Page:The Collected Works of Theodore Parker Sermons Prayers volume 2.djvu/65

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49
JUSTICE AND THE CONSCIENCE.


blood and institutions inherited from the same fathers; we thought only of the injustice; and there was an ocean between us and the mother country. The fairest jewel fell from the British crown.

In France, kings, nobles, clergy, trod the people down. Men bore it with the slow, sad patience of humanity, bore it out of regard for the "divinity that doth hedge a king," for the nobility of the noble, and the reverence of the priest. But in a few years outraged humanity forgot its slow, sad patience, and tore away this triple torment,—as Paul, escaped from wreck, shook off the viper from his hand,—and trod the venomous beast to dust. Napoleon came, king of the people. Justice was his word, his action for a while. The nation gathered about him, gave him their treasure and their trust. He was strong through the people's faith; his foes fell before him ; ancient thrones tottered and reeled, and came heavy to the ground. The name of justice, of the rights of man, shook down their thrones, and organized victory at every step. But he grows giddy with his height; selfishness takes the place of justice in his counsels; a bastard giant sits on the throne whence the people had hurled off "legitimate" oppression; he fights no more the battles of mankind; justice is exiled from his upstart court. The people fall away; victory perches no more on his banner. The snows of Russia cut off his army, but it was his own injustice that brought Napoleon to the ground. Self-shorn of this great strength, the ablest monarch since Charlemagne sits down on a little island in the tropic sea, and dies upon that lonely rock, his life a warning, to bid mankind be just and not despise the Lord. No mightiness of genius could save him, cut off from the moral force of the human race. Can any tyrant prosper where such a master fell?

Look at the condition of Christendom at this day; what tyrant sits secure? Revolution is the Lynch-law of nations; it creates an anarchy, and then organizes its provisional government of momentary despotism. It is a bloody process, but justice does not disdain a rugged road; the Desire of all nations comes not always on an ass's colt. All Europe is, just now, in a great ferment; terrible questions are getting ready for a swift tribunal. Injustice cannot stand. No armies, no "Holy Alliance," can hold it