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THE USE OF PAIN

THE USE OF PAIN

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Published by glennpease

BY THE AUTHOR OF

"PRO CHRISTO ET ECCLESIA"

BY THE AUTHOR OF

"PRO CHRISTO ET ECCLESIA"

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Published by: glennpease on Apr 09, 2013
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04/03/2014

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THE USE OF PAIBY THE AUTHOR OF"PRO CHRISTO ET ECCLESIA"The grave difficulties attending any attempt toreconcile belief in God's universal providence withthe almost universal existence of sin which webelieve he must abhor, remain unsolved; mean-while it does not make the problem of evil simplerto represent God, while hating sin, as actuallyvisiting pain and grief upon sentient creatures.It would seem more reasonable to think of a goodGod as abhorring suffering in men as he abhorssin, and actually working with man always for joyas he does for righteousness.It is clearly necessary for the religious man toregard a personal God in two aspects — as takingthe responsibility of omnipotence for everythingthat takes place, and as, at the same time, exercis-ing a preference and governing all things for theadvantage of what he prefers. For example, themonotheist must regard sin as within God's willfor the world; and if he be also a moralist he mustalso believe that God prefers righteousness, andordains all things for the advantage of his prefer-ence.108chap, in THE USE OF PAI 109In other words, there is an aspect in which wemust believe, if we believe in an almighty God,that he is responsible for every sin and folly increation; that, having an end in view which isworth the price to be paid in sin and folly, he hascounted the cost and pays the price. In that samesense pain and misery must, of course, be laiddirectly at God's door. A father sending his soninto the school playground knows that many a cutand bruise will befall him — a broken bone, perhaps,
 
or an infectious disease. The end in view is worththe risk. But it would involve a very differentkind of father to give the child intentionally a cutor bruise, or break one of his bones, or infect himwith a disease, and very much the kind of fatherwho would lead his son into vice. Looking back,we find that it is a mere matter of history that thenations who have affirmed God's willingness torisk sin and denied his more direct will to bring itabout, have progressed, and the nations that havenot made that distinction have passed away or areawaiting some new impulse of life. It behooves us,then, to consider whether further progress doesnot depend upon recognising God as the authoronly of delight as he is the author only of righteous-ness. Familiarity has led the modern religiousmind to assume an extraordinary discrepancy inGod's ways, to suppose that, while sin in man isnot of God but purely evil, pain, though theconsequence of sin, is God's will, and thereforepurely good. The belief that God can suffer butcannot sin is not enough to justify this. 11 See Appendix A.no THE FATHER'S HOUSEWe are faced with the need for a new move-ment forward : the temporary resting-place whichthe religious mind gained by shutting off moralevil only as contrary to the will of God is ours nolonger; moral and physical evil merge indis-tinguishably into one another, and contradictionmust enter into our conception of God's characteras long as the religious mind makes him directlyresponsible for the latter and not for the former.In the sense in which God is responsible for moralevil he is responsible for physical evil, and surelyin no other sense.There are pressing reasons for rejecting theidea that salvation comes by pain. We have seenthat the average Jew had learned to think, beforeJesus came, that God could do no wrong. Sadlyenough, the definiteness with which he believed
 
God to be always right depended upon his abilityto approve of the cruel judgments which his sacredbooks attributed to God. (This is seen in thevarying outlooks of the authors of the latest booksof the Old Testament and the Apocryphal andApocalyptic literature.) ow here we see thecausal connection between attributing to God theauthorship of man's afflictions and supposing thatcruelty is at times a virtue. Why should wereturn good for evil if God by direct intentionreturns evil for evil ? Why should we deal out tomen only generosity and gentleness if God wieldsthe rod even in training his most obedientchildren ? The theologian is apt to fancy that itis possible to say that such a line of conduct isright for God but not for us; but it is merechap, in THE USE OF PAI mmatter of history that the religious man can neverpractically say, "Vengeance is for God but not forme." Jesus knew what was in man far betterwhen he urged a life of perfect gentleness andunending generosity, by the argument that it wasGod's perfection to bless the evil as well as thegood, and by the example of his own miracles,which exemplified the doctrine. The effort tocopy God's perfection is of the essence of religion;this desire to copy God is therefore quite irre-sistible to the religious man. When he believesthat God wields the rod, he himself also wields it, — in religious controversy, in civic and nationalrelations; and in so doing he fights with theweapons of the enemy, and becomes a futile agent,like a mad soldier striking wildly, now at theenemy, now at his own leader.As men believe God to be, so they are. Aslong as the Hebrew believed in a national Godhis charity had national limits. It was not untilthe thinkers of the Roman hierarchy had arrivedat the idea that salvation could be had beyondtheir own communion that their finer charity wentout to men of other religions. As a matter of everyday fact, no good man who dwells upon

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