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must of necessity be so, because it contains no evil but natural, all the evil it contains being identical with natural evil. Whatever perplexity, therefore, may be occasioned by the contemplation of any particular instance of moral evil, of all the relations of which we are ignorant, this single consideration would seem to be sufficient to set the mind at rest on this difficult and most important subject. But in point of fact, we have the like proof from experience, that moral evil is the means of producing good, that we have of the beneficial operation of natural evil. If there be one individual the disposition of whose mind and the conduct of whose life have been improved by the moral evils into which he has fallen, this proof is established. There is no more reason in the nature of the thing why the temporary prevalence of vice may not lead to the advancement and exaltation of virtue, than, why the temporary derangement of the functions of a corporeal organ may not excite actions within it which shall ultimately produce a more firm and vigorous health. We know by experience that the latter is often the case, and experience gives us the same assurance that the former is so. How many persons have been taught by the seductions of sin, with a strength of feeling which no other means could have excited, the sweetness and loveliness of goodness How
many have been induced to attach themselves to virtue with an ardour and devotedness which could not have existed had they not experienced the meanness and odiousness of vice How deep a sense, how affecting an impression of piety, has sometimes immediately succeeded some blameable neglect of its duties or forgetfulness of its spirit ! How many thousands have been taught the enormity, and saved from the commission of great crimes by the stings of remorse produced by the consciousness of lesser guilt. These and many similar examples are indications that moral evil is a most active and beneficent agent in forming and perfecting the moral character; they afford good reason to believe that it will be the means through every future period of its existence, of rendering the human being holier and happier. Although at present its agency is thus obviously beneficial only in a few individuals, yet the present is the first state of discipline in which the evil-doer has been placed, and there is an eternity before him, and all the various means which absolute wisdom and unbounded power can bring to operate upon him. The examples to which allusion has been made establish the fact, that the operation of moral evil is beneficial to the moral delinquent. One such example is sufficient to prove the truth of the principle, and the principle once established, the great difficulty which seems to attach to the Divine government is removed. All instances appearing to lead to an opposite conclusion, from our not knowing how they will terminate in producing a preponderance of good, are merely arguments from our ignorance. However numerous or perplexing, they afford not the slightest evidence in contradiction to a principle established by positive proof: they are mere appearances: appearances as likely to be false as real: it is as conceivable that they may be in perfect accordance with this principle as in contradiction to it. Of this principle, in the mean time, there is certain evidence, and this evidence cannot of course be affected by appearances which may as reasonably be supposed to be in harmony with it as in opposition to it. . It is universally acknowledged that moral evil is essential to the existence of some virtues, Forbearance, forgiveness, clemency, generosity, resistance to temptation, devotedness to the reformation of vice, all these necessarily imply the prevalence of moral evil. Moral evil, then, constitutes an essential part of that discipline to which we are indebted for the formation and the vigor of the highest excellencies. This is a separate and a decisive proof of the beneficial operation of moral evil in general; and it is a presumptive proof that it will be ultimately beneficial in every instance.
We can conceive that beings of a higher order might have needed no experience of vice to teach them the beauty and excellence of virtue; that they might have been made sensible of the infinite power, wisdom, and goodness of the Deity, by being rendered perfectly happy in him, and in each other; but it does not seem possible for such imperfect creatures as we are, to have attained to this knowledge and felicity without some previous admixture of suffering. By no other means could we have had so deep a sense of the mercy of our heavenly Father, of his forgiveness, of his infinite goodness in providing the means of escaping from the consequences of sin, and in holding out to us so glorious a reward for our sincere endeavours to prepare ourselves" for pure and unmixed happiness. By the memory of our former imperfections and sufferings, by the power of contrast, or, perhaps, by means inseparably connected with what we now are, though we cannot trace the connexion, or by other methods which we cannot at present comprehend, he may make us, through every future period of our being, unspeakably better and happier for what we endure, than we could otherwise have been. He has infinite compensations in his power; and if our infirmities and pains are necessary to our own well-being, and to the orderland harmony of the system, to have withheld them
would not have been benevolence, but the want of it. Upon the whole, then, if some degree of evil, both natural and moral, be indispensable, if this evil be made the means of producing a preponderance of good, and if the compensation thus afforded for its temporary prevalence, extending through eternity, be absolutely without limit, the perfect benevolence of the Deity must be admitted to be established. And it cannot but afford the contemplative and virtuous mind the highest satisfaction to know, that the actual amount of moral evil is extremely small compared with what is commonly apprehended. For one crime there are many virtues: for one act of cruelty there are ten of kindness: for one offence destructive to the happiness of individuals and of society, there are a thousand innocent, peaceful and generous transactions. The worst characters are often acquired by one or two evil actions, and if the deeds of any one day in the life of any bad man, however devoted to wickedness, be examined, there will be found ten that are useful, or, at least, innoxious, for one that is positively injurious, A single instance of theft, violence or murder, fills a whole neighbourhood with consternation; and oftentimes forms the topic of conversation for weeks or months; but no one thinks of noticing the thousands and thousands of innocent, peaceful,