As God is Perfect:

"He is the Rock, his work is PERFECT: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he." Deut. 32:4

Jesus said:
"Be ye therefore PERFECT, even as your Father which is in heaven is PERFECT." Matt. 5:48
"The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is PERFECT shall be as his master."
Lk. 6:40










     A Psalm on
     Perfection: #101

    I will sing of mercy and judgment: unto thee, O LORD, will I sing.
    I will behave myself wisely in a PERFECT way. O when wilt thou come unto me? I will walk within my house with a PERFECT heart.
    I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.
    A froward heart shall depart from me: I will not know a wicked person.
    Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer.
    Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a PERFECT way, he shall serve me.
    He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight.
    I will early destroy all the wicked of the land; that I may cut off all wicked doers from the city of the LORD.




"Thou shalt be PERFECT with the Lord thy God." Deut. 18:13


"And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou PERFECT." Gen. 17:1


"As for God, his way is PERFECT; the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him." 2 Sam. 22:31

"Let your heart therefore be PERFECT with the LORD our God, to walk in his statutes, and to keep his commandments, as at this day." 1 Kings 8:61



"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and PERFECT, will of God." Rom. 12:2







"Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, PERFECTING holiness in the fear of God." 2 Cor. 7:1




There are three essential battlefields in which the believer must war if one is to come into the light and become a vessel useful to God, purified from his of her innate unrighteousness while being led, as King David put it, into “the land of uprightness”. This description is a valid aspect of the active life of brideship in Christ.
       The three battlefields are susinctly stated in the last book of the Bible:

“And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
And they overcame Satan

by the blood of the Lamb
[2]by the word of their testimony
[3]they loved not their lives unto the death.”Rev. 12:10,11

       Satan is the enemy of our souls. We are to overcome Him by faith for the ongoing stream of the blood of Jesus and its mercy, loving, life giving, forgiving powers. We give glory to God and tell of all His wonders for and to us, by giving testimony to the things which God has manifested in us in all reality and actuality of action. And, we must be willing to give ourselves over to the Holy Ghost and His will entirely. To die to self as the expression goes, to have the sentence of death working in us, as the apostle Paul so aptly puts it.

To be successful in the Christian life one must be an overcomer. In Revelation's seven letters to the churches (chapters 2 and 3) rewards are offered to those who overcome. In some instances we must overcome our natural inclinations and become faithful, patient and steadfast in the faith. In other cases believers are asked to resist idolatry, Satan’s seductions, or desire for riches and power. In still other cases Christ admonishes His believers because they have forgotten their first love (Him), become lukewarm, arrogant, complacent, or carnal. He tells the church to repent, and to please Him they must overcome all of these obstacles that stand in the way of full discipleship. Those who tread the streets of Philadelphian faith will be concerned and convicted by the many warnings sounded in the seven letters and will take seriously the call to be an overcomer in each area.

esus said to His disciples at the last supper; “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” It is easy to understand what Jesus meant by “in the world you will have tribulation”; we have only to look at our lives to know that. But what did he mean when he said: “I have overcome the world.”?
Obviously, he was identifying the “world” as an enemy that had to be beaten, rendered helpless, conquered. The World becomes our compadre, the one with who we walk in admiration, the one to whom we look up and say, what can I do for you, what can I do to please you. Help me and show me the way to get along. Let your people become my peers and I will try to learn their will and do what they say are the right ways, and right things to do. Show me the way of men and let me conform so I will belong to the league of humankind. I want to be your friend because I certainly do not want to experience your excommunication. What does Christ mean by the term “world”? Those things which are esteemed by men but an abomination to God can give us an initial helpful clue that the answer to that question involves knowing the meaning and accepting the unequivocal truth “God’s ways are not Man’s ways, nor His thoughts our thoughts”. (Isa. 55:8-9)

      The word ‘World’ is used in a very derogatory way in the Scriptures. The World, and all it stands for is opposed to God. His thoughts are not our thoughts, nor His ways our ways. John, in his first epistle, said; “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” 1 John 2:15-16 In this statement God has identified three ways in which we are influenced and even conspire with the world against all true righteousness: 1) the lust of the flesh, 2) the lust of the eyes, 3) the pride of life. We get the sense from each one of these aspects of the world that they are seductive enemies drawing us into a thirst for power, pleasure and pride, turning our faith away from trust in God and to ourselves. Eventually friendship with the world will turn a person into an atheist at heart, if not in word and deed. This is why the Lord’s brother, James, wrote: “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” Notice he calls the friends of the world “adulterers and adulteresses”. To be a friend of the world (as defined by the Scriptures) is spiritual harlotry and even the sin of idolatry . ...

vercoming the flesh was also the business of Jesus during His ministry on earth. As with the world, Jesus also conquered the flesh for us defeating sin and condemning it by His work on the cross. The goal of picking up our cross and being crucified with Christ is so we no longer walk in the flesh but are able to walk in the spirit. Only the ‘dead’ can walk in the Spirit. The Overcomer must be walking in the Spirit and not the flesh if he is to be pleasing to God. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. ... For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:1-3;) Just prior to telling the disciples that He has overcome the world He informs us: “In the world you will have tribulation”. By this Christ obviously means we will have pain, sorrow, distress, mistakes, failures, misjudgments, persecution and betrayals to deal with during our trials to overcome. Paul told his fellow workers that we with much tribulation must enter into the kingdom of God. And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.Acts 14:21-23 The disciples had ordained and commended ‘elders’ to the Lord. It is significant to note in passing that these were men that Paul and the rest had come to believe were going to be able to stand the tribulation of entering the kingdom of God and be steadfast to the purity of their calling. So serious was the matter and so important that they stayed with each ordained elder as they toured for the gospel’s sake and prayed and fasted to confirm their calling. This praying and fasting leading to belief in the ordination of these elders was important because Paul had the wisdom to know that tribulation of the Satan, the world and our fleshly selves will always be brought to bear upon the servant of God; how much more upon elders, keepers and stewards of the Gospel. We should be ‘on to’ the enemies of our soul, which are also the true enemies of the Cross. We shall all suffer fiery trials of personal disappointment and seducing temptations of the flesh. The flesh will linger on in us as long as we are in the flesh. It will be with us warring against the spirit and as Paul we will cry out: “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” Rom 7:24,25 When we walk in the flesh we are walking in sins terms, fighting on sins terms, playing according to sins terms, playing by sins rules and there is no way to beat sin when we play it according to its terms for sin is greater than us and it will defeat us and kill us if we walk according to its terms, even if we are trying to beat it with our best efforts on sins own grounds. We therefore must walk in the Spirit, walk according to the terms of the Spirit if we hope to cast off the leaden shoes of sin with which our feet are lassoed and we are thereby dragged into the pit of unhappiness and the dark destruction of despair. Who can deliver us from so great a way called ‘flesh’? Only by walking in the Spirit can we be saved from the indictment of the guiltiness of sin. See our section of Believe/Walk in the Spirit.An analogy may best show how we shall have a lifelong struggle against this mortal enemy of our sinful flesh and how we must rely on the Holy Ghost and the power of Jesus Christ to live according to the benefits of the grace of Christ through the Spirit. If we live in the Spirit let us also walk in the Spirit.













"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." 2 Tim. 3:16-17






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"Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand PERFECT and complete in all the will of God." Col. 4:12









"Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might PERFECT that which is lacking in your faith?" 1 Thess. 3:10


"But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you PERFECT, stablish, strengthen, settle you." 1 Pet. 5:10



"But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God PERFECTED: hereby know we that we are in him." 1 Jn. 2:5

"No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is PERFECTED in us." 1 Jn. 4:12

"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 Jn. 4:17


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              by Terry Smith



ohn Wesley is one of the finest Christians who ever ministered in the name of Christ. Like any and all of the very finest, he fell short of being absolutely correct in all matters of which he spoke or preached. As the apostle Paul freely admitted in behalf of all preachers: “Who is sufficient for such things?” In many ways Wesley was a prisoner of his times, chained to the epoch of church history in which he lived and preached. He labored for God in a day most demanding, for it was his lot to clear a pathway through the thicket of darkness which had been piled upon the churches through hundreds of dismal years of ignorance and false beliefs. He strove with heroic fortitude to allow the light of the pure Gospel to shine its way through that darkness. Though it seems a contradiction, the fact that he was not perfect in all details of the Gospel he preached, in no wise diminishes the perfection of his heart or the holiness of his career, or the work which God had given this ‘angel’ of the church to do. He was an ‘angel’ (a messenger, leader and minister) of the church and it was his lot to add on rungs to the ascending ladder which advanced the churches of Christ out of the hole dug by the great apostasy. The Reformation had started with Luther and furthered by Calvin, Zwingli, Knox, and others of their ilk. The reformers had forged a rung or two, starting the ascent out of the depths of satanic influences and Jezebel ruin. Wesley, his brother Charles and George Whitefield, along with pedigree movements like the Moravians, Pietists, Hueterittes, Anabaptists, etc., were part of a spearhead of the Spirit to take the Reformation to holier ground, to bring in a spirit of Restoration. Things long destroyed were to be rediscovered and regained and Wesley’s Methodists were key in making the way clear for Renewal that would be in full gear come the middle of the middle of the last century when ‘new’ wine fit for the end of the age and the Bride’s preparation would be introduced in a Cana-like fashion. Wesley did not see his labors in the restoration of the good things in the churches as prophetic, leading to Renewal of the end, but he did see that it was a work of restoration as for more than half a century he adamantly preached the revival of the doctrines of godly perfection which had been directly taught by the apostles of Christ in the first generations of the church saga. Wesley was a life-long proponent of the search for true perfection of faith by the Spirit. He sought to leave no stone unturned, addressed each question and sought every answer in his sermons and writings. This perfection was not well understood by anyone in his day, but he undertook the enormous task of both relating its truth and encouraging the common believer to enter into its blessings and life. How well is perfection even understood today, though we are in the final hours of this Age of Grace when Christ is seeking to adorn and prepare His wife like He has never done before? Perfection has never been perfectly or rightly defined inside or outside of the Scriptures, and the apostles who declared its necessity in the cause of Christ were not much heeded, except in the first two or three generations of the faith. As the churches began to focus on other causes rather than waiting patiently for the bridegroom’s return, the Christian believer lost sight of this prime goal, even though Christ had warned us all to Watch, Wait, Pray and Take Heed, for He would return at a time we thought not. Wesley, as leader of the Methodists, was among the most staunch proponents of perfection, but due to its doctrinal infancy he and Puritan and Separatist groups in Europe made mistakes in doctrinal nuances which have only come to light because the Church age draws to a close and the glory days of the Bride and her joint invitation with the Holy Spirit is more properly and perfectly issuing forth in legible hand of the finger of God Himself. Wesley grappled with the incomprehensible idea that a perfect Christian could still commit a sin of commission or omission. In the end, he finally got a fair idea of sin and perfection, and even attained through much investigation and faith, a way in which to clearly express this most difficult of questions concerning perfection, holiness and truth. In the process he gained perhaps a clearer more full conception of what sin really is, more so, than those great leaders of the Reformation had ever attained. He had trouble seeing how perfection was a daily matter like bodily hygiene. It would take more experience by the Church and the great outpouring of the latter day rain of the Holy Ghost in the following two centuries for much of these things to come into view, and then be brought into fine focus. Because of this, anything that Wesley or the ‘angels’ of Reformation or early restoration did not see clearly, let alone know how to express, cannot be held to their account or used to deny their personal perfection of faith in Christ. Perfection with God is not contingent on knowing or knowledge; perfection with God is determined by where spiritual perfection is seated, in the heart. That Christ was going to be the beautician, butler, valet, hairdresser, instructor, do the laundry and wash our feet, iron out the wrinkles in our garments, be our chauffeur, and otherwise take out every spot in the Bride’s garments and bodily features as needed; that this perfection to holiness would be needed on a daily and continual basis, was not understood as ongoing and a matter of daily detailed, walking in the spirit. It was not fully comprehended how completely Christ would do the work of perfection in His Bride. The key for the perfection of soul and spirit would be to submit in every conceivable way to the perfect, loving hand of Christ, to give Him everything without argument or debate, hesitation or mistrust. Wesley was still locked into method, not fully delivered from a legalist and academic mind. But he cannot be faulted. The deluge of the baptism of the Holy Ghost had not yet watered the earth. Wesley lived at a time when the Holy Ghost was misting in a few select places over the earth. The Spirit was raining upon him. Wesley was a pioneer of the great Restoration (in a limited way, sometimes called the Great Awakening) replacing that which the worms had eaten away, first knocking down the rotten posts and beams and then considering what materials were needed to replace the old. Some work he could not do for it was not the time. He did not take down all of the idols of the high places in the Church, just as so many of the great kings of Judah who had pleased God, were not able to do in their day. Nevertheless, Wesley’s ministry lit up the sky and the churches of the entire 18th century, but the finish work was not his to do. Restoration always begins with demolition. How would it be any different with so great a property as Christ’s churches? The roof, interior and finish work had to wait for the skilled interior experiments at the end. Nevertheless, Wesley’s doctrines on perfection and his devotion to its cause shows he was in the spirit of the Bride and that he understood, and would not be moved, that Christ deserves only the best. Wesley laid a solid foundation on which the finish men could lay the finished tile work of perfection. Christ will have only the best. Toward this cause Wesley devoted his life without wavering and finished the course god had set out before him. He surely has taken his place among the great cloud of witnesses who await their crowns until that day when all the perfected will be given them at one time. Our hats are off to him and others who labored for the cause of Christ and His search for a perfect wife, one without spot or wrinkle who is holy. Pressure came at him from every side but he withstood, never wavered. Since perfection is a humanly indefensible condition and a romantic utopian hope at best (within the scope and realm of man, I mean) it can only be defended and asserted by faith and can only be received by the few who by faith are willing to subject themselves to the world’s indignation and by full submission to such an impossible high calling and goal, believe for its truth. Perfection is trousseau of the Bride, she must put it on, allow Christ to adorn her in it. It is impossible to achieve by one’s wit or discipline, yet it remains a request of God upon our souls and spirits nonetheless. With Man things are impossible. A perfect bride is one of those things. The doctrines surrounding perfection are as impossible to relate as they are for Man to achieve because we innately cannot conceive of a perfect wife, a perfect Bride. All those who strive for the mark of the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus (the Bride) are well aware of this mission impossible. We stand with our mouths open, our hands raised in submission toward God, with hope in His mercy. Wesley did also. He had faith for perfection, faith to believe that though it is impossible with Man, with God all things are possible. Christ can make, and will make, as Ephesians 5 declares, his wife without spot or wrinkle or blemish, or any such thing, even – holy.

            (I have placed editorial comments within the text of Wesley’s sermon wherever clarification or explanation of a matter is warranted. In a few places, concerning sin and thoughts, for example, I have made lengthy comments addressing Wesley’s lack of understanding concerning the nature of their perfection and their origin. Mainly, Wesley’s insistence on seeking perfection and its complete reality in the whole man, body, soul and spirit, is a great testimony to God’s unrelenting quest to find a perfect wife for His Son that is without blemish and holy. For anyone desiring to have a testimony that they please God, Wesley’s discussion of perfection is well worth chewing on.)    


                                                                                          by John Wesley


"Not as though I had already attained ,
either were already perfect."
Philippians 3:12


   There is scarce any expression in holy writ, which has given more offense than the quote above. The word perfect is what many cannot bear. The very sound of it is an abomination to them; and whosoever preaches perfection, (as the phrase is) that is, asserts that it is attainable in this life, runs great hazard of being accounted by them worse than a heathen man or a publican.

And hence some have advised, wholly to lay aside the use of those expressions; "because they have given so great offense." But are they not found in the oracles of God? If so, by what authority can any Messenger of God lay them aside, even though all men should be offended? We have not so learned Christ; neither may we thus give place to the devil. Whatsoever God hath spoken, that will we speak, whether men will hear, or whether they will forbear; knowing that then alone can any Minister of Christ be "pure from the blood of all men," when he has "not shunned to declare unto them all the counsel of God."

We may not, therefore, lay these expressions aside, seeing they are the words of God and not of man. But we may and ought to explain the meaning of them; that those who are sincere of heart may not err to the right hand or left, from the mark of the prize of their high calling. And this is the more needful to be done, because, in the verse already repeated, the Apostle speaks of himself as not perfect: "Not." says he, "as though I were already perfect." And yet immediately after, in the fifteenth verse, he speaks of himself, yea, and many others, as perfect: "Let us," says he, "as many as be perfect, be thus minded."

In order, therefore, to remove the difficulty arising from this seeming contradiction, as well as to give light to them who are pressing forward to the mark, and that those who are lame be not turned out of the way, I shall endeavor to show, First, In what sense Christians are not; and, secondly, In what sense they are, perfect. In the First place, I shall endeavor to show, in what sense Christians are not perfect. And both from experience and Scripture it appears, first, that they are not perfect in knowledge: They are not so perfect in this life as to be free from ignorance. They know, it may be, in common with other men, many things relating to the present world; and they know, with regard to the world to come, the general truths which God hath revealed. They know, likewise, (what the natural man receives not; for these things are spiritually discerned,) "what manner of love" it is, wherewith "the Father" hath loved them, "that they should be called the sons of God:" They know the mighty working of his Spirit in their hearts; and the wisdom of his providence, directing all their paths, and causing all things to work together for their good. Yea, they know in every circumstance of life what the Lord requires of them, and how to keep a conscience void of offense both toward God and toward man. But innumerable are the things which they do not know. Touching the Almighty himself, they cannot search him out to perfection. "Lo, these are but a part of his ways; but the thunder of his power, Who can understand?" They cannot understand. … Neither is it for them to know the times and seasons when God will work his great works upon the earth; no, not even those which he hath in part revealed by his servants and prophets since the world began. Much less do they know when God, having "accomplished the number of his elect, will hasten his kingdom;" when "the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat." They know not the reasons even of many of His present dispensations with the sons of men; but are constrained to rest here, — Though "clouds and darkness are round about him, righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his seat." Yea, often with regard to his dealings with themselves, doth their Lord say unto them, "What I do, thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter." And how little do they know of what is ever before them, of even the visible works of his hands! — how "he spreadeth the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing?" how he unites all the parts of this vast machine by a secret chain, which cannot be broken? So great is the ignorance, so very little the knowledge, of even the best of men!


Wesley preaching in the open air to the common man.


No one, then, is so perfect in this life, as to be free from ignorance. Nor, secondly, from mistake; which indeed is almost an unavoidable consequence of it; seeing those who "know but in part" are ever liable to err touching the things which they know not. It is true, the children of God do not mistake as to the things essential to salvation: They do not "put darkness for light, or light for darkness;" neither "seek death in the error of their life." For they are "taught of God;" and the way which he teaches them, the way of holiness, is so plain, that "the wayfaring man, though a fool need not err therein." But in things unessential to salvation they do err, and that frequently the best and wisest of men are frequently mistaken even with regard to facts; believing those things not to have been which really were, or those to have been done which were not. Or, suppose they are not mistaken as to the fact itself, they may be, with regard to its circumstances believing them, or many of them, to have been quite different from what, in truth, they were. And hence cannot but arise many more mistakes. Hence they may believe either past or present actions which were or are evil, to be good; and such as were or are good, to be evil. [This is why we are advised to judge nothing before its time. ed. com. website] Hence also they may judge not according to truth with regard to the characters of men; and that, not only by supposing good men to be better, or wicked men to be worse, than they are, but by believing them to have been or to be good men, who were or are very wicked; or perhaps those to have been or to be wicked men, who were or are holy and unreprovable.

No, with regard to the Holy Scriptures themselves, as careful as they are to avoid it, the best of men are liable to mistake, and do mistake day by day; especially with respect to these parts thereof which less immediately relate to practice. Hence, even the children of God are not agreed as to the interpretation of many places in holy writ: Nor is their difference of opinion any proof that they are not the children of God on either side; but it is a proof that we are no more to expect any living men to be infallible, than to be omniscient.

If it be objected to concerning what has been observed under this and the preceding head, that St. John, speaking to his brethren in the faith, says, "Ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things:" (1 John 2:70:) The answer is plain: "We know all things that are needful for your souls' health" That the Apostle never designed to extend this farther, that he could not speak it in an absolute sense, is clear. First, from hence; — that otherwise he would describe the disciple as "above his Master:" seeing Christ himself, as man, knew not all things: "Of that hour," saith he, "knoweth no man; no, not the Son, but the father only." It is clear, Secondly, from the Apostle's own words that follow: "These things have I written unto you concerning them that deceive you;" as well as from his frequently repeated caution, "Let no man deceive you;" which had been altogether needless, had not those very persons who had that unction from the Holy One been liable, not to ignorance only, but to mistake also.



Even Christians, therefore, are not so perfect as to be free either from ignorance or error: We may add to this, nor are we free from infirmities — only let us take care to understand this word aright: Only let us not give that soft title to known sins, as the manner of some is. So, one man tells us, "Every man has his infirmity, and mine is drunkenness:" Another has the infirmity of uncleanness; another that of taking God's holy name in vain; and yet another has the infirmity of calling his brother, "Thou fool," or returning; "railing for railing." It is plain that all those who thus speak, if ye repent not, shall with your infirmities go quick into hell! But I mean hereby, not only those which are properly termed bodily infirmities, but all those inward or outward imperfections which are not of a moral nature. Such are the weakness or slowness of understanding, dullness or confusedness of apprehension, incoherency of thought, irregular quickness or heaviness of imagination. Such (to mention no more of this kind) is the want of a ready or retentive memory. Such, in another kind, are those which are commonly, in some measure, consequent upon these; namely, slowness of speech, impropriety of language, ungracefulness of pronunciation; to which one might add a thousand nameless defects, either in conversation or behavior. These are the infirmities which are found in the best of men, in a larger or smaller proportion. And from these none can hope to be perfectly freed, till the spirit returns to God that gave it.

Nor can we expect, till then, to be wholly free from temptation. Such perfection does not belong to this life. It is true, there are those who, being given up to work all uncleanness with greediness, scarce perceive the temptations which they fail to resist; and so seem to be without temptation. There are also many whom the wise enemy of souls, seeing to be fast asleep in the dead form of godliness, will not tempt to gross sin, lest they should awake before they drop into everlasting burnings. I know there are also children of God who, being now justified freely, having found redemption in the blood of Christ, for the present feel no temptation. God hath said to their enemies, "Touch not mine anointed, and do my children no harm." And for this season, it may be for weeks or months, he causes them to ride on high places, he bears them as on eagles wings, above all the fiery darts of the wicked one. [ calls this a honeymoon experience. ed. com.] But this state will not last always; as we may learn from that single consideration, that the Son of God himself in the days of his flesh, was tempted even to the end of his life. Therefore, so let his servant expect to be; for "it is enough that he be as his Master."

Christian perfection, therefore, does not imply (as some men seem to have imagined) all exemption either from ignorance, or mistakes or infirmities, or temptations. Indeed, it is only another term for holiness. They are two names for the same thing. Thus, everyone that is holy is, in the Scripture sense, perfect. Yet we may, lastly, observe that neither in this respect is there any absolute perfection on earth. There is no perfection of degrees, as it is termed; none which does not admit of a continual increase. So that how much soever any man has attained, or in how high a degree soever he is perfect, he hath still need to "grow in grace," and daily to advance in the knowledge and love of God his Savior.

In what sense, then, are Christians perfect? This is what I shall endeavor, in the Second place, to show. But it should be premised, that there are several stages in Christian life, as in natural; — some of the children of God being but newborn babes; others having attained to more maturity. And accordingly St. John, in his First Epistle, (2:1, etc.,) applies himself severally to those he terms little children, those he styles young men, and those whom he entitles father, "I write unto you, little children," saith the Apostle, "because your sins are forgiven you:" Because thus far you have attained, — being "justified freely," you "have peace with God through Jesus Christ" "I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one;" or, (as he afterwards addeth,) "because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you." Ye have quenched the fiery darts of the wicked one, the doubts and fears wherewith he disturbed your first peace; and the witness of God, that your sins are forgiven, now abideth in your heart. "I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known Him that is from the beginning." Ye have known both the Father, and the Son, and the Spirit of Christ, in your inmost soul. Ye are "perfect men," being grown up to "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ."

It is of these chiefly I speak in the latter part of this discourse: For these only are perfect Christians. But even babes in Christ are in such a sense perfect, or born of God, (an expression taken also in diverse senses,) as, First, not to commit sin. If any doubt of this privilege of the sons of God, the question is not to be decided by abstract reasonings, which may be drawn out into an endless length, and leave the point just as it was before. Neither is it to be determined by the experience of this or that particular person. Many may suppose they do not commit sin, when they do; but this proves nothing either way. To the law and to the testimony we appeal. "Let God be true, and every man a liar." By His word will we abide, and that alone. Hereby we ought to be judged.

Now the word of God plainly declares, that even those who are justified, who are born again in the lowest sense, "do not continue in sin," that they cannot "live any longer therein." (Romans 6:1, 2;) that they are "planted together in the likeness of the death" of Christ; (verse 5;) that their "old man is crucified with him," the body of sin being destroyed, so that henceforth they do not serve sin; that, being dead with Christ, they are free from sin; (verses (6, 7;) that they are "dead unto sin, and alive unto God;" (verse 11;) that "sin hath no more dominion over them," who are "not under the law, but under grace;" but that these, "being free from sin, are become the servants of righteousness." (Vs. 14, 18.) The very least which can be implied in these words, is, that the persons spoken of therein, namely, all real Christians, or believers in Christ, are made free from outward sin. And the same freedom, which St. Paul here expresses in such variety of phrases, St. Peter expresses in that one:

"He that hath suffered in the flesh, hath ceased from sin — that he no longer should live to the desires of men, but to the will of God." (1 Peter 4:1, 2:) For this ceasing from sin, if it be interpreted in the lowest sense, as regarding only the outward behavior, must denote the ceasing from the outward act, from any outward transgression of the law. But most express are the well known words of St. John, in the third chapter of his First Epistle, verse 8, etc.: "He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: And he cannot sin because he is born of God." And those in the fifth: (Verse 18:) "We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keeps himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.'" Indeed it is said, this means only, He sins not willfully; or he doth not commit sin habitually; or, not as other men do; or, not as he did before. But by whom is this said? by St. John? No: There is no such word in the text; nor in the whole chapter; nor in all his Epistle; nor in any part of his writings whatsoever. Why then, the best way to answer a bold assertion, is, simply to deny it. And if any man can prove it from the word of God, let him bring forth his strong reasons. [A reason to accept that even the perfect may sin or effect sin by disobedience to the voice of God or rashly swayed by the provocation of the flesh, Satan or the World Spirit comes from John himself who notes that when we sin we have an advocate with the Father who can buy it back (propitiation, is the word the KJV uses) so that in the eyes of God it effectively never occurred and the clean perfection is restored in all reality and truth. ed. com.] And a sort of reason there is, which has been frequently brought to support these strange assertions, drawn from the examples recorded in the word of God: "What!" say they, "did not Abraham himself commit sin, — prevaricating, and denying his wife? Did not Moses commit sin, when he provoked God at the waters of strife? Nay, to produce one for all, did not even David, 'the man after God's own heart' commit sin, in the matter of Uriah the Hittite; even murder and adultery?" It is most sure he did. All this is true. But what is it you would infer from hence: It may be granted, First, that David, in the general course of his life, was one of the holiest men among the Jews; and, secondly, that the holiest men among the Jews did sometimes commit sin. But if you would hence infer, that all Christians do and must commit sin as long as they live; this consequence we utterly deny: It will never follow from those premises.

Those who argue thus, seem never to have considered that declaration of our Lord: (Matthew 11:11:) "Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: Notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he." I fear, indeed, there are some who have imagined "the kingdom of heaven," here, to mean the kingdom of glory, as if the Son of God had just discovered to us, that the least glorified saint in heaven is greater than any man upon earth! To mention this is sufficiently to refute it. There can, therefore, no doubt be made, but "the kingdom of heaven," here, (as in the following verse, where it is said to be taken by force) or, "the kingdom of God," as St. Luke expresses it, — is that kingdom of God on earth whereunto all true believers in Christ, all real Christians, belong. In these words, then, our Lord declares two things: First, that before his coming in the flesh among all the children of men there had not been one greater than, John the Baptist, whence it evidently follows, that neither Abraham, David, nor any Jew, was greater than John. Our Lord, secondly, declares, that he which is least in the kingdom of God (in that kingdom which he came to set up on earth, and which the violent now began to take by force) is greater than he: — Is not a greater Prophet, as some have interpreted the word; for this is palpably false in fact, but greater in the grace of God, and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore we cannot measure the privileges of real Christians by those formerly given to the Jews. Their; "ministration," (or dispensation,) we allow, "was glorious," but ours "exceeds in glory." So that whosoever would bring down the Christian dispensation to the Jewish standard, whosoever cleans up the examples of weakness, recorded in the Law and the Prophets, and thence infers that they who have "put on Christ" are endued with no greater strength, doth greatly err, neither "knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God."

But are there not assertions in Scripture which prove the same thing, if it cannot be inferred from those examples? Does not the Scripture say expressly, 'Even a just man sinneth seven times a day?'" I answer, No: The Scripture says no such thing. There is no such text in all the Bible. That which seems to be intended is the sixteenth verse of the twenty-fourth chapter of the Proverbs; the words of which are these: "A just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again." But this is quite another thing. For, First, the words "a day," are not in the text. So that if a just man fall seven times in his life, it is as much as is affirmed here. Secondly, here is no mention of falling into sin at all; what is here mentioned is, falling into temporal affliction. This plainly appears from the verse before, the words of which are these: "Lay not wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous; spoil not his resting place." It follows, "For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again; but the wicked shall fall into mischief." As if he had said, "God will deliver him out of his trouble; but when thou fallest, there shall be none to deliver thee."

"But, however, in other places," continue the objectors, "Solomon does assert plainly, 'There is no man that sinneth not;' (1 Kings 8:46; 2 Chronicles 6:36;) yea, 'There is not a just man upon earth that doeth good, and sinneth not.' (Ecclesiastes 7:20.)" I answer, Without doubt, thus it was in the days of Solomon. Yea, thus it was from Adam to Moses, from Moses to Solomon, and from Solomon to Christ. There was then no man that sinned not. Even from the day that sin entered into the world, there was not a just man upon earth that did good and sinned not, until the Son of God was manifested to take away our sins. It is unquestionably true, that "the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant." And that even so they (all the holy men of old, who were under the Jewish dispensation) were, during that infant state of the Church, in bondage under the elements of the world." "But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that they might receive the adoption of sons;" — that they might receive that "grace which is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel." (2 Timothy 1:10.) Now, therefore, they "are no more servants, but sons." So that, whatsoever was the case of those under the law, we may safely affirm with St. John, that, since the gospel was given, "he that is born of God sinneth not." It is of great importance to observe, and that more carefully than is commonly done, the wide difference there is between the Jewish and the Christian dispensation; and that ground of it which the same Apostle assigns in the seventh chapter of his Gospel. (Verses 38, etc.) After he had there related those words of our blessed Lord, "He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water," he immediately subjoins, "This spake he of the Spirit, — which they who should believe on him were afterwards to receive. For the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified." Now, the Apostle cannot mean here, (as some have taught,) that the miracle-working power of the Holy Ghost was not yet given. For this was given; our Lord had given it to all the Apostles, when he first sent them forth to preach the gospel. He then gave them power over unclean spirits to cast them out; power to heal the sick; yea, to raise the dead. But the Holy Ghost was not yet given in his sanctifying graces, as he was after Jesus was glorified. It was then when "he ascended up on high, and led captivity captive," that he "received" those "gifts for men, yea, even for the rebellious, that the Lord God might deal among them." And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, then first it was, that they who "waited for the promise of the Father" were made more than conquerors over sin by the Holy Ghost given unto them.

That this great salvation from sin was not given till Jesus was glorified, St. Peter also plainly testifies; where, speaking of his brethren in the flesh, as now "receiving the end of their faith, the salvation of their souls," he adds, (1 Peter 1:9, 10 etc.,) "Of which salvation the Prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace," that is, the gracious dispensation, "that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory," of the glorious salvation, "that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the Gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven;" viz., at the day of Pentecost, and so unto all generations, into the hearts of all true believers. On this ground, even "the grace which was brought unto them by the revelation of Jesus Christ," the Apostle might well build that strong exhortation, "Wherefore girding up the loins of your mind, — as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation."

Those who have duly considered these things must allow, that the privileges of Christians are in no wise to be measured by what the Old Testament records concerning those who were under the Jewish dispensation; seeing the fullness of time is now come; the Holy Ghost is now given; the great salvation of God is brought unto men, by the revelation of Jesus Christ. The kingdom of heaven is now set up on earth; concerning which the Spirit of God declared of old, (so far is David from being the pattern or standard of Christian perfection,) "He that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord before them." (Zechariah 12:8.) If, therefore, you would prove that the Apostle's words, "He that is born of God sinneth not," are not to be understood according to their plain, natural, obvious meaning, it is from the New Testament you are to bring your proofs, else you will fight as one that beateth the air. And the first of these which is usually brought is taken from the examples recorded in the New Testament. "The Apostles themselves," it is said, "committed sin; nay, the greatest of them, Peter and Paul: St. Paul, by his sharp contention with Barnabas; and St. Peter, by his dissimulation at Antioch." Well: Suppose both Peter and Paul did then commit sin; what is it you would infer from hence? that all the other Apostles committed sin sometimes? There is no shadow of proof in this. Or would you thence infer, that all the other Christians of the apostolic age committed sin? Worse and worse: This is such an inference as, one would imagine, a man in his senses could never have thought of. Or will you argue thus: If two of the Apostles did once commit sin, then all other Christians, in all ages, do and will commit sin as long as they live? "Alas, my brother! a child of common understanding would be ashamed of such reasoning as this. Least of all can you with any color of argument infer, that any man must commit sin at all. No: God forbid we should thus speak! No necessity of sinning was laid upon them. The grace of God was surely sufficient for them. And it is sufficient for us at this day. With the temptation which fell on them, there was a way to escape; as there is to every soul of man in every temptation. So that whosoever is tempted to any sin, need not yield; for no man is tempted above that he is able to bear. [We do not necessarily agree that Paul’s contention with Barnabas was a sin, though it could have been and it would not have had lasting effect on that apostles perfect walk; we do believe that Peter’s dissimulation was sin because it was disobedience to God’s word given to him in a vision and was done out of fear of man, rather than fear of God, and therefore a sin in that regard, and should be considered as flawed part of the condition even in that perfect man. Perfect man because Peter repented and this proved an aspect of perfection that is granted to those who concede to the forgiving advocacy of their Savior, what Wesley has noted as a privilege of those who live in this age of Grace, the privilege to be sinless in the sight of God by forgiveness of a regrettable lapse of separation from He that is holy. ed. com.] "But St. Paul besought the Lord thrice, and yet he could not escape from his temptation." Let us consider his own words literally translated: "There was given to me a thorn to the flesh, an angel" (or messenger) "of Satan, to buffet me. Touching this, I besought the Lord thrice, that it" (or he) "might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: For my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in" these "my weaknesses, that the strength of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in weaknesses; — for when I am weak, then am I strong."

As this scripture is one of the strongholds of the patrons of sin, it may be proper to weigh it thoroughly. Let it be observed, then, First, it does by no means appear that this thorn, whatsoever it was, occasioned St. Paul to commit sin; much less laid him under any necessity of doing so. Therefore, from hence it can never be proved that any Christian must commit sin. [This is a perfect and excellent point as to the difference between affliction and weakness and sin. ed. com.] Secondly, the ancient Fathers inform us, it was bodily pain: — a violent headache, saith Tertullian; (De Pudic.;) to which both Chrysostom and St. Jerome agree. St. Cyprian expresses it, a little more generally, in these terms: "Many and grievous torments of the flesh and of the body." [It could have had something to do with his eyesight, which he makes allusion elsewhere, or a nerve disorder that hampered his ability to write which would have surely caused him distress. ed. com.} Thirdly, to this exactly agree the Apostle's own words: — "A thorn to the flesh, to smite, beat, or buffet me." "My strength is made perfect in weakness" — Which same word occurs no less than four times in these two verses only. Fourthly, whatsoever it was, it could not be either inward or outward sin. It could no more be inward stirrings, than outward expressions of pride, anger, or lust. This is manifest, beyond all possible exception, from the words that immediately follow: "Most gladly will I glory in" these "my weaknesses, that the strength of Christ may rest upon me." What! Did he glory in pride, in anger, in lust? Was it through these weaknesses that the strength of Christ rested upon him? He goes on: "Therefore I take pleasure in weaknesses; for when I am weak, then am I strong;" that is, when I am weak in body, then am I strong in spirit. But will any man dare to say, "When I am weak by pride or lust, then am I strong in spirit?" [We must agree, this is unthinkable and downright stupid. ed. com.] I call you all to record this day, who find the strength of Christ resting upon you, can you glory in anger, or pride, or lust? Can you take pleasure in these infirmities? Do these weaknesses make you strong? Would you not leap into hell, were it possible, to escape them? Even by yourselves, then, judge, whether the Apostle could glory and take pleasure in them. Let it be, lastly, observed, that this thorn was even to St. Paul above thirteen years before he wrote this Epistle; which itself was wrote several years before he finished his course. So that he had, after this, a long course to run, many battles to fight, many victories to gain, and great increase to receive in all the gifts of God, and the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Therefore, from any spiritual weakness (if such had been) which he at that time felt, we could by no means infer that he was never made strong; that Paul the aged, the father in Christ, still labored under the same weaknesses; that he was in no higher state till the day of his death. From all which it appears, that this instance of St. Paul is quite foreign to the question, and does in nowise clash with the assertion of St John, "He that is born of God sinneth not."

"But does not St. James directly contradict this? His words are, 'In many things we offend all:' (3:2) And is not offending the same as committing sin?" In this place, I allow it is: I allow the persons here spoken of did commit sin; yea, that they all committed many sins. But who are the persons here spoken of? Why, those many masters or teachers, whom God had not sent; (probably the same vain men who taught that faith without works [doctrine], which is so sharply reproved in the preceding chapter;) not the Apostle himself, nor any real Christian. That in the word we (used by a figure of speech common in all other, as well as the inspired, writings) the Apostle could not possibly include himself or any other true believer, appears evident. First, from the same word in the ninth verse: — "Therewith," saith he, "bless we God, and therewith curse we men. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing" True; but not out of the mouth of the Apostle, nor of anyone who is in Christ a new creature. Secondly, from the verse immediately preceding the text, and manifestly connected with it: "My brethren, be not many masters," (or teachers,) "knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation." "For in many things we offend all." We! Who? Not the Apostles, nor true believers; but they who knew they should receive the greater condemnation, because of those many offenses. But this could not be spoke of the Apostle himself, or of any who trod in his steps; seeing there is no condemnation to them who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." Nay, thirdly, the very verse itself proves, that "we offend all," cannot be spoken either of all men, or of all Christians: For in it there immediately follows the mention of a man who offends not, as the we first mentioned did; from whom, therefore, he is professedly contradistinguished, and pronounced a perfect man.

So clearly does St. James explain himself, and fix the meaning of his own words. Yet, lest anyone should still remain in doubt, St. John, writing many years after St. James, puts the matter entirely out of dispute, by the express declarations above recited. But here a fresh difficulty may arise: How shall we reconcile St. John with himself? In one place he declares, "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin;" and again, — "We know that he which is born of God sinneth not:" And yet in another he saith, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us;" and again, — "If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."

As great a difficulty as this may at first appear, it vanishes away, if we observe,

First, that the tenth verse fixes the sense of the eighth: "If we say we have no sin," in the former, being explained by, "If we say we have not sinned," in the latter verse. Secondly, that the point under present consideration is not whether we have or have not sinned heretofore; and neither of these verses asserts that we do sin or commit sin now. [This follows the same point Wesley was making about James’ argument when he used we as sinners he is speaking of us in our former un-regenerated condition and of mankind in general. So, he also says John is talking here of mankind as sinners and that we were once among the sinners and un-regenerated. Of this distinction generally agrees, but as stated above we are not able to be as dogmatic as Wesley was that the ‘perfect’ heart and well kempt spirit of the Bride cannot possibly fall or commit a transgression or sin when provoked, even bushwhacked, by our flesh, Satan, or the world. This is why even the ‘perfect’ prove their perfection when they are still able to recognize and appeal to the advocacy and saving forgiveness needed by Christ in times of needed repentance. This is shown by John, who insists that righteous and pure living is possible and needed, when he says that when the righteous do sin they have an advocate with the Father. Ed. Com.]

Thirdly, that the ninth verse explains both the eighth and tenth. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness:" As if he had said, "I have before affirmed, 'The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin; but let no man say, I need it not; I have no sin to be cleansed from. If we say that we have no sin, that we have not sinned, we deceive ourselves and make God a liar: But 'if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just,' not only 'to forgive our sins,' but also 'to cleanse us from all unrighteousness:' that we may 'go and sin no more.'" St. John, therefore, is well consistent with himself, as well as with the other holy writers; as will yet more evidently appear, if we place all his assertions touching this matter in one view: He declares, First, the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin. Secondly, no man can say, I have not sinned, I have no sin to be cleansed from. Thirdly, but God is ready both to forgive our past sins, and to save us from them for the time to come. Fourthly, "These things write I unto you," saith the Apostle, "that you may not sin. But if any man" should "sin," or have sinned, (as the word might be rendered,) he need not continue in sin; seeing "we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" Thus far all is clear. But lest any doubt should remain in a point of so vast importance, the Apostle resumes this subject in the third chapter, and largely explains his own meaning: "Little children," saith he, "let no man deceive you:" (As though I had given any encouragement to those that continue in sin:) "He that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin: For his seed remaineth in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil." (Verses 7-10.) Here the point, which till then might possibly have admitted of some doubt in weak minds, is purposely settled by the last of the inspired writers, and decided in the clearest manner. In conformity, therefore, both to the doctrine of St. John, and to the whole tenor of the New Testament, we fix this conclusion, — A Christian is so far perfect, as not to commit sin.

This is the glorious privilege of every Christian; yea, though he be but a babe in Christ. But it is only of those who are strong in the Lord, "and have overcome the wicked one," or rather of those who "have known him that is from the beginning," that it can be affirmed they are in such a sense perfect, as, secondly, to be freed from evil thoughts and evil tempers. First, from evil or sinful thoughts. But here let it be observed, that thoughts concerning evil are not always evil thoughts; that a thought concerning sin, and a sinful thought, are widely different. A man, for instance, may think of a murder which another has committed; and set this is no evil or sinful thought. So our blessed Lord himself doubtless thought of, or understood, the thing spoken by the devil, when he said, "All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me." Yet had he no evil or sinful thought; nor indeed was capable of having any. And even hence it follows, that neither have real Christians:   Therefore, if He was free from evil or sinful thoughts so are they likewise.

And, indeed, whence should evil thoughts proceed, in the servant who is as his Master? "Out of the heart of man" (if at all) "proceed evil thoughts." (Mark 7:21.) If, therefore, his heart be no longer evil, then evil thoughts can no longer proceed out of it. If the tree were corrupt, so would be the fruit: But the tree is good; the fruit, therefore, is good also; (Matthew 12:33;) our Lord himself bearing witness, "Every good tree bringeth forth good fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit," as "a corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit." (Matthew 7:17, 18.) The same happy privilege of real Christians, St. Paul asserts from his own experience. "The weapons of our warfare," saith he, "are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong-holds; casting down imaginations," (or reasonings rather, for so the word logismouv signifies; all the reasonings of pride and unbelief against the declarations, promises, or gifts of God,) "and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." [Here and what follows, shows the state at which the ‘Reformation’, revival of knowledge and rebuttal against the great apostasy of ignorance in the Church had gotten evolved. The evangelists of the 18th Century, and especially Wesley, had opened up the notion of Christian perfection and taken extreme criticism and harassment from the religious powers such as the Bishop of London and leaders of the highest leaders in the Anglican and Presbyterian Churches in particular. But they still had not understood some things concerning the perfection of the Bride and how it comes about and is maintained and in the common believer. There is a certain laundering that must go on, that the perfect must submit to, which is part of the perfect heart, if they will be perfect. The symbolic act of washing the feet of His disciples at the Last Supper was done along these lines, was it not? If you will be clean all over or perfect, he told Peter, you have to let me wash your feet.  Here in Wesley’s discussion about the perfection of thought is a case in point as to how far the understanding of perfection, so necessary to the day of the Bride, had gone to this point in the restoration of knowledge among the churches. He had not rightly considered that many thoughts come to us the very same way they came to Jesus. There are three opposing voices to the Spirit, our flesh, Satan and the World. Wesley rightly understood and always declared that the only valid voice upon which to act was the Holy Ghost. But thoughts come to us from other voices, we must learn to distrust our own thoughts. Deny Satan’s voice. And, shun the voice of the World. Wesley misses the point that if we are called to bring into captivity all thoughts to the obedience of Christ, that everyone, even the ‘perfect’ must have thoughts not captivated by the mind of Christ and therefore they must be corralled. We may get thoughts from all over the place. The perfect will know what to do with every thought and how to bring them under Christ’s rule. ed. com]

And as Christians indeed are freed from evil thoughts, so are they, Secondly, from evil tempers. This is evident from the above-mentioned declaration of our Lord himself: "The disciple is not above his Master; but everyone that is perfect shall be as his Master." He had been delivering, just before, some of the sublimest doctrines of Christianity, and some of the most grievous to flesh and blood. "I say unto you, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you; — and unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek, offer also the other." Now these he well knew the world would not receive; and therefore immediately adds, "Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch?" As if he had said, "Do not confer with flesh and blood touching these things, — with men void of spiritual discernment, the eyes of whose understanding God hath not opened, — lest they and you perish together." In the next verse he removes the two grand objections with which these wise fools meet us at every turn: "These things are too grievous to be born;" or, "They are too high to be attained;" — saying, "'The disciple is not above his Master; 'therefore, if I have suffered, be content to tread in my steps. And doubt ye not then, but I will fulfill my word. 'For everyone that is perfect, shall be as his Master.'" But his Master was free from all sinful tempers. [If Wesley here means that Christ was free from anger and showing his anger he is not in the least way correct. Temper or anger is not always sinful. Wesley needs to be more specific here. Jesus was angry at the money changers and showed it to the point of acting violently on it when He fashioned a scourge, kicked over their money tables and whipped them out of the temple. He had lost his temper, or whatever you want to call it because he said the zeal of my father’s house has eaten me up. The bible says be angry but sin not. Sometimes we do not have a clear knowledge of what is sin and what is not. Wesley was too methodical and even legalistic in his view of sin, which is to narrow and not broad enough at the same time. It does not mean, either, that everyone is immune from attack and succumbing even briefly to that assault. We are told that only the dead are free from sin, and Jesus tells us we must die daily, pick up our cross day by day, so we are never ‘dead’ for good, so to speak, we must ‘die’ daily. So we must be freed from sin daily, and in this on a particular day even the ‘perfect’, who are perfect by dying as symbolized by picking up the cross, may not be sufficiently dead to some temptation of provocation and thereby be found in the grip of some sin. Therefore, a spirit of repentance must be present at all times, for all their lives, even in the perfect. This, matter of a spirit of repentance, ready to be activated, Wesley did not recognize or comprehend in his otherwise excellent doctrines of perfection. ed. com.] So, therefore, is his disciple, even every real Christian. Every one of these can say, with St. Paul, "I am crucified with Christ: Nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me:" — Words that manifestly describe a deliverance from inward as well as from outward sin. This is expressed both negatively, I live not; (my evil nature, the body of sin, is destroyed;) and positively, Christ liveth in me; and, therefore, all that is holy, and just, and good. Indeed, both these, Christ liveth in me, and I live not, are inseparably connected; for so what communion hath light with darkness, or Christ with Belial?"

He, therefore, who lives in true believers, hath "purified their hearts by faith;" insomuch that everyone that hath Christ in him the hope of glory, "purifies himself, even as He is pure." (1 John 3:3.) He is purified from pride; for Christ was lowly of heart. He is pure from self-will or desire; for Christ desired only to do the will of his Father, and to finish his work. And he is pure from anger, in the common sense of the word; for Christ was meek and gentle, patient and long suffering. I say, in the common sense of the word; for all anger is not evil. We read of our Lord himself, (Mark 3:5) that he once "looked round with anger.” But with what kind of anger? The next word shows, oullupoumenov, being at the same time, "grieved for the hardness of their hearts." So then he was angry at the sin, and in the same moment grieved for the sinners; angry or displeased at the offense, but sorry for the offenders. With anger, yea, hatred, he looked upon the thing; with grief and love upon the persons. Go, thou that art perfect, and do likewise. Be thus angry, and thou sinnest not; feeling a displacency at every offense against God, but only love and tender compassion to the offender.

Thus doth Jesus "save his people from their sins:" And not only from outward sins, but also from the sins of their hearts; from evil thoughts, and from evil tempers. — "True," say some, "we shall thus be saved from our sins, but not till death; not in this world." But how are we to reconcile this with the express word of St. John? — "Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have holiness in the day of judgment. Because as he is, so are we in this world." The Apostle here, beyond all contradiction, speaks of himself and other living Christians, of whom (as though he had foreseen this very evasion, and set himself to overturn it from the foundation) he flatly affirms, that not only at or after death, but in this world, they are as their Master. (1 John 4:17.)

Exactly agreeable to this are his words in the first chapter of this Epistle, (verse 5, etc.,) "God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we walk in the light, — we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin." And again: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Now, it is evident, the Apostle here also speaks of a deliverance wrought in this world. For he saith not, the blood of Christ will cleanse at the hour of death, or in the day of judgment, but, it "cleanses," at the time present, "us," living Christians, "from all sin." And it is equally evident, that if any sin remain, we are not cleansed from all sin. If any unrighteousness remain in the soul, it is not cleansed from all unrighteousness. Neither let any sinner; against his own soul say, that this relates to justification only, or the cleansing us from the guilt of sin; First, because this is confounding together what the Apostle clearly distinguishes, who mentions first, to forgive us our sins, and then to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Secondly, because this is asserting justification by works, in the strongest sense possible; it is making all inward as well as outward holiness necessarily previous to justification. For if the cleansing here spoken of is no other than the cleansing us from the guilt of sin, then we are not cleansed from guilt, that is, are not justified, unless on condition of "walking in the light, as he is in the light." It remains, then, that Christians are saved in this world from all sin, from all unrighteousness; that they are now in such a sense perfect, as not to commit sins [This is a good point: we are perfect in that we are freed so we do not have to sin anymore. This does not, however, mean or suggest that we can’t fall anymore, and when the perfect do fall they have an ongoing purifying advocate if they are faithful to recognize, confess and repent of that transgression, sin or imperfection. If they do not confess and repent they will remain imperfect. ed. com.] and to be freed from evil thoughts and evil tempers.

Thus hath the Lord fulfilled the things he spake by his holy Prophets, which have been since the world began; — by Moses in particular, saying, (Deuteronomy 30:6) I "will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul;" — by David, crying out, "Create in me a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me;" — and most remarkably by Ezekiel, in those words: "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: From all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; — and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. — Ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. I will also save you from all your uncleanness. — Thus saith the Lord God, In the day that I shall have cleansed you from all your iniquities, — the Heathen shall know that I the Lord build the ruined places; — I the Lord have spoken it, and I will do it." (Ezekiel 36:25 etc.)

"Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved," both in the Law and in the prophets, and having the prophetic word confirmed unto us in the Gospel, by our blessed Lord and his Apostles; "let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God." "Let us fear, lest" so many "promises being made us of entering into his rest," which he that hath entered into, has ceased from his own works, "any of us should come short of it." "This one thing let us do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, let us press toward the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus;" crying unto him day and night, till we also are "delivered from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the sons of God!"