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serve to secure our sincerity, and point out the Perfection we are to aspire to. ift, then, If we would prevent any fatal event of fins flowing from ignorance, we must take care, that our ignorance it felf be not criminal; and that it will not be, if our hearts be sincerely disposed to do our duty, and if we use moral diligence to know it: if we be impartial, humble, and honest, and have that concern for the knowledge and practice of our duty, that is in fome fort proportionable to the importance of it. The ignorance that arifes from natural incapacity, or want of fufficient revelation, is invincible; and therefore innocent, John ix. 41. Jefus fasd unto them, if ye were blind, ye should bave no fon; but now ye fai, we fee; therefore your un remaineth: and xv. 22. If I bad not come and spoken unto them, they had not bad fin : but now they have no cloak for their fins. This rule muit be understood of necessary knowledge in general; and more legible and conspicuous fines of duty : both which notwithstanding, there may be room for sins of infirmity to enter, where mortal ones cannot; there may be imperfe&t dispositions of mind, and latent prejudices; there may be instances of duty of a slighter moment ; there may be feveral circumstances, and small emergencies that may either be without the aim, or escape the discovery of a mos

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ral search, that is, of a human one ; which, tho’ it be without hypocrisy, is not yet without more or less frailty. As to Perfection; it differs in this, as it does in other cases, from sincerity, only in the degrees by which it is advanced above it. He that will be perfect, must search for wifdom as for hid treasures : his delight must be in the law of the Lord, and in his law must he meditate day and night : his thirst of truth must be more eager and impatient, his diligence more wakeful, more circumspect, more particular, more steady and constant, than that of the beginner; or of one who is no farther advanced, than such meafures of faith and love, as are indispensably necessary to sincerity, will carry him. 2dly, Sins that are occasioned by furprize and inadvertency, will not prove destructive, if the inadvertency it self be in a manner innocent : that is, firft, there is no room for inadvertency in compleat acts of crying sins. Secondly, there is no pretence for inadvertency, if we had any misgivings within, or warnings without concerning that particular sin, into which we fell afterwards ; much less if we cherish ill motions till they grow tog strong for us. And last of all, if we repeat the same sin frequently and contemptuously. And to this I may add; he cannot be said to sin through surprize, who throws him


*self into the way of temptation, even tho? he be conscious of his own infirmity. 3dly, As to those moral defects which flow from natural infirmity; they will not destroy us, if the infirmity it self be pardonable. There are infirmities, which we acquire ; infirmities, which grow stronger by indulgence ; infirmities, which continue merely because we do not take pains to subdue them : our moral defects must not flow from these kinds of infirmities;- but from such as, considering human nature, and the state of this world, 'tis impossible utterly to root out. These moral defects will do us no harm; if, first, we take care to settle in our minds the habits of those virtues that are directly opposite to them. Secondly, If we watch and fight against our natural infirmities; and endeavour to reduce our appetites, even our natural appetites, within striệt and narrow bounds.

Thirdly, If we wash off the stains of our Nips and defects by a general repentance : for upon the notion I have here given of venial sin, repentance appears to be very necessary : for I require in them fomething of voluntary, something of freedom ; enough to make an ačtion sinful, tho' not to prove the heart corrupt or wicked. And because the degrees of voluntary and involuntary are not so easily distinguishable from one another, "tis plain




our best security against any ill confequence of our defects and frailties, is a godly forrow. And therefore I wonder not if Da vid charge himself more severely than God does, My fins are more in number than the bairs of my head. This was a confeffion that became the humility and folicitude of a penitent ; that became the reflections of a wise and perfect man, and the corruption of human nature ; the alloy of human performances ; the flips and defects, the interruptions, neglect, and deviations of the best life

C H A P. VI. Of liberty, as it imports freedom or delive.

rance from mortal fin. What mortal fin is. How the perfe&t man must be free from it. And which way this liberty may be best attained; with some rules for the attainment of it.

N ERE I will inquire into three 11 things;

1. What mortal fin is; or what kind of fins they be, which are on all hands acknowledged to be inconfiftent with a state of grace and favour.

2. How

2. How far the perfect man must be {et free or delivered from this kind of sins; or how remote he is from the guilt of them.

3: Which way this liberty may be best attained.

$. 1. The first thing necessary is, to state the notion of that sin, which palles under the name of martal, wilful, prefumptuous, or deliberate sin: for these in writers are equivalent terms, and promiscuously used to signify one and the same thing. Sin (sąith St. John, 1 Ep. iii. 4.) is the transgression of the lawy.' This is a plain and full definition too of sin: for the law of God is the rule of moral actions ; 'tis the standard and measure of right and wrong, of moral good and evil. Whatever is not within the compass of the law, is not within the compass of morality neither : Whatever cannot be comprehended within this definition, çannot have in it the entire and compleaļ notion of sin; or, which is all one, it cannot be sin, in a ftrict, proper, and adequate sense of the word. Hence St. John in the same verse tells us, that whosoever finneth, tranfgresseth the law. And St. Paul. Rom. įv. 15. Where there is no law, there is no transgrehon. Sin then must always suppofe a law; without which there can be

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