Page:Quatrains of Omar Khayyam (tr. Whinfield, 1883).djvu/52

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INTRODUCTION.

again, the same problems are handled, but in a somewhat different temper. The "weary king Ecclesiast" remarks that there is one event to all, to him that sacrificeth and him that sacrificeth not—that injustice and wrong seem eternally triumphant, that God has made things crooked, and none can make them straight; and concludes now in favour of a sober "carpe diem" philosophy, now in favour of a devout "fear of the Lord." Of course the manner in which the serious Hebrew handles these matters is very different from the levity and flippancy of the volatile Persian, but it can hardly be denied that the Ecclesiast and Omar resemble one another in the double and contradictory nature of their practical conclusions.

No sooner was Islam established than the same problem of the existence of evil in the handiwork of the Almighty Author and Governor of all began to trouble the Moslem theologians, and by their elaboration of the doctrine of Predestination they managed to aggravate its difficulties. One of the chief "roots" of their discussions was how to reconcile the Divine justice and benevolence with the Divine prescience,—the predestination of some vessels to honour, and others to dishonour,—the pre-ordainment of all things by a kind of mechanical necessity (Jabr), leaving no possibility of the occurrence of any events except those which actually do occur. The consideration of one corollary of a similar doctrine moved the pious and gentle Cowper to use language of indignant dissent; and there is high theological authority for the view that it is calculated "to thrust some into desperation," but to stimulate the piety