Preface and Prayer

If any one takes 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 may be, there is, great diversity of opinion as to how the term is to be defined. 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, “If any man will do, he will 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. May 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 is true whether we think of Him or of ourselves.

If we think of Him, who as God has created the universe for Himself and for 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 anything 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 anything 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 it all.

If we think of ourselves, the call to perfection is no less imperative. God is such an Infinite, Spiritual Good, and 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 has worked into every human heart a deep desire for 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 desire this full conformity to God’s will, for the consciousness that we are always pleasing to Him, we will see that all this must come as a gift direct from heaven. This gift is 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 will retire often 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 create 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.


Ever BLESSED FATHER! You have sent me a message by Your Beloved Son that I am to be perfect as You are perfect. Coming from You, O You incomprehensible and most glorious God, it means more than man can grasp. Coming to You, I ask that You will Yourself teach me what it means, create in me what it claims, give me what it promises.

My Father! I accept the word in the obedience of faith. I will yield my life to its rule. I will hide it in my heart as a living seed, in the assurance that there, deeper than thought or feeling, Your Holy Spirit can make it strike root and grow up.

And as I go through Your Word, to meditate on what it says of the path of the perfect, teach me, O my Father, to bring every thought of mine captive to the obedience of Christ, and to wait for that teaching of Your Holy Spirit which is so sure to the upright in heart. In Him, with whom You have sent me the message, give me the answer to this prayer also. Amen.