Probation, Moral

Probation, Moral, is a term used in Christian morals to denote that state of man in which his character is formed and developed in action preparatory to judgment (q.v.). It is the state antecedent to a state of retribution (q.v.). "More strictly speaking, moral probation is that experimental trial which lays the foundation for approbation or disapprobation, praise or blame, reward or punishment. It involves obligations to obedience, exposure to temptations, commands and prohibitions; promises, on the one hand, to encourage to duty; threatenings, on the other, to deter from sin; with a certainty of final retributions according to the character produced under these various means, and visibly proved by the course of action pursued by the individual. This is the state which is denominated moral probation; and in such a state is mankind under the law of God and the mediatorial reign of Christ; or, in the customary language of the New Test., under the kingdom of heaven (Mt 13:10-52)." It is the principal or rather essential doctrine in the independent system of those Christian moralists who wish to prove metaphysically the truth of Christian ethics. It is the favorite basis of Butler in his Analog. See Butler, Works, 1, 109. 128 sq., 382; Christian Rev. 16:541; Harlan, Ethics (see Index). The question whether there be a period of probation after death is more properly a part of the articles SEE FUTURE PUNISHMENT; SEE PURGATORY. Comp. the Meth. Quart. Rev. April, 1876, p. 355 sq., 357 sq.

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