Page:Guideforperplexed.djvu/317

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Ps. cxix. 144); and "I the Lord speak righteousness" (Isa. xlv. 19). If you adopt this method, you will not imagine the existence of things which God has not created, or accept principles which might partly lead to atheism, or to a corruption of your notions of God so as to ascribe to Him corporeality, attributes, or emotions, as has been shown by us, nor will you believe that the words of the prophets are false: for the cause of this disease is ignorance of what we have explained. These things belong likewise to the mysteries of the Law; and although we have treated them in a general manner, they can easily be understood in all their details in accordance with the above remarks.

CHAPTER XLVIII

IT is clear that everything produced must have an immediate cause which produced it; that cause again a cause, and so on, till the First Cause, viz., the will and decree of God is reached. The prophets therefore omit sometimes the intermediate causes, and ascribe the production of an individual thing directly to God, saying that God has made it. This method is well known, and we, as well as others of those who seek the truth, have explained it; it is the belief of our co-religionists.

After having heard this remark, listen to what I will explain in this chapter; direct your special attention to it more than you have done to the other chapters of this part. It is this: As regards the immediate causes of things produced, it makes no difference whether these causes consist in substances, physical properties, freewill, or chance--by freewill I mean that of man--or even in the will of another living being. The prophets [omit them and] ascribe the production directly to God and use such phrases as, God has done it, commanded it, or said it: in all such cases the verbs "to say," "to speak," "to command," "to call," and "to send" are employed. What I desired to state in this chapter is this: According to the hypothesis and theory accepted, it is God that gave will to dumb animals, freewill to the human being, and natural properties to everything; and as accidents originate in the redundancy of some natural force, as has been explained [by Aristotle] and are mostly the result of the combined action of nature, desire, and freewill: it can consequently be said of everything which is produced by any of these causes, that God commanded that it should be made, or said that it should be so. I will give you instances, and they will guide you in the interpretation of passages which I do not mention. As regards phenomena produced regularly by natural causes, such as the melting of the snow when the atmosphere becomes warm, the roaring of the sea when a storm rages [I quote the following passages], "He sendeth his word and melteth them" (Ps. cxlvii. 18); "And he saith, and a storm-wind riseth, and lifteth up its waves" (ibid. cvii. 25) In reference to the rain we read: "I will command the clouds that they shall not rain," etc. (Isa. v. 6). Events caused by man's freewill, such as war, the dominion of one nation over another, the attempt of one person to hurt another, or to insult him, [are ascribed to God, as] e.g., in reference to the dominion of Nebuchadnezzar and his host, "I have commended my holy ones, also I have called my heroes for my anger" (Isa. xiii. 3); and "I will send him against a hypocrite nation" (ibid. x. 6) in reference to Shimei, son of Gera, "For God said to him, Curse David" (2 Sam. xvi. 10); in reference to