Wednesday, June 29, 2011

specialists in virtue...

This may be the finest summary of the Boston Unitarian "angle of vision" that I have yet come across. Andrew Preston Peabody in his "Moral Philosophy"

"If it be asked what constitutes moral beauty, I hardly know a better answer than might be given in the one word moderation, if you will take into view all that the word means. It is derived from modus, " measure;" and in its proper use it signifies not imperfection, or slowness, or backwardness, but the due proportion in life of all the elements that go to make up a good life. Of virtue there can be no excess; and we have had, as I believe, the ideal of perfect virtue actualized but once on earth. But individual virtues may exist in such excess, so out of due proportion, as to cease to be virtues. The beauty of Christ's character consists, in great part, in its perfect balance. Probably among those who most opposed him there were not only bad men and hypocrites, but specialists in virtue*— men who nursed some one virtue out of due proportion, and held others in inferior esteem. Were he living on earth now with no external token of Christhood, among his strongest opponents would be some of the extremists in morals who call themselves by his name. I am inclined to think that their types of virtue would find as little sympathy from him as he would show with the vices that they denounce."


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