cannot be accepted by die judgment of reason as what is purposed of the world : good only is purposed : evil is annihilation.
Plato held that the whole was purposed and willed; and tliat the commandments and prohibitions relating to the acts of responsible beings in the world are to be understood as encouragements for those of whom it is known in God's foreknowledge that they will perform the things so commanded, and deterrents to those of whom it is known in God's foreknowledge that they will refrain from the things so forbidden. The commandment is a cause of the act happening in the case of those of whom it is known diat the act will occur from them ; the prohibition is the cause of abstention in those who are repelled from the wickedness for that reason. But for die commandment, the agent of good would not be encouraged to act; but for die prohibition there would not be this abstention on his part. Plato imagined that it would have been possible for corruption to occur a hundred per cent but for this prohibition ; with the intervention of the prohibition, it has only occurred fifty per cent. In the same way if there had been no commandment, nodiing of righteousness would have occurred at all; with the supervening of the commandment fifty per cent of righteousness resulted.
As for praise and blame, these have two objects: one, to incite the agent of good to repeat the like act which it is willed should occur from him ; the odier, to deter the one from whom the act has resulted from repeating a like act, and to ensure that the one from whom such an act may result may absuin from doing what it is willed should not occur from him, it being within his competence to do that thing.
' It is not right to bold that reward and punishment are in accordance with what the scholastic thcclogiaas suppose—to acquit the forakator, far example, by loading Mm with chains and shackles, to bum him with fire again and again, and to loose snakes and scorpions against him. Such conduct is the way of those who desire to have their revenge on their enemy, by some mischief or pain befalling him as a reprisal for his aggression against them ; and it is clearly untenable that God should be possessed of such an attribute, or that He should so visit one whom He willed to refrain from committing a like action, or to be restrained from repeating such a deed. It is likewise not to be conceived, as they have imagined, that after the resurrection any soul shall again be made responsible, or be made the object of any commandment or prohibition, so that it should be restrained or refrain from a course of action by reason of being a spectator of Divine reward and punishment in that world.
As for the sanctions established by the sacred law with reference to those who commit acts of disobedience against God, these operate after the same fashion as the prohibition itself, in that they restrain those who will abstain from such an act, whereas but for the prohibition it is conceivable that that act might occur from them. There is also some advantage in having sanctions, since they prevent the offender from entering upon a further course of corruption. Moreover men must be bound by one kind of fetter or another—cither of the sacred law, or of reason —in order that the order of the world may be maintained in full perfection : it is a matter of common observation, that if any man were loosed from both sets of chains the corruption he would commit would be quite intolerable, and the entire order of the world's affairs would be impaired as a result of his release from both kinds of fetters. But God knows better, and is wiser.
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