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First, by Regeneration they mean, not our being born again by Water-baptism, of which Regeneration I shall treat in the 23d Chapter ; but the renewing of the inward Man by the Mortification of our evil inclinations, implanting good ones, &c. For Mr. Barclay (b) saies, As many as refift not this Light, but receive the same, it becomes in them a boly, pure,and spiritual birth, bringing forth holiness, purity, and all those other blessed fruits, which are acceptable to God. This is what the Scriptures call being born of God, and born of the Spirit ; and I shall afterwards thew, that 'tis a kind of Regeneration. But 5 then 'tis to be ascribed, not to the pretended Light, but to the Holy Ghost; and if our Adversaries will acknowledge him to be the Author of it, we will have no farther dispute about it.
Secondly, by Sanctification they mean, as we do, our being made holy. This appears from Mr. Barclay, who to the Words just now quoted immediately subjoins, by which holy Birth, viz. Je. fus Christ formed within us, and working his works in us, as we are sanctified, fo are we justified, &c. This Sanctification we attribute to the Operation of the Holy Ghost; and if our Adversaries will do the same, we are perfectly agreed.
But then our Adversaries affirm, as I have for. merly observed, that (c) in whom this pure and holy birth is fully brought forth, the body of Death and Sin comes io be crucified and removed, and their hearts united and subjected to the truth; so as not to obey any seggestions and temptations of the evil
one, to be free from actual finning and transgressing of the Law of God, and in that respect per
(6) Apol. prop. 7. P. 364. (6) Apol. prop. 8. P. 387.
fe&t. Tet deth this perfection still admit of a growth; and there remaineth alwaies in some part à possibi. lity of finning, where the mind doth not most dili. gently and watchfully attend unto the Lord.' This Question therefore is concerning the Degree of Sanctification, whether it be poflible for a Man to be not only holy, but perfect also. I think it necessary to speak something upon this Head; because tho' we herein do agree with our Adversaries in the Main, yet they have taken occasion to reproach us, as if we gave encouragement to Sinners.
Religious Perfection therefore (to use the Words of Dr. (d) Lucas) is nothing else, but the Moral accomplishment of Human Nature, such a maturity of Virtue, as Man in this Life is capable of Conversion begins, Perfection confummates the habit of Righteousness. In the one Religion is, as it were, in its Infancy; in the other in its Strength and Manhood." So that Perfection, in short, is nothing else; but a ripe and ferled habit of true Holiness. According to this notion of Religious perfection, he is a perfect Man, whose Mind is pure and vigorous; and his Body tame and obsequious; whose Faith is firm and fteady, bis Love ardent and exalted, and bis Hope full of Asurance ; whose Religion has in
it that ardor and constancy, and his Soul that tran. 3 quillity and pleasure, which befpeaks him a Child
the Light and of the Day, and partaker of the Di. vine Nature, and raised above the corruption which is in the World thró Luft. So that (e) this is the utmost Perfection Man is capable of , to have his
(d) Religious Perfe&tion, or a Third Part of the Enquiry after Happiness, fect. 1. chap. 1. p. 2. Lond. 1704. (e) ibid. p. 166
Mind enlightned, and his Heart purified, and 10 be informed, acted and influenced by Faith and Love, As by a vital Principle. And all this is essential to : habitual Goodness. Now such Perfection as this, we readily acknowledge to be, not only possible, but what every Christian is obliged to endevor afçer. And I am persuaded, our Adversaries themselves will acquiesce in this Definition of Perfection.
But then it is still a Question between us, whether he who is in this Sense perfect, may live without Sin. That all Men have at sometime or 0ther fallen into fin, is agreed on both sides. For Mr. Barclay (f) faies, all Men have finned. And that the perfea Man may sin, is also agreed on both Sides. For Mr. Barclay faies, as has been shewn, there remaineth alwaies in some part a possibility of Sinning, where the mind doth not most diligently and watchfully attend unto the Lord. But may not the perfect Man, when perfect, wholly abstain from Sin for the future? Now before I Answer this Question, I think it necessary to observe, that there are two forts of Sins, viz. wilful Sins, and Sins of infirmity. Wilful Sins (g) are those deliberate transgressions of a Divine Law, which Man commits in opposition to the dire&t Remonstrances of Conscience. He knows the Action is forbid; be sees the Turpitude and Obliquity of it; he is not ignorant of the Punishment denounced against it;, and yet he ventures upon it. A sin of infirmity is such as does (b) not imply a deliberate wickedness in the will, much less an habitual one; but it (i) has in it fo much of voluntary as to make it fin, so much of involuntary as to make it frailty. It has so much of the
(f) Quakerism confirmed, sect.4. p.628. (8) Lucas's Relig. perfect. fect. 2. chap. 5. P. 313. (5) Ibid. p. 334. (1) Ibid.
Will in it, that it is capable of being reduced; and yet so much of Necesity in it, it is never utterly to be extirpated. It has
something in it Criminal enough to obligé us to watch against it, and repent of it; and yet so much pitiable and excusable, as to entitle us to pardon under the Covenant of Grace.
This being premised, I answer, that he who is perfect in the Sense above mention'd, as every one must endevor to be, may certainly for the future live without wilful Sins; and if this be all that our Adverfaries mean by a total freedom from Sin, we are throughly agreed. But as for Sins of infirmity, they seem inseparable from us in this World. For the best of Men ever did, and do feel them, and lament them. For (k) what understanda ing is there which is not liable to Error?: What will, that does not feel fomething of impotence, something of irregularity? What Affections that are mere human, are ever constant, ever raised ? Where is the Faith, that has no scruple, no diffidence; the Love, that
has no defect, no remission; the Hope, that has ne s fear in it? What is the State that is not liable to i ignorance, inadvertency, surprise, infirmiry? Whero
is the Obedience that has no reluctancy, no remissness, xo deviation? This is a truth which, whether Men
will or no, they cannot chufe but feel. The Confefs frons of the holieft Men bear witness to it.
Now our Adversaries, either do confess, that the perfect Man has such infirmities as I have mens tion'd; or they do not. If they do not confess it, I defire them only to name a single Instance of
a Person that had not such Infirmities, I should be i heartily glad to hear, that God's Laws have at any
time been so exactly obey'd. But let not our Ad
versaries instance in themselves; for I shall soon prove, that they are guilty of manifest breaches of our Savior's Commands in their neglect of Water-baptism and the Lord's Supper. But if our Adversaries do confess, that the perfect Man has such infirmities as I have mentioned; then those infirmities either are Sins, or they are not.
If they are Sins, then the perfect Man cannot live wholly free from Sin. But if they are not Sins, the difference between us is not great, nor shall I dispute the Merits of that Cause at present. For (I) then the whole Controversy is reduced to this ; we agree in the Thing, but differ
in the Name. And in this difference we are not only on the humbler, but the safer fide too. For acknowledging them Sins, we all be the better disposed sure to be sorry for them, to beg pardor of them, and watch againft them.
I shall conclude this point in the words of the fame Author, whom I have often quoted. If any Man (saies (m) he) be apprehensive, that 'tis impoffible to affert the doctrine of perfection, without looking a little too favorably towards Pelagianism, or Enthusiasm, ar something of this kind; I do bere affure such a one, that I advance no perjection that raises Men above the use or need of Means, or in vites them to neglect the Word, Prayer, or Sacraments, or is raised on any other foundation than the Gospel of Christ.--I am perfuaded, that the strength of Nature is too fight a foundation to build Perfečti,
I contend for freedom from no other sin than actnal, voluntary, and deliberate. And let Concupiscence, or any unavoidable Diftemper or disorder of our Nature be what it will, all that I aim at bere,
(0) Ibid. chap. 6. p. 356. (m) Ibid. introduct.