Emerson had planned to write an essay of Compensation when he was young and since he wanted to make up his own mind about this subject. Emerson criticizes theologians who are not aware of the law of Compensation, even though the common man is aware of it. The subject he studies interests him because it is, as he says, obvious ; there's no two ways about it. According to him, there are no booksthat deal with this specific subject. The justification of this law can be found in the everyday life, in behaviour of everyone. All men are by nature endowed with such a principle.
Emerson begins his discussion by saying that men, thanks to the law of Compensation, have a link with God. Compensation is compared with the soul of the world. This law does not come from tradition, it can not betaught through education. But, it has always been renewed itself in every man. It is a divine gift. The law of Compensation is a principle which is works in us. That's why, it is still interesting to examine it. But this gift is not the result of an external revelation; it acts everywhere. Emerson writes this text after he has listened to a sermon in which the preacher made reference to eschatology.The wicked men of this world, who struts safely, will be tried and the good men, who suffer torments inflicted on them by the wicked men, will be saved. And the infinite work of rebalancing the scales will be done by Jesus. Emerson was surprised that the meeting did not react. They accepted a prejudice which seemed obvious, but they were wrong. The preacher was not clear enough. Does “to rebalancethe scales” means that in the next life the good men will be rewarded for their good life by sins of the wicked men ? And the wicked men by the benefits of a good life? Moreover, to say that the wicked prevail in this world that would submit to them, and it also means that they could act with impunity ; and human justice would not have to judge them because they will be condemned at the end oftime. Emerson specifies that the preacher would have done better to say that, at the end times, Jesus will conquer evil, bring the good, he will restore the truth and punish the lie. Emerson says that preachers have perverted the meaning of the Bible. But men in their everyday lives, and through their experience, refutes the misinterpretation – given by preachers – of the law of Compensation. So,common men are closer to the True Message.
Consequently, the aim of this chapter will be to examine what is the law of Compensation. Emerson identifies a series of examples which illustrate the explanation of the law of Compensation. It starts with a realization that, both in the nature and in human practices, phenomena are dual ; such as in language, there is a duality between yes and no, forinstance. Emerson points out that some natural phenomena are always linked to their opposite (hot/cold, day/night...). He sums it up under the term « polarity ». Emerson enrols in a tradition of thought called : naturalism ; which man is the measure of all things. Thereby, man is the universe in little and the universe is man in big. For summarise, Emerson says that wherever the action of any part isin excess, nature so contrives as to set by it another part with an excess of contrary action, so that the excesses of the two may counterbalance each other. In a humanistic point of view, this law of Compensation is shared by all men and it binds them together. So men have to thanks God for his cleverness. This law of Compensation is universal, it governs the universe and puts it in order. So, thedivine justice is not delayed until Doomsday, as suggested by the preachers, but his justice is at work, hic et nunc, throughout the universe. This Law made by God prevails over human laws, which are subordinate to It. Moreover, this Law is the surest link between the Creation and the creator. That's why Emerson talks about : « the universe alive » in which each part of the universe is...
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