Justice

Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy; for thou renderest to every man according to his work.

— Psalm 62 v.12

Some translators have loving kindness rather than mercy in the quote above from Psalm 62; but I presume there is no real difference as to the character of the word. The religious mind educated upon the theories prevailing in the so-called religious world would here recognize a departure from the presentation to which they have been accustomed: for to fit their way of thinking, the verse would have to be changed thus: “To thee, O Lord, belongeth justice, for thou renderest to every man according to his work.” Let the reason for my choosing this passage, so remarkable in itself, for a motto to the sermon which follows, remain for the present doubtful; but endeavor to see plainly what we mean when we use the word justice, especially the justice of God—for his justice gives existence to the idea of justice in our minds and hearts. Because he is just, we are capable of knowing justice and have the idea of justice so deeply imbedded in us.

What do we mean most often by justice? Is it not the carrying out of the law, the infliction of penalty assigned to offence? By a just judge we mean a man who administers the law without prejudice, and where guilt is manifest, punishes as much as, and no more than, the law has lain down. It may not be that justice has therefore been done. The law itself may be unjust, or the working of the law may be foiled by the parasites of law for their own gain,. But even if the law is good, and thoroughly administered, it does not necessarily follow that justice is done.