THE phrase Moral Compromise has an evil sound, and it opens out questions of practical ethics which are very difficult and very dangerous, but they are questions with which, consciously or unconsciously, every one is obliged to deal. The contrasts between the rigidity of theological formulæ and actual life are on this subject very great, though in practice, and by the many ingenious subtleties that constitute the science of casuistry, many theologians have attempted to evade them. A striking passage from the pen of Cardinal Newman will bring these contrasts into the clearest light. 'The Church holds,' he writes, 'that it were better for sun and moon to drop from heaven, for the earth to fail, and for all the many millions who are upon it to die of starvation in extremest agony, so far as temporal affliction goes, than that one soul, I will not say should be lost, but should commit one single venial sin, should tell one wilful untruth, though it harmed no one, or steal one poor farthing without excuse.'1
It is certainly no exaggeration to say that such a doctrine would lead to consequences absolutely incompatible with any life outside a hermitage or a monastery. It would strike at the root of all civilisation, and although many may be prepared to give it their formal assent, no____________________
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Publication information: Book title: The Map of Life, Conduct, and Character. Contributors: William Edward Hartpole Lecky - Author. Publisher: Longmans Green. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 1900. Page number: 88.
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