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SERM. infinitely mean and imperfect in compaXVII. rifon of God, who chargeth even his Angels with Folly, and the Heavens are not pure in his Sight. How much more weak and of no value, muft the best performances of frail, mortal, and finful Men, of neceffity be! But though all that we can poffibly do, must needs fall infinitely short of our most perfect pattern, yet we are indifpenfably obliged to be like it in our proportion, and according to our capacity; and as a finite can refemble infinite, so we are to resemble God, by partaking of the fame excellencies in kind, though they cannot but be infinitely inferior in degree. A Candle, though its Light bears no proportion at all to the Light of the Sun, yet it resembles it neverthelefs in giving Light; whereas Darkness is directly contrary to Both: So the Virtues of Angels and of Men, though they bear no proportion at all to the adorable Perfections of God, yet they resemble them nevertheless in being of the fame nature and kind; whereas wickedness is in its whole kind a State of contrariety, oppofition and enmity. A perfect and most complete
complete example is fet before us for our SE R. M.
THIS may fuffice for explication of the words in general. But then more particularly, Perfection, in the Scripture phrase, and as it is recommended to us as a Duty, to be pursued and attained to by us in imitation of God; fignifies ufually one or other of these four special Virtues or Excellencies.
ift; IT fignifies fometimes Purity and Holiness; a being feparated from, and raised above, worldly and fenfual defires ;
SERM the keeping ourselves unspotted from the XVII. World, as St James expreffes himself; and fixing our affections upon divine and heavenly and fpiritual things. Thus, 1 Pet. i. 15; As he which has called you is holy, fo be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy, for I am holy. Which words are taken out of the Book of Leviticus, where they are repeated three feveral times, to the children of Ifrael; and answer to that precept which God had before given to Abraham, Gen. xvii. 1 ; I am the Almighty God, walk before me, and be thou perfect.
2dly; IN fome other places of Scripture, the word, Perfection, fignifies our conforming ourselves to the example of our Saviour, in fuffering patiently, when God calls us to it, and parting with all things willingly for his fake. Our Saviour himself is defcribed to have been made perfect by Sufferings; Heb. ii. 10. In prophefying of which before-hand, he expresses it in the fame phrase, Luke xiii, 32; I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. And warning his Difciples of the perfecutions they
they must expect to meet, with, he tells SER M.
3dly; IN other places of Scripture, becaufe univerfal Love in the highest and moft exalted degree; forgiving of injuries, and doing Good even to our bitterest Enemies; is one of the great Improvements and Excellencies of Duty, which the Christian Religion has introduced, and wherein it exceeds all other Institutions of Religion that ever were in the World; therefore This alfo is fometimes ftiled Perfection; and the practice of this Duty is called being perfect. Thus the words of the Text feem in their firft and most literal Senfe to be understood, by their connexion with what goes before. For when our Saviour had commanded his
SER M. Difciples, ver. 44; Love your enemies, bless XVII. them that curfe you, do good to them that bate you, and pray for them which despitefully ufe you and perfecute you: That ye may be the children of your Father which is in Heaven; for he maketh his Sun to rife on the evil and the good, and fendeth rain on the juft and on the unjuft: he adds immediately in the words of the Text; Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect; that is, Imitate ye therefore this excellent perfection of God; and as he does good even to the unholy and unthankful, fo do ye forgive and do good even to your enemies; For this is the Perfection of the Christian State.
Lastly; PERFECTION in other places fignifies Mercy and Goodness, works of Charity and Beneficence; which the Chriftian Religion recommends to us with the greateft Earneftness, with the most preffing Arguments, and with the amplest Promises of an exceeding great Reward. This Interpretation of the word, St Luke authorifes in the parallel place to the Text; where, repeating the very fame Difcourfe