If any one take up this little volume with the idea of finding a theory of Perfection expounded or vindicated, he will be disappointed. My object has been a very different one. What I have wished to do is to go with my reader through the Word of God, noting the principal passages in which the word Perfect occurs, and seeking in each case from the context to find what the impression is the word was meant to convey. It is only when we have yielded ourselves simply and prayerfully to allow the words of Scripture to have their full force, that we are on the right track for combining the different aspects of truth into one harmonious whole.
Among the thoughts which have specially been brought home to me in these meditations, and in which I trust I may secure the assent of my reader, the following are the chief.
1. There is a Perfection of which Scripture speaks as possible and attainable.—There maybe, there is, great diversity of opinion as to how the term is to be denned. But there can be only one opinion as to the fact that God asks and expects His children to be perfect with Him; that He promises it as His own work; and that Scripture speaks of some as having been perfect before Him, and having served Him with a perfect heart. Scripture speaks of a Perfection that is at once our duty and our hope.
2. To know what this Perfection is we must begin by accepting the command, and obeying it with our whole heart.—Our natural tendency is the very opposite. We want to discuss and define what Perfection is, to understand how the command can be reconciled with our assured conviction that no man is perfect, to provide for all the dangers we are sure are to be found in the path of Perfection.
This is not God's way. Jesus said, 'J£ any man will do, he shall know.' The same principle holds good in all human attainment. It is only he who has accepted the command Be perfect in adoring submission and obedience, who can hope to know what the Perfection is that God asks and gives. Until the Church is seen prostrate before God, seeking this blessing as her highest good, it will be no wonder if the very word Perfection, instead of being an attraction and a joy, is a cause of apprehension and anxiety, of division and offence. God increase the number of those who, in childlike humility, take the word from His own lips, as a living seed, in the assurance that it will bring forth much fruit.
3. Perfection is no arbitrary demand; in the very nature of things God can ask nothing less.— And this, whether we think of Him or of ourselves.
H we think of Him, who as God has created the universe for Himself and His glory, who seeks and alone is able to fill it with His happiness and love, we see how impossible it is for God to allow aught else to share man's heart with Himself. God must be all and have all. As Lawgiver and Judge, He dare not be content with aught less than absolute legal perfection. As Redeemer and Father it equally becomes Him to claim nothing less than a real childlike perfection. God must have all.
If we think of ourselves, the call to perfection is no less imperative. God is such an Infinite, Spiritual Good, the soul is so incapable of receiving or knowing or enjoying Him except as it gives itself wholly to Him, that for our own sakes God's love can demand of us nothing less than a perfect heart.
4. Perfection, as the highest aim of what God in His great power would do for us, is something so Divine, Spiritual, and Heavenly, that it is only the soul that yields itself very tenderly to the leading of the Holy Spirit that can hope to know its blessedness.
God hath wrought into every human heart a deep desire after perfection. That desire is manifested in the admiration which all men have for excellence in the different objects or pursuits to which they attach value. In the believer who yields himself wholly to God this desire fastens itself upon God's wonderful promises, and inspires a prayer like that of M'Cheyne: 'Lord, make me as holy as a pardoned sinner can be made.' The more we learn to long for this full conformity to God's will, for the consciousness that we are always pleasing to Him, we shall see that all this must come as a gift direct from heaven, as the full outbirth in us of the life of God, the inbreathing of the Holy Spirit of Jesus in those who are wholly yielded to His indwelling and rule. Trusting ever less to men's thoughts and teachings, we shall retire much into the secret of God's presence, in the assurance that the more we see God's face, and hear the secret voice that comes direct from Him, Be Perfect, the more will the Holy Spirit dwelling within us unfold the heavenly fulness and power of the words, and make them, as God's words, bring and give and work the very thing He speaks.
In the hope that these simple meditations may help some of God's children to go on to Perfection, I commit them and myself to the Blessed Father's teaching and keeping.
ANDREW MURRAY. Wellington, 1893.