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adorable and unutterable love of a Father. Even in his best efforts he gives nothing to God; and in his worst he takes nothing from him. God punishes him, not retrospectively or because he has done wrong and he blames him for it, but prospectively, that he may do him good. To say that God may not punish except on the principle of blame, is to say that we may not give medicine to the sick unless we can blame them for being sick. Medicine is not given to the sick man because he deserves it, but because he needs it; and, bitter though it may be, the hand of tenderest love will not withhold it. And here is the ground, and basis, and justification of all punishment. It is well enough for the old theologians, whose highest idea of God is that of a despot, and who cleave to the "law of commandments," which is no more than a ministration of death, and “ can never make the comers thereunto perfect as pertaining to the conscience," and who mistake the law of condemnation for the law of the spirit of life”-well enough it is for them to talk of blame as the basis of punishment; and if they seek to justify the remorseless cruelties of an endless hell by the plea that the poor sufferers are to blame, and deserve it all, it is no more than carrying out the principle with which they started, and that is, the lex talionis, or law of retaliation, evil for evil, pound for pound, measure for measure. But surely those who have come to Mount Zion, and learned that we are not under the law, but under grace, and been taught that the divinest law of all the universe is that which overcomes evil with good; and that God “chastens in love,” might be expected to put away the childish things that they have learned from the schoolmaster, whose sole province it was to bring them to Christ, that they might learn of. him. Not praise does the good man want, for his soul is full of blessedness.
Not blame does the sinner need, but graçe, love, and mercy, to heal his wounds and make him whole. And these the good Father bestows; and if he smites, it is that he may bless. The truly virtuous man takes little credit to himself for the small amount of good that he does, and the erring and the sinful are not reformed by being blamed and censured. Even punishment, inflicted in a spirit of revenge or retaliation, ceases to be beneficial, and becomes positively injurious. The stout-hearted and the rebellious become hardened under the process, and despise and trample it under their feet; while the weak and the timid faint under the rebuke, and fail of reformation for want of encouragement and hope. They need to listen attentively to that calm and gentle voice, which speaks from the oracles of divine truth, saying: “My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, neither faint when thou art rebuked of him; for whom the Lord loveth he correcteth, even as the father the son in whom he delighteth."
NATURE AND ORIGIN OF EVIL.
Evil, Phenomenal not Absolute-Its Genesis–Natural Evil only Relative-The
Fact Illustrated-Evil not an Entity-Evil in the Relation of Things and not in the Substance of Nature—Three Conceivable Possibilities—The Unie verse, as it is, the Best Possible—God Beheld Every Thing as Very Good — Our Province to Walk by Faith—Illustrations—The Formula of the Universe Gives rise to Ever-Changing Relations—The Universe as it is, Not as it Might Have Beek_Natural Evil the Almoner of Good.
We have said that life is the essence, and motion the formula of the universe. God is life, and all life is derived from or communicated by him. He is good, and the life that proceeds from him must partake of the nature of the fountain whence it flows. It is, therefore, evident that whatever of evils there may be in the universe, they are not essential; they do not inhere in its life. And so, again, all motion, in all forms of life, is communicated, and dates back to the source of all life and movement as its final cause. Motion, therefore, is not evil essentially, and no evil inheres in activity or movement as such. Evil is merely phenomenal, not absolute or essential, and it is exhibited in the material universe in what we call Natural Evil.
Its genesis seems to be somewhat after the following fashion: Motion is the formula, and, to insure variety, movement must be in all possible directions. If we can
suppose all the movements of the material universe to be in direct parallel lines, we shall perceive that nothing could emerge but endless monotony. There could not be form, or shape, or beauty. Hence it is good that motion should be diverse, and in all possible directions, such as we designate by the terms circular, angular, direct, horizontal, vertical, perpendicular, etc. If, when the Spirit of God moved upon the great deep, which was formless and void, the movement had been only in direct and parallel lines, no form could have come of it, no earth or stars, man or beast, could have emerged by any conceivable possibility. Nothing but one dead, monotonous, endless level of parallel lines is the imaginable result. God saw, therefore, that it was good that movement should be diversified in endless variety, so that forms of all conceivable outlines must emerge, and the universe be filled with beauty. But movements in different directions must cross each other in all sorts of angles, and activities that interlock must produce contact and conflict; and hence comes natural evil, and it is plain, as we think, that the evil is not in the material universe as to its essence or life, nor yet in movement, as such, but only in the relations into which things are brought to each other. Natural evil is, therefore, relative, and not absolute. Thus, fire is good, and water is good, but fire in a certain relation to water will generate steam, and the steam is good also, but steam in a certain relation to an iron boiler will produce an explosion, and if that be an evil, it is manifest that it exists not essentially in the fire, or the water, or the steam, or the boiler, but is a phenomenon that proceeds from the relation they bore to each other. The normal relations of the great masses of matter that exist in the material universe are such, and their movements are so ordered, that there is not contact, and so the evils that result from their
relations are few and small. There may be an occasional perturbation of Uranus in his orbit, growing out of his relations to Neptune, but no perceptible evil results. On the contrary, it was the guide to one of the most grand discoveries in science. An occasional eclipse of the sun or the moon may cast a shadow upon the earth, but that shadow is a negation and not an entity, and if there is any evil in it, that evil inheres not in the sun, or moon, or earth, nor yet in their movements, as such. It is, on the contrary, an ephemeral phenomenon, growing out of the temporary relations that they sustain to each other. And so, again, the equatorial regions of the earth may sometimes be too hot for the comfort of man, and the polar regions may be too cold. But the evil, if it be felt to be such, is not a thing that inheres in the sun, or the earth, or the human body. It is no more than a phenomenon that comes of their relations to each other. To the polar bear, and the swarthy African, neither the cold of the Arctic nor the heat of the equatorial regions is felt to be an evil. But in the boundless realms of infinite space there is room enough for Jupiter and Uranus to move in their vast orbits, and for the earth and the inferior planets to run their swifter circles without crossing the line of each other's movements or coming in relations of evil. And then, away off in the awful distances that stretch out beyond the path of the remotest planet in our system, there are boundless regions, where the fixed stars and the worlds that surround them have room enough and to spare. They, are, indeed in themselves, limited in space
and conditioned in time; and what evils may accrue to them from the relations that grow out of these limitations and conditions we know not. We only say, that as their relations to other worlds like themselves are concerned, they are so remote that no perceptible evils result