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her ed no more; for they cease to commit fin, being born os the seed of God. If by fin here, he means, as he seems to do, deliberate or presumptuous sin; I do not think any established Church, whether Protestant or Popish, teaches otherwise. Mr. Barclay (/) goes very methodically to j£l ^poL work, and first sets down the state of the question; then confutes those that differ from him j answers their objections out of scripture; and, lastly, establishes his own doctrine. As so the Perfection which he asserts, he lets us know, that it is to be derived from the Spirit of Christ; that it consists not in an impossibility of sinning, but a possibility of not sinning; and that this perfect man is capable of daily growth and improvement. When to this I have added, that he speaks all along of that which we call wilful fin, as appears from his description of //; for he calls it iniquity, wickedness, impurity, the service of Satan, and attributes such effects to it as belong not at all to what we call fins of infirmity; when, I fay, this is added to render the fense clear, I can readily subscribe to him: for, I know no such doctrines in our Church as those which he there opposes; namely, that the regenerate are to live in fin, and that their good works are impure and finfuh But then, he cither mistakes the main point in debate,
or prudently declines: for the question is not, whether good men may live in mortal or-wilfulfin, but whether good men are not subject to frailties and infirmities, which are indeed fins, tho' not imputable under the covenant of grace f Whether the Quakers are not in this point Pelagians, I do not now enquire; because if they be, they are already considered. Two things there are in Mr. Barclay's state of the question, which I cannot so well approve of; the one is, that he expresses himself so injudiciously about the growth and improvement or his perfeci man, that he ieems to forget the difference the scriptures make between babes and full grown men in Christ, and to place Perfection so low in reference to positive righteousness or virtue, as if it consisted in negative only or ceasing from fin. The other is, that th©' he does not peremptorily affirm a state of impeccability attainable in this life; yet he seems inclinable to believe it, and imagines it countenanced by i John iii. 9. But he ought to have considered, that whatever impeccability may be inferred from that text, it is attributed, not to some extraordinary persons, but to all, whosoever they be, that are born of God; but this is out of my way. All that I am to observe upon the whole is, that these men place Perfection especially in
refraining refraining from fin: I advance higher, and place it in a well-settled habit of righteousness. And I believe they will be as little dissatisfied with me for this, as I am with them, for asserting the perfect man freed from sin. For, as Mr. Barclay expresses himfplf, I think he has in reality no adversaries but Antinomians and Ranters.
As to that Perfection which is magnified by mystical writers, some of them have only darkened and obscured the plain fense of the gospel, by figurative and unintelligible terms. Those of them, whicli write with more life and heat than other men ordinarily do, recommend nothing but that holiness which begins in the fear, and is consummate in the love of God j which enlightens the mind, purifies the heart, and fixes and unites man to his soveraign good, that is, God: and I am sure I shall not differ with these.
There are, I confess, almost innumerable sayings of the fathers, which sufficiently testify how Uttle friends they were to Perfection, in such a notion of it as is too generally embraced in the Church of Rome. The primitive spirit breathed nothing but humility: it was a professed enemy to all self-confidence and arrogance, to supererogation and merit; and it invited men earnestly to reflect upon the
fins and flips of life, and on that opposition which the Jaw of the body maintains a— gainst the law of the mind, in some degree or other, in the best men. This consideration forced the bi/hop of Condome to that plain and honest confession; Itaque Juflitia noflra, licet per char it at is infufionem fit ver a, &c. Tho1 our righteousness because of that love which the Spirit sheas abroad in our hearts be fincere and real; yet it is not absolute and consummate, because of the oppofition of concupiscense : fi that it is an indispensable duty of Christianity, to be perpetually bewailing the errors of life: Wherefore -we arc obliged humbly to confess with St. Austin, that our righteousness in this life confists rather in the pardon of our flns, than in the perfection of our virtues. All this is undoubtedly true, but concerns not me: I never dream of any man's passing the course of life without fin: nor do I contend for such a Perfection as St. Austin calls absolute, which will admit of no increase, and is exempt from defects and errors. Tho' on the other hand, I confess, I cannot but think, some carry this matter too far; and while they labour to abate the pride and confidence of man, give too much encouragement to negligence and presumption. I cannot see how frequent relapses into deliberate acts of wickedness can consist with a well-settled tied and established habit of goodness. The heat of dispute in some, and a sort of imflicite faith for their authority in others, has produced many unwary expressions, and I doubt very unsound and pernicious notions about this matter.
Several inferences deduced from the true notion of Perfection. With a plain method how persons may judge of their present fate. The difference between the extraordinary primitive converfions, and those which may be expeSted in our days, with a remark about infused habits.
HA VIN G in the two former chapters fixed the notion of religious Perfection, and proved it consonant to reafin and scripture; and not so only, but also made it appear, that it is countenanced by the unanimous consent of all, who have ever handled this subject: I have nothing now to do, but by way of inference to represent the advantages we may reap from it.
i. It is from hence plain, that Perfection must not be placed in fentastick speculations or voluntary observances, but in the solid and useful virtues, of the gospel \ in