is the ultimate object and idea of ourtransforma- tion in the renewing of our minds. And therefore un- der the Old Testament, before the incarnation of the Son, he proposed his own holiness immediately as the pattern of the church. " Be ye holy, for the Lord your God 'is holy," Lev. xi. 44. chap. xix. 2. xx. 5. a, But the law madenothing perfect." For to complete this great injunction, there was yet wanting an express example of the holiness required, which is not given us but in him, who is the first-born, the image of the in- visible God. Therewas a notion even among the philosophers, that the principal endeavour of awise man was to be like unto God. But in the improvement of it the best of them fell into foolish and proud imaginations. How- beit the notion itself, was the principal beamof our pri- mogenial light, the best relique of our natural perfec- tions. And those who are not some way under the power of a design to be like unto God, are every way like unto thedevil. But those persons whohad nothing but the absolute essential properties of the divine nature to contemplate on in the light of reason, failed all of them both in the notion itself of conformity unto. God, and especially in the practical improvement of it. Whatever men may fancy to the contrary, it is the de- sign of the apostle in sundry places of his writings to prove that they did so especially, Rom. i. 1 Cor. i. Wherefore it was an infinite condescension of divine wisdomand grace gloriously to implant that image of his, which we are to endeavour conformity unto, on the human nature of Christ, and then so fully to re- present and propose it untous in the revelation of the gospel. The infinite perfections of God considered absolutely in themselves, are accompanied with such an incompre- hensible glory, as is hard to conceive how they are the object of ourimitation. But the representation that is madeof them in Christ, as the image of the invisible God, is so suited to the renewed faculties of our souls, so congenial unto the new creature, or thegracious prin- NTO CHRIST, ciple of spiritual life in us, that the mind can dwell ón the contemplation of them, and be thereby transformed into the same image. Herein lies much of the life andpower of Christian religion, as it resides in the souls of men. This is the prevailing design of dirt rssinds of them that truly be- lieve the gospel; they would in all things be like unto Jesus Christ. And I shall briefly shew, (1.) What is required hereunto: and, (2.) What is to be clone in a way of duty for the attaining that end. 1. A spiritual light to discern the beauty, glory, and amiableness of grace in Christ, is required hereunto. We can have no real design of conformity unto him, unless wehave their eyes, who " saw his glory, the glo- ryof the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth," John i. 14. Nor is it enough that we seem to discern the glory of his person, unless we see a beauty and excellency in everygrace that is is him. Learn of me, saith he, for I ammeek and lowly in heart, Matti,. xi. 29. If we are not able to discern an excellency in meekness and lowliness of heart, (as they are things ge- nerally despised,) how shall we sincerely endeavour af- ter conformity unto Christ in them? The like may be said of all other his gracious qualifications. His zeal, his patience, his self-denial, his readiness for the cross, his love unto his enemies, his benignity to all mankind, his faith and fervencyin prayer, his love to God, his compassion towards the souls of men, his unwearied- ness in doing good, his purity, his universal holiness; unless we have a spiritual light to discern the glory and amiableness of them all as they were in him, we speak in vain of any design for conformity unto him. And this we have not, unless God shine into our hearts, to give us the knowledgeof his glory in the face of Jesus Christ. It is, I say, a foolish thing to talk .of theimita- don of Christ, whilst really through the darkness ofour minds we discern not that there is an excellency in the things wherein weought to be like unto him. . 2. Love unto them so discovered in beam of heavenly light, is required unto the same end. No soul can have a design of conformity unto Christ, but his, who so likes and loves the graces that were in him, as to esteem,a participation of diem in their power, to be the greatest advantage, to be the most invaluableprivilege that can in this worldbe attained. It is the savour of hisgood ointments for width the virgins love him, cleave unto