Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

from Paradise, and pronounced the sentence of death upon them and their posterity, he was just. When he overthrew the old world with a deluge, he was just. When he destroyed the cities of the plain with fire, he was just. He was just when he threatened Nineveh with destruction, as well as when he spared it for its repentance. And, finally, when he would save fallen man from endless ruin, he consults justice as well as mercy.

God is not only just himself, but he commands his intelligent creatures so to be. He has frequently declared his love of justice, in his word, and promised rewards to the just. For instance, read the following: " That which is altogether just shalt thou follow, that thou mayst live, and inherit the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee." "Blessings are upon the head of the just.” “There shall no evil happen to the just." In like manner, he has threatened those who depart from justice, as the following texts will show : “The wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow to cast down the poor and

1

[ocr errors]

needy, and to slay such as be of upright conversation. Their swords shall enter into their own hearts, and their bows shall be broken." “He that oppresseth the poor, reproacheth his Maker." "He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, shall surely come to want."

56 Wo unto him that useth his neighbor's service without wages, and giveth him not for his work." " To crush under his feet all the prisoners of the earth, to turn aside the rights of a man before the face of the Most High, to subvert a man in his cause, the Lord approveth not."

In the Bible we find many examples of holy men, who walked with God and hated all injustice and cruelty. But I will pass over these, and notice one striking instance recorded in profane history. I allude to Aristides, who lived 460 years before our Saviour, and though a heathen, possessed this trait of character in an uncommon degree. He was once carrying on a prosecution against an enemy; and after he had brought forward his charges, the judges were going to decide the case, without hearing the other party; but Aristides, who had more regard for justice than for his own personal interest, interceded in behalf of his enemy, that he might be allowed the privilege of making his defence. At another time, after a battle, he was left to guard the prisoners and spoils which had been taken. There was much gold and silver scattered about, and rich garments, and other booty in abundance. Most men, in this situation, would have helped themselves; but Aristides neither touched any thing himself, nor suffered any one else to. Thus, though a poor man, observes Plutarch, he gained the royal and divine title of The Just, to which kings and princes have too seldom aspired. Though he occupied the highest offices, and had abundant means to enrich himself from the public treasury, yet he lived and died a poor but just man; and it is said he did not leave money enough after his death to defray his funeral expenses.

But though we occasionally find bright specimens of justice among men, yet they

are very few. When we look abroad upon the world, we see little else but injustice, cruelty, and oppression, and our "ears are pained with every day's report of wrong and outrage.” It seems as if man was the greatest enemy of his race. He does not hesitate to oppress his weaker brother, and thinks nothing of grinding him to the dust merely for the sake of gain. Were Solomon now alive, he might say as truly as he once did, “So I returned and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun; and, behold, the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter : and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter." Truly may we say,

“ Man's inhumanity to man
Makes countless millions mourn."

History records many instances of gross injustice. To select one among the many in the Bible, read the account of Pharaoh. He oppressed the children of Israel, and held them in cruel bondage; and when he found their number was rapidly increasing,

to prevent a rebellion, he did not hesitate to put all their sons to death as soon as born. He also afflicted them with hard bondage, and "made their lives bitter." But such conduct was not without its reward; for the oppressor and his host were soon overthrown in the midst of the sea.

Numerous other instances might be cited from the Bible, to show how prone man is to transgress the laws of justice; but this one is enough for our purpose. We will now turn to the other kind of history, generally called profane history. But here I am at a loss what to select from among the thousand acts of injustice which disfigure its pages; for ancient history is almost entirely one catalogue of war, injustice, and cruelty. But passing over the bloody track of conquerors, and generals, and kings, let us go to the more humble one of the private citizen. When Philip of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great, returned from his conquests, he brought home with him a large number of slaves or captives, as was usual for conquerors in

« AnteriorContinuar »