Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The imitation of Christ

Perhaps nothing in the world is a surer sign of littleness than a slavish imitation of any man. Men lose that which is an honor to them, individuality, and then they lose that which is a power to them, originality, the moment they commence walking in another man’s track. When one painter slavishly copies another, he is only known as the satellite of the greater luminary, he himself is neither respectable nor respected.... To imitate other men is weakness; to copy Christ is strength. Christ is the perfect type of manhood. He who should imitate him the most nearly, would be the most original man upon earth. It may seem a paradox, but it is one which nevertheless needs only to be tried to be proved, no man will be looked upon as so strange, so singular a being among his fellows, as the man who shall nearest approach to the image of the Lord Jesus. He imitates, we grant you; he copies, we confess it, but he is himself, despite his copying, an original to other men, and he stands out from the common herd as being a distinguished and celebrated individual; he will be “known and read of all men.”

If I should stand here this morning, my hearers, to exhort you to imitate any one model in manhood except Christ, I should feel that I had a difficult task with sensible men. There is not in all the annals of our race, a single name which I could bid you love and reverence so much as to shut your eyes to the faults connected therewith.... You may take a virtue here, and a virtue there, and then in God’s strength seek to imitate those men, who excelled in those points, but to imitate an Abraham in all things, would not make you an Abraham, nor would it make you what you should be. To seek to follow a Job in all respects would not bring you to be perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. There remains but one model we can ever commend to you, and only one which a man of strong mind can accept as his copy in every jot and tittle.

From a sermon entitled "Portraits of Christ," delivered January 13, 1861. Flickr photo by cobalt; some rights reserved.

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