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blessing, “ God hath given us great and precious promises, that by these we may be made partakers of the divine nature.”
And again “ Having these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” In persuing and praying for such an establishment and maturity in grace and uni.. versal holiness, we do not act without a precedent. St Paul and St. Peter have given us an example of praying for the same christian privilege. The former thus prays for the Thessalonians : “ The God of peace sanctify you wholly, and I pray God that your whole spirit, soul and body be preserved bla a less to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And to encourage them also to pray for this without ceasing, he adds, “ Faithful is he that hath called you, who also will do it." The latter prays for the whole catholic or universal church thus, “ But the God of all grace who hath called us, by Jesus Christ, “after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you." From the language of this prayer of St. Peter, I have defined the maturity of grace, in an adult believer, to be a pure, stable, vigo
rous, settled habit of gospel holiness; or a 1 confirmed habit of willing, thinking, speaking and acting, in conformity to the law of Christ, which is fulfilled by love. “ Love is the fulfilling of the law.”
I would speak more fully of this evangelical law, under which believers are, and shew that it is to be considered not merely as a rule of life, but as obligatory on all real christians; for though, as already shewn, we are justified from all charges of the covenant of works, by the merits of Christ, yet I have also endeavoured to shew (in another place) that our justification in the day of judgment will turn our own obedience to the gospel, or our own evange. lical righteousness. This righteousness must be in ourselves : “For" (to use the words of Mr. Baxter “ to affirm that our evangelical or new covenant righteousness is in Christ, and not in ourselves, or performed by Christ, and not by ourselves, is such a monstrous piece of antinomian doctrine, as no man who knows the nature and difference of the covenants can possi. bly entertain." Bax. Aphor. I say I would enlarge on this, but it would extend the letter beyond due bounds. However, before I conclude this letter, I shall say a
little more concerning the maturity of grace and holiness in adult christians.
First. I do not consider this state to be 80 angelical and perfect as to admit of no defects or infirmities; nor is it such a proficiency in holiness, to which nothing can be added. Such a state as this is not for man on earth, nor, perhaps, for saints in heaven. A perfection which admits of no improvement, belongs only to God.
Second. Nor does it consist in a rigoous imposition “ of bodily austerities and voluntary humility; nor in a gloomy, downcast look; an awkward carriage, gait or gesture; nor in a slovenly dress, or clownish behaviour, nor in drawling the words, or speaking with a particular cant, and affected tone of voice.” (See Fletcher's works, vol. 6. page 126.) Such rigors, voluntary austerities and impositions St. Paul speaks of in Col ii. 23. " Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will-worship," that is, self-devised, " and humility," that is, an affectation of ad. dress, “and neglecting of the body," that is, in a severity to the body: which rigors are so far from true humility and mortifica. tion, or disposing the mind thereto, that on the contrary, they only serve to puff up men with a yain conceit of their own sanca tity; and therefore it is called “ a disho. norable satisfying of the flesh." Because; while such severities seem to affect the body, they only tend to self-consplacency, os. tentation and contempt of others ; which things are as contrary to the will of God and the humble genius of the christian religion, as the grossest sensualities. How. ever, every christian, in the mean while, will find it to be both his duty and interest, to stand afar off from all the gaities, fashions, maxims, customs, vanity, and parade of the world. He will bear in mind that apostolic injunction, “ Be not con. formed to this world, but be ye transform. ed by the renewing of your minds, that ye may prove what that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God is.” No man will ever make any proficiency in religion, who does not observe this non-conformity to the world, much less will he advance to that maturity of grace and gospel holiness I am now speaking of.. • Thirdly. As I have negatively described what this state is not, I shall now positively describe in a few more words, what it is, or wherein it consists. This state is well described in that excellent petition in the book of common prayer, which runs thus, “ Almighty God, unto whom all hearts be open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid; cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy holy spirit, that we may perfectly love •thee and worthily magnify thy holy name through Christ our Lord.” A full answer to this prayer will make or constitute an adult christian; whose heart being cleansed from evil desires and unholy tempers and dispositions, the love of God must fill up all the place. And he that perfectly loves God will hate sin in the same propor: tion: for sin and God are opposites; and in the same proportion as he loves God, : will he love his holy will and command, ments; the habitual bent of his soul will be turned to do the will of God, and thus will he worthily magnify the name of the Lord, by walking not after the flesh, but after the spirit.
I could dwell with much delight on this subject, but the length of this letter already reminds me of putting an end to it.
That God may cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of this holy spirit, that we may perfectly love him and worthily magnify his holy name, is the sin. çere prayer of Dear sir, your friend, &c.
.: D. JARRATT.