It has been very constantly preached, and very generally believed, that the suffering which follows wrong-doing is a divine provision, an expression of what the Old Testament writers called "the vengeance of the Lord." Present-day theology would name it the means by which God is trying to make plain to men the unvarying authority of law and to establish in them those elements of character which only the heroic endurance of pain secures.

Christian Science presents an altogether different view, in its teaching that the infinite good does not legislate for evil; that Truth has no use for error, and that the assumption that God has called sin and sorrow, suffering and death into being, for the consummation of a gracious purpose, is entirely out of keeping with the divine nature and with the teaching of Christ Jesus. It declares that distress is the invariable and inevitable outcome of disobedience to the demands of spiritual being, and that the only word Truth has for error is the word of annihilation: "Thou shalt surely die."

The anthropomorphic sense of Deity to which the Old Testament writers give frequent expression in their report of God's asserted smiting of evil-doers hip and thigh, still holds place in Christian thought. Thus, as the averred agent of divine justice, Elijah is excused for his slaughter of the priests of Baal, and Peter's assertedly death-dealing words to Ananias and Sapphira are looked upon as in keeping with his authority as the exponent of divine law. This philosophy finds a place in its scheme of divine government for the catastrophes of flood and earthquake, of heredity and contagion, and it therefore lends itself with little protest to militant means for the enforcement of law and the achievement of good ends.

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December 25, 1909

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