Charles Buck Theological Dictionary
A copy or pattern. In a moral sense, is either taken for a type, instance, or precedent for our admonition, that we may be cautioned against the faults or crimes which others have committed, by the bad consequences which have ensued from them; or example is taken for a pattern for our imitation, or a model for us to copy after. That good examples have a peculiar power above naked precepts to dispose us to the practice of virtue and holiness, may appear by considering, "
1. That they most clearly express to us the nature of our duties in their subjects and sensible effects. General precepts form abstract ideas of virtue; but in examples, virtues are most visible in all their circumstances.
2. Precepts instruct us in what things are our duty, but examples assure us that they are possible.
3. Examples, by secret and lively incentive, urge us to imitation. We are touched in another manner by the visible practice of good men, which reproaches our defects, and obliges us to the same zeal, which laws, though wise and good, will not effect." The life of Jesus Christ forms the most beautiful example the Christian can imitate. Unlike all others, it was absolutely perfect and uniform, and every way accommodated to our present state. In him we behold all light without a shade, all beauty without a spot, all the purity of the law, and the excellency of the Gospel. Here we see piety without superstition, and morality without ostentation; humility without meanness, and fortitude without temerity; patience without apathy, and compassion without weakness; zeal without rashness, and beneficience without prodigality. The obligation we are under to imitate this example arises from duty, relationship, engagement, interest, and gratitude.
See article JESUS CHRIST. Those who set bad examples should consider,
1. That they are the ministers of the devil's designs to destroy souls.
2. That they are acting in direct opposition to Christ, who came to save, and not to destroy.
3. That they are adding to the miseries and calamities which are already in the world.
4. That the effects of their example may be incalculable on society to the end of time, and perhaps in eternity; for who can tell what may be the consequence of one sin, on a family, a nation, or posterity?
5. They are acting contrary to the divine command and thus exposing themselves to final ruin. Massillon's Ser. vol. 2: ser. 9 Eng. Trans. Clarke's Looking Glass, ch. 48. Tillotson's Ser. ser. 189, 190. Barrow's Works, vol. 3: ser. 2 and 3. Mason's Ser. vol. 2: ser. 17.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Example'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/cbd/e/example.html. 1802.