MEDITATIONS ON CHRISTIAN DOGMA TREATISE I. GOD. 27. THE JUSTICE OF GOD.
St Augustine in His Cell
MEDITATIONS ON CHRISTIAN DOGMA
TREATISE I. GOD
27. THE JUSTICE OF GOD.
I. There is in God a perfect distributive justice towards all His creatures. In virtue of this He awards to every being all that it requires according to its place in the divine scheme ; He gives it the strength and the adaptability necessary for the duties He has appointed it to do. To man God assigns body and soul, reason and freedom, senses and faculties, the means of maintaining life, subduing the world, and making continual progress. Further, every one receives the graces of his state, adapted to his special work and special difficulties ; and by means of these he can infallibly accomplish the natural and spiritual duties of his life, and at last attain to heaven. If we find ourselves deficient in such necessary grace, it is not because God is inequitable and seeks to reap what He did not sow, but either because we have not prayed and secured that grace, or because we have forced ourselves into a position not intended for us by God, where the requirements are beyond our capabilities. Religion is God s great means of distribution ; it will supply everything that our special circumstances demand. Never complain against the ordinances of God. You are not qualified to criticize them. Unless you know exactly what God has reserved for each man in the way of duty and future reward, you cannot judge whether his equipment is sufficient or not. Be persuaded that " God is faithful and without any iniquity, just and right" (Deut. xxxii. 4).
II. A second kind of justice avenging justice marks God s dealings with unrepentant sinners. Terrible as their punishment is, they receive less than their due. They reap only that which they have sown, which they have brought on themselves with their eyes open and with full deliberation. " He loved cursing, and it shall come unto him ; and he would not have blessing, and it shall be far from him " (Ps. cviii. 18). Sinners refuse to place their happiness in God, till at last they have so moulded their tastes and character that they have no longer the capacity for finding pleasure in Him. They introduce a permanent disorder into their being, and this necessarily produces permanent evils. The effect is strictly proportioned to the cause. The degree and the kind of the guilt is the exact measure of the punishment. " By what a man sinneth, by the same also is he tormented" (Wisd. xi. 17). "According to the measure of the sin shall the measure also of the stripes be" (Dent. xxv. 2). The sinner shall fall into the pit that he himself digged. Nothing can be more exactly just than this, and nothing more terrible. Let your love and trust in God s mercy be always mingled with fear of His avenging justice. This is the beginning of wisdom.
III. Towards the just God exhibits remunerative justice. It is not that God has any obligations towards us, or owes any debt of justice for our services. We are unprofitable servants, we have given Him nothing that was not already His, our virtues are worthless before Him. But God has given us a claim by His promises, and through Jesus Christ, and so has made Himself our debtor. " Whosoever shall glorify Me, him will I glorify" (1 Kings ii. 30). God will render to us infinitely more than we have done for Him, but still there will be some proportion between our services and our reward. All the blessed will possess Him indeed, but it will be in greater or less measure according to the capacity which each one has created for himself by his goodness when on earth. Never repine at your lot, or be troubled about others receiving apparently less than they have merited. God s accounts are not balanced till the next life. Trust in that infinite justice, which after a short delay will rectify all that is wrong, and give compensation for present inequalities.
MEDITATIONS ON CHRISTIAN DOGMA BY THE RIGHT REV. JAMES BELLORD, D.D.