to deny a man justice before the Most High,
|Justice||J. Stalker, D. D.||Lamentations 3:35|
|Man's Rights and Wrongs||Homilist||Lamentations 3:35|
|Might and Right||D. Rhys Jenkins.||Lamentations 3:35|
|The Right of a Man Before God||D. J. Burrell, D. D.||Lamentations 3:35|
|Awaiting God's Working||John Hall.||Lamentations 3:25-36|
|God's Goodness to Them that Wait||T. P. Crosse, D. C. L.||Lamentations 3:25-36|
|Seeking and Waiting||W. B. Pope, D. D.||Lamentations 3:25-36|
|The Grace of Patience||H. W. Beecher.||Lamentations 3:25-36|
|Waiting and Reliance Upon the Unseen||Lamentations 3:25-36|
|Waiting for God||J. M'Cosh.||Lamentations 3:25-36|
|Waiting Rewarded||Lamentations 3:25-36|
|Hope and Patience||John Ker, D. D.||Lamentations 3:26-36|
|Hoping and Waiting||J. G. Greenhough, M. A.||Lamentations 3:26-36|
|Quiet Waiting||W. F. Adeney, M. A.||Lamentations 3:26-36|
|Quietness and Hope||R. Waddy Moss.||Lamentations 3:26-36|
|The Advantage of Hoping and Waiting for the Salvation of God||Pulpit Assistant.||Lamentations 3:26-36|
|The Advantages of a State of Expectation||H. Melvill, B. D.||Lamentations 3:26-36|
|The Christian's Hope and Patience||R. W. Kyle, B. A.||Lamentations 3:26-36|
|Affliction not Accidental||John Burton.||Lamentations 3:31-36|
|Afflictive Dispensations||S. Thodey.||Lamentations 3:31-36|
|Comfort for the Sorrowful||Expository Outlines||Lamentations 3:31-36|
|Divine Mercy in Human Affliction||Homilist||Lamentations 3:31-36|
|God has no Delight in Human Suffering||R. South.||Lamentations 3:31-36|
|God's Afflictive Dealings with His People||J. Pulsford.||Lamentations 3:31-36|
|Nature and Design of Affliction||W. Knight, M. A.||Lamentations 3:31-36|
|Origin of Evil||G. Haggitt, M. A.||Lamentations 3:31-36|
|Reasons for Affliction||I. S. Spencer, D. D.||Lamentations 3:31-36|
|The Evils of Life||T. S. Hardie, D. D.||Lamentations 3:31-36|
|The Infliction of Evil Upon Mankind||R. Watson.||Lamentations 3:31-36|
It required great faith on the part of Jeremiah and his countrymen to think and to speak thus of God. It was easy for them to believe in the justice and in the power of God; their own affliction witnessed to these attributes. But it was a triumph of faith for those so afflicted to acknowledge the kindness and compassion of the supreme Ruler.
I. IT IS NOT INCOMPATIBLE WITH GOD'S GOODNESS TO AFFLICT MEN. He "causes grief." His providence appoints that human life should be largely a discipline of affliction, that human transgressions should be followed by chastisement. The Scriptures teach us that we may look all the stern and terrible facts of human life full in the face, and yet retain our confidence in the infinite kindness of the Divine Ruler.
II. GOD OBSERVES A LIMIT IN AFFLICTING HIS PEOPLE. His chastening is for a time. He will not always chide. He will not cast off forever. For it is not implacable revenge, it is fatherly discipline, which accounts for human griefs.
III. COMPASSION AND MERCY ARE DISCERNIBLE BENEATH DIVINE CHASTENING. It is benignity which delivers the children of men from the waters, so that they are not overwhelmed; from the flames, so that they are not consumed. But it is benignity also (although this is a hard lesson for the afflicted, and a hard lesson for the philosopher of this world) which appoints affliction and chastening. God does not allow our sufferings willingly, i.e. from his heart, as delighting in them. It is not for his pleasure, but for our profit, that we may be partakers of his holiness. And herein we see, not only the highest wisdom, but the purest love. - T.
The cultivation of wisdom, courage, and temperance is necessary to the doing of justice, and the cultivation of justice reacts favourably on the cultivation of these other virtues. But, on the whole, those three first are personal; this is public. In cultivating the first three virtues, a man is looking within; in cultivating this fourth one, he is looking without and around. For justice is to render to everyone his due. It is the virtue of a man, not as he stands alone, but as he stands in society; and as he cultivates this virtue, he has to keep his eye upon all his fellow creatures, his superiors, inferiors, and equals, and on all the circles of society in which he stands, such as the family, the city, the nation, and the Church. As man has relations to other creatures beneath him and to other beings above him, as well as to his fellow creatures, it has sometimes been proposed to include in justice the duties of man to animals, and the duties of man to God. I notice in some of the newer books on ethics, that the subject of cruelty to animals is discussed in connection with justice, and in many of the older books, in the writings of the schoolmen, and especially in the Summa of , the duties of man to God are not only included in justice, but made the principal part of it: all parts of Divine worship, for instance, being discussed under this head. But it seems to me that it is better to limit justice to the duties of human beings to one another. This is a wide enough field. It comprehends the mutual duties of parents and children, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, friends and neighbours, clergy and laymen, employers' and employed, rulers and subjects, and others too numerous to mention. It anyone in all these relationships were a model man, then he would be a perfect man, and hence, justice has often been treated as if it were the whole of virtue; and even , in an unusual outburst of enthusiasm, says: "It is more beautiful than the morning or the evening star." When justice is defined as rendering to every one his due, that might seem a very simple affair, but it is not so simple as it looks; and this you immediately begin to realise if you ask what is due to any other person, because the question always slips in, "And what is due to me?" That is what makes it so difficult to keep the balance straight — the bias in favour of self. Note
To turn aside the right of a man.
MAN HAS RIGHTS.
1. Man has an inalienable right to the enjoyment of that happiness for which he was created. What is necessary to this?(1) Physical health. Where there is a diseased, enfeebled body there cannot be happiness. But what millions in this free country of ours, who have committed no crime, are doomed by the tyrannic force of commercial cupidity, and by the injustice of legislation, to spend their time in filthy garrets and in foetid alleys.(2) Intellectual culture is essential to happiness. We have a mind as well as a body; nay, we are mind. There is no paradise for man where the tree of knowledge does not bloom, knowledge gives a new interest to life, a new meaning to the universe, a new sphere for the full play of our faculties. If, then, knowledge is essential to happiness, what is necessary to knowledge is a right.(3) A good conscience is a necessary element of happiness. He who surrenders his conscience to the dictates of others, degrades his nature; and he who is forced to lend his support to principles contrary to his own convictions is an insulted and an injured man.(4) Social respect is another element in happiness. Whatever tends to degrade a man in the estimation of his contemporaries is an infringement of this right.
2. Man has an inalienable right to those conditions essential to the discharge of his obligations. Duty meets us everywhere, it is ubiquitous, it meets us at home and abroad, in solitude and society, in business and in pleasure. The cardinal duties of our being may be put into three groups, domestic, civil, and religious.(1) The domestic group, The duty of filial reverence and love meets us at the beginning of our history, and is enjoined both by nature and the Bible. "Honour thy father and thy mother," is a mandate that not only rings in the Decalogue, but echoes ever more through natural reason and conscience. It is not incumbent on any child to honour morally ignoble parents, or to love those whose characters arc false, and mean, and corrupt. Nor could they do so. Parental government, therefore, is based upon the right that children have to expect from parents the spiritually noble and pure.(2) The civil group. Outside of the domestic sphere, out lying close to its door, there is the great world of our fellow creatures which we can society. This society has its institutions, its laws, and government. We live in this world, and we cannot live without it. Whoever is the chief administrator of the laws that govern society, whether placed in his supreme position by lineage or suffrage, for his whole life or for a certain period, he is the king, and we are commanded to honour and obey him. But this duty implies that the king is honour-worthy, and that his laws are righteous.(3) The religious group. The great duty that grows out of our relation to our Maker is this, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God," etc. But this supreme obligation of humanity implies rights on man's raft. If the Supreme Being requires me to love Him supremely He must furnish me with a revelation of Himself, and with capacities capable of understanding and appreciating that revelation. He must appear as the infinitely lovely One, the altogether beautiful, in order to kindle my highest affections. Now in relation to Him our rights are equal to our obligations. He has given us all that we require to fulfil the duties He demands.
II. MAN HAS WRONGS. His wrongs are the antitheses — or rather, deprivations and violations of his rights.
1. How man's wrongs are inflicted. The despoilers of his rights may be divided into two classes, the external and the internal.(1) The external. Who and what outside of man deprive him of his rights? Unrighteous government. Who can look at some of the laws of England without denouncing them as unrighteous. Take the laws in relation to land. Take the laws in relation to labour. Honest labour is an institution of heaven. And is not that law unrighteous which, to support regal luxuries, and gorgeous pageantries, government pensions, huge naval and military establishments, despoils the honest worker of much of the produce of his labour? Secular monopoly. Vast as are the resources of this earth, they are not boundless. It is the purpose of our Maker that all men should have an adequate, if not an equal participation in them. He, therefore, who appropriates to his own personal use an amount which would be sufficient supply the wants of a number, is a monopolist, and interferes with the rights or the multitude. Social chicanery. It has been said that so rife is the ravenous greed and the unscrupulous dishonesty in society, that one can scarcely have a business transaction with any man without the liability of being cheated. Justice between man and man is generally torpid, and often extinct. The spirit of fraud and falsehood fills the air.(2) The internal. There are elements or forces in the human soul that are perhaps greater despoilers of rights than any that are without: in fact, the external tyrants derive their energy and continuance from them, outward despots would scarcely live were it not for the inward. Indolence. Perhaps in most men naturally the desire for rest is stronger than that for action. The lazy hang on others, they will fawn on and flatter tyrants,, only let them have a little more "folding of the hands in sleep." Servility. This, indeed, is an offspring of the former. It means the loss of all sense of manly independency. Credulity is also the child of indolence; not until men rouse themselves to intellectual study so as to become qualified to form an independent judgment, will they free themselves from those fraudulent forces and impostures that "turn aside the right of a man." Intemperance in either form, eating or drinking, is one of the greatest despoilers of human rights.
2. How man's wrongs arc to be removed.(1) Not by violent declamation against existing authorities. Demagogism has ever done more harm than good.(2) Nor yet can you regain your rights by physical force. The real chains that fetter men are too subtle to be cut by the sword.(3) How then? By the promotion of sound knowledge. Popular ignorance is the cradle of tyrannies. By sound knowledge I mean primarily, a knowledge of the ethics of Christ.
PITY SHOULD ALWAYS TEMPER PUNISHMENT.
1. To prevent despondency. Despondency unmans men.
2. Punishment should always be tempered with pity that it may prove a discipline. The good have that comfort in adversity, that the worst that meets them here is intended for their good.
3. Punishment should always be tempered with pity, in consideration of the dignity and great possibilities of man's nature. He was created in God's image; he may be restored to the same image again. God punishes us in pity "for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness."
II. RIGHT SHOULD ALWAYS GUIDE MIGHT.
1. Because the right will be just to a man's physical needs and his moral powers. To trample upon those who are down is brutal conduct. That is to let might crush the right. Those who are down should excite our pity, not incite us to perpetrate cruelty.
2. Because the right will respect man's religious requirements.
3. Because the right will teach men to respect the claims of their fellow men and the truth.
III. JUSTICE SHOULD ALWAYS BE THE AIM OF LAW.
1. Because the Lord is an eyewitness of all we do. Our most secret thoughts before ever they become actions are known to Him.
2. Because the Lord is pleased or pained with all we do. If we really and devoutly considered this how differently would we act frequently.
3. Because God will punish all wrong-doers.
There is a general impression that God does as He pleases without any reference to sanctions or immunities of ours. This, however, is far wide of the truth. God is never arbitrary.
I. One of our rights with respect to God is LIFE. This is a natural right. It is written that when God created man He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life so that he became a living soul. In this particular man was created in the Divine likeness. His life was like a spark thrown off from the infinite life of Deity. It is impossible, therefore, to think of annihilation or of "conditional immortality" in connection with him. Our life is the only created thing in the universe that has not in it the seed and certainty of death. An oak may resist the storms of a thousand years, but it falls at last. Our bodies are never free from disease; it is only a question of time when each shall return to the dust as it was. But the soul has in it no seeds of decay. Its eyes never grow dim, its blood does not stagnate, and whenever the query is propounded, "If a man die, shall he live again?" its answer is instant, "I shall live and not die!"
II. The second of our rights before God is FREEDOM. This again is a natural right. It belongs to us by virtue of the fact that God created us in his own likeness. In this again man is unique among all created things. The sun goes forth out of its chambers in the morning to run its race, and has no alternative. God speaks and it obeys. The sea rolls to and fro as He directs. But to you and me He says, "Thou shalt," and if I please I may make answer, "I will not." If would win me He must reason with me. If He would capture me He must draw me with the cords of a man. If, notwithstanding His goodness, we persist in sin, He can only suffer us to have our way. "Ye will not come unto Me that ye might have life."
III. We are entitled to THE FULL BENEFIT OF THE MORAL LAW. This also is a natural right. We are normal beings. As God Himself is the source and centre of law, so we, being made in His likeness, are made under law; and we may claim all the benefits and privileges of it. There is, however, little comfort in claiming these privileges of the moral law. For what is law? "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." And what is justice? Eternal separation from God and goodness. We are sinners, all alike under the penalty of death. To stand upon our rights just here is to court despair.
IV. Fortunately for us we have another right, not natural like the foregoing, but conferred, to wit, the right of APPEAL FROM LAW AND JUSTICE TO THE MERCY OF GOD. No one among us can presume to stand upon his merits. On Sir Henry Lawrence's tomb at Lucknow is this inscription: "Here lies a man who tried to do his duty. May God have mercy on his soul!" If he tried to do his duty why did he not ask for justice? Because, no matter how earnestly he had striven to live well, he had made a measurable failure of it. Mercy, therefore, was Sir Henry's only hope. He is a wise man who in like manner, after doing his best and being mindful of his shortcomings, casts himself with an utter abandon on the mercy of his God.
1. This right of appeal is a conferred right. It is purely of grace. But once conferred it is inalienable. "Him that cometh unto Me" — no matter how scarlet his sins — "I will in no wise cast out."
2. This right is the purchase of the Saviour's blood. But for His atoning work it could not, consistently with justice, have been conferred upon us.
3. This right is conditioned upon the exercise of faith in Jesus Christ. A man may do as he pleases about exercising this faith, but in default of it he lives obviously under the law and must take the consequences.
I.The justice of the law of the land.
II.The justice of public opinion.
III.The justice of conscience.
IV.The justice of Christ.That everyone should get his due is so essential to human welfare, that in every country, in the slightest degree above the level of barbarism, the very best brains have been set to determine what justice is, and the united strength of the community to enforce it. In ancient Rome, for instance, the Twelve Tables were set up in the market place, that everyone might read them, and there, in the plainest words, the citizen was told his duty, and was made acquainted with the penalties of transgression. In our own country and in other civilised countries, picked men are brought together in Parliament, who spend their time year by year, defining what justice is. Law courts are set up; judges and juries sit; lawyers plead, to bring special eases under the general laws which Parliament has enacted; and prison and punishment exist for the purpose of bringing home to the general mind the majesty of justice. These institutions in our midst form a school, to which we are all sent, that we may learn to give to everyone his due. The law of the land has been our schoolmaster, telling us what to do and what not to do, and telling us effectually; and the very unconsciousness of our minds as to our having anything to do with the police and the prison, is just the evidence of how well this schoolmaster has done his work. In all civilised countries the justice of the law of the land is an inheritance from many centuries, during which the best brains of the country have been set apart to determine what justice is. In our own law, extremes of wisdom mingle, derived on the one hand from the classical nations, and on the other hand from our Teutonic ancestors. And yet, in spite of all that has been done, and is being done, from year to year, the law of the land is a very imperfect embodiment of justice, and a man may all his life keep out of the clutches of the police, and yet be an extremely unjust man. If a man steals a pound note from his neighbours, the law will set its whole machinery in operation to deal with him, but the very same person may, by the arts of temptation carried on for many years, make the son of his neighbour a drunkard, and his daughter something still worse, and yet the law of the land may not say a single word. A man may all his life keep wide of the clutches of the law, which may never have one word to say to him; yet society may know him to be guilty of deeds which it intensely despises, and will not allow to be committed with impunity. It does not fine or imprison, but it turns its back on him. Thus, silently but sternly, society punishes the man who is known to be breaking the eighth commandment, and especially the woman who is known to be breaking the seventh commandment. It is often very cruel — at all events, it looks cruel — and yet on the whole it is beneficent, and the world is a far more habitable place because of the school of public opinion into which all have to come. Then there is the school of conscience. There are holes in the net woven by public opinion, just as there are in those woven by the law of the land, far worse than that even. There are many cases in which public opinion commands things it ought to forbid, and in which it forbids the things that it ought to command. But perhaps a custom established in public opinion is more difficult to deal with than a wrong statute. The appeal from it, however, is to the conscience of the individual, and this is the third school into which we all have to pass. If a man is doubtful about what is right and what is wrong, let him simply retire with the question into his own breast, and ask, What ought I to do? and if he is really willing to do what he knows to be right, he will very seldom be without the right answer. This often is a far sterner tribunal than either that of public opinion or the law of the land. The great interest of religion is to strengthen the conscience, so that a man may feel that in its presence he is standing before a more august judge than if he were in any court of law, or than if he were surrounded by a whole theatre of spectators. "Whatever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them." That is the soul of justice. As I have just quoted the golden rule, it might be thought we had already got to the justice of Christ. Jesus was a moralist. He was the heir and successor of the prophets. He denounced wrong with a plainness never elsewhere exemplified in the world. He emitted many rules of justice, and the golden rule among them. Yet that was not the principal lift He gave to justice. It is well to understand that. There are things that make it easy to give to any one his due, or even perhaps a little more than his due. There is not a town in the world where the well dressed do not receive more courteous treatment than the ragged. That is human nature. I dare say it is sometimes contemptible, but at all events it is a good thing to take advantage of it for those at the opposite extreme of society. What Jesus did to secure justice for the common man, was to raise the estimation of the common man. If the poor receive scanty consideration because there is nothing about them to attract attention, on the other hand, they will receive respect and attention if they are invested with dignity, and none can take in the teaching of Jesus Christ without recognising that the humblest belong to that humanity which He took into His heart, and for which He sacrificed His life. And if thus we look at our fellow creatures through the eyes of Jesus Christ, if we see God in them, then we have a new and the finest of all reasons for treating them with justice. Let us take for an illustration that which we are all thinking so much about in the present day, the relations of employers and employed. What do these four kinds of justice say about what the employer owes to the employed and what the employed owe to the employer? Take the law of the land; what it says is very brief and to the point; it just says to the employer: "Pay that thou owest," and to the employed, "Thou shalt not steal." There are multitudes both of employers and employed to whom that is perfectly simple, but are there not others to whom these simple statements are the very thunder of God? Then public opinion goes a good deal further, although its voice in this case is divided. There is an opinion of employers which employers, perhaps, listen to too exclusively, and there is a public opinion of the employed to which they, perhaps, listen too exclusively. But there is a wider public opinion that is more impartial, and I think I should say that it frowns upon the employer of labour who is not endeavouring to bring the conditions of labour in his business up to the best that has been attained in the same business; and this wider public opinion frowns upon the employee if he does not do his best. Outside public opinion in such eases is apt to be only partially informed, and its decisions need correction by larger knowledge; but I should say that on the whole they are wholesome; and it is good for both sides that the voice of public opinion is to be heard. There is the appeal, though, for both employer and employed, to conscience. A man can go into his own breast and ask, What is my duty? What would God like me to do? And then there still remains the justice of Christ. What would Christian principle say in this case? It would remind the employer that what are called his "hands" are in reality immortal beings, and therefore ought to be spared as much as possible things such as Sabbath labour and excessive hours, which secularise and brutalise; and bid servants hear the voice of Christ behind them as they labour, "Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as unto the Lord and not unto men." I am not saying that even with the help of all these four kinds of light the problem of justice is always easy. I do not think it is. It seems to me to be specially difficult where, not individuals, but large bodies of men are concerned. But it is only by keeping these four lights streaming down upon life that the relations of men will become more just, and so more sweet, and that the individual will be prepared to appear before that tribunal where all the judgments of this earth will be reconsidered, and where a decision will be given from which there is no appeal.
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