Page:Auerbach-Spinozanovel.djvu/305

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283
PANTHEISM.

that say, God punishes the wicked. Evil is thus a necessity, and why did God create it?"

"When it is called so in the Scriptures, it is because they are not written to teach men philosophy, but only obedience and righteous living, and therefore accommodate themselves to ordinary ways of expression. God, however, did create what we in our ordinary conceptions call imperfections, because he had the material to create everything with one word, from the highest to the lowest degrees of perfection; or, to speak more exactly, because the laws of his nature are so comprehensive that they are sufficient for the creation of all that can only be grasped by an infinite intelligence. Men can be excused their deeds, and though losing in happiness on that account, they may be chastened with much trouble and sorrow. I answer with Paul," continued Spinoza in a stern voice, 'They act according to their nature like serpents, and like serpents must therefore be destroyed.' He who becomes mad through a dog's bite, is he not excused? And yet men do right to burn him. He who cannot restrain his inclinations, or control himself by regard for the law, is to be excused on account of his weakness; but yet he will never rejoice in peace of mind, the knowledge and love of God, which is the only true good; it is a matter of necessity that he goes to ruin."