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which covers up other truths; when any acknowledged truth is pushed to its utmost logical sequences it appears only as a half-truth. The friends of Job, relying on the great truth that virtue is attended with blessing and sin is followed by suffering, naturally felt that Job was a sinner because he suffered, and thus were led into error of judgment. In fact, his sufferings could not be explained by any known law; they were a mystery. But the narrator shows that they were meant as a trial of Job's integrity, which he gloriously vindicated. We accept the truth of the justice of God, — it is a fundamental one; but there are dogmas drawn metaphysically from this truth which conflict with consciousness, and are rejected with more or less confidence. Eliphaz and his friends proposed dogmas to Job drawn logically from a great truth, which conflicted with his consciousness, and he rejected them with indignation. Thus, when theologians argue that a finite sin against an infinite God deserves infinite punishment they conflict with consciousness, although everybody admits that God is infinitely just, and that sin against him deserves punishment. Logical deductions from an accepted truth are often unsatisfactory. Temperance is a supreme law, — it is enjoined by all moralists, and by all Scripture writers; but many are the deductions made from it by partisans and zealots which cannot be accepted. Thus, when it is said, Thou shalt not drink
wine, it is only a half-truth; for Christ himself gave it to his disciples, and expressly made it for a marriage festival. Again we say, Virtue leads to happiness. This is a truth on which Solomon perpetually expatiated; so did Epictetus; so did Socrates : but it is only a half-truth, since in the case of Job, as well as of illustrious martyrs, it was the cause of much unhappiness. Job was not a happy man upon his ash-heap, nor was Socrates in his prison ; but both were obedient to something higher than happiness, even duty and right. We are required to do right, whether happiness comes or not: obedience often involves discomfort, neglect, pain, and reproach, which are not ordinarily associated with happiness. We are told to be moral: who can deny the universal obligation of this law? But the Pharisees obscured it by a system of casuistry, in a way that excited our Lord's severest invectives. It is the most unsatisfactory of dogmas when, in its application, it conflicts with the law written on the heart.
All hypocrites know that they are hypocrites, even as good men know that they are virtuous. Destroy the consciousness of virtue, and you destroy the consciousness of sin. Destroy the consciousness of right and wrong, and you strike at the very foundation of morals.
The consciousness of virtue is an amazing power. It sustained Job under the severest calamities; it sus
tains all martyrs and patriots. With it a man can appeal to the judgment of heaven ; without it one is forced to fall back on dogmas, conventionalities, hypocrisies, and systems. With it one is strong; without it one is weak. With it one can go through the fires of a burning furnace; without it one fears shadows and dreams. With it a man in poverty is meek and resigned; without it a man is envious, complaining, rebellious. The grandest sight on earth is a good man, afflicted, yet emerging from his trials; humbled, yet exultant. Never until the trial is passed through triumphantly, does a man know why he was subjected to it
Thus the good and wise man, while surveying the storms and billows which angrily surge around him, threatening to engulf both the evil and the good, looks beyond, and sees the radiant glories of the divine prom ises. So likewise can he when bowed down with grief and misery for which he can see no cause, even in which spectators see the visitations for sin, serenely fall back on his consciousness, and triumphantly appeal to his Maker that he has striven to obey His laws, and to live for His praise and glory.
Then, O my saddened, burdened, stricken friend,
When crime triumphant glories in its shame,