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Rom. viii. [3, 4.]

"Wherefore that which was impossible to the law, inasmuch as it was weak because of the flesh, God sending his own Son in the similitude of sinful flesh and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh; that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled." Although no man therefore be brought to perfection by the law, yet the law remaineth perfit; even as he is perfit which gave the law.

6. Every work of the mighty God is perfit. When he had made heaven and earth, sea and land, fish, fowl, man, beast, and whatsoever is contained within the compass of the whole world, having finished all, he beheld the [Gen. i. 31.] works of his own hands, and saw they were all "exceeding good." If there be this perfection in the works of God, then whatsoever he do in heaven or in earth, seem it unto us never so much out of order, yea, although it be even against all reason in our eyes, yet must we always set our hands unto this: it is of God, therefore perfit. For, "Wo be to him that saith to his father, What hast thou begotten? or to his mother, What hast thou brought forth?" Shall the clay say to the workman, What makest thou? dust and ashes to the Creator of heaven and earth, It is not good and perfit which thou doest?

7. As God is perfit in himself, in his word, and in all his works; so we are exhorted to fashion ourselves according to that similitude and likeness which is in him, and to become perfit as our Father in heaven is perfit. There is a perfection which all believers have by imputation; whereof although St Paul do not speak directly in this place, yet, because it is the root of that perfection whereof he speaketh, it is not besides the purpose for me to put you in mind of it. Unto every son of Adam it Ezek. xxviii. may justly be said, "Thou wast perfit in thy ways from


the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee." But our sanctification being once defiled and polluted with sin, he which liketh no unclean or unperfect thing, if he look upon us as we are in ourselves, cannot but loathe us. Wherefore, except the perfection of righteousness which is in Christ be imputed unto us and accounted as ours, except in him we be made the righteousness of God, how should we ever hope to appear without spot and wrinkle in the sight of God? He therefore is perfect, whose

In all his works.

Isai. xlv. [10.]

in us by im-

imperfections Christ with his perfection hath covered. This is a secret, which because the Jews were not able to comprehend, therefore they stumbled. Israel sought perfection, and found it not. Wherefore? Because they sought it by the works of the law, and not by faith: they thought perfection by imputation to be a mere fancy. Contrariwise the gentiles, not following that perfection which is by the law, attained unto that which is by faith which St Paul did so esteem, that although he were, concerning the righteousness which is in the law, unreprovable, yet he thought all the labour and travail lost which he had spent about attaining perfection that way, and desired nothing more than to be found, not having his own perfection which was of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ.

to be sought

But the perfection, whereof St Paul here speaketh, Perfection is nothing else but the finishing of that which the grace for by inof Christ hath already begun to work in our hearts, our labour. growing and increasing in true godliness, our proceeding and going forward from virtue to virtue, from strength to strength, till we come unto that whereunto we strive. "Brethren," saith the apostle, "I count not myself as Phil. iii. if I had attained it, or were already perfect but one thing, I forget that which is behind, and endeavour myself unto that which is before, and follow hard towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded:" let as many as have attained the former perfection, strive unto this which is the latter.



9. For this cause apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers at the first were given: unto this all doctrine and exhortation doth tend, that, being "builded [Eph. ii. 22.] together to be the habitation of God by the Spirit," we might "rise to a perfect man unto the measure of the Eph. iv. [13, age of the fulness of Christ," and "in all things grow up into him which is the head;" in all things, whether they be inward virtues, or outward duties, which God requireth at the hands of men. Touching inward virtues, although we have knowledge, and be established in the present truth; although our faith be such, that it be known and spoken of throughout the world; although we abound in



In faith.

godliness, in brotherly kindness, and in all love; it is nevertheless a thing needful as long as we are in this tabernacle, that we be always put in mind, stirred up, and provoked to endeavour that in these things we may abound more and more, and go forward in them to perfection.

In knowledge.

10. The word of truth, which is the gospel, was Col. i. [6.] fruitful among the Colossians, from the very first day that

they heard and truly knew the grace of God. Yet St Paul ceased not still to pray for them, and to desire that they might be fulfilled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, that they might increase in the knowledge of God, and so be perfect. The Hebrews no doubt were not utterly ignorant in the highest mysteries of their salvation: yet are they sharply reproved for their rawness, and exhorted to proceed from the doctrine of the beginning of Christ, and from the first principles of the word of God, that at the length they might [Heb. vi. 1.] come to some "perfection." We must all confess, even the best learned amongst us all, that as yet we are but beginning to learn, we know but little, our skill is of small and tender growth. It behoveth us therefore to pray con[Psal. cxix. tinually with the prophet: "Lord, teach us thy statutes:" make us to understand the way of thy precepts, that we may profit in meditating of thy law: lead us on in our way by the gracious conduction of thy Holy Spirit: so direct our course that we may run out the race into which we are entered, not ceasing till thou hast brought us into all truth, fully instructed us in thy righteousness, made us absolute and perfect unto all good works.


11. Where there is backwardness in knowledge, there must needs be also weakness of faith: if we grow in the one, we are the nearer to perfection in the other. How great care the blessed apostle had, that the faith of as many as did believe through his preaching might be perfited, let that one speech of his to them of Thessalonica 1 Thess. iii. serve to shew, instead of many: "Brethren, we had con[7-10.]

solation in you, in all our affliction and necessity, through
your faith.
For now are we alive, if ye stand stedfast

[The ancient editions have "we;" but this is probably a mistake for "ye."-ED.]

in the Lord. What thanks can we recompense to God again for you, for all the joy for which we rejoice for your sakes before God, night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might accomplish that which is lacking in your faith?" If he were thus careful for the faith of others, shall we neglect to make perfect our own? When we hear that this is the victory which overcometh 1 John v. the world, even our faith; that by faith all the fiery Eph. vi. darts of Satan are expelled and driven back; that unto [Mark ix. believers all things are possible; that he which believeth John v. [24.] cometh not into judgment, but hath passed from death to life; are we not glad to say in our hearts, Lord, we believe? If we be, then considering that by how much our faith is more stedfast, by so much we are the more certainly assured of all these things, let us join in request. with the disciples of Christ, and beg of him to "increase Luke xvii. faith in us:" let us cry even with tears, Lord, help our incredulity.

[4.] 16.] 23.]



12. "But how can you believe," saith our Saviour, In godli"that receive glory one of another, and the glory which John v.[44.] is of God only ye seek not?" How should we grow unto fulness of faith, which are so empty and void of godliness? The complaint of the prophet might never be more truly and generally applied: "there is no fear of God." Zeal [Psal. xxxvi. is even quenched, religion almost dead, true devotion abolished from the hearts of men: there is not a godly man left upon earth; or if there be, if God have reserved to himself at this present many thousands (as I doubt not but he hath) of godly men, yet how hard is it to find one amongst those many thousands which daily goeth forward profiting and perfiting himself in godliness!


13. Whereat we cannot greatly marvel. For For if men In brotherly grow so cold as we daily see they do in charity, love, and love. and brotherly kindness towards men whom they see, they must needs be colder in love towards God, whom no man ever saw. Thus, because our profiting in all these parts of inward perfection hath been hitherto very slow, it is therefore needful to put you in mind of this present exhortation: "concerning that which remaineth, brethren, be perfect."

Outward perfection

14. It is not enough to seek for inward perfection, in doing.

[James i. 27.]


unless we also endeavour to be outwardly perfect. If we have the ripeness of men in knowledge, we may not shew the fondness of children in behaviour. To say we have faith, what availeth it, except we have works also? See we not that the faith of Abraham was effectual, and wrought with his works, and that through his works his faith was made perfect? Are we sincerely religious towards God? "Pure religion and undefiled before God even the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their adversity, and to keep ourselves unspotted of the world." we profess love and charity towards our brethren? Let the whole course and practice of our life, as near as possibly we can, be sincere, upright, sound, and perfect. For broken dealings are as odious in the sight of God, as they are grievous and offensive towards men. Let your love appear by your good fruits, your works of charity. And if ye have laid a good foundation of this already, finish the work which ye have begun: in that which ye do, study how to abound. Be not weary of well doing. As in that 1 Thess. iv. which is past, so "for that which remaineth, brethren, we beseech you and exhort you in the Lord Jesus, that ye increase more and more;" not only coveting spiritual gifts, and being studious of good works, but also seeking to excel in them, that in all things ye may be made rich in Christ, in all virtue, and in all speech.


James iii. [8.]

In speaking.
Prov. XV.

15. "The mouth of the fool (saith Solomon) is fed with foolishness:" but "let your speech (saith the apostle) Col. iv. [6.] be gracious always, and powdered with salt." Perfection


herein ought so much the more earnestly to be desired, by
how much it is the more hardly obtained in this than in
other things. As by using the bit in the mouth of a horse
his whole body is turned about; and as by moving the
rudder a ship is directed whithersoever it pleaseth the mind
of the governor; so he that is perfect to rule the tongue
with skill is able to rule all the body with ease.
the tongue is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison." There-
fore as many as desire to be perfect must keep a continual
watch before their lips, that, if an unsavoury word escape
them, they may lay their hands on their mouths betimes;
that, if they have spoken unadvisedly once, they may answer
no more, or if twice, yet proceed no further. This use shall

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