Why does God allow the wicked
to live and prosper in the world?
(from Edwards sermon, "The Final Judgment")
The infinitely holy and wise Creator and
Governor of the world must necessarily
hate wickedness. Yet we see many wicked
men flourishing. They live with impunity;
things seem to go well with them, and
the world smiles upon them. God allows
so much injustice to take place in the world.
Now it seems a mystery that these things
are tolerated, when he that is rightfully the
Supreme Judge and Governor of the world
is perfectly just. But at the final judgment
all these wrongs shall be righted.
Many who have not been fit to live, who
have held God and religion in the greatest
contempt, who have been open enemies
to all that is good, have by their wickedness
been the pests of mankind.
Many cruel tyrants, whose barbarities have
been such as would even fill one with horror
to hear or read of them; yet have lived in
great wealth and outward glory, have reigned
over great and mighty kingdoms and empires,
and have been honored as a sort of earthly gods.
Now, if we look no further than the present
state, these things appear strange and
unaccountable. But we ought not to confine
our views within such narrow limits.
God sometimes allows some of the holiest
of men to be in great affliction, poverty, and
persecution. The wicked rule, while they are
subject. The wicked are the head, and they
are the tail. The wicked domineer, while they
serve, and are oppressed, yes are trampled
under their feet, as the mire of the streets!
These things are very common, yet they
seem to imply great confusion.
Now, it is very mysterious, that the holy and
righteous Governor of the world, whose eye
beholds all the children of men, should allow
it so to be, unless we look forward to the day
of judgment. And then the mystery is unraveled.
For although God for the present keeps silence,
and seems to let them alone; yet then he will
give suitable manifestations of his displeasure
against their wickedness. They shall then
receive just punishment.
There are many things in the dealings of God
towards men, which appear very mysterious,
if we view them without having an eye to this
last judgment, which yet, if we consider this
judgment, have no difficulty in them.
Though God allows things to be so for the
present, yet they shall not proceed in this
course always. Comparatively speaking, the
present state of things is but for a moment.
When all shall be settled and fixed by a
divine judgment, the righteous shall be
exalted, honored, and rewarded, and the
wicked shall be depressed and put under
However the wicked now prevail against
the righteous, yet the righteous shall at
last have the ascendant, shall come off
conquerors, and shall see the just
vengeance of God executed upon those
who now hate and persecute them.