Page:The Collected Works of Theodore Parker Sermons Prayers volume 2.djvu/63

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47
JUSTICE AND THE CONSCIENCE.


real, and made known to the reader. All students of English history rejoice at the downfal of Judge Jeffries. In romances we love to read of some man or maid oppressed by outward circumstances, but victorious over them; hawked at by villains whose foot is taken in their own snare. This is the principal charm in the ballads and people's poetry of England and Germany, and in the legends of Catholic countries. All men sympathize in the fate of Blue Beard, and "the guardian uncle fierce." The world has ready sympathy with the Homeric tale of Ulysses returning to his Penelope, long faithful, but not grown old with battling the suitors for twenty years. It is his justice and humanity which give such a wide audience to the most popular novelist of our day. But when a writer tries to paint vice beautiful, make sin triumphant, men shrink away from the poison atmosphere he breathes. Authors like Firmer, Machiavel, and Hobbes arouse the indignation of mankind. The fact of personal error it is easy to excuse, but mankind does not forgive such as teach the theory of sin. We always honour men who forget their immediate personal interests, and use an author's sacred function to bear witness to the right.

The majority of men who think have an ideal justice better than the things about them, juster than the law. Some paint it behind them, on the crumbling walls of history, and tell us of "the good old times;" others paint it before them, on the morning mist of youthful life, and in their prayers and their daily toil strive after this,—their New Jerusalem. We all of us have some ideal; our dream is fairer than our day; we will not let it go. If the wicked prosper, it is but for a moment, say we; the counsel of the froward shall be carried headlong. What an ideal democracy now floats before the eyes of earnest and religious men,—fairer than the "Republic" of Plato, or More's "Utopia," or the "golden age" of fabled memory! It is justice that we want to organize,—justice for all, for rich and poor. There the slave shall be free from his master. There shall be no want, no oppression, no fear of man, no fear of God, but only love." There is a good time coming,"—so we all believe when we are young and full of life and healthy hope.