Page:The Collected Works of Theodore Parker Sermons Prayers volume 2.djvu/64

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48
JUSTICE AND THE CONSCIENCE.


God has made man with the instinctive love of justice in him, which gradually gets developed in the world. But in Himself justice is infinite. This justice of God must appear in the world, and in the history of men; and, after all "the wrongs that patient merit of the unworthy takes," still you see that the ploughshare of justice is drawn through and through the field of the world, uprooting the savage plants. The proverbs of the nations tell us this: "The mills of the gods grind slow, but they grind to powder;" "Ill got ill spent;" "The triumphing of the wicked is but for a moment;" "What the Devil gives he also takes;" "Honesty is the best policy;" "No butter will stick to a bad man's bread." Sometimes these sayings come from the instinct of justice in man, and have a little ethical exaggeration about them, but yet more often they represent the world’s experience of facts more than its consciousness of ideas.

Look at the facts of the world. You see a continual and progressive triumph of the right. I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice. Things refuse to be mis-managed long. Jefferson trembled when he thought of slavery and remembered that God is just. Ere long all America will tremble. The Stuarts in England were tyrannical and strong: respectable and peaceful men kept still a while, and bore the tyranny; but men who loved God and his justice more than house and land fled to the wilderness, and built up a troublesome commonwealth of Puritans. Such as stayed at home endeavoured for a while to submit to the wrong; some of them made theories to justify it. But it could not be; the tyranny became unbearable even to barons and bishops; one tyrant loses his head, another his crown; no Stuart must tread again the English soil; legitimacy becomes a pretender. England would rule America, not for our good, but hers alone. We forgot the love which bound the two people into one family; the obstinate injustice of the mother weakened the ties of language, literature, religion,—the Old England and the New read the same Bible, — kindred