• Sin is not ordained by the will of God, though it happens with His permission. It can be ascribed toProvidence only as a secondary result (Origen, Against Celsus IV.68; St. John Damascene, “De fid. orth.”, ii, 21 in “P.G.”, XCIV, 95 sq.).
  • Sin is due to the abuse of free will; an abuse which was certainly foreseen by God, but could have been prevented only by depriving man of his most noble attribute (Tertullian, “Adv. Marcion.”, II, v-vii in “P.L.”, II, 317-20; St. Cyril of Alexandria “In Julian.”, IX, xiii, 10, 11, 18 in “P.G.”, LXXIV, 120-1, 127-32;Theodoret, “De prov. orat.”, IX, vi in “P.G.”, LXXXIII, 662).
  • Moreover, in this world man has to learn by experience and contrast, and to develop by the overcoming of obstacles (Lactantius, “De ira Dei”, xiii, xv in “P.L.”, VII, 115-24; St. Augustine, “De ordine”, I, vii, n. 18 in “P.L.”, XXXII, 986).
  • One reason therefore why God permits sin is that man may arrive at once at a consciousness of righteousness and of his own inability to attain it, and so may put his trust in God (Anon. epis. ad Diog., vii-ix in “P.G.”, II, 1175 sq.; St. Gregory the Great, “Lib. moral.”, III, lvii in “P.L.”, LXXV, 627).
  • For sin itself God is not responsible, but only for the evils that result as a punishment of sin (Tertullian, “Adv. Marc.”, II, xiv, xv in “P.L.”, II, 327 sq.), evils which happen without God’s will but are not contrary to it (St. Gregory the Great, op. cit., VI, xxxii in “P.L.”, LXXVII, 746, 747).
  • Had there been no sin, physical evil would have been inconsistent with the Divine goodness (St. Augustine, “De div. quæst.”, lxxxii in “P.L.”, LX, 98, 99); nor would God permit evil at all, unless He could draw goodout of evil (St. Augustine, “Enchir.”, xi in “P.L.”, LX, 236; “Serm.”, ccxiv, 3 in “P.L.”, XXXVIII, 1067; St. Gregory the Great, op. cit., VI, xxxii, XVIII, xlvi in “P.L.”, LXXV, 747; LXXVI, 61-2).
  • All physical evil, therefore, is the consequence of sin, the inevitable result of the Fall (St. John Chrysostom, “Ad Stagir.”, I, ii in “P.G.”, LXVII, 428, 429; St. Gregory the Great, op. cit., VIII, li, lii in “P.L.”, LXXV, 833, 834), and regarded in this light is seen to be at once a medicine (St. Augustine, “De div. quæst.”, lxxxii in “P.L.”, XL, 98, 99; “Serm.”, xvii, 4, 5 in “P.L.”, XXXVIII, 126-8), a discipline (“Serm.”, xv, 4-9 in “P.L.”, XXXVIII, 118-21; St. Gregory the Great, op. cit., V, xxxv; VII, xxix; XIV, xl in “P.L.”, LXXV, 698, 818, 1060), and an occasion of charity (St. Gregory the Great, VII, xxix). Evil and suffering thus tend to the increase ofmerit (XIV, xxxvi, xxxvii in “P.L.”, 1058, 1059), and in this way the function of justice becomes an agency for goodness (Tertullian, c. “Adv. Marc.”, II, xi, xiii in “P.L.”, 324 sq.).
  • Evil, therefore, ministers to God’s design (St. Gregory the Great, op. cit., VI, xxxii in “P.L.”, LXXV, 747;Theodoret, “De prov. orat.”, v-viii in “P.L.”, LXXXIII, 652 sq.). Hence, if the universe be considered as a whole it will be found that that which for the individual is evil will in the end turn out to be consistent with Divine goodness, in conformity with justice and right order (Origen, Against Celsus IV.99; St. Augustine, “De ordine”, I, i-v, 9; II, iv in “P.L.”, XXXII, 977-87, 990, 999-1002).
  • It is the end that proves happiness (Lactantius, “De ira Dei”, xx in “P.L.”, VII, 137 sq.; St. Ambrose, “De offic. minist.”, XVI, cf. XII, XV in “P.L.”, XVI, 44-6, 38 sq.; St. John Chrysostom, “Hom. xiii in Matt.”, n. 5 in “P.G.”, LXVII, 216, 217; St. Augustine “In Ps.”, xci, n. 8 in “P.L.”, XXXIII, 1176; Theodoret, “De prov. orat.”, ix in “P.G.”, LXXXIII, 727 sq.). In the Last Judgment the problem of evil will be solved, but till then the workings of Providence will remain more or less a mystery (St. Augustine, “De div. quæst.”, lxxxii in “P.L.”, XL, 98, 99; St. John Chrysostom, “Ad eos qui scand.”, VIII, IX in “P.G.”, LII, 494, 495). In regard to povertyand suffering, however, it is well to bear in mind that in depriving us of earthly goods, God is but recalling what is His own (St. Gregory the Great, op. cit., II, xxxi in “P.L.”, LXXVII, 571); and secondly that, as Salvianus tells us (“De gub. Dei”, I, i, 2 in “P.L.”, LIII, 29 sq.), nothing is so light that it does not appear heavy to him who bears it unwillingly, and nothing so heavy that it does not appear light to him who bears it with goodwill.