E. A. V.—No, we do not think we should be "justified in saying" that such a man as you describe had an unusually large percentage of "good" in him, but we fail to see what relation such description has with Mr. Hugo Wright's article, "The Standard of Goodness," which you have almost totally misread.
The term "Goodness," as employed in this journal, does not mean sickly sentiment, but inward virtue, the direct result of which is strength and power; therefore the good man is not weak, the weak man is not good.
We should not judge the souls of others in the spirit of condemnation; but we can judge of our own life and conduct by results; and the quotation you give from "Literary Studies" embodies a theory unrelated to human experience. There is nothing more certain than this, the evil-doer speedily proves that his evil produces misery; the good man demonstrates that his goodness results in happiness.
Yes, it is "a fact that one may 'flourish like a green bay tree' and yet be unrighteous," but you should also remember that the bay tree at last perishes, or is cut down; and such is the fate of the unrighteous.
A man is certainly exalted by what he does, not by what he would do. An exalted being apart from an exalted life is inconceivable, and cannot be. If a man would do a noble thing, and does not do it, he is not exalted thereby, but debased.
M. W. Y.—It is a simple fact, visible to all, that men inflict suffering upon each other, but you confound theinfliction with the cause. Look deeper.
No, the perfect man does not suffer "to see the sin and wickedness" of others. He sees beyond sin into the realities of things, and his heart is at peace.
A man should manfully resolve that he will overcome his sins, and not waste time in blaming his ancestors for them. If innocent persons suffered for sins committed by other people many generations ago, and had no power of choice in the matter, then the Law of Justice would be non-existent; but if there is an over-ruling justice, then people do not so suffer. Again we say, look deeper.
God neither "punishes" nor "hates." Men punish themselves, being ignorant of their true nature, and there can be no hatred whatever in Him whose name is Love.
A. W.—You want to know what "conversion" is, and whether, when a man ceases from a sinful course of action, he "escapes from past errors." Conversion is a turning right round, and going in the very opposite direction. Thus, when a drunkard becomes sober, he is "converted " from drunkenness, and so on with every form of sin; and when a man ceases from all sin and lives the holy life he has partaken of complete salvation, is wholly converted. This does not mean, however, that a man will all at once get rid of the consequences of his former sins, but these consequences will rapidly burn themselves out if the man is truly converted, and he will patiently endure the suffering which he knows he has brought upon himself. The drunkard, for instance, will not regain his steadiness of nerve as soon as he leaves off drinking, but this will be brought about in the ordinary course of nature, as the man continues to live soberly.
There is only one way by which to overcome a bad habit, and that is, break it off; there is only one way of salvation from sin, and that is, cease from sin. The habit which enslaves you, you may be rid of NOW; not tomorrow, nor next week, nor next month, but NOW. Every tomorrow finds you weaker, and more a slave than you were yesterday. Say in your heart, "I am superior to this vile thing, and it shall no longer enslave me." Keep this resolution fixed in your mind, and along with it, meditate upon purity of life, and upon the disease and degradation that must surely follow in the wake of sin, and the habit will fall from you a lifeless thing.
More from James Allen
James Allen was a little-known philosophical writer and poet. He is best recognized for his book, As a Man Thinketh. Allen wrote about complex subjects such as faith, destiny, love, patience, and religion but had the unique ability of explaining these subjects clearly and in a way that is easy to understand. He often wrote about cause and effect, sowing and reaping, as well as overcoming sadness, sorrow, and grief. For more information on the life of James Allen, click here.