« السابقةمتابعة »
they are not voluntary, and must therefore belong to the department of physical, as opposed to moral government. There is a secondary sense in which thoughts and feelings, as also outward actions, may be regarded as belonging to the department of moral government, and consequently, as possessing moral character. As thoughts, feelings and outward actions, are connected with, and result from free actions of the will by a law of necessity, a moral agent must be responsible for them in a certain sense. But in such cases, the character of the agent belongs strictly to the intention that caused them, and not to those involuntary and necessary states and actions themselves. They cannot strictly come under the category of moral actions, as we shall more fully see hereafter, for the reason, that being the result of a law of necessity, they do not, cannot, with strict propriety, be said to belong to the department of moral government.
Moral Government consists in the declaration and administration of Moral Law. It is the government of free will as distinguished from substance. Physical government presides over and controls physical states and changes of substance or constitution, and all involuntary states and changes. Moral Government presides over and controls, or seeks to control the actions of Free Will: it presides over intelligent and voluntary states and changes of mind. It is a government of motive, as opposed to a government of force-control exercised, or sought to be exercised, in accordance with the Law of Liberty, as opposed to the Law of Necessity. It is the administration of moral as opposed to Physical Law.
Moral Government includes the dispensation of rewards and punishments.
Moral Government is administered by means as complicated and vast, as the whole of the works, and providence, and ways, and grace of God.
III. I am to inquire into the fundamental reason of Moral Government.
Government must be founded in a good and sufficient reason, or it is not right. No one has a right to prescribe rules for, and control the conduct of another, unless there is some good reason for his doing so. There must be a necessity for moral government, or the administration of it is tyranny. Is there any necessity for moral government? And if so, wherein? I answer, that from the nature and relations of moral beings, virtue, or holiness, is indispensable to happiness. But holiness cannot exist without Moral Law, and Moral Gov
ernment; for holiness is nothing else than conformity to Moral law and Moral Government. Moral Government then, is indispensable to the highest well being of the universe of Moral agents, and therefore ought to, and must exist. The universe is dependent upon this as a means of securing the highest good. This dependence is a good and sufficient reason for the existence of Moral Government. Let it be understood, then, that Moral Government is a necessity of moral beings, and therefore right. When it is said, that the right to govern is founded in the relation of dependence, it is not, or ought not to be intended, that this relation itself confers the right to govern, irrespective of the necessity of Government. The mere fact, that one being is dependent on another, does not confer on one the right to govern, and impose upon the other obligation to obey, unless the dependent one needs to be governed, and consequently, that the one upon whom the other is dependent, cannot fulfil to him the duties of benevolence, without governing or controlling him. The right to govern, implies the duty to govern. Obligation, and consequently, the right to govern, implies, that government is a condition of fulfilling to the dependent party the duties of benevolence. Strictly speaking, the right to govern, is founded in the intrinsic value of the interests to be secured by government; and the right is conditionated upon the necessity of Government as a means to secure those interests. I will briefly sum up the argument under this head, as follows:
1. It is impossible that government should not exist. 2. Every thing must be governed by Laws suited to its nature. 3. Matter must be governed by Physical Laws.
4. The free actions of Will must be governed by motives, and moral agents must be governed by moral considerations. 5. We are conscious of moral agency, and can be governed
only by a Moral Governmentstances demand that we should
be under a Moral Government; because
(1.) Moral happiness depends upon moral order.
(2.) Moral order depends upon the harmonious action of all our powers, as individuals and members of society.
(3.) No community can perfectly harmonize in all their views and feelings, without perfect knowledge, or, to say the least, the same degree of knowledge on all subjects on which they are called to act.
(4.) But no community ever existed, or will exist, in which every individual possesses exactly the same amount of know
ledge, and where the members are, therefore, entirely agreed in all their thoughts, views and opinions.
(5.) But if they are not agreed in opinion, or have not exactly the same amount of knowledge, they will not in every thing harmonize, as it respects their courses of conduct.
(6.) There must therefore be in every community some standard or rule of duty, to which all the subjects of the community are to conform themselves.
(7.) There must be some head or controlling mind, whose will shall be law, and whose decisions shall be regarded as infallible by all the subjects of the government.
(8.) However diverse their intellectual attainments are, in this they must all agree, that the will of the lawgiver is right, and universally the rule of duty.
(9.) This will must be authoritative and not merely advisory.
(10.) There must of necessity be a penalty attached to, and incurred by every act of disobedience to this will.
(11.) If disobedience be persisted in, exclusion from the privileges of the government is the lowest penalty that can consistently be inflicted.
(12.) The good then, of the universe imperiously requires, that there should be a Moral Governor.
IV. Whose right it is to govern.
We have just seen, that necessity is a condition of the right and duty to govern-that the highest well being of the universe demands, and is the end of Moral Government. It must therefore, be his right and duty to govern, whose attributes, physical and moral, best qualify him to secure the end of government. To him all eyes and hearts should be directed, to fill this station, to exercise this control, to administer all just and necessary rewards and punishments. It is both his right and duty to govern. I will here introduce from my Skeletons, a brief argument, to show that God has a right, and that therefore it is his duty, to govern, and that he is a Moral Governor.
That God is a Moral Governor, we infer-
1. From our own consciousness. From the very laws of our being we naturally affirm our responsibility to him for our conduct. As God is our Creator, we are naturally responsible to Him for the right exercise of our powers. And as our good and his glory depend upon our conformity to the same rule, to which He conforms his whole being, he is under a moral obligation to require us to be holy as he is holy.
2. His natural attributes qualify Him to sustain the relation of a Moral Governor to the universe.
3. His moral character, also, qualifies him to sustain this re⚫lation.
4. His relation to the universe as Creator and Preserver, when considered in connection with his nature and attributes, confers on Him the right of universal government.
5. His relation to the universe, and our relations to Him and to each other, render it obligatory upon him to establish and administer a Moral Government over the universe.
6. The honor of God demands that he should administer such a government.
7. His conscience must demand it. He must know that it would be wrong for Him to create a universe of moral beings, and then refuse or neglect to administer over them a Moral Government.
8. His happiness must demand it, as he could not be happy unless he acted in accordance with his conscience.
9. If God is not a Moral Governor he is not wise. Wisdom consists in the choice of the best ends, and in the use of the most appropriate means to accomplish those ends. If God is not a Moral Governor, it is inconceivable that He should have had any important end in view in the creation of moral beings, or that he should have chosen the best or any suitable means for the accomplishment of the most desirable end.
10. The conduct or providence of God plainly indicates a design to exert a moral influence over moral agents.
11. His providence plainly indicates that the universe of mind is governed by Moral Laws, or by laws suited to the nature of moral agents.
12. Consciousness recognizes the existence of an inward law, or knowledge of the moral quality of actions.
13. This inward moral consciousness or conscience implies the existence of a rule of duty which is obligatory upon us. This rule implies a ruler, and this ruler must be God.
14. If God is not a Moral Governor, our very nature deceives us.
15. If God is not a Moral Governor, the whole universe, so far as we have the means of knowing it, is calculated to mislead mankind in respect to this fundamental truth.
16. If there is no such thing as Moral Government, there is, in reality, no such thing as moral character.
All nations have believed that God is a Moral Gov
18. Our nature is such, that we must believe it. viction of our moral accountability to God, is in such a sense the dictate of our moral nature, that we cannot escape from it.
19. We must abhor God, if we ever come to a knowledge. of the fact that he created moral agents, and then exercised over them no Moral Government.
20. The connection between moral delinquency and suffering is such as to render it certain that Moral Government does, as a matter of fact, exist.
21. The Bible, which has been proved to be a revelation from God, contains a most simple and yet comprehensive system of Moral Government.
22. If we are decived in respect to our being subjects of Moral Government, we are sure of nothing.
V. What is implied in the right to govern.
1. From what has just been said, it must be evident, that the right to govern, implies the necessity of government as a means of securing an intrinsically valuable end.
2. Also that the right to govern, implies the duty, or obligation to govern. There can be no right in this case, without corresponding obligation; for the right to govern is founded in the obligation to govern.
3. The right to govern implies obligation on the part of the subject to obey. It cannot be the right or duty of the governor to govern, unless it is the duty of the subject to obey. The governor and subject are alike dependent upon government, as the indispensable means of promoting the highest good. The governor and the subject must, therefore, be under reciprocal obligation, the one to govern, and the other to be governed, or to obey. The one must seek to govern, the other must seek to be governed.
4. The right to govern implies the right and duty to dispense just and necessary rewards and punishments-to distribute rewards proportioned to merit, and penalties proportioned to demerit, whenever the public interests demand their execution.
5. It implies the right and duty to use all necessary means to secure the end of government as far as possible.
6. It implies obligation on the part of the subject cheerfully to acquiesce in any measure that may be necessary to secure the end of government-in case of disobedience, to submit to merited punishment, and if necessary, to aid in the infliction of the penalty of Law.
7. It implies the right and obligation of both ruler and ruled,