Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Lacordaire, Conferences

The following is continued from Lacordaire's
"God: Conferences delivered at Notre Dame in Paris"

(series begins here)



Perhaps you will still better understand the force of this conclusion by applying it to the order of conscience. Even as truth is the object and life of the mind, justice is the object and life of conscience. Conscience sees and approves a rule of the rights and duties between beings endowed with liberty. That rule is justice. But where is justice? Is it a simple result of human will? It that case justice would e but a convention, a fragile law called into life today and which may fall tomorrow. Is it an order founded on the very nature of man? But that nature is variable, corruptible, subject to passions that lead it astray. What is order for one would be disorder for another. If then justice be a reality, it must be an eternal and absolute law regulating the relations of material beings, and metaphysics an eternal and absolute law regulating the relations of intelligent beings with all beings, either existing or possible. Beyond this notion, justice is but a name which arms the strong against the weak, the prosperous against the needy. Now, this notion necessarily calls forth the notion of God, since an eternal and absolute law could only be a reality in the person of a being subsisting of himself, possessing a will active and just, able to promulgate an order, to maintain it, to reward obedience and punish rebellion.

Truth is the first name of God; justice is the second.

Now it is easy to conceive that there may be men for whom truth and justice are nothing but philosophical speculations, men who shut themselves up in the proud solitude of their own thoughts, and build up in them their own glory upon systems that bear their names. But it is not so with poor and suffering mankind: it needs truth for its nourishment, justice for its defense, and it knows that the real name of both is the name of God, and t hat the real strength of both is the power of God. The poor and the afflicted have never been deceived herein. When they are oppressed, they lift up their hands towards God, they write his name upon their banners, they pronounce to the oppressor that last and solemn expression of the soul that believes and hopes: I cite you before the tribunal of God!

The time of that tribunal comes sooner of later, its temporal and visible, as well as its eternal time. Kings even here below are cited before it, and nations also. It is the permanent tribunal set up in the midst of error and wickedness, and which saves the world. In vain would pride destroy it; the people saved by it save it in their turn. If there were none but sages among us, the idea of God might perish here, for a man alone is always powerful against God; but happily nations are feeble against him, because they cannot do without justice and truth. They protect him against the learned chimeras of false wisdom; they preserve his memory with a faithfulness which does not always preserve the perfect idea of him, but which at least has never yet permitted the sun and history to see a nation of atheists. Notwithstanding all that men have done, God remains as the corner-stone of human society; no legislator has dared to banish him, no age has ignored him, no language has effaced his name. Upon earth as in heaven, his is because he is.

Henri-Dominique Lacordaire
God: Conferences - Notre-Dame in Paris (1871)

next reading here

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