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GOOD. of Good and Evil, Physical and Moral. We here treat of a question of the greatest difficulty and importance. It relates to the whole of human life. It would be of much greater consequence to find a remedy for our evils; but no remedy is to be discovered, and we are reduced to the sad necessity of tracing out their origin. With respect to this origin, men have disputed ever since the days of Zoroaster, and in all probability they disputed on the same subject long before him. It was to explain the mixture of good and evil that they conceived the idea of two principles–Oromazes, the author of light, and Arimanes, the author of darkness; the box of Pandora; the two vessels of Jupiter: the apple eaten by Eve; and a variety of other systems. The first of dialecticians, although not the first of philosophers, the illustrious Bayle, has clearly shown how difficult it is for christians who admit one only God, perfectly good and just, to reply to the objections of the Manicheans who acknowledge two Gods-one good, and the other evil.
The foundation of the system of the Manicheans, with all its antiquity, was not on that account more reasonable. Lemmas, susceptible of the most clear and rigid geometrical demonstration, should alone have induced any men to the adoption of such a theorem as the following :-“There are two necessary beings, both supreme, both infinite, both equally powerful, both in conflict with each other, yet, finally, agreeing to pour out
upon this little planet,-one, all the treasures of his beneficence, and the other all the stores of his malice." It is in vain that the advocates of this hypothesis attempt to explain by it the cause of good and evil: even the fable of Prometheus explains it better. Every hypothesis, which only serves to assign a reason for certain things, without being, in addition to that recommendation, established upon indisputable principles, ought invariably to be rejected.
The christian doctors (independently of revelation, which makes everything credible) explain the origin of good and evil no better than the partner-gods of Zoroaster.
When they say God is a tender father, God is a just king; when they add the idea of infinity to that of love, that kindness, that justice which they observe in the best of their own species, they soon fall into the most palpable and dreadful contradictions. How could this sovereign, who possessed in infinite fulness the principle or quality of human justice; how could this father, entertaining an infinite affection for his children; how could this being, infinitely powerful, have formed creatures in his own likeness, to have them immediately afterwards tempted by a malignant demon, to make them yield to that temptation, to inflict death on those whom he had created immortal, and to overwhelm their posterity with calamities and crimes ! We do not here speak of a contradiction still more revolting to our feeble reason.
How could God, who ransomed the human race by the death of his only son; or rather, how could God, who took upon himself the nature of man, and died on the cross to save men from perdition, consign over to eternal tortures nearly the whole of that human race for whom he died? . . Certainly, when
we consider this system merely as philosophers (without * the aid of faith) we must consider it as absolutely monstrous and abominable. It makes of God either
pure and unmixed malice, and that malice infinite, which created thinking beings, on purpose to devote them to eternal misery, or absolute impotence and imbecility, in not being able to foresee or to prevent the torments of his offspring.
But the eternity of misery is not the subject of this article, which relates properly only to the good and evil of the present life. None of the doctors of the numerous churches of christianity, all of which advocate the doctrine we are here contesting, have been able to convince a single sage. We cannot conceive how
Bayle, who managed the weapons of dialectics with such admirable strength and dexterity, could content himself with introducing in a dispute à Manichean,* a Calvinist, a Molinist, and a Socinian. Why did he not introduce, as speaking, reasonable and sensible man? Why did not Bayle) speak in his own person? He would have said far better what we shall now venture to say ourselves.
A father, who kills his children, is a monster; a king who conducts his subjects into a snare, in order to obtain a pretext for delivering them up to punishment and torture, is an execrable tyrant. If you conceive God to possess the same kindness which you require in a father, the same justice that you require in a king, no possible resource exists by which, if we may use the expression, God can be exculpated; and by allowing him to possess infinite wisdom and infinite goodness you, in fact, render him infinitely odious; you excite 2 wish that he had no existence; you furnish arms toi the atheist, who will ever be justified in triumphantly remarking to you, Better by far is it to deny a Godlo altogether, than impute to him such conduct as you would punish, to the extremity of the law, in men.
We begin then with observing, that it is unbecoming in us to ascribe to God human attributes. It is not for us to make God after our own likeness.
Human justice, human kindness, and human wisdom, can never be applied or made suitable to him. We may extend these la attributes in our imagination as far as we are able to infinity; they will never be other than human qualities p with boundaries perpetually or indefinitely removed ; it would be equally rational to attribute to him infinite ip solidity, infinite motion, infinite roundness, or infinite divisibility. These attributes can never be his. OF
Philosophy informs us that this universe must have fa been arranged by a being incomprehensible, eternal
, ci and existing by his own nature; but, once again, we si must observe, that philosophy gives us no information on the subject of the attributes of that nature. We know what he is not, and not what he is.
* See in Bayle the articles “ Manicheans,"_" Marcionites," – " Paulicians.”
With respect to God, there is neither good nor evil, hysically or morally.
What is physical or natural evil? Of all evils, the reatest, undoubtedly, is death. Let us for a moment onsider whether man could have been immortal.
In order that a body like ours should have been inissoluble, imperishable, it would have been necessary at it should not be composed of parts; that it should ot be born; that it should have neither nourishment or growth; that it should experience no change. et any one examine each of these points; and let very reader extend their number according to his wn suggestions, and it will be seen that the proposiion of an immortal man is a contradiction.
If our organized body were immortal, that of mere nimals would be so likewise : but it is evident that, in he course of a very short time, the whole globe would, a this case, be incompetent to supply nourishment to hose animals; those immortal beings which subsist nly in consequence of renovation by food, would then serish for want of the means of such renovation. All his involves contradiction. We might make various ther observations on the subject, but every reader who leserves the name of a philosopher will perceive, that leath was necessary to everything that is born; that leath .can neither be an error on the part of God, nor in evil, an injustice, nor a chastisement to man.
Man, born to die, can no more be exempt from pain than from death. To prevent an organized substance endowed with feeling from ever experiencing pain, it would be necessary that all the laws of nature should be changed; that matter should no longer be livisible; that it should neither have weight, action, nor force; that a rock might fall on an animal without crushing it; and that water should have no power to suffocate, or fire to burn it. Man impassive, then, is as much a contradiction as man immortal.
This feeling of pain was indispensible to stimulate us to self-preservation, and to impart to us such pleasures as are consistent with those general laws by which the whole system of nature is bound and regulated.
If we never experienced pain, we should be every m: ment injuring ourselves without perceiving it. Witby out the excitement of uneasiness, without some sensation of pain, we should perform no function of life; should never communicate it, and should be destitute of all the pleasures of it. Hunger is the commencement of pain, which compels us to take our required nourishment. Ennui is a pain which stimulates to exercise and occupation. Love itself is a necessity which becomes painful until it is met with corresponding attachment. In a word, every desire is a want
, a necessity, a beginning of pain. Pain, therefore, is the main spring of all the actions of animated beings. Every animal possessed of feeling must be liable to pain, if matter is divisible; and pain was as necessary as death. It is not, therefore, an error of providence, no a result of malignity, nor a creature of imagination, Had we seen only brutes suffer, we should, for that never have accused nature of harshness or cruelty, had we, while ourselves were impassive, witnessed the lingering and torturing death of a dove, when a kite seized upon it with his murderous talons, and leisurely devouring its bleeding limbs, doing in that no more than we do ourselves, we should not express the slightest murmur of dissatisfaction. But what claim hare we for an exemption of our own bodies from such dismemberment and torture beyond what might be urged in behalf of rutes ? Is it that we possess an intellect superior to theirs ? But what has intellect to do with the divisibility of matter? Can a few ideas more of less in a brain prevent fire from burning, or a rock from crushing us? Moral evil, upon
volumes have been written is, in fact, nothing but natural evil. This moral evil is a sensation of pain occasioned by one or ganized being to another. Rapine, outrage, &c. are evil only because they produce evil. But as we certainly are unable to do any evil, or occasion any pain to God, it is evident by the light of reason, (for faith is altogether a different principle) that in relation to the
which so many