The following excerpt is from "Christ’s People—Imitators of Him," a sermon delivered Sunday morning, 29 April 1855, at Exeter Hall, in the Strand.
A Christian should be like Christ in his boldness. This is a virtue nowadays called impudence, but the grace is equally valuable by whatever name it may be called. I suppose if the Scribes had given a definition of Peter and John, they would have called them impudent fellows.
Jesus Christ and his disciples were noted for their courage. "When they saw the boldness of Peter and John, they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus." Jesus Christ never fawned upon the rich; he stooped not to the great and noble, he stood erect, a man before men,—the prophet of the people, speaking out boldly and freely what he thought.
Have you never admired that mighty deed of his, when going to the city where he had lived and been brought up; knowing that a prophet had no honor in his own country, the book was put into his hands; he had but then commenced his ministry; yet without tremor he unrolled the sacred volume and what did he take for his text?
Most men, coming to their own neighborhood would have chosen a subject adapted to the taste, in order to earn fame. But what doctrine did Jesus preach that morning? One which in our age is scorned and hated—the doctrine of election. He opened the Scriptures, and began to read thus: "Many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land, but unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none off them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian."
Then he began to tell, how God saveth whom he pleases, and rescues whom he chooses. Ah! how they gnashed their teeth upon him, dragged him out, and would have cast him from the brow of the hill.
Do you not admire his intrepidity? He saw their teeth gnashing; he knew their hearts were hot with enmity, while their mouths foamed with revenge and malice: still he stood like the angel who shut the lion's mouths; he feared them not; faithfully he proclaimed what he knew to be the truth of God, and still read on despite them all.
So in his discourses. If he saw a Scribe or a Pharisee in the congregation, he did not keep back part of the price, but pointing his finger, he said, "Woe Unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites;" and when a lawyer came, saying, "Master, in speaking thus, thou condemnest us also;" he turned round and said, "Woe unto you, lawyers, for ye bind heavy burdens upon men, while ye yourselves will not touch them with so much as one of your fingers."
He dealt out honest truth, he never knew the fear of man; he trembled at none; he stood as God's chosen, whom he had anointed above his fellows, careless of man's esteem. My friends, be like Christ in this. Have none of the time-serving religion of the present day, which is merely exhibited in evangelical drawing rooms—a religion which only flourishes in a hot-bed atmosphere, a religion which is only to be perceived in good company.
No, if ye are the servants of God, be like Jesus Christ, bold for your Master; never blush to own your religion; your profession will never disgrace you; take care you never disgrace that. Your love to Christ will never dishonor you, it may bring some temporary slight from your friends, or slanders from your enemies: but live on, and you shall; live down their calumnies; live on and ye shall stand amongst the glorified, honored even by those who hissed you when he shall come to be glorified by his angels, and admired by them that love him.
Be like Jesus, very valiant for your God; so that when they shall see your boldness, they may say, "He has been with Jesus."