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atonement also, is eternal. And so the relationship of God to moral evil stands forth as an eternal relationship. Not that evil is itself eternal; but God always knew it and always felt it. It may help our thinking in this direction to remember that there is a sense in which creation itself is eternal; not independently eternal, but, of God's will, dependently eternal.
There must nothing be said, or thought, in mitigation of the ethical verdict against moral evil. The hatefulness of it, no matter what its chronology may be, is simply unspeakable. Violated law is monstrous. Ūnmindfulness of God, who has always been so mindful of us, is mean. Never to pray, either in one's closet or in one's family, is against all the proprieties. Idolatry is childish and contemptible. Profaneness of speech is scandalous. Neglect of holy time is robbery. Disobedience to parents is shameful. Murder is hideous. Unchastity murders the soul, is indeed both murder and suicide. And so of all the rest. Theft, falsehood, and even inordinate desire are abominable. Imagine a community, larger or smallera family, a township, a state, or a nation where the Ten Commandments are persistently trampled under foot, and you will have imagined a community intolerable even to itself. And if this be our human judgment, what must the divine judgment be? The more pure and righteous a moral being is, the more squarely he must antagonize, more intensely he must hate, the more surely he must punish impurity and unrighteousness. Volcanic fire inside the globe, forked lightning outside of it, are faint emblems of holy wrath. Wrong doing is the one thing nowhere, and never, to be either condoned or endured. Physical accident, bodily sickness, financial disaster, social bereavement, may all be pitied. But when a thoroughly bad man stands revealed, only lightning is logical. He that sows the wind ought to reap the whirlwind. It was a great philosopher who stood amazed at the starry sky, and at the moral sense in man. Well he might. There is no softness in the midnight sky; only cold blue marble, and a steady blaze that never relents, and is never tired. You can not endure that blaze, you dare not risk yourself out alone among those gleaming orbs with a guilty secret in your bosom. The universe is instinct with law that never abdicates. Remorse is not repentance; and even repentance washes out no stain. Selfforgiveness is impossible. The trumpet is always sounding; every day is a judgment-day; and every one of us goes to the left. Gehenna is the only logical goal of sin.
Nor should any attempt be made to get at the genesis of moral evil. The beginning of it is simply inconceivable. The whole thing is a mystery and must be let alone. Moral evil is not eternal; or there would be two infinities.
Nor is it a creature of God; or God would be divided against Himself. And yet it had the divine permission, whatever that may be imagined to have been. With every attribute roused and alert-infinity of power, infinity of wisdom, infinity of holiness—God stood by and let evil enter. Angels revolted first, somewhere among the stars. Mankind revolted. Was evil really unavoidable in a proper moral system? If so, immorality is not immoral. Evil that is really essential to good should not be considered evil. It would be only the bitter bud of the fragrant blossom and the luscious fruit. Or, putting it in another form, will you say that God could not have prevented evil? He certainly could have prevented it. In Heaven to-day, what is the security of saints and angels, of your own dear sainted mother, of Gabriel himself, but God's own grace constraining the will of every saint, constraining the will of every seraph? What is human sin but the abuse of human appetites, of human passions, of human faculties, in themselves all innocent ? Study the lesson of our Lord's temptation in the desert. Certainly, He was not tempted as we are, by inflamed appetites and passions, by impaired and disordered faculties. But He possest all these natural appetites, passions, and faculties; and they were put to a real and a tremendous strain. That “great duel, Milton calls it, was no sham fight; one or the
other had to go down. Christ was gnawed by hunger, but refused to eat. He saw what might be done by a brilliant miracle towards inaugurating His Jewish ministry, but refused to work it. He saw the short, Satanic path to Messianic dominion, but chose Gethsemane and Calvary. Now the first Adam was just as cool and just as innocent as the second Adam. And, with more of grace to strengthen him, he too might have stood. There was no real necessity for that first human disobedience. It was sheer, wanton, gratuitous, inexplicable apostasy. Somewhat more of divine constraint, and the catastrophe would certainly have been averted. Call it non-prevention, call it permission, call it anything you please, somehow sin entered in spite of God's hating it. It came knocking for admission, and God's shoulder was not against the gate. For some reason, or reasons, not revealed, perhaps not revealable, God thought it best not to put His shoulder against the gate. The hateful and hated thing pushed through. Ormuzd let in Ahriman. I thank the Persian for these two words. They embody and emphasize the historic dualism of good and evil. The historic dualism, you will observe I say; there is no other dualism. God is One; and Master of all. The divine permission of hateful and hated evil, when we fairly apprehend it, is a tremendous statement, which might well be challenged, were not the thing itself so undeniably a fact. This is as far as we can go. Here we halt, with our bruised and throbbing foreheads hard up against the granite cliff.
Practically, historic sin finds relief in historic redemption. Apparently, there was little, if any, interval between the two. Sin came, perhaps, with the noontide rest. “In the cool of the day”—that same day, most likely—the offended Lord came walking in the garden. The colloquy had a sharp beginning, but a mellow ending. The bitten heel would finally crush the biting head. And the struggle at once began. The Lord came down very close to His erring, guilty, frightened children. And they clung very closely to Him. We are in great danger of underrating that primitive economy of grace. The record is very brief, and the Oriental genius of it seems strange to us. But we see an altar there; and it can have but one meaning. Ages after, in all the nobler ethnic religions—Egyptian, Indian, Persian, and Pelasgic-we encounter echoes and survivals of that first vouchsafement of revelation. In all the great religions, we find one God; in all of them, personal immortality, with retribution; in most of them, divine triads; in two of them at least, the resurrection of the body. If it be true, as we may well believe, that Socrates is now in Heaven, singing the new song, it is because he sacrificed; and he sacrificed,