Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση
[ocr errors]

man, and one that feared God with all bis house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. But peradventure some may imagine, that there is something singular and extraordinary in these eminent ns, which we must never to equal; but must be content to follow them at a vast distance. Well, let this be so; what have we to say to whole churches animated by the same spirit of zeal? what are we to think of the churches of Macedonia, whose charity St. Paul thus magnifies, 2 Cor. viii. 2, 3. In a great trial of affliction, the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded to the riches of their liberality. For to their power I bear record, yea, and beyond their power, they were willing of themselves. And St. Paul declares himfelf persuaded of the Romans, that they were full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, Rom. xv. 14. And of the Corinthians he testifies, that they were inriched in every thing, and came behind in no gift. i Cor. i. 5, 6. That they did abound in all things, in faith, in diligence, &c.2 Cor.viii. 7. I will stop here; 'tis in vain to heap up more instances : I have said enough to shew, that vigour and fervency in the service of God, is no miraculous gift, no extraordinary prerogative of some peculiar favourite of heaven, but the natural and inseparable property of a well-confirmed habit of holiness.

Lastly; Lastly ; Is constancy and steadiness the property of an habit it is an undoubted property of perfection 100. În fcripture good men are every-where represented as standing fast in the faith; stedfast and unmoveable in the works of God; Holding fast their integrity: in one word, as constantly following after righteousness, and maintaining a good confcience towards God and man. And fo natural is this to one habitually good, that St. John affirms of such a one, that he cannot fin; 1 John iii. 9. Whosoever is born of God, doth not commit fin, for his feed remaineth in him, and be cannot hn, because he is born of God. Accordingly, yob is faid to have feared God, and eschewed evil; which must be under

of the constant course of his life. Zachary and Elizabeth are faid to be righteous, walking in all the commandments of God blameless, Lukej. 6. Enoch, Noah, Die vid, and other excellent persons, who are pronounced by God righteous, and just, and perfekt, are faid in fcripture, to walk with God, to serve him with a perfeet heart with a füll purpose of heart to cleave to him, and the like. And this is that constancy which Christians are often exhorted to; watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit ye like men, be strong, i Cor. xvi. 13. And of which the first followers of our Lord left us such remarkable examples. The disciples are

faid to have been continually in the temple blessing and praisng God, Luke xxiv. And the first Christians are faid to have continued stedfastly in the apostles dotrine and fellowjoip, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers, Acts ii. 42. .

Thus I think I have fufficiently cleared my notion of Perfection from scripture : nor need I multiply more texts, to prove 'what I think no man can doubt of, unless he mistake the main design and end of the gospel; which is to raise and exalt us to a fteady habit of holiness: The end of the commandment, faith St. Paul, 1 Tim. i. 5. is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good confcience, and of faith unfeigned. This is the utmost Perfečtion man is capable of, to have his mind enlightened, and his heart purified; and to be informed, acted, and influenced by faith and love, as by a vital principle : and all this is essential to habitual goodness.

If any one defire further light or fatiffaction in this matter, let him read the eighth chapter to the Romans, and he will foon acknowledge, that he there finds the fubstance of what I have hitherto advanced. There, tħough the word itself be not found, the thing called Perfection is described in all the strength and beauty, in all the pleasure and advantages of it: there the difciple of Jesus is represented

as

as one, who walks not after the flesh, but after the spirit; as one, whom the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set free from the law of fin and death; one, who 8 peové, does not mind or relish the things of the flesh, but the things of the spirit; one, in whom the fpirit of Christ dwells : he does not stand at the door, and knock; he does not make a transient visit; but here he reigns, and rules, and inhabits: one finally, in whom the body is dead because of hin, but the spirit is life because of righteousness. And the result of all this is the joy and confidence, the security and transport that becomes the child of God. Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but ye. bave received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father. The spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God; and if' children, then heirs, beirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ. And now 'tis no wonder, if the perfeet man long for the revelation of the glory of the fons of God; if he cry out in rapture,

If God be for me, who can be against me who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's ele&t? who pail separate me from the love of Chrift? and so on. If any one would see the perfe&t man described in fewer words, he needs but cast his eye on Rom.vi. 22. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. CHA P.

СНАР. ІІ. This notion of Perfection countenanced by all

parties, however different in their exprefhons. Some short reflections upon what the Pelagians, the Papists, the Quakers, and the mystical writers, have said concerning Perfection.

A FTER I have shewed that this no

A tion of Perfection is warranted by reason and fcripture; I see not why I should be very solicitous whether it do or do not clash with the opinions of men. But the truth is, if we examine not so much the expreffons and words, as the sense and mean. ing of all parties about this matter, we shall find them well enough agreed in it at the bottom. And ’tis no wonder, if (notwithstanding several incidental disputes) they should yet agree in the main : since the experience of mankind does easily teach us what sort of Perfection human nature is capable of; and what can, or cannot actually be attained by man. The Pelagians did not contend for an angelical Perfection, nor St. Austin deny such a one as was truly suitable to man: the one could not be fo far a stranger to human nature, as to exempt it in reality from those errors and defects which the best of men complain of,

and

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »