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man, and one that feared God with all bis house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. But peradventure some may imagine, that there is something singular and extraordinary in these eminent persons, which we must never hope to equal; but must be content to follow them at a vast distance. Well, let this be so, what have we to say to whole churches animated by the fame spirit of zeal? what are we to think of the churches of Macedonia, whose charity St. Paul thus magnifies, 2 Cor. viii. 2, 3. In a great trial of affliction, the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded to the riches of their liberality. For to their power. I bear record, yea, and beyond their power, they were willing of themselves. And St. Paul declares himfelf persuaded of the Romans, that they were full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, Rom. xv. 14. And of the Corinthians he testifies, that they were inriched in every thing, and came behind in no gift. i Cor. i. 5, 6. That they did abound in all things, in faith, in diligence, &c.2 Cor.viii. 7. I will stop here; ’ris in vain to heap up more instances : I have said enough to shew, that vigour and fervency in the service of God, is no miraculous gift, no extraordinary prerogative of some peculiar favourite of heaven, but the natural and inseparable property of a well-confirmed ha. bit of holiness.
Lastly; Laftly; Is constancy and steadiness the property of an habit it is an undoubteď property of perfe&tion too.' In fcripture good men are every-where represented as standing fast in the faith; ftedfast and unmoveable in the works of God; bolding fast their integrity: in one word, as conftantly following after righteoufnefs, and maintaining a good conscience towards God and man. And fo natural is this to one habitually good, that St. John affirms of such a one, that he cannot fin; 1 John Ü. 9. Whafoever is-born of God, doth not 'commit:
fin, for bis feed remaineth in him, and be "cannot fin, because he is born of God. Accordingly, yob is said to have feared God, and eschewed evil; which must be under ffood of the constant course of his life. Zachary and Elizabeth are faid to be righe teous, walking in all the commandments of God blameless, Lukej. 6. Enoch, Noah, Die vid, and other excellent perfons, who are pronounced by God righteous, and juff, and perfeet, are said in scripturé, to walk with God, to ferve him with a perfeet heart with a full purpose of beart to cleave to him, and the like. And this is that constancy which Christians are often exhorted to ; watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit ye like men, be strong, 1 Cor. xvi. 13. And of which the firit followers of our Lord left us fuch remarkable examples. The disciples are
said to have been continually in the temple blessing and praising God, Luke xxiv. And the first Christians are said to have continued stedfaftly in the apostles do&trine and fellowfbip, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers, Acts ii. 42.
Thus I think I have sufficiently cleared my notion of Perfečtion from féripture : norneed I multiply more texts, to prove what I think no man can doubt of, unlefs he mistake the main design and end of the gospel, which is to raise and exalt us to a steady habit of holiness: The end of the commandment, faith St. Paul, 1 Tim. i. 5: is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned. This is the utmoft Perfection man is capable of, to have his mind enlightened, and his heart purified; and to be informed, acted, and influenced by faith and love, as by á vital principle; and all this is effential to habitual goodness.
If any one desire further light or fatiffaction in this matter, let him read the eighth chapter to the Romans, and he will foon acknowledge, that he there finds the fubftance of what I have hitherto advanced. There, though the word itself be not found, the thing called Perfe&tion is described in all the strength and beauty, in all the pleafure and advantages of it: there the difciple of Jesus is represented
as one, who walks not after the flesh, but after the spirit; as one, whom the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set free from the law of fin and death; one, who 8 qeve, does not mind or relish the things of the fteh, but the things of the spirit; õne, in whom the fpirit of Christ dwells: he does not stand at the door, and knock; he does not make a transient visit; but here he reigns, and rules, and inhabits: one finally, in whom the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life because of righteousness. And the result of all this is the joy and confidence, the security and transport that becomes the child of God. Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father. The spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God; and if children, then beirs, heirs of God, and joint-beirs with Chrift. And now 'tis no wonder, if the perfeet man long for the revelation of the glory of the fons of God; if he cry out in rapture, If God 'be for me, who can be against me who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's eleet? who shall separate me from the love of Chrift? and so on. If any one would see the perfekt man described in fewer words, he needs but casthis eye on Rom.vi. 22. But now being made free from fin, and become fervants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. CHAP.
CH A P. II.
parties, however different in their express
Pelagians, the Papists, the Quakers, and - the mystical writers, have said concerning
FTER I have shewed that this no. A tion of Perfection is warranted by reason and scripture ; I see not why I should be very solicitous whether it do or do not clash with the opinions of men. But the
truth is, if we examine not so much the 1 exprefsons and words, as the sense and mean.
ing of all parties about this matter, we shall find them well enough agreed in it at the bottom. And 'tis no wonder, if (notwithstanding several incidentaldisputes) they should yet agree in the main : since the experience of mankind does easily teach us what sort of Perfection human nature is capable of; and what can, or cannot actually be attained by man. The Pelagians did not contend for an angelical Perfečtion, nor St. Austin deny such a one as was truly suitable to man : the one could not be fo far a stranger to human nature, as to exempt it in reality from those errors and defects which the best of men complain of,