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CHAPTER XXI.


The Doctrine of a Judgment affirmed by Absolute Religion.


1.— It is undoubtedly a doctrine of Christianity, and is the accepted opinion of the sects or denominations which exist under the name of Christians, that man both in his actions and character is susceptible of being judged; and that such judgment will certainly come upon him. And such, in the grand harmony of Christian truth with the highest human intelligence, is the affirmation of the Absolute Religion.

2.— And first we will consider the subject in respect to individuals. We find evidence that men individually, that every man no matter what may be his situation, is properly the subject of a judicial process, and cannot by any possibility escape being ultimately brought to judgment, in the great fact that he is created with a judge in his own bosom. Conscience considered in connection with the intellect, which furnishes the facts upon which its decisions are founded, constitutes a tribunal which exists in perpetual session; and out of its own interior and wonderful resources, consummates the verdict which it gives of a good or evil action, of a good or evil life, with a correspondent reward on the one hand, or a correspondent punishment on the other. Sometimes the reward or punishment is realized in outward good or outward sorrow, in the deprivation of external comforts or in the enrichment of external gifts; but whether this be the case or not, the recompenses of the soul in one form or the other, the joys or sorrows of conscience can never fail.

3.— And this is so because it cannot be other wise. If holiness or justice is a part of God’s nature,—and without this God ceases to be God,—then it is impossible for him to create a being, with the voluntary and intelligent capacities of good and evil, without at the same time making him responsible for such good and evil. Man is judged because the tribunal exists in himself; and the tribunal exists there, because God in making man could not become a contradiction to himself; and could not act in violation or neglect of the eternal and essential principles which lie hidden in his own divine nature.

4.— And let us look further, at the practical results. If man were not liable to be brought to judgment, and were not restrained and regulated in his conduct by the knowledge of this liability, what conflict and wrong and fraud and oppression would be likely to follow! In such a state of things, where everything would be regulated by power independent of justice, existence itself would cease to be a blessing.

Looking at the subject in whatever way we will, the voice of eternal reason giving itself utterance in the Absolute Religion, agrees with Revealed Religion in the fact, that the book of the judgment is, and from the nature of the case must be opened; that the sentence is and must be executed; that under the figurative expressions of the Scriptures, as well as under the dogmatic formulas of religious creeds, there lies a great and unchangeable verity which cannot be unheeded.

5.— And it remains to be added that men are not only judged in their individual capacity, but they necessarily take their share of the judgment which falls upon all corporate bodies and associations and communities, of which they are members. The life of such associations and communities is made up of individual life; the responsibility of such complex bodies, formed for ends which involve moral results, is the aggregate of individual responsibilities; and the reward which attends the associated good-doing, and the punishment which follows the associated evil-doing, reach all the individuals.

And therefore it may be said as a philosophical affirmation, and it is found to be true as a matter of fact, that families and neighborhoods are judged, that towns and cities are judged, that all business corporations are judged, that nations are judged, that worlds are judged. And thus it will be found, that the great and overshadowing fact of judgment extends to everything which is capable of being judged; although it is true, that it necessarily varies in the form which it puts on, and in its degree, with the great variety of things, and the modification and character of things to which it applies; but taking place under the adjustments of a Being who never errs, the judgment always is just.