THE first feature in this singular perfection of Christ's character which strikes our attention is the perfect harmony of virtue and piety, of morality and religion, or of love to God and love to man. He is more than moral, and more than pious: he is holy in the strict and full sense of the word. There is a divine beauty and perfection in his character, the mere contemplation of which brings purity, brightness, peace, and bliss to the soul.
Piety was the soul of his morality, and lifted it far above the sphere of legality or conformity to law. Every moral action in him proceeded from supreme love to God, and looked to the temporal and eternal welfare of man. The groundwork of his character was the most intimate and uninterrupted union and communion with his heavenly Father, from whom he derived, to whom he referred, every thing. Already in his twelfth year he found his life-element end delight in the things of his Father (Luke ii.49). It was his daily food to do the will of Him that sent him, and to finish his work (John iv.34; comp. v.30). To him he looked in prayer before every important act, and taught his disciples that model prayer, which, for simplicity, brevity, comprehensiveness, and suitableness, can never be surpassed. He often retired to a mountain or solitary place for prayer, and spent days and nights in this blessed privilege. But so constant and uniform was his habit of communion with the great Jehovah, that he kept it up amid the multitude, and converted the crowded city into a religious retreat. His self-consciousness was at every moment conditioned, animated, and impregnated by the consciousness of God. Even when he exclaimed in indescribable anguish of body and soul, and in vicarious sympathy with the misery of the whole race: |My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?|36 the bond of union was not broken, or even loosened, but simply obscured for a moment, as the sun by a passing cloud; and the enjoyment, not the possession, of it was for a moment withdrawn from his feelings: for immediately afterward he triumphantly exclaimed: |It is finished!| and commended his soul into the hands of his Father. So strong and complete was this moral union of Christ with God at every moment of his life, that he fully realized the idea of religion whose object is to bring about such a union, and that he is the personal representative and living embodiment of Christianity as the true and absolute religion.
With all this, the piety of Christ was no inactive contemplation, or retiring mysticism, and selfish enjoyment, but thoroughly practical, ever active in works of charity, and tending to regenerate and transform the world into the kingdom of God. |He went about doing good.| His life is an unbroken series of good works and virtues in active exercise; all proceeding from the same union with God, animated by the same love, and tending to the same end, -- the glory of God, and the happiness of man.