« AnteriorContinuar »
'Of Zeal. What in general is meant by "Zeal', and w'hdt is that perfection Of holiness in which it consists. Whether the perfeSi man must 'be adorned with a confluence of all virtues; and to what degree of'holiness he may be supposed to arrive.
I 'Am arrived at the last stage of perfeliiion, which I chuse to call a state of steals not only because the scripture seerns to direct me to this expression, 'but also because it seems to me more full and proper than others, that may be, Or are made use of for the same end. A state of union is an expression that better suits another life than this. For the lesson the perfect man is ever and anon to revolve in his mind, is, that the present life is a life of labour, and travel, and sufferings; the future one, of rewards, and crowns, and enjoyments. Then as to that other expression, the state of love, it suits my purpose well enough; but does not come up ib justly and exactly to it, as the state or zeal; for I take zeal to be love, in the utmost elevation and vivacity that it is capable of.
And now, what a noble, what a fruitful argument am I entring upon? Me%.«hinks I feel my foul grow warm, and in
kindle upon my approaching it; and my first views or contemplations of it inspire me with desires of the fame nature with it self. I am concerned to see my self confined and limited by the laws of method; and find my self inclined to wish, that I were now to write, rather a just volume, than a few pages. Here the heroic acts, or, what is more, the heroic lives of saints, martyrs, and confessors, present themselves to my thoughts; here human nature, enriched, adorned, and elevated to the utmost degree, by a participation of the divine one; here the power of God's Word, the energy of the Holy Ghost, the triumphs of faith, and the extasies of love, would be described; here the different excellencies of different virtues, and the different value of good works, should be stated and settled, and the various paths, in which men pursue the heights of virtue and the noblest designs be examined, and solid piety and true wisdom be refined from the alloys and mixtures of enthusiasm, superstition, fancy, or whatever else they are disfigured and debased by. But this cannot now be done, and it may be it could not at all be done by me: no measure of the Spirit, peradventure, below that with which the apojlles were inspired, is sufficient to treat this argument as it requires. Besides, according
cording to my capacity, I have been all along making this point. When, in the first lection, I stated the notion of perfection, shewed by what steps we advanced to it, what means we are to make use of, and what would be the fruit of it, I did in effect describe to my reader, the state ofzea/, and marked out the path that leads to it. When, in the Jecond, I labour to establish the true liberty of man, upon the overthrow and extirpation not only of mortal fin, and of idleness and lukewarmnefs, but also, as far as it might be, even of Jin of infirmity, and original corruption; what else was I doing, but prosecuting this one design, namely, the implanting and propagating in the world the state of zeal % However, something there seems to me yet wanting to compleat my undertaking ; and that I am to endeavour now. To which end I will here discourse of three things,
i. What it is in general I mean by zeal.
2. What is that Perfection of holiness or righteousness, wherein it consists And,
3. Of the efficacy or force of this holiness, as it exerts it self in good works. Of these, the two former shall be the argument of this; the third of the following
§. 1. Of
§. 1. Of zeal in general, what it is. I do not exclude some degrees of zeal, from every period of the Christian's life; sincerity cannot subsist wholly without it. The. hunger and thirst after righteousness, which is the subject of one of our Saviour's Beatitudes, must be more or less in every child of God. But it may signify one thing in the infant, another in the adult Christian; in the one, the conquest of sin, or rather of the reliques and remains of former sinful habits, and the attainment of habitual goodness, is the objeSl of this hunger and thirst: in the other, it imports a vehement desire of whatever is yet wanting to a farther accomplishment and consummation of righteousness already fixed and established; the entire and ultimate perfection of it in heaven; and in the mean time, the promoting the divine glory upon earth, whatever it cost him to do so. By a state of zeal then, I here mean virtue or holiness, not in the bud, or in the blossom, but in its full strength and stature, grown up, and ripe, and loaded with blessed fruits: I mean that holiness that is the result of illumination, or clearness of judgment, of the strength and force of holy resolution, and the vigour and energy of holy passions. In a word, I mean that solid, spiritual, and operative ,
D d religion,
religion, which may be felt and enjoyed by us our selves, in the serenity and tranquillity of conscience, the longings and breathings of pious desires, the joys and pleasures of a rational assurance; discerned by the world in our lives and actions, in the modesty of our garb, in the plainness and humility of all things else that pertain to the port of life; in the temperance of our meals, the purity and heavenliness of conversation, the moderation of our designs and enjoyments, the instruction of our families, with a tender and indefatigable watchfulness over them; the con" stancy of our attendance upon, and the devoutness of our deportment in, the publick worship of God; and finally, in the activity and generosity of our charity: ory to speak my thoughts in the language of St. Paul, a state of zeal, is that perfection or maturity of holiness, which abounds in the works of faith, the labour of love% and the patience of hope, in our Lord "Jesus Christ, in the fight of God, and our Father^ i Theff. i. 3. Now the end of all this is, the advancing the glory of God: ana therefore zeal is well enough described or defined, by an ardent or vehement defire of doing so. Now this is advanced two ways: first, by our personal and inherent holiness: and, secondly, by the fruit of