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be born into the world after the whole of what Christ had done and suffered was past. The superiority which John possessed, over all preceding prophets, was not that he was born some centuries posterior to them, but that he was more enlightened, and enjoyed a nearer view of Messiah’s glories, than what was then vouchsafed.
3dly. There will be in all a measure of attainment, termed the perfect man, of which the standard is Messiah himself.
The Platonic idea of initiation into the sacred mysteries, has been too hastily adopted by some, to explain the meaning of the words, “ to be perfected, perfect man, perfect,” as they occur in the sacred volume. But it is a thing very far from likely, that the unerring spirit of God should suggest to his servants for truths, the mistaken reveries of Plato. Quid lux cum tenebris ?) On the other hand, when the terms perfection, maile pe? fect, have been applied to Christ, there has been much caution, and many limitations employed (which is an evidence of the perplexity in which some commentators have found themselves) in order to stand free of the charge of speaking of Messiah in any way which might be thought derogatory to his character as the son of God. But Christ in his assumption of the human nature, became a real man, and subject to that condition, which, as to him, involved in it not any sinful, but
natural imperfection. The various states of man, from infancy to manhood, as they imply growth of body, expansion of powers, and the acquisition of knowledge, imply also imperfections, which each successive state is naturally formed to remove. The inexperience of the infant is remedied by the brightening dawn that is poured in upon the child; and this again is rendered more perfect by the farther advances to the period of youth, until, in manhood, the sun of his
years has reached his meridian, To this, order of things in human nature Christ submitted, for it is observed of him, that he grew in wisdom as well as in stature.
There are several passages where perfection, made perfect, occur, to which this passage under review
be considered as a key. The restoration of the saints is not a single act, and done at once. Its line of progression, for the most part, extends through years, before it reaches the destined perfection. There is a pleróma, or fulness, which Messiah exhibits in
his person, as the standard at which all his followHeb.2./7. ers are to arrive, for “ he behoved to be made like
unto his brethren in all things.” This is also termed the stature-measurement of the fulness of Christ, and applied to every individual of his mys
tical body the church. “ To stand complete in Col.4.12 all the will of God,” is to reach the summit of
that fulness which God in his wisdom has decreed. It pleased the Father that in Christ this whole pleróma should dwell. At the summit of it his human nature now is, and it is the sublime point to which all the redeemed people, according to their measure, expect to attain. This whole line, from its beginning on earth, to its final termination in glory, at the last day, is termed salvation ; and because Messiah trod the whole first, and thereby led the way to us, he is called Archegos Heb.2.10 Soterias, the precursor of salvation. This line, or course to be gone over, is termed by Messiah himself the path of life ; and when he says in the 16th Psalm, “ thou wilt make me to know the vill, path of life," he does not mean the theoretical knowledge of it, for that, as being the son of God, he must possess; but it is (which is a very common acceptation of the term in Hebtew) the experimental knowledge, the actual treading of the path, a task which, antecedent to his death, was to his human nature altogether unknown. Advancing along the same road through life, through death, and through the interval betwixt death and the resurrection, till every decreed honour is bestowed, till the believer not only sees, but as the ultimatum of the destined standard, is made like unto Christ; all this is termed a a growing up to him in every respect
who is the head. Eph. iv. 15. This view gives a consistent meaning to two sentences, which otherwise are not so easy to be understood. The first is where St. Paul speaks of knowing the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge. To know the love of Christ, is, in the Hebrew propriety, to have that actual experiment, which surpasses any conception we could antecedently have formed of it. The second,“ that ye may be filled with all the fulness of God." This version of the words seems to say, that finite beings may contain what belongs to an infinite. A view of the original puts an end to the wonder. The pleróma of God is not what he is in himself; but his decreed pleróma as intended to be given to man, and expresses the whole of that glory, honour, and immortality to which the saints are appointed to arise. When literally rendered, it runs in this manner; “ that ye may be filled up to the whole pleróma of,” i. e. the fulness purposed by God. Eph. ii. 19.
While on earth, and sustained by the nutriment of the word, we are still growing and advancing from strength to strength. The perfection given, in the event of death, is, that the renewing of the inward man, by external means, is completed. The knowledge we now possess of the son of God, the certainty and brightness of view, in which the object of our faith appears, a faith unmixed with any thing of gloom or doubt,
is our perfect man. Now this perfect man implies
In this way perhaps it is that Christ calls him-