The slippery places is always exposed to

The philosopher and theologian Jonathan Edwards
offers a manicheistic conception of evil and good. According to him, evil comes
from an internal locus while good has an external origin. In his well-known
sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”, he evokes evil as a permanent
threat originated inside those men of wicked nature “who are liable to fall of
themselves”, for it derives from their subverted intentions and purposes. Thus,
mankind is always “exposed to destruction, as one that stands or walks in
slippery places is always exposed to fall” and every men “out of Christ” is
living over a “lake of burning brimstone” with a “bottomless gulf”. Moreover,
men by themselves cannot avoid this permanent exposure to evil and the
subsequent eternal condemnation even despite of having a “reformed conduct”,
because “there is nothing that keeps wicked men at any one moment out of hell,
but the mere pleasure of God”, the only and authentic source of good.

 

Philis Wheatley also identifies supreme goodness
with salvation but she understands it as a universal and deliberated mercy of
God: “Remember Christians Negroes,
black as Cain, may be refin’d and join th’ angelic train” for “when the whole
human race by sin has fall’n, he (the Son of God) deign’d to die that they
might rise again”. Similarly to Edwards, she conceives evil with sin and
paganism, that is, with not living according to Christian principles, which is
“the greatest foe” of mankind, since it implies the “immense perdition” of
sinking “the soul”. In fact, she feels fortunate for having been enslaved and rescued
from the “dark abodes” of paganism, where “sorrows and the veil of life”
prevail.

 

With respect to Benjamin Franklin, being a self-made man with that
values of the American Enlightenment, he refers to good and evil in terms of
what it is “right and wrong” for personal and collective progress. In his Autobiography, he analyses them both
rationally since they are two eligible options for all men. However, he
concludes that willing to virtuous is “not sufficient to prevent our slipping”,
so he designed a method for all people to acquire good habits based on moral
values, “one of them at a time”. He intended to put this method into practice
by his own, that is, without counting with God or any supernatural support,
which is not mentioned in the analysed excerpts, since evil acts are faults or
offences against virtues but not offences against God.

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