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with himself; for God is the author of nature, and the restorer of it. By the way I will observe how little there is in many controversies ; if wise and temperate men had the managing of them ; but when once there is fufpicion and jealousy, these make and increase differences. This is in short all that I will say, it is not possible for any one that is a right believer not to depend on the grace of God; it is highly ingenuous for him to make all possible acknowledgements, it becomes him to think that he owes all his hopes to the goodnefs of God, and that he stood in need of a divine strength for every new motion ; yea to attribute every thing that is good to the grace of God.

But notwithstanding this, first we are to call upon one another, every body is to engage himself to excite all the powers of nature, to act according to reafon and to answer all principles of natural light and conscience; and this we are to do in compliance with grace.

And Secondly, We will by no means upon any pretence discourage any one that is in a difpofition God-ward ; for we are by scripture warranted to tell men, that God doth not forsake men, till he be first forsaken of men, and that God will not refuse any one that comes unto him ; but is a real friend to fouls, and doth delight in the converfion of finners, and doth his part toward the attaining of it ; and this I have added to take off offence and scandal, that fo no one may be mistaken. Men are not.fo far to press the principles of God's creation, as to neglect the grace of God: nor fo far to depend on the 373 grace of God as to negleet the principles of God's creation. I put them in conjunction, and they agree as well together, as God doth with himself.

grace

DISCOURSE XXIV.

The PRACTICE of those who are

improved.

PHILIPPIANS iii. 15. Let as many of us therefore as be perfect, be thus mind

ed : and if in any thing ye. be otherwise minded,

God Mall reveal even this unto you. L

Et therefore as many of us as be perfeet, be thus. minded. But had he not denied perfection

before, ver. 12. not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: who doth he now speak of? Let as many as be perfect be thus minded, take an account of this in fix or seven particulars.

1. It is a supposition of charity; what he had be-, fore denied of himself he doth admit in respect of others. And indeed we feel our own infirmities, and know our own weaknesses, shortness and imperfection ; but we observe other men's graces. The best of men know more by themselves, than by others. He finds how oft he is out of frame and temper, how oft he is indisposed : but other perfons are known only by their excellencies, by their

virtues ;

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virtues ; and we believe better of them, then we know by ourselves. This is that which the apostle faith, charity hopeth all things, believeth all things. Modesty becomes us in respect of ourselves : but charity bids us entertain a good opinion of others. You see he gives to others the greatest advantage, and full allowance ; but he takes no more to himself than is certainly due. Thus doth he practise according to his own rule, Rom. xii. 10. Be ye kindly affectioned with brotherly love, preferring one another. That is the first thing,

2. It is a word of encouragement : because we are wont to say to new beginners and learners, well done ; when it is only well begun. Thus God himself, in his goodness, and kindness towards us, for our encouragement doth own Job as a perfect and zıpright man, Job i. 8. and he faith it again, when he was traduced ; and Satan belied him : and yet see what Job faith of himself, Job ix. 20. If I juftify myself, my own mouth fhall condemn me. That is, the second.

3. It is the force of his argument, and then it amounts to this ; as you would prove yourselves good proficients, as you would make it appear that you are those that do grow and increase in goodnefs, do fo and fo. And then the notion that it affords us, is this ; that the design and intention of perfection so far as it is attainable to human endeavour, is belonging to the state of goodness. The regenerate estate doth not allign to its self manner or matter, or fuch a growth ; but tends to perfection ; so far as the principle of it doth require. And even

those

thofe that die in peace, if they had lived longer in this state of probation and trial ; undoubtedly they had made further improvement of that stock of grace that God had bestowed upon them. And upon this account, long life is a mercy ; because of greater growth, fuller improvement, and more fervice. And that is the third account.

4. It is said respectively, and in a contradistinction. So we find him expressing himself : perfect in contradistinction to children and weaklings, such as are weak and imperfect. I Cor. iv. 10.

there are weak and strong; and 1 Cor. iii. 1. there are those spoken of that are spiritual, and those that are carnal. Perfect are those that are spiritual, that have their senses fpiritually exercised. And the weak, they are called Aeshly or carnal: and he gives an instance of those that are carnal ; they are these that are iniclinable to division, and to say I am of Paul, and I am of

Apollo, &c. when those that are spiritual are above all these things, and make no head or division; but look upon all as God's instruments, andas those that indifferently belong to God; and tojoin a man's self to any one of these as a head, is a piece of carnality, and not of spirituality. And it is a notion worth our observation ; that it is not all perfection that is boisterous, and that makes a noise in the church of God; as here they did, one crying, I am of Paul; and another of Apollo : I am of Cephas, &c. are ye not carnal ? &C. These are weak perfons, and such who, the apostle faith, are not to be admitted to questions and doubtful disputations. These are to be fed with milk, and not with strong meat ; they

are

are not to be admitted to curious enquiries. And this is the fourth thing.

5. Perfection of the way, or means; and this belongs to all men. We are perfecting, 2 Cor. xiii. II. as the word is, which is the same word which we have, Matt. iv. 21. where it is said that the fons of Zebedee were mending their nets they were making up holes, and breaches that were found in their nets. And this is our perfection ; to be mending, our selves, and bringing our felves out of distemper ; to be repairing ourselves, by renewal and mortification, by aslisting and helping one another. This is the perfection of the way, and this it is to be in the use of

means.

6. The perfection of our rule, and principles or ground, or end : so we are perfect. For here we áre as the apostle, striving, if that by any means we may attain unto perfection. This

every man should have in his eye, at this he should aim, this should be his end and design, to press towards the mark of the high calling of God in Chrif Jesus. And this is perfection, because we have the right end in our eye.

7. There is perfection of the disposition and intention of mind, viz. fincere and honest meaning; and this every body must have, or he is no body in religion ; and sincerity of heart, uprightness of soul, and true intention of mind, this is the best of us, in this state. In this doth religion greatly consist, that men do heartily and sincerely intend, mind, and mean God, goodness, righteousness and truth, and are able to make it out, that their religion is not subfervient to worldly ends and purposes : for

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