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

A Hopeful Sign.

N exceedingly hopeful sign of the times is the great spiritual hunger of the Church recently manifested under the labors of Dr. S. A. Keen, recently called to his reward. After a career of marked success in what he felicitously styled "pastoral evangelism," greatly strengthening the churches blessed with his pastoral services, he felt that he was called of God to a mission to world-wide Methodism. In this mission, largely to the preachers, he held a series of "Pentecostal Meetings" in about seventy Conferences of the Methodist Episcopal Church, including the General Conference of 1892. The cordial reception everywhere given him, and the interest evinced in his services by the preachers and the laity, revealed an earnest desire to realize in their experience the full heritage of the believer in the gift of the divine Comforter. The distinctive Wesleyan doctrine of entire sanctification was not made conspicuous, but was merged in the broad doctrine of the fullness of the Holy Spirit as the supply of the believers' utmost needs. This presentation of the theme was cordially welcomed by many who had been perplexed by the discussions which have distracted the Church relative to Christian perfection. Great numbers thronged the altar in response to his invitation to plant their feet on the uplands of an advanced spiritual experience, by receiving the personal Paraclete to dwell within them, endowing and equipping them for the most effective service.

It was the theory of Dr. Keen that the fullness of the Spirit would, in a great measure, clear away the difficulties that exist in some minds respecting Christian perfection as taught in our standards. In this we think he was right. It would certainly remove all the moral difficulties in the form of prejudice, and a shrinking from entire consecration, while it would so illumine the mind as greatly to dispel the intellectual objections. We are, therefore, justified in drawing this inference from the evangelistic labors of our lamented brother: that the best way to reinstate this fundamental Methodist doctrine in many of our pulpits is to begin with preaching the divinity and personality of the Holy Spirit, and his various offices, emphasizing, especially at first, the witness to adoption which very many of our members have not received. Let this be followed by testimonies from those who know by joyful experience of the direct witness of the Spirit. Thus inquiry into this subject will be awakened, and many will find out what is lacking in themselves, and will be incited to seek the proffered supply. Then may they who have hitherto been fed with milk become able to appropriate the solid food of perfect love.