29 July 2012

Why Evil?

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume 49, sermon number 2862, "The Way of Wisdom."
 “I am not so much troubled about how evil came into the world as about helping get it out.”

   There are ways of God, in dealing with the human race, which are very perplexing to the judgment of such poor mortals as we are. We try to study a piece of history; and—especially if it is a short piece of history,—it appears to us all tangled and confused. A further research, over a longer period, will often explain what could not be understood in the shorter range of vision; but even history as a whole, from the Creation and the Fall until now, contains many strange puzzles to a man who believes that God is, through it all, working out his own glory, and that a part of his glory will consist in producing the highest amount of good to the greatest number of his creatures.

   What a mass of mysteries meets us on the very threshold of human history. The serpent in the garden,—how and why came it to be there? And the devil in the serpent,—why was there a devil at all? And the evil that made the angel into a devil,—why was that permitted? And all the evil that has been since then,—why has it not been destroyed? We cannot answer any of these queries. The negro’s question to the missionary, “If God is stronger than Satan, why does not he kill him?” is another enquiry which we cannot answer. Depend upon it, if it were, on the whole, best that the devil should be killed, he would be killed; and if it had been, after all, most for God’s glory that there should be no evil, there would have been none. We do not know how and why certain things have happened, and we must be content not to know unless God reveals it to us.

   All through history, God seems to be aiming at a certain mark, yet his arrow does not hit the target so far as you and I can judge. Often, he appears to do as the rifleman does, who knows that, if he sent the ball in a direct line to the target, he would miss it, so he makes allowance for certain deflections which will be caused by the force of attraction, by the wind, and various other opposing influences, and aims accordingly. God often proves that the nearest way to attain his end is to go round about; so, when he means to cleanse a man, he sometimes allows him first to get more foul; when he intends to clothe him, he first strips him naked; when he resolves to enrich him, he first makes him as poor as Lazarus at the rich man’s gate; and, strange to say, when he means to make him alive, he kills him. God’s modes of procedure, then, allow for deflection, and every other kind of influence, and are not to be understood by us. If you take the whole range of history, and look at it carefully, you will be obliged to feel that, if God has been working there, as we are quite sure he has, ordering all things with consummate wisdom, then his pathway through the world is one which no vulture’s eye hath ever seen, and which no lion or lion’s whelp hath ever traveled.

   It may be that some of you are, at the present moment, complaining of a certain providential dealing of God with regard to you, and that you are thinking and saying that it must be an evil providence. Yet it is, all the while, one of the best things that has ever happened to you. That, over which you are now mourning, will give you good cause for singing in a little while. Probably, that tribulation, which fetches most tears from our eyes here, will be among the subjects of our choicest song in the eternal realms of joy. We need not know, and we cannot know, what God is doing, but we may be quite sure that he doeth all things well.


Manfred said...

Most excellent counsel and a great reminder of the character of our sovereign Lord and God - thanks!

Mizz Harpy said...

Thanks for posting this. I started reading through Job this morning and came across 1:20-22. I realized that every time I complain about how things are turning out I am accusing God of not being sovereign and am refusing to acknowledge His glory in all things.

Donavan said...

What's this

"the highest amount of good to the greatest number of his creatures."

Where did he get that?
Sounds like Molinism?

Kerry James Allen said...

In keeping with Frank Turk's definition of "Nash Equilibrium" I would say that Molinism, named after Luis de Molina, an ancestor of Alfred Molina who played Dr. Octopus in the second Spider Man movie, is the position that Doc Ock, having four extra arms knows what each of them would freely do in a given situation. Hope you all enjoy the Spurgeon post.

Johnny Dialectic said...

Never quite understood why Calvinists, who extol sovereignty, would deny to God Molinist-omniscience, esp. since there's nothing unbiblical about it. Perhaps because libertarian free will gives them the willies (that's an apt term)?

Anyway, I don't see Molinism in this passage. It's consistent with mono-sovereignty and, thus, Calvinism.

Frank Turk said...

That's not Molinism?

donsands said...

"Perhaps because libertarian free will gives them the willies"-JD

It can be a concern when "free will" usurps God's sovereign omnipotence.

I suppose God's sovereign will to harden an already hard heart may give some Christians the willies as well.

Nash Equilibrium said...

Free Willies?