Added interest attaches to the religious situation to-day, in view of the fact that those who hold tenaciously to the reality of evil are being impelled by the logic of their position to either abandon their premises or else accept the inevitable conclusions they involve. Very many Christian believers pursue the even but unprogressive tenor of their way, by simply standing for their creed, without troubling themselves to think seriously or deeply about what it means; but as the assault of free inquiry continues upon the fortress of undemonstrated theories and opinions, the real issues are brought out into the open, and either the bondage of conformity to tradition is broken, and men are free, or they are driven to the necessity of endorsing the full content of their creed, be it ever so startling.

In the past the supporters of the belief in the reality of evil have tried to dodge the question of God's responsibility therefor, and evil's consequent legitimacy as an essential part of the divine order, by declaring that man was created free, and that evil is so related to the exercise of this freedom that its reality can be maintained without compromising the divine nature. This refuge has not been consented to, however, by logical inquiry, and it is coming to be seen that men must either look upon evil as unreal or else accept it as essential to divine providence and plan.

An eminent Christian writer has recently said that "a world without sin and evil would be a very unsatisfactory place. . . . If there is evolution, growth, development, we must be on the way toward perfection; we cannot have attained to it, hence some imperfection there must be, and imperfection is only a milder name for evil. . . . You cannot have heat and degrees of heat without having degrees of cold; one implies the other." ("The problem of evil," The London Clarion.) Yet another writer has said that the bad cannot be extirpated, since it is necessary there should always be something opposed to the good. "In order to know more perfectly what is right and just, and what is to be discarded, we require a course of training,—which it is the office of evil to afford,—and an agency which is necessary for this result cannot belong outside the pale of Divine Goodness"!

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October 13, 1906

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