The Mystery Of Evil -- By: Thomas Chalmers

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 057:226 (Apr 1900)
Article: The Mystery Of Evil
Author: Thomas Chalmers


The Mystery Of Evil

Thomas Chalmers.

First Congregational Church, Manchester, N. H.

John Fiske, in his recent book “Through Nature to God,” makes a strong argument for the indispensable function of evil in the cosmic process, and thus aims to vindicate, in a world in which evil exists, the goodness of an omnipotent Creator. “We are forced,” says he, “to admit that whatever may be the function of evil in this world, it is an indispensable function.” “If there were no such thing as evil, how could there be such a thing as goodness?” “But for tasting the forbidden fruit, in what respect could roan have become a being of higher order than the beasts of the field?”

His book as a whole is an impressive defense of religion as an eternal

reality; for, although he here and there manifests a spirit not altogether kindly toward religious conservatism, as when he speaks of the “bats and owls of orthodoxy,” yet he places the Christian church under great obligations to him, by his powerful argument for the great facts of which, in the history of human thought, orthodoxy has, for the most part, stood as the lonely defense. The book may justly be regarded as a distinct contribution to the literature of apologetics.

But his treatment of the function of evil is not satisfying to the ethical sense, and leaves a legitimate question in the mind, whether he has not, either lowered the conception of God as a moral being, or minimized the heinousness of evil. It seems, therefore, a fitting time for a new statement of the idea of evil.2 We refer especially to the idea of moral evil.

In all the literature on the subject, evil has been treated chiefly as a thing in itself, a principle, a mystery of creation. Against this conception we place the following proposition :—

Evil is not a mystery of creation. It is not a thing in its-If in any other sense than is doing and choosing. Evil is vicious choosing. Good is benevolent choosing. Choosing, or selection, was not created nor interpolated into the universe from without. Life was created, and choosing, good and bad, was involved in the creation of life with liberty. Evil itself is a superfluous calamity.

Life And Liberty

The thing which God did create was life. And liberty in some form is the indispensable condition of all life. To say that God created life, is to say at the same time that he gave it the liberty of growth, selection, and choice.

The Cosmic Process Exists Purely For Moral Ends.

The grandest possible p...

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