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

A Kind of Second Blessing Needed by the Church.

THE author who speaks disparagingly of the "so-called second blessing" makes the following candid admission:

"We wholly agree with the good brethren who are leading in this movement, that the great mass of the members of our churches are in a very unsatisfactory condition and need a further work of purification wrought upon their hearts; that it is their privilege and duty to be living, day by day, a life without condemnation and with the fullness of love governing all their words and actions. We further agree that, in order for them to reach this most desirable state, a crisis must, in most cases, be brought on very similar to what they went through at conversion."

In promoting this crisis we are curious to know just what would be the target at which believers are to be directed to aim; for appropriating faith always grasps something definite. Shall we invite them to come forward to pray to God "to sanctify them wholly," after the style of Paul, or to seek a "further work of purification," after the fashion of J. S. Inskip, who used to invite those who believed in gradual sanctification to "come and get forward a good bit today?" Which aim is best adapted to call forth the strongest faith — definite heart purity in its completeness, or an indefinite further work of purification? The advice to those who seek "a further work of purification wrought in their hearts" is found on page 166: "They must repent of their sins" — good advice to the unregenerate and to backsliders. For "whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin." Then there must be consecration "a great deal more detailed and complete than when their sins were first pardoned." "It only remains to believe that God accepts that which is given." On what ground this faith rests is not stated, probably on the supposed perfectness of the consecration, which may be a great mistake. All is human thus far, for the work and testimony of the Holy Spirit are not mentioned as the basis of this faith of assurance. But does the seeker of "a further work of purification" receive this desired blessing? This is not asserted by this spiritual instructor, who says that "God receives the penitent offerer into a new and tenderer relation, and fully empowers him for all the service to which he will be called," not fully nor partially purifies. He leads the seeker of purity to empowerment and there leaves him. It would be profitable to know what this new relation to God is. It certainly is not sonship, for they were children of God when they began "a further purification." It cannot be holiness, for how could he know that he is perfectly holy up to knowledge, if neither the Holy Spirit nor consciousness is competent to testify to entire sanctification? Is it easier for either of them to testify to a partial work than it is to a complete work?