Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
Justice and the Harmony of Creation
By Richard Hooker (15541600)
From the Sermon on the Nature of Pride
JUSTICE, that which flourishing upholdeth, and not prevailing disturbeth, shaketh, threateneth with utter desolation and ruin the whole world: justice, that whereby the poor have their succour, the rich their ease, the potent their honour, the living their peace, the souls of the righteous departed their endless rest and quietness: justice, that which God and angels and men are principally exalted by: justice, the chiefest matter contended for at this day in the Christian world: in a word, justice, that whereon not only all our present happiness, but in the kingdom of God our future joy dependeth. So that, whether we be in love with the one or with the other, with things present or things to come, with earth or with heaven; in that which is so greatly available to both, none can but wish to be instructed. Wherein the first thing to be inquired of is, the nature of justice in general: the second, that justice which is in God; the last, that whereby we ourselves being just are in expectancy of life here promised in this sentence of the prophet, By faith the just shall live.
God hath created nothing simply for itself: but each thing in all things, and of every thing each part in other hath such interest, that in the whole world nothing is found whereunto anything created can say, I need thee not. The prophet Hosea, to express this, maketh by a singular grace of speech the people of Israel suitors unto corn and wine and oil, as men are unto men which have power to do them good; corn and wine and oil supplicants unto the earth; the earth to the heavens; the heavens to God. In that day, saith the Lord, I will hear the heavens, and the heavens shall hear the earth, and the earth shall hear the corn and wine and oil, and the corn and wine and oil shall hear Israel. They are said to hear that which we ask; and we to ask the thing which we want, and wish to have. So hath that supreme commander disposed it, that each creature should have some peculiar task and charge, reaching further than only unto its own preservation. What good the sun doth, by heat and light; the moon and stars, by their secret influence; the air, and wind, and water, by every their several qualities: what commodity the earth, receiving their services, yieldeth again unto her inhabitants: how beneficial by nature the operations of all things are; how far the use and profit of them is extended; somewhat the greatness of the works of God, but much more our own inadvertency and carelessness, doth disable us to conceive. Only this, because we see, we cannot be ignorant of, that whatsoever doth in dignity and pre-eminence of nature most excel, by it other things receive most benefit and commodity.