“But if God can do anything he please,” said Evans, “he might as well make us good, and there would be an end of it.”
“That is just what he is doing,” returned Marion. “Perhaps, by giving them perfect health, and everything they wanted, with absolute good temper, and making them very fond of each other besides, God might have provided himself a people he would have had no difficulty in governing, and among whom, in consequence, there would have been no crime and no struggle or suffering. But I have known a dog with more goodness than that would come to. We cannot be good without having consented to be made good. God shows us the good and the bad; urges us to be good; wakes good thoughts and desires in us; helps our spirit with his Spirit, our thought with his thought: but we must yield; we must turn to him; we must consent, yes, try to be made good. If we could become good without trying, it would be a poor goodness: we should not be good, after all; at best, we should only be not bad. God wants us to choose to be good, and so be partakers of his holiness; he would have us lay hold of him. He who has given his Son to suffer for us will make us suffer too, bitterly if needful, that we may repent and turn to him. He would make us as good as good can be, that is, perfectly good; and therefore will rouse us to take the needful hand in the work ourselves — rouse us by discomforts innumerable.
— George MacDonald, The Vicar’s Daughter, chapter 25, quoted in Knowing the Heart of God, p. 286.