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in' \vhdt I have laid down. If we appeal to Ucafdn, no ftian can doubt, but that an habitat virtue has much more of excellence and* merit in it, than single accidental œ&Sj of Uncertain fits and paflioris; since an hahtt is riot only the source and spring of the noblest actions arid the most elevatecf paflioris, but it renders us more regular a'nd steady, more uniform and constant in every thing that is good. As to good natural dispositions, they have little of strength, little of perfection in them, till they be raised' and ifriproved into habits: and for our ridturat faculties, they are noshing else, but the' capacities of good or evil; they are uridefef mined to the one of other, till they afe fixed and1 influenced by moral principles, ft remains then, that religious PerfeBiori must consist iri an habit of righteousness. Arid to prevent alt irripertinent scruples and cavils, I add a confirmed arid well estaDliflied' one.
T*hat this is the scripture notion of Perfection, is rriariifest; rifst, Frorri the use of this word' in scripture. Secondly, Frorn the characters and descriptions of the best arid highest state which any ever actually^ atfairied;. or to which we are invited ana exhorted.
i» From the use of the word: whenever we find any mention of PerfeSlioriiq scripftir'e, if we examine the place well, we shall find nothing more intended, than uprightness and integrity, an unblameable and unreproveable life, a state well advanced in knowledge and virtue. Thus upright and perfeB are used as terms equivalent, fob i. And that man was perfeB and upright, fearing God and eschewing evil; and Psalm xxxvii. 37. Mark the perfeB man and behold the upright man, for the end of that man is peace. Thus again, when God exhorts Abraham to PerfeBion, Gen. xvii. 1 I am the Almighty God; walk before me and be thou perfeB, all that he exhorts him to, is a steady obedience to all his commandments, proceeding from a lively fear of, and faith in him; and this is the general use of this word PerfeB throughout the Old Testament, namely to signify a fincere and just man, thatteareth God, and efcheweth evil, and is well fixed and established in his duty. In the New Testament, PerfeBion signifies the fame thing which it does in the Old; that is, universal righteousness, and strength, and growth in it. Thus the perfeB man, 2 Tim. iii. 17. is one who is throughly furnisshed'to every good work. Thus St. Paul tells us, Col.'w. 12. that Epaphras laboured fervently in prayers for the Colostians, that they might stand perfeB andcompleat in all the will of God. In James i. 4. the perfeB man is one, who is entire, lacking nothings i. e. one who is advanced to
a matua maturity of virtue through patience and experience, and is fortified and established in faith, love, and hope. In this fense of the word Perfect St. Peter prays for those to whom he writes his epistle, 1 Pet. v. 10. But the God of all grace, who called us into bis eternal glory by Chrst jsejus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablissh, strengthen, settle you. When St. Paul exhorts the Hebrews to go on to Perfection, Heb. vi. he means nothing by it, but that state of manhood which consists in a well fettled habit of wisdom and goodness. This is plain, first, from •ver. 11, 12. of this chapter, where he himself more fully explains his own meaning; and we desire that every one of you do'shew the same diligence, to the full assurance of hope unto the end; that ye be not slothful, bat followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promise. Next, from the latter end of the 5th chapter y where we discern what gave occasion to this exhortation; there distinguishing Christians into two classes, babes and strong men, i. e. perfect and imperfect, he describes both at large thus: For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God, and are. becomesuch as have need of milk, and not of strong meat;for every one that uj'eth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness j for he
is a babe:.- but strong me (ft belongeth to the/n that are of full age, even tJ?ofe 'who by reason. of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. 4nd thp' here the apostle seems more immediately to regard rh<a perfection of knowledge; yet the perfection of righteousness must never, in the Ian*guage of the scripture', be separated from it. 'Much the same remark rau$ I add concerning the integrity of righteousness, an4 the Christians progress or advance irj it. Tho''thescripture, when it speaks of Perfection, doth sometimes more directly refer to the one, and sometimes .^o the other ; yet we must ever suppose that they do mutually imply and include one another \ since^otherwise the notion \of Perfection woujd fae extremely maimed and incompleat. I wjlj insist therefore no longer oq the use of she words Perfect and Perfection injcriptyre: but as a further proof that my notion of Perfection, is truly scriptural^ I will ihew,
2. That the utmoft height, to which the< scripts? exhorts us,; h, nothing more tharj a steady habit of holiness; that the bright test (hofaticrs it ^iv§s .pf %h$,.perfetf; man, t(ie lovelier]: defrippm it.Wake§ US of the perfeflefcftftt.e.i, are al( jriqadVim of the Mtturql andconfeiNi fiWP^klQh, % -rips. fc«kit,- J^ik is no P.Qn^ro«ersy ^U IkflQW Q£ ^boqt-.vtb?-WtH^ tf & wV pwy a' flan's man's experience instructs him in the whole philosophy of it; we are all agreed, that it is a kind ok second nature, that it nukes us exert our selves with desire and earnestness, with satisfaction and pleasure; that it renders us fixed in our choice, and constant in our' actions, and almost as averse to those things which are repugnant to it, as we are to those winch are distasteful and disagreeable to our nature. And that, in a word, it so entirely and absolutely poslessestheman, that the power of it is not to be resisted, nor the empire of it to be shaken off; nor can k he removed and extirpated without the greatest labour and difficulty imginafole. All this is a confessM and almost palpable truth in habits of Jin: and there is no reason why we should not ascribe the feme force and efficacy to habits of virtue; especially if we consider that the strength, easiness, and pleasure which belong naturally to these habits, receive no small accession from the supernatural energy and vigour of. the Hdj Spirit. I will therefore in a Jew words shew how tkutstate of righteousness which the scripture invites us to, as Qxk Perfection, directly answers this account I have given o£ an habit.