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Lastly, He who does not find religion fiilljof pleasure, who does not glory inGW, and rejoice in our Lord Jesus, lie who is not filied with an humble assurance of the dis 'vine favour, and a joyful expeSlation of immortalityz®Aglorfi&oe& yet team/(bmetihiflg; he is yet Jefective, with respect either to the brightness of illumination, the absolute* ness of liberty, or the ardor of love; he may be a gW man, and have gone a ,g-rart way in his Christian race; but there is something still behind to compleat and perfect him; some error or other create him groundless scrubs; some incumbrance or impediment or other, whether an infelicity of temper, or the iacommodioufoeis of his circumstances, or a little too warm an application towards iomething of the world, retards his vigour, and abates Ms sections,
I have now finished all that J can think necessary to form a general idea of religious Ptrfe&sw: f<ar1 have not <*nly fasten a plain definition or description of itj and confirmed and fortified that ctefcription by r&f/i»? and scripture, and the cwurrent sense ,d£ aUfides and parties • bat ha«e also by various inferences, deduced few the general notion of Perfection, precluded all groundiefe pretenfions to it, and enabled men to fee how ./<*>• they are remved and </!/?<»!# iwm. it, or how w<w 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 Perfection. A consideration which will furnish us with many great, and, I hope, effectual incitements or motives to it; and demonstrate its subserviency to our happiness.
A general account of the bleJseS fruits and advantages of Religious Perfection. Which is reduced to these four heads, i. As it advances the honour of the true and living God, and of his 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 perfect man a full assurance of eter~ nal happiness ana glory. 4. As it puts him in poJJ'eJJion of true happiness in this life. These two las, assurance, and present happiness or pleasure, handled in this chapter. Where the pleasures of the sinner and of the perfect- Christian are compared.
OF the two former 1 shall say nothing here; 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 here forbear remarking, that Ferfection, while it promotes the honour of God and the good of man, does at the fame 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, / will honour, 1 Sam. ii. 30. And our Saviour observes, that even Publicans andjinners love those who love them, Matth. v. 46. Accordingly St. Luke tells us of Christ, Luke ii. 52. That Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in savour with God and man; and of those eminently devout and charitable souls, ABs ii. that they had favour with all the people; so resistless a charm is the beauty and loveliness of perfect charity, even in the most depraved and corrupt times. And what a oleffing now, what a comfort, what a pleajure 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 pleajure, which is the richest ingredient of human happiness in this life. And, as to our present happiness, which is the fourth fruit of Perfection, it is the very thing for the fake of which I have engaged in my
present presers fmbject. And therefore ft is Veryfit that 1 should render the tendency of PerftSft&n to procure our present happiness very conspicuous. Beginning therefore with assurance, I wilL assert the possibility of attaining it in this life; not by embroiling rfiy self in the brakes of several nice and subtle speculations with which this subject: is over-grown; but by laying down Hi a practical manner, the grounds on which assurance depends; by which we shall be able at once to discern the truth of the doBrine of assurance, and its dependance upon Perfc&ion. .
Now assurance may relate to the time present\ or to come: for the resolution oftwtf questions* gives the mind a perfect ease about this matter. Thefirst is, am I ajjured that I am at present in a state of grace? "the second, am I assured that I shall continue so to my life's end? To begin With thefirsl: the answer of this enquiry depends on three grounds.
First, A divine revelation, which declares in general, who shall be saved; namely, they who believe and repent. Nor does any let! doubt, but that repentance] towards Gda, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, as St. Paul speaks, are the indispensable conditions of life. Tis true, the notion of repentance is miserably perverted by sdmet and that of faith by others; but what remedy medy is there against the lusts and passions of men? The scripture does not only re* quire repentance and faith; but it explains and describes the nature of both, by such conspicuous and infallible characters, that no man can be mistaken in these two points, but his error must be owing to fome criminal prejudices or inclinations 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 distinguished from repentance (as it sometimes is in scripture) a reliance upon the mercy of God through the merits and intercession of Jejus, and atonement of his blood. Heaven lies open to all that perform these conditions; every page of the gospel attests this; this is the substance of Christ's commission to his apostles, that they should preach repentance and remisfion of sins through his name amongst all nations. And this is one blessed advantage, which revealed religion has above natural; that it contains an express declaration of the Divine Will, concerning the pardon of all firis whatsoever upon these terms. Natural religion indeed teaches us, that God is merciful; but it