By Richard Watson
MORALS-DUTIES TO OUR NEIGHBOUR.
WHEN our duty to others is summed up in the general epitome of the second table, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself;" although love must be so taken as to include many other principles and acts, yet we are thereby taught the source from which they truly spring, when per. formed evangelically, and also that UNIVERSAL CHARITY is to be the habitual and reigning affection of the heart, in all our relations to our fellow creatures.
This affection is to be considered in its SOURCE.
That source is a regenerated state of mind. We have shown that the love of God springs from the gift of the Holy Ghost to those who are justified by faith in Christ, and that every sentiment which, in any other circumstances, assumes this designation, is imperfect or simulated. We make the same remark as to the love of our neighbour. It is an imperfect or simulated sentiment, if it flow not from the love of God, the sure mark of a regenerate nature. We here also see the superior character of Christian morals, and of morals when kept in connection, as they ought always to be, with the doctrines of tine Gospel, and their operation in the heart. There may, indeed, be a degree of natural benevolence; the indirect influence of a benevolent nature may counteract the selfish and the malevolent feelings; and education when well directed, will come in to the aid of nature. Yet the principle, as a religious one, and in its full operation, can only result from a supernatural change of our nature, because that only can subdue those affections which counteract benevolence and charity in their efficient and habitual manifestations.
This affection is also to be considered in respect of what it EXCLUDES.
It excludes all anger beyond that degree of resentment which a culpable action in another may call forth, in order to mark the sense we en. Certain of its evil, and to impress that evil upon the offender, so that we may lead him to repent of it, and forsake it. This seems the proper rule by which to distinguish lawful anger from that which is contrary to charity, and therefore malevolent and sinful. It excludes implacability; for if we do not promptly and generously forgive others their trespasses, this is deemed to be SO great a violation of that law of love which ought to bind men together, that our heavenly Father will not forgive us. It excludes all revenge; so that we are to exact no punishment of another for offences against ourselves: and though it be lawful to call in the penalties of the laws for crimes against society, yet this is never to be done on the principle of private revenge; but on the public ground, that law and government are ordained of God, which produces a case that comes under the inspired rule, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." It excludes all prejudice; by which is meant a harsh construction of men's motives and characters upon surmise, or partial knowledge of the facts, accompanied with an inclination to form an ill opinion of them in the absence of proper evidence. This appears to be what the Apostle Paul means, when he says, "Charity thinketh no evil." It excludes all censoriousness or evil speaking, when the end is not the correction of the offender, or when a declaration of the truth as to one person is not required by our love and duty to another; for whenever the end is merely to lower a person in the estimation of others, it is resolvable solely into a splenetic and immoral feeling. It excludes all those aggressions, whether petty or more weighty, which may be made upon the interests of another, when the law of the case, or even the abstract right, might not be against our claim. These are always complex cases, and can but occasionally occur; but the rule which binds us to do unto others as we would they should do unto us, binds us to act upon the benevolent view of the case; and to forego the rigidness of right. Finally, it excludes, as limitations to its exercise, all those artificial distinctions which have been created by men, or by providential arrangements, or by accidental circumstances. Men of all nations, of all colours, of all conditions, are the objects of the unlimited precept, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." Kind feelings produced by natural instincts, by intercourse, by country, may call the love of our neighbour into warmer exercise as to individuals or classes of men, or these may be considered as distinct and special, though similar affections superadded to this universal charity; but as to all men, this charity is an efficient affection, excluding all ill will, and all injury.
But its ACTIVE EXPRESSION remains to be considered.
It is not a merely negative affection; but it brings forth rich and varied fruits. It produces a feeling of delight in the happiness of others, and thus destroys envy; it is the source of sympathy and compassion; it opens the hand in liberality for the supply of time wants of others; it gives cheerfulness to every service undertaken in the cause of others; it resists the wrong which may be inflicted upon them; and it will run hazards of health and life for their sakes. It has special respect to the spiritual interests and salvation of men; and thus it instructs, persuades, reproves the ignorant and vicious; counsels the simple; comforts the doubting and perplexed; and rejoices in those gifts and graces of others, by which society may be enlightened and purified. The zeal of apostles, the patience of martyrs, the travels and labours of evangelists in the first ages, were all animated by this affection; and the earnestness of preachers in all ages, and the more private labours of Christians for the benefit of the souls of men, with the operations of those voluntary associations which send forth missionaries to the heathen, or distribute Bibles and tracts, or conduct schools, are all its visible expressions be. fore the world. A principle of philanthropy may be conceived to exist independent of the influence of active and efficient Christianity; but it has always expended itself either in good wishes, or, at most, in feeble efforts, chiefly directed to the mitigation of a little temporary external evil. Except in connection with religion, and that the religion of the heart, wrought and maintained there by the acknowledged influences of the Holy Spirit, the love of mankind has never exhibited itself under such views and acts as those we have just referred to. It has never been found in characters naturally selfish and obdurate; has never disposed men to make great and painful sacrifices for others; never sympathized with spiritual wretchedness; never been called forth into its highest exercises by considerations drawn from the immortal relations of man to eternity; never originated large plans for the illumination and moral culture of society; never fixed upon the grand object to which it is now bending the hearts, the interests, and hopes of the universal Church, the conversion of the world. Philanthropy, in systems of mere ethics, like their love of God, is a greatly inferior principle to that which is enjoined by Christianity, and infused by its influence ;-another proof of the folly of separating morals from revealed truth, and of the necessity of cultivating them upon evangelical principles.
The same conclusion will be established, if we consider those WORKS OF MERCY which the principle of universal philanthropy will dictate, and which form a large portion of our "duty to our neighbour." It is more the design of this part of the present work, to exhibit the peculiar nature and perfection of the morals of Christianity, than to consider moral duties in detail; and, therefore, it is only necessary to assume what is obvious to all, that the exercise of practical mercy to the needy and miserable, is a moral duty clearly revealed, including also the application of a part of our property to benefit mankind in other respects, as -we have opportunity. But let us ask, under what rules can the quantum of our exertions in doing good to others be determined, except by the authority of revealed religion? It is clear that there is an antagonist principle of selfishness in man, which counteracts our charities; and that the demands of personal gratification, and of family interests, and of show and expense in our modes of living, are apt to take up so large a share of what remains after our necessities, and the lawful demands of station, and a prudent provision for old age and for our families after our decease, are met, that a very small portion is wont to be considered as lawfully disposable, under all these considerations, for purposes of general beneficence. If we have no rules or principles, it is clear that the most limited efforts may pass for very meritorious acts; or that they will be left to be measured only by the different degrees of natural compassion in man, or by some immoral principle, such as the love of human praise. There is nothing in any mere system of morals to direct in such cases; certainly nothing to compel either the principles or the heart. Here then we shall see also in how different a predicament this interesting branch of morality stands, when kept in close and inseparable connection with Christianity. It is true, that we have no specific rule as to the quantum of our givings in the Scriptures; and the reason of this is not inapparent. Such a rule must have been branched out into an inconvenient number of detailed directions to meet every particular case; it must have respected the different and changing states of society and civilization; it must leave controlled men's savings as well as givings, because the latter are dependent upon them; it must have prescribed modes of dress, and modes of living: all which would have left cases still partially touched or wholly unprovided for, and the multiplicity of rules might have been a trap to our consciences, rather than the means of directing them. There is also a more general reason for this omission. The exercise of mercy is a work of the affections; it must have, therefore, something free and spontaneous in it; and it was designed to be voluntary, that the moral effect produced upon society might be to bind men together in a softer bond, and to call forth reciprocally good affections. To this the stem character of particular laws would have been inimical. Christianity teaches mercy, by general principles, which at once sufficiently direct and leave to the heart the free play of its affections.
The general LAW is express and unequivocal: "As ye have opportunity do good unto all men, and especially to them that are of the household of faith." "To do good and to communicate forget not, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased." A most important and influential principle, to be found in no mere system of ethics., is also contained in the revelation of a particular relation in which we all stand to God, and on which we must be judged at the last day. We are "stewards," "servants," to whom the, great Master has committed his " goods," to be used according to his directions. We have nothing, therefore, of our own, no right in property, except under the conditions on which it is committed to us; and we must give an account for our use of it, according to the rule. A rule of proportion is also in various passages of Scripture expressly laid down: "Where little is given, little is required; where much is given much is required." "For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what a man hath, and not according to what he bath not." It is a farther rule, that our charities should he both cheerful and abundant. "See that ye abound in this grace also," "not grudgingly, or of necessity, for God loveth a cheerful giver." These general rules and principles being laid down, the appeal is made to the heart, and men are left to the influence of the spiritual and grateful affections excited there. All the venerable examples of Scripture are brought to bear upon the free and liberal exercises of beneficence, crowned with the example of our Saviour: "Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might become rich." An appeal is made to man's gratitude for the blessings of Providence to himself, and he is enjoined to give "as the Lord hath prospered him." Our fellow creatures are constantly presented to us under tender relations, as our "brethren;" or, more particularly, as "of the household of faith." Special promises are made of God's favour and blessing, as the reward of such acts in the present life "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work;" and finally, although every notion of merit is excluded, yet the rewards of eternity are represented as to be graciously dispensed, so as specially to distinguish and honour every work of faith," and "labour of love." Under so powerful an authority, so explicit a general directory, and so effectual an excitement, is this branch of morality placed by the Gospel.
As our religion enjoins charity, so also it prescribes JUSTICE. As a mutual dependence has been established among men, so also there are mutual rights, in the rendering of which to each other, justice, when considered as a social virtue, consists.
Various definitions and descriptions of justice are found among moralists and jurists, of different degrees of importance and utility to those who write, and to those who study, formal treatises on its collective or separate branches. The distribution of justice into ethical, economical, and political, is more suited to our purpose, and is sufficiently comprehensive. The first considers all mankind as on a level; the second regards them as associated into families, under the several relations of husband and wife, parents and children, masters and servants; and the third comprehends them as united into public states, and obliged to certain duties, either as magistrates or people. On all these the rules of conduct in Scripture are explicit and forcible.
ETHICAL JUSTICE, as it considers mankind as on a level, chiefly therefore respects what are usually called men's natural rights, which are briefly summed up in three,-life, property, and liberty.
The natural right to life is guarded by the precept, "Thou shalt not kill;" and it is also limited by time more ancient injunction to the sons of Noah, "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed." In a state of society, indeed, this right may he farther limited by a government, and capital punishments be extended to other crimes, (as we see in the Mosaic law,) provided the law be equally binding on all offenders, and rest upon the necessity of the case, as determined by the good of the whole community; and also that in every country professing Christianity, the merciful as well as the righteous character of that religion be suffered to impress itself upon its legislation. But against all individual authority the life of man is absolutely secured; and not only so, but anger, which is time first principle of violence, and which proceeds first to malignity and revenge, and then to personal injuries, is prohibited, under the penalty of the Divine wrath; a lofty proof of the superior character of the Christian rule of justice.
In property, lawfully acquired, that is, acquired without injury to others, every man has also a natural right. This right also may be restrained in society, without injustice, seeing it is but the price which every man pays for protection, and other advantages of the social state; but here also the necessity of the case, resting upon the benefit of the community, is to be the rule of this modification of the natural claim. The law too must lie equally upon all. caeteris paribus; and every individual whose right of property is thus interfered with must have his due share of the common advantage. Against individual aggression the right of property is secured by the Divine law, "Thou shalt not steal;" and by another law which carries the restraint up to the very principle of justice in the heart, "Thou shalt not covet;" covetousness being that corrupt affection from which injuries done to others in their property arise. The Christian injunction, to be " content wit h such things as we have," is another important security. The rule which binds rulers and governments in their interferences with this natural right of property, comes under the head of political justice.
Liberty is another natural right, which by individual authority, at least, cannot be interfered with. Hence "man stealing," the object of which is to reduce another to slavery, by obtaining forcible possession of his person, and compelling his labour, is ranked with crimes of the greatest magnitude in the New Testament; and against it the special vengeance of God is threatened. By the Jewish law also, it was punished with death. How far the natural right which every man has to his own liberty may, like the natural right to property, be restrained by public authority, is a point on which different opinions have been held. Prisoners of war were formerly considered to be absolute captives, the right of which claim is involved in the question of the right of war. Where one can be justified, so may the other; since a surrender of the person in war is the commutation of liberty for life. In the more humane practice of modern warfare, an exchange of prisoners is effected; but even this supposes an acquired right on each side in the prisoners, and a commutation by an exchange. Should the progeny of such prisoners of war, doomed, as by ancient custom, to perpetual servitude, be also kept in slavery, and the purchase of slaves also be practised, the question which then arises is one which tries the whole case of slavery, as far as public law is concerned. Among the patriarchs there was a mild species of domestic servitude, distinct from that of captives of war. Among the Jews, a Hebrew might be sold for debt, or sell himself when poor, but only till the year of release. After that, his continuation in a state of slavery was perfectly voluntary. The Jews might, however, hold foreigners as slaves for life. Michaelis has well observed, that, by the restrictions of his law, Moses remarkably mitigated the rigours of slavery. "This is, as it were, the spirit of his laws respecting it. He appears to have regarded it as a hardship, and to have disapproved of its severities. Hence we find him, in Deut. xxiii, 15, 18, ordaining, that no foreign servant, who sought for refuge among the Israelites, should be delivered lip to his master." (Commentaries on the Laws of Moses.) This view of the case, we may add, will probably afford the reason why slavery was at all allowed tinder the Jewish dispensation. The general state of society in the surrounding nations might perhaps render it a necessary evil; but in other countries it existed in forms harsh and oppressive, while the merciful nature of the Mosaic institute impresses upon it a mild and mitigated character, in recognition of man's natural rights, and as an example to other countries. And to show how great a contrast with our modern colonial slavery, the case of slaves among the Jews presented, we may remark, that all foreign slaves were circumcised, and therefore initiated into the true religion; that they had time full and strict advantage of the Sabbath confirmed to them by express statute; that they had access to the solemn religious festivals of the Jews, and partook of the feasts made upon time offerings; that they could possess property, as appears from Lev. xxv, 49, and 2 Sam. ix, 10; and that all the fruits which grew spontaneously during the Sabbatical year were given to them, and to the indigent. Michaelis has also showed, that not only was the ox not muzzled when treading out the corn, but that the slaves and day labourers might eat without restraint of the fruits they were gathering in their master's service, and drink of the wine they pressed from the wine press. (commentaries on the Laws of Moses, art. 130.) The Jewish law may therefore be considered not so much as controlling the natural right which man has to liberty, and so authorizing the infraction of that right under certain circumstances, but as coming in to regulate and to soften a state of things already existing, and grown into general practice. All, therefore, that can be fairly inferred from the existence of slavery under that law, is, that a legislature, in certain cases, may be justified in mitigating, rather than abolishing, that evil. But even here, since the Legislator was in fact God, whose right to dispose of his creatures cannot be questioned, and since also the nations neighbouring to the Jews were under a malediction because of their idolatries, the Jewish law can be no rule to a Christian state; and all arguments drawn from it in favour of perpetual slavery, suppose that a mere earthly legislature is invested with the powers and prerogatives of the Divine Legislator of the Jews, which of course vitiates the whole reasoning.
As to the existence of slavery in Christian states, every government, as soon as it professes to be Christian, binds itself to be regulated by the principles of tine New Testament; and though a part of its subjects should at that time be in a state of servitude, and their sudden emancipation might be obviously an injury to society at large, it is bound to show that its spirit and tendency is as inimical to slavery as is the Christianity which it professes. All the injustice and oppression against which it can guard that condition, and all the mitigating regulations it can adopt, are obligatory upon it; and since also every Christian slave is enjoined by apostolic authority to choose freedom, when it is possible to attain it, as being a better state, and more befitting a Christian man, so is every Christian master bound, by the principle of loving his neigh.. hour, and more especially his "brother in Christ," as himself, to promote his passing into that better and more Christian state. To the instruction of the slaves in religion would every such Christian government also be bound, and still farther to adopt measures for the final extinction of slavery; the rule of its proceeding in this case being the accomplishment of this object as soon as is compatible with the real welfare of the enslaved portion of its subjects themselves, and not the consideration of the losses which might be sustained by their proprietors, which, however, ought to be compensated by other means, as far as they are just, and equitably estimated.
If this be the mode of proceeding clearly pointed out by Christianity to a state on its first becoming Christian, when previously, and for ages, the practice of slavery had grown up with it; how much more forcibly does it impose its obligation upon nations involved in the guilt of the modern African slavery! They professed Christianity when they commenced the practice. They entered upon a traffic which ab initio was, upon their own principles, unjust and cruel. They had no rights of war to plead against the natural rights of the first captives; who were in fact stolen, or purchased from the stealers, knowing them to be so. The governments themselves never acquired any right of property in the parents; they have none in their descendants, and can acquire none; as the thief who steals cattle cannot, should he feed and defend them, acquire any right of property, either in them or the stock they may produce, although lie should be at the charge of rearing them. These governments not having a right of property in their colonial slaves, could not transfer any right of property in them to their present masters, for it could not give what it never had; nor, by its connivance at the robberies and purchases of stolen human beings alter the essential injustice of the transaction. All such governments are therefore clearly bound, as they fear God and dread his displeasure, to restore all their slaves to the condition of free men. Restoration to their friends and country is now out of the question; they are bound to protect them where they are, and have the right to exact their obedience to good laws in return; but property in them they cannot obtain; -their natural right to liberty is untouched and inviolable. The manner in which this right is to be restored, we grant, is in the power of such governments to determine, provided that proceeding be regulated by the principles above laid down,-First, that the emancipation be sincerely determined upon, at some time future: Secondly, that it be not delayed beyond time period which the general interest of the slaves themselves prescribes and which is to be judged of benevolently, and without any bias of judgment, giving the advantage of every doubt to the injured party. Thirdly, that all possible means be adopted to render freedom a good to them. It is only under such circumstances that the continuance of slavery among us can cease to be a national sin, calling down, as it has done, and must do until a process of emancipation be honestly commenced, the just displeasure of God. What compensations may be justly claimed from the governments, that is, the public of those countries who have entangled themselves in this species of unjust dealing, by those who have purchased men and women whom no one had the right to sell, and no one had the right to buy, is a perfectly distinct question, and ought not to turn repentance and justice out of their course, or delay their operations for a moment. Perhaps, such is the unfruitful nature of all wrong, that it may be found, that, as free labourers, the slaves would be of equal or more value to those who employ them, than at present. If otherwise, as in some degree " all have sinned," the real loss ought to be borne by all, when that loss is fairly and impartially ascertained; but of which loss, the slave interest, if we may so call it, ought in justice to bear more than an equal share. as having had the greatest gain.
The rules of Christian justice thus secure the three great natural rights of man; but it may be inquired whether he has himself the power of surrendering them at his own option?
And first with respect to LIFE.
Since government is an institution of God, it seems obligatory upon all men to live in a social state; and if so, to each is conceded the right of putting his life to hazard, when called upon by his government to defend that state from domestic rebellion or foreign war. So also we have the power to hazard our lives to save a fellow creature from perishing. In times of persecution for religion, we are enjoined by our Lord to flee from one city to another; but when flight is cut off, we have the power to surrender life rather than betray our allegiance to Christ, According to the apostle's rule, "we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren;" that is, for the Church and the cause of religion. In this case, and in Some others, accompanied with danger to life, when a. plain rule of duty is seen to be binding upon us, we are not only at liberty to take time risk, but are bound to do it; since it is more our (laity to obey God than to take care of our health and life. These instances of devotion have been by some writers called "suicides of duty," a phrase which may well be dispensed with, although the sentiment implied in it is correct.
On suicide, properly so called, that is self murder, our modern moralists have added little to what is advanced by the ethical writers of Greece and Rome, to prove its unlawfulness; for, though suicide was much practised in those ancient states, and sometimes commended, especially by the Stoics, it was occasionally condemned. "We men," says Plato, "are all by the appointment of God in a certain prison or custody, which we ought not to break out of, or run away." So likewise Cicero: "God, the supreme governor of all things, forbids us to depart hence without his order. All pious men ought to have patience to continue in the body, as long as God shall please, who sent us hither; and not force themselves out of the world before he calls for them, lest they be found deserters of the station appointed them by God."
This is the reasoning which has generally satisfied our moralists on this subject, with the exception of some infidel sophists, and two or three writers of paradoxes in the Established Church, who have defended suicide, or affected to do so Paley has added some other considerations, drawn from his doctrine of general tendency, and from the duties which are deserted, the injuries brought upon others, &c; but the whole only shows, that merely ethical reasoning furnishes but a feeble barrier against this offence against God, against society, and against ourselves, independent of the Holy Scriptures. There the prohibitions, of a Divine law lie directly against this act, and also the whole spirit of that economy under which we are placed by almighty God.
It is very true, that, in the Old Testament history, we have a few instances of suicide among the Jews, which were not marked by any penal visitation, as among modern nations, upon the remains of the de ceased; such as the denial of honourable sepulture, &c. But this arose from the absence of all penalty in such cases in the Mosaic law. In this there was great reason; for the subject himself is by his own direful act put beyond the reach of human visitation; and every dishonour done to the inanimate corse is only punishment inflicted upon the innocent survivors, wino, in most cases, have a large measure of suffering already entailed upon them. This was probably the humane reason for the silence of the Mosaic law as to the punishment of suicide.
But as the law of the two tables is of general moral obligation, although a part also of the municipal law of the Jews; as it concerned them as creatures, as well as subjects of the theocracy; it takes cognizance of acts not merely as prejudicial to society, but as offensive to God, and in opposition to his will as the ruler of the world. Tine precept, therefore, "Thou shalt not kill," must be taken to forbid, not only murder properly so called, which is a crime against society, to be reached by human penalties, but also self destruction, which, though a crime also in a lower degree against society, no human penalties can visit, but is left, since the offender is out of the reach of man, wholly to the retribution of God. The absence of all post mortem penalties against suicide in the Mosaic law, is no proof, therefore, that it is not included in the prohibition, "Thou shalt not kill," any snore than the absence of all penalties in the same law against a covetous disposition, proves any thing against the precept, "Thou shalt not covet," being interpreted to extend to time heart of man, although violences, thefts, and other instances of covetousness, in action only, are restrained in the Mosaic law by positive penalties. Some have urged it, however, as a great absurdity, to allege this commandment as a prohibition of suicide. "When a Christian moralist," says Dr. Whately, "is called on for a direct Scriptural precept against suicide, instead of replying that the Bible is not meant for a complete code of laws, but for a system of motives and principles, the answer frequently given is, 'Thou shalt do no murder.' Suicide, if any one considers the nature, and not the name of it, (self murder,) evidently wants the essential characteristic of murder, viz. the hurt and injury done to one's neighbour, in depriving him of life, as well as to others by the insecurity they am-c in consequence liable to feel." (Elements of Logic.) All this might be correct enough, but for one error into which the writer has fallen,-that of assuming that the precept is, "Thou shalt do no murder ;" for if that were the term used in the strict sense, we need riot be told that suicide is not murder, which is only saying, that the killing one's self is not the killing another. The authorized translation uses the word "kill," "thou shalt not kill," as better rendering the Hebrew word, which has a similar latitude of meaning, and is used to express fortuitous homicide, and the act of depriving of life generally, as well as murder, properly so called. That the prohibition respects the killing of others with criminal intent, all agree, and Moses describes, Numbers 1, 35, the circumstances which make that killing so criminal as to be punishable with death; but that he included the different kinds of homicide within the prohibition, is equally certain, because the Mosaic law takes cognizance of homicide, and provides for the due examination of its circumstances by the judges, and recognizes the custom of the Goel, or avenging of blood, and provides cities of refuge for the homicide; a provision which, however merciful left the incautious manslayer subject to risks and inconveniences which had the nature of penalties. So tender was this law of the life of man! Moses, however, as a legislator, applying this great moral table of laws to practical legislation, could not extend the penalties under this prohibition farther than to these two cases, because in cases of suicide the offender is out of the reach of human power; but as we see the precept extended beyond the case of murder with criminal intention, to homicide, and that the word used in the prohibition, "Thou shalt not kill," is so indefinite as to comprehend every act by which man is deprived of life, when it has no authority from God; it has been very properly extended by divines and Scriptural moralists, not only to homicide, but from that to suicide. This, indeed, appears to be its import, that it prohibits the taking away of human life in all cases, without authority from God, which authority he has lodged with human governments, the "powers ordained by him" for the regulation of mankind, in what relates to the peace and welfare of society; and whenever the life of man is taken away, except in cases sanctioned by human governments, proceeding upon the rules and principle, of the word of God, then the precept, "Thou shalt not kill," is directly violated. Dr. Whately, in the passage above adverted to, objects to suicide being called self murder, because this criminal act has not the qualities of that by which the life of another is intentionally and maliciously taken away; but if the deliberate and intentional deprivation of another of life, without authority from the Divine law, and from human laws established upon them, be that which, in fact, constitutes "murder," then is suicide entitled to be branded with the same odious appellation. The circumstances must, of necessity, differ; but the act itself has essentially time same criminality, though not in the same degree,-it is the taking away of the life of a human being, without the authority of God, the maker and proprietor of all, and therefore in opposition to, and defiance of, his authority. That suicide has very deservedly received the morally descriptive appellation of self murder, will also appear from the reason given, in the first prohibition against murder, for making this species of violence a capital crime. In the precepts delivered to the sons of Noah, and, therefore, through them, to all their descendants, that is, to all mankind, that against murder is thus delivered, Gen. ix, 6, "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man sisal! his blood be shed, for in the image of God made he man." There is in this reason a manifest reference to the dignity put upon human nature, by its being endowed with a rational and immortal spirit. The crime of murder is made to lie, therefore, not merely in the putting to death the animal part of man's nature, for this is merged in a higher consideration, which seems to be, the indignity done to the noblest of the works of God; and particularly, the value of life to an immortal being, accountable in another state for the actions done in this, and which ought, for this very reason, to be specially guarded, since death introduces him into changeless and eternal relations, which were not to lie at the mercy of human passions. Such moralists as the writer above quoted, would restrain the essential characteristics of an act of murder to the "hurt done to a neighbour in depriving him of life," and the "insecurity" inflicted upon society; but in this ancient and universal law, it is made eminently to consist in contempt of the image of God in man, and its interference with man's immortal interests and relations as a deathless spirit; and if so, then suicide bears upon it these deep and awful characteristics of murder. It is much more wisely said by Bishop Kidder, in his remarks upon this passage, that the reason given,-" for in the image of God made he man,"-is a farther aggravation of the sin of murder. It is a great trespass upon God, as it destroys his likeness; and self murder, upon this account, is forbidden as well as the killing of others.
Whatever weight may be due to the considerations urged by the moralists above quoted against this crime,-and every motive which may deter men from listening to the first temptation to so direful an act, is important,-yet the guards of Christianity must be acknowledged to be of a more powerful kind. For the principles of our religion cannot be understood without our perceiving, that, of almost all other crimes, wilful suicide ought most to be dreaded. It is a sin against God's authority. He is "the God of our life;" in "his hand our breath is ;" and we usurp his sovereignty when we presume to dispose of it. As resulting from the pressure of mortifications of spirit, or the troubles of life, it becomes a sin, as arraigning his providential wisdom and goodness. It implies either an Atheistic denial of God's government, or a rebellious opposition to his permissive acts or direct appointments; it cannot be committed, therefore, when the mind is sound, but in the absence of all the Christian virtues, of humility, self denial, patience, and the fear and love of God, and only under the influence of pride, worldliness, forgetfulness of God, and contempt of him. It hides from the mind the realities of a future judgment, or it defies them; and it is consummated by the character of unpardonableness, because it places the criminal at once beyond the reach of mercy.
If no man has the right, then, to dispose of his own life by suicide, he has no right to hazard it in duels. The silence of the pulpits in those quarters where only the warning voice of the Christian preacher can be heard by that class of persons most addicted to this crime, is exceedingly disgraceful; for there can be little doubt that the palliating views of this practice taken by some ethical writers of celebrity, together with the loose reasonings of men of the world, have, from this neglect, exercised much influence upon many minds; and the consequence has been that hundreds, in this professedly Christian country, have fallen victims to false notions of honour, and to imperfect notions of the obligations of their religion. Paley has the credit of dealing with this vice with greater decision than many of our moralists. He classes it very justly with murder. "Murder is forbidden; anti wherever human life is deliberately taken away, otherwise than by public authority, there is murder." (Moral and Political Philosophy.) "If unauthorized laws of honour be allowed to create exceptions to Divine prohibitions, there is an end to all morality, as founded in the will of the Deity; and the obligation of every duty may, at one time or other, be discharged by the caprice and fluctuations of fashion." (Moral and Political Philosophy,) The fact is, that we must either renounce Christianity, or try all cases by its rule. The question of the lawfulness of duelling is thus promptly disposed of. If I have received a personal injury, I am bound to forgive it, unless it be of such a nature that it becomes a duty to punish it by due course of law; but even then not in the spirit of revenge, but out of respect to the peace and welfare of society. If I have given offence, I am bound to acknowledge it, and to make reparation; and if my adversary will not be satisfied, and insists upon my staking my life against his own, no considerations of reputation or disgrace, the good or ill opinion of men, who form their judgments in utter disregard to the laws of God, can have any more weight in this, than in any other case of immorality. The sin of duelling unites, in fact, the two crimes of suicide and of murder. He who falls in a duel is guilty of suicide, by voluntarily exposing himself to be slain; he by whom he falls is guilty of murder, as having shed man's blood without authority. Nay, the guilt of the two crimes unites in the same person. He who falls is a suicide in fact, and the murderer of another in intention; he by whom he falls is a murderer in fact, and so far a suicide as to have put his own life into imminent peril, in contempt of God's authority over him. He has contemned the "image of God in man," both in himself and in his brother. And where duels are not fatal on either side, the whole guilt is chargeable upon the parties, as a sin purposed in the heart, although, in that case, there is space left for repentance.
Life, then, is not disposable at the option of man, nor is PROPERTY itself, without respect to the rules of the Divine law; and here, too, we shall perceive the feebleness of the considerations urged, in merely moral systems, to restrain prodigal and wasteful expenditure, hazardous speculations, and even the obvious evil of gambling. Many weighty arguments, we grant, may be drawn against all these from the claims of children, and near relations, whose interests we are bound to regard, and whom we can have no right to expose even to the chance of being involved in the same ruin with ourselves. But these reasons can have little sway with those who fancy that they can keep within the verge of extreme danger, and who will plead their "natural right" to do what they will with their own. In cases, too, where there may be no children or dependent relatives, the individual would feel less disposed to acknowledge the force of this class of reasons, or think them quite inapplicable to his case. But Christianity enjoins "moderation" of the desires, and temperance in the gratification of the appetites, and in the show and splendour of life, even where a state of opulence can command them. It has its admonitions against the "love of money;" against "willing to be rich," except as "the Lord may prosper a man" in the usual track and course of honest industry,-authoritative cautions which lie directly against hazardous speculations; and it warns such as despise them of the consequent "temptations" and spiritual "snares," destructive to habits of piety, and ultimately to the soul, into which they must fail,-considerations of vast moment, but peculiar to itself, and quite out of the range of those moral systems which have no respect to its authority. Against gambling, in its most innocent forms, it sets its injunction, "Redeeming the time;" and in its more aggravated cases, it opposes to it not only the above considerations, as it springs from an unhallowed "love of money;" but the whole of that spirit and temper which it makes to be obligatory upon us, and which those evil and often diabolical excitements, produced by this habit, so fearfully violate. Above all, it makes property a trust, to be employed under the rules prescribed by Him who, as sovereign proprietor, has deposited it with us, which rules require its use certainly; (for the covetous are excluded from the kingdom of God;) but its use, first, for the supply of our wants, according to our station, with moderation; then, as a provision for children, and dependent relatives; finally, for purposes of charity and religion, in which "grace," as before stated, it requires us "to abound;"-and it enforces all these by placing us under the responsibility of accounting to God himself, in person, for the abuse or neglect of this trust, at the general judgment.
With respect to the third natural right, that of LIBERTY, it is a question which can seldom or never occur in the present state of society, whether a man is free to part with it for a valuable consideration. Under the law of Moses, this was certainly a1lowed; but a Christian man stands on different ground. To a pagan he would not be at liberty to enslave himself, because he is not at liberty to put to hazard his soul's interests, which might be interfered with by the control given to a pagan over his time and conduct. To a Christian he could not be at liberty to alienate himself, because, the spirit of Christianity being opposed to slavery, the one is not at liberty to buy, nor the other to sell, for reasons before given. I conclude, therefore, that no man can lawfully divest himself absolutely of his personal liberty, for any consideration whatever.
To the natural rights of life, property and liberty, maybe added the right of CONSCIENCE.
By this is meant time right which a man has to profess his own opinions on subjects of religion, and to worship God in the mode which he deems most acceptable to him. Whether this, however, be strictly a natural right, like the three above mentioned, may be a subject of dispute, for then it would be universal, which is, perhaps, carrying the point too far. The matter may best be determined by considering the ground of that right, which differs much from the others we have mentioned.
Time right to life results both from the appointment of God, and the absence of a superior or countervailing right in another to deprive us of it, until, at least, we forfeit that right to some third party, by some voluntary act of our own. This also applies to the rights of property and liberty. The right of professing particular religious opinions, and practising a particular mode of worship, can only rest upon a conviction that these are duties enjoined upon us by God. For since religion is a matter which concerns man and God, a man must know that it is obligatory upon him as a duty, and under fear of God's displeasure, to profess his opinions openly, and to practise some particular mode of worship.
To apply this to the case of persons all sincerely receiving the Bible as a revelation from God. Unquestionably it is a part of that revelation, that those who receive its doctrines should profess and attempt to propagate them; nor can they profess them in any other way than they interpret the meaning of the book which contains them. Equally clear is it, that the worship of God is enjoined upon man, and that publicly, and in collective bodies. From these circumstances, therefore, it results, that it is a duty which man owes to God to profess and to endeavour to propagate his honest views of the meaning of the Scriptures, and to worship God in the mode which he sincerely conceives is made obligatory upon him, by the same sacred volume. It is from this duty that the right of conscience flows, and from this alone; and it thus becomes a right of that nature which no earthly power has any authority to obstruct, because it can have no power to alter or to destroy the obligations which almighty God, the supreme governor, has laid upon his creatures.
It does not, however, follow from this statement, that human governments, professing to be regulated themselves by the principles of Christianity, have no authority to take cognizance of the manner in which this right of conscience is exercised. They are "ordained of God" to uphold their subjects in the exercise of their just rights respectively, and that without partiality. If, therefore, under a plea of conscience, one sect should interfere to obstruct others in a peaceable profession of their opinions, and a peaceable exercise of their worship; or should exercise its own so as to be vexatiously intrusive upon others, and in defiance of some rival sect; as for instance, in a Protestant country, if Roman Catholics were to carry the objects of their idolatry about the streets, instead of contenting themselves with worshipping in their own way, in their own chapels. In all such cases the government might be bound, in respect of the rights of other classes of its subjects, to interfere by restraint, nor would it then trespass upon the rights of conscience, justly interpreted. Again, since "the powers that be are ordained of God," for "a terror to evil doers, and a praise to them that do well ;" which evil doing and well doing are to be interpreted according to the common sense and agreement of mankind, and plainly refer to moral actions only; should any sect or individual, ignorantly, fanatically, of corruptly, so interpret the Scriptures as to suppose themselves free from moral obligation, and then proceed to practise their tenets by any such acts as violate the laws of well ordered society, or by admitting indecencies into their modes of worship, as some fanatics in former times who used to strip themselves naked in their assemblies; here too a government would have the right to disregard the plea of conscience if set up, and to restrain such acts, and the teachers of them, as pernicious to society. But if the opinions professed by any sect, however erroneous they may be, and however zealously a sound and faithful Christian might be called by a sense of duty to denounce them as involving a corrupt conscience, or no conscience at all, and as dangerous or fatal to the salvation of those that hold them, do not interfere with the peace, the morals, and good order of society; it is not within the province of a government to animadvert upon them by force of law; since it was not established to judge of men's sincerity in religion, nor of the tendency of opinions as they affect their salvation, but only to uphold the morals and good order of the community. So, likewise, what has been called by some worship, has been sometimes marked with great excesses of enthusiasm, and with even ridiculous follies; but if the peace of others, and the morals of society, are not thereby endangered, it is not the part of the magistracy to interfere, at least by authority.
In cases, however, where political opinions are connected with religious notions, and the plea of conscience is set up as an "unalienable right," to sanction their propagation, a government may be justified in interposing, not indeed on the ground that it judges the conscience to be erring and corrupt, but for its own just support when endangered by such opinions. Sects of religious republicans have sometimes appeared under a monarchical government,-the Fifth Monarchy Fanatics, for instance, who, according to their interpretation of the kingdom of Christ, regarded the existence of all earthly monarchies as inimical to it, and believing that the period of its establishment was come, thought it impiety to acknowledge any earthly sovereign, as being contrary to their allegiance to Christ. When such notions are confined to a few persons it is wise in a government to leave them to their own absurdities as their most potent cure; but should a fanaticism of this kind seize upon a multitude, and render them restless and seditious, the state would be justifiable in retraining them by force, although a mistaken conscience might be mixed up with the error. We may therefore conclude, that as to religious sects, the plea of conscience does not take their conduct out of the cognizance of the civil magistrate when the peace, the morality, and safety of society are infringed upon; but that otherwise, the rights of conscience are inviolable, even when it is obviously erroneous, and, religiously considered, as to the individual, dangerous. The case then is one which is to be dealt with by instruction, and moral suasion. It belongs to public instructers, and to all well-informed persons, to correct an ignorant and perverse conscience, by friendly and compassionate admonition; and the power of the magistrate is only lawfully interposed, when the effect complained of so falls upon society as to infringe upon the rights of others, or upon the public morals and peace; but even then the facts ought to be obvious, and not constructive.
The case of those who reject the revelation of the Scriptures must be considered on its own merits.
Simple Deism, in a Christian country, may lay a foundation for such a plea of conscience as the state ought to admit, although it should be rejected by a sound theologian. The Deist derives his religion by inference from what he supposes discoverable of the attributes and will of God from nature, and the course of the Divine government. Should he conclude that among such indications of the will of God there are those which make it his duty to profess his opinions, to attack the evidences of our Divine revelation as of insufficient proof, and to worship God in a manner more agreeable to his system, it would be too delicate an interference of a government with a question of conscience, to be allowed to make itself the judge whether any such conviction could be conscientiously entertained; although by divines, in their character of public instructers, this would properly be denied. Absolutely to shut out, by penal laws, all discussion on the evidences of Divine revelation, would probably make secret infidels in such numbers as would more than counterbalance the advantage which would be gained, and that by the suspicion which it would excite. But this principle would not extend to the protection of any doctrine directly subversive of justice, chastity, or humanity; for then society would be attacked, and the natural as well as civil rights of man invaded. Nor can opprobrious and blasphemous attacks upon Christianity be covered by a plea of conscience and right, since these are not necessary to argument. It is evident that conscience, in the most liberal construction of the term, cannot be pleaded in their behalf; and they are not innocent even as to society.
To those systems which deny the immortality of the soul, and consequently, a state of future retribution, and which assume any of the forms of Atheism, no toleration can, consistently with duty, be extended by a Christian government. The reasons of this exception are, 1. That the very basis of its jurisprudence, which is founded upon a belief in God, the sanctity of oaths, and a future state, is assaulted by such doctrines, and that it cannot co-exist with them: 2. That they are subversive of the morals of the people: and, 3. That no conscience can be pleaded by their votaries for the avowal of such tenets When the existence of a God and his moral government are denied, no conscience can exist to require the publication of such tenets; for this cannot be a duty imposed upon them by God, since they deny his existence. No right of conscience is therefore violated when they are restrained by civil penalties. Such persons cannot have the advantages of society, without submitting to the principles on which it is founded; and as they profess to believe that they are not accountable beings, their silence cannot be a guilt to them; they give up the argument drawn from conscience, and from its rights, which have no existence at all but as founded upon REVEALED DUTY.
The second branch of justice we have denominated ECONOMICAL: it respects those relations which grow out of the existence of men in families. The first is that of husband and wife, and arises out of the institution of marriage.
The foundation of the marriage union is the will of God that the human race should "increase and multiply," but only through a chaste and restricted conjunction of one man and one woman, united by their free vows in a bond made by the Divine law indissoluble, except by death or by adultery. The will of God as to marriage is, however, general, and is not so expressed as to lay an imperative obligation to marry upon every one, in all circumstances. There was no need of the law being directed to each individual as such, since the instincts of nature, and the affection of love planted in human beings, were sufficient to guarantee its general observance. The very bond of marriage too being the preference founded upon love, rendered the act one in which choice and feeling were to have great influence; nor could a prudent regard to circumstances be excluded. Cases were possible in which such a preference as is essential to the felicity and advantages of that state might not be excited, nor the due degree of affection to warrant the union called forth. There might be cases in which circumstances might be inimical to the full discharge of some of the duties of that state; as the comfortable maintenance of a wife, and a proper provision for children. Some individuals would also be called by Providence to duties in the Church and in the world, which might better be performed in a single and unfettered life; and seasons of persecution, as we are taught by St. Paul, -have rendered it an act of Christian prudence to abstain even from this honourable estate. The general rule, however, is in favour of marriage; and all exceptions seem to require justification on some principle grounded upon an equal or a paramount obligation.
One intention of marriage in its original institution was the production of the greatest number of healthy children; and that it secures this object is proved from the universal fact, that population increases more, and is of better quality, where marriage is established, and its sacred laws are observed, than where the intercourse of the sexes is promiscuous. A second end was the establishment of the interesting and influential relations of acknowledged children and parents, from which the most endearing, meliorating, and pure affections result, and which could not exist without marriage. It is indeed scarcely possible even to sketch the numerous and important effects of this sacred institution, which at once displays in the most affecting manner, the Divine benevolence and the Divine wisdom. It secures the preservation and tender nurture of children, by concentrating an affection upon them, which is dissipated and lost wherever fornication prevails. It creates conjugal tenderness, filial piety, the attachment of brothers and sisters, and of collateral relations. It softens the feelings, and increases the benevolence of society at large, by bringing all these affections to operate powerfully within each of those domestic and family circles of which society is composed. It excites industry and economy; and secures the communication of moral knowledge, and the inculcation of civility, and early habits of submission to authority, by which men are fitted to become the subjects of a public government, and without which, perhaps, no government could be sustained but by brute force, or, it may be, not sustained at all. These are some of the innumerable benefits by which marriage promotes human happiness, and the peace and strength of the community at large.
The institution of marriage not only excludes the promiscuous inter. course of the sexes, but polygamy also; a practice almost equally fatal to the kind affections, to education, to morals, and to purity. The argument of our Lord with the Pharisees, on the subject of divorce, Matt. xix, assumes it as even acknowledged by the Jews, that marriage was not only of Divine institution, but that it consisted in the union of two only,-" they twain shall be one flesh." This was the law of marriage given at first, not to Adam and Eve only, but prospectively to all their descendants. The first instance of polygamy was that of Lamech, and this has no sanction from the Scripture; which may be observed of other instances in the Old Testament. They were opposed to the original law, and in all cases appear to have been punished with many afflictive visitations. The Mosaic law, although polygamy appears to have been practised under it, gives no direct countenance to the practice; which intimates that, as in the case of divorce, the connivance was not intended to displace the original institution. Hence, in the language of the Old Testament, as well as of the New, the terms husband and wife in the singular number continually occur; and a passage in the Prophet Malachi is so remarkable as to warrant the conclusion, that among the pious Jews, time original law was never wholly out of sight. "Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the Lord hath been witness between thee, and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously, yet she is thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant. And did not he make one?"-(one woman)-" Yet had he the residue of the spirit ?"-(and therefore could have made more than one)-" And wherefore one ?" "That he might seek a godly seed," is the answer, which strongly shows how closely connected in the prophet's mind were the circumstances of piety in the offspring and the restraint of marriage to one wife only; for he thus glances at one of the obvious evils of polygamy, its deteriorating moral influence upon children. If, however, in some instances the practice of The Jews fell short of the strictness of the original law of marriage, that law is now fully restored by Christ. In a discourse with the Pharisees, he not only reenacts that law, but guards against its evasion by the practice of divorce; and asserts the marriage union to be indissoluble by any thing but adultery. The argument of our Lord in this discourse is, indeed, equally conclusive against polygamy and against the practice of divorce; for "if," says Dr. Paley, "whoever putteth away his wife and marrieth another committeth adultery, he who marrieth another, the first wife being living, is no less guilty of adultery; because the adultery does not consist in the repudiation of the first wife; for, however cruel and unjust that may be, it is not adultery; but in entering into a second marriage, during the legal existence and obligation of the first."
Nature itself comes in also as a confirmation of this original law.- in births, there is a small surplusage of males over females; which, being reduced by the more precarious life of males, and by the accidents to which more than females they are exposed from wars and dangerous employments, brings the number of males and females to a par, and shows that in the order of Providence a man ought to have but one wife; and that where polygamy is not allowed, every woman may have a husband. This equality, too, is found in all countries; although some licentious writers have attempted to deny it upon unsound evidence.
Another end of marriage was, the prevention of fornication; and as this is done, not only by providing for a lawful gratification of the sexual appetite; but more especially by that mutual affection upon which marriages, when contracted according to the will of God, are founded, this conjunction necessarily requires that degree of love between the Contracting parties which produces a preference of each other above every man or woman in the world. Wherever this degree of affection does not exist, it may therefore be concluded that the rite of marriage is profaned, and the greatest security for the accomplishment of its moral ends weakened or destroyed. Interest, compliance with the views of family connections, caprice, or corporal attractions, it may be therefore concluded, are not in themselves lawful grounds of marriage, as tending, without affection, to frustrate the intention of God in its institution; to which end all are bound to subject themselves. On the other hand, since love is often a delusive and sickly affection, exceedingly temporary and uncertain, when it is unconnected with judgment and prudence; and also because marriages are for the most part Contracted by the young and inexperienced, whose passions are then Strongest when their judgments are most immature; in no step in life is the counsel of others more necessary, and in no case ought it to be sought with greater docility than in this. A proper respect to the circumstances of age, fitness, &c, ought 'never to be superseded by the plea of mere affection; although no circumstances can justify marriage without that degree of affection which produces an absolute preference.
Whether marriage be a civil or a religious contract has been a subject of dispute. The truth seems to be that it is both. It has its engagements to men, and its vows to God. A Christian state recognizes marriage as a branch of public morality, and a source of civil peace and strength. It is connected with the peace of society by assigning one woman to one man, and the state protects him, therefore, in her exclusive possession. Christianity, by allowing divorce in the event of adultery, supposes, also, that the crime must be proved by proper evidence before the civil magistrate; and lest divorce should be the result of unfounded suspicion, or be made a cover for license, the decision of the case could safely be lodged nowhere else. Marriage, too, as placing one human being more completely under the power of another than any other relation, requires laws for the protection of those who are thus so exposed to injury. The distribution of society into families, also, can only be an instrument for promoting the order of the community, by the cognizance which the law takes of the head of a family and by making him responsible, to a certain extent, for the conduct of those under his influence. Questions of property are also involved in marriage and its issue. The law must, therefore, for these and many other weighty reasons, be cognizant of marriage; must prescribe various regulations respecting it; require publicity of the contract; and guard some of the great injunctions of religion in the matter by penalties. In no well ordered state can marriage, therefore, be so exclusively left to religion as to shut out the cognizance and control of the state. But then those who would have the whole matter to lie between the parties themselves, and the civil magistrate, appear wholly to forget that marriage is a solemn religious act, in which vows are made to God by both persons, who, when the rite is properly understood, engage to abide by all those laws with which he has guarded the institution; to love and cherish each other; and to remain faithful to each other until death. For if, at least, they profess belief in Christianity, whatever duties are laid upon husbands and wives in Holy Scripture, they engage to obey,' by the very act of their contracting marriage. The question, then, is whether such vows to God as are necessarily involved in marriage, are to be left between the parties and God privately, or whether they ought to be publicly made before his ministers and the Church. On this the -Scriptures are silent; but though Michaelis has showed, (Commentaries on the Laws of Moses,) that the priests under the law were not appointed to celebrate marriage; yet in the practice of the modern Jews, it is a religious ceremony, the chief rabbi of the synagogue being present, and prayers being appointed for the occasion. (Allen's Modern Judaism.) This renders it probable that the character of the ceremony under the law, from the most ancient times, was a religious one. The more direct connection of marriage with religion in Christian states, by assigning its celebration to the ministers of religion, appears to be a very beneficial custom, and one which the state has a right to enjoin. For since the welfare and morals of society are so much interested in the performance of the mutual duties of the married state; and since those duties have a religious as well as civil character, it is most proper that some provision should be made for explaining those duties; and for this a standing form of marriage is best adapted. By acts of religion, also, they are more solemnly impressed upon the parties.- When this is prescribed in any state, it becomes a Christian cheerfully, and even thankfully, to comply with a custom of so important a tendency, as matter of conscientious subjection to lawful authority, although no Scriptural precept can be pleaded for it. That the ceremony should be confined to the clergy of an established Church is a different consideration. We are inclined to think that the religious effect would be greater, were the ministers of each religious body to be authorized by the state to celebrate marriages among their own people, due provision being made for the regular and secure registry of them, and to prevent the civil laws respecting marriage from being evaded.
When this important contract is once made, then certain rights are acquired by the parties mutually, who are also bound by reciprocal duties, in the fulfilment of which the practical "righteousness" of each consists. Here, also, the superior character of the morals of the New Testament, as well as their higher authority, is illustrated. It may, indeed, be within the scope of mere moralists to show that fidelity, and affection, and all the courtesies necessary to maintain affection, are rationally obligatory upon those who are connected by the nuptial bond; but in Christianity that fidelity is guarded by the express law, "Thou shalt not commit adultery;" and by our Lord's exposition of the spirit of that law, which forbids the indulgence of loose thoughts and desires, and places the purity of the heart under the guardianship of that hallowed fear which his authority tends to inspire. Affection, too, is made a matter of diligent cultivation upon considerations, and by a standard, Peculiar to our religion. Husbands are placed in a relation to their Wives, similar to that which Christ bears to his Church, and his example is thus made their rule: as Christ "gave himself," his life, "for thee Church," Eph. v, 25,so are they to hazard life for their wives. As Christ Saves his Church, so is it the bounden duty of husbands to endeavour, by every possible means, to promote the religious edification and salvation of their Wives. The connection is thus exalted into a religious one; and when love which knows no abatement, protection at the hazard of life, and a tender and constant solicitude for the salvation of a wife are thus enjoined, the greatest possible security is established for the exercise of kindness and fidelity. The oneness of this union is also more forcibly stated in Scripture than any where beside: "They twain shall be one flesh." "So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies; he that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the Church." Precept and illustration can go no higher than this; and nothing evidently is wanting either of direction or authority to raise the state of marriage into the highest, most endearing, and sanctified relation in which two human beings can stand to each other. The duties of wives are reciprocal to those of husbands. The outline in the note below comprises both: it presents a series of obligations which are obviously drawn from the New Testament; but which nothing except that could furnish. The extract is made from an old writer, and although expressed in homely phrase will be admired for discrimination and comprehensiveness.
THE DUTIES OF CHILDREN is a branch of Christian morality which receives both illustration and authority in a very remarkable and peculiar manner from the Scriptures. "Honour thy father and thy mother," is a precept which occupies a place in those tables of law which were written at first by the finger of God; and is, as the Apostle Paul notes, "the first commandment with promise." The meaning of the term honour is comprehensive, and imports, as appears from various passages in which it occurs, reverence, affection, and grateful obedience. It expresses at once a principle and a feeling, each of which must influence the practice; one binding obedience upon the conscience, the other rendering it the free effusion of the heart; one securing the great points of duty, and the other giving rise to a thousand tender sentiments and courtesies which mutually meliorate the temper, and open one of the richest sources of domestic felicity.
The honouring of parents is likewise enforced in Scripture, by a temporal promise. This is not peculiar to the law; for when the apostle refers to this "as the first commandment with promise," and adds, "that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest live long on the earth," Eph. vi, 3, 4, he clearly intimates that this promise is carried forward into the Christian dispensation; and though it is undoubtedly modified by the circumstances of an economy which is much founded upon temporal promises as the law, it retains its lull force as a general declaration of special favour on the part of God. This duty also derives a most influential and affecting illustration from the conduct of our Lord, who was himself an instance of subjection parents; of the kindest behaviour to them; and who, amidst his agonie on the cross, commended his weeping mother to the special regard of the beloved disciple, John, charging him with her care and support as a "son," in his own stead. In no system of mere ethics, certainly this great duty, on which so much of human interest and felicity pends, and which exerts so much influence upon society, thus illustrate and thus enforced.
The duties of children may be thus sketched.
LOVE, which is founded upon esteem and reverence, comprises gratitude also; no small degree of which is obligatory upon every child for the unwearied cares, labours, and kindness of parental affection. In the few unhappy instances in which esteem for a parent can have little place, gratitude, at least, ought to remain; nor can any case arise in which the obligation of filial love can be cancelled.
REVERENCE, which consists in that honourable esteem of parents which children ought to cherish in their hearts, and from which springs on the one hand the desire to please, and on the other the fear to offend. The fear of a child is, however, opposed to the fear of a slave; the latter has respect chiefly to the punishment which may be inflicted; but the other being mixed with love, and the desire to be loved, has respect to the ofence which may be taken by a parent, his grief, and his displeasure. Hence the fear of God, as a grace of the Spirit in the regenerate, is compared to the fear of children. This reverential regard due to parents has its external expression in all honour and civility, whether in words or actions. The behaviour is to be submissive, the speech respectful, reproof is to be borne by them with meekness, and the impatience of parents sustained in silence. Children are bound to close their eyes as much as possible upon the failings and infirmities of the authors of their being, and always to speak of them honourably among themselves, and in the presence of others. "The hearts of all men go along with Noah in laying punishment upon Ham for his unnatural and profane derision, and love the memory of those sons that would not see themselves, nor suffer others to be the witnesses of the miscarriages of their father." In the duty of" honouring" parents, is also included their support when in necessity. This appears from our Lord's application of this commandment of the law in his reproof of the Pharisees, who, if they had made a vow of their property, thought it then lawful to withhold assistance from their parents, Matt. xv, 4-6.
To affection and reverence, is to be added, OBEDIENCE, which is universal: "Children, obey your parents in all things;" with only one restriction, which respects the consciences of children, when at age to judge for themselves. The apostle therefore adds, "in the Lord." That this limits the obedience of children to the lawful commands of parents, is clear also from our Lord's words, "If any love father or mother more than me he is not worthy of me." God is to be loved and obeyed above all. In all lawful things the rule is absolute; and the obedience, like that we owe to God, ought to be cheerful and unwearied. Should it chance to cross our inclinations, this will be no excuse for hesitancy, much less for refusal.
One of the principal cases in which this principle is often most severely tried, is that of marriage. The general rule clearly is, that neither son nor daughter ought to marry against the command of a father, with whom the prime authority of the family is lodged; nor even without the consent of the mother, should the father be willing, if she can find any weighty reason for her objection; for, although the authority of the mother is subordinate and secondary, yet is she entitled to obedience from the child. There is, however, a considerable difference between marrying at the command of a parent, and marrying against his prohibition. In the first case, children are more at liberty than in the other; yet even here, the wishes of parents in this s respect are to be taken into most serious consideration, with a preponderating desire to yield to them: but if a child feels that his affections still refuse to run in the course of the parents' wishes; if he is conscious that he cannot love his intended wife "as himself," as "his own flesh;" he is prohibited by a higher rule, which presents an insuperable barrier to his compliance. In this case the child is at liberty to refuse, if it is done deliberately, and expressed with modesty and proper regret at not being able to comply, for the reasons stated; and every parent ought to dispense freely with the claim of obedience. But to marry in opposition to a parent's express prohibition, is a very grave case. The general rule lies directly against this act of disobedience, as against all others, and the violation of it is therefore sin. And what blessing can be expected to follow such marriages? or rather, what curse may not be feared to follow them? The law of God is transgressed, and the image of his authority in parents is despised. Those exceptions to this rule which can be justified, are very few.
In no case but where the parties have attained the full legal age of twenty-one years, ought an exception to be even considered; but it may perhaps be allowed, 1. When the sole objection of the parent is the marriage of his child with a person fearing God. 2. When the sole reason given is, a wish to keep a child unmarried from caprice, interest, or other motive, which no parent has a right to require, when the child is of legal age. 3. When the objections are simply those of prejudice, without reasonable ground; but in this case, the child ought not to assume to be the sole judge of the parent's reasons; and would not be at liberty to act, unless supported by the opinion of impartial and judicious friends, whose advice and mediation ought to be asked, in order that, in so delicate an affair, he or she may proceed with a clear conscience.
The persuading a daughter to elope from her parents' house, where the motive is no other than the wilful following of personal affection, which spurns at parental control and authority, must, therefore, be considered as a great crime. It induces the daughter to commit a very criminal act of disobedience; and, on the part of the man, it is a worse kind of felony than stealing the property of another. "For children are much more properly a man's own than his goods, and the more highly to be esteemed, by how much reasonable creatures are to be preferred before senseless things." (Gouge on Relative Duties.)
THE DUTIES OF PARENTS are exhibited with equal clearness in the Scriptures, and contain a body of most important practical instructions.
The first duty is LOVE, which, although a natural instinct, is yet to be cultivated and nourished by Christians under a sense of duty, and by frequent meditation upon all those important and interesting relations in which religion has placed them and their offspring. The duty of sustentation and care, therefore, under the most trying circumstances, is imperative upon parents; for, though this is not directly enjoined, it is supposed necessarily to follow from that parental love which the Scriptures inculcate; and also, because the denial of either to infants would destroy them, and thus the unnatural parent would be involved in the crime of murder.
To this follows INSTRUCTION, care for the mind succeeding the nourishment and care of the body. This relates to the providing such an education for children as is suited to their condition, and by which they may be fitted to gain a reputable livelihood when they are of age to ap. ply themselves to business. But it specially relates to their instruction in the doctrines of HolyWrit. This is clearly what the Apostle Paul means, Eph. vi, 4, by directing parents to "bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." A parent is considered in Scripture as a PRIEST in his own family, which is a view of this relation not to be found in ethical writers, or deducible from any principles from which they would infer parental duties, independently of revelation; and from this it derives a most exalted character. The offices of sacrifice, intercession, and religious instruction, were all performed by the patriarchs; and, as we have already seen, although, under the law, the offering of sacrifices was restrained to the appointed priesthood, yet was it still the duty of the head of the family to bring his sacrifices for immolation in t he prescribed manner; and so far was the institution of public teachers from being designed to supersede the father's office, that the heads of the Jewish families were specially enjoined to teach the law to their children diligently, and daily, Deut. vi, 7. Under the same view does Christianity regard the heads of its families, as priests in their houses, offering spiritual gifts and sacrifices, and as the religious instructers of their children. Hence it is, in the passage above quoted, that "fathers" are commanded "to bring up their children in time nurture and admonition of the Lord;" or, in other words, in the knowledge of the doctrines, duties, motives, and hopes of the Christian religion. This is a work, therefore, which belongs to the very office of a father as the priest of his household, and cannot be neglected by him, but at his own, and his children's peril. Nor is it to be occasionally and cursorily performed, but so that the object may be attained, namely, that they may" know the Scriptures from their childhood," and have stored their minds with their laws, and doctrines, and promises, as their guide in future life; a work which will require, at least, as much attention from the Christian as from the Jewish parent, who was commanded on this wise,-" Thou shalt teach them diligently to thy children, and thou shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." The practice of the Jews in this respect, appears to have been adopted by the Christians of the primitive Churches, which were composed of both Jewish and Gentile converts in almost every place; and from them it is probable that the early customs of teaching children to commit portions of Scripture to memory, to repeat prayers night and morning, and to approach their parents for their blessing, might be derived. The last pleasing and impressive form, which contains a recognition of the domestic priesthood, as inherent in the head of any family, has in this country grown of late into disuse, which is much to be regretted.
It is also essential to the proper discharge of the parental duty of instructing children, that every means should be used to render what is taught influential upon the heart and conduct. It is, therefore, solemnly imperative upon parents to be "holy in all manner of conversation, and godliness," and thus to enforce truth by example. It concerns them, as much as ministers, to be anxious for the success of their la. bours ; and recognizing the same principle, that "God giveth the increase," to be abundant in prayers for the gift of the Holy Spirit to their children. Both as a means of grace, and in recognition of God's covenant of mercy with them and their seed after them, it behooves them also to bring their children to baptism in their infancy; to explain to them the baptismal covenant when they are able to understand it; and to habituate them from early years to the observance of the Sabbath, 'and to regular attendance on the public worship of God.
The GOVERNMENT of children is another great branch of parental duty, in which both the parents are bound cordially to unite. Like all other kinds of government appointed by God, the end is the good of those subject to it; and it therefore excludes all caprice, vexation, and tyranny. In the case of parents, it is eminently a government of LOVE, and therefore, although it includes strictness, it necessarily excludes severity. The mild and benevolent character of our Divine religion displays itself here, as in every other instance where the heat of temper, the possession of power, or the ebullitions of passion, might be turned against the weak and unprotected. The civil laws of those countries in which Christianity was first promulgated, gave great power to parent over their children, which, in the unfeeling spirit of paganism, was often harshly, and even cruelly, used. On the contrary, St. Paul enjoins, "And ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath," meaning plainly, by a rigorous severity, an overbearing and tyrannical behaviour, tending to exasperate angry passions in them. So again, "Fathers, provoke not your children, lest they be discouraged," discouraged from all attempts at pleasing, as regarding it an impossible task, " and be unfitted to pass through the world with advantage, when their spirits have been unreasonably broken under an oppressive yoke, in the earliest years of their life." (Doddridge on Coloss. iii, 21.) But though the parental government is founded upon kindness, and can never be separated from it, when rightly understood and exercised, it is still government, and is a trust committed by God to the parent, which must be faithfully discharged. Corporal correction is not only allowed, but is made a duty in Scripture, where other means would be ineffectual. Yet it may be laid down as a certain principle, that, where the authority of a parent is exercised with constancy and discretion, and enforced by gravity, kindness, and character, this will seldom be found necessary; nor, when the steady resolution of the parent to inflict it when it is demanded by the case, is once known to the child, will it need often to be repeated. Pa. rental government is also concerned in forming the manners of children; in inculcating civility, order, cleanliness, industry, and economy; in repressing extravagant desires and gratifications in dress and amusements; and in habituating the will to a ready submission to authority. It must be so supreme, whatever the age of children may be, as to control the whole order and habits of the family, and to exclude all licentiousness, riot, and unbecoming amusements from the house, lest the curse of Eli should fall upon those who imitate his example in not reproving evil with sufficient earnestness, and not restraining it by the effectual exercise of authority.
Another duty of parents is the comfortable settlement of their children in the world, as far as their ability extends. This includes the discreet choosing of a calling, by which their children may "provide things honest in the sight of all men;" taking especial care, however, that their moral safety shall be consulted in the choice,-a consideration which too many disregard, under the influence of carelessness, or a vain ambition. The "laying up for children" is also sanctioned both by nature, and by our religion; but this is not so to be understood as that the comforts of a parent, according to his rank in life, should be abridged; nor that it should interfere with those charities which Christianity has made his personal duty.
The next of these reciprocal duties, are those of SERVANT and MASTER.
This is a relation which will continue to the end of time. Equality of condition is alike contrary to the nature of things, and to the appointment of God. Some must toil, and others direct; some command, and others obey; not is this order contrary to the real interest of the multitude, as at first sight it might appear. The acquisition of wealth by a few affords more abundant employment to the many; and in a well ordered, thriving, and industrious state, except in seasons of peculiar distress, it is evident, that the comforts of the lower classes are greater than could be attained were the land equally divided among them, and so left to their own cultivation that no one should be the servant of an. other. To preserve such a state of things would he impossible; and could it be done, no arts but of the rudest kind, no manufactures, and no commerce, could exist. The very first attempt to introduce these would necessarily create the two classes of workmen and employers; of the many who labour with the hands, and the few who labour with the mind, in directing the operations; and thus the equality would be destroyed.
It is not, however, to be denied, that through the bad principles and violent passions of man, the relations of servant and master have been a source of great evil and misery. The more, therefore, is that religion to be valued, which, since these relations must exist, restrains the evil that is incident to them, and shows how they may be made sources of mutual benevolence and happiness. Wherever the practical influence of religion has not been felt, servants have generally been more or less treated with contempt, contumely, harshness, and oppression. They, on the contrary, are, from their natural corruption, inclined to resent authority, to indulge selfishness, and to commit fraud, either by withholding the just quantum of labour, or by direct theft. From the conflict of these evils in servants and in masters, too often result suspicion, cunning, overreaching, malignant passions, contemptuous and irritating speeches, the loss of principle in the servant, and of kind and equitable feeling on the part of the master.
The direct manner in which the precepts of the New Testament tend to remedy these evils, cannot but be remarked. Government in masters, as well as in fathers, is an appointment of God, though differing in circumstances; and it is, therefore, to be honoured. "Let as many
servants as are under the yoke, count their own masters worthy of all honour ;" a direction which enjoins both respectful thoughts, and humility and propriety of external demeanour toward them. Obedience to their commands in all things lawful is next enforced; which obedience is to be grounded on principle and conscience; on "singleness of heart, as unto Christ;" thus serving a master with the same sincerity, the same desire to do the appointed work well, as is required of us by Christ. This service is also to be cheerful, and not wrung out merely by a sense of duty: "Not with eye service, as men pleasers;" not having respect simply to time approbation of the master, but "as the servants of Christ," making profession of his religion, "doing the will of God," in this branch of duty, "from the heart," with alacrity and good feeling. The duties of servants, stated in these brief precepts, might easily be shown to comprehend every particular which can be justly required of persons in this station; and the whole is enforced by a sanction which could have no place but in a revelation from God,-" knowing that whatsoever good timing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free," Eph. vi, 5. In other words, even the common duties of servants, when faithfully, cheerfully, and piously per. formed, are by Christianity made rewardable actions: "Of the Lord ye shall receive a reward."
The duties of servants and masters are, however, strictly reciprocal. Hence the apostle continues his injunctions as to the right discharge of these relations, by saying, immediately after he had prescribed the conduct of servants, "And ye, masters, do the same things unto them;" that is, act toward them upon time same equitable, conscientious, and benevolent principles, as you exact from them. He then grounds his rules, as to masters, upon the great and influential principle, " Knowing that your Master is in heaven;" that you are under authority, and are accountable to him for your conduct to your servants. Thus masters are put under the eye of God, who not only maintains their authority, when properly exercised, by making their servants accountable for any contempt of it, and for every other failure of duty, but also holds the master himself responsible for its just and mild exercise. A solemn and religious aspect is thus at once given to a relation, which by many is considered as one merely of interest. When the apostle enjoins it on masters to "forbear threatening," he inculcates the treatment of servants with kindness of manner, with humanity, and good nature; and, by consequence also, the cultivation of that benevolent feeling toward persons in this condition, which, in all rightly influenced minds, will flow from the consideration of their equality with themselves in the sight of God; their equal share in the benefits of redemption; their relation to us as brethren in Christ, if they are "partakers of hike precious faith ;" and their title to the common inheritance of heaven, where all those temporary distinctions on which human vanity is so apt to fasten, shall be done away. There will also not be wanting in such minds, a consideration of the service rendered; (for the benefit is mutual;) and a feeling of gratitude for service faithfully performed, although it is compensated by wages or hire.
To benevolent sentiment the apostle, however, adds the principles of justice and equity: "Masters, give to your servants that which is just and equal, knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven," who is the avenger of injustice. The terms just and equal, though terms of near affinity, have a somewhat different signification. To give that which is just to a servant, is to deal with him according to an agreement made; but to give him what is equal, is to deal fairly and honestly with him, and to return what is his due in reason and conscience, even when there are circumstances in the case which strict law would not oblige us to take into the account. "Justice makes our contracts the measure of our dealings with others, and equity our consciences." (Fleetwood's Relative Duties.) Equity here may also have respect particularly to that important rule which obliges us to do to others what we would, in the same circumstances, have them to do to us. This rule of equity has a large range in the treatment of servants. It excludes all arbitrary and tyrannical government; it teaches masters to respect the strength and capacity of their servants; it represses rage and passion, contumely and insult; and it directs that their labour shall not be so extended as not to leave proper time for rest, for attendance on God's worship, and, at proper seasons, for recreation.
The religious duties of masters are also of great importance.
Under the Old Testament the servants of a house partook of the common benefit of the true religion, as appears from the case of the servants of Abraham, who were all brought into the covenant of circumcision; and from the early prohibition of idolatrous practices in families, and, consequently, the maintenance of the common worship of God. The same consecration of whole families to God we see in the New Testament; in the baptism of" houses," and the existence of domestic Churches. The practice of inculcating the true religion upon servants, passed from the Jews to the first Christians, and followed indeed from the conscientious employment of the master's influence in favour of piety; a point to which we shall again advert.
From all this arises the duty of instructing servants in the principles of religion; of teaching them to read, and furnishing them with the Scriptures; of having them present at family worship; and of conversing with them faithfully and affectionately respecting their best interests. In particular, it is to be observed, that servants have by the law of God a right to the Sabbath, of which no master can, without sin, deprive them. They are entitled under that law to rest on that day; and that not only for time recreation of their strength and spirits, hut, especially, to enable them to attend public worship, and to read the Scriptures, and pray in private. Against this duty all those offend who employ servants in works of gain; and also those who do not so arrange the affairs of their households, that domestic servants may be as little occupied as possible with the affairs of the house, in order that they may be able religiously to use a day which is made as much theirs as their masters', by the express letter of the law of God; nor can time blessing of God be expected to rest upon families where this shocking indifference to the religious interests of domestics, and this open disregard of the Divine command prevail. A Jewish strictness in some particulars is not bound upon Christians; as, for example, the prohibition against lighting fires. These were parts of the municipal, not the moral law of the Jews; and they have respect to a people living in a certain climate, and in peculiar circumstances. But even these prohibitions are of use as teaching us self denial, and that in all cases we ought to keep within the rules of necessity. Unnecessary occupations are clearly forbidden even when they do not come under the description of work for gain; and when they are avoided, there will be sufficient leisure for every part of a family to enjoy the Sabbath as a day of rest, and as a day of undistracted devotion. We may here also advert to that heavy national offence which still hangs upon us, the denying to the great majority of our bond slaves in the West Indies, those Sabbath rights which are secured to them by time very religion we profess. Neither as a day of rest, nor as a day of worship, is this sacred day granted to them; and for this our insolent and contemptuous defiance of God's holy law, we must be held accountable. This is a consideration which ought to induce that part of the community who retain any fear of God to be unwearied in their applications to the legislature, until this great reproach, this weight of offence against religion and humanity, shall be taken away from us.
The employment of influence for the religious benefit of servants, forms another part of the duty of every Christian master. This appears to be obligatory upon the general principle, that every thing which can be used by us to promote the will of God, and to benefit others, is "a talent" committed to us, which we are required by our Lord to "occupy." It is greatly to be feared, that this duty is much neglected among professedly religious masters; that even domestic servants are suffered to live in a state of spiritual danger, without any means being regularly and affectionately used to bring them to the practical knowledge of the truth; means which, if used with judgment and perseverance, and enforced by the natural influence of a superior, might prove in many instances both corrective and saving. But if this duty be much neglected in households, it is much more disregarded as to that class of servants who are employed as day labourers by the farmer, as journey men by the master artisan, and as workmen by the manufacturer. More or less the master comes into immediate connection with this class of servants; and although they are not so directly under his control as those of his household, nor within reach of the same instruction, yet is he bound to discountenance vice among them; to recommend their attendance on public worship; to see that their children are sent to schools; to provide religious help for them when sick; to prefer sober and religious men to others; and to pay them their wages in due time for market, and so early on the Saturday, or on the Friday, that their families may not be obstructed in their preparations for attending the house of God on the Lord's day morning. If the religious character and bias of the master were thus felt by his whole establishment, and a due regard paid uniformly to justice and benevolence in the treatment of all in his employ, not only would great moral good be the result, but there would be reason to hope that the relation between employers and their workmen, which, in consequence of frequent disputes respecting wages and combinations, has been rendered suspicious and vexatious, would assume a character of mutual confidence and reciprocal good will.
POLITICAL JUSTICE respects chiefly the relation of subject and sovereign, a delicate branch of morals in a religious system introduced into the world under such circumstances as Christianity, and which in its wisdom it has resolved into general principles of easy application, in ordinary circumstances. With equal wisdom it has left extraordinary emergencies unprovided for by special directions; though even in such cases the path of duty is not without light reflected upon it from the whole genius and spirit of the institution.
On the origin of power, and other questions of government, endless controversies have been held, and very different theories adopted, which, so happily is the world exchanging government by force for government by public opinion, have now lost much of their interest, and require not, therefore, a particular examination.
On this branch of morals, as on the others we have already considered, the Scriptures throw a light peculiar to themselves; and the theory of government which they contain will be found perfectly accordant with the experience of the present and best age of the world as to practical government, and exhibits a perfect harmony with that still more improved civil condition which it must ultimately assume in consequence of the diffusion of knowledge, freedom, and virtue.
The leading doctrine of Scripture is, that government is an ordinance of God. It was manifestly his will that men should live in society; this cannot be doubted. The very laws he has given to men, prescribing their relative duties, assume the permanent existence of social relations, and therefore place them under regulation. From this fact the Divine appointment of government flows as a necessary consequence. A society cannot exist without rules or laws; and it therefore follows that such laws must be upheld by enforcement. Hence an executive power in some form must arise, to guard, to judge, to reward, to punish. For if there were no executors of laws, the laws would become a dead letter, which would be the same thing as having none at all; and where there are no laws, there can be no society. But we are not left to inference. In the first ages of the world government was paternal, and the power of government was vested in parents by the express appointment of God. Among the Jews, rulers, judges, kings, were also appointed by God himself; and as for all other nations, the New Testament expressly declares, that "the powers which be are ordained of God."
The origin of power is not, therefore, from man, but from God. It is not left as a matter of choice to men, whether they will submit to be governed or not; it is Cod's appointment that they should be subject to those powers whom he, in his government of the world, has placed over them, in all things for which he has instituted government, that is, that it should be "a terror to evil doers, and a praise to them that do well." Nor are they at liberty "to resist the power," when employed in accomplishing such legitimate ends of government; nor to deny the right, nor to refuse the means, even when they have the power to do so, by which the supreme power may restrain evil, and enforce truth, righteousness, and peace. Every supreme power, we may therefore conclude, is invested with full and unalienable authority to govern well; and the people of every state are bound, by the institution of God, cheerfully and thankfully to submit to be so governed.
There can, therefore, be no such compact between any parties as shall originate the right of government, or the duty of being governed; nor can any compact annul, in the least, the rightful authority of the supreme power to govern efficiently for the full accomplishment of the ends for which government was divinely appointed; nor can it place any limit upon the duty of subjects to be governed accordingly.
We may conclude, therefore, with Paley and others, that what is called "the social compact," the theory of Locke and his followers on government, is a pure fiction. In point of fact, men never did originate government by mutual agreement; and men are all born under some government, and become its subjects, without having any terms of compact proposed to them, or giving any consent to understood terms, or being conscious at all that their assent is necessary to convey the right to govern them, or to impose upon themselves the obligation of subjection. The absurdities which Paley has pointed out as necessarily following from the theory of the social compact, appear to be sufficiently well founded; but the fatal objection is, that it makes government a mere creation of man, whereas Scripture makes it an ordinance of God: it supposes no obligation anterior to human consent; whereas the appointment of God constitutes the obligation, and is wholly indenendent of human choice and arrangement.
The matter of government, however, does not appear to be left so loose as it is represented by the author of the Moral and Political Philosophy.
The ground of the subject's obligation which he assigns is "the will of God as collected from expediency." We prefer to assign the will of God as announced in the public law of the Scriptures; and which manifestly establishes two points as general rules: 1. The positive obligation of men to submit to government : 2. Their obligation to yield obedience, in all things lawful, to the governments under which they live, as appointed by God in the order of his providence,-" the powers that be," the powers which actually exist, "are ordained of God." From these two principles it will follow, that in the case of any number of men and women being thrown together in some desert part of the world, it would be their duty to marry, to institute paternal government in their families, and to submit to a common government, in obedience to the declared will of God; and in the case of persons born under any established government, that they are required to yield submission to it as an ordinance of God, "a power" already appointed, and under which they are placed in the order of Divine providence.
Evident, however, as these principles are, they can never be pleaded in favour of oppression and wrong; since it is always to be remembered that the same Scriptures which establish these principles have set a sufficient number of guards and limits about them, and that the rights and duties of sovereign and subject are reciprocal. The manner in which they are made to harmonize with public interest and liberty will appear after these reciprocal duties and rights are explained.
The duties of the sovereign power, whatever its form may be, are, the enactment of just and equal laws; the impartial execution of those laws in mercy; the encouragement of religion, morality, learning, and industry; the protection and sustenance of the poor and helpless; the maintenance of domestic peace, and, as far as the interests of the community will allow, of peace with all nations; the faithful observance of all treaties; an incessant application to the cares of government, without exacting more tribute from the people than is necessary for the real wants of the state, and the honourable maintenance of its officers; the appointment of inferior magistrates of probity and fitness, with a diligent and strict oversight of them; and finally, the making provision for the continued instruction of the people in the religion of the Scriptures which it professes to receive as a revelation from God, and that with such a respect to the rights of conscience, as shall leave all men free to discharge their duties to Him who is "higher than the highest."
All these obligations are either plainly expressed, or are to be inferred from such passages as the following: "The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God; and he shall be as the light of the morning when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds, as the tender grass springeth out of the earth by clear shining after rain;" images which join to the attribute of justice a constant and diffusive beneficence. "Mercy and truth preserve the king." "Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment; thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty; but in righteousness thou shalt judge." "He that saith unto the wicked, Thou art righteous," that is, acquits the guilty in judgment, "him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him." "Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men; such as fear God; men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, and let them judge the people at all seasons." "Him that hath a high look and a proud heart I will not suffer. Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me. He that worketh deceit shall not dwell in my house, he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight" To these and many similar passages in the Old Testament may be added, as so many intimations of the Divine will as to rulers, those patriotic and pious practices of such of the judges and kings of Israel as had the express approbation of God; for although they may not apply as particular rules in all cases, they have to all succeeding ages the force of the general principles which are implied in them. The New Testament directions, although expressed generally, are equally comprehensive; and it is worthy of remark, that while they assert the Divine ordination of" the powers that be," they explicitly mark out for what ends they were thus appointed, and allow, therefore, of no plea of Divine right in rulers for any thing contrary to them. "Render unto Cesar the things that are Cesar's," that is, things which are Cesar's by public law and customary impost. "For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same; for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain; for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil." "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man, for the Lord's sake; whether it be to the king, as supreme, or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evil doers, and for the praise of them that do well."
In these passages, which state the legitimate ends of government, and limit God's ordination of government to them, the duties of subjects are partially anticipated; but they are capable of a fuller enumeration.
Subjection and obedience are the first; qualified, however, as we know from the example of the apostles, with exceptions as to what is contrary to conscience and morality. In such cases they obeyed not, but suffered rather. Otherwise the rule is," Let every soul be subject to the higher powers;" and that not merely "for wrath," fear of punishment, but" for conscience' sake," from a conviction that it is right. "For this cause pay ye tribute also; for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render, therefore, to all their dues, tribute to whom tribute is due custom to whom custom, fear to whom fear, honour to whom honour." Supplies for the necessities of government are therefore to be willingly and faithfully furnished. Rulers are also to be treated with respect and reverence: "Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people." They are to be honoured both by external marks of respect, and by being maintained in dignity; their actions are to be judged of with candour and charity, and when questioned or blamed, this is to be done with moderation, and not with invective or ridicule, a mode of" speaking evil of dignities," which grossly offends against the Christian rule. This branch of our duties is greatly strengthened by the enjoined duty of praying for rulers, a circumstance which gives an efficacy to it which no uninspired system can furnish. "I exhort, therefore, that first of all supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty; for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour." This holy and salutary practice is founded upon a recognition of the ordinance of God as to government; it recognizes, also, the existing powers in every place as God's "ministers;" it supposes that all public affairs are under Divine control; it reminds men of the arduous duties and responsibility of governors; it promotes a benevolent, grateful, and respectful feeling toward them; and it is a powerful guard against the factious and seditious spirit. These are so evidently the principles and tendencies of this sacred custom, that when prayer has been used, as it sometimes has, to convey the feelings of a malignant, factious, or light spirit, every well-disposed mind must have been shocked at so profane a mockery, and must have felt that such prayers "for all that are in authority," were any thing but "good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour."
Connected as these reciprocal rights and duties of rulers, and of their subjects, are with the peace, order, liberty, and welfare of society, so that were they universally acted upon, nothing would remain to be de sired for the promotion of its peace and welfare; it is also evident that in no part of the world have they been fully observed, and, indeed, in most countries they are, to this day, grossly trampled upon. A question then arises, How far does it consist with Christian submission to endeavour to remedy the evils of a government?
On this difficult and often controverted point we must proceed with caution, and with steady respect to the principles above drawn from the word of God; and that the subject may be less entangled, it may be proper to leave out of our consideration, for the present, all questions relating to rival supreme powers, as in the case of a usurpation, and those which respect the duty of subjects, when persecuted by their government on account of their religion.
Although government is enjoined by God, it appears to be left to men to judge in what FORM its purposes may, in certain circumstances, be most effectually accomplished. No direction is given on this subject in the Scriptures. The patriarchal or family governments of the most ancient times were founded upon nature; but when two or more families were joined under one head, either for mutual defence, or for aggression, the [government} was one of choice, or it resulted from a submission effected by conquest. Here in many cases, a compact might, and in some instances did, come in, though differing in principle from "the social compact" of theoretical writers; and this affords the only rational way of interpreting that real social compact which in some degree or other exists in all nations. In all cases where the patriarchal government was to be raised into a government common to many families, some considerable number of persons must have determined its form, and they would have the right to place it upon such fundamental principles as might seem best, provided that such principles did not interfere with the duties made obligatory by God upon every sovereign power, and with the obligations of the subject to be governed by justice in mercy, and to be controlled from injuring others. Equally clear would be the right of the community, either en masse, or by their natural heads or representatives, to agree upon a body of laws, which should be the standing and published expression of the will of the supreme power, that so the sovereign will on all main questions might not be subject to constant changes and the caprice of an individual; and to oblige the sovereign, as the condition of his office, to bind himself to observe these fundamental principles and laws of the state by solemn oath, which has been the practice among many nations, and especially those of the Gothic stock. It follows from hence, that while there is an ordination of God as to government, prior to the establishment of all governments, there is no ordination of a particular man or men to govern, nor any investment of families with hereditary right. There is no such ordination in Scripture, and we know that none takes place by particular revelation. God "setteth up one, and putteth down another," in virtue of his dominion over all things; but he does this through men themselves, as his controlled and often unconscious instruments. Hence, by St. Peter, in perfect consistency with St. Paul, the existing governments of the world are called "ordinances of men."-" Submit to every ordinance of man," or to every human creation or constitution, "for the Lord's sake, whether to the king as supreme," &c. Again, as the wisdom to govern with absolute truth and justice, is not to be presumed to dwell in one man, however virtuous, so, in this state of things, the better to secure a salutary administration, there would he a right to make provision for this also, by councils, senates, parliaments, Cortes, or similar institutions, vested with suitable powers, to forward, but not to obstruct, the exercise of good government. And accordingly, we can trace the rudiments of these institutions in the earliest stages' of most regular governments. These and similar arrangements, are left to human care, prudence, and patriotism; and they are in perfect accordance with the principles of sovereign right as laid down in Scripture.
It is not, however, in the forming of a new state, that any great difficulty in morals arises. It comes in when either old states, originally ill constituted, become inadapted to the purposes of good government in a new and altered condition of society, and the supreme power refuses to adapt itself to this new state of affairs; or when in states originally well constituted, encroachments upon the public liberties take place, and great misrule or neglect is chargeable upon the executive. The question in such cases is, whether resistance to the will of the supreme power is consistent with the subjects' duty?
To answer this, resistance must be divided into two kinds,-the resistance of opinion, and the resistance of force.
As to the first, the lawfulness, nay, even the duty of it must often be allowed; but under certain qualifying circumstances. As, 1. That this resistance of opposing and inculpating opinion is not directed against government, as such, however strict, provided it be just and impartial. 2. That it is not personal against the supreme magistrate himself, or his delegated authorities, but relates to public acts only. 3. That it springs not from mere theoretical preference of some new form of government to that actually existing, so that it has in it nothing practical. 4. That it proceeds not from a hasty, prejudiced, or malignant interpretation of the character, designs, and acts of a government. 5. That it is not factious; that is, not the result of attachment to parties, and of zeal to effect mere party objects, instead of the general good. 6. That it does not respect the interests of a few only, or of a part of the community, or the mere local interests of some places in opposition to the just interests of other places. Under such guards as these, the respectful, but firm expression of opinion, by speech, writing, petition, or remonstrance, is not only lawful, but is often an imperative duty, a duty for which' hazards even must be run by those who endeavour to lead up public opinion to place itself against real encroachments upon the fundamental' laws of a state, or any serious maladministration of its affairs. The same conclusion may be maintained under similar reserves, when the object is to improve a deficient and inadequate state of the supreme government. It is indeed especially requisite here, that the case should be a clear one; that it should be felt to be so by the great mass of those who with any propriety can be called the public; that it should not be urged beyond the necessity of the case; that the discussion of it should be temperate; that the change should be directly connected with an obvious public good, not otherwise to be accomplished. When these circumstances meet, there is manifestly no opposition to government as an ordinance of God; no blamable resistance "to the powers that be," since it is only proposed to place them in circumstances the more effectually to fulfil the duties of their office; nothing contrary, in fact, to the original compact, the object of which was the public benefit, by rendering its government as efficient to promote the good of the state as possible, and which therefore necessarily supposed a liability to future modilications, when the fairly collected public sentiment, through the organs by which it usually expresses itself as to the public weal, required it. The least equivocal time, however, for proposing any change in what might be regarded as fundamental or constitutional in a form of government originally ill settled, would be on the demise of the sovereign, when the new stipulations might be offered to his successor, and very lawfully be imposed upon him.
Resistance by force may be divided into two kinds. The first is that milder one which belongs to constitutional states, that is, to those in which the compact between the supreme power and the people has been drawn out into express articles, or is found in well understood and received principles and ancient customs, imposing checks upon the sovereign will, and surrounding with guards the public liberty. The application of this controlling power, which, in this country, is placed in a parliament, may have in it much of compulsion and force; as when parliament rejects measures proposed by the ministry, who are the organs of the will of the sovereign; or when it refuses the usual supplies for the army and navy, until grievances are redressed. The proper or improper use of this power depends on the circumstances; but when not employed factiously, nor under the influence of private feelings, nor in subservience to unjustifiable popular clamour, or to popular demagogues; but advisedly and patriotically, in order to maintain the laws and customs of the kingdom, there is in it no infringement of the laws of Scripture as to the subjects' obedience. A compact exists; these are the established means of enforcing it; and to them the sovereign has consented in his coronation oath.
The second kind is resistance by force of arms; and this at least must be established before its lawfulness, in any case, however extreme, can be proved, that it is so necessary to remedy some great public evil that milder means are totally inadequate,-a point which can very seldom be made out so clearly as to satisfy concientious men. One of three cases must be supposed: -either that the nation enjoys good institutions which it is enlightened enough to value: -or that public liberty and other civil blessings are in gradual progress; but that a part only of the people are interested in maintaining and advancing them, while a great body of ignorant, prejudiced, and corrupt persons are on the side of the supreme power, and ready to lend themselves as instruments of its misrule and despotism :-or, thirdly, that although the majority of the public are opposed to infringements on the constitution, yet the sovereign, in attempting to change the fundamental principles of his compact, employs his mercenary troops against his subjects, or is aided and abetted by some foreign influence or power.
In the first case we have supposed, it does not seem possible for unjust aggressions to be successful. The people are enlightened, and attached to their institutions; and a prompt resistance of public opinion to the very first attempt of the supreme power must, in that case, be excited, and will be sufficient to arrest the evil. Accordingly, we find no instance of such a people being bereft of their liberty by their rulers. The danger in that state of society often lies on the other side. For as there is a natural inclination in men in power to extend their authority, so in subjects there is a strong disposition to resist or evade it; and when the strength of public opinion is known in any country, there are never wanting persons, who, from vanity, faction, or interest, are ready to excite the passions, and to corrupt the feelings of the populace, and to render them suspicious and unruly; so that the difficulty which a true patriotism will often have to contend with, is, not to repress but to support a just authority. Licentiousness in the people has often, by a re-action, destroyed liberty, overthrowing the powers by which alone it is supported.
The second case supposes just opinions and feelings on the necessity of improving the civil institutions of a country to be in some progress; that the evils of bad government are not only beginning to be felt, but to be extensively reflected upon; and that the circumstances of a country are such that these considerations must force themselves upon the public mind, and advance the influence of public opinion in favour of beneficial changes. When this is the case, the existing evils must be gradually counteracted, and ultimately 'subdued by the natural operation of all these circumstances. But if little impression has been made upon the public mind, resistance would be hopeless, and, even if not condemned by a higher principle, impolitic. The elements of society are not capable of being formed into a better system, or, if formed into it, cannot sustain it, since no form of government, however good in theory, is reducible to beneficial practice, without a considerable degree of public intelligence and public virtue. Even where society is partially prepared for beneficial changes, they may be hurried on too rapidly, that is, before sufficient previous impression has been made upon the public mind and character, and then nothing but mischief could result from a contest of force with a bad government. The effect would be that the leaders of each party would appeal to an ignorant and bad populace, and the issue on either side would prove injurious to the advancement of civil improvement. If the despotic party should triumph, then, of course, all patriotism would be confounded with rebellion, and the efforts of moderate men to benefit their country be rendered for a long time hopeless. If the party seeking just reforms should triumph, they could only do so by the aid of those whose bad passions they had inflamed, as was the case in the French revolution; and then the result would be a violence which, it is true, overthrows one form of tyranny, but sets up another under which the best men perish. It cannot be doubted but that the sound public opinion in France, independent of all the theories in favour of republicanism which had been circulated among a people previously unprepared for political discussions, was sufficient to have effected, gradually, the most beneficial changes in its government; and that the violence which was excited by blind passions threw back the real liberties of that country for many years. The same effect followed the parliamentary war, excited in our own country in the reign of Charles the First. The resistance of arms was in neither case to be justified, and it led to the worst crimes. The extreme case of necessity was not made out in either instance; and the duty of subjects to their sovereigns was grossly violated.
The third case supposed appears to be the only one in which the renunciation of allegiance is clearly justifiable; because when the con. tract of a king with his people is not only violated obviously, repeatedly, and in opposition to petition and remonstrance, but a mercenary soldiery is employed against those whom he is bound to protect, and the fear of foreign force and compulsion is also suspended over them to compel the surrender of those rights which are accorded to them both by the laws of God, and the fundamental laws of the kingdom, the resistance of public feeling and sentiment, and that of the constitutional authorities, is no longer available; and such a sovereign does, in fact, lose his rights by a hostile denial of his duties, in opposition to his contract with his people. Such a case arose in this country at the revolution of 1688; it was one so clear and indubitable, as to carry with it the calm and deliberate sense of the vast majority of all ranks of society; and the whole was stamped with the character of a deliberate national act, not that of a faction. This resistance was doubtless justifiable. It involved no opposition to government as such, but was made for the purpose of serving the ends of good government, and the preservation of the very principles of the constitution. Nor did it imply any resistance to the existing power in any respect in which it was invested with any right, either by the laws of God, or those of the realm. It will, however, appear that here was a concurrence of circumstances which rendered the case one which can very rarely occur. It was not the act of a few individuals; nor of mere theorists in forms of government; nor was it the result of unfounded jealousy or alarm; nor was it the work of either the populace on the one hand, or of an aristocratic faction on the other; but of the people under their natural guides and leaders-the nobility and gentry of the land: nor were any private interests involved, the sole object being the public weal, and the maintenance of the laws. When such circumstances and principles meet, similar acts may be justified; but in no instance of an equivocal character.
The question of a subject's duty in case of the existence of rival supreme powers, is generally a very difficult one, at least for some time. When the question of right which lies between them divides a nation, he who follows his conscientious opinion as to this point is doubtless morally safe, and he ought to follow it at the expense of any inconvenience. But when a power is settled de facto in the possession of the government, although the right of its claim should remain questionable in the minds of any, there appears a limit beyond which no man can be fairly required to withhold his full allegiance. Where that limit lies it is difficult to say, and individual conscience must have considerable latitude; but perhaps the general rule ma be, that when continued resistance would be manifestly contrary to the general welfare of the whole, it is safe to conclude that He who chances the "powers that be" at his sovereign pleasure, has in his providence permitted or established a new order of things to which men are bound to conform.
Whether men are at liberty to resist their lawful princes when persecuted by them for conscience' sake, is a question which brings in additional considerations; because of that patience and meekness which Christ has enjoined upon his followers when they suffer for his religion. When persecution falls upon a portion only of the subjects of a country, it appears their clear duty to submit, rather than to engage in plots and conspiracies against the persecuting power; practices which never can consist with Christian moderation and truth. But when it should fall upon a people constituting a distinct state, though united politically with some other, as in the case of the Waldenses, then the persecution, if carried to the violation of liberty, life, and property, would involve the violation of political rights also, and so nullify the compact which has guaranteed protection to all innocent subjects. A national resistance on these grounds would, for the foregoing reasons, stand on a very different basis.
No questions of this kind can come before a Christian man, however, without placing him under the necessity of considering the obligation of many duties of a much clearer character than, in almost any case, the duty of resistance to the government under which he lives, can be. He is bound to avoid all intemperance and uncharitableness, and he is not, therefore, at liberty to become a factious man; lie is forbidden to indulge malignity, and is restrained therefore from revenge; he is taught to be distrustful of his own judgment, and must only admit that of the wise and good to be influential with him; he must therefore avoid all association with low and violent men, the rabble of a state, and their designing leaders; he is bound to submission to rulers in all cases where a superior duty cannot be fairly established; and he is warned of the danger of resistance "to the power," as bringing after it Divine "condemnation," wherever the case is not clear, and not fully within the principles of the word of God. So circumstanced, the allegiance of a Christian people is secured to all governors, and to all governments, except in very extreme cases which can very seldom arise in the judgment of any who respect the authority of the word of God; and thus this branch of Christian morality is established upon principles which at once uphold the majesty of [government,] and throw their shield ever the liberties of the people; principles which in the wisdom of God beautifully entwine [fidelity,] freedom, and peace.
 Montesquicu says, "It is false that killing in war is lawful, unless in a case of absolute necessity: but when a man has made another his slave, he cannot be said to have been under a necessity of taking away his life, since he actually did not take it away. War gives no other right over prisoners than to disable them from doing any farther harm, by securing their persons." and "if a prisoner of war is not to be reduced to slavery, much less are his children." This reason therefore, with others, assigned by the civilians in justification of slavery, he concludes is "falsy." (Spirit of Laws, book xv, chap. ii.)-AMERICAN EDITORS.
 The above paragraphs, under the last head, were obviously written with a view to states in which Christianity, as a system, is formally established by law and in which tine acts of the government are officially based on this principle.- AMERICAN EDITORS
 By the old Roman law, time father had the power of life and death, as to his children.