No attribute of the Divine character has led to so much vague thinking and reasoning as that of Justice. And perhaps in its human definitions and applications, it would be difficult to find a word more generally misunderstood and misapplied. lexicographers give to it meanings, judicial authorities stale its duties and demands, and theologians assign to it principles and aims, than which nothing could be farther from its nature and office. Retribution, in the sense of retaliation, of so much pain, for so much wrong, vindictive punishment, evil for evil, are elements entering largely into the popular, the judicial, and the theological thought on this subject. [see note]
[NOTE: The English Imperial Dictionary, Webster, and others, give as one definition of Justice, "vindictive retribution;" and define "vindictive" to be "revengeful, given to revenge." Bellamy takes up the point with a manifest relish: "Vindictive justice is a glorious and amiable perfection of Deity. The ejection of the sinning angels out heaven down to eternal darkness and despair, turning our first parents out of paradise, and dooming them and all their race to death, and the final sentence to be passed on apostate angels and apostate men, at the day of judgment, are all perfect in beauty. The divine character, as exhibited to view in these facts, is altogether glorious; for it is a glorious thing in God thus to punish sin according to its desert.The leading Church treatises on the death of Christ, and on the character and purpose of the atonement, are based on these views of the nature of Justice as one of the perfections of the Deity. And all the forces of argument and of learning, all the aids of tradition and heathen mythology, are to day summoned to the work of proving that Christ died upon the cross to satisfy the demands of Divine Justice, and release man from the punishment of his sins. It is affirmed that he suffered the wrath of God, as the substitute of mankind ; endured in his own person the curse of the law, which is defined to be endless punishment for each and every sin committed from the foundation of the world.
It can be owing to nothing but criminal blindness, to the spirit of a rebel, of an enemy, in any of God's subjects, that the glory of his character, as thus exhibited, does not shine into their hearts. .... And, therefore, no sooner is a sinner renewed by the regenerating influences of the Holy Spirit, but he begins to see the beauty of vindictive justice. The. law, as a ministration of death, now begins to appear glorious ; for now he begins to see things as they be. For now his eyes are opened. .... And vindictive justice being a glorious and amiable perfection, it was a glorious and amiable thing in God to bruise Christ, and put his soul to grief, who had espoused our cause, and appeared as our representative."—Essay on the Nature and Glory of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, &c. By Joseph Bellamy, D,D., pp. 127 - 130. Edit. 1795.]
The latest and most approved defense of Church doctrines against the attacks of .Rationalism, so called, presents the matter in this form : "God the Father laid upon his Son the weight of the sins of the whole world, so that he bare in his own body the wrath which men must else have borne, because there was no other way of escape for them; and thus the Atonement- was a manifestation of Divine Justice." "Jesus did under all these things which are the evident tokens of wrath against us .... and when all the vials of wrath were, poured out upon his head, and when lie did not shrink from receiving thorn, it is idle to discuss whether this shall lie, called wrath or love; when he smarted under all that we call punishment, it; is idle to say that it must have another name." "He who alone was no child of wrath, meets the shock of the thunderstorm of Divine wrath, becomes a curse for us, and a vessel of wrath." " The clouds of God's anger gathered thick over the whole human race; they discharged themselves on Jesus only. [see note]
[NOTE: Aids to Faith, Essay viii., on "The Death of Christ." The whole animus of the essay is to prove I lie vicarious character of Christ's death, that he suffered to .satisfy Divine Justice, and release the guilty world from the punishment due its sins.]
If these representations of Divine Justice be correct and Scriptural, they cannot fail to suggest to the thoughtful student and inquirer such questions as follow :
1. Can justice be satisfied without its demands are answered? with what it, does not, require nor wish ? The theology in review says it will — says it will not only be satisfied with what it does not demand, but with the very opposite of this. It demands the punishment of the guilty, but will be satisfied with the punishment of the innocent. It demands the endless suffering of all men for their sins, but will be satisfied with the infinite suffering of Christ, who never sinned. Nay, God proposes this arrangement, prefers it, in order that the guilty may escape!
This arrangement completed, it is said, that those believing in Christ will
be saved; those not believing will be damned. Sow do we know this ? Justice has
once been satisfied without its claims being met, why not again? If it has once
punished the innocent, and cleared the guilty, why not a second time? Why not
always? If the divine government be administered on this principle, for aught
that can be shown to the contrary, unbelievers may yet go to heaven, and
believers to hell.
2. If Christ really and truly suffered the punishment due the world, by what law, by what interpretation of justice, is the punishment inflicted a second time? It, is not to the point to say, that (lie penalty of the law was endured by Christ on condition that the guilty should accept the terms of deliverance, before they could avail themselves of the release.
The question is reduced to this simple statement— Christ either did satisfy the claims of justice by his death, or he did not. If he did, then justice has no further claim, has nothing to say on the matter of punishment. It has received all it is entitled to, and it has virtually given a quit claim to all mankind. [see note] But if he did not satisfy the demands of divine justice, then confessedly his death ends in failure, and the question is still open for settlement.
[NOTE: To this point see Article xxxi. of the Episcopal Church ; "The offering of Christ once made is that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction for all the sins of the whole world both original and actual," &c.]
But in order to reach the stand point from which the whole question of Justice, its nature and demands, may be clearly seen and understood, let us begin by inquiring,—
§1. What, in Justice? What does it demand?
Let us first attempt a definition which, simple and intelligible, and free from
all metaphysical niceties, shall yet cover I he whole ground of essence and
office. The following will perhaps meet the case :
Justice is the principle which seeks always to maintain the Right, and to make right whatsoever is wrong.
At the bottom this is all — everything else rests on this, whether pains, penalties, punishments or restorations. They are only phases of this leading thought, agencies for accomplishing this chief end and aim. Let us then note a few facts here.
1. Justice does not demand pain for the sake of pain. It always looks beyond this, and aims at something else. Pain or punishment is an agent employed with a view to correct what is wrong ; to expel the evil, as medicine is used to expel the disease.
2. Justice, dues not demand a, fixed measure of pain for all wrong or sin, which must be suffered by some one, cither the guilty or a substitute—indifferent which, so long as it is suffered, so long as so much punishment follows so much sin. [see note]
[NOTE: "Jesus dies to bear a doom laid on him of necessity, because some one must bear it." — Aids to Faith, p. 378. What should we say of a government which, because a murder had been committed, should put to death an innocent person, on the ground that as some one had committed a murder, some one must be executed in order to vindicate the majesty of the law!]
3. Justice does not demand that the sinner must suffer just as much wrong as
he has inflicted—because two wrongs do not make one right. If you burn my house,
it will not rebuild it to burn yours. The thing justice requires is that my
house should be re-built, and I placed where I was before you fired it,
compensated by you for all my loss and inconvenience. Burning your house and
subjecting you to the same loss and discomfort, will not do the least thing
toward it. If I am angry and revengeful toward you, it may gratify my revenge to
see you paid in the same coin ; but it will not be justice, which demands that
all wrong shall be made right, and that your feelings toward me shall be so
changed as to secure me from a repetition of the wrong.
The old law of an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, was not justice, but revenge. I f A. destroys an eye of B, it will not restore B's eye to destroy one of A's — it only doubles the loss or injury. B cannot see any better because his enemy sees worse. It is on this ground that Christ repudiates the evil for evil practices of his age, and initiates the beautiful law of good for evil, with a view to the correction of the evil; asserting at the same time that this is the rule of the divine government and action — "that ye may be like your Father in heaven."
Let us now look at Justice in its theological bearings, as connected with the punishment of sin.
All agree that sin is a wrong a great wrong. This being so, what has justice to do in the case ? what are its demands ? what will satisfy them? We are told that if the wrong be not righted within a specified time, justice will be satisfied to increase the wrong infinitely, and perpetuate it to all eternity! Can anything be more unjust than such justice ?
The divine law requires is to do right — we disobey and do wrong. Here is the
sin, and at this point, justice enters and promptly demands reparation— not mere
sufferings, but reparation—demands that the sin should cease, that the wrong
should be made right. And how is this to be done? There is only one way of doing
it—saving the sinner from his sins ; correcting, restoring the transgressor, and
putting an end to his wickedness and the injury he is doing.
If 'you refuse food to your hungry brother to-day, it will not feed him to keep you hungry to-morrow. But, if by keeping you hungry to-morrow, you are made to suffer something of the gnawing pain of starvation, and so repent of the wrong done your poor brother, and feed him next day, and ever after when he is in need—then justice sanctions the pain inflicted on you, and rejoices in the removal of your evil heart, and your restoration to obedience to the law of love and duty.
Nothing, therefore, can be more; contrary to the very essence of justice, than the doctrine that it requires obedience and righteousness here ; but if it cannot have these, it will be satisfied with endless disobedience and sin hereafter as a substitute. Strange justice is this, to compensate the loss of right by an infinitely greater wrong—to undertake to correct the evil of present sin, by adding to it the evil of endless sin and woe conjoined.
Suppose all the great powers of Europe should unite in a protest against slavery in this country, on the ground that it was a great moral wrong, a monstrous wickedness and cruelty against its victims — and at the close should announce that, unless we speedily abolished the evil, they would free the blacks and reduce the whole white population to slavery. Would this help the matter ? Not at all. It would only be increasing the evil tenfold, instead of correcting or abolishing it.
It may be answered, that it would nevertheless be a just retribution, what they richly deserve ; but that would not remove the difficulty. It would not be an abolition of slavery, which is the real injustice, but only a shifting of the curse from one class to another. The simple truth is, that slavery is wrong, and the only thing for justice to do, is to put an end to it altogether; and not to do as much wrong, or a hundred fold more, to the authors of the wrong than they have done to its victims.
So it is exactly with all sin, whatever its character or direction. Justice demands simply that it shall come to an end, and it will be satisfied with nothing but this. There is no substitute possible. It knows well enough that if sin be an evil in this world, it will not help the matter to make it endless in the next world.
The sum of its demands and claims is this, and this only—that all wrong shall give place to right, all sin shall be destroyed, and all evil end in good. For this it labors continually, and will, till the end is reached. Whatever pains, penalties or punishments are needful to this end, it will employ; and through all mercy stands at her side with encouraging aid. Neither will abandon the work till it is finished ; till sin and death are destroyed, and everlasting life and righteousness brought in.
Justice and Mercy are not opposed. God is not at war with himself. One
attribute does not demand what another refuses. Justice asks for nothing but
what is right, and mercy asks for nothing that is wrong.. Revenge may demand
suffering for its own sake, but justice demands only righteousness; and is
satisfied when all things are re-adjusted in their original position, and
universal right prevails.
It may, perhaps, be thought that the above argument does not sufficiently consider the injury which sin inflicts on others — as for example, the crime of murder, where not only life is taken, but incalculable suffering and anguish sent into the hearts of all the survivors.
Ought not the murderer to be punished for all this, and made in justice to suffer something of the misery which his guilt has brought upon the innocent ?
Of course he is to be punished—but why? for what purpose? Let us be careful that we do not confound Justice with Revenge. What do we want to accomplish by his punishment? Suppose we hang him — that does not. bring his victim to life. Suppose we roast him over a slow fire, or stretch him upon the rack, and tear his nerves, and break his bones one by one, and gradually rend his quivering body into fragments, while the family and relatives of the murdered man stand looking on. Will that restore the dead ? will it comfort the living? will they now go home feeling Unit sill is right, that Justice is satisfied —that they themselves sire satisfied? If not, what is the thing accomplished by his suffering? what is the thing intended to be accomplished by it?
It may be said, that he ought to suffer as a criminal; that our sense of justice demands that he who inflicts evil on others without cause, should be made to endure in proportion to the injury he inflicts. But is it our sense of justice, or our desire to retaliate, our love of revenge, which says this? Besides does not Christ set this matter right, in either case ; whether it be justice or revenge we seek? " Ye have heard that it hath been said, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth ; but I say unto you, Resist not evil," i. e. with evil. Is this justice toward the transgressor? It may not be our idea of justice, but it is the justice and the Law of Christ—and he is a safer teacher than our anger or our hatred.
But transfer this now to the sphere of divine justice and punishment, and to the future life. Suppose you send this criminal to hell, and subject him to the most awful tortures infinite knowledge and power can devise, and protract them through all eternity. This is the demand of absolute justice, we are told — but what is the thing aimed at now? What is to be gained? what reparation is there here? How does this rectify the wrong that has been done? Does this endless torment restore the murdered man to his family, and repair the injury inflicted on him and on them? Is it a satisfactory equivalent for what they have suffered? Does it make their life on earth — does it make his life in heaven, any happier, to know that the guilty wretch who did them wrong is in hell? Do Christians on earth—do the sanctified spirits of heaven, demand of the justice of God that those who have injured them, that all sinners, shall suffer the torments of an endless hell?
No human being, however much he may have been wronged, however fierce his desire for revenge, ever asked for so terrible a thing as this. And if they who have suffered from sin, if the injured wife of a drunken husband, if the unhappy subject of slander or oppression, if the crushed and mangled slave, if the victim of the- murderer, and his unhappy family — if these, who have suffered so much from the sin, do not, demand endless torment, why should God, who has suffered nothing, demand it, and call it justice?
So far from demanding this, the Bible everywhere declares that God will render a just recompense to the transgressor, that he will punish sinners according to their sins, will reward every man according to his works. [see note]
[NOTE: Matt 16:27; Rom. 2:6; 2 Tim. 4:14. Rev. 2:23, 20:12, 22:12. See also Psalm 62:12. Prov. 24:12, 29. Jer. 1:29. Hosea, 12:2, &c.]
And infinite woe is not according to finite sin. If a sin were to reach in its consequences every inhabitant of earth, yet there would be a, limit to the number injured. II it were to blast the happiness of the whole race through every year and moment of their life on earth, still there would be a limit in time as well an m numbers. Count, therefore, the evil of sin as yon will, it, cannot be added up to the infinite, cither in quantity, quality or time ; and if not,, then infinite endless punishment is not according to the transgression—and Justice, therefore, which demands equity and lair dealing, repudiates it, and calls for a punishment proportionate to the wrong. [see note]
[NOTE: Let us suppose a case that we may see how little the doctrine of endless punishment has to do with the just recompense of sin. A. lives a life of sin and crime for 49 years and 364 days, and on the following day repents, dies, and goes to heaven. B. lives a life of virtue and goodness for 49 years and 304 days, commits a crime on the following day, dies, and goes to hell ! One with fifty years of goodness, less one day, is punished with endless torment; the other with fifty years of wickedness, less one day, is rewarded with endless blessedness ! Now if the first is punished for one sin through all eternity, how long, on the score of Justice, ought the other to be punished for fifty years of sin. And if Justice bestows heaven on the one good act of late and selfish repentance, what ought it to bestow on fifty years of good actions, done for .their own sake?
Again: A. and B. are equally sinners—they quarrel, and A. murders B. —of course B. goes to hell—but A., through the labors of good men, repents, is hung, and goes to heaven. In this case the criminal gets to paradise by the lucky chance of being the murderer instead of the murdered. If his victim had been fortunate enough to strike the fatal blow, he would have changed places with him ; and so the eternal destiny of each would have been reversed by the chance blow of a street fight! And is this justice — Divine Justice? Is it on such grounds it distributes its rewards and punishments ? What must be the moral influence of such a doctrine?]
But what is this punishment proportionate to the wrong? What do the
Scriptures mean by rewarding every one according to his works? We have already
said that Justice does not demand so much pain for so much sin, without regard
to circumstances. Even human Justice considers the difference of condition,
temptation, and guilt; and that where the outward transgression is the same.
Hence the difference which the law makes in killing, between murder and
manslaughter, and the several degrees of manslaughter ; and the sliding scale of
punishment for the same crime, from months 1o years of imprisonment; and the
pardoning power granted to the executive to correct mistakes, and release those
on whom punishment has done the desired work of reformation.
So the Divine Justice adapts its punishment to the condition and needs of the offender, measuring them so exactly to the purpose aimed at, (hat no mistakes are ever made here. The sinner is rewarded according to his works, as the sick man is treated according to his disease. The skilful physician, as he sees the case requires, administers sometimes more and sometimes less medicine ; and so the wise judge inflicts sometimes ten stripes, and sometimes five, for the same offence, according to the moral condition, the degree of hardness or depravity of the offender.
Whatever medicine is necessary to repair the injury caused by the disease, the sick man must take ; whatever punishment is necessary to repair the injury caused by sin, the wicked man must suffer. Both must bear the penalty, as a warning to themselves and others, to be henceforth obedient to the law. The penalty is simply the method which Justice takes to reinstate all things in (heir original position, and keep them (here ; to vindicate (lie righteousness of the law, and the reason and necessity of obedience.
And this is precisely the definition of Justice which Clemens Alexandrinus, a, learned Universalist Father, gave nearly seventeen hundred years ago, A.D. 190. "Justice," says he, "is, in itself, nothing but goodness ; for it rewards the virtuous, and seeks the improvement of the sinful. It is the office of salutary justice, continually to exalt every thing towards the best state of which it is capable. Inferior things are adapted to promote and confirm the salvation of that which is most excellent; and thus whatever is endued with any virtue, is forthwith still changed for the better, through the liberty of choice which the mind has in its power. And the necessary chastisements of the great Judge, who regards all with benignity, make mankind grieve for their sins and imperfections, and advance them through the various states of discipline to perfection. Even God's wrath, if so his admonitions may be called, is full of benevolence towards the human race; for whose sake the Word of God was made man." [Stromata Lib. Vii. cap. 2; Paedagog. Lib. i. cap. 8.]
And with this agrees Origen, the disciple of Clement, and one of the greatest scholars, as well as most distinguished Universalists of the Ancient Church, (A. D. 230), perfectly agrees to the definition of the office of Divine Justice. He says: "Justice is Goodness .... and when they allege that God, who rewards every one according to his deserts, renders evil to the evil, let them not conceal the principle — that as the sick must be cured by harsh medicines, so God administers, for the purpose of emendation, what for the present appears to produce pain. Let them consider the case of Sodom and Gomorrah, on whom the Lord rained fire and brimstone. -What, we ask, does the prophet Ezekiel say of them? Sodom, says he, shall be restored to its former estate, 16:56. Now, he who afflicts those deserving punishment, does he not afflict them for their good?" [De Principiis, Lib. ii. c. 5 § 3.]
Thus the Justice of God, in its absolute character, and in its relative object and end. furnishes one of the most conclusive and unanswerable arguments for the final destruction of evil, and the restoration of moral order, for universal holiness and salvation. Its perpetual demand is, " Do right — abolish wrong — obey the law, or slider the penalty till you do obey—an end of sin and of all evil, and the. universal and everlasting Reign of Righteousness — this only will satisfy my claims on mankind, and the end cannot come till this comes. Disorder, injustice, wrong, and wickedness, punishment and suffering, are not the end, not the thing the Divine Government rests in ; but Universal Order, Holiness, and Happiness, — these, and only these, are final and forever, the divine offspring of Divine Justice !"
Hence the Lord himself says:— "I am a just God and Saviour — there is
none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I
am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, thee word is gone out of
my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return (i. e. shall be accomplished ),
that unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear, surely shall say,
In the Lord have I RIGHTEOUSNESS and strength — and all that are incensed
against him shall be ashamed."— Isaiah 10:20-25.
§ II. Justice has claims on God as well as on man. There is another side to this question of Justice, which is almost wholly ignored in the argument — viz : that it has claims on God as well as on man. Not only does justice demand that the sinner shall suffer for his sins, but also that he who created shall have dealt fairly with him in all that respects his moral and physical constitution, and the conditions of his life on earth, prior to his sin ; and that he shall continue to in all the consequences and retributions following it. And God himself recognizes this principle in his moral administration of our affairs, and in all his dealings with mankind. This is admirably illustrated in the record of Abraham's pleading with the Almighty respecting the destruction of Sodom. Gen. 18:23-33.. God replies to the question of the patriarch: "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? " and plainly admits the moral obligation implied in the question.
So he reasons with the Jews in the same way, and condescends even to defend his action toward them on the "grounds of strict justice; and elaborates the argument of defense at great length. Ezek. xviii. The conclusion comes in this form :—"And yet saith the house of Israel, the way of the Lord is not equal. O house of Israel! Are not my ways equal? Are not your ways unequal? Therefore, will I judge you, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord God." And similar passages are found throughout the Scriptures, acknowledging the law of justice as applicable to the divine conduct:— "Doth God pervert judgment? or doth the Almighty pervert justice?" " Far be it from God that he should do wickedness; and from the Almighty that he should commit iniquity." "Yea, surely God will not do wickedly; neither will the Almighty pervert judgment. He will not lay upon man more than is right, that he should enter into judgment with God." —Job 8; 34. Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne." "Righteous art thou, O Lord, and upright are thy judgments." — Psalms, 89; 109., &c.
These passages show that God is governed by the strictest principles of honor and justice, in all his dealings with his creatures, acknowledging and respecting all their rights, and all their claims upon him to be treated with fairness and equity in all that involves the interests of the present and the future. Indeed, the government of God is not for the good of the governor, but for the good of the governed; not to display the arbitrary power of Deity, but to promote the happiness of mankind.
And since, from the nature of the case, the subjects of the government could not be consulted as to its form and principles, its laws and penalties; Justice requires that all these should be such as are fitted to secure! the highest good of all concerned. If you act in my affairs without my knowledge or consent, you arc hound to act fairly and honorably, for my benefit, and not lo my injury. If God bestows on me an existence, which I am not allowed to refuse, whatever its responsibilities or perils, Justice, demands that the existence thus forced upon me should prove a, good and not an evil. If I could see, beforehand, that it would prove an endless curse to me, I should, of course, reject it, if the choice were given me, If God sees beforehand that it will prove an endless curse to me — no matter how or why; no matter by whose fault — it is a violation of justice in all its definitions to force it upon me.
But we will go farther than this, and suppose that he did not know that it would prove a final curse; was it right or just to create us with such a, fearful issue as endless woe possible even? Without pushing the question of omniscience, suppose it possible that we might reach the glory and blessedness of heaven, ought we to be compelled to take the risk, however unwilling, when the alternative of failure is so awful? Let us resort to illustration again, that we may sec it more clearly.
A frail and narrow bridge swings across a gulf that stretches fearful and fathomless below. On this, as it rocks wildly in the winds, a father places his young child. Beyond, on the other side of the gulf, he has deposited a prize of gold and jewels above estimate, which he promises to the child if he passes the bridge, safely ; and then compels him to go, commanding him to look neither to the right nor to the left, but to be watchful, attentive, and firm of step. The boy, heedless and disobedient, hesitates instead of going steadily forward — reels and staggers — the slight bridge quivers for a moment — swings from under him, and hurled, as the lightning, into the gulf, he is caught and impaled on a sharp and jagged splinter of rock far down the abyss. There he hangs for days and weeks, for long and weary years, if possible, struggling and agonizing, and writhing in torture, and crying to his father for help and deliverance, but his father turns a deaf ear to all his entreaties, goes about his business wholly indifferent, to the horrible sufferings of his child, and justifies himself by saying, " The boy might have passed the bridge! safely, and won the prize — he was warned of the danger — it was his own fault that he fell, and he suffers justly !"
Now, would not Justice, Honor, Humanity,— would not all men and angels, pronounce this father a monster and a fiend; and reprobate his conduct as the essence of injustice and cruelty? Would not every one say there was no necessity for such a proceeding, no excuse for the awful risk to which the child was thus wantonly exposed?
And shall God place me on the frail and narrow bridge of Life, .stretched as it is, over the awful and flaming abyss of endless perdition, with the bare possibility of a heaven beyond; and then leave me there to walk it, swinging fearfully to and fro in the winds and tempests of temptation, till, faint with terror, at last I make a false step, and am precipitated into the fathomless sea of fire below? Why give life with such awful hazard? I would not choose it, nor take it, if left to my own freedom. I would not willingly cross the frail and unsteady bridge, swaying in the wind, with so many thousand chances against me — whatever the prize — not for the possibility of ten thousand heavens.
Uncreated I suffered nothing, I lost nothing, I ran no risk. Why drag me forth from nothingness without my consent, and force me upon the perilous life-bridge, and then leave me to fall headlong into the bottomless abyss of torment, torment beyond measure, and without end? Does not the moral sense of every man cry out against this? Does not Justice, with all her voices, protest against it? Assuredly so. There was no need to subject me to this terrible risk — nothing that demanded it; and there is nothing that can justify or excuse it. And if God has done this, the plea which Young, in "The Last Day," has put into the mouth of the damned sinner in hell, would tell with terrible effect on the Divine Justice as well as Mercy:
'"Father of Mercies! why from silent earthThe Divine Justice, therefore, is not only an eloquent and unanswered protest against the doctrine of endless pain and punishment; but it is an equally conclusive argument that all the issues of the divine government under which we have been placed, will be beneficent, and that every living soul shall at last have abundant cause to rejoice that it was created. And so will be fulfilled the prophecy and the promise already quoted,— "I am a Just God and a Saviour . . . unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue, shall swear, surely shall say, In the Lord have I righteousness and strength."
Didst thou awake and curse me into birth?
Tear me from quiet, ravish me from night,
And make a thankless present of thy light?
Push into being a reverse of thee,
And animate a clod with misery ?
The beasts are happy; they come forth and keep
Short watch on earth, and then lie down to sleep.
But, our dire punishment forever strong,
Our constitution too forever young,
Cursed with returns of vigor still the same,
Powerful to bear and satisfy the flame;
Still to be caught and still to be pursued;
To perish still, and still to be renewed!
And this my Help, my God at thy decree: •
Nature is changed and Hell should succor me !
And canst thou, then, look down from perfect bliss,
And see mo plunging in this dark abyss?
Calling thee Father, in a sea of fire?
Or pouring blasphemies at thy desire?
With mortals anguish wilt, thou raise thy name?
And by my pangs omnipotence, proclaim?"
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