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seems to me the sufficient evidence that God reserves His justice for eternity.
It is not only the crimes and merits of the death-hour to which Justice fails to mete due measure upon earth. Nothing is more obvious than that men are continually doomed to suffer for the evil-doing of others, and that the good which one has sown another reaps. Health and disease, honour and ignominy, wealth and poverty, everything we can name in the way of external good and evil, come to us more often by the virtue and vice of our parents and neighbours than by any merit or demerit of our own.
Again, the enormous inequality in the distribution of penalties for similar offences, leaves a huge mass of injustice which it is impossible to suppose is often providentially rectified in this life. For myself, I do not hesitate to say that the intolerable cruelty with which sins of unchastity in women are visited all over the world, in comparison of the immunity from disgrace enjoyed by profligate men, decides for me the question. Could we realize the reflections of many a poor wretch banished from her home for her first transgression, and driven on helplessly, scourged by hunger and infamy, deeper and deeper into ruin, till she lies wrecked in body and soul,-could we understand her feelings as she compares her lot with that of the man who first tempted her to sin, and whose fault has never stood in the way of his prosperity or reputation,-we should then learn somewhat of how the supposed Justice
of the world appears from another side from that on which the happy behold it.
In a world where such things happen every day, is it possible to maintain that Providence trims the balance of Justice on this side the grave, or that the inner life's history, if revealed to us, would rectify any apparent outward inequality? The horror of such cases lies precisely in this: that the hideously excessive punishment of the one sinner consists in the fact that she is forced helplessly into the deepest moral pollution; while the light penalty of the other leaves him life-long space for restoration to self-respect and virtue.
When we go back from our own age of comparative equity to darker times, or pass to the contemplation of the wrongs suffered in semi-barbarous countries, the impressions of injustice multiply and deepen. We think of the hundred thousand helpless creatures burnt to death for the impossible crime of witchcraft; the victims of bigotry or statecraft who have languished out their lives in the dungeons of the Inquisition, of the Bastille, of every castle which frowned over the plains of mediaval Europe; of the myriads who suffered by that huge mockery of justice, the question by torture; of the untold miseries of the slaves and serfs of classic and modern times; and, finally, of the crowning mystery of all, the woful sufferings of innocent little babes and harmless brutes ;—and as these things pass before us, instead of doubting whether Justice sometimes fails, we begin to doubt whether all history be not the record of its failure, and, like Shelley, we are ready to talk of “this
What does Faith say now ? Surely she stakes her whole authority on the assertion that there is another life where such failures of justice will be rectified ? The moral argument for Immortality drawn from the consideration of its necessity to give ethical completion to the order of Providence, is quite irrefragable. Either moral arguments have no practical validity, or in this case, at all events, we may rely upon the conclusion to which they point. Man's noblest and most disinterested passion- a passion which may well be deemed the supreme manifestation of the Divine element in his nature—will, if death be the end of existence, have proved a miserable delusion; while God Himself will prove to have created us, children of the dust, to love and hope for Justice; but Himself to disregard Justice on the scale of a disappointed world.
I have devoted so large a space to this particular line of considerations in favour of a Life after Death, because I conceive that it has hardly received all the attention it deserves, or been generally stated as broadly as is requisite to exhibit its enormous force. We are not unfrequently reminded that our personal sense of Justice is unsatisfied in this world; but it is rarely set forth that it is the sacred thirst of the whole human race for Justice which is defrauded if there be no world beyond. We are often exhorted to hope that the Lord of Conscience will not prove Himself less just towards us than
He requires us mortals to be to one another. But we are not bidden resolutely and with filial confidence to say—the more boldly so much the more reverentlyEither Man is Immortal or God is not Just.
II. Another line of thought leading to the same conclusion lies parallel with the above, but can here be only briefly indicated. Creation, as we behold it, presents a scene in which not only Justice fails to be completed, but no single purpose, such as we can attribute for a moment to a good and wise Creator, is thoroughly worked out or fulfilled. If we take the lowest hypothesis, and say He meant us merely to be happy—to have just such a preponderance of pleasure over pain as should make existence on the whole a boon and not a curse—then it is clear that there are multitudes with regard to whom His purpose fails; as, for example, the poor babes who come into the world diseased, and who die after weeks or months of pain, without enjoyment of any kind. And if we take a more worthy view of the purpose of creation, and suppose that God has made us and placed us in this world of trial to attain the highest end of finite beings, namely, virtue and union with His own Divine spirit, then still more obviously, for thousands of men and women, this blessed purpose is abortive; for their mortal life has ended in sin and utter alienation from God and goodness. If God be wise, He cannot have made His creatures for ends He knew they would never reach; nor if He be good, can He have made them only for suffering, or only for sin. There is no escape from the conclusion to which Faith points unhesitatingly, namely, to a world wherein the beneficent designs of God will finally be carried out.
As the preceding argument appealed to the Justice of God, so this one hinges on His Goodness and His Wisdom. It is essentially a Theistic argument, as distinguished from the Pantheistic glorification of intellectual greatness. The Pantheist says that a philosopher ought to be immortal, for he is the crown of things. The Theist says that a tortured slave, a degraded woman, must be immortal, for God's creature could not have been made for torture and pollution. To minds which have been wont to ponder on the theme of the meaning and purpose of creation, this ground of faith in Immortality is perhaps the most broadly satisfactory of any. Having once learned to think of God as the Almighty Guide who is leading every soul He has made to the joy of eternal union with Himself, it becomes simply impossible to lower that conception, and think of Him as content to “ let him that is unjust be unjust still," and permit His rebellious child to perish for ever with a blasphemy on his lips.
III. Again, the incompleteness and imperfection of the noblest part of man, compared to the finished work which creation elsewhere presents, affords ground for the presumption that that noblest part has not yet reached the development it is intended to attain. The green leaf gives no promise of becoming anything but a leaf, and in due time it withers and drops to the ground