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and labour against. Nor was St. Austin so little acquainted with the power of the gofpel, and of the spirit, as not to be well enough assured that man might be habitually good, and that such were influenced and acted by a firm faith, and a fervent love, and well-grounded hope. The difpute between them then, concerning Perfe£tion, did not consist in this, whether men might be habitually good ? This was in reality acknowledged on both sides: nor, whether the best men were subject to de fects ? For this too both sides could not but be sensible of: but in these two things especially; First, What was to be attributed to grace, what to nature ? and this relates not to the definition or essence of Perfection, but to the source and origin of it. Secondly, whether those irregular motions, defects, and errors, to which the best men were subject, were to be accounted fins, or not? neither the one side nor the other then, as far as I can dis. cern, did in truth mistake the nature of human Perfection : each placed it in babi: tual righteousness; the one contended for no more, nor did the other contend for less, in the perfect man. And when the one af. ferted him free from fin, he did not assert him free from defects: And while the other would not allow the best man to be · without fin, they did not by fin under
fand any thing else, but such disorders, oppositions to, or deviations from the law of God, as the Pelagian himfelf must needs own to be in the perfect man. The dispute then was not, what man might or might not attain to ? for both sides agreed him capable of the same habitual righteousnefs; both sides allowed him subject to the same frailties : but one side would have these frailties accounted fins, and the other would not.
Numerous indeed have been the controversies between the popish and reformed churches, about precept and counsel, mortal and venial sin, the possibility of fulfilling the law of God, the merit of good works, and such like. But after all, if we enquire what that height of virtue is to which the best of men may arrive ; what those frailties and infirmities are, to which they are subject ; 'tweré, I think, easy to shew, that the wife and good are on all bands agreed about this. Nor does it much concern my present purpose, in what sense, or on what account Papists think some sins venial, and Protestants deny them to be fo; since neither the one nor the other exempt the perfe&t man from infirmities, nor assert any other height of Perfection, than what consists in a co.:summate and well-established habit of virtue. Some men may; and do talk very extravagantly;
but it is very hard to imagine that sober and pious men should run in with them. Such, when they talk of fulfilling the law of God, and keeping his commandments, must surely understand this of the law of God in a gracious and equitable fense : And this is no more than what the scripture asserts of every fincere Christian. When they talk of I know not what transcendent Perfe£tion in monkery, they must surely mean nothing more, than that poverty, chastity, and obedience, are heroick instances of faith and love, of poverty of fpirit, and purity of heart; and that an Af cetick discipline is the most compendious and effectual way to a consummate babit of righteousness. Finally, By the distinction of precept and counsel, such can never intend surely more than this, that we are obliged to some things under pain of damnation; to others, by the hopes of greater degrees of glory: for ’tis not easy for me to comprehend, that any man, whose judgment is not enllaved to the dictates of his party, should deny either of these two truths. 1. That whatever is neither forbidden nor cominanded by any law of God, is indifferent. 2. That no man can do more than love the Lord his God with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his might, and his neighbour' as himself. I say, there is no degree or instance of obedience, that
is not compriz’d within the latitude and perfection of these words. But whatever some of the Church of Rome, or it may be the greater part of it may think ; this, 'tis plain, was the sense of the ancients. St. Austin (a) could never understand any (a) Quæ. merit or excellence in those things that cung; non were matter of counsel, not precept, unless Jed speciathey flowed from, and had regard to the li confilio love of God and our ne
huid tum recte Casan's (6) excellent Monks resolved all fiunt, cum the value of such things to consist in their referuntur
ad diligentendency to promote apostolical purity and dum Deum, charity. And Gregory Nazianzen (c ) & proxithought it very extravagant, to pretend to fer Den
mum prop be perfecter than the rule, and exacter than Aug.Ench. the law.
i cap. 121.
b) Ac proThe Quakers have made much noise and inde ea" ftir about the doctrine of Perfection, and quibus quahave reflected very severely on others, as citas video
ne litates fiasubverting the great design of our redemp- mus, & tion (which is deliverance from sin) and tempera ;
Sơ qua fc upholding the kingdom of darkness : but obfervata with what justice, will easily appear when sanctifiI have represented their sense, which I milija Mon will do very impartially, and in as few pulluant,
and Media e12
eft, ut pilo ta nuptias, agriculturam, divitias, solitudinis remotionem, &c. Caffian. Colla. Patr. Talem igitur definitionem fupra Jejunii, &c. Nec in ipso spei noftræ terminum defigamus, fed ut per ipfum ad furitatem cordis & apoftolicam charitatem pervenire possimus ; ibid...
(© Mndè Tè vous vous póteegs, undè nous estepas Teowtós, Midi Xavóv évéÚTEPOʻ, and in irtoabis of raitipo. Greg. Nazian.
(d) A Key and plain words as I can. Mr.W.P:d opening tells us, That they are so far infallible and &c.
perfeet, as they are led by the Spirit. This is indeed true, but 'tis mere trifting : for this is an infallibility and perfection which no man denies, who believes in the Holy Ghost; since whoever follows his guidance must be in the right, unless the Holy Ghost himself be in the wrong. He urges, 'tis true, a great number of fcrip. tures to fhew (they are his own words) that a state of Perfektion from hn (tho? not in fulness of wisdom and glory) is attainable in this life; but this is too dark and
short a hint to infer the fenfe of his par(c) Princi- ty from it. Mr. Ed. Burroughs (e) is. Truth,&c. more
See more full : We believe (faith he) that the