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and those which generally prevail work of divine grace upon the soul. on the subject of his treatise ? Is It is easy to see that these differ. the whole apparent difference in fact ences, when followed out into details, a merely verbal one? The answer
are very wide. is, that his theory and that generally Which, then, is the true doctrine received, both agree that all Chris- of holiness or perfection ; that tians are bound to be as holy as they which presents to the mind, as the can be ; that they can, and often do, mark towards which it is to press, love God with a fervent and supreme absolute, Christ-like perfection, or affection, which prefers bim, as the that which presents a lower, and in portion of the soul, above all selfish many respects, a defective state ? and carnal gratifications, and which we turn to the Scriptures: and we trusts him so simply and implicitly, readily admit, that the sacred wrias that they sweetly and peacefully ters apply the terms holy, sanctified, leave all their interests in his hands, and even perfect, to Christians in and have no will but his; and that the present life ; not, however, as they can keep themselves so unspot- we think it entirely obvious, in their ted from the world, as to be habitu. strict and proper meaning, but in a ally led by the Spirit of God, and so qualified and peculiar sense. If it as not to indulge in any known and is said that this is all that the theory willful sin.-But here are essential of perfection in the present life repoints of difference. The common quires, inasmuch as it is just this theory holds up before the mind of the qualified sense in which the advobeliever, as the perfection at which cates of this theory use the term, he is to aim, the spotless, absolute the answer is, that when believers perfection which the divine Redeem. are called, in reference to their preer exhibited in his complete obedi- sent state, holy, sanctified or perfect, ence to the holy law of God. The in the Scriptures, it is never with reother presents to him, as perfection, spect to any certain point of spirita state, desirable indeed, and eleva. ual progress which they have reachted, but very far short of this. The ed, or any peculiar modification of common theory supposes, that when the divine life to which they have atthe heart is first renewed, all its mo. tained, and by which they are disral exercises, and faith and love tinguished from other converted among the rest, are feeble and im- men ; but invariably to denote the perfect; that by grace and spiritual simple fact, that they are truly pious discipline combined, they are gra men-men who have been born dually matured; that the causes again, and have some gracious diswhich disturb them are gradually positions—and to distinguish them rooted out, and the powers of the from the wholly sinful world. If spiritual man steadily developed and any choose to call all renewed per. improved ; and that this process, by sons holy, sanctified, or perfect, in which the soul of the disciple is a comparative sense, and to distin. moulded into the likeness of Christ guish them from natural men who and prepared for heaven, is sancti- have no holiness at all, we grant fication. The other requires the them without doubt the sanction of new-born soul to exercise perfect the Bible; and we have no fear that faith and perfect love at once; and this use of language will prove in on condition that this is done, prom. any way pernicious.
But we can ises the gift of deliverance from the not for a moment admit, that to take power of sin, by a simple act of God. these terms to designate a particular Sanctification, according to this view, state, or point of progress in the life is this gift; and like justification, is of God, such as that to which Prof. not a process, but an instantaneous Upham and others have applied
them, has any warrant in the Scrip. force continually this great lesson tures.
of their Master. Excelsior-higher And on the other hand, we un. -higher—is their watchword. The derstand our Lord and his Apostles perfection of Christ it is that they to hold up continually to every Chris. continually hold up as that which tian, absolute moral perfection as the the disciple must aspire to reach. prize of his high calling, and as a prac “Be ye holy, for I am holy." ticable ultimate attainment. When he which hath called you is holy, the divine Redeemer undertook his so be ye holy.” “Brethren,” says ' mission to our world, he proposed Paul, “ I count not myself to have to himself to open the door for a apprehended; but this one thing complete deliverance of those who, I do; forgetting those things which as transgressors, were cut off from are behind, and reaching forth to access to God were under the hea. those things which are before, I vy condemnation of his law, and press towards the mark, for the prize hopeless of relief from any means of the high calling of God in Christ of their own devising. He meant Jesus." to bring to those who should receive him as a Savior, a full release from Now this absolute moral perfecthe power of Satan, and from all the tion, for which man was originally evils of a state of sin. Hence he made, from which he has been utdid three things. He rendered par. terly cast down by sin, and to which don and justification possible, that is, it is the design of the great plan of consistent with justice, by the offer salvation to restore him, involves ing of himself a sacrifice; he sup- two things. The first is, right moral plied the means and influences action. The infallible rule of moral which were adapted to lead to holi- action is the law of God. As God ness ; and finally, he placed clearly is infinite in wisdom, he perfectly and distinctly before the minds of understood, when he gave his law, men, the true standard, the divine all the relations and all the duties of IDEAL, of moral excellence.
man, and the limits of his capaci
ties. While it is clear, then, that In the Sermon on the Mount, for actual obedience to God's law is example, we have an admirable within the reach of man's ability, it specimen of the manner in which he is equally clear that this will make sought to exalt men's conceptions of him perfect in his conduct, and that the nature of true goodness, and at any thing short of this will destroy the same time to enforce the obliga. perfection. tion to attain it. He insists on a The second thing involved in true class of virtues as of the highest perfection is, a sound moral condivalue, which are very lightly thought tion of all the faculties, propensities of by the world ; sanctions the mo and habits of the soul. A being ral law and upholds its spirituality; can not properly be called perfect, and then sums up all by pointing us even if his actions are strictly right, to the spotless moral purity of our unless all the powers, dispositions Heavenly Father, and commanding and propensities of his nature, are us to take that as our glorious mods such as ihat he acts right easily, as el; to make that the measure by it were, spontaneously, and without which to judge ourselves ; and never a struggle. God did not intend, to rest satisfied till we attain an en when he created man, that he should tire likeness to that unsullied excel. find the doing of the divine will a lence. “Be ye therefore perfect, burdensome and painful work. All even as your Father who is in hea. the powers of the soul were so adaptven is perfect.” The Apostles en. ed to his service, that po painful ef
fort should be required, and no rig. or faculties, so to speak, of his gloorous discipline necessary, in order rious nature. The moral perfection to engage them in it. And all the of angels, is the perfect conformity propensities, also, were in the direc. of their conduct to the same right tion of duty, as prescribed by God. principles, and the perfect moral Had man continued in the perfec- condition of all the faculties of their tion in which God created him, he nature. The moral perfection of would have had all his faculties, and man, is the conformity of his actions all his mental tendencies, and the to the same right principles, and the constantly increasing force of habit, perfect moral condition of all the in entire harmony with the dictates faculties of his nature. And it is of conscience, and with the divine clear, in this view, that true perfec. rule of action as revealed. He tion is one and the same thing in all would have acted right, not by a beings. If it is said—Prof. Upham constant warfare with himself, which does not say this, but it has often is characteristic of an imperfect be- been urged by others—that God is ing, but without a warfare,-with infinite and we finite; we answer, a consenting and obedient nature. that this makes no difference at all Any unfitness in the condition of the on the question of moral perfection. mind for any moral duty, any ne. The objection entirely mistakes the cessity of self-conquest in order to case. It supposes that the degree of discharge it, is proof of a deranged goodness in a being depends on the and imperfect moral state.
extent of the capacities which he It may seem hardly necessary to possesses; which is not true. A insist on a point so plain, as that piece of mechanism may be very what we have now described is the simple—may have few parts, and only true perfection; that no being may be applied to a very humble can be considered perfect, of whom purpose ; but if its parts are all in it is true, either that his moral ac. order, and it answers its end entiretion is in any respect defective, or ly, there is just as much and just the bis moral nature in any respect de same perfection in it, as in a maranged. It is the glory of angels, chine which is far more ingenious that they perfectly obey God's law and complicated in contrivance, and with a nature that, like a harp with is applied to a far nobler end. Each every chord in tune, is perfectly pre does all that it ought to do, and is pared. And we perceive at once, all that it ought to be ; and the one that if we suppose any thing short as truly as the other. And even so, of this, even in the least particular, if man does all he ought to do, and the idea of perfection ceases. For and is all he ought to be, nothing if, as is admitted by all sound more better, nothing higher, nothing more alists, there is an eternal and immu. perfect, can be affirmed of angels, table distinction between right and or, with reverence be it said, of the wrong, then goodness must be every Deity himself. All, on such a sup where and in all beings essentially position, are examples of true moral the same. The fundamental prin. perfection, and of one and the same ciples of right moral action, must be moral perfection. Man, in such a the same to God and to his creatures; case, is perfect even as the angels; and there must be one rule of duty- and even as, in the language of the one standard by which to test char. Savior, his Father which is in heaven acter—to angels and to men. The is perfect. And further, is not the moral perfection of the Deity, is the idea of an inferior sort of perfection perfect conformity of his conduct to in itself absurd ? Does not the lan. right principles--and the perfect guage, indeed, involve a contradic. moral condition of all the attributes tion? For what is an inferior kind Vol. III.
of perfection but an imperfect kind
It is only by dying unto of perfection—that is, no perfection sin, devoting ourselves wiih all our at all? If moral perfection is com faculties to God, acknowledging in plete freedom from moral blemish our inmost souls that we are not our or defect; if a morally perfect be- own, and taking God's will to be ing is one whose nature and whose ours, and his fullness to be our sufactions have no defect of a moral ficient portion, that we can make kind, is it not just as absurd to talk progress towards the true perfection. of a higher and a lower sort of mo It will only be when our moral conral perfection, as it is to talk of a duct is so conformed to the divine higher and lower sort of infinity, or requirements, that to the omniscient a longer and shorter eternity? Be. eye we are chargeable with no wrong ings may differ inconceivably in action—that we shall have reached their natural constitution-may be the line of duty. Till then, we shall of all ranks in the scale of existence : not be perfect in action, and shall but the moral perfection of the high. have need 10 mourn over our delinest and the lowest must be one, quencies and to be continually pressnamely, that which combines the ing on. two elements-perfection of moral action, and perfection in the condi And then it must be added, that tion of the moral nature. Without in the work of becoming truly perboth these elements, no being can fect, it is necessary that the believer, be morally perfect; with them, all relying on God's effectual grace, are alike perfect.
should use appropriate means to
raise up his moral nature from the As to the question, how this per- ruins of the fall, and recover it from fection which Jesus Christ requires, the dreadful derangements produced shall be attained,-how sinful, ruin- by a life of sin. Here is the labor; ed man, when he has been pardoned a labor so great, that were it not for and renewed, shall become pure as the exceeding richness of Gospel God is pure, it is plain, that one provisions, and the eternal and inex. part of the achievement consists in haustible fullness of grace which is putting away all known sin, and offered us in Jesus Christ our Lord, striving after entire conformity in we must utterly despair. Sin has moral action to the law of God. To rendered the passions of the soul this course, 'the Gospel continually restless and difficult of control. It urges the believer. If ye love me, has so perverted the affections, that says Christ, keep my command. they are disposed continually to fastments.
If a man come after me, en on unworthy and forbidden oband forsake not all that he hath, he jects. It has so blunted the moral can not be my disciple. Likewise sensibilities, and vitiated the moral reckon ye yourselves to be dead in- taste, that even in the regenerated deed unto sin, but alive unto God soul, the power of moral beauty, through Jesus Christ our Lord. How the loveliness of goodness,-makes shall we that are dead to sin, live but a feeble impression and awakens any longer therein ? says Paul. but moderate admiration. It has And every man that hath this hope placed the soul under the urgent inin him, purifieth himself even as he fluence of habit; so that, from this is pure, says John in the same spirit. cause, it is pressed towards evil with Allowing one's self in acts of sin, is
a mighty power. All these effects contrary even to the very idea of of sin are to be obliterated from the Christian character; and sin impairs moral nature, before the great work the evidence of our abiding in Christ of attaining perfection is completed. just so far as it gains any advantage The violence of the passions must be
thoroughly subdued, and they com sin. Necessity and sin are incompletely subjected to reason and to patible terms.
What is necessary conscience. The affections must be can not be sinful, and what is sin. elevated and purified, so that they ful can not be necessary. Whereshall go out towards nothing but fore, says Paul again, let us lay what is truly excellent and holy. aside every weight and the sin which The moral sense must be brought to doth so easily beset us, and let us that degree of tenderness and re run with patience the race which finement, that it can perfectly ap- is set before us.
mean to preciate and feel what is morally at be Christ's, and especially if we tractive. The tyranny of pernicious mean to make rapid Christian prohabits must be utterly destroyed, and gress, we are to settle once for all all the force of habit be brought into the principle that we never alliance with what is good. When to give place to sin-never, on any all this is done, and not before, there pretence whatever, to suffer ourwill be no law in the members war selves to do that which conscience ring against the law of the mind; and the law of God forbid, or to no flesh lusting against the Spirit; omit what they require. There is no strife and conflict in the soul. reason to fear that the views of maWhen all this is done, then the ny are very loose on this point ; ruined temple of man's nature will that many who profess religion, do appear in iis original glory, with all not feel that God requires, and their its stones replaced, its shattered col. Christian profession requires them, umos reërected, its arches restored now to cease from every sin ; and to original symmetry and strength, to yield themselves to God as the and all its beauty and proportion as servants of righteousness. Yet this at first. Man will then be the same is the demand of the Gospel ; and noble, godlike being that he was we may be sure that our divine mas. when he came from the hand of his ter never did, and never will, give us Creator. This will be perfection,- any license to commit what we know true perfection,—the only true per- to be sin, occasionally, or to wait a fection.
moment, before we part with the sin But here we meet another ques. that is most dear. tion. When does our blessed Lord In respect to the other thing require us to arrive at this perfec. which is included in perfection, the tion ? And to this we reply—with restoration of the moral nature, the the least possible delay-as soon as case is different. This must of ne. the nature of the case admits. On cessity be a gradual work. Noth. this part of the subject what we ing but a miracle can make it other. have just been showing will be wise. The sick man, when his dis. borne in mind, that sanctification to ease has begun to leave him, requires perfection, consists of two distinct time, and exercise, and careful nourparts—the abandonment of sin--and ishment, to repair his wasted vigor, the restoration of the moral nature. and bring back the elasticity of a If now we ask, when Jesus Christ healthful body. And even so it is will have his followers abandon sin ? indispensable that the soul, with its we say, at once : without the powers enfeebled and deranged by delay of a single hour. God for the disease of sin, should, when the bid, says the Apostle, that we who Great Physician has administered are dead to sin, should live any the effectual remedy for the deadly longer therein. It is asserting only malady, have time to recover, un. a palpable truism, to say that there der the influence of God's truth and is no necessity that any believer spirit, and disciplinary providence, should go on to allow himself in and by means of a vigorous self