Page images
PDF
EPUB

III.

BOOK reason which sat at the stern, or held the reins,

whereby he did order and govern the world; but since there is so much confusion and mixture of good and evil in the world, that nature doth not produce any pure untainted good, there is not any one who, like a drawer, takes the liquor out of two several vessels, and mixeth them together, and after distributes them; but there are two principles and powers contrary to each other, whereof one draws us to the right hand, and directs us straight forward, the other pulls us back, and turns us the other way; since we see the life of man so mixed as it is; and not only that, but the world too, at least so much as is sublunary and terrestrial, which is subject to many varieties, irregularities, and changes. For if nothing be without a cause, and good cannot be the cause of evil, it necessarily follows, that as there is a peculiar nature and principle which is the cause of good, so there must be another, which is the cause of evil.

But lest we should think it was only a sect of a kind of heathen Manichees which held this opinion, he tells us, to prevent that, και δοκεϊ τούτο τοϊς πλείστοις και oopwrátos, It was the opinion of the most, and wisest of the heathen. Now these two principles some (saith he) call two opposite Gods, whereof the one is the cause of good, and the other of evil; him they call Ocòs, this Aaiuwv. By this one would imagine that this very ancient tradition was nothing else but the true account of the origin of evil a little disguised. For the Scripture making the Devil the first author of evil himself, and the first solicitor and tempter of man to it; who when God directed him straight forward, pulled man back, and put him quite out of his way, by which means all the miseries of the world came into it: for while man kept close to his Maker, his in

[ocr errors]

I.

tegrity and obedience were to him what the vasa um- CHAP. bilicalia are to the child in the womb; by them hereceived whatever tended to his subsistence and comfort: but sin cut those vessels asunder, and proved the midwife of misery; bringing man forth into a world of sorrow and sufferings. Now, I say, the Scripture taking such especial notice of one, as the chief of devils, through whose means evil came into the world, this gave occasion to the heathens, when length of time had made the original tradition more obscure, to make these two, God and the Demon, as two antigods; and so to be the causes, the one of all good, and the other of all evil. Which at last came to that, (which was the Devil's great design in thus corrupting the tradition,) that both these anti-gods should have solemn worship by sacrifices; the one by way of impetration, for bestowing of good; the other by way of deprecation, for averting of evil. Such, Plutarch there tells us, were the Oromasdes and Arimanius of Zoroastres, which were worshipped by the Persians; the one for doing good, and the other for avoiding evil : the one they resembled to light, (or fire,) the other to darkness and ignorance. What animals were good and useful they ascribed to Oromasdes, and all venomous and noxious ones to Arimanius; whom Plutarch elsewhere calls τον πονηρών Δαίμονα Περσών, The evil Demon Ρlut. in of the Persians. The same Diogenes Laertius relates Laertius in of the magi, the philosophers of Persia, that they made two distinct principles, 'Ayabòv Aaipova kai kakòv, a good and bad demon; for which he quotes Dinon, Aristotle, Hermippus, Eudoxus, and others. The same Plutarch. makes to be the opinion of the ancient Greeks; who attribute the good to Jupiter Olympius, the bad to Hades. The Chaldeans, saith he, make the planets their gods ; of which, two they suppose the cause of

Proæm.

cause

III.

Hæres. c. 46.

BOOK good ; two more of only a malignant influence; and

other three to be indifferent to either. The same he affirms of the Egyptians, that whatever was evil and irregular, they ascribed to Typho; what was good, comely, and useful, they attributed to Isis and Osiris ; to Isis as the passive, Osiris as the active principle.

Thus we see how large a spread this opinion of the origin of evil had in the Gentile world. Neither did it expire with heathenism ; but Manes retained so much of the religion of his country, being a Persian, that he made a strange medley of the Persian and

Christian doctrine together. For that was his famous August. de opinion, of which St. Austin tells us; Iste duo prin

cipia inter se diversa et adversa, eademque æterna, et co-æterna, hoc est, semper fuisse, composuit; duasque naturas atque substantias, boni, scilicet, et mali, sequens alios antiquos hæreticos, opinatus est. St. Austin thinks that Manes had his opinion concerning two principles from the ancient heretics; by whom I suppose he means the Marcionists and Valentinians; but it seems more probable that Manes had his doctrine immediately from his countrymen, though it be generally thought that Scythianus and Buddas were his masters in it. But from whomsoever it came, the opinion was merely heathen, and not more contrary to Scripture than it is to reason. The former I meddle not with, that opinion being now extinct in the Christian world; I only briefly consider the unreasonableness of it, to shew what a far better account of the origin of evil the Scriptures give us, than was discovered by the heathen philosophers. For on both sides that opinion is repugnant to the notion of a Deity; so that while they would make two such Gods, they make none at all. For how can the principle of good be God, if he hath not infinite power as well as good

III.

ness? And how can he have infinite power, if he hath CHAP. not the management of things in the world? And how can he have the management of things, if they be liable to evil, which the other God, which is the principle of evil, may lay upon it; from which, according to this supposition, the principle of good cannot rescue it? So thật they who hold this opinion, cannot, as Simplicius tells us, give God το ήμισυ της όλης δυνάμεως, the half of that infinite power which belongs to him ; for neither can he keep the good creatures which he makes from the power of the evil Demon, and therefore if he loves them, must be in continual fears of the power of the contrary principle : neither can he free them from the evil which the other lays upon them; for then God's power would be far greater than the evil Demon's, and so he could be no anti-god. And on the other side, the notion or idea of an infinite evil Being, is in itself an inconsistent idea; for it is an infinite nonentity, if we suppose his very being to lie in being evil, which is only a privation of goodness : and besides, if he be infinitely evil, he must be infinitely contrary to the good principle; and how can he be infinitely contrary, which enjoys several of the same perfections which the other hath; which are infinity of essence, and necessity of existence ? Now if this principle of evil be absolutely contrary to the other, it must be contrary in all his perfections; for whatever is a perfection, belongs to that which is good; and now if it be contrary in every perfection, infinity of essence, and necessity of existence, being two, it must be as contrary as is imaginable to them; by which this evil principle must be infinitely defective in being and existence, and so it will be an infinite nonentity which yet exists, which is the height of contradiction. Again, if there be such a contrary principle, which is

III.

BOOK the cause of all evil, then all evil falls out unavoidably,

and by the power of this infinitely evil principle, by which means not only all religion, but all virtue and goodness will be taken out of the world, if this principle be infinite; and if not infinite, no anti-god: and not only so, but all difference of good and evil will be taken away ; (and then what need making two such contrary principles to give an account of the origin of evil ?) for when once evil becomes thus necessary, it loseth its nature as a moral evil; for a moral evil implies in it a voluntary breach of some known law: but how can that breach be voluntary, which was caused by an infinite power in the most proper way of efficiency? And thus, if all freedom of will be destroyed, (as it is necessarily by this supposition,) then no government of the world by laws can be supposed, and consequently no reward or punishment, which suppose liberty of action; and by this means all religion, law, and providence are banished out of the world, and so this evil Demon will get all into his own hands, and instead of two contrary principles, there will be but one infinitely evil Demon: which that there is not, appears by this, that notwithstanding all the evil in the world, there is so much good left in it, of which there would be none, if this evil Demon had infinite power. By this we see there cannot be a principle infinitely evil; for while they go about to make two such contrary principles infinite, they make neither of them so; and so while they make two Gods, they take away any at all. So that this opinion of the origin of evil is manifestly absurd, irrational, and contradictious.

But all the heathen philosophers were not so gross as to imagine two such anti-gods with infinitely active power; but yet those who would not in terms assert it, might be driven to it by the consequence of their

XI.

« PreviousContinue »