? ?All things were present to God?s mind because of his will, and then, when it pleased him, had being given to them.? Pfleiderer, Grundriss, 36, advocates a realistic idealism. ?Christianity,? he says, ?is not abstract optimism, for it recognizes the evil of the actual and regards conflict with it as the task of the world?s history. It is not pessimism for it regards the evil as not unconquerable, but regards the good as the end and the power of the world.?
Jones, Robert Browning, 109, 311 ? ?Pantheistic optimism asserts that all things are good; Christian optimism asserts that all things are working together for good. Reverie in Asolando: ?From the first Power was ? I knew. Life has made clear to me That, strive but for closer view, Love were as plain to see.? Balaustion?s Adventure: ?Gladness be with thee, Helper of the world! I think this is the authentic sign and seal of Godship, that it ever waxes glad, And more glad, until gladness blossoms, bursts Into a rage to suffer for mankind And recommence at sorrow.? Browning endeavored to find God in man, and still to leave man free. His optimistic faith sought reconciliation with morality. He abhorred the doctrine that the evils of the world are due to merely arbitrary sovereignty, and this doctrine he has satirized in the monologue of Caliban on Setebos: ?Loving not, hating not, just choosing so.? Pippa Passes: ?God?s in his heaven ? All?s right with the world,? But how is this consistent with the guilt of the sinner? Browning does not say. He leaves the antinomy unsolved, only striving to hold both truths in their fullness. Love demands distinction between God and man, yet love unites God and man. Saul: ?All?s love, but all?s law.? Carlyle forms a striking contrast to Browning. Carlyle was a pessimist. He would renounce happiness for duty, and as a means to this end would suppress, not idle speech alone, but thought itself. The battle is fought moreover in a foreign cause. God?s cause is not ours. Duty is a menace, like the duty of a slave. The moral law is not a beneficent revelation, reconciling God and man. All is fear, and there is no love.? Carlyle took Emerson through the London slums at midnight and asked him: Do you believe in a devil now?? But Emerson replied: ?I am more and more convinced of the greatness and goodness of the English people.? On Browning and Carlyle, see A. H. Strong, Great Poets and their Theology, 373-447.
Henry Ward Beecher when asked whether life was worth living, replied that that depended very much upon the liver. Optimism and pessimism are largely matters of digestion. President Mark Hopkins asked a bright student if he did not believe this the best possible system. When the student replied in the negative, the President asked him how he could improve upon it. He answered: ?I would kill off all the bedbugs,
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