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evil, the evil itself must have had prior existence; but in what can this original evil consist ? Shall we say, In Satan, and place in him the first cause of all the evils and temptations of the earth? But he himself was originally guiltless; and temptation was to him the occasion of his fall. If, then, temptation itself were an evil, or if evil were its first source, God must have been its creator and mover; but what is this, if it be not blasphemy? “ Think of God in goodness, and seek Him in the simplicity of your heart. Great is the Lord, and praiseworthy; above all, immeasurable is His good
One generation after another shall praise His works, and proclaim His might. They shall declare the power and glory of His holiness, and narrate His wonders. They shall renew the remembrance of His abundant sweetness, and rejoice in His justice. Good is the Lord to all, and His mercy reaches above all His works.” (Ps. cxliv.) Think, therefore, of God in goodness; for “God is love; and he who abides in love, abides in God.”
And what can we say of God, but that “God is love ?” Shall we call His very being mercy, or justice, or severity, or all-directing Providence ? Amongst the three eternal and infinite Persons, into which the one self-knowing and self-loving divine Being unfolds itself, there can be no reciprocal justice, or mercy, or guidance; amongst them there can be nothing but holy love; and when we fear the justice of God, implore His mercy, or commit ourselves to His guidance, these divine properties (as they are called) are but the different expressions or manifestations of the one divine and holy love to its free creatures, according to the
conduct of these creatures, and their conformity or opposition to the holy will of God.
When, therefore, we inquire concerning the origin of evil, it cannot be doubted that we must look for it in creatures; and as we are now speaking of such as are free or spiritual, who bear a relation of morality and justice to their Creator, it must be a violation of this relation which brings their guilt upon them.
Thus do we arrive at the knowledge and understanding of the great event, upon the reception or rejection of which Christianity stands or falls. We stand under the tree of the knowledge of good or evil, which, as sacred Scripture informs us, gave occasion to the decision on the weal or woe of the human race. And here, under the shade of this tree, — so full of destiny, which to one appears to veil mysteries impenetrable and incomprehensive, whilst another can find in this mystic gloom only the origin of fabulous storywe must linger awhile, and see whether this true account of man's misery and man's salvation, of evil and of redemption, be clearly fixed upon our minds, and then, with the Psalmist, we may exclaim, “ In heaven, O Lord, is Thy mercy; Thy truth reaches to the clouds. Thy justice is like to the eternal mountains ; Thy judgments are an unfathomable abyss. But the sons of men shall hope with confidence under the shadow of Thy wings. Extend Thy mercy over all who know Thee. Give Thy justification to all who are of a right heart.” (Ps. xxxv.)
N the ancient chronicles of France we read of one of its kings, that he
made it his custom and his rule to eat every day at dessert a pealed apple. Once, when his three sons were standing around him, it occurred to him to make upon them a physical experiment, or, as the
Germans would express it, to prove clearly the dispositions and sentiments of his children. They were taken so much by surprise, and the circumstance appeared to them
so insignificant, that they could not possibly divine their father's real intention. The chemist may indeed say to a mineral whose contents are to him a problem, 'In such an hour I will employ against you my acids, my waters, and my alkalies, or place you between my galvanic poles, that you may be compelled to unfold your constituent parts ;' but the master would not say to his pupil, “To-morrow at this hour I will do this or that to try you ; collect yourself, and acquit yourself as I desire you, for this is the probation to which I will subject you. Would not such a master destroy at once the desired effect; like to the lion in the Midsummer Night's Dream, which kindly and providently informed the public of his harmless nature, lest they should give themselves up to anxieties about him?
This was the prudent view taken by the French monarch, who, presenting on his knife a piece of apple, already pealed, to his eldest son, Goband, or Gobandus, said, “Come and take this morsel from thy father's hand.' Goband refused with great politeness, objecting, with courtier-like fastidiousness, that he was wholly unworthy that his king and his father should condescend to serve him with his own hand. The king did not allow him time to complete his wellarranged reply, but called his second son, who answered, 'Any thing, my father, which you command. I am indebted for all things to your goodness and wisdom.' He thought it needless to say more, and without further delay received the morsel with open mouth ; and for his ready obedience was declared the next heir to the French crown. Lothaire, the third son, instructed by his brother's example, came and did in like manner, and received for his reward the reversion of the throne of Lorrain. Hereupon Goband began to bewail his too artful conduct, and hoping to recover the favour of his father, said, “Father, I pray you give me a portion of the apple. But the king, Charles, replied, “There is now nothing remaining for thee of the apple or of the kingdom.' And hence arose the ancient French proverb, Goband, thou hast opened thy mouth too late.'
But what could the king mean by this singular conduct? He wished to make a chemical experiment in the region of the soul,-a kind of spiritual analysis and separation, which led to a determination. And to what? To evil or to good ? Certainly to the latter, He gave his sons the opportunity of proving their obedience, their alacrity, and their reverence, and tried them in these virtues. That he should have selected an apple in preference to any thing else, no one will be much surprised. And because the first man's probation was also connected with the fruit of a tree, who will consider that this fruit is to be viewed as any thing essential in this event ?
For let us now pass from this history to another and more holy one, and inquire how the obedience of the first man, as a filial obedience towards his heavenly Father and the Lord of the world, was proved; whether by a command to do, or a command not to do something, consequently by a prohibition. The sacred Scripture informs us that it was the latter. And if we advance a step farther (not through any presumptuous curiosity, but through a desire of information) and ask, wherefore was the probation constituted in a prohibition and not in a command; the answer, on one side, will be founded upon the relation of a free creature to its God,—a relation of subordination, by virtue of which the creature has nothing more to do than to desire the will of God, and to submit its own will. And, on the other side, the answer will be founded upon the nature of a probation, which must lead to the determination of the object proved. For this determination cannot take place without some division in the interior; and this division, between the desire and accomplishment