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THE NATURE OF CHRISTIAN PERFECTION.
“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is per
fect.”—Matt. v. 48.
Two important features of this passage demand our special attention. 1. The command, “ Be perfect.” 2. The nature and extent of the command; “even as your Father in heaven is perfect." In other words, we are here required to be as perfect, as holy, as free from all sin, in our sphere as creatures, as God is in his as 'our Creator and our Sovereign.
My design in the present discourse is to answer this one question; What is perfection in holiness? In answering this inquiry, I would remark, that perfection in holiness implies a full and perfect discharge of our entire duty, of all existing obļigations in respect to God and all other beings. It is perfect obedience to the moral law. It is “ loving the Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our strength, and our neighbor as ourselves.” It implies the entire absence of all selfishness, and the perpetual presence and all-pervading influence of pure and perfect love. “Love is the fulfilling of the law.”
In the Christian, perfection in holiness implies the consecration of his whole being to Christ — the subjection of all his powers and susceptibilities to the control of one principle, — “faith on the Son of God.” This is what the moral law demands of him in his circumstances. Were the Christian in that state in which he should “ eat and drink, and do all that he does for the glory of God,” in which his eye should be perfectly single to this one object; or in which the action of all his powers should be controlled by faith, which works by love, he would then, I suppose, have attained to a state of entire sanctification. his character would be “perfect and entire, wanting nothing." Every duty to every being in existence would be discharged.
It will readily be perceived, that perfect holiness, as above described, does not imply perfect wisdom, the exclusive attribute of God. The Scriptures, speaking of the human nature of Christ, affirm, that he “increased in wisdom.” This surely does not imply that his holiness was less perfect at one time than at another. So of the Christian. His holiness may be perfect in kind, but finite in degree, and in this sense imperfect; because his wisdom and knowledge are limited, and in this sense imperfect.
Holiness, in a creature, may also be perfect, and yet progressive — progressive, not in its nature, but in degree. To be perfect, it must be progressive in the sense last mentioned, if the powers of the subject are progressive. He is perfect in holiness, whose love at each successive moment corresponds with the extent