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Loftly, He who does not find religion full of pleafure, who does not glory in God, and rejoice in our Lord Jefus, he who is not
filled with an humble assurance of the di'pine favour, and a joyful expectation of immortality and glory, does yet want fomething; he is yet defective, with respect either to the brightness of illumination, the absolute ness of liberty, or the ardor of love; he may be a good man, and have gone a great way in his Christian race; but there is something still behind to compleat and perfect him ; fome error or other creates him groundlefs fcruples; fome işçumbrance or impediment or other, whether an infelicity of temper, or the incommodiousness of his circumstances, or a little too warm an application towards fomething of the world, retards his vigaur, and abates, bis affections. '
, ... I have now finished all that I can think neceffary to form a general idea of religious Perfe&tion : for I have not only giyen a plain definition or description of it, and confirmed and fortified that description by reason and fcripture, and the concurrent Senile of all sides and parties; but have also by various inferences, deduced from the general notion of Perfé&tion, precluded all groundless pretensions to it, and enabled men to see how far they are removed and diftant from it, or how near they approach it. The next thing I am to do, according to the method I have proposed, is, to consider the fruits and advantages of Per. fe&tion. A consideration which will furnilh us with many great, and, I hope, effe&ual incitements or motives to it; and demonstrate its fubferviency to our happi. ness.
CH A P. IV. A general account of the blessed fruits and
advantages of Religious Perfe&tion. Which is reduced to these four beads. 1. As it advances the honour of the true and living God, and of bis Son Jesus, in the world. 2. As it promotes the good of mankind. These two treated of in the chapter of zeal. 3. As it produces in the perfečt man a full assurance of eternal happiness and glory. 4. As it puts bim in posesion of true happiness in this life. These two laft, assurance, and prefent happiness or pleasure, bandled in this. chapter. Where the pleasures of the finner and of the perfe&t. Chriftian are. compared.
F the two former. I shall say nothing
bere; designing to insist upon them more particularly in the following section,
under the head of zeal, where I shall be obliged by my method to consider the fruit of it; only I cannot bere forbear remarking, that Perfe£tion, while it promotes the honour of God and the good of man, does at the same time promote our own happiness too; since it must on this account most effectually recommend us to the love of the one and the other; Them that honour me, faith God, I will honour, i Sam. ii. 30. And our Saviour obferves, that even Publicans and finners love those who love them, Matth. v. 46. Accordingly St. Luke tells us of Christ, Luke ii. 52. 'That Jesus in. creased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man; and of those eminently devout and charitable fouls, Afts ii. that they bad favour with all the people ; fo refiftless a charm is the beauty and loveliness of perfect charity, even in the most depraved and corrupt times. And what a blessing now, what a comfort, what a pleasure is it, to be the favourite of God and man!,
The third and fourth I will now discourse of, and that the more largely, because as to assurance, it is the foundation of that pleasure, which is the richest ingredient of human happiness in this life. And, as to our prefent happiness, which is the fourth fruit of Perfection, it is the very thing for the sake of which I have engaged in my
present fubject. And therefore it is very fit thař I should render the tendency of Perfe&tion to procure our present happiness very conspicuous. Beginning therefore with affurance, I will assert the possibility of attaining it in this life; not by embroiling my fell in the brakes of several nice and subtle speculations with which this subject is over-grown ; but by laying down in a practical manner, the grounds on which af Purance depends; by which we shall be able at once to difcern the truth of the doctrine of assurance, and its dependance upon Perfection..... ..
Now assurance may relate to the time present, or to come: for the refolution of two questions, gives the mind a perfect ease about this matter. The first is, am I alsured that I am at present in a state of grace? The second, am I ajfüred that I shall continue fo to my life's end? To begin with the first: the anfwer of this enquiry depends on three grounds. .
First, A divine revelation, which de. clares in general, who shall be saved; namely, they who believe and repent. Nor does any leat doubt, but that repentances towards Gód, and faith in our Lord Jefus Chrift, as St. Paul speaks, are the indifpenfable conditions of life. Tis true, the notion of repentance is miserably perverted by fome, and that of faith by others: but what re
pen firit, A divino ho Thall be last Nor does
medy is there against the lufts and passions of men ? The fcripture does not only require repentance and faith ; but it explains and describes the nature of both, by such
us and infallible characters, that no man can be mistaken in these two points, but his error must be owing to fome criminal prejudices or inclinationis that biass and pervert him. Good men have ever been agreed in these matters: and catholick tradition is no-where more uncontroulable than here: the general doctrine of all ages hath been, and in this still is, that by repentance we are to understand a new nature and new life : and by faith, when diftinguished from repentance (as it fometimes is in fcripture) a reliance upon the mercy of God through the mèrits and interceffion of Jesus, and atonement of his blood. Heaven lieś open to all that perform these conditions ; every page of the golpel attests this ; this is the fubftance of Christ's commiffion to his apostles, that they should preach repentance and remif fion of fins through his name amongst all nations. And this is one blessed advantage, which revealed religion has above natural ; that it contains an express decla. ration of the Divine Will; concerning the pardon of all fins whatsoever upon these terms. Natural religion indeed teaches us, that God is merciful; but it