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

The Absolute Right Unknown by the Masses.


THE constantly recurring assertion that perfection in love, loyalty, and heart purity cannot exist in this life, and that we must be marred by depravity till we are glorified will please every agnostic, every skeptic, and every enemy of Christ. They will all take off their hats and do obeisance to the Christian minister who boldly proclaims that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a splendid ideal, which cannot be realized in the perfect deliverance of believers from all depravity in this wicked world, where it is most needed. Its effect on souls hungering for purity of heart must be discouraging, and, I fear, disastrous. Many will be bewildered, many misled, and not a few disheartened to the extent of abandoning the attempt to secure the prize of a heart

Perfect and right and pure and good,
A copy, Lord, of thine.

Again, there is a perpetual confounding of "the absolute and abstract right" with the practical and concrete right. While showing that Christians cannot be perfect till they have a very large intellectual development, he asks this question:

Will anybody claim, either for himself or another, that he can in this world always know precisely what the absolute and abstract right is — that right which lies calmly behind all the blunders and partial knowledges of the creature, as the infinite blue lies back of the floating clouds and the changing planets?
I answer for myself and all the children passing my window on the way to school, "Yes, we all know." For these changeless principles, called by Whewell "immutable morality," are few indeed. They are the axioms of pure ethics, as follows: Is it right to intend to injure anybody? Is it right to hate a benefactor? Is it right to punish innocence? We all answer, "No! No!" We and all the human family say, "No!" Such questions as these do not stand in the way of Christian perfection even in the kindergarten. Is it right for me to shoot my neighbor's dog?" "Yes" and "No" the children say. "Yes, if the dog is mad," and "No, if you are mad." We have now struck the questions of practical life called by Whewell "mutable morality;" the answer must depend on circumstances to be considered by our differing judgments. Two men loving God with all their hearts, using all the light available, may cast different ballots into the ballot box or in the jury room. The only question is, " Have I done my best in the fear of God and with an eye to his glory?"