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[From The Second Dialogue.]

Hyl.[1] But you should also shew that his Goodness was not excluded the Consultation, O Philotheus.

Philoth. No more is it, so far as there is a Capacity of its coming in, for any thing that humane reason can assure it self to the contrary. For let me first puzzle you, Hylobares, with that Position of the Stoicks, That the minde of Man is as free as Jupiter himself, as they rant it in their language, and that he cannot <293> compell our Will to any thing, but what-ever we take to must be from our own free Principle, nothing being able to deal with us without our selves: As a man that is fallen into a deep Ditch, if he will not so much as give his fellow his hand, he cannot pull him out. Nor may this seem more incongruous or inconsistent with the Omnipotency of God, then that he cannot make a Square whose Diagonial is commensurate to the Side, or a finite Body that has no figure at all. For these are either the very Essence or the essential Consequences of the things spoken of, and it implies a contradiction they should exist without them. So we will for dispute sake affirm, that Liberty of Will is an essential Property of the Soul of Man, and can no more be taken from her, then the proper Affections of a Geometricall Figure from the Figure; unless she once determine, or intangle her self in Fate, which she cannot doe but of her self, or else fix herself above Fate, and ful <294> ly incorporate with the simple Good. For, to speak Pythagorically, the Spirits of men and of all the fallen Angels are as an Isosceles betwixt the Isopleuron and Scalenum, not so ordinate a Figure as the one, nor so inordinate as the other; so these Spirits of men and Angels are a middle betwixt the more pure and Intellectual Spirits uncapable of falling from, and the Souls of Beasts uncapable of rising to the participation of Divine Happiness. Wherefore if you take away this vertible Principle in Man, you would make him therewithall of another Species, either a perfect Beast, or a pure Intellect.

Hyl. This Opinion of the Stoicks is worth our farther considering of. But in the mean time why might not Man have been made a pure Intelligence at first?

Philoth. Why should he so, Hylobares, sith the Creation of this middle Order makes the numbers of the pure Intellectual Orders never the fewer? Not to adde, that your de <295> mand is as absurd as if you should ask why every Flie is not made a Swallow, every Swallow an Eagle, and every Eagle an Angel, because an Angel is better then any of the other Creatures I named. There is a gradual descension of the Divine Fecunditie in the Creation of the World.

Hyl. This is notable, Philotheus, and unexpected. But were it not better that God Almighty should annihilate the Individuals of this middle vertible Order, as you call it, so soon as they lapse into Sin, then let such an ugly Deformity emerge in the Creation?

Philoth. This is a weighty Question, Hylobares; but yet such as, I hope, we both may ease our selves of, if we consider how unbecoming it would be to the Wisedome of God to be so over-shot in the Contrivance of the Creation, as that he must be ever and anon enforced to annihilate some part of it, as being at a loss what else to doe, and if they should all lapse, to annihilate them all.

<296>

Hyl. Why? he might create new in a moment, Philotheus.

Philoth. But how-ever these would be very violent and harsh, though but short, Chasma's in the standing Creation of God. I appeal to your own sense, Hylobares, would that look handsomely?

Hyl. I know not what to think of it. Besides, if that were true that some Philosophers contend for, That all the whole Creation, as well particular Souls and Spirits as the Matter and Universal Spirit of the World, be from God by necessary Emanation, this middle vertible Order can never be turned out of Being. But that the Stability of God's Nature and Actions should not be according to the most exquisite Wisedome and Goodness, would be to me the greatest Paradox of all.

Philoth. Why, who knows but that it is better for them to exist, though in this Lapsed state, and better also for the Universe, that so they may be left to toy and revell in the slightest <297> and obscurest shadows of the Divine fulness, then to be suddenly annihilated upon their first Lapse or Transgression? For to be taken up with a less good is better then to be exiled out of Being, and to enjoy no good at all.

Hyl. That it is better for them is plain according to the opinion of all Metaphysicians: but how is it better for the Universe, Philotheus?

Philoth. How do you know but that it is as good for the Universe, computing all respects, if it be not better? And that is sufficient. For Man is betwixt the Intellectual Orders and the Beasts, as a Zoophyton betwixt the Beasts and the Plants. I demand therefore, if the Zoophyta some of them should degenerate into mere Plants, while others emerge into the condition of Animals, and so they should ever and anon be ascending and descending, what great hurt were done: what contradiction to the Divine Goodness would there be in this?

<298>

Hyl. I confess, Philotheus, I see no great hurt in that.

Philoth. Man therefore being of such a mixt nature, and of so invincible a Freeness, that he may either associate himself with Angels, or sort himself with Apes and Baboons or Satyrs of the Wood, what more hurt is there, he so doing, then that there are Apes and Baboons already? and who can tell just how many there ought to be of any of those Orders; or why there must be just so many Orders of Apes or Satyrs, and no more?

Hyl. I must confess it were a rash charge against Providence on this account, and hard to prove but that it is indifferent, as touching Individuals of this or that Order, to have some thousands more or some thousands less, it may be Myriads, and yet the good of the Universe much-what alike concerned in either Number. And there is the same reason proportionally touching the number of the Orders themselves. Such variations as these, <299> it's likely, may not bear so great stress with them, as to force God to betake himself to that extremest of Remedies, Annihilation.

Philoth.[2] But now in the second place, Hylobares, supposing mankind of a vincible Freeness or Liberty of Will; what, would you have God administer some such powerfull Philtrum to all of them, that he might even force their Affections towards those more precious emanations of himself which are more properly called Divine?

Hyl. Yes, Philotheus, I would.

Philoth. But I much question how this will alwaies consist with the Divine Justice. For I think it as incongruous that the Divine Goodness should alwaies act according to the Simplicity of its own nature; as it is unnatural for the Beams of the Sun to be reverberated to our eyes from severall Bodies variously surfaced in the same form of Light, and not to put on the face of divers Colours, such as yellow, green, red, purple, and the <300> like. For as the various Superficies of Bodies naturally causes such a diversification of pure Light, and changes it into the form of this or that Colour; so the variety of Objects the Divine Goodness looks upon does rightfully require a certain modification and figuration of her self into sundry forms and shapes, (as I may so call them) of Vengeance, of Severity, of Justice, of Mercy, and the like. This therefore is the thing I contend for, That free Agents, such as Men and Angels, may so behave themselves in the sight of God, that they will become such Objects of his Goodness, that it cannot be duely and rightfully expected that it should act according to its pure and proper benign form, dealing gently and kindly with all the Tenderness that may be with the party it acts upon; but it must step forth in some of those more fierce and grim forms, (I speak after the manner of men) such as Vengeance and Justice. And I will now put a Case very accommodately to <301> our own Faculties. Suppose some Vertuous and Beautifull Virgin, royally descended and Princely attired, who, venturing too far into the solitary Fields or Woods, should be light upon by some rude Wretch, who, first having satisfied his Lustfull desires upon her by a beastly Rape, should afterwards most barbarously and despightfully use her, haling her up and down by the Hair of the head, soiling her sacred Body by dragging her through miry Ditches and dirty Plashes of water, and tearing her tender Skin upon Briars and Brambles, whiles in the mean time some Knight-Errant or Man of Honour and Vertue (but of as much Benignity of spirit as God can communicate to humane nature without Hypostaticall Union) is passing by that way, and discerneth with his astonished eyes this abhorred Spectacle: I now appeal to your own sense and reason, Hylobares, whether it be enough for that Heros to rescue this distressed Virgin from the abomina <302> ble injury of this Villain, and to secure her from any further harm; or whether there ought not to be added also some exquisite Torture and shamefull Punishment worthy so hainous a fact, and proportionable to the just indignation any noble spirit would conceive against so villainous a Crime, though neither the wronged person nor punished party were at all bettered by it.

Hyl. For my part, Philotheus, I should be in so high a rage against the Villain, if I were on the spot, that I should scarce have the discretion how to deliberate to punish him so exquisitely as he deserved; but in my present fury should hew him a-pieces as small as Herbs to the pot. I should cut him all into mammocks, Philotheus.

Philoth. Wherefore, Hylobares, you cannot but confess that Goodness it self in some circumstances may very justly and becomingly be sharpened into Revenge: Which must be still the less incongruous, in that the Re <303> venge is in the behalf of injured Goodness, though she get nothing thereby but that she is revenged.

Euist. To this case that Notion of Punishment appertains which the Greeks call τιμωρία,[3] as Gellius observes; which nothing concerns the Reformation or amendment of the punished, but onely the Honour of the injured or offended.

Philoth.

Right, Euistor. But in the mean time it is manifest from hence, as I was making inference to Hylobares, That the Divine Goodness may step forth into Anger and Revenge, and yet the Principle of such Actions may be the very Goodness it self. Which therefore we contend is still (notwithstanding that evil which may seem to be in the World) the measure of all God's works of Providence, even when Sin is punished with Sin, and Men are suffered to degenerate into Baboons and Beasts.

Hyl. I grant to you, Philotheus, that a man may behave himself so, as that all that you affirm may be true, and <304> that even the highest Severity may have no other Fountain then Goodness. But where Goodness is Omnipotent, as it is in God, how can it consist therewith not to prevent all occasions of Severity and Revenge, by keeping his Creature within the bounds of his own Laws, and by communicating to all men and Angels such an irresistible measure of Grace, that they could never have possibly been disobedient to him?

Philoth. To this, Hylobares, I answer, That God having made a free Creature, (and it is impossible to prove he did amiss in making it) Omnipotency it self (if I may speak it with reverence) is not able to keep off certain unavoidable respects or congruities it bears to the Divine Attributes: As it is a thing utterly unimaginable that even the eternall Intellect of God should be able to produce a finite Number that did not bear a certain proportion to some other finite Number first given. This free Creature therefore now made, <305> necessarily faces the severall Attributes of God with sundry respects. And this native Freedom in it challenges of his Wisedome, that she shew her best skill in dealing with a Creature that is free with as little violence done to its nature as may be. Which we see the Wisedome of God has practised upon Matter, as I noted awhile agoe. And yet the defacement of rightly-organized Matter is as real an entrenchment upon or opposition of what is Intellectual or Divine, (I mean the Divine Idea's themselves) as Vice or Immorality. As the Divine Wisedome therefore forces not the terrestriall Matter beyond the bounds of its own natural capacity, to fend all Animals Bodies from Diseases and Death; no more should the Divine Goodness universally in all free Creatures irresistibly prevent the use of their own nature. And therefore being free, they ought, according to the congruity of their condition, be put to the triall what they will doe. And if the miscarri <306> age be upon very strong Temptations that did even almost over-power the strength of the free Creature, this state of the case is a meet Object of the Mercy of God. But if it have strength enough, and has been often and earnestly invited to keep close to and to pursue after those things that are best, and yet perpetually slights them and shuffles them off, the party thus offending is a congruous object of the Divine Slight and Scorn; & it is but just that such an one be left to follow his own swindge, and to finde such a fate as attends such wilde courses. For it seems a kinde of disparagement, to pin Vertue and divine Grace upon the sleeves of them that are unwilling to receive it. It would be as unseemly as the forcing of a rich, beautifull and vertuous Bride upon some poor slouching Clown, whether he would or no.

Hyl. But God may make them willing.

Philoth. That is, Hylobares, you may give the Clown a Philtrum or <307> Love-potion. But is not this still a great disparagement to the Bride? Wherefore for the general it is fit, that God should deal with free Creatures according to the freedom of their nature: But yet, rather then all should goe to ruine, I do not see any incongruity but that God may as it were lay violent hands upon some, and pull them out of the fire, and make them potent, though not irresistible, Instruments of pulling others out also. This is that Election of God for whom it was impossible for others that have arrived to a due pitch of the Divine Life. But for those that still voluntarily persist to run on in a rebellious way against God and the Light that is set before them, and at last grow so crusted in their Wickedness, that they turn professed enemies of God and Goodness, scoff at Divine Providence, riot and Lord it in the world, with the contempt of Religion and the abuse and persecution of them that profess it; that out <308> of the stubborn Blindness of their own hearts, being given up to Covetousness, Pride and Sensuality, vex and afflict the consciencious with abominable Tyranny and Cruelty; I think it is plain that these are a very sutable Object for Divine Fury and Vengeance, that sharp and severe Modification of the Divine Goodness, to act upon.

Hyl. Truly this is very handsome, Philotheus, and pertinent, if not cogent.

[1] XX.The first attempt of satisfying the Difficulty, from that Stoicall Position of the invincible Freedom of Man's will.

[2] XXI. The second Attempt, from the Consideration of some high Abuses of a vincible Freedome, as also from the nature of this Freedome it self.

[3] Noct. Att. l. 6. c. 14.

Cite as: Henry More, Divine Dialogues (1668), pp. 292-308, http://www.cambridge-platonism.divinity.cam.ac.uk/view/texts/diplomatic/More1668A-excerpt002, accessed 2020-10-21.