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thoughts of- an enlightened foul to dwell upon! blessed and happy is he who enjoys this pleasure upon earth. And that we may, I am now to discourse,
(f. 2. Of the attainment of illumination. Now whatever advice can relate to this, may be reduced under two heads:
1. What qualifications do render man capable of illumination.
2. What it is that one duly qualified is to do in pursuit of it.
§. 1. To begin with the qualifications requisite to illumination. One man is distinguished from another several ways: by his estate ot fortune; by natural or acquired endowments, and by moral dispofitions: and each of these may have some, tho' a very different influence upon human Perfection. For if we inquire after only the essence and integrity of Perfection; then are there two or three moral qualifications, which are all that is required in order to this: but if we inquire after the largeness of its stature, the symmetry of its 1 features, the lustre of its complexion,.and the elegance of-its dress; then may we allow something to be ascrib- > ed to fortune, to nature, and a liberal education . This is an observation very necefj'ary to be made. For thoVwry.man may be N 4 capable
capable of Perfection, that is, habitual holiness, if it be not his own fault; yet is not every man capable of being equally perfect, because of that accidental variety which I have suggested, and which flows from different gifts of God, which depend not on our selves. This being premised ; in order to prevent my being mistaken, I proceed and determine,
i. That illumination depends not upon a man's outwardfortune. There are indeed several sorts of knowledge, which we can never arrive at without much leisure and much expence: and in order to support the one, and enjoy the other, it is requisite that we be masters of a good fortune. Hence is that observation of the author of the Ecclefaslicus, chap, xxxviii. 24. The wisdom of a learned man cometh by opportunity of leisure; and he that has little business shall become wise. And therefore in the following verses, he excludes the husbandman, the statuary, the engraver, the smith, the potter; and all consequently whose time and mind is taken up in the labours of their profession, and in making the necessaryprovij*ton for life; these, I say, he excludes from all pretensions to wisdom. How can beget wisdom that holdeth the plough, and that glorieth irt the goad, whose talk is of bullocks, &c. But this is not the wisdom that I am inquiring after, and Whicl) constitutes illumation. That consists
nDt in the laws of our earthly but heavenly country: not in arts and sciences which relate to the body, and minister to a temporal life; but in those divine truths, which purify the/o#/, and minister to an eternal one: no, not in notional improvements of the mindt but in spiritualand vital ones. And therefore the husbandman and the artist, the mechanick and the trader, are as capable of this fort of wisdom, as the man of office, money, or quality. There needs no wealth to render one the child of light and os the day. There is the book os nature; the book os revelation; both the books of God, both •writ throughout with glorious illuminating truths: these lie wide open to every honest Christian. The being and nature of God; the mediation of Jesus, and a judgment to come; the nature and necessity of holiness, are fully revealed, and unanswerably proved. And tho' every honest man be not able to diseover all the arguments on which they stand, yet may he discover enough: and what is more, he may have an inward, vital, sensible proof of them; he may seel the power, the charms of holiness; experiment its congruity and loveliness to the human foul; and observe a thousand demonstrations of its j'erviceableness to the honour of God, and the good of mankind: he may have a full and convictive fense of the manifestation of the divine Perfections in
the great work of our redemption; and the excellent tendency of it may be so palpable and conspicuous to him, as to leave no room for doubts or scruples. But besides all this, there is a voice within, there is a divine teacher and instructor, which will ever abide with him, and lead him into all neceffary truths: all which is implied in. thoje words of our Lord, If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of my self John vii- 17.
2. Extraordinary natural parts, such as fagacity or acuteness of judgment, strength of memory, the liveliness of imagination, are not necessary to illumination. The gospel, as I remember, takes no notice of these. Such is the beauty of holiness, that it requires rather purity of heart, than quickness of apprehenfion, to render us enamoured, of it. And the very lame thing may be said of the power and energy of all gospel motives, and of the proofs and evidiences too of- divine truths. To convince and affect us, there is no need of sagacity and.penetration,' but probity and fincerity. However, I have two or three refections.to. make here, which may not be unuseful: for though acuteness and retention, hy which I mean cjuicknefs in discerning, and firmness in preservings truths he commonly accounted natural parts, and generally
axe-fa; yet, I think, where the; one or the. other are moi\.defe£}ive, they may be much helped and wonderfully improved: To which end I remark, firsts That thpse <kfe3$ os understanding or memory, which, some are wont to accuse themselves of in spiritual things, are with more justice to be imputed to, •want, of, concern and affection for sueb • things, than to any incapacity of nature. 'Tis plain, we easily understand, and easily remember, what we dejire and love: and, ^here-ever we, follow the impulse or cpnr duct of strong inclinations, we seldom fail: ot excelling. 'Let us therefore take care, that our hearts be/<tf upon the things of God', and we shall soon fee that our judgment and memory will no more fail us.here, than in those worldly interests and pleasures, which we are most intent upon. Secondly, As to memory; it depends very much, upon,: the perspicuity, regularity, and order of our notions. Many complain of want of memory, when the defect is m,their judgment And others, while they grasp at all, retain. nothing. In order then to relieve this infirmity of memory, it were an excellent way to confine our search and meditation tq. z few objetJs, and to have these clearly and methodically handled. A catechetical way of expounding and, asserting- the rudiments of our faith, if done asit ought to be, is of great service, to persons, of; all capacities;