[THE PROBLEM OF EVIL]
(Part of the Collection, Kersey's Essays)
Taken From A Narrative of the Early Life, Travels, and Gospel Labors of Jessey Kersey, Late of Chester County, Pennsylvania. Philadelphia: T. Ellwood Chapman, 1851, pages 223-225.
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[P. 223] There is no subject which has engaged the pens of theological writers that appears to be less understood than that of the origin of evil. It is probable that one great reason why this continues to be the case is because it has been customary to begin the enquiry in the wrong place. If instead of going to the time of Adam we were to begin with ourselves it is probable we should become more acquainted with the nature of the subject and with the inlets and causes of it. But before it is possible to unfold this important concern clearly we [P. 224] shall find that it is necessary to examine what it is that constitutes evil--on this point there may be a variety of opinions and hence one of the difficulties which we have to encounter, and which we shall try to remove by taking into view what may be admitted as the perfect and what the imperfect state of man. And first as to the perfect state, admitting as we are bound to do, that God is a spirit and consequently a being of unlimited intelligence, it seems reasonable to believe that in the perfect state of man he must be united to his Creator, and that to maintain the standing of a perfect man this state of complete union must be kept to. While there the spirit of man is kept in perfect union with his glorious original there can be no such thing as sin or evil. This view of the subject is supported by the testimony of the scriptures. They inform us that as many as are led by the spirit of God they are the sons of God. Hence we see that to be led by the Divine Spirit is to follow a guide that keeps us free from evil, and therefore had the human race lived under this government there would have been no such thing as moral evil in the world. On the contrary as all would be in the way of the leadings of this Heavenly Guide, all would be preserved on the ground of innocence and in complete union with a blessed Creator. We are consequently to understand that evil commenced with the first act of disobedience to the duty enjoined by the Divine Spirit and this is what produces evil in every one that becomes a sinner. So long then as man is faithful .to the manifestations of the Spirit of God, he is free from sin and has this spirit bearing witness with his spirit that he is a son and heir of the heavenly kingdom. To [P. 225] such a subject there is no condemnation. Because agreeably to the testimony of the apostle Paul these find that there is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit. It follows from this view that the sins of mankind are produced by disobedience to the spirit or by yielding to the desires of our animal or fleshy nature. If this be the fact we are no longer at a loss to determine what it is that constitutes evil, but we see clearly that it is a consequence that arises from animal indulgences entered into in opposition to the immediate impression of the Divine Spirit. Having in a concise manner shown that a sinful state is that in which the will of man is opposed to the Divine will. We are now to examine into the causes that have an influence over the will. It is found to be acted upon by various objects, and these are presented to it through the outward senses. Almost all the operations of those senses are involuntary--and therefore it is not in the power of man to prevent the presentation of objects which may tempt him and draw him off from the way in which he should go. Now as those presentations are involuntary it depends upon the uprightness of the will to the leadings of the Divine Spirit whether it will reject those temptations involuntarily introduced or embrace them. In ease it should decide upon the latter there is then a state of evil introduced. Hence we may see that from the freedom of the will a door was opened for good or evil.