S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
Pain and sickness, shame and reproach, poverty and old age, nay, death itself, considering the shortness of their duration, and the advantage we may reap from them, do not deserve the name of evils. A good mind may bear up under them with fortitude, with indolence, and with cheerfulness of heart. The tossing of a tempest does not discompose him which he is sure will bring him to a joyful harbour.
In so far as the laws of nature produce evil, they are clearly not benevolent. They may produce much good. But why is this good mixed with evil? The most subtle and powerful intellects have been labouring for centuries to solve these difficulties. The true solution, we are inclined to think, is that which has been rather suggested, than developed, by Paley and Butler. But there is not one solution which will not apply quite as well to the evils of over-population as to any other evil. Many excellent people think that it is presumptuous to meddle with such high questions at all, and that, though there doubtless is an explanation, our faculties are not sufficiently enlarged to comprehend that explanation. This mode of getting rid of the difficulty, again, will apply quite as well to the evils of over-population as to any other evils. We are quite sure that those who humbly confess their inability to expound the great enigma act more rationally and more decorously than Mr. Sadler, who tells us, with the utmost confidence, which are the means and which the ends, which the exceptions and which the rules, in the government of the universe;who consents to bear a little evil without denying the divine benevolence, but distinctly announces that a certain quantity of dry weather or stormy weather would force him to regard the Deity as the tyrant of his creatures.
Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay: Sadlers Law of Population, July, 1830.
We will now proceed to examine the reply which Mr. Sadler has thought fit to make to our arguments. He begins by attacking our remarks on the origin of evil. They are, he says, too profound for common apprehension; and he hopes that they are too profound for our own. That they seem profound to him we can well believe. Profundity, in its secondary as in its primary sense, is a relative term. When Grilling was nearly drowned in the Brobdignagian cream-jug, he doubtless thought it very deep. But to common apprehension our reasoning would, we are persuaded, appear perfectly simple. The theory of Mr. Malthus, says Mr. Sadler, cannot be true, because it asserts the existence of a great and terrible evil, and is therefore inconsistent with the goodness of God. We answer thus: We know that there are in the world great and terrible evils. In spite of these evils, we believe in the goodness of God. Why may we not then continue to believe in his goodness, though another evil should be added to the list?
Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay: Sadlers Refutation Refuted, Jan. 1831.
If revelation speaks on the subject of the origin of evil, it speaks only to discourage dogmatism and temerity. In the most ancient, the most beautiful, and the most profound of all works on the subject, the Book of Job, both the sufferer who complains of the divine government and the injudicious advisers who attempt to defend it on wrong principles are silenced by the voice of supreme wisdom, and reminded that the question is beyond the reach of the human intellect. St. Paul silences the supposed objector who strives to force him into controversy in the same manner. The church has been ever since the apostolic times agitated by this question, and by a question which is inseparable from it, the question of fate and free-will. The greatest theologians and philosophers have acknowledged that these things were too high for them, and have contented themselves with hinting at what seemed to be the most probable solution. What says Johnson? All our effort ends in belief that for the evils of life there is some good reason, and in confession that the reason cannot be found. What says Paley? Of the origin of evil no universal solution has been discovered; I mean, no solution which reaches to all cases of complaint. The consideration of general laws, although it may concern the question of the origin of evil very nearly, which I think it does, rests in views disproportionate to our faculties, and in a knowledge which we do not possess. It serves rather to account for the obscurity of the subject than to supply us with distinct answers to our difficulties.
Lord Thomas Babington Macaulay: Sadlers Refutation Refuted.
As surely as God is good, so surely there is no such thing as necessary evil. For by the religious mind, sickness and pain and death are not to be accounted evils. Moral evils are of your own making; and undoubtedly the greater part of them may be prevented. Deformities of mind, as of body, will sometimes occur. Some voluntary castaways there will always be, whom no fostering kindness and no parental care can preserve from self-destruction; but if any are lost for want of care and culture there is a sin of omission in the society to which they belong.
It is certain that all the evils in society arise from want of faith in God, and of obedience to His laws; and it is no less certain that by the prevalence of a lively and efficient belief they would all be cured. If Christians in any country, yea, if any collected body of them, were what they might, and ought, and are commanded to be, the universal reception of the gospel would follow as a natural and a promised result. And in a world of Christians, the extinction of physical evil might be looked for, if moral evil, that is, in Christian language, sin, were removed.
The truly virtuous do not easily credit evil that is told them of their neighbours; for if others may do amiss, then may these also speak amiss: man is frail, and prone to evil, and therefore may soon fail in words.