THE JUSTICE OF PROVIDENCE.

A certain prophet once worshipped on a high mountain, at whose foot was a spring of running water, and he was wont to sit by day on the mountain-top, where none could see him, calling upon the name of God the Most High and watching those who came to the spring. One day, as he sat looking on the spring, there came up a horseman, who dismounted thereby and taking a bag from his neck, laid it down beside him, after which he drank of the water and rested awhile, then mounted and rode away, leaving the bag behind him. Presently up came another man, to drink of the spring, who saw the bag and finding it full of gold, took it up and made off with it in safety, after he had drunken. A little after, came a woodcutter, with a heavy faggot on his back, and sat down by the spring to drink, when, behold, back came the horseman, in great concern, and said to him, 'Where is the bag [with the thousand dinars] that was here?' 'I know nothing of it,' replied the woodcutter, whereupon the other drew his sword and smote him and killed him. Then he searched his clothes, but found nothing; so he left him and went away.

When the prophet saw this, he said, 'O Lord, this man hath been slain unjustly, for another had the thousand dinars.' But God answered him, saying, 'Busy thyself with thy service, for the ordering of the affairs of the universe is none of thine affair. Know that the horseman's father had despoiled the second man's father of a thousand dinars; so I gave the son possession of his father's money. As for the woodcutter, he had slain the horseman's father, wherefore I enabled the son to avenge himself.' Then said the prophet, 'Verily, there is none other god than Thou! Glory to Thee! Thou [alone] knowest the hidden things.' (21) Moreover, one of the poets hath made the following verses on the matter:

        The prophet saw what to the eyes of men was evident And fell a-questioning of that which mortal sight outwent.
      When what they apprehended not his eyes beheld, "O Lord, What is this thing?" quoth he. "Yon man that's slain was innocent.
      One, without travail or fatigue, to riches did attain, Although in poor and needy guise himself he did present;
      And, O Creator of mankind, this other one was slain, For all he had committed nought that called for punishment."
      "Know," answered God, "his father's good it was thou sawst him take; It came to him by heritage, by right of free descent.
      The woodcutter the horseman's sire had slain; so, when his son The occasion found, he took his wreak of him, incontinent.
      Put off this thought from thee, for We have, in created things, A secret that of human sight transcendeth the extent.
      Submit thee to Our laws and bow unto Our might, for know, Our ordinance for profit works and eke for detriment."



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