True enough, the idea of a personal Devil is as imaginary as a fairy, or an elf, or a hobgoblin; true also that there is no evil in itself, and no goodness in itself; the dualism of the Manichees is untenable. The evil principle cannot be conceived as an independent substance, essence, or entity. But for that reason we cannot shut our eyes to its real and positive existence. Granted that silence is the absence of noise; yet noise is not goodness, neither is silence badness. While I think or write, noise is to me an evil, while silence is bliss. Silence, where a word of cheer is expected or needed, may be a very positive evil, and a lie is not merely an absence of truth. The absence of food is a mere negation, but considered in relation to its surroundings, as an empty stomach, it is hunger; and hunger is a positive factor in this world of ours. Sickness can be considered as a mere absence of health, but sickness is caused either by a disorder in the system or the presence of injurious influences, both of which are unquestionably positive. A debt is a negative factor in the books of the debtor, but what is negative to the debtor is positive to the creditor.


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