« السابقةمتابعة »
Rom. 3: 32. 'Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.'
2. Just human governments, and such governments only are contended for, will not exercise force unless it is demanded to promote the highest public good. If it be necessary to this end it can never be wrong. Nay, it must be the duty of human governments to inflict penalties, when their infliction is demanded by the public interest.
Obj. IX. It is said that there should be no laws with pen
Ans. This is the same as to say that there should be no law at all; for that is no law which has no penalty, but only advice.
Obj. X. It is said that Church government is sufficient to meet the necessities of the world, without secular or state governments.
Ans. What! Church governments regulate commerce, make internal improvements, and undertake to manage all the business affairs of the world!
Church government was never established for any such end; but simply to regulate the spiritual, in distinction from the secular concerns of men-to try offenders and inflict spiritual chastisement, and never to perplex and embarrass itself with managing the business and commercial operations of the world.
Obj. XI. It is said that were all the world holy, legal penalties would not be needed.
Ans. Were all men perfectly holy, the execution of penalties would not be needed; but still, if there were law, there would be penalties; and it would be both the right and the duty of magistrates to inflict them, should their execution be called for.
Obj. XII. It is asserted that family government is the only form of government approved of God.
Ans. This is a ridiculous assertion:
1. Because God as expressly commands obedience to magistrates as to parents.
2. He makes it as absolutely the duty of magistrates to punish crime, as of parents to punish their own disobedient children.
3. The right of family government is not founded in the arbitrary will of God, but in the highest good of human beings; so that family government would be both allowable and obligatory, had God said nothing about it.
4. So, the right of human government has not its founda
tion in the arbitrary will of God, but in the necessities of human beings. The larger the community the more absolute the necessity of government. If, in the small circle of the family, laws and penalties are needed, how much more in the larger communities of states and nations. Now, neither the ruler of a family, nor of any other form of human government, has a right to legislate arbitrarily, or enact, or enforce any other laws, than those that are in accordance with the nature, relations, and circumstances of human beings. Nothing can be obligatory on moral beings, but that which is consistent with the nature, relations, and circumstances of moral beings. But human beings are bound to establish family governments, state governments, national governments, and, in short, whatever government may be requisite for the universal instruction, government, virtue, and happiness of the world.
5. All the reasons, therefore, for family government, hold equally in favor of the state and national governments.
6. There are vastly higher and weightier reasons for goyernments over states and nations, than in the small communities of families.
7. Therefore, neither family nor state governments need the express sanction of God, to render them obligatory; for both the right and duty of establishing and maintaining these governments would remain, had the bible been entirely silent on the subject. But on this, as on many other subjects, God has spoken and declared, what is the common and universal law, plainly recognizing both the right and duty of family and civil governments.
8. Christians, therefore, have something else to do, than to confound the right of government with the abuse of this right by the ungodly. Instead of destroying human governments, Christians are bound to reform them.
9. To attempt to destroy, rather than reform human governments, is the same in principle as is often plead for by those who are attempting to destroy, rather than reform the Church. There are those, who, disgusted with the abuses of Christianity practised in the Church, seem bent on destroying the Church altogether, as the means of saving the world. But what mad policy is this!
10. It is admitted that selfish men need and must have the restraints of law; but contended that Christians should have no part in restraining them by law. But suppose the wicked should agree among themselves to have no law, and therefore should not attempt to restrain themselves nor each other by
law; would it be neither the right nor the duty of Christians to attempt their restraint, through the influence of wholesome government?
11. It is strange that selfish men should need the restraints of law, and yet that Christians have no right to meet this necessity, by supporting governments that will restrain them. What is this but admitting, that the world really needs the restraints of governments-that the highest good of the universe demands their existence; and yet, that it is wicked for Christians to seek the highest good of the world, by meeting this necessity in the establishment and support of human governments! It is right and best that there should be law. It is necessary that there should be law. Therefore, universal benevolence demands it; but it is wicked in Christians, to have any thing to do with it! This is singular logic.
IV. Inquire into the foundation of the right of human govern
1. Men are moral agents, and are therefore subjects of moral government and of moral obligation.
2. They are bound to aim at the same end at which God ought to aim, to wit, the highest good of universal being.
3. Since human governments are the indispensable means of promoting the highest good of human beings, they have a right, and it is their duty to establish and maintain them. The right of human government must be founded in the intrinsic value of the good that is to be secured by them and conditionated upon the fact that they sustain to the highest good of human beings, and consequently to the glory of God, through them, the relation of a necessary means to this end.
V. Point out the limits or boundary of this right.
1. Observe, the end of government is the highest good of human beings, as a part of universal good. All valid human legislation must propose this as its end, and no legislation can have any authority that has not the highest good of the whole
for its end.
2. Observe, no being can create law. All law for the government of moral agents must be moral law. That is, it must be that rule of action that is suited to their natures and relations. The moral law or the law of nature, in other words, the common law of the universe of moral agents, by which God and every moral being is or ought to be governed, is the only law that can be obligatory on human beings. All valid human legislation must be only declaratory of this one only law. Nothing else than this can by any possibility be law. God
puts forth no enactments but such as are declaratory of the common law of the universe, and should he do otherwise they would not be obligatory. Arbitrary legislation can never be obligatory.
3. Human governments may declare and apply the great principle of moral law to human conduct, and legislate in accordance with and in support of the divine government, so far as this is necessary, but no farther.
4. The right of human government is founded in the intrinsic value of the good of being and conditionated upon their necessity as a means to that end. They may therefore, and ought to extend their legislation and control just so far and no farther than this necessity goes. This end is the promotion of the highest good. So far as legislation and control are indispensable to this end, so far and no farther does the right to govern extend.
5. Human beings have no right to establish a government upon any other basis than the moral law. No human constitution or law can be obligatory upon human beings any farther than it is in accordance with and declaratory of moral law. All legislation and all constitutions not founded upon this basis and not recognizing the moral law as the only law of the universe are null and void, and all attempts to establish and enforce them are odious tyranny and usurpation. Human beings may form constitutions, establish governments and enact statutes for the purpose of promoting the highest virtue and happiness of the world, and for the declaration and enforcement of moral law, and in so far forth as human governments are essential to this end and absolutely no farther.
6. It follows that no government is lawful or innocent that does not recognize the moral law as the only universal law, and God as the Supreme Lawgiver and Judge to whom nations in their national capacity as well as all individuals are amenable. The moral law of God is the only law of individuals and of nations, and nothing can be rightful government but such as is founded and administered in its support.
VI. I am to make several remarks respecting forms of government, the right and duty of Revolution &c.
In this lecture I shall show:
I. THE REASONS WHY GOD HAS MADE NO PARTICULAR FORM OF CHURCH OR CIVIL GOVERNMENTS UNIVERSALLY OBLIGATORY.
II. THE PARTICULAR FORMS OF CHURCH AND CIVIL GOV
ERNMENT MUST AND WILL DEPEND UPON THE INTELLIGENCE AND VIRTUE OF THE PEOPLE.
III. THAT FORM OF GOVERNMENT IS OBLIGATORY, THAT IS BEST SUITED TO MEET THE NECESSITIES OF THE PEOPLE.
IV. REVOLUTIONS BECOME NECESSARY AND OBLIGATORY, WHEN THE VIRTUE AND INTELLIGENCE, OR THE VICE AND IGNORANCE OF THE PEOPLE DEMAND THEM.
V. IN WHAT CASES HUMAN LEGISLATION IS VALID, AND IN
WHAT CASES IT IS NULL AND VOID.
VI. IN WHAT CASES WE ARE BOUND TO DISOBEY HUMAN GOVERNMENT.
I. The reasons why God has made no form of Church or civil Government universally obligatory.
1. That God has no where in the Bible given directions in regard to any particular form of church or secular government, is a matter of fact.
2. That he did not consider the then existing forms, either of church or state government, as of perpetual obligation, is
3. He did not give directions in regard to particular forms of government, either of church or state;
(1.) Because no such directions could be given, without producing great revolutions and governmental opposition to Christianity. The governments of the world are and always have been exceedingly various in form. To attempt, therefore, to insist upon any particular form, as being universally obligatory, would be calling out great national opposition to religion.
(2.) Becauset no particular form, of church or state government, either now is, or ever has been suited to all degrees of intelligence, and all states of society.
(3.) Because the forms of both church and state governments, need to be changed, with any great elevations or depressions of society in regard to their intelligence and virtue.