Will of God

Will of God


Allied to the doctrine of the grace of God is the doctrine of the will of God, and this too can be a stumbling block to those who use it as an excuse. A famous judge in India, at the end of the last century, was well-known as a devotee of God, and once a thief who was brought before him tried to make use of the fact. The charge was completely proved and the thief made no attempt to deny it, but said instead, ‘Your Honour, I only wish to say this. When the opportunity came to steal that, I felt an irresistible impulse to do it, and I thought to myself that it must be the will of God that I should steal it. And it was the will of God, surely, Your Honour, because otherwise it couldn’t have happened.’

‘Are you denying that you had any responsibility ?’ asked the judge. ‘All I’m saying, Your Honour, is that it must have been the will of God or it couldn’t have happened. When I felt that impulse coming up in me, surely I was right to bow my head before the will of God?’ ‘God gives us many impulses,’ said the judge, ‘And he gives us the power of choosing between them, so that we may show our reverence for his commandments, and our love of our fellow-men.’

‘But he gave me this impulse,’ riposted the thief. ‘I have heard that Your Honour says God is in each man, playing different roles. Well, one of the names of holy Shiva is thief. . .’

‘He is called thief because he steals our sins, but you were stealing things belonging to poor people.’

‘It is stealing just the same. In that little shop, in the middle of the night, I was the Lord as Shiva, and my role was the thief.’

‘Reverence to the Lord, in the little shop, in the middle of the night, acting out the role of thief,’ said the judge slowly. ‘But here in my little court, in the day, the Lord is playing a different role. Yours is a petty crime, but I have a wide discretion. I feel rising in me an impulse to impose on you the heaviest sentence’ – his voice began to boom – ‘because in me He is playing the role of the just ruler, the mighty controller and orderer of the universe. Reverence to the Lord in the form of the great terror, the upraised thunderbolt, which preserves order in the world!’

‘Stop, stop!’ cried the thief, ‘I withdraw my plea. Please treat me as a sinful human being.’

The judge laughed and gave him a light sentence.

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