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alarmed. On the other hand, the belief of this doctrine, under the circumstances supposed, must be of the highest practical utility ; because it lays the only adequate foundation for the most vigorous and prayerful efforts after those attainments in holiness, at which all admit we are bound to aim. To aim at a state, with the certain expectation of not reaching it, must be a hard task truly, and must render all our efforts well nigh powerless. To aim at a state, on the other hand, with the belief that it is attainable, is the indispensable condition of efficient action.
IV. Whatever our present condition and circumstances may be, there is no presumption in our indulging the expectation of attaining to entire perfection in holiness, provided corresponding provisions are made in the gospel, and God himself has promised thus to sanctify us.
If Christ has promised to guard us against all temptation, we ought to expect to be thus kept by him, whatever the temptations may be which beset us. If God, on condition of our trusting him for this very blessing, has promised to “sanctify us wholly," we ought to expect to be thus sanctified. In view of such provisions and promises, there is no more presumption in expecting perfect, than partial sanctification; since our faith, alike in both instances, rests not upon
an arm of flesh, but
V. The question, whether entire perfection in holiness is attainable in this life, depends exclusively upon the question, What are the nature and extent of the provisions of the gospel for our present sanctification, and of the "exceeding great and precious promises” of divine grace? In pursuing our inquiries in respect to this question, we are to look away from our condition and circumstances as sinners, and from our natural powers as moral agents, to the provisions and promises of the grace of God. If the "riches of Christ's inheritance in the saints," comprehends their entire sanctification in this life, we certainly are under obligations infinite to possess that inheritance in all its fullness. Are you, Christian, prepared to enter upon the investigation of the subject before us, with the simple inquiry, What has God provided for and promised to me, as a Christian ? When will the Church be again able to say, “We have known and believed the love which the Father hath unto us?”
VI. Finally, Inasmuch as entire perfection in holiness is required of us, not only in the law, but also in the gospel, and is a ceaseless demand of our being, we are under complete obligation to
approach the inquiry, Whether the doctrine, that such perfection is attainable in this life is contained in the Bible, with the hope of finding it there. To this inquiry the attention of the reader will be directed in the following discourse.
PERFECTION IN HOLINESS ATTAINABLE.
ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in heaven is
perfect.”—Matt. v. 48.
The object of the preceding discourse was, to illustrate and explain the nature of Christian Perfection. The object of the present discourse is, to answer the inquiry, is such a state attainable in this life?" to ascertain the fact, whether it is practicable for us, as Christians, to consecrate our entire being, with all its powers and susceptibilities, to Christ, and to live under the continual influence of the all-pervading and all-controlling principle of pure and perfect love—“of faith on the Son of God."
I use the terms attainable and practicable, with reference, not merely to our powers as moral agents, but also with respect to the provisions and promises of divine grace. If provision is made in
* Parts of this and the following Discourse have already, been before the public in another form.