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thoughts of an enlightened soul to dwell upon! blessed and happy is he who enjoys this pleasure upon earth. And that we may, I am now to discourse,
6. 2. Of the attainment of illumination. Now whatever advice can relate to this, may be reduced under two heads :
- 1. What qualifications do render man ca. pable of illumination.
2. What it is that one duly qualified is to do in pursuit of it.
§. 1. To begin with the qualifications requisite to illumination. One man is distinguished from another several ways: by his eftate or fortune ; by natural or acquirid endowments, and by moral dispositions : and each of these may have some, tho’a very different influence upon human Perfection, For if we inquire after only the essence and integrity of Perfection, then are there tra or three moral qualifications, which are all that is required in order to this: but if we inquire after the largeness of its stature, the symmetry of its features, the lustre of its complexion, and the elegance of its dress; then may we allow something to be ascribed to fortune, to nature, and a liberal education. This is an observation very necesary to be made. For tho’every,man may be
capable of Perfe&tion, that is, habitual holiness, if it be not his own fault ; yet is not every man capable of being equally perfeet, because of that accidental variety which I have suggested, and which flows from different gifts of God, which depend not on our felves. This being premised ; in order to prevent my being mistaken, I proceed and determine,
1. That illumination depends not upon a man's outward fortune. There are indeed feveral sorts of knowledge, which we can never arrive at without much leisure and much expence: and in order to support the one, and enjoy the other, it is rcquisite that we be masters of a good fortune. Hence is that observation of the author of the Eccleßafticus, chap. xxxviii. 24. The wisdom of a learned man cometh by opportunity of leisure ; and he that has little business shall become wise. And tlierefore in the following verses, he excludes the husbandman, the statuary, the engraver, the smith, the potter; and all conTequently whose time and mind is taken up in the labours of their profession, and in making the necessary provision for life; these, I say, he excludes from all pretensions to wisdom. How can be get wisdom that holdeth the plough, and that glorieth in the goad, whole talk is of bullocks, &c. But this is not the wisdom that I am inquiring after, and which constitutes illumation. That consists
not in the laws of our earthly but heavenly country: not in arts and sciences which relate to the body, and minister to a temporal life; but in those divine truths, which purify the foul, and minister to an eternal one : no, not in notional improvements of the mind, but in spiritual and vital ones. And therefore the husandman and the artist, the mechanick and the trader, are as capable of this sort of wisdom, as the man of office, money, or quality. There needs no wealth to render one the child of light and of the day. There is the book of nature; the book of revelation; both the books of God, both writ throughout with glorious illuminating truths : these lie wide open to every honest Christian. The being and nature of God; the mediation of Jesus, and a judgment to come; the nature and necessity of holiness, are fully revealed, and unanswerably proved. And tho' every honest man be not able to discover all the arguments on which they stand, yet may he discover enough: and what is more, he may have an inward, vital, fenfible proof of them; he may feel the power, the charms of holiness ; experiment its congruity and loveliness to the human soul; and observe a thousand demonstrations of its serviceableness to the honour of God, and the good of mankind : he may have a full and convictive sense of the manifestation of the divine Perfeétions in
the great work of our redemption; and the excellent tendency of it may be so palpable and conspicuous to him, as to leave no room for doubts or fcruples. But besides all this, there is a voice within, there is a divine teacher and instructor, which will ever abide with him, and lead him into all necessary truths : all which is implied in those words of our Lord, If any man will do his will, be shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of my felf, John vii. 17.
2. Extraordinary natural parts, such as fagacity or acuteness of judgment, strength of memory, the liveliness of imagination, are not necessary to illumination. The gospel, as I remember,, takes no notice of thejë. Such is the beauty of holiness, that it requires, rather purity of heart, than quickness of apprehenfon, to render us enamoured of it. And the very fame thing may be said of the power and energy of all gospel motives, and of the proofs and evidiences too of, divine truths. To convince and affe£t, us, there is no need of fagacity and penetration, but probity and fincerity: However, I have two or three refle&tions to. make here, which may not be unuseful: for though acuteness and retention, by, which I mean quickness in discerning, and firmness in preserving truth, be commonly accounted natural parts, and generally
are so; yet, I think, where the one or the