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bered no more; for they cease to commit fin, being born of the feed 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 Proteftant or Popish, teaches otherwise. Mr. Barclay (f) goes very methodically to apol.
Thef. 8. work, and first sets down the state of the question ; then confutes those that differ from him; answers their objections out of fcripture; and, lastly, establishes his own doctrine. As to 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 linning, but a possibility of not finning; and that this perfe&t 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 it ; for he calls it ini.
y, the service of Satan, and attributes such effects to it as belong not at all to what we call fins of infirmity; when, I say, this is added to render the sense clear, I can readily subscribe to him ; for, I know no such doctrines in our Cburch as those which he there opposes; namely, that the regenerate are to live in fin, and that their good works are impure and finful. But then, he either mistakes the main point in debate,
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or prudently declines : for the question is
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 himself, 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 sense of the gospel, by figurative and unintelligible terms. Those of them, which 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; which enlightens the mind, purifies the heart, and fixes and unites man to his foveraign 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 little 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 Nips of life, and on that opposition which the law of the body maintains against the law of the mind, in some degree or other, in the best men. This conlideration forced the bishop of Condome to that plain and honest confesion; Itaque
Justitia nostra, licet per charitatis infusonem fit vera, &c. Tho' our righteousness, because of that love which the Spirit sheds abroad in our heant, be fincere and real; yet it is not absolute and consummate, because of the oppohtion of concupiscenfe : fe that it is an indispensable duty of Christiani. ty, to be perpetually bewailing the errors of life: Wherefore we are obliged bumbly to confess with St. Austin, that our righteousness in this life confifts' rather in the pardon of our fins, 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 pin: nor do I contend for such a Perfetti. on 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, fome 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-set
tled and established babit of goodness. The heat of difpute in fome, and a sort of implicite faith for their authority in others, has produced many unwary expreffons, and I doubt very unfound and pernicious notions about this matter.
СНАР. І. Several inferences deduced from the true no
tion of Perfection. With a plain method bow perfons may judge of their present ftate. The difference between the extraordinary primitive converhons, and those wbich may be expected in our days, with a remark" about infused habits.
T TAVING in the two former chapters U fixed the notion of religious Perfection, and proved it consonant to reason and fcripture; 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.
1. It is from hence plain, that Perfection must not be placed in fantastick speculations or voluntary observances, but in the solid and useful wärtues of the gospel; in