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Secondly, The happy effect of this per-Serm.

fection, which is establishing our hearts VIII.
in the expectation of the future judg-
ment, giving us boldness in it, and
casting out all tormenting and disquiet
ing fear.

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First, To fhew what is meant by the perfection of love, or our being made perfect in it. We must observe that this is the grand subject the apostlc treats of from the 7th verse of the chapter to the end, as it is indeed the great principle of all moral goodnels, and the very fum of our duty. "Tis true, he insists chiefly and more largely on what is strictly called charity, or the love of our fellow-christians and fellow-creaturęs ; not however as separated from the love of God, but connected with it ; for when we are urg'd to love one another, the main argument enforcing this duty is taken from the love which God has manifested to us in sending his Son to be the propitiation for our fins ; which argument can no otherwise affect, than from a principle of gratitude or love to God, bem cause of the great benevolence and compaflion he has shewn to us. And in the

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SER M. words immediately following the text, it is VIII. directly faid, we love him because he first loved

Then follows, as a just inference, that if we love God, we should love our brethren also. So that the love in which christians are made perfect, and their perfection in it gives them boldness in the day of judgment, is the love of God and of mankind; what our Saviour gives us as a comprehensive abridgment of all religion, all the obedience which is due to the divine laws, * To love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our foul, all our strength and mind, and to love our neighbours as ourselves.

But what is this perfection in love which the apostle here means, such as good men are evidently supposed in the present state to attain to ? I answer, it is not absolutely free from every defect, every kind and degree even of moral infirmity. As there are different orders of moral agents, they have several standards of perfection. An absolute impeccability seems only to belong to the supreme Being himself,

All creatures, the highest and best of them, since their understandings are limited, are naturally capable of being milled; and being by the condition

of * Matth. xxii. 37, 38, 39.

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of their nature dependent and indigent, they SERM.
have desires centering in themselves, the VIII.
tendencies of which may possibly, in some
circumstances, interfere with the benevo-
lent affections. But, as in life and intelli-
gence, there are different degrees, nay, and
kinds of vital and perceptive powers, so it
is with respect to moral perfection ; there is
one standard for men in this state, another
for angels, or the spirits of the just made
perfect; he may be a very perfect man,
who yet comes far short in moral excellence
of the

pure celestial spirits.
When, therefore, christians are said to be
made perfect in love, which in effect is to
be perfect in all religion and all virtue, 'tis
to be understood of such perfection only,
as men may attain in this life ; far short of
that which a good mind afpires to, and
actually shall be possess’d of hereafter. It
consists in the habitual prevalence of pious
and virtuous affections; they rule in the
heart, controuling and conquering irregular
appetites and passions, and having all the
inferior ones in subordination. This is what
the scripture means with respect to the pri-
mary good affection of the human mind,
when it requires us to love the Lord with

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SERM.all our heart and soul and mind; it is a goVIII. verning, and the greatest love, not such as

Pis without all defect, which may be called sinful, for tho' that may be said to be our duty, else we should have no reason to condemn ourselves for defects, yet in the Old Teitament where the expression is originally 'used, it is intended to signify no more than fincerity : for it expresses the condition of the covenant God made with men, which certainly was not impracticable, or above the reach of the present human capacity; and it is frequently attributed to particular good men who were far from being altogether faultless.

But, it is farther to be observed, that this integrity of a virtuous temper and character, has no limits set to it, no precise bounds to which it shall come, and no farther. The highest powers of our nature, and in their best state, seem to be making continual progress; there is always room for the enlargement of the understanding and increase in knowledge

, 'țis probable the mind will have the pleasure of making continually farther advance

way;

and for the moral capacities, experience teaches us that they grow;

if christians do not find it so, they have them

selves

ment this

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felves greatly to blame ; for it is a natural SERM.
and reasonable expectation concerning them, VIII.
that they shall become more perfect in love
both to God and their brethren, more vigorous
in the practice of every virtue, better esta-
blish'd against temptations, more stedfast
and complete in all the will of God. It is
the genius, the very nature of true religion,
that 'tis always tending to growth, just like
the natural life to which it is frequently com-
pared in fcripture; for as an animal, from the
commencement of it's life, gradually ad-
vances towards the standard of perfection
which belongs to it's kind, so new born
babes in Christ are by the milk appointed for
their nourishment, that is the doctrine of
the gospel, still growing in virtue ; and

every
perfect christian will find his own genuine
temper described in the 'account St. Paul
gives of himself, Pbil. iii. 12. Not as thom
I had already attained, either were already
perfect, but, I follow after that I may ap-
prebend that for which I am apprehended of
Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself
to have apprehended, but this one thing I do
forgetting those which are behind, and reach,
ing forth to those things which are before, I

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