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for, except as they are ascribed to the law of necessity or force. In one word, then, Physical Law is the law of necessity or force, and controls all changes and actions, whether of matter or mind, except the actions of free will.
Moral Law is a rule of moral action with sanctions. It is that rule of action to which moral beings are under a moral obligation to conform all their voluntary actions, and is enforced by sanctions equal to the value of the precept. It is the rule for the government of free and intelligent action, as opposed to necessary and unintelligent action. It is the law of liberty, as opposed to the law of necessity-of motive and free choice, as opposed to force of every kind that renders action necessary, or unavoidable. Moral Law is a rule for the direction of the action of free will, and strictly of free will only. But less strictly, it is the rule for the direction of the actions of free will, and of all those actions and states of mind and body, that are connected with the free actions of will by a Physical Law, or by a law of necessity. Thus, Moral Law controls involuntary mental states and outward action, only by securing conformity of the actions of free will to its precept.
III. I must point out the essential attributes of Moral Law. 1. Subjectively. It is, and must be, an idea of the Reason, developed in the mind of the subject. It is an idea, or conception of that state of will, or course of action which is obligatory upon a moral agent. No one can be a moral agent, or the subject of Moral Law, unless he has this idea developed; for this idea is identical with the law. It is the law devel oped, or revealed within himself; and thus he becomes "a law to himself," his own reason affirming his obligation to conform to this idea, or law.
2. A second attribute is Liberty, as opposed to Necessity. Its precept must lie developed in the Reason, as a rule of duty-a law of moral obligation-a rule of choice, or of ultimate intention, declaring that which a moral agent ought to choose, will, intend. But it does not, must not, can not possess the attribute of necessity in its relations to the actions of free will. It must not, cannot, possess an element or attribute of force, in any such sense as to render conformity of will to its precept unavoidable and necessary. This would confound it with Physical Law.
3. A third attribute of Moral Law, is adaptability, or adapta tion. It must be the Law of Nature, that is, its precept must prescribe and require just that state of the will, and that course of
action which is demanded by the nature and relations of moral beings, and nothing more or less.
Moral Law, subjectively considered, is simply an idea of that state of the voluntary power, that is befitting to moral agents upon condition of their nature and relations. Their nature and relations being perceived, the reason hereupon necessarily affirms that they ought to will, intend, the highest good of being for its own intrinsic value. This is what is meant by the law of nature. It is a law, or rule, necessarily imposed upon us by our own nature. It is nothing more or less than that which reason spontaneously and necessarily affirms to be fit, proper, right, in view of our nature and relations, and the intrinsic value of the highest well being of God and the universe. Those being given, this is affirmed to be duty. It is an idea of that state of the heart, and that course of life, that from their nature and relations, is indispensable to the highest good of all. By Moral Law being the Law of Nature, is intended, that the nature and relations of moral agents being what they are, a certain course of willing and acting is indispensable to, and will result in their highest well being; that their highest well being is valuable in itself, and should be willed for that reason.
4. A fourth attribute of Moral Law is Universality. The conditions being the same, it requires, and must require, of all moral agents, the same things, in whatever world they may be found.
5. A fifth attribute of Moral Law, is Uniformity. All the conditions and circumstances being the same, its claims are uniformly the same. This follows from the very nature of Moral Law.
6. A sixth attribute of Moral Law is, and must be, Impartiality. Moral Law is no respecter of persons-knows no privileged classes. It demands one thing of all, without regard to any thing, except the fact that they are moral agents. By this it is not intended, that the same course of outward conduct is required of all-but the same state of heart in all— that all shall have one ultimate intention—that all shall consecrate themselves to one end-that all shall entirely conform in heart and life to their nature and relations.
7. A seventh attribute of Moral Law is, and must be, Justice. That which is unjust cannot be Law.
Justice, as an attribute of Moral Law, must respect both the precept and the sanction. Justice, as an attribute of the precept, consists in the requisition of just that, and no more, which
is in exact accordance with the nature and relations of the subject.
Justice, as an attribute of the sanction, consists in the promise of just such rewards and punishments as are equal to the guilt of disobedience, on the one hand, and to the value of obedience on the other.
Sanctions belong to the very essence and nature of Moral Law. A law without sanctions is no law; it is only counsel, or advice. Sanctions are-in a certain sense, to be explained in a future lecture-the motives which the Law presents, with design to secure obedience to the precept. Consequently, they should always be graduated by the importance of the precept; and that is not properly law which does not promise, expressly or impliedly, a reward proportionate to the value of obedience, and threaten punishment equal to the evil or guilt of disobedience. Law cannot be unjust, either in precept or sanction: and it should always be remembered, that what is unjust, is not law, cannot be law. It is contrary to the true definition of law. Moral Law is a rule of action, founded in, and suited to, the nature and relations of moral beings, sustained by sanctions equal to the value of obedience, and the guilt of disobedience.
8. An eighth attribute of Moral Law is Practicability. That which the precept demands, must be possible to the subject. That which demands a natural impossibility, is not, and cannot be Moral Law. The true definition of law excludes the supposition that it can, under any circumstances, demand an absolute impossibility. Such a demand could not be in accordance with the nature and relations of moral agents, and therefore practicability must always be an attribute of Moral Law. To talk of inability to obey Moral Law, is to talk sheer
9. A ninth attribute of Moral Law is Independence. It is founded in the self-existent nature of God. It is an eternal and necessary idea of the Divine Reason. It is the unalterable and eternal self-existent rule of the Divine conduct, the law which the intelligence of God imposes on Himself. He is a law to Himself. Moral Law, as we shall see hereafter more fully, does not, and cannot originate in the will of God. It originates, or rather, is founded in his eternal, immutable, self-existent nature. It eternally existed in the Divine Reason. It is the idea of that state of will which is obligatory upon God upon condition of his natural attributes, or in other words, upon condition of his nature. As a law, it is entirely independent
of his will, just as his own existence is. It is obligatory also upon every moral agent, entirely independent of the will of God. Their nature and relations being given, and their intelligence being developed, Moral Law must be obligatory upon them, and it lies not in the option of any being to make it otherwise. To pursue a course of conduct suited to their nature and relations, is necessarily and selfevidently obligatory, the willing or nilling of any being to the contrary notwithstanding.
10. A tenth attribute of moral law is Immutability. Moral Law can never change, or be changed. Moral Law always requires of every moral agent a state of heart and course of conduct precisely suited to his nature and relations. Nothing more nor less. Whatever his nature is, his capacity and relations are, entire conformity to just that nature, those capacities and relations, is required at every moment, and nothing more or less. If capacity is enlarged, the subject is not thereby rendered capable of works of supererogation-of doing more than the Law demands; for the Law still, as always, requires the full consecration of his whole being to the public interests. If by any means whatever, his ability is abridged, Moral Law, always and necessarily consistent with itself, still requires that what is left-nothing more or less-shall be consecrated to the same end as before. Whatever demands more or less than entire, universal, and constant conformity of heart and life, to the nature, capacity and relations of moral agents, be they what they may, is not, and cannot be, Moral Law. To suppose that it could be otherwise, would be to contradict the true definition of Moral Law. If therefore, the capacity is by any means abridged, the subject does not thereby become incapable of rendering full obedience; for the Law still demands and urges, that the heart and life shall be fully conformed to the present existing nature, capacity, and relations. Any thing that requires more or less than this, whatever else it is, is not, and cannot be Moral Law. To affirm that it can, is to talk nonsense. Nay, it is to blaspheme against the immaculate majesty of Moral Law. Moral Law invariably holds one language. It never changes the spirit of its requirement. "Thou shalt love," or be perfectly benecolent, is its uniform, and its only demand. This demand it never varies, and never can vary. It is as immutable as God is, and for the same reason. To talk of letting down, or altering Moral Law, is to talk absurdly. The thing is naturally impossible. No being has the right or the power to do so. The supposition overlooks the very nature of Moral Law.
Should the natural capability of the mind, by any means whatever, be enlarged or abridged, it is perfectly absurd and a contradiction of the nature of Moral Law, to say, that the claims of the law are either elevated or lowered. Moral Law is not a statute, an enactment, that has its origin or its foundation in the will of any being. It is the Law of Nature, the law which the nature or constitution of every moral agent imposes on himself. It is the unalterable demand of the Reason, that the whole being, whatever there is of it at any time, shall be entirely consecrated to the highest good of universal being. In other words, it is the soul's idea or conception of that state of heart and course of life, which is exactly suited to its nature and relations. It cannot be too distinctly understood, that Moral Law is nothing more or less, than the Law of Nature, that is, it is the rule imposed on us, not by the arbitrary will of any being, but by our own intelligence. It is an idea of that which is fit, suitable, agreeable to our nature and relations for the time being, that which it is reasonable for us to will and do, at any and every moment, in view of all the circumstances of our present existence, just what the Reason affirms to be suited to our nature and relations, under all the circumstances of the case.
It has been said, that if we dwarf, or abridge our powers," we do not thereby abridge the claims of God; that if we render it impossible to perform so high a service as we might have done, the Lawgiver, nevertheless, requires the same as before, that is, that under such circumstances He requires of us an impossibility;-that should we dwarf, or completely derange, or stultify our powers, He would still hold us under obligation to perform all that we might have performed, had our powers remained in their integrity. To this I reply,
That this affirmation assumes, that Moral Law and moral obligation, are founded in the will of God;-that His mere will makes law. This is a fundamental mistake. God cannot legislate in the sense of making Law. He declares and enforces the common law of the universe, or, in other words, the Law of Nature. This law, I repeat it, is nothing else than that rule of conduct which is in accordance with the nature and relations of moral beings. The totality of its requisitions are, both in its letter and its spirit, "thou shalt love, &c., with all thy heart, thy soul, thy might, thy strength." That is, whatever there is of us, at any moment, is to be wholly consecrated to God, and the good of being, and nothing more or less. If our nature or relations are changed, no matter by what