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him will be our heaven; and those glimpses of his Presence, which we are vouchsafed through the Spirit in this life, are the pledges and foretaste of it. This is the constant voice of scripture. Every good gift, and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, Jam, i. 17. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee ; for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats ¥ Offer unto God thanksgiving, and pay thy vows unto the most high: and call upon me in the day of trouble; 1 will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me, Psal. 1. 12, 13, &c. If thou be righteous; what givest thou unto him? Thy wickedness may.hurt a man, as thou art, and thy righteousness may profit the son of man, Job xxxv. 7, 8.
Of the Impediments of Perfection. Five Impediments reckoned up, and insisted on. I. Too loose a notion of religion. 2. An opinion that Perfection is not attainable.
3. That religion is an enemy to pleasure.
4. The love of the world. 5. The infirmity of the flesh. The •whole concluded with a prayer.
rH 0' I have been all along carrying on the defign of this section, that is, the removing the obstacles of Perfection; yet I easily foresaw there might bejome which would not be reduced within the compass of the foregoing heads: for these therefore I reserved this place; these are five.
§. i; Some seem to have entertained such a notion of religion, as if moderation here, were as necessary as any where else. They look upon zeal as an excess of righteousness ; and can be well enough content to want degrees of glory, if they can but save their souls. To which end they can fee no necessity of Perfection. Now I would beseech such seriously to lay to heart, that salvation and damnation are things of no common importance: and
therefore it highly concerns them not to be mistaken in the notion they form to themselves of religion. For the nature of things will not be altered by their fancies; nor will God be mocked or imposed on. If we will deal sincerely with our selves, as in this cafe it certainly behoves us to do, we must frame our idea of religion, not from the opinions, the manners, or the fashions of the world; but from the scriptures. And we must not interpret these by our own inclinations; but we must judge of the duties they prescribe, by those descriptions of them, by those properties and effects, which we find there. We must weigh the design and end of religion; which is to promote the glory of God, and the good of man, and to raise us above the world, and the body: and fee how our platform, or model of religion, suits with It. And if, after we have done this, we are not fully satisfied in the true bounds and limits which part vice and virtue, it cannot but be safest for us to err on the right-hand. We ought always to remember too, that the repeated exhortations in scripture to diligence, and that the most earnest and indefatigable ones, to vigilance, to fear end tremblings to patience, to stedfastnefc, and such like, are utterly inconsistent with an easy, lazy, gentile religion. That the We of Jejks is die fairest and fullest
lest comment on his doctrine: and, that we never are to follow the examples of a corrupt world, but of the best men, and the best ages. This, this one thing alone, will convince us, what endeavours, what virtues are necessary to gain an incorruptible crown. See with what eagerness the disciples of Jesus prejj'ed towards the mark! fee with what courage, nay joy too, they took up their cross and followed him! how generous were their alms! so that the riches of their liberality were conspicuous in the very depth of their poverty. What plainness and singleness of heart; what grace and warmth, what peace and joy shewed it self in their conversation! what modesty, what humility in their garb, deportment, and the whole train of life! how frequent, how fervent, and how long too, were their prayers and retirements! In one word! the spirit and genius of a disciple of Christ discovered it self in all they said and did : and the virtues of their lives did as evidently distinguish a Christian from a Jew or Pagan, as their faith. How lovely was religion then! how full its joy, how strong its confidence! then did Christians truly overcome the world: then did they live above the body: then was the Cross of Christ more delightful, than the ease or honour, the pride or pleasure, of a sinful life: then did they tru
ly, through the Spirit, wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. Let us now compare our lives with theirs, and then sit down content with poor and beggarly attainments if we can. Let us put our virtues in the scales against theirs; and, if we have any modesty, the inequality will put us out of countenance: we shall blush at our vanity; and shall not have the confidence to expect the same crown, the same kingdom with them. But as too lax a notion of religion is apt to beget too much indifference and unconcernment; so will it be said, too exalted an one is apt to beget despair: which is a second and no less obstacle of Perfection.
§. 2. Many there are, who, forming their judgment upon the flips and defects of good men, and the corruption of human nature, conceive Perfection to be a mere imaginary notion. They believe indeed, that, considering how apt man is to fall short of his duty, 'tis very fit that the rule prescribed him should be exact; and that ne should be frequently pressed, and exhorted to PerfeBion: but that the thing itself is too difficult for mortal man to attain in this life. But to this objection I must oppose these few things, which I believe will be sufficient to remove it.