The Ministry Of Pain -- By: Edward M. Merrins
BSac 69:273 (Jan 1912) p. 115
The Ministry Of Pain
Despite the recent great increase of comforts and luxuries in civilized lands, the amelioration of poverty, the wonderful alleviation of physical pain and suffering by the resources of modern medicine and surgery, the steady reduction of sickness in the aggregate, and the declining death-rate, the problem of pain and sorrow still presses heavily on the minds of men, causing many to drift from their religious moorings. Of the late Sir Leslie Stephen, at one time a clergyman, it is said that he was a rebel against pain, not on his own account, for he stood his own trials well, but in a Promethean man-loving spirit. It was the sight of the world’s tragedy which made him an agnostic. Unquestionably, there is a vast amount of suffering in the world, the contemplation of which at times strains the faith of even the sturdiest believer in the good Providence of God. There are the calamities of nature, — the storms, shipwrecks, fires, earthquakes, droughts, famines, inundations, pestilences, the numerous diseases and accidents, — which collectively destroy millions of human beings every year, and make life a burden to countless others. There are also man’s deliberate cruelty to man, his cruelty to the lower animals, and the deadly and incessant struggle between all forms of life for bare existence, which has been going on for ages to such a degree that some evolutionists describe the world as one great battle-field heaped with the slain, an in-
BSac 69:273 (Jan 1912) p. 116
ferno of infinite suffering and slaughter, resounding with the cries of ceaseless agony.
Further, there are the miseries of man’s social life.
“What mischiefs still haunt the world to which our eyes are yet hardly open; what tragedies lie bid beneath the most brilliant society; what miserable and hopeless masses of life are covered by the roofs of a great city; how in dumb and silent anguish hearts are looking out every morning for good that never comes, and arms are stretched in vain for help that no one knows how to give; how, in the highest public prosperity, doubt and suffering, barbarism untamable and unconquered, never cease to cross its path and affront its pride; how the brightest life, the keenest intellectual power, is at the mercy of the irreparable stroke,—the catastrophe, the bereavement, the life-long madness or palsy, the pang that cannot be charmed.”
There are also the spiritual woes of mankind, of which Newman gives a daring summary: —
“the just overcome, the aged failing; the sophistry of misbelief, the wilfulness of passion, the obduracy of pride, the tyranny of habit, the canker of remorse, the wasting fever of care, the anguish of ...
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