Sin And Suffering In The Universe, As Related To The Power, Wisdom, And Love Of God -- By: Henry Cowles

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 030:120 (Oct 1873)
Article: Sin And Suffering In The Universe, As Related To The Power, Wisdom, And Love Of God
Author: Henry Cowles

Sin And Suffering In The Universe, As Related To The Power,
Wisdom, And Love Of God

Rev. Henry Cowles

I cannot persuade myself to enter upon this subject without frankly testifying to a deep sense of its difficulties, of its magnitude, and of its demand for profound humility and reverence toward God. Undeniably the subject has tasked the human intellect; has brought a painful strain upon human sympathy; and a stern moral trial upon man’s confidence in God’s wisdom and love. If these points are true in regard to a tithe of mankind, how immense is the interest involved in this subject, and how assiduously, and withal prayerfully, should we seek whatever light upon it God may in kindness bring within our reach.

My interest in this great question has been painfully deepened by the confessions of some good men who say in substance: “This subject is utterly dark to me; the study of it for a lifetime has given me not the first ray of light, not the first sensation of relief.”1 I cannot say this. My

reflections on this subject have given me relief, I may truly say, great relief. I will not presume that I shall bring like relief to all, or even to many of my readers. I will not promise this for any of them; it must suffice me to set forth with great brevity, and with whatever clearness and simplicity I may be able, the points which afford this relief to me. I propose to treat the subject in the following method:

I. State what the difficulties are, and are assumed to be:

II. Refer to the sources of testimony and argument available to us on this subject :

III. Then meet the difficulties: first, severally and in detail; modifying some of the assumed facts, and looking for the reasons of the actual facts: and secondly, in general, by advancing sundry hypotheses which may account for the existence of sin and suffering in worlds made and governed by God.

I. The difficulties, actual and assumed, may be put thus:

1. That suffering should so constantly follow sinning. 2. That in the case of the infants of our race, suffering should precede sinning; and, in the case of the lower animals of our world, should fall upon the unsinning. 3. That, with infinite power to prevent it, God should suffer sin to exist at all. 4. That he should permit so much sin and suffering, whether considered absolutely, or relatively to the amount of holiness and happiness in this world or in the universe. 5. That the human race should become sinners without their own fault, under an economy virtually constituted by God himself...

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