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Secondly, The happy effect of this per-Serm.
fection, which is establishing our hearts VIII.
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
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.
of their nature dependent and indigent, they SERM.
pure celestial spirits.
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
and for the moral capacities, experience teaches us that they grow;
if christians do not find it so, they have them
felves greatly to blame ; for it is a natural SERM.