Obrazy na stronie

goodness, but with all that we have to fear from perfect goodness; as strong and true as it is merciful, but not to be deceived, not to be bribed.


Let us not shut our eyes to what must be. In this waiting time of our trial, amid the storms of life, or in its sunshine, let us, from time to time, seriously cast our thoughts forward; and let us lift up our hearts to our Deliverer and Judge, that His Light and Grace may help us to see clearly and truly. We believe that Thou shalt come to be our Judge: we therefore pray Thee, help Thy servants, whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy precious blood." "In all time of our tribulation, in all time of our wealth, in the hour of death, in the day of judgment, Good Lord, deliver us." "O Lord most holy, O God most mighty, O holy and most merciful Saviour, Thou most worthy Judge Eternal, suffer us not, at our last hour, for any pains of death, to fall from Thee."


HUMAN JUDGMENT AND DIVINE "Let both grow together until the harvest."-ST. MATTHEW xiii. 30.

THERE are two great currents of human action going on in the world, which are represented in this parable by the wheat and the tares. And there are also two great currents of judgment on what is going on upon the stage of the world, running side by side as the world's history is unfolded ;-human judgment, with all its many variations, its infinite changes in character and force, its right decisions and its mistakes, its contradictions and collisions, its returns upon itself; human judgment here below, as peremptory and loud as it is fallible; and above, the judgment, the unceasing, all-knowing judgment of God. It must sometimes come home to us how strange, how awful, how mysterious is the contrast between these two great masses and volumes of judgment which are ever going on, never for a moment interrupted, whenever men think and observe and decide, and than which nothing can be imagined more important in what concerns mankind. and individual men. Let us, for the short time we can give to it, consider it.

1. And first, of human judgment, of what I have called the great perpetual current and manifestation. of man's judgment on all things round him, on his fellows, on his circumstances, on himself and his life and duty. We are always judging. It is a principal and necessary part of our thoughts, of our business, of our conversation. And it is, obviously, a principal thing in what governs and determines what happens among us; our good and our evil, our happiness or our wretchedness. As we judge justly or unjustly, as we judge rightly or wrongly, so, in a great measure, though not altogether, do things go well or ill among us. But besides this serious and effective judgment, there is a huge amount of judging which has no bearing on the course of things, which is simply futile and empty and wasted breath, because it is so idle, so ignorant, so foolish. But, all the same, there it is as a fact, asserting itself, intruding itself, affecting to settle the most difficult questions, and to pass the most irreversible dooms. Just think, as your imagination may help you to do so, of the hubbub and confusion of judgments which go up all day long over all the earth. From morning to night we are all of us passing judgment: we are passing judgment on the dead and the living, on those the most remote and the most unknown to us, and on those who are close to us, on the things we know best, and on the things of which we know nothing. Men, and classes, and nations, throw back their judgments, one at another, as if they were the

most real and unquestionable certainties, about which no one could doubt. West judges east, and east judges west, each with equal confidence, each on grounds which are held to be clear and strong. Rich judge poor, and poor judge rich, family judges family, and neighbourhood judges neighbourhood, and party judges party. The learned judge the practical and the busy, the busy and practical the learned. Nothing escapes, nothing daunts criticism, that is, the passing of judgment about which the judges do not doubt. Judgment means the pronouncing on what a thing really is, and the application to it of a rule, and standard, and law, which we assume to be beyond dispute. To this rule and standard we are for ever bringing not only actions and opinions, but whole courses of conduct, with all their intricate train of accompanying events, and what we call dispositions and characters, with their endless lights and shades, their perplexing contradictions, their terrible or pathetic mysteries. All comes naturally within our range of judgment: on all, we seriously or lightly, conscientiously or carelessly, wisely or stupidly, fairly or unfairly, exercise our judgment. We cannot help it. It is part of our lives.

And all this makes a great noise in the world. These judgments swell into what is called public opinion, the great force which has to do with the changes of society and institutions, which settles what shall stand and what shall fall. They accumu

late into the traditions, the moral standards of a society or a generation, its governing beliefs, its tyrannical usages. And in private life and affairs, this unceasing and universal habit of judging appears in all the manifold incidents of our relations and intercourse, as members of a family, or a body, as friends, or acquaintances, as working with, or working against others, as indifferent lookers on, as in accidental contact with them. From morning to night we are judging what they do, and what they are; and they are judging us. Out of it grow our preferences, our admirations, our likings and dislikings, our lifelong friendships: it expresses itself in our strong words of approval and condemnation, it hardens into our bitter animosities, our unconquerable antipathies. A case of conduct comes before us, and whether it is our duty to judge it, or only our amusement and our pastime, we judge it. A person, with all those things that make one man different from another, his special qualities, his habits and purposes and ways,—comes before us, and we judge him. And this is not here and there, or now and then, but all day long and everywhere, as a matter of course, with every one. It is part of the necessary system of the world: we see clearly that without this exercise of human judgment, in its many forms, the world could not go on.

And a great deal of it is righteous, wise, salutary judgment; judgment which supports what is good, which directs what is just and right, which brands

« PoprzedniaDalej »