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

The Title and the Contents.

THE title of the book under criticism is Growth in Holiness Toward Perfection. Mark, it is not to, but toward. Mark again, it is not "to Christian perfection," but toward absolute human perfection, or manhood perfection, when we shall be raised from the dead and be glorified, soul and body. There is no collusion between this and Wesleyanism. We, who believe in the resurrection of the body, expect and long for this absolute perfection.

The title is not Growth in Holiness unto Christian Perfection, the theory of gradualism advocated by some Methodists, with whom it is a theory only, and not an experience and testimony. The title does admit a lower perfection up to light, or a progressive series of sanctifications up to knowledge, never reaching in this life the extinction of so-called original sin or depravity. Here it antagonizes the Wesleyan doctrine, which is growth in holiness unto Christian perfection through entire sanctification attainable by faith. This antagonism appears throughout the book on nearly every page, leaving a very distinct negative impression on the reader's mind. Thus we, in behalf of Wesley, take issue with this book, the first sentence of which is a quotation from me seemingly indorsing it. I can but wish that the author had candidly quoted the next brief sentence of only nineteen words: "But respecting his heart he may say 'wholly sanctified' throughout the conscious and the unconscious realm of soul and spirit." This shows in what sense I teach sanctification up to knowledge. I very much regret that I have not the two qualifications which the author has publicly announced as necessary in the man who undertakes to criticise his book adversely. "He must be in the prime of life and well trained in the philosophy of the day, and fully abreast of current discussions."

A man at seventy-one is not considered by presiding elders and bishops in his prime, unless he is an episcopos. As for philosophy, I have endeavored to give earnest heed to Paul's inspired caveat, "Beware lest any man spoil your philosophy." This is the only mention of philosophy in the Bible.