ence of evil is incompatible with the existence of an omnipotent and infinitely beneficent Cause.
But, assuming the existence of evil to be to us inexplicable, we are but thereby landed in a choice of difficulties, between which, it seems to me, no rational man should for one moment hesitate.
One difficulty is the existence of a complex Cosmos, which could never have been naturally selected, and whereof intelligence and goodness (in ourselves) form part, without an adequate cause—i. e., without God. To regard this non-theistic view as a possibility is, in my eyes, the acme of irrationality.
The other difficulty is the possible accord with God's infinite goodness, of evil, permitted for purposes we can not conceive of, and due to attributes higher than, though not inconsistent with, beneficence. How any one, who has not the presumption of pretending to understand what God is, can really find this second difficulty a serious one, is to me amazing.
Christianity can supply not only an explanation but also a profound consolation for the troubles of this life, and mere ordinary experience shows us that things we have now and then desired would, if obtained, have been baneful for us, as also that apparent evils have been blessings in disguise. Prof. Huxley, indeed, very truly says:
On this we have often insisted; but none the less we are from asserting that ours is the best of all possible worlds. All I would affirm is that God must have created a Cosmos such as to respond most fitly to the intention of a Being infinite in intelligence and goodness, but also possessing attributes of which we can have no conception whatever.
Heartily do I echo Prof. Huxley's denunciation of the words, "Whatever is, is right," as opposed to all our noblest aspirations, and most true is his remark that—
To the man with an ethical ideal, the world, including himself, will always seem full of evil.
But the teaching of the lecture, as a whole, is a depressing one. Many years ago Prof. Huxley taught that in "sadness" lay "the essence of all religion," and little comfort is to be gained from his
- As to "Natural Selection" in this relation, and as to adequacy and the eternity of the Cosmos and its Cause, see On Truth, chapter xxvi, pp. 450-499.
- [December Monthly, p. 182.] His difficulty rather concerns the merely animal world. As to this question, space does not allow me to do more than refer my readers to my book On Truth, p. 471.
- [December Monthly, p. 182, note.]
- Lay Sermons (1870), p. 15.