Principles and Perfection

Heb. 6:1---' Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection.'

There cannot be growth apart from life, nor perfection without the first principles of Christ. We need to remember two things---that Christian life must have a beginning, and that the beginning is not the end. The rudimentary principles of our calling, as set forth in the first two verses of the chapter where the text is found, are fivefold---repentance which renounces, faith which embraces, resurrection which assures us that this life is not all, eternal judgment which assures us that this life determines all, and as central of the five the doctrine of baptism and the laying on of hands, which is, in effect, the doctrine of the great fact of the Holy Spirit. These five facts are also set forth as experience in two following verses. Enlightenment answers to repentance, the heavenly gift of faith, the Holy Spirit to the reality of the doctrine, the good Word of God to the resurrection, and the power of the age to come to the eternal judgment.

" When God made man," says Hans Andersen, " He gave him five kisses, five fiery kisses, which are known as his senses," and singularly enough, these principles of the life of Christ seem to be their spiritual counterpart. That is almost suggested in the last verse of the previous chapter. Enlightenment is seeing, receiving the heavenly gift is tasting, the hand resting upon us is touching, the impact of the good Word of God is hearing, and the power of the age to come is like an impalpable but pungent-smelling fragrance.

But the beginning is not the end. We must advance from these principles. They are but the alphabet which will enable us to form words, the railway which will make possible the journey, the blossom which may mature into fruit. There can be no language, or process, or harvest, without these principles, but if we do not leave them life is frustrate, and their very purpose is denied. Yet such is the paradox of the Christian life that the more we leave them the more we cling to them, just as the building rising from the foundation rests on it the more tenaciously. " We must never leave the foundation," says Calvin, " and yet to be always laying it would be ridiculous." The grown man leaves the milk diet for solid food, but that does not mean that he is never to have a glass of milk and enjoy it.

So ' let us bear ourselves forward,' having our senses exercised by reason of use. All the Spirit-born are Spirit-borne, but there is need on our part for decision and for determined purpose. We must not allow the trivial things of time to arrest us.

There is a perfection necessary to the start of the saintly life, an adjustment of the soul to the end in view. The babe may be a perfect babe, but ' the man that never grew up ' is not a perfect man. Peter Pan is a delightful little figure in Kensington Gardens, but he is mythical in real life and in the Church of God. There is a perfection that precedes growth as well as a perfection that results from it. Should the early perfection be marred the progress is arrested, and there is no hope until the joint is set or the fracture healed. It is idle to attempt to go on to a fuller perfection with a broken leg. This adjustment is the open secret in holiness which is often ' hid from the wise and prudent, and revealed unto babes.'

There are also many perfections on the way to the ultimate. A builder may leave a house perfect as to the plan, but the decorator will say, " Go ahead and go, I will finish." In his turn the decorator may pronounce the house perfect, but the furnisher will say, " You must go on still "; and when he has done his best the artist will pronounce judgment and say that it will take months to tone its crude-ness, while the gardener will declare that it will be years before the house can have a perfect setting. So we advance in the Christian life from one perfection to another, not as though we had already attained, either were already perfect.

In the Anointed One, timothy maranatha