God calls all that are in Christ to an imitation of him
Even to give up ourselves to their service, as Christ did; not in the same kind, so none can give himself for them, but as we are capable.
“Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us; and we ought also to lay down our lives for the brethren”
(1 John 3:16).
Some Christians came up fairly to this pattern in primitive times; Priscilla and Aquila laid down their necks for Paul, Rom. 16:4. i.e. eminently hazarded their lives for him; and he himself could “rejoice, if he were offered up upon the sacrifice and service of their faith,” Phil. 2:17.
And in the next times, what more known, even to the enemies of Christianity, than their fervent love one to another: See how they love one another, and are willing to die one for another!
But alas! the primitive spirit is almost lost in this degenerate age: instead of laying down life, how few will lay down twelve-pence for them? I remember, it is the observation of a late Worthy, upon Mat. 5:44. That he is persuaded there is hardly that man to he found this day alive, that fully understands and fully believes that scripture. O, did men think what they do for them, is done for Christ himself, it would produce other effects than are yet visible.
The Whole Works of the Reverend John Flavel, vol. 1, 104–105.