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fountains of pleasure, which the firmer 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 considerable yet, is,
All the claim the firmer lays to pleasure\ is confined to the present moment, which is extremelyyftor/, and extremely uncertain; the time that is past and to come, he quits all pretensions to, or ought to do so. As to the time past, the thing is self-evident,: for the finner, looking back, fees his pleasures and satisfactions; the good man his trials and temptations past and gone: the finner fees 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 fin and folly, wickedness and shame; the other with repentance and good works : guilt and /*w haunt the reflections of the o«<r, peace and Æo/te attepd those of the other. As to the time to come, the atheist hath zw prospect at all beyond the grave, the wick-, ed Christian a very dismal one, the it^rfÆ and imperfeSl a doubtful one; only the ra$£ and perfect an ajsured, joyful, and </<?lightsul one. And this puts me in mind of «w* which is the proper fruit of Perfection, and the truest and greatest pleasure of human life, that is, assurance, assurance of
the the pardon of fin, assurance of the divine favour, assurance of immortality and glory. Need I prove, that ajjurance is an unspeakable pleasure? One would think, that to man, who is daily engaged in a constiff with some evil or other, it were suoerfluous to prove that it is a mighty pleasure to be raised, tho' not above the assault, tho* not above the reach, yet above the venom and malignity of evils: to be filled with joy, and strength, and confidence; to rido triumphant under the protection of the divine savour, and see the' sea of life, swell and toss itself in Vain, in vain threaten the bark it cannot fink, in vain invade the cable it cannot burst. One Would think, that to man, who lives all his life long in bondage for fear of death, it should be a surprizing delight to see death lie gasping at his feet, naked and impotent, withoutfting, without terror: one would, finally, think,that to man, who lives rather by hope than enjoyment, it stiould not be necessary to prove, that the Christian's hope, whose confidence is greater, its objects more glorious, and its success more certain than that of any worldly fancy of project, is full of pleasure, and that it is a delightful prospect to see the heavens opened, and Jesus, our Jesus, our Prince and Saviour, sitting at the right ha$d of God.
Thus I have, I think, sufficiently made out the subserviency of Perfection to the happiness oi this present life,'which was thetiling 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, wilUbffle one fay, which you have described here, it re* quires something of an exalted genius, some» compass of understanding, some sagacity and penetration. To this I answer, \ grant indeed that some of those pleasures which 1 have reckoned up as belonging to the perfect; man, demand a spirit raised a little above the vulgar: but4the 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 conquest and reduction of all inordinate affections: the satisfaction which accompanies a sincere^ and vigorous discharge of duty, and our' reflections upon it; the security and rest which flows from self-refignation, and confidence in the divine protection: and lastly, the joy that springs from the JkH assurance of hope.
But idly, It may be objected, 'tis true all these things seem to hang together well enough va. speculation; but when we come
to examine the matter of faSl, 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, acnounts to no more than a pretty amusement of the mind, and a visionary 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 spirituals, or fruits ofa divine tranquillity or security f 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 suffers such an allay and mixture, that it is no wonder at all, if Ib imperfect a state breed but very weak and imperfect hopes, very faint and doubtful joys. But I shall have occasion to examine the force of this objection more /«//k, when I come to the obstacles of Perfection.
CHAP. i CHAP. V.
Of the attainment of Perfection: with a particular account of the manner, or the severalJleps, 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.
I Have in the first, second, and thirdchapters explained the notion of Religious Perfection. In thefourth chapter I have insisted on two effects of it, assurance and pleasure: my method therefore now leads me to the attainment of PerfeSlion. Here I will do two things, \st, I will trace out the feveraly?£/.r and advances of the Christian towards it, and draw up, as it were, a ihort history of his spiritual progress ^ from the very infancy of virtue to its maturity and manhood, adly, I will discourse briefly of the motives and means of Perfection.
Of the Christian's progress towards Perfection.
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