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really in harmony with Divine Revelation, we pray that God may be pleased to bless it to the mental enlightenment and spiritual uplifting of many truthseeking souls.

September 8, 1911.

PREFACE

N our book entitled The Visible God, published

by Hodder & Stoughton in 1892, is the following passage :

IN

•The afflictions of humanity are manifold and universal Every part of the physical system is liable to pain and weakness, and no human being is entirely exempt from suffering. It would not be easy to catalogue all the ills to which flesh is heir, formas one of Job's friends most truly declared—Man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward.' But common though affliction is, being universally experienced, yet its origin and issues are not clearly understood by many, and therefore views and feelings are entertained regarding them, which are both mistaken and injurious.

The afflictions of the race do not come from God. He did not make man to be the subject of sorrow and suffering, disease and death. All these grim realities are out of harmony with His original purpose. Laws were ordained to work out health and happiness, and not disease and misery. And yet, there is much of both in the world. In what have they their origin ? As daily endured they are largely the results of ignorance, and frequently the immediate and direct effects of folly and wrong-doing. But when we trace all human sufferings and sorrows back to their beginning, we find them to be the results of Sin-the issues of Moral Evil. Where it is unknown, they are never experienced. There are no hospitals in the heavens, nor any pains and afflictions suffered by the angels. Sin in humanity is the fruitful cause of every woe—the dark fountain from which all the streams of misery flow. It has filled the whole

world with lamentations and tears. When brought under the power of any affliction, whatever it may be, let us never permit ourselves to think unkindly of God, nor charge Him foolishly.

From the time we wrote these words, we have hoped to be able to issue a brief Treatise on the subject of Afflictions; but the writing of other books, and long-continued illness, prevented. In the autumn of 1909 we began to carry our purpose into fulfilment, and were enabled to arrange with the publisher for the issue of the work early in the new year. But again, physical disability intervened, and prevented its publication until

now.

It is generally believed by Christian people, and also by many others who are either consciously or unconsciously influenced by their opinions, that all afflictions, of every kind and degree, come from God. It would be easy to support this assertion, by any number of quotations from all sorts of literature ; and because accidents, distresses, and painful experiences are not only numerous, but also often very terrible in their nature, many discourses have been delivered, and treatises written, on the problem of pain and the mystery of suffering. And thousands of pious souls in trouble have sometimes had their faith confounded, and hard thoughts of God engendered in their bosoms—thoughts which were not only unjust to Him, but which also lay as a heavy incubus on their own souls.

Our purpose in writing the following pages was not to counteract, by reasonings and appeals to common sense, the widespread and deeply rooted notion that afflictions are all sent by God. Our special appeal was to be made to the sacred Scriptures, which (in spite of the so-called higher critics) we still unhesitatingly regard as the veritable Word of Him who is the God of Truth. Mere passing references to its teachings in relation to the various points to be considered, might probably have been sufficient for all earnest students of revealed truth to whom the Bible is a familiar book ; but as multitudes of professing Christians cannot fairly be regarded as belonging to that category, we have quoted the passages in full which prove and illustrate the truths we have advanced. We therefore beg the reader not to pass over anything in the following pages as a matter of small consequence; but to believe our assurance that the book is an organic unity and that every part of it is closely related to the whole.

We have briefly dealt with the great facts of Bible story preceding the entrance of Sin and Affliction into human history, and also with the chief Redemptive events occasioned by their coming ; but afflictions of all kinds and God's treatment of

them are the special themes of the book. We have written it very simply for the sake of general readers, but its subject-matter opens up the meanings and mysteries of some of the deep things of God

things which are not generally understood by Christian people. We trust that its readers, may realize much of the enlightenment and comfort which it is intended to impart; and may God be graciously pleased to prosper it to the fulfilment of these great ends !

October, 1910.

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