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ginning, an infant-grace, progression and variety, watchfulness and fear, trembling fear. And there are many graces required of us, whose material and formal part is repentance: such as are mortification,-penitential sorrow,-spiritual mourning, patience, some parts of humility,—all the parts and actions of humiliation;—and since in these also perfection' is as great a duty as in any thing else, it is certain that the perfection of a Christian is not the supreme degree of action or intention.
48. But yet perfection cannot be less than an entire piety, a holiness perfect in its parts, wanting nothing material, allowing no vicious habit, permitting no vile action, but contending towards the greatest excellency, a charitable heart, a ready hand, a confident religion, willing to die when we are called to die, patient, constant, and persevering, endeavouring Karà rò duvaròv according to the measures' of a man, to be pure and pleasing to God in Jesus Christ. This is the sum of all those several senses of perfection, which are prescribed in the several uses of the word in Holy Scripture. For though God through Jesus Christ is pleased to abate for our unavoidable infirmities, that is, for our nature,-yet he will not abate or give allowance to our superinduced evil customs; and the reason is plain for both; because the one can be helped, and the other cannot; and therefore as to allow that is to be a patron of impiety, so not to allow for this, is to demand what cannot be done: that is against the holiness, this against the goodness of God.
49. "There is not a man upon earth that sinneth not," said Solomon'; and, "the righteous shall be punished,” said David; and he found it so by a sad experience: for he, though affirmed to be 'blameless save in the matter of Uriah,' and a man after God's own heart,' yet complains, "that his sins are innumerable, more than the hairs upon his head." But though no man can live without error or mistake, the effects of weakness and ignorance, inadvertency and surprise, yet being helped by God's grace, we can, and must live without great sins, such which no man admits but with deliberation.
50. For it is one thing to keep the commandments in a sense of favour and equity, and another thing to be without b 1 Kings, viii. 46.
c Psal, xxxvii. 29. vet. edit.
sin. To keep the commandments Kar' àкρíßɛiaν or exactly,' is to be without sin; because the commandment forbids every sin, and sin is a transgression of the commandment: but as in this sense no man can keep the commandments; so in no sense can he that he hath not sinned. But we can, by the help of God's grace, keep the commandments 'acceptably through Jesus Christ,' but we cannot keep them so as to be without sin. Which St. Gregory thus expresses: "Multi sine crimine, nullus verò esse sine peccatis valet:"
Many live without crimes, none without offence." And it is now as it was under the law; many were then righteous and blameless; David, Josiah, Joshua, Caleb, Zachary, and Elizabeth, Saul before his conversion according to the accounts of the law; and so are many now, according to the holy and merciful measures of the Gospel; not by the force of nature, but by the helps of grace; not always, but at some time; not absolutely, but in a limited measure; that is, not innocent, but penitent; not perfect absolutely, but excellently contending, and perfect in their desires; not at their journey's end, but on their way thither; free from great sins, but speckled with lesser spots, ever striving against sin, though sometimes failing. This is the precept of perfection, as it can consist with the measures and infirmities of a man.
51. We must turn from all our evil ways, leaving no sin unmortified, that is one measure of perfection; it is a 'perfect conversion.' We must have charity; that is another perfection; it is a 'perfect grace.' We must be ready to part with all for a good conscience, and to die for Christ; that is 'perfect obedience,' and the most perfect love.' We must conform to the divine will in doing and suffering; that is 'perfect patience' we must "live in all holy conversation and godliness;" that is a 'perfect state.' We must ever be going forward and growing in godliness, that so we may be 'perfect men in Christ.' And we must persevere unto the end; that is 'perfection,' and the crown of all the rest. If any thing less than this were intended, it cannot be told how the Gospel should be a holy institution, or that God should require of us to live a holy life; but if any thing more than this were intended, it is impossible but all mankind should perish.
52. To the same sense are we to understand those other severe precepts of Scripture of "being pure, unblamable,
without spot or wrinkle, without fault," that is, that we be honest and sincere, free from hypocrisy, just in our purposes and actions, without partiality and unhandsome mixtures. St. Paul makes them to expound each other, άπρóσкожо and tiλuoiveç, 'sincere,' that is, without fault, pure and clear in conscience.
53. Like to this is that of 'toto corde,' loving and serving God with all our heart,' and with all our strength. That this is possible, is folly to deny. For he that saith, he cannot do a thing with all his strength, that is, that he cannot do what he can do, knows not what he says: and yet to do this, is the highest measure and sublimity of Christian perfection, and of keeping the commandments. But it signifies two things: 1. άvUTOKOίTwę, without hypocrisy,' sincerely and heartily, opposite to that of corde et corde' in the Psalmist. "Corde et corde loquuti sunt;" "they spake with a double heart:" but "the men of Zebulun went out to battle' absque corde et corde,'" they "were not of a double heart," so St. Jerome renders it; but heartily, or with a whole heart, they did their business. 2. It signifies diligence and labour, earnestness and caution: "totus in hoc sum;" so the Latins use to speak; "I am earnest and hearty in this affair," I am wholly taken up with it.
54. Thus is the whole design of the Gospel rarely abbreviated in these two words of perfection and repentance. "God hath sent Jesus to bless you,” ἐν τῷ ἀναστρέφειν ἕκαστον, "whilst," or "so that, every one of you turn from your ini quities f." He blesses us, and we must do our duty; he pardons us, and we obey him; He turns us, and we are turned.' And when St. Peter had represented the terrors of the day of judgment, he infers, "What manner of persons ought we to be,” ἐν ταῖς ἁγίαις ἀναστροφαῖς καὶ εὐσεβείαις, “ in holy living and holy worshippings?" This he calls 'a giving diligence to be found' ǎomioi kaì åμóμntoi, 'without spot and unblamable;' that is Christian perfection: and yet this very thing is no other than what he calls a little before εἰς μετάνοιαν χωpñoat, "a coming to repentance." Living in 'holy conversation and piety,' in the faith of Christ, is the extent and burden of repentance, and it is the limit and declaration of the
d Phil. i. 10.
2 Pet. iii. 11. 14.
e 1 Chron. xii. 33.
h Verse 9.
f Acts, iii. 26.
'spotless and unblamable.' This is no more, and that is no less.
55. Upon this account the commandments are not only possible but easy, necessary to be observed, and will be exacted at our hands as they are imposed. That is, 1. That we abstain from all deliberate acts of sin. 2. That we never contract any vicious habit. 3. That if we have, we quite rescind and cut them off, and make amends for what is past. 4. That our love to God be entire, hearty, obedient, and undivided. 5. That we do our best to understand God's will and obey it, allowing to ourselves deliberately or by observation not the smallest action that we believe to be a sin. Now, that God requires no more, and that we can do thus much, and that good men from their conversion do thus much, though in differing degrees, is evident upon plain experience and the foregoing considerations. I conclude with the words of the Arausican council: "Omnes baptizati, Christo auxiliante et cooperante, possunt et debent quæ ad salutem pertinent, si fideliter laborare voluerint, adimplere:" "All baptized Christians may, by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, if they will faithfully labour, perform and fulfil all things that belong to their salvation."
56. The sum of all is this: The state of regeneration is perfection all the way, even when it is imperfect in its degrees. The whole state of a Christian's life is a state of perfection. Sincerity is the formality or the soul of it: a hearty constant endeavour is the body or material part of it: and the mercies of God accepting it in Christ, and assisting and promoting it by his Spirit of grace, is the third part of its constitution, it is the Spirit. This perfection is the perfection of men, not of angels; and it is as in the perfection of glory, where all are perfect, yet all are not equal. Every regenerate man hath that perfection, without which he cannot be accepted, but some have this perfection more, some less. It is the perfection of state, but the perfection of degrees is not yet. Here men are διὰ τὸν πατρικὸν νοῦν τελειούμενοι, "made perfect according to the measure of their fathers," as Porphyry expressed it; that is, by the measures of mortality, or as it pleases God to enable and accept them.
The former Doctrine reduced to Practice.
1. THE law is either taken for the law of Moses,' or the law of works: the law of works is that empire and dominion which God exercised over man, using his utmost right, and obliging man to the rigorous observation of all that law he should impose upon him. And in this sense, it was a law of death, not of life; for no man could keep it; and they that did not, might not live. This was imposed on Adam only.
2. But when God brought Israel out of Egypt, he began to make a covenant with them, with some compliance to their infirmities: for because little things could not be avoided, sacrifices were appointed for their expiation; which was a mercy as the other was a misery, a repentance as the sin: but for great sins there was no sacrifice appointed, no repentance ministered. And therefore still we were in the ministration of death: for this mercy was not sufficient; as yet it was not possible for a man to be justified by the law. It threatened sinners with death, it inflicted death, it did not promise eternal life, it ministered no grace, but fear and temporal hope it was written in tables of stone, not in their hearts; that is, the material parts of the law of Moses were not consonant to natural and essential reason, but arbitrary impositions; they were not perfective of a man, but very often destructive. This was a little alteration or ease of the covenant of works, but not enough.
3. From this state of evil things we were freed by Christ; the law was called the letter,'' the ministration of death,' the ministration of condemnation,' the old testament;' apt to amaze and confound a sinner, but did not give him any hopes of remission, no glimpse of heaven, no ministry of pardon: but the Gospel is called the Spirit,' or "the ministration of the Spirit,' the law of faith,'' the law of liberty; it ministers repentance, it enjoins holiness, it gives life, and we all have hopes of being saved.
4. This, which is the state of things in which the whole world is represented in their several periods, is by some