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(Rom. viii. 2, 3.) "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth." (Rom. x. 4.) "This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people." (Heb. viii. 10.) These and similar passages are supposed to indicate that the conditions of acceptance are changed, and that men are capable of perfect compliance with those conditions. There is demanded a perfect obedience, not to a law framed for beings endued with higher powers than the present race of men possess, but to the "Evangelical law," the "law of love," the "law of faith," the "perfect law of liberty," as it is variously termed.

There are those, however, among the followers of Wesley, who, while agreeing with him in the main, dissent from this notion of a remediless inability perfectly to keep the law. They take a more moderate view of the perfection of Adam, and claim that, by the Divine grace, his descendants are capable of the same degree of holiness and the same complete obedience that he was; that whatever was lost to humanity in the primal transgression has been restored in Christ.

We have dwelt at what may seem disproportionate length on this point, because it is here more than anywhere else that misapprehensions arise concerning the views of our authors, and because in the theological conflict on this subject this is one of the great strategetic positions around which the battle rages most hotly.


Again, it is not claimed for this perfection that it implies any freedom from temptation. To whatever experience the Christian may attain, he is confessed to be in this life always liable to temptation. Temptation does not imply sin, else Christ would be proved a sinner. Temptations to sin are from without, that is, they are not impulsions of the mind, but the suggestions or solicitations of an evil agent. Evil impulses are themselves sin." "But the assaults of evil agents may be made upon the purest mind. Our Lord Jesus Christ 'was in all points tempted like as we are, and yet without sin.""

Nor does this perfection imply impeccability. "Formerly," says Wesley, "we thought one saved from sin could not fall. Now we know to the contrary. Neither does any one stand by virtue of anything that is implied in the nature of the state. There is no such height or strength of holiness as it is impossible to fall from." Adam and "the angels that kept not their first estate" are cited as examples in proof.

Finally, this perfection is not such as excludes further growth or progress in holiness. This, to many, has seemed contradictory and absurd. They have asked, "What kind of a perfection can that be which admits of addition or increase?" It is answered by the advocates of Christian perfection, that Christianity is in itself a growth, a progress, and that, though it is at first impeded by the natural corruptions of the heart, it will, if rightly cultivated, not only overcome these obstacles, but wholly displace them from the soil of the soul; its growth and progress by virtue of this effect becoming more rapid than before, - a full and perfect operation, ever increasing in volume and power.

"We exhort the strongest believer to grow up into Christ in all things; asserting that there is no holiness and no happiness in heaven (much less on earth) which does not admit of a growth, except the holiness and happiness of God himself; because, in the very nature of things, a being absolutely perfect, and in every sense infinite, can never have anything added to him. But infinite additions may be made to beings every way finite, such as glorified saints and holy angels are.

"Hence it appears that the comparison which we make between the ripeness of a fruit and the maturity of a believer's grace cannot be carried into an exact parallel. For a perfect Christian grows far more feeble believer, whose growth is still hindered by the shady thorns of sin, and by the draining suckers of iniquity. Besides, a fruit which is come to its perfection, instead of growing, falls and decays; whereas a 'babe in Christ' is called to grow till he becomes a perfect Christian; a perfect Christian, till he becomes a disembodied spirit; a disembodied spirit, till he reaches the perfection of a saint glorified in body and soul; and such a saint, till he has fathomed the infinite depths of Divine perfection, that is, to all eternity."-Fletcher's Last Check, p. 499.

To the same effect Wesley speaks. "It is so far from lying

in an indivisible point, from being incapable of increase, that one perfected in love may grow in grace far swifter than he did before." Dr. Peck states the case as follows:

"It will be remembered that we have found sanctification to imply both the death of sin and the life of righteousness. And when we. speak of entire sanctification, as to the former part of it, we say it may be attained at once, it is an instantaneous work, and we are authorized to look for its accomplishment now. And it must be admitted that when this work is accomplished it cannot in all future time be more than accomplished. But in relation to the latter part of this great work, viz. the life of righteousness, embracing all holy affections and pious efforts, it is regarded as entirely progressive. There never will be, during our earthly pilgrimage, and probably during eternity itself, a point at which the redeemed soul will have reached a height of holi ness which precludes further improvement."— p. 212.

As previously remarked, it is evident that the perfection advocated by these writers is a very carefully qualified one; not implying a perfect body or a perfect soul, nor, indeed, perfect powers of any kind. It is not a completed development of the religious life, a finished education in holiness, a ne plus ultra in spiritual progress. There is simply a full consecration and sanctification of such powers as the believer possesses to the service of God, a perfect faith in the Gospel, a wholehearted affection going forth freely to the Divine Father, the unobstructed course of the Holy Spirit in the soul. Christianity, it is claimed, proposes a certain process in a man, and when that process is going on perfectly, that is Christian perfection. Perfecti et non perfecti: perfecti viatores nondum perfecti possessores," says Augustine."


The time and method of attaining this completeness of Christian character is much discussed by our authors. Very many who oppose the doctrine as a whole, admit an ideal perfection, after which it is the duty of the Christian to be constantly striving, but which they deny that they can ever reach. Others confess that it is attainable in this life, yet strenuously deny that any person ever has attained it, or ever will attain it, during his earthly probation. The great majority, perhaps,

* Sermon 169.

of those who have written on either side of the subject, have agreed that this perfection is necessary to a meetness for heaven, and that every finally-saved soul attains to it previous to or at the time of mortal dissolution. Wesley and his school, however, explicitly deny the necessity of a delay till that period. While they admit that a majority of believers do fail to receive the fulness of the Divine grace any long time previous to their last hours, they insist that the New Testament describes the experience as one not barely possible, but one practicable and expected to be actual in the Church; and, moreover, that there are directions and exhortations suitable only to those who have already come to such a state. Among the texts quoted in support of this position is the assertion of Paul (Rom. viii. 3, 4): "God sent his Son that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit." Wesley says the commands. bearing on this experience, some of which we have before quoted, have reference to the living, not to the dead. The requirement to love God with all the heart, "cannot mean, Thou shalt do this when thou diest, but while thou livest." John says: "Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world." (1 John iv. 17.)

Watson objects to the doctrine of the completion of the spiritual work only in the death of the body, first, because the promises of entire sanctification in the Scriptures are nowhere "restricted to the article of death, either expressly, or in fair inference"; and, secondly, because "we nowhere find the circumstance of the soul's union with the body represented as a necessary obstacle to its entire sanctification." He notices the fact that a strong argument against his position has been drawn from the latter part of the seventh chapter of the Epistle to the Romans; and he exerts himself to parry the stroke, denying that the Apostle is there describing the state of a believer in Christ. He also says, "the doctrine before us is disproved by those passages of Scripture which connect our entire sanctification with subsequent habits and acts, to be exhibited in the conduct of believers before death." "Know this, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth

we should not serve sin." The Apostle, he says, prays for the entire sanctification of the Thessalonians, and then for their preservation in that hallowed state till "the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."

"We conclude, therefore, as to the time of our complete sanctification, or, to use the phrase of the Apostle Paul, 'the destruction of the body of sin,' that it can neither be referred to the hour of death, nor placed subsequently to this present life. The attainment of perfect freedom from sin is one to which believers are called during the present life, and is necessary to that completeness of 'holiness,' and of those active and passive graces of Christianity, by which they are called to glorify God in this world, and to edify mankind.". Institutes, Part II. chap. 39.

Fletcher reasons much in the same way, and is particularly severe on what he calls the doctrine of a "death purgatory"; for to this he considers those to be driven who, while acknowledging that perfect holiness is necessary to a meetness for heaven, yet deny that it may be experienced in this life. He argues with much animation, that death will in no respect alter the moral character of the soul; and that disembodied spirits will possess the very same dispositions and propensities which they had when they dwelt in the body.

Another point of discussion has been, whether this is an instantaneous or a gradual work; some of those who accept the doctrine favoring the one, others the other. Wesley himself, though quite positive, is not always clear. He says it is both instantaneous and gradual. He teaches explicitly enough that the normal experience of a Christian is a growth,

"first the blade, then the ear, and then the full corn in the ear," a going on from small beginnings to a large, rich ma- . turity of gifts and graces. Yet even in such, he says, there comes a time when faith and love have a perfect operation; when the body of sin is not only subdued, but dead; when the believer is entirely free from all desires and inclinations toward those things which are sinful. He avers that the moment when this takes place is the moment of a great and wondrous change, the arrival at a new and elevated plane of the religious life, where the believer knows and feels much to which he was previously a stranger. He illustrates it as follows:

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