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ing, for example, by being whipped when they do steal. But they could not be taught to refrain from it because it was an infringement of another's rights. Since they have no language properly so called, and since (so far as we are able to judge) their reasoning is always restricted to matters connected with the senses, it is unlikely that they ever reach the conceptions of duty and right. This lack of endowment renders it impossible for them to do wrong; and it is manifest that the same lack of endowment must render it equally impossible for them to do right.
Beings incapable of sinning must be ignorant of the difference between right and wrong, or must be destitute of the power of choice, or must always be impelled by irresistible instincts. In none of these cases could their conduct be really moral or right. Had God, therefore, only created creatures of this description, He would, it is true, have prevented the possibility of evil; but He would, at the same time, also have prevented the possibility of good. Nothing, as I said, could have been called into existence higher than a brute.
2d, Suppose that God had resorted to the second expedient,—that after giving us a moral nature, He had shielded us from all temptation.
What would have been the result ? Why, this. We could never have attained to the possession of a good character, for that comes only through the conquest of temptation. We might have been innocent as animals, but never upright as men. You mothers, as you look into the smiling faces of your infants, sometimes wish that you could always shield them from the deceits of the world, the flesh and the devil. It is a natural, but an unwise, wish. Their present innocence is a quality they possess in common with stocks and stones. If they are ever to rise into the moral sphere, it can only be through the medium of temptation. You should rather wish for them moral conflict,-conflict no matter how fierce and how long protracted, no matter though it call for resistance “even unto blood,” so long only as they are victors in the end.
If we take the trees of which Adam and Eve were allowed to eat to represent lawful pleasures, and the tree of which they were not allowed to eat to represent unlawful pleasures, and the command of God to represent the voice of conscience, then the account of Adam's fall will be for us a literal history of our own. Temptation has in our case led to a fall, to many falls. We are all constantly falling by eating forbidden fruit. But, thank God, though temptations have led to our fall, they may lead to our rising eventually to a height which, apart from conflict, we could never have attained. It would have been better for us, no doubt, to have been tempted without falling; but it is better to fall, and to rise again, than never to have experienced temptation : for this is absolutely essential for the moral development of every finite being. Even Christ, divine though He was, had to be made“ perfect through suffering”; and much of this suffering was due, we may be sure, to the discipline of temptation. There is a glory possible for you and me, my brother—a regal, godlike glory—which but for moral conflict could never be ours, any more than it could belong to zoophytes or machines. “To him that overcometh,” says Christ, “will I grant to sit with me on my throne.”
But, 3d, it is said that God, at any rate, might have resorted to the last of the three expedients : He might have prevented man's yielding to temptation by giving him at the outset a will strong enough infallibly to resist, or by compelling him on every occasion to use his will in the right way. To say this is, however, to talk nonsense. A will cannot be strong enough to choose only one course, for it is the essential nature of a will that it can choose either of two alternative and opposite courses. Nor can any one possibly be compelled to use his will in a particular way; that would be to deprive him of his will altogether. So long as he has it, there is, in virtue thereof, a choice of conduct open to him. God could, of course, have refrained from making us free; but then we should not have been men—we should have been only automata or brutes. God could, of course, at any moment, deprive us of our wills and make us act in a particular way, but we should then for the time cease to be men. A man must be capable of moral action, and a moral agent must be free. A forced goodness is a contradiction in terms. There is no difference in moral value between constrained obedience and free disobedience. If God used a man's will for him, or prevented him from using it in the way he preferred, that man would be no longer responsible for his conduct, and so would be reduced to the level of dead, unreasoning matter. You may keep your boy's hands out of mischief by tying them behind his back; but to the extent to which this takes away from him the power of doing wrong, to the very same extent does it deprive him of the power of doing right. To ask why God did not give Adam a more perfect will, is as absurd as to ask why the square has not been endowed with the properties of the circle. God could not have given Adam a more perfect will. Every will is a perfect will. The perfection of a will consists, not in being able to choose only one course, but in being able to choose either of two alternative courses. Right-doing is praiseworthy just because it implies that wrong might have been done but was not. John Stuart Mill argues in his posthumous Essays that had God desired His creatures to be virtuous, He would have made them so if He could. Now, from what I have already said, you will see that to make a man virtuous is an impossibility, even for omnipotence, for it is a contradiction in terms. A man might be divinely compelled to refrain from evil; but if he were so compelled, there would be no moral value in his refraining. Hence compelling him to refrain from evil is not, after all, compelling him to be virtuous. A virtuous character cannot be bestowed upon any one by a creative fiat from without. It must be the outcome of his own free will within. God can create innocent beings, and every child that He sends into the world is