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A Criticism of Dr. James Mudge's "Growth in Holiness Toward Perfection"
X.

Christian Perfection not in the Articles of Religion.


IN his chapter on perfection, after quoting several different meanings, mostly of ideal perfection and not of evangelical, he says: "The Articles of Religion say nothing about it, although it is declared on all sides to be the chief and most distinctive doctrine of Methodism." This argument from the silence of our Articles of Religion, incidentally made, is so transparently sophistical, that we are surprised that a man with so good a reputation for truth seeking, candor, and fairness in argument should have used it even by incidental mention. For he knows that our Articles of Religion include only a part of Methodist doctrine. They omit the inspiration of the Scriptures, the decalogue, the Lord's day, the immortality of the soul, and the eternal punishment of the wicked. These essentials of orthodoxy, together with eschatology, do not appearing our Articles of Religion; nor does that fundamental peculiarity of Methodism, first in its historical evolution, and, as I believe, first in importance to a vital spiritual experience, the direct witness of the Spirit to the adoption of the penitent believer. How much weight would the plea of the silence of our Articles of Religion on the doctrine of the destiny of the wicked have with an ecclesiastical jury trying a Methodist itinerant accused of heresy for publishing a book emphatically denying eternal punishment? This was one of the two counts on which Dr. Thomas was expelled. Our most vital doctrines are found in Wesley's Sermons, his Notes on the New Testament, and the Larger Minutes, and not alone in the twenty-four of the thirty-nine articles borrowed from the Anglican Church as an antique figurehead for the new ship — American Methodism.