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to perfect holiness in heaven; and how they reach forward and press on towards it, putting forth their highest efforts in the pursuit ? He thinks the perfection, which Paul speaks of as the object of his desire, was the heavenly state, and not any thing he could reach in the present world; and yet he sees that this circumstance did not prevent him from exerting all his powers in the pursuit of it. Had he adopted the same principle here, as in the case under consideration, he would have said: the apostle must have expected to attain to the perfect state he aimed at, in the present life, or he could have had no motive to pursue it. He would have said too, that Paul believed he never should attain to it, because he did not expect to attain to it here below, and, therefore, that he could put forth no vigorous endeavors after it, being destitute of the only principle of efficient action. If he allows that Paul had a faith which gave reality to future glory, and brought it near, and that, under the influence of such a faith, he made great exertions to obtain it; why not allow the same to be true with Christians generally, in regard to that complete moral purity, which they look upon as an essential part of future glory? Why may they not exert all their energies in the pursuit

, although, in their view, it is not to be fully attained within the short space of the present life? The apostle John brings out the principle concerned in this matter with perfect plainness, and speaks of it familiarly, as a thing well understood in his day. He tells us what the assured hope of believers is: “We know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him ;" and then adds: “And every man that hath this hope in him, (the hope of being perfectly like Christ in heaven,) purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” The object was not to be reached in this life.·But did this circumstance prevent primitive believers from laboring to purify themselves, and to become like Christ? Far from it. And it is my persuasion, that this future perfection in holiness, connected as it is with all the unseen glories of the upper world, has a far more commanding influence upon devout Christians, and rouses them to higher efforts after complete sanctification, than the expectation which Mr. Mahan and his associates indulge, of obtaining perfect holiness in the present world. In the first place, the object of our hope is far higher and nobler than the object of theirs. They are led, by the position they take, to lower down their object, that is, Christian Perfection, so as to bring it within their reach,

and to make it just that which they have attained, or are likely to attain in the present state. For consistency's sake, they are obliged to do this, and they have begun to do it. But it is a bold and perilous attempt. The law of God cannot bend; and those who undertake to bend it know not what they do. The moral law will not adapt its requirements to our mistakes, or to our attainments. And it certainly is a dangerous and daring thing for any man to take such ground, -as the advocates of “Perfection' evidently do,—that they will feel themselves urged, for the sake of consistency, to represent their own attainments as being the perfect holiness which God's law requires. Now let those, who hold to the Oberlin doctrine, come up, as some of them have done, to that which they consider to be « Christian Perfection;" and what further influence can the expectation of complete holiness have upon them? Expectation is superseded by enjoyment. And what occasion for efforts to obtain that which they already possess ? They may pursue other objects; but their expectation of entire conformity to the divine law is realized. They have reached the object ; and there is no place for further efforts. Where then is their “only principle of efficient action ?” Look now at that state of perfect spiritual purity, that complete likeness to Christ, which is the high object of desire and expectation with Christians generally. How evident it is, that we shall be stimulated to pursue it with an intensity of effort, proportioned to the sublimity and excellence of the object.

But, in the second place, this expectation of ours stands before us in close connection with circumstances which make a strong appeal to the principles of the human mind, and

powerfully move the springs of human action. That perfect holiness, to which we are taught to aspire, is associated in our thoughts with the ineffable joys and glories of the world above, with the presence of the exalted Saviour, and with things which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor heart conceived,—an object so sublime, and excellent, and attractive in itself, and surrounded with such invisible and celestial glories. Oh! how much deeper interest does it produce in the mind, and how much more powerfully does it excite the active energies of our spiritual nature, than the low attainments which man ever has made, or ever will make, in this state of weakness, and error, and moral defilement! That perfection which is actually attained by Christians, feeble and inconstant like ourselves, is SECOND SERIES, VOL V. NO. II.


in sober truth, an object too near, too familiar, too human, yes, and too easily obtained, to take hold of our minds with the strongest grasp, and to elicit our mightiest energies. But tell Christians of the glorious appearing of their Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and inspire them with the hope of being like him when they shall see him as he is; the hope of being then adorned with all the beauties of holiness, and of sitting with Christ on his throne, and of dwelling forever in that blessed but unseen world, in which no sin shall be found, and you may be sure that they will hunger and thirst after righteousness, and will give all diligence to purify themselves, and to prepare for a heaven so holy and so glorious.

Thirdly: the expectation, which Christians generally entertain, has greatly the advantage over that which the Oberlin doctrine inspires, in respect to certainty. Those who act under the influence of that doctrine aim at perfect holiness, with a hope and expectation of attaining to it in the present world. But is their expectation entirely free from doubt, and attended with certainty? Can they say we know that we shall attain to perfection before this short life is ended ? Are they certain that they shall do that which will insure complete sanctificationthat they shall fulfil the conditions on which the blessing is promised ? Those among them who have not yet reached perfection, would, I presume, think it going too far, to say that they certainly know they shall reach it in the present world. And those who cherish the pleasing, but, as I apprehend, delusive idea, that they have already reached that state, would probably be backward to say they certainly know that they shall continue in it. But the expectation, which believers generally indulge, is attended with certainty. They know, that if they are true Christians, they shall reach their object, and shall reach it soon; that when they are absent from the body, they shall be present with the Lord, and shall then be holy as he is holy. Now until those who embrace the Oberlin doctrine are able to entertain an expectation of complete holiness in this life, which rises to certainty, it must be evident to them, that, on their own principles, the hope which we indulge has a real advantage over theirs in point of practical influence. And if I mistake not, they themselves will, after all, feel the value of the common doctrine, and be sometimes driven to take refuge in it. For they will, in all probability, have seasons of doubting whether they have attained, or shall attain to perfection in they may

this world. And if they are disturbed with such doubts, what can they do but resort to the comforting truth, that, though

fail of reaching complete holiness here, they shall reach it in heaven? And a small portion of true faith will bring the perfection of the heavenly state very near.

I have sometimes tried to account for it, that Mr. Mahan's doctrine exerts so mighty an influence over his mind and the minds of others, calling forth energies and imparting joys before unknown. He will allow me to say that I cannot ascribe all this to the truth of his doctrine ; for I do not consider the doctrine to be true. And I would not undertake to pry into the secret chambers of his mind, and to judge of the unwonted movements which have been going on there. But there is a principle, implanted in our common nature, which operates powerfully in such a case, and in some minds very powerfully. When a philosopher, or a navigator makes a discovery, he is filled with emotions which can hardly be described; and he publishes it abroad with a zeal proportioned to his view of its importance. And its importance will be likely to rise very high, in his view, from the circumstance that he is the discoverer. The doctrine of perfection has indeed been long before the public. But Mr. Mahan appears

not to have received it at second hand. It came to him as a new discovery. Suddenly, and in a remarkable manner,


eyes were opened, and he saw the freeness and fulness of gospel grace, and the way in which a believer can at once obtain sanctification. Now I would not, for the world, trifle with those unusual operations of his mind; for there is reason to think, that the Spirit of God was with him, and that he did actually attain to a more entire consecration of himself to God than before. But who can be sure that he was not more or less elated with the new discovery? Even the Apostle Paul, —that Mr. Mahan thinks was perfect --even that great Apostle was in danger of being exalted above measure with the revelations made to him, when he was caught up to the third heaven. And it was found to be necessary that he should have a very humbling and long-continued affliction, a thorn in the flesh, to guard his heart from pride and self-complacency. And it cannot be going too far to suppose, that Mr. Mahan is as much exposed to this danger, as the great Apostle was. And surely it will not be amiss for him to inquire, whether his re.. markable discovery, and the novelty of those exercises, which seemed to distinguish him above other ministers and Christians, may not have worked in with certain principles of his nature, not yet fully sanctified; and whether the singular zeal he shows in writing books, and in compassing the land to make proselytes, may not be owing in part to these principles of nature; and whether it would be safe for him to look


all this excitement of feeling, and all this labor to propagate his new opinions, as the unmixed result of the Holy Spirits influence, and as a certain evidence of his likeness to the blessed Jesus. And may it not be well for him to keep his mind open,

-as I trust he will,—to farther instruction from the Word and Spirit of God? For, possibly, a higher degree of illumination may disclose to him some remaining deficiencies in his character, which he has overlooked. His heavenly Father may perhaps visit him with some severe affliction : “for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth.” If he does indeed trust in God and seek his help, God will supply all his need, — will correct any mistakes into which he has been betrayed, and help him to separate the hay, wood and stubble, from the gold and silver and precious stones,—will graciously assist him in reviewing his writings, and the whole course he has pursued in preaching, and the effects he has produced on the churches of Christ. And if there has been any thing wrong,—“ for there is no man that doeth good and sinneth not,”—God will teach him what it is. And it may be, God will make him a greater blessing to the Institution over which he presides, and to the church of Christ, than he ever has been.

There are many minor points, on which I might remark. But I have meant to confine myself to the chief points. If the principal arguments, on which this doctrine of Perfection depends, have been shown to be inconclusive, it is all the case requires. In these two numbers, I have said all I have to say on this subject. I leave it to others to do what the cause of truth may further require to be done.

I close with three brief remarks.

My first remark is on the effect which will naturally be produced upon a man's own mind, by his believing that he has already attained to perfect holiness. And here I grant, that a man's believing himself perfectly holy, if he were so in reality, could have none but a good influence upon him. In such a case, it would be a belief of the truth. And surely, a belief of the truth must be supposed to have a good influence upon a perfectly holy mind. But suppose a man believes himself to be

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