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fountains of pleasure, which the finner never tastes of, which he cannot relish, which he is a stranger to: Next, As to outward things, that he has even here, many advantages above the other. But what is more conhderable yet, is,
All the claim the finner lays to pleasure, is confined to the present moment, which is extremely short, and extremely uncertain ; the time that is past and to come, he quits all pretensions to, or ought to do so. As to the timę past, the thing is felf-evident: for the finner, looking back, sees his pleasures and Jatisfactions; the good man his trials and temptations past and gone : the finner sees an end of his beauty and his strength; the good man of his weaknesses and follies: the one when he looks back is encountered with An and folly, wickedness and pame; the other with repentance and good works : guilt and fear haunt the reflections of the one, peace and hope attend those of the other. As to the time to come, the atheist hath no prospect at all beyond the grave, the wick-, ed Christian a very dismal one, the weak and imperfe&t a doubtful onė; only the wife and perfect an assured, joyful, and delightful one. And this puts me in mind of that which is the proper fruit of PerfeEtion, and the truest and greatest pleasure of human life, that is, assurance, assurance of
the pardon of fin, affurance of the divine favour, assurance of immortality and glory.
Need I prove, that assurance is an unspeakable pleasure ? One would think, that to man, who is daily engaged in a conflict with some evil or other, it were superfluous to prove that it is a mighty pleasure to be raised, tho' not above the assault, tho* not above the reach, yet above the venom and malignity of evils": to be filled with joy, and strength, and confidence; to ride triumphant under the protection of the di. vine favour, and see the sea of life, swell and toss itself in vain, in vain threaten the bark it cannot pink, in vain invade the cable it cannot burst. One would think, that to man, who lives all his life long in bondage for fear of death, it should be a surprizing delight to see death lie gasping at his feet, naked and impotent, without sting, without terror : one would, finally, think, that to man, who lives rather by hope than enjoyment, it should not be necessary to prove, that the Christian's hope, whose confidence is greater, its objects more glorious, and its success more certain than that of any worldly fancy of project, is full of pleafure; and that it is a delightful prospect to Tee the beavens opened, and Jesus, our ye. fus, our Prince and Saviour, sitting at the right hand of God.
í Thus I have, I think, fufficiently made out the subferviency of Perfection to the bappiness of this present life, which was the thing proposed to be done in this chapter. Nor can I imagine what objections can be sprung to invalidate what I have said; unless there be any thing of colour in these two.
1. To reap the pleasure, will fome one fay, which you have described here, it rem quires fomething of an exalted genius, fome compass of understanding, fome fagacity: and penetration. To this I answer, I grant indeed that fome of those pleasures which I have reckoned up as belonging to the per. feet man, demand à fpirit raised a little above the vulgar : but the richest pleasures, not the most polished and elevated spirits, but the most devout and charitable fouls are best capable of. Such are the peace and tranquillity which arises from the conqueft: and reduction of all inordinate affe&ions : the satisfaction which accompanies a sincere and vigorous discharge of duty, and our reflections upon it; the security and rest which flows from self-reggnation, and confidence in the divine protection : and lastly, the joy that springs from the full assurance of hope.
But 2dly, It may be objeéted, 'tis true all these things seem to hang together well enough in speculation; but when we come
to examine the matter of faet, we are almost tempted to think, that all which you have said to prove the ways of wisdom, ways of pleasantness, and all her paths peace, amounts to no more than a pretty amusement of the mind, and a vifonary scheme of happiness. For how few are there, if any, who feel all this to be truth, and experiment. the pleasure you talk of? How few are they in whom we can discover any signs of this spiritual joy, or fruits of a divine tranquillity or security ?" I answer, in a word, the examples of a perfect and mature virtue are very few; religion runs very low, and the love of God and goodness in the bosoms of most Christians fùffers such an allay and mixture, that it is no wonder at all, if fo imperfe&t a state breed but very weak and imperfe&t hopes, very faint and doubtful joys. But I shall have occasion to exa. mine the force of this objection more fully, when I come to the obstacles of Perfečtion.
CH A P.
I CHA P. v. Of the attainment of Perfection : with a
particular account of the manner, or the Jeveral steps, by which man advances or grows up to it: with three remarks to make this discourse more useful, and to free it from some scruples. | Have in the first, fecond, and third chapIters explained the notion of Religious Perfection. In the fourth chapter I have insisted on two effečts of it, assurance and pleafure : my method therefore now leads me to the attainment of Perfektion. Here I will do two things. ift, I will trace out the several steps and advances of the Christian towards it, and draw up, as it were, a short history of his spiritual progress, from the very in ancy of virtue to its maturity and manhood.' adly, I will discourse briefly of the motives and means of Perfe&tion. Of the Christian's progress towards Per
Many are the figures and metaphors by which the scripture describes this; alluding one while to the formation, nourishment, and growth of the natural man; another while to that of plants and vegetables: one