The Adaptations Of Nature To The Highest Wants Of Man -- By: G. Frederick Wright

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 051:202 (Apr 1894)
Article: The Adaptations Of Nature To The Highest Wants Of Man
Author: G. Frederick Wright

The Adaptations Of Nature To The Highest Wants Of Man

Prof. G. Frederick Wright

The Moral Paradoxes of Theism. To the end of time it will be difficult to maintain belief in the omnipotence of God while holding fast to confidence in his wisdom and goodness; for, disguise it as we may, there is an enormous aggregate of natural evil in the world, while the existence of the smallest amount would seem either to compromise the character of the Creator or to contradict the infinity of his power. Indeed so numerous are natural evils, that, if one concentrates his attention upon them, it requires no small effort to escape the morbid sensitiveness which characterizes the pessimist, and leads him to ask, in despair, whether life is worth living. So far as personal comfort of mind is concerned, it makes little difference which horn of the dilemma the pessimistic philosopher accepts. If he maintains the omnipotence of God, he rests under the gloomiest forebodings respecting his goodness, apprehensive not lest we are in the hands of a God who is justly angry because of sin, but lest we are in the hands of an implacable tyrant whose tender mercies are cruel, and who loves to tantalize his creatures, as a beast of prey delights to prolong the struggles of its helpless victim. Such a representation is by no means a caricature of a certain phase of the pessimistic philosophy, but is a fair statement of the views of a considerable class of modern writers who make no small stir in the literary world. It is also essentially the conception of deity underlying the great mass of heathen religions, both past and present.

The other horn of the dilemma supposes, indeed, that God is good, but that he is limited in power, and is thwarted by an original principle of evil. Such was the gloomy apprehension of John Stuart Mill, who from the study of nature concluded that, as philosophers, we must rest content with a Creator less than almighty, and that the limitations of that power were not those interposed by such a personal opponent as the devil is ordinarily thought to be, but “more probably result either from the qualities of the material—the substances and forces of which the universe is composed not admitting of any arrangements by which his purposes could more completely be fulfilled; or else, the purposes might have been more fully attained, but the Creator did not know how to do it; creative skill, wonderful as it is, was not sufficiently perfect to accomplish his purposes more thoroughly.”1

Such objections to the commonly received opinions concerning the power and benevolence of the Creator cannot be altogether ignored. But fortunately a satisfactory answer can ...

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