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while to the dawning and increasing light, that shines more and more to the perfect day. Another While to that succession of labours and expectations which the husbandman runs thro' from ploughing to the harvest. But of all the similies which the spirit makes use of to this end, there is one especially that seems to me to give us the truest, and the liveliest image of the change of a sinner into a faint. The icripture representsyfo as a state of bondage', and righteoujhess as a state of liberty; and teaches us, that by the fame steps by which an enslaved and oppressed people arrive at their secular, by the very same does the Christian at his spiritual liberty and happiness.
First then, as soon as any judgment or mercy, or any other fort of call, awakens and penetrates the sinner; as soon as a clear light breaks in upon him, and makes him fee and consider his own state, he is presently agitated by various passions, according to his different guilt and temper, or the different calls and motives by which he is wrought upon: one' while fear, another while shame; one while indignation, another while hope, fills his foul: he resents the tyranny, and complains of the persecution of his lusts; he upbraids himself with his folly, s^nd discovers a meanness and shamemlness in his vices, which he diet
not reflect on sufficiently before; he is vexed and troubled at the plagues and mischiefs his sin and folly have already procured him, and thinks he has reason to fear, if he persist, others far more intolerable. Then he calls to mind the goodness, the long-suffering of God, the love of Jesus, the demonstraiion of the Spirit and of Power; and how distant soever he be from virtue, he discerns there is a beauty and pleasure in it; and cannot but judge the righteous happy. These thoughts, these travels of the mind, if they be not strangled in the birth by a man's own wilfulness or pusillanimity, or unhappily diverted upon some temptations, do kindle in the bosom of the sinner, the desires of. righteousness and liberty \ they fill him with regret and shame, cast him down, and humble him before God, and make him finally resolve on shaking off the yoke. This may be called a state of illumination; and is a state of preparation for, or dispoftion to repentance: or, if it be repentance itself, 'tis yet but an embryo: to perfect it, 'tis necessary,
Secondly, that the sinner make good his resolutions, and actually break with his lusts, he must reject their sollicirations, and boldly oppose their commands; he must take part with reason and religion,
keep keep a watch and guard over his foul, andf must earnestly labour by mortification and discipline, by meditation and prayer to root out vice, and plant virtue in his foul. This in the language of the' prophet is ceasing to do evil, and learning to do .well) Isa.i. 16,17. He that has proceeded thus far, though he feel a great conflict; within; though the opposition of lust be very strong, and consequently the discharge of his duty very difficult, he is nevertheless in a state of grace, but in a state of childhood too; he is Jincere, but far from being ferfecl. And yet this is the state which many continue in to the end of their lives, being partly abused by false notions, and taught to believe, from Rom. vii, that there is no higher or perfecter state; partly intangled and incumbered by some unhappy circumstances of life: or, it may be, the force or impetus of the foul towards Perfection, is much abated by the satisfaction5 of prosperity, and the many diversions and engagements of a fortunate life: but he that will be perfeSl, must look upon this state as the beginning of virtue. For it must be remember'd, that a stubborn and powerful enemy will not be subdued and totally brought under in a moment. The Christian therefore must prosecute this war till he has finished it; I will not say by
extirpating, but disabling the enemy. But here I would have it well observed, that she reducing the enemy to a low condition, is not always effected by an uninterrupted series of vi&ories; for seldom is any so fortunate, or so brave, so wise, or so watchful, as to meet with no check in the long course of a difficult war; 'tis enough if he be not discouraged, but instructed and awakened by it* And to prevent any fatal disaster, two errors must carefully be avoided. Firsts A hasty and fond confidence in our selves, with an over-weening contempt and neglect of the enemy: and next, all false and cowardly projects of truces and accommodations: nor is the fitting down content with poor and low attainments very far removed from this latter. This is the second stage of the Christian's advance toward Perfection; and may be called the state of liberty. The third and last, which now follows, is the state of zeal, or love, or, as mstick writers delight to call it, the state of union.
The yoke of sin being once shaken off, the love of righteousness, and a delight in it, is more and more increased: and now the man proceeds to the last round in the scale of Perfection. The wisdom, courage, and vigour of a convert, is generally at first employed in subduing his corruptions, in conquering his ill habits,
G and and defeating his enemies; in watching over his own heart, and guarding himself against temptations. But this being once done, he is in full liberty to pursue the works of peace and love. Now he may advance from necessary to voluntary acts of self-denial, which before would have been putting new wine into old bottles, contrary to the advice of our Master, Mat. ix. 17. Now he may enlarge his knowledge, and exchange the milk of the word for strong meat, for the wisdom and the mysteries of it: now he may extend his watchfulness, his care; and whereas they were before wisely, for the most part, confined to his own safety, he may now, like our Saviour, go about doing good, Acts. x. 3 8. protecting, strengthning, and rescuing his weak brethren; propagating the faith, and inflaming the bosoms of men with the love of Jefiis and his truth. Now, in a word, he may give himself up to a life of more exalted contemplation purity and charity, which will be natural and easy now, though it were not so in the beginning. And this life is accompanied with peace and joy in the Holy Ghost; with confidence and pleasure: now the yoke of Christ is easy, and his burden light; now he rejoices with joy unspeakable, and hopes full of glory. Now 'tis not so much he that lives, as Christ that lives in him: For the life which he now leads, is in