Principles of Natural Theology / by George Hayward Joyce, S.J.

Chapter XVII. Providence and the Problem of Evil.

  1. Providence, Physical and Moral.
  2. Prayer and Providence.
  3. Optimistic Theories.
  4. The Problem of Physical Evil.
  5. The Problem of Moral Evil.

1. Providence, physical and moral. Providence may be defined as the plan in accordance with which God disposes all things and directs them to the end which He has determined. Etymologically, the word is identically the same as prudence. Both terms signify foresight; and both denote the selection of the appropriate means for the attainment of a purposed end. But the scope of prudence in man differs in a most important respect from that of providence in God. Prudence, rightly so called, is concerned with the attainment of the end proper to the agent himself. It is the virtue through which a man disposes his actions towards the true goal of life. Apart from this he may be prudent in some particular sphere, e.g., a prudent politician or a prudent farmer; but prudence in its full and proper sense is the right disposition of a man's actions in view of his last end. It is otherwise with God. God is His own end: and His action is identical with His essence. His providence can only have regard to what is external to Himself, i.e., creatures. It is exercised in so far as He directs them to the attainment of the end for which He has created them.

Providence, as we have defined it, belongs to the divine intellect. It is the directive plan by which God rules the course of things. Yet it presupposes the volition by which He has chosen the ultimate goal of the created order: and it involves a further exercise of will in the execution of His purpose. This realization of the providential plan is, strictly speaking, to be distinguished from providence itself: for providence is eternal, its execution temporal. But in ordinary parlance God's execution of His purpose is included in the notion of providence: nor is there any objection to this employment of the term. As thus understood, providence belongs both to the intellect and to the will of God.

The all-embracing scope of God's providence is enforced by Father Boedder in a striking passage, which may be usefully cited here. He writes: "By His Infinite Wisdom He understands from eternity the end to be reached by creation, and the various ways in which by His omnipotence He might reach it. His will of infinite goodness embraces the end He has in view, and fixes by irrevocable decree the ways in which it shall be reached. Abiding in Himself by His absolutely perfect essence, He watches and directs in the course of time the exercise of every faculty of His creatures. He watches and directs it without any toil or labour, paying equal attention to the whole and to the minutest details. Thus by one glance of His infinite understanding He comprehends the dimensions of space, and calculates the distances and orbits of the heavenly bodies, and by one omnipotent volition keeps the whole machinery of the universe in motion, with a continual regard to the final goal it is to reach; so by the same eternal all-penetrating intuition does He read the most secret thoughts of every mind, observe the most minute oscillations of every organic cell, and count the most insignificant vibrations of every atom of matter, ruling by His omnipotent will all things so that there is no thought of any mind, no oscillation of any cell, no vibration of any atom which is not in some way or other duly subordinated to the end He intends."{1}

That all events without exception are ordered by Divine providence follows necessarily from the universal causality of God. He is the First Cause of all. And His works proceed from Him, not by a blind process of emanation, but in virtue of a free choice of the will. His operations are directed by His intelligence. But whatever an intelligent agent does is done in view of an end. Unless the intelligence proposed an end to the will, and the will embraced it, no action would ever take place. Hence every event which occurs is directed by God in view of a purpose. In other words, everything which happens forms part of the divine plan, and is disposed by God to the attainment of a given end: everything falls under His providence. When human prudence seeks to dispose events in view of some result, its control of circumstances is very partial. Unforeseen events are apt to occur, and often mar the best laid and most carefully designed schemes. But the reason for this lies in the limited scope of human causality. Many other causes are operative besides the human agent, which it does not lie within his power to direct. But God's causality is all-embracing: and consequently His providence is absolutely universal in its range. All that happens is part of the divine plan.

Of those who admit the existence of God very few have altogether denied His providential direction of the created order. Such was, however, the express teaching of the Epicurean philosophers. They explained the world on materialist principles, holding that it arose from the fortuitous concourse of atoms; and, while professing belief in the gods, contended that these paid no heed to the lot of man: that they were wholly indifferent as to his doings, neither angered by his crimes nor pleased by his acts of virtue.{2}

Later, in the eighteenth century, many of those who, under the influence of the prevalent rationalism, denied the existence of a divine revelation, and claimed that the 'religion of nature' was amply sufficient for all human needs, arrived at an almost similar conclusion, though on other grounds. Their philosophy admitted a personal God, the Author of Nature, but rejected both divine immanence and all providential direction of events. The system received the name of deism to distinguish it from the natural theology which recognized alike God's presence in nature and His providence, to which was appropriated the term theism. The deists held that God created the universe, established the system of law which governs its action, and placed within it the various species of living creatures, including man: and that having done this, He abstains from all further interference with it, allowing natural law to operate apart from any directive guidance. As a philosophy, deism was too shallow ever to win the adhesion of any thinker of mark. Yet there can be little question that during the whole of the nineteenth century views of this kind enjoyed a wide vogue. The decay of all belief in revelation, together with the effect exerted on many minds by the rapid advances of physical science, combined to make a system of this character acceptable to many who still retained in some way a belief in God.

Some thinkers at various periods have sought a solution of difficulties in the theory that God exercises. a directive influence over certain events alone, but for the rest leaves things to take the course which natural law prescribes. Thus Cicero in his work De Natura Deorum puts into the mouth of Lucilius an admirable demonstration of the divine government of the world drawn from the manifold harmonies of nature, but at the end admits that there are facts which refuse to be reconciled with the supposition that the divine direction extends to every incident without exception.{3} Maimonides likewise declares for a partial providence. He contends that God's foreknowledge of the future is, indeed, complete in respect of every detail. But that save in the case of man, events occur, not in pursuance of a divinely-ordered plan, but purely and simply in accordance with the laws of natural causation: that so far as other creatures are concerned, God's providence has no care for the individual, but only for the species as forming part of nature. Man, however, in virtue of his spiritual soul, holds an entirely different rank from all other material beings. His intelligence is due to a direct influx of the Divine light: and as such he claims a personal providence.{4} Moreover, the more worthy a man is, so much the more will God exercise a providential guidance of events for his benefit.{5} In this last point the Jewish doctor has laid hold of a truth of real importance, as will appear later. But in so far as the theory entirely withdraws many events from the immediate providence of God, it is manifestly false. God's providential plan is, as we have seen, all-embracing.

What then is the end to the attainment of which the plan of God's providence is directed? To ask this is to enquire what is the purpose of creation -- a question which we have already treated. We saw that the ultimate object of God's will can never be other than the Divine Essence. The supreme Goodness is in the last resort the sole sufficient reason of God's volition. Yet it appeared that God has also a secondary end in creation, viz., the good of the things which He has created. He does not leave His works incomplete, but brings them all to their appropriate degree of perfection. The course of His providence is directed to the realization of this purpose. Created things reach their destined goal by the path which the divine plan has determined for them. But, as we pointed out, we must not here consider substances in isolation from one another. The universe must be viewed, not as a mere aggregate of things, destitute of any unifying principle, but as an organized whole -- a stupendous work of the Divine Artificer. Just as a human artist has in view the beauty of his composition as a whole, not making it his aim to give to each several part the highest degree of brilliancy, but that measure of adornment which most contributes to the combined effect, so it is with God. Not all the species of animals and plants are equally beautiful. Some possess a higher degree of perfection than others. But creation, considered as an integral whole, is rendered more admirable by reason of their graded variety.{6} Here, too, we found the explanation why so many creatures seem to be frustrated of their destined perfection, and sacrificed to the advantage of others. The good of the total cosmos demands that the interest of the part should yield to the interest of the whole. If, for instance, carnivorous animals are constituent portions of creation, we need feel no difficulty in the fact that a vast amount of animal life serves as food to other tribes.

Man, however, forms an exception. He is no mere part of the material universe, subordinated to it as a part must be subordinate to the whole, and only of value as contributing to its perfection. He differs from all other creatures inasmuch as, having a spiritual soul, he is immortal: and being such, he has an absolute worth, not one which is merely relative to other things. Providence is concerned with him far otherwise than with the other species of living creatures. It guides each individual man, not in view of the perfection of the material universe, but in view of his own perfection.{7} The course of events as purposed and directed by God is far from being a scheme in which all creatures take their respective places on equal terms. In relation to man all other things, even the universe itself, are but means. St. Thomas well illustrates this point from the manner in which the master of a family takes forethought for his household. Within that sphere he exercises a veritable providence, if on a limited scale. He exercises it alike in regard of his children, his live-stock, and his material possessions. But he envisages these objects of his care in very different ways. He seeks the good of his children for their own sake, whereas he cares for his property for the sake of the children.{8}

The conclusion to which we have been brought by a consideration of the dignity of man as compared with other creatures is strongly confirmed by certain facts of observation. When dealing with the finality of the created order (chap. iv., § 1), we shewed how the order of the universe points to the conclusion that the world was intended to be man's home, standing to him in the relation of a house to its owner: that he is the end on whose account it is what it is. If this be so, it follows that the inorganic and organic kingdoms, as parts of nature, are for man: that they do not exist for their own sake, but for him. And, it can hardly be denied that the facts of natural history tend to shew that, in regard of animal and plant life, providence is concerned, not with the advantage of the individual, but with that of nature as a whole. Every species, it would seem, plays a definite part in the economy of nature. Darwin has shewn how great, e.g., is the part played by earthworms, and the same is true of many of the humblest forms of insect life: so that there is nothing improbable in the belief that every species contributes in some manner to the good of the whole. Now providence has ensured the preservation of many of these species in a way which seems to exclude the supposition that the individuals are aught but means. The reproductive fertility which not a few of them display is enormous. If all the young of the cod or of the herring arrived at maturity these tribes would soon block the sea. What actually occurs is that immensely the greater portion are devoured by other species, and only the minutest fraction survives. Such a state of things seems only consonant with the conclusion that the aim of divine providence in dealing with these creatures is not their individual good, but that of nature as a whole, and ultimately of man the end for whom nature exists.

It is man's great privilege, in virtue of his intelligence, to exercise forethought and to cooperate consciously in the execution of God's providential plan. Man knows his end, and can act with that in view. The inorganic substances of nature pursue the course which is prescribed for them blindly as physical law determines. The brute creation, sentient but unintelligent, acts purely as the stimulus of appetite directs, and exercises no elective choice. But man, endowed with intelligence and will, enters consciously and freely into the divine plan.{9} In doing this he needs, of course, to be directed. But the mode in which his rational activities are controlled must be such as an intelligent nature demands. The directive agency must be moral not physical: it must consist of motives recognized by the reason and accepted by the will.

Man therefore falls under a twofold system. His course is guided both by God's physical and His moral providence. The former of these is exercised by the physical forces of nature; the latter through the law of reason, the voice of conscience and the sanctions of reward and punishment.

Reason makes known to man the natural law: and conscience warns him that in disregarding its prescriptions he is violating the commands of one who has authority over him: and that for any disobedience he is accountable to the Lawgiver. It is true, doubtless, that most men have but an extremely imperfect knowledge of ethical law, and that their ideas of right and wrong are often terribly astray. But the light is never totally extinguished. Certain broad elementary principles are never wholly obliterated, nor altogether misapplied; so that man is never without the means of striving after his true end. Moreover, the authority of law involves the existence of sanctions. Man cannot escape the conviction that those who have refused to obey the dictates of conscience will meet with punishment, and those who, notwithstanding the numerous obstacles which life puts in their way, have followed its guidance, will be rewarded. And this assurance is strongly confirmed by the patent fact that so far as this life is concerned the wicked not infrequently prosper and the good go unrewarded. Undoubtedly it detracts somewhat from the efficacy of natural law that we have no direct knowledge regarding these sanctions, but so far as mere natural religion is concerned are dependent on an inference.

That this is so seems to involve the moral necessity of a revelation. Yet so inevitable is the conclusion that such sanctions exist that, even apart from revelation, the belief in them is almost universal. Nor can there be any question that the fear of punishment and the hope of reward are practically indispensable to Lnduce man to choose the right and avoid the wrong.

The interior voice of conscience proclaiming the natural law of reason is not the only instrument of God's moral providence, though it is the principal one. God deals with us also mediately through other men. Man is born subject to parental control, and lives his life owing obedience to the rulers of the state. This subordination to authority is not an unnatural and artificial condition, but in accordance with the essential requirements of human nature. Society, apart from which man cannot live a human life at all, would be impossible unless organized on a basis of authority. Nor could the relations between men possess any stability unless the more general precepts of conscience were determined in much detail by a human ruler. The authority of all legitimate government is derived from God. And the commands imposed upon us from this source are part of His providence in our regard. In obeying them we conform ourselves to His designs on our behalf: whereas if we neglect them we are choosing our own path, and to our own undoing. It is doubtless true that from time to time secular rulers abuse the power entrusted to them, and command or countenance acts which are in direct opposition to the dictates of reason or to some positive divine mandate. Thus governments may approve polygamy or divorce: they may violate the imprescriptible rights of the parent over the child: they may command that divine honour should be paid to an idol or even to a human being. Laws of this kind have, of course, no providential character: and it may become a man's duty to defy them, even though it should cost him his life.

Yet another instrument of moral providence is found in the public opinion of society, in so far as it encourages a man to the practice of virtue by the honour which it pays to those whose lives are without reproach, and deters from wrongdoing by the stigma of disgrace which it attaches to it.

But God's providence is not operative only in leading men to the performance of strict duty that thus they may merit the rewards of a future life. This design for man's welfare has regard also to the conditions of his temporal existence. The life of man here is meant to be one of continuous progress along many lines. The powers of human nature ar to be brought to an ever fuller actualization, and man is intended ever to be acquiring a greater command over the inexhaustible resources of nature. The development of civilization, the amelioration of manners, the replacement of mere tribal life by a settled government, the growth of the arts and sciences -- all these are the effect of God's providential direction. Reason shews us these things as ends worthy of effort. And the desire for the good in all its various forms, which is rooted in our nature, impels us to strive after them, and thus little by little to make human life a nobler thing than heretofore.

Although man may abuse the gift of freedom, and deliberately reject the guidance which God has provided for him in the various ways which we have mentioned, this does not involve that an element of uncertainty enters into the divine plan: that its execution is constantly frustrated by the perversity of the creature: and that in consequence it frequently stands in need of modification. As we have shown in previous chapters, God knew exactly how every man would act on each several occasion, and how the choice, whether good or ill, might be rendered subservient to His own purposes. From among an infinite number of alternatives He chose in preference to all others that particular course of providence under which we live: and it pursues its way unimpeded by the faults of human agents to the precise goal which He desired. Its realization is certain even to its smallest details. God has, it is true, an 'antecedent will' that man should obey his law and that sin should have no place in the world. But His absolute will -- the ultimate decree which takes account of the foreseen free choice of the creature -- has fixed the course of providence as it is actually realized.

2. Prayer and providence. Is God's government of the world influenced by prayer? Men have ever believed that it is so. Wherever God is worshipped, there we find the belief that He can be approached in prayer, and that in answer to our petitions He will grant favours which otherwise He would not have bestowed. Those who pray do not doubt that to meet their wishes God will direct the physical order to ends which would not have been realized but for their prayers. They ask for the cure of sickness, for fair weather for the crops, for immunity from storms during a voyage, and for many other similar benefits: and they give thanks because their requests have been granted. They are assured that the relation between man and God is a directly personal relation, and that it is no less possible for them to seek favours at the hand of the Creator and Ruler of the universe than it is to seek them from an earthly parent or protector.{10}

On the other hand, even among those who admit the existence of God, not a few find great difficulty in the notion of prayer. At this there is no reason for surprise. Outside the Catholic schools the philosophical basis most commonly offered for religion is, as we have seen, a mitigated form of the prevalent pantheism. But no pantheistic system is compatible with prayer. To mitigated pantheism, the physical universe is not the result of a free creative act on God's part, but the necessary mainfestation of His nature. That God should change even in the smallest degree the natural sequences of cause and effect would involve a change internal to Himself. Hence it is not wonderful that even some of those who make profession of Christianity frankly deny the utility of prayer so far as external events are concerned. Dr. Inge, the present dean of St. Paul's, speaking at the Anglican Church Congress of 1902, is reported as follows:

"Though the inflexibility of nature is assailed in high quarters -- by Mr. A. J. Balfour and Professor James -- he would be very sorry himself to rest any part of his religion on such possibilities. He was very suspicious of any tendency to trace the finger of God in the particular more than in the general, in the exception rather than in the rule, in the unexplained rather than in the familiar. The loving care of God for individuals, which we have all known and felt in our own lives does not shew itself in altering external events to suit our wishes."{11}

Further, just in so far as pantheism is really logical and consistent, it is driven to deny personality, in any proper sense of the word, to God, since in man alone does the divine nature become conscious of itself. Clearly there can be no question of prayer to an impersonal deity identical with the universe.

We have no need to occupy ourselves with objections derived from this source. We have already shewn at some length the philosophical unsoundness of pantheism, and have pointed out how futile is the attempt to find in such systems the foundation of a valid natural theology. But even from the theist's standpoint, the subject of prayer is not free from perplexity. Does not God, it may he asked, rule the physical order by general laws, only interfering with their invariable sequences in exceptional cases and for some special reason? These exceptional events we term miracles: and all are agreed that miracles are of rare occurrence, and differ conspicuously from ordinary answers to prayer. When God created the world, He assuredly gave to all the agents in the universe, whether living or inanimate, from man to the most elementary of nature's constituents, the laws which were best adapted for their particular work. Can we suppose that He is constantly interfering with their natural operations, and thus altering a plan which His supreme wisdom selected as the best? And would not such intervention have the additional inconvenience that it would render the course of nature incalculable, and make science impossible? On some very rare occasions the good to be gained may be so great as to justify a breach in the world's order: and then God will work a miracle. But otherwise must we not suppose that nature pursues its course with all the regularity of some vast machine: and that God will not alter its working in answer to our prayers?

The reply to this difficulty lies in the principle already laid down that the universe and its constituent parts are for man. Man is the end for whom all else that is exists and works: and God's providence directs the course of things with man's good in view. The laws which determine the activity of physical agents are, without doubt, in every case those which are most perfectly adapted to their respective functions. Yet there would be nothing inconsistent with God's wisdom if He should modify their natural operations when man's good so requires. Nor ought the changes thus involved to be regarded as breaches in nature's harmonious order. When man, in virtue of the freedom with which he is endowed, gives a new direction to the activity of natural forces, we look on the innovation thus introduced as in accordance with nature's system. The supposition that God exercises His freedom in a similar manner is surely no more than analogy suggests.

It is needless to say that answers to prayer of the kind supposed are not changes in the eternal dispositions of providence. They form part and parcel of these dispositions. From all eternity God foresaw that a particular man would pray for such and such a boon: and He resolved to grant his request. The change is in the sequence of causes and effects which would otherwise have resulted. God's providential plan is immutable.

Nor again is it justly objected that the view for which we are contending renders the course of nature incalculable.{12} For the sphere in which we look for answers to prayer is precisely that part of nature's realm in which, owing to the great complexity of the causal forces at work, human calculation is baffled. Where this complexity does not exist, and the regularity of nature's processes enables us to foresee the event, we do not anticipate that our prayers will be heard by a miraculous reversal of law. There are manifest reasons why God should adopt this course. Where future events fall within the scope of human calculation, man is ordinarily able to provide sufficiently for his needs: he is himself to blame if he fails to do so. Moreover, there can be no question that, as the objection urges, man's interests would be most gravely injured if the legitimate conclusions of science were liable to constant frustration. But within the sphere in which the efficacy of prayer is actually experienced neither of these inconveniences is the result.

It will perhaps be urged that a divine interference with physical law must always and necessarily be miraculous: that while the determination of natural forces by man falls within the system of nature, because man is himself part of that system, God's action is an invasion from without, producing its effect without the presence of a physical cause: and that this is precisely what we mean by a miracle. Thus a physician cures a sick man by administering a drug, or enables him to continue breathing through a crisis of his illness by spraying oxygen; whereas we are supposing that God will in answer to prayer produce the very same effects without the employment of any means. Or, to take another illustration, if rain falls, this is because certain movements in the air-currents have brought about a change of temperature in the clouds; whereas we suppose that God might send rain by causing the temperature to rise independently of any preliminary movements of air. What are these but miracles?

It may be frankly admitted that whether such events are termed miraculous or not is largely a matter of terminology. Yet it is to be noted that they differ conspicuously from miracles in the usual acceptation of that term. A miracle, as the word is generally understood, is a work which is contrary to nature in such a way as to compel attention.{13} Were it not such, it would not serve the purpose for which it is designed: for it is intended to serve as a sign. It is, as we have already explained, the sign-manual by which God authenticates a revelation, or attests the sanctity of some one of His servants. In the changes which we are supposing, none can see how or when the divine intervention takes place. Furthermore, in all these operations God produces results which might naturally have been produced by a physical cause. He simply supplies by an act of volition for the causality which might naturally have been exercised by some creature deriving all its powers from Him. In most miracles the effect produced is of a more startling character: it is generally directly opposed to any natural process of causation, e.g., the instantaneous disappearance of a malignant tumour, the restoration of sight after the destruction of the optic nerve.{14} 3. Optimistic theories. Before we seek an answer to the question how the permission of evil is compatible with the goodness and the power of God, it will be well to touch briefly on the view maintained by some thinkers that the world as we know it is, in fact, the best of all possible worlds: that inasmuch as God is supreme goodness, He could not have created any other world save the best; that in the present world is realized the highest perfection of which creation is capable. Were this indeed the case, the problem of evil, so far as God's goodness is concerned, would be non-existent. It would, however, he replaced by difficulties yet more formidable. To say that the world of our experience is the best of all possible worlds is a manifest paradox. If by a better world is signified a world in which there is less of physical and moral evil, nothing is plainer than that no impossibility is involved in such a conception. And granted that such a world is intrinsically possible, how is it that omnipotence cannot bring it into being? No satisfactory answer to these objections has been offered.

Optimism was maintained in antiquity by Plato{15} and by the Stoics: and in more recent times by Abelard, Malebranche and Leibniz: nor is it altogether without supporters at the present day. Abelard discusses the subject in two of his theological works.{16} He does not hesitate to advance the contention that since to do whatever good is possible is an obligation binding on all, it follows that God cannot do other than that which He actually does. What He actually does must needs be the best: less than the best He cannot do. For confirmation of his view he appeals to the reasoning of Plato in the Timaeus. To assert, as Abelard here does, that God's creative act and His providential dispositions are not His free choice, but matters of strict necessity, is not merely false philosophy, but is plainly enough in open contradiction with Christian doctrine. It is no matter for surprise that this was one of the many points on which ecclesiastical authority insisted that that erratic genius should retract his teaching.

The Schoolmen were at one in rejecting optimism. But after the decline of Scholasticism it again made its appearance. Malebranche upholds it in his Entretiens sur la Métaphysique et sur la Religion{17} (1678). From him Leibniz adopted it: and in his Théodicie (1710) gave it a more systematic treatment and an abler defence than it had hitherto received.

The following are the arguments on which Malebranche and Leibniz rely to establish their conclusion that this world is the best possible. (1) Since God created the world for His glory, it would fail of its end unless it were such as to correspond as far as possible to the Divine perfection which it is intended to manifest. But this requires that it should be the most perfect possible. (2) Among the infinite possible worlds which God could create, He must have a reason for preferring one above the rest. The sole reason which He can have is that one is better than the others. Any other choice would be inconsistent with His wisdom. (3) Similarly to choose the less perfect in preference to the more perfect would be inconsistent with His supreme goodness.

Leibniz recognizes the need of explaining in what sense the world is said to be the best: and replies that it is so, not in view of man's advantage, but in view of the good of the universe as a whole. Thus, since the best possible universe supposes the gifts of reason and free-will in man, God would bestow these endowments, even should the result be preponderatingly hurtful to man himself; though in fact the beneficial consequences are far greater.{18} He explains the existence of evil by the imperfection inherent in and inseparable from the creature.{19} God, he contends, was willing to create a world, which, though inevitably containing evil, is nevertheless the best possible. To the objection that God's infinitude involves that whatever world He may create, it must still be possible for Him to create one which is better, he replies that the argument would be valid if it were question of an individual substance, which is necessarily finite; but that the universe in the full measure of its duration is infinite.{20} The fallacy here is glaring. It is plain that even if the universe should last an infinite time, there is no reason whatever why God should not have created one, which should have a similar duration, but a greater degree of perfection.

In our own day the late Sir Henry Jones made explicit profession of optimism in his Gifford lectures, contending that the hest of all worlds must necessarily include the process by which rational agents achieve moral and spiritual excellence, and that this is best secured in such a world as our own. The passage in which he states his views may here be cited.

"If the moral process, the practical life that is spent in achieving spiritual excellence has this unconditional worth and is the best, then the world which provides room for that process is itself the best world. It is better than the so-called perfect world, or world in which the ideal and real are supposed to coincide, a world that is perfect in the static sense. . . . Our view then is that the moral life is the best thing conceivable, and that this present world, owing in a way to its imperfections, furnishes an opportunity for the moral process and demands it as the ultimate good."{21}

Yet even if we admit, as we well may, that the world in which we are actually placed is admirably adapted to be a training ground for the moral life, it does not follow that God could not have formed a race capable of greater perfection than man, or one of which fewer members would misuse the opportunities offered them of achieving excellence. Indeed, the objection we have just urged, viz., that it must necessarily lie within God's power to create something more perfect than the world as it stands, is fatal to any optimistic theory. The created order, as we have seen, is the finite representation of God's perfections. These are infinite; and hence it follows that no matter how perfect we may conceive the creature to be, it remains at an infinite distance from its archetype.

Thus there can never be a world such that God cannot, if He desires, create one far more perfect, as containing yet an ampler representation of His inexhaustible being. It follows that in choosing the degree of perfection which the created order shall possess, God is absolutely free. Whatever He does will be very good; for from Him who is Goodness, nothing but what is good can proceed. But He is not held to any particular degree of goodness.

Yet it may be admitted that there is a sense in which the world is the best. Given the end which God proposed to Himself, He must needs create the world in which that end is most perfectly realized. God does not, and cannot, carry out His design in any but the most perfect manner. Where supreme wisdom and supreme power are at work, there is no room for imperfection in the execution of a purpose.{22} Although our understanding of the Divine end must needs be utterly inadequate, and although we recognize that much of what He does will necessarily be obscure to our intelligence, yet we know that His aim in creation is the probation, the training and the perfection of human souls. From this point of view the world as God has made it must be the best: and so far we are in full accord with the author just quoted. Difficulties may, and do, remain, which we are not fully able to solve. The principal of these we are about to discuss: and it will appear that we can see enough to know that they are not such as to render this conclusion doubtful. The world is a work worthy of God's wisdom, His goodness and His power. Yet it is beyond all question that He could, had He so willed, have created something, absolutely speaking, more perfect -- a nobler race than ourselves, and with a more wonderful world as its home.

4. The problem of physical evil. The existence of evil in the world must at all times be the greatest of all the problems which the mind encounters when it reflects on God and His relation to the world. If He is, indeed, all-good and all-powerful, how has evil any place in the world which He has made? Whence came it? Why is it here? If He is all-good, why did He allow it to arise? If all-powerful, why does He not deliver us from the burden? Alike in the physical and moral order creation seems so grievously marred that we find it hard to understand how it can derive in its entirety from God. We can hardly feel surprise that in old times men took refuge in dualism, and declared the world to be the scene of conflict betweep two opposing principles, each of them ultimate in their kind, or even that, with less excuse, some in our own days propound the theory of a non-omnipotent God.

Though the problem of physical pain, with which we are concerned in the present section, presents less difficulty than that of moral evil, it is much more frequently urged. It appeals strongly to an age which has in large measure lost sight of spiritual standards, and placed its chief good in material well-being. To those whose philosophy of life is based on such principles, the very existence of pain is an insoluble enigma. If material comfort and prosperity are man's true object, the permission of pain by the Almighty admits of no justification. It is a sheer frustration of the purpose of life. But hedonism is no true philosophy: and our life has a higher issue than physical comfort.

The difficulty is, however, very real in any case. The actual amount of suffering which the human race endures is immense. Disease has store and to spare of torments for the body: and disease and death are the lot to which we must all look forward. At all times, too, great numbers of the race are pinched by want. Nor is the world ever free for very long from the terrible sufferings which follow in the track of war. If we concentrate our attention on human woes to the exclusion of the joys of life, we gain an appalling picture of the ills to which flesh is heir. So, too, if we fasten our attention on the sterner side of nature, on the pains which men endure from natural forces -- on the storms which wreck their ships, the cold which freezes them to death, the fire which consumes them -- if we contemplate this aspect of nature alone, we may be led to wonder how God came to deal so harshly with His creatures as to provide them with such a home.

As the objection is stated to-day, a special point is often made of the sufferings of animals. We are reminded of the manner in which they prey upon each other, and how this fearful struggle with its accompaniment of unspeakable pain has endured for untold ages. Is this perpetual carnage, we are asked, compatible with belief in a beneficent and omnipotent Creator?

Those who urge the objection commonly treat animal and human suffering as though they were almost, if not quite, on the same footing. This is not the case: and the two call for separate treatment. We shall deal first with the sufferings of animals, and then go on to speak of pain as suffered by man.

We observe then, first, that for our estimate of the sufferings of animals we are wholly dependent on guess-work. We have no means of judging to what extent they feel. We know, it is true, that the more highly organized species of animals do experience pleasure and pain in a manner analogous to, though in a measure far removed from, that in which man is sensible of these conditions. That the degree of their suffering is very different from our own, results from the nature of their faculties as contrasted with those of man. Man by reason of his immaterial intellect transcends the limitations of time. He gathers up the past and the future into the present. The pain of the present moment is increased indefinitely because it is grasped as the successor of a long chain of like pangs, and because of the agonizing prospect of a like series yet to come. The multiple burden of all is apprehended as a collective whole, and is felt to be more than man is capable of enduring. It is hard for us even to imagine on how low a scale must be the pains endured by a creature destitute of that spiritual power which enables us to live in the past and in the future, and endowed only with sensitive apprehension and with that associative faculty which we term the sensitive memory. Even if some member of the brute creation possessed a nervous organization as sensible to pain as our own -- a wholly improbable hypothesis -- the pain which it actually endured would be on a totally different plane. It may, indeed, be said that the animals testify to the acuteness of their sufferings by manifest signs. But to this it is readily replied that in this they would seem to resemble children, who are extremely demonstrative, even when the pain which they are enduring is very trifling.

Moreover, there is another side to the picture. The pleasures of animal existence should be weighed against the pains. A little consideration will convince us that so far from pain exceeding pleasure, the balance is wholly on the other side. Earth, sea and sky teem with delighted existence, so that the mere contemplation of the joy of living creatures will often enable a man to shake off his sadness and rejoice with them. To picture the animate creation as a scene of universal anguish is a travesty of truth -- a caricature in flagrant contradiction with the facts. Joy preponderates everywhere. These reflections should surely be sufficient to shew how unreasonable is the sentimentalism which is sometimes displayed in commiseration for what is termed the unmerited suffering of the animals.

But why, it will be said, should there be any suffering at all? An Almighty Creator could have given His creatures the joy of life without its pains. Yet it may be asked whether pleasure and pain are not alike connatural to animal existence in such wise that absolute immunity from pain in any animal would involve a reversal of natural order. Granted that there was an animal creation at all -- beings, that is, with a corporeal nature and with bodily organs capable of sensation -- it is reasonable to suppose that pleasure and pain are properties necessarily consequent on such a mode of being, pleasure resulting from the due exercise of a natural activity, pain from the undue frustration of such exercise. Doubtless God might, had He willed, have worked a perpetual miracle to ward off pain. But it hardly appears consonant with His supreme wisdom that He should call the sentient creation into existence, and forthwith reverse the system of natural law which it postulates. Nor indeed have the creatures on whom God bestows the boon of life and its joys, any right to claim such an intervention on their behalf. Furthermore, pain has certain incidental effects of great importance. It is the pain of hunger which stimulates each living thing to seek its necessary food: the discomfort of want is demanded to overcome its natural inertia. Were this monitor taken away, the animal creation would be in evil case. Moreover, pain serves another most important end in keeping the creature from actions which would prove detrimental to it. It is plain that its total removal would result in grave inconveniences demanding further and further alterations to which it is difficult to see a term. While in view of our very limited knowledge, we must not shut our eyes to the fact that there may be profounder objections which we have no means of apprehending.

It is doubtless true that natural forces operate blindly and pitilessly, and may from time to time involve the destruction of life on a large scale. Yet so far is it from being the case that nature is a harsh stepmother to her offspring, and the world an inhospitable dwelling, that, on the contrary, nature's dispositions operate in a multitude of remarkable ways to the advantage of sentient life as a whole and to the permanence of the different species. We have already had occasion to notice the provision in virtue of which the vegetable world restores to the atmosphere the very ingredients of which animal respiration is ever depriving it, and in default of which all animal life would perish. No less remarkable is the peculiarity in virtue of which, contrary to analogy, water expands when near the freezing point instead of contracting, so that ice rises to the surface instead of forming on the bottom. Were the latter the case the sea itself would gradually solidify. All aquatic life would be destroyed, and the globe itself become uninhabitable. These conditions are of general application. But the provision for the permanence of individual species is equally striking. There are certain creatures which exercise an important function in the economy of animal life inasmuch as they furnish a great part of the food needed by other tribes. Such, for instance, are the herrings. A small proportion only of the myriads of young produced come to maturity, the vast majority being early devoured by the species which depend on them for sustenance. Yet the fertility of these fish is so prodigious that the absolute number of those which escape is considerable. Thus it comes about that the permanence of the species is secured, and the supply of food never falls short. On the other hand, it is noteworthy that in the case of animals, which by reason of their strength or swiftness are able to defend themselves, or the habits of which put them in less danger of attack, such fertility is a thing unknown. Here the continuance of the species is safe without it: and the number of offspring is found to be small.

It may not improbably be said that to adduce such an instance as the reproductivity of the herring and the cod to establish nature's provident care for the animal creation, is strange enough. Do not the facts really lead us to precisely the contrary conclusion, and illustrate the ruthless sacrifice of life involved by the physical constitution of the world? Is not this just one of those facts which appear almost irreconcilable with the wisdom and omnipotence we have attributed to the Creator? For we have just admitted that this reproductivity is requisite simply because of the wholesale destruction of individuals through the predatory habits of other species of fish. The difficulty thus raised, however, loses its force when it is remembered that, as we have already urged, apart from man, the end purposed by the Creator is the perfection of the system of nature as a whole, not that of any individual creature. Where a system composed of many parts is in question, the perfection of the whole must often demand the sacrifice of the advantage of the constituent elements viewed as individuals. The organizer of the system does not desire or intend harm as such to any part. But he permits that individual parts should forfeit something, in order that the good of the whole may be thereby promoted.{23} To the system of nature it is requisite that the species should be preserved. Hence the continuance of the predatory tribes is secured by providing them with the food suitable to them, and that of the tribes on which they prey by the enormous reproductivity of which we have been speaking. The destruction of a multitude of individuals is tolerated. Undoubtedly this is from one point of view an evil. But the evil of one species is compensated by the benefit done to others. Nor would it be reasonable to urge that the system of nature should have been so altered that the various tribes should do each other no hurt: that the lion should eat straw like the ox, and the spider live out its days without doing damage to the fly. This would be to ask, not merely for a perpetual miracle, but for an order of things far less in accordance with divine wisdom than is the present system. Granted that the Creator has given being to those types of perfection which we know as carnivora and insectivora, wisdom would seem to demand that provision should be made for them in accordance with their respective natures and not in opposition to them.{24}

When once it is realized that, if we prescind from the case of man, God's end is the good of the whole and not the good of the individual, it will be readily seen that even death and corruption, which might appear to be pure evil in regard of sentient life, serve in fact a useful and, indeed, necessary end. Did not death remove the older generations, earth would soon afford no room for the latest comers: nor would it be possible for these to find food. 'The multiplication of individuals would before long be such that the globe would not suffice for its inhabitants. Death is thus an essential part of nature's provision for the benefit of the species. So also the corruption of dead matter, great as is the repugnance which it excites in us, is beneficial in its results. Were it not that through the destructive activity of germ life, the inanimate body is resolved again into its constituent elements, earth would become a vast collection of corpses. In the actual course of things it at all periods affords a home perfectly adapted to the beings which the Creator has placed in it.

The foregoing considerations suffice, we think, to shew that tbe physical evils of the world, so far at least as they effect the lower creatures, are in no way incompatible with the wisdom and power of God. He might undoubtedly have framed a universe of a wholly different kind. But, granted that in the exercise of His freedom, He chose to create a universe inhabited by successive generations of sentient beings, even our human intelligence, limited as it is, can see that there are good reasons why He should not remove the evil naturally incident to creatures such as those which He made, but should allow it to remain, using it, however, as the means to the attainment of good.

The case of man, as we have said, differs widely from that of the lower animals. We have seen that where these latter are concerned, the fate of the individual is a matter of indifference. The species, not the particular individual, is requisite for the perfection of the natural order. And providence disposes of the individual for the benefit of a species -- its own or another. With man it is not so. By reason of his immortal destiny each individual man is an end, irrespective of the race to which he belongs or even of the universe as a whole. Divine providence is concerned with him for his own sake. It is not enough to shew that what is hurtful to the individual subserves the good of the whole. It must appear that though evil under one aspect, it is not really opposed to the highest good of the individual himself.{25}

Yet though the reasons which we have hitherto employed are inadequate fully to explain physical evil in relation to man, many of the considerations advanced retain their force. Thus, of man, as of the animals, it is true that the balance is immensely on the side of happiness. The pessimist who declares that, in view of the suffering of life, existence is an evil, misrepresents the facts. There is plenty of joy in life, though to much of it we are so habituated that we accept it as a matter of course. Let a man be deprived, for instance, of the use of a single sense -- of hearing, or sight, or of the power of speech -- and he quickly becomes aware how much pleasure has hitherto streamed in through that avenue, though in all probability he seldom, if ever, adverted to the delight which he was experiencing. The problem before us is certainly not to explain why the Creator has made misery our portion. In the main our lot is such as to bear witness to His goodness and His omnipotence. We are merely concerned to learn why He has not removed suffering altogether from our life.

Much light is thrown on the question by the consideration that this life is a probation. Man's true end, as we have urged, is the possession of the supreme Good. And everything tends to shew that this will not be attained by each and all without exception, but by those alone who by a right use of the gift of freedom have in some sort merited it: and that the measure of a man's recompense will correspond to his deserts. If then it can be shewn that physical evil is one of the most important factors in assisting man to the attainment of his end, it at once becomes evident that there was ample reason why God should not interfere with the course of nature, but should tolerate the existence of physical suffering in view of the good which would result.

Pain is the great stimulant to action. Man, no less than the animals, is impelled to work by the sense of hunger. Experience shews that, were it not for this motive, the majority of men would be content to live in indolent ease. Man must earn his bread in the sweat of his brow. And the duty thus imposed is for most men the school of virtue. It is in fulfilling the obligation of daily toil that they learn to practise justice, diligence, patience, charity to others, obedience to those who are over them. Without the occasion thus afforded it may safely be said that virtue would have little chance. Ease is no school of moral progress. Moreover, suffering serves to call forth in man a measure of goodness which would otherwise never be realized at all. Virtue reaches its perfection when it is exercised at a severe cost to the agent. The man who gives to his neighbour, when to do so involves some painful self-denial, has attained a higher degree of charity than he whose gifts entail no inconvenience to himself. And one reason, plainly, why God permits suffering is that man may rise to a height of heroism which would otherwise have been altogether beyond his scope. Nor are these the only benefits which it confers. That sympathy for others which is one of the most precious parts of our experience and one of the most fruitful sources of well-doing has its origin in the fellow-feeling engendered by the endurance of similar trials. Furthermore, were it not for these trials, man would think little enough of a future existence, and of the need of striving after his last end. He would be perfectly content with his existence, and would reck little of any higher good. The considerations here briefly advanced suffice at least to shew how important is the office filled by pain in human life, and with what little reason it is asserted that the existence of so much suffering is irreconcilable with the wisdom of the Creator. They shew, moreover, that, where man is concerned, the explanation of suffering is other than in the case of the lower animals. The sufferings of men are directed primarily to the good of the sufferer himself, while they also afford to others an opportunity for the practice of virtue.

In the same way, we need feel no perplexity at the numerous instances in which human life is cut short prematurely, and the purpose of nature seems to be frustrated by death. To the lower animals this life is all, and hence a premature death is for the individual concerned an irreparable loss. But when life is viewed as above all else a probation, it is seen to be of little importance whether a man live out his full tale of years or not. Indeed, the shortening of the probation may be to the individual, not a loss, but an immense gain.

Much has been said of the calamities brought about by natural forces. In the eighteenth century the Lisbon earthquake led many to ask how such things as earthquakes and volcanoes could be reconciled with a beneficent providence. It has often been replied that these occurrences are due to the operation of the same physical causes which have made the earth a fit place for human habitation, and that we have no reason to demand a miraculous suspension of laws which in their general effects are so useful to us, merely because from time to time they result in a purely local disaster. This is true as far as it goes. Yet more may be said. The earthquake and the volcano serve a moral end which more than compensates for the physical evil which they cause. The awful nature of these phenomena, the overwhelming power of the forces at work, and man's utter helplessness before them, rouse him from the religious indifference to which he is so prone. They inspire a reverential awe of the Creator who made them and controls them, and a salutary fear of violating the laws which He has imposed.

It may be asked whether the Creator could not have brought man to perfection without the use of suffering. Most certainly He could have conferred upon him a similar degree of virtue without requiring any effort on his part. Yet it is easy to see that there is a special value attaching to a conquest of difficulties such as man's actual lot demands, and that in God's eyes this may well be an adequate reason for assigning this life to us in preference to another. We have shewn already (chap. xii., § 3) that in the exercise of His creative power He is supremely free. It is for Him to determine the particular mode in which finite being shall represent the infinite perfection which is His. He is not bound to ensure that our lives shall be exempt from all that we may regard as an inconvenience.

We have laid stress on the value of pain in relation to the next life, because it is in the next life, and not in this, that man must attain his last end. But it scarcely needs to be pointed out that pain is a source of many benefits in this life also. The advance of scientific discovery, the gradual improvement of the organization of the community, the growth of material civilization -- all these are due in no small degree to the stimulus afforded by pain.

There will at all times be much to perplex us in the ways of providence. Much of the suffering with which the world abounds will be inexplicable to us, and we shall strive in vain to understand why this or that particular evil is permitted. But we can, at least, see that physical evil does not stand in insuperable contradiction with the divine attributes. When Mr. McTaggart writes: "There are many things in the universe which are not only intrinsically indifferent, but intrinsically bad.

Such, for example, is pain "{26}: and proceeds on this ground to declare the doctrine of Divine omnipotence untenable, his reasoning is altogether unsound. It would be necessary for its validity that we should admit the principle on which optimism is based, viz., that God is under the necessity of excluding all imperfection from creation. This, as we have seen, is not the case. Pain is, it is true, an evil in relation to physical well-being. But granted that God desired to create beings endowed with sentient life, then no solid reason can be shewn why He should not create them liable to pain, the natural accompaniment of such life, provided only that He turn it to good ends. It is quite arbitrary to demand that He should exclude it miraculously. In the dispositions of His providence pain is, in fact, one of the most effective means in aiding man to secure his ultimate beatitude.

5. The problem of moral evil. The existence of moral evil constitutes a far greater difficulty than does physical evil. It is not hard to see that God may have good reason for permitting pain and suffering, and may employ them as an instrument of good as regards the creature. But moral evil is essentially a breach of some law which He has made: and hence is of its very nature in conflict with His will. The man who sins thereby offends God. If he persists in his rebellion, the severance between the two must one day become final, and man will forfeit for ever the last end which alone can satisfy him. We are called on to explain how God came to create an order of things in which rebellion and even final rejection have a place. Since a choice from among an infinite number of possible worlds lay open to Him, how came He to choose one in which these occur? Is not such a choice in flagrant opposition to the Divine goodness?

Some recent philosophers have sought to solve the riddle of evil by explaining it away. Hegel declares that sin is a necessary stage in the transition from ignorance to virtue. Man's first state he holds to be one of innocence combined with ignorance. As he advances in knowledge the impulse of egoism arises in him, and inevitably he permits selfish interests to draw him away from the pursuit of the common good. This condition we term sin. He soon, however, discovers that egoism brings no satisfaction, and hence in the long run is driven back to virtue. Since it is only in this wise that man can learn that egoism is a mistake, this transitional stage is unavoidable. It is, indeed, preferable to ignorant innocence. Both are evils: but sin is the lesser of the two. Schleiermacher adopted another expedient. He maintains that sin is simply the internal sense of deficiency due to the inadequacy of our consciousness of God: that it has no objective existence in the sense of being a conscious act of disobedience on the part of a distinct personality.

It is manifest that theories such as these are contrary to the plainest and most fundamental facts of human experience. No datum of consciousness is more certain than that our moral lapses are no necessary stage in the passage to virtue, no mere inadequacy in our consciousness of God. Nothing, again, is more patent than that acquaintance with evil does not force us back to good. It is not in this direction that we must look for a solution of the problem. Indeed, such theories as these only furnish an additional illustration of the utter insufficiency of the philosophical systems of which they form a part.

How, then, can we account for God's permission of moral evil? It is not sufficient to say that it is due to the gift of free-will which He has bestowed upon the creature. Free-will need not, as is so often assumed, involve the power to choose wrong. Our ability to misuse the gift is due, as we have already argued,{27} to the conditions under which it is exercised here. In our present state we are able to reject what is truly good and exercise our power of preference in favour of some baser attraction. Yet it is not necessary that it should be so. And all who accept the Christian revelation admit that those who have attained their final beatitude exercise freedom of will, and yet cannot choose aught but what is truly good. They possess the knowledge of Essential Goodness: and to it, not simply to the good in general, they refer every choice. Moreover, even in our present condition, it is open to omnipotence so to order our circumstances, and to confer on the will such instinctive impulses, that we should in every election adopt the right course and not the wrong. The existence of moral evil, however, becomes explicable, when it is admitted that man's life is a probation. We noticed above{28} that this conclusion is regarded as certain by all theists. God, in other words, has created the present order such that man should have the glory of meriting his last end. We can see readily enough that in this He has conferred a great privilege upon us. To receive our final beatitude as the fruit of our labours, and as the recompense of a hard-won victory, is an incomparably higher destiny than to receive it without any effort on our part. And since God in His wisdom has seen fit to give us such a lot as this, it was inevitable that man should have the power to choose the wrong. We could not be called to merit the reward due to victory without being exposed to the possibility of defeat.

Yet the question suggests itself: Could not God have so disposed things that none should be actually defeated? It is one thing to be liable to suffer defeat: another, actually to lose the day. God in His omniscience knew which individuals, if created, would so misuse the gift bestowed on them as finally to choose the wrong and suffer definitive exclusion from beatitude. How came it that He called these beings into existence at all? Why did He not create those alone whom His foresight pointed out as victors in the struggle? How came it that the attribute of goodness did not imperatively prescribe such a course?

To this question more than one answer has been given. It is urged that if all men eventually attained their last end and secured final beatitude, probation would have little meaning. The struggle would be but a mock struggle, if it were antecedently certain that, however a man might bear himself, God would bring it about that he should be saved from ultimate disaster. It can hardly be supposed, taking human nature as it is, that with such a guarantee man would really pay the heavy price which life-long effort entails. The majority in all probability would seek, as the saying is, 'to make the best of both worlds.'

This argument is not without its value. Yet it will probably fail to convince the mind that no other course was open, even to Divine omnipotence: and without this, we can hardly rest satisfled. The sole reason, which is fully conclusive, would seem to be that were God to abstain from giving existence to a soul because He foresaw that that soul would choose the path to evil, the perversity of the creature would have prevailed against the goodness of the Creator, and human wickedness have compelled God to modify His purposes. Such a state of things, it would appear, is repugnant to reason. It belongs to God to determine His designs in accordance with perfect wisdom and perfect goodness, but in supreme independence of creatures. These are of necessity wholly subordinated to Him. Just as there can be nothing which does not come from God as First Efficient Cause, nor anything which does not tend to Him as the ultimate Final Cause, so it is impossible that those purposes in regard of the creature which He has made with supreme generosity and wisdom should admit of alteration because He foresees that the creature will abuse His gifts.{29}

None can reasonably dispute that an order of things in which beatitude is conferred on man as the reward of personal effort is not merely compatible with the Divine goodness, but exhibits that attribute in an altogether singular degree. And it would appear that the permission of moral evil, and even of final loss, is an inevitable condition of such a system.

In this order of things, it will be observed, evil is no end purposed by God. It results from that tendency to fall away -- that liability to fail -- which is inherent in the creature as such, as a result of its essential nothingness.{30} God permits evil, but does not cause it. Yet it is impossible that He should permit anything, which He does not turn to a good end: in some way or other even the moral evil of the world must be rendered subservient to His good purposes.{31} That He has in fact done so is abundantly plain. We have already noticed the illustration employed more than once by St. Thomas, that it needed the iniquity of a Nero, and such as he, to call forth the heroic virtue displayed by the martyrs. Just as the death of inferior animals is a requisite condition of the life of the lion, so the perverse will of the bad affords the necessary occasion for the exercise of the highest virtue. This employment of evil belongs not merely to exceptional cases, such as that just instanced, but is part of the ordinary disposition of providence. At all times the good are exposed to grave difficulties through the evil example which abounds around them, and through the efforts of other men to induce them to adopt a lower standard than the moral law demands. This struggle is not only the proof of their virtue, but the means of its growth, Without it man's moral development would languish. Virtue reaches a high level of perfection because it has to make head against opposition -- crescit sub pondere virtus. The attainment of perfection by those who are willing to make the effort is a good which outweighs the evil involved in the permission of moral harm. Hence we need not feel surprise that God should tolerate man's misuse of his liberty.{32}

When God turns the evil actions of the bad to good ends, they are not made contributory to the good of the doer, but to that of others -- of those, namely, who are faithful to the moral law. This fact merits careful attention. We pointed out in the last section that there is this great difference between the dispositions of providence in regard of men and of animals, that animals are employed as means, whereas man is an end. The individual animal is subordinated to the good of the whole creation, and thus ultimately of man, for whom the material creation exists. The dignity of man is such that God directs events so as to assist each several member of the species to reach final beatitude. A man must use his opportunities, for it is part of his privilege as a rational being that he shall be to this extent his own providence; but, if he do this, he cannot fail. When, however, he avails himself of his freedom, to seek, not his true last end, but some false good which involves the violation of God's law, and thereby rejects the providential guidance by which God designed to bring him to beatitude, then God disposes otherwise in his regard. He ceases to be an end, and becomes a means to the good of others. He elects to act in defiance of reason, placing himself thereby on the plane of irrational creatures: and God treats him as though he were one of these.{33} So long as this life lasts, a change is possible. He may amend his ways and follow the path which reason prescribes. But there is a limit to the possibility of such a change. The Christian revelation assures us that this limit is placed at the hour of death: that after that moment the soul's probation is over, and its lot is definitively fixed. If a soul has finally chosen the road of rebellion against God, then no possibility remains that its good should be an object of the Divine solicitude. From that moment it can only serve the good of others. Its fate serves as a warning to those whose probation is not yet over. And the stern sanctions of the Divine laws to which it is subject reveal to the just certain attributes of God -- the rigour of His justice, and His indignation against wrong -- which otherwise could not have found manifestation in the created order.{34}

The existence of moral evil must ever remain the greatest of the world's mysteries: and it is idle to imagine that we can remove entirely the difficulty which we feel in its regard. Yet we know well that our human intelligence is limited in its scope, and that we must not expect to solve all problems. It is no small matter that restricted as our powers are, we can nevertheless shew solid reasons for our conviction that sin, and even the final exclusion of a soul from beatitude, do not stand in conflict with the infinite goodness and infinite wisdom of God.

L. D. S.

{1} Natural Theology, p. 384.

{2} The lines in which Lucretius gives expression to this doctrine are well known:--

    "Omnis enim per se divom natura necesse est
    Immortalis aevo summa cum pace fruatur,
    Semota a nostris rebus sejunctaque longe;
    Nam privata dolore omni, privata periclis,
    Ipsa suis pollens opibus, nihil indiga nostri,
    Nec bene promeritis capitur, nec tangitur ira."         -- De Rerum Natura, I. 60.

{3} De Natura Deorum, II., cc. xxix. -- lxvi. "Nemo igitur vir magnus sine aliquo afflatu divino unquam fuit. Nec vero id ita refellendum est, Ut, si segetibus aut vinetis cujuspiam tempestas nocuerit aut si quid a vitae commodis casus abstulerit, cum cui quid horum accident, aut invisum deo aut neglectum a Deo judicemus. Magna di curant, parva neglegunt." (c. lxvi.)

{4} "Non credo quod Deum aliquid lateat: non enim attribuo Deo aliquam impotentiam: sed credo providentiam sequi intellectum, eique unitam esse providentia utique fit ab Intelligente: immo qui est Intellectus perfectissimus perfectione tali post quam nulla datur alia. Propterea cuicunque inhaeret aliquid de Influentia illa, illud in tantum apprehendit providentia quantum intellectus." Doctor Perplexorum, III., c. xvii. (Buxtorf's trans.)

{5} Op. cit., c. xviii.

{6} "Perfecta bonitas in rebus creatis non inveniretur, nisi esset ordo bonitatis in eis, ut scilicet quaedam sint aliis meliora: non enim implerentur omnes gradus possibiles bonitatis, neque enim aliqua creatura Deo assimilaretur quantum ad hoc quod allis emineret; tolleretur etiam summus decor a rebus, si ab eis ordo distinctorum et disparium tolleretur, et quod est amplius, tolleretur multitudo a rebus, inaequalitate bonitatis sublata." Con. Gent. III., c. lxxi., n. 2.

{7} "Quia vero spirituales creaturae incorruptibiles sunt et secundum individua, etiam individua corum propter se sunt provisa." De Ver., q. 5, art. 5.

{8} Sciendum tamen quod aliquid provideri dicitur dupliciter: uno modo propter se, alio modo propter alia: sicut in domo propter se providentur ea in quibus essentialiter consistit bonum domus, sicut filii, possessiones et hujusmodi: alia vero providentur ad horum utilitatem, ut vasa, animalia et hujusmodi. Et similiter in universo illa propter se providentur in quibus essentialiter consistit perfectio universi. . . . Quae vero perpetua non sunt, non providentur nisi propter alium." De Verit., q. 5, art. 3.

{9} "In nobilioribus creaturis invenitur aliud principium praeter naturam, quod est voluntas: quia quanto vicinius est Deo tanto a necessitate naturalium causarum magis est liberum, ut dicit Boethius De Cons., V., prosa, 2: et ideo ex conditione sua sequitur quod rectum ordinem tenere possit tendendo in finem, et etiam deficere." I. S., dist. 39, q. 2, art. 2.

{10} "De ratione amicitiae est quod amans velit impleri desiderium amati in quantum vult ejus bonum et perfectionem: propter quod dicitur quod amicorum est idem velle. Ostensum est autem supra quod Deiis suam creaturam amet, et tanto ruagis unamquamque quanto plus de bonitate participat, quae est primum et principale amatum ab ipso. Vult igitur impleri desideria rationalis creaturae, quae perfectissime divinam bonitatem participat inter ceteras creaturas." Con. Gent., III., C. xcv.

{11} Times, Oct. ii, 1902.

{12} In his Gifford lectures Sir Henry Jones rejects on this ground all idea of any providential interference with the natural course of things as determined by physical law. Moral action, he urges, presumes the stability of natural law. And man's employment of his rational powers would be frustrated, if not arrested altogether, were the results of his action made uncertain by being flung among circumstances which are dependent on an interfering benevolence that occasionally suspends the operation of law." A Faith that Enquires, p. 226.

{13} "Nomen miraculi ab admiratione sumitur. Admiratio autem consurgit quum effectus sunt manifesti et causa occulta. Sicut aliquis admiratur, quum videt eclipsim solis et ignoret causam. Potest autem causa effectus alicujus apparentis alicui esse nota, quae tamen est aliis incognita. Unde aliquid est mirum uni, quod non est mirum aliis: sicut eclipsim solis miratur rusticus, non autem astrologus. Miraculum autem dicitur admiratione plenum, quod scilicet habet causam simpliciter et omnibus occultam. Haec autem est Deus." Summa Theol., I., q. 105, art. 7.

{14} Cf. W. G. Ward, Philosophy of Theism, Vol. II., p. 158; Essay xiv., Science, Prayer and Miracles,

{15} Timaeus, 29, 30.

{16} Introductio ad Theologiam, III., § 5; Theologia Christiana, V. (Migne, P.L., clxxvii., 1093-1103, 1324-1330).

{17} Entretien IX., 9.

{18} Théodicee, n. 119.

{19} Op. cit., nn. 20, 120.

{20} Op. cit. n. 195.

{21} A Faith that Enquires, p. 331, cf. p.245.

{22} Summa Theol., I., q. 25, art. 6, ad 1.

{23} "Bonum totius praeeminet bonum partis. Ad prudentem igitur gubernatorem pertinet negligere aliquem defectum bonitatis in parte, Ut fiat augmentum bonitatis in toto: sicut artifex abscondit fundamentum sub terra, Ut tota domus habeat firmamentum. Sed si malum a quibusdam partibus universi subtraheretur, multum deperiret perfectionis universi, cujus pulcritudo ex ordinata bonorum et malorum adunatione consurgit, dum mala ex bonis deficientibus proveniunt, et tamen ex eis quaedam bona consurgunt ex providentia gubernantis." Con. Gent., III., c. lxxi., n. 6.

Deus "naturam [corruptibilem] condidit praesciens defectum contingentem, sed non intendens. Sed ita providit, ut si malum contingeret ex defectu alicujus naturae, ordinaretur in bonum: sicut videmus quod corruptio unius est generatio alterius: et iste modus providentiae extendit se usque ad bruta animalia. . . . Et ideo malum quod accidit in eis recompensatur per bonum naturae: . . . sicut quod mors muscae est victus araneae." I. Sent., dist. 39, q. 2, art. 2.

{24} "Quilibet prudens sustinet aliquod parvum malum ne impediatur magnum bonum: quodlibet autem particulare bonum est parvum respectu boni alicujus naturae universalis. Non posset autem impediri malum quod ex aliquibus rebus proveniat, nisi natura eorum tolleretur, quae talis est ut possit deficere vel non deficere, et quae alicui particulari nocumentum infert, et tamen universo quandam pulcritudinem addit: et ideo Deus cum sit prudentissimus non prohibet mala: sed permittit unumquodque agere secundum quod natura ejus requint: ut enim dicit Dionysius De Div. Nom., c. iv., § 33 (P.L., III., 734), providentiae non est naturas perdere sed salvare." De Verit., q. 5, art. 4, ad 4.

{25} De Ver., q. 5, art. 6.

{26} Some Dogmas, etc., § 164.

{27} Ch. xii., § 3, p. 392.

{28} Ch. v., § 2, p. 177.

{29} Pinard art. Creation in Vacant-Mangenot, Dict. de Théologie, III., 2171. The argument is found in St. John Damasc., De Fide Orth., IV., c. xxi. (P.G. xciv., 1197).

{30} Ch.xi., §4, p.371.

{31} "Deus omnipotens nullo modo sineret malum esse in operibus suis, nisi usque adeo asset omnipotens et bonus, Ut bene faceret etiam de malo." Augustine, Enchiridion, c. xi.

{32} "Deus plus amat quod est magis bonum: at ideo magis vult praesentiam magis boni quam absentiam minus mali, quia at absentia mali quoddam bonum est. Ideo ad hoc quod aliqua bona majora eliciantur, permittit aliquos in mala culpae incidere, quae maxime secundum genus suum sunt odibilia." De Ver., q. 5, art. 5, ad 3.

{33} "Divina providentia se extandit ad homines dupliciter: uno modo in quantum ipsi providentur: alio modo in quantum ipsi providentes fiunt. . . . Et secundum quod ipsi diversimode se habent in providendo, diversimode providetur eis a Deo. Si anim rectum ordinem in providando servant, et in eis divina providentia ordinem servat congruum humanae dignitati, ut scilicet nihil eis eveniat quod in eorum bonum non cedat: . . . Si autem providendo ordinem non servant, quod congruit creaturae rationali, sed provideant secundum modum brutorum animalium: et divina providentia de eis ordinabit secundum ordinem qui brutis competit, ut scilicet ea quae in eis vel bona val mala sunt, non ordinentur in eorum proprium bonum, sed in bonum aliorum." De Ver., q. 5, art. 7.

{34} Ch. xiv., § 6, p. 478.

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