« EdellinenJatka »
But there is no human society, which subsists in such a state of anarchy. Therefore, there are other principles than those of violence and outrage, which operate in the human mind to prevent it.
For, what else should restrain the multitude of evil-doers, from rising against the good, and supporting the law of vice and the dominion of violence? It is certain that physical power would be in their hands to effect these objects, if some moral checks did not prevent them.
Surely, these checks are, the natural feelings of the heart coëval with the first impressions of right and wrong, the reverence of law and justice, the natural sense of religion, and the consciousness that all the better feelings of mankind, as well as their own secret convictions, would be in array against them, if they should be profligate enough to make the attempt.
It is not the fear of those punishments which are inflicted by the law, as was observed by Cicero, that alone restrains the violent. If this were the only feeling, violence would soon be triumphant over law.
Law maintains its ascendency, because it is founded in justice; and justice is formidable to the wicked, because it is an institution of the Deity, from the force and sensible obligation of which no man can free his mind, except by a series of gradations in vice, and by reiterated acts of disobedience.
The Almighty, therefore, has himself appointed the checks, which, we may presume, will for ever prevent the universal dominion of vice over virtue.
As to the argument for self-defence then, little, upon the Christian scheme, can be said in its support. For, even if we surrender the principle of good-will, which ought to bind every disciple of a benevolent Lord, the Christian Religion requires that all its followers should have their daily supplies from the Captain of their Salvation; and that in all their wants they should derive their sufficiency from Him alone,—in all their perils should seek his aid, in all their afflictions, his spiritual consolation. It can scarcely be necessary to say, that the strength of the true Christian is the ability with which he may be endowed by his Divine Master, either to think, to speak, or to act. He has no independent existence. In Him he lives and moves and has his being. He has no might of
his own certainly none that will ever avail him, to encounter the
powers of darkness, which are his only enemies, with effect.
PLEA OF JUSTICE.
Justice is either relative or absolute. According to the diversity of human laws, every community may have its peculiar notions of justice- and this is relative; there is, notwithstanding, a principle of justice, which is fixed on an immutable foundation, and applies to an unerring standard. Every act of aggression on life or property implies injustice; and as injustice ought to be punished, it must be lawful to prevent it, so far as man is clearly commissioned with authority to do so from his Maker. The Greeks, while they differed among themselves, had notions of justice differing in some respects from those of the Romans. Both, like the Persians, Indians, and Chinese, formed their systems of jurisprudence from the light of nature. Wrong, and outrage, therefore, have been restrained and punished, according to the notions of natural justice in different countries, unenlightened by divine laws. Now, the divine laws from which justice has emanated, have been varied, for wise purposes, in different ages and dispensations to man, as it has pleased the divine Author to promulgate either a Law of Fear, or a Law of Love.— And the institutions of Christianity, being founded on the latter law, are more merciful than the institutions of Moses, who was commissioned with the former. Therefore the law of love should be fundamentally "part and parcel of the laws" and institutions of every Christian government. If these laws of Christianity are not in themselves adequate to the support and order of Christian states, then Christ came into the world to propose a system of rules inapplicable to human society. But the latter supposition cannot for a moment be entertained, and therefore we must reject the former, and conclude, that the merciful institutions of Christianity are in themselves abundantly adequate to the support and order of Christian states. In ali that concerned inward purity of heart, and every avenue that might lead to defilement, a stricter discipline was imposed upon the Christian than upon the Jew; but in all that concerned the use of outward forms and ceremonies, the Christian was released from a heavy yoke
which was laid upon the Jew. So, then, the harsher code of the Jew has been superseded by the milder code of the Christian. Now, as for the most part, it was the law of retaliation which measured judgment to the Hebrew transgressor, and justice to him that was injured; so it is, for the most part, the law of mercy which is appointed to administer justice between Christians. Beyond this, every act of undue severity, either of individuals or of society, against offenders, is a violation of the precepts of Christianity, and, so far an act of injustice, and of rebellion against its merciful government; whatever excuses may be made as of expediency and necessity, on the score of civil order. When the professed upholders of Christian law wilfully transgress its precepts, on the presumption that these are too weak to bind the lawless, they themselves give to the world a most pernicious example of practical unbelief. And their example is not lost; for infidelity openly points at the inconsistency, and rails at these benign institutions for their supposed inefficacy, which the Christian senator has not the courage to act upon and to enforce, though he is ready to boast of their supreme authority.
Christ, the Divine Lawgiver, was not merely satisfied to have the conduct exempt from the guilt of any gross immorality; he required the heart also to be free from stain. Hence he constrasted those capital offences, that were already denounced in the Jewish code, with the first buddings of unlawful desire, from which they sprung; and therefore struck at the root, by forbidding even the least appearance of evil in the heart itself to be encouraged. The Jewish law commanded: Thou shalt not kill.—The Christian: Thou shalt not even be angry with thy brother. The Jewish law says: Thou shalt not commit adultery.—The Christian: Thou shalt not be guilty in this respect even so far as thought or desire. The Jewish law adjudges, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth."-The Christian enjoins, that men shall not resist evil, either when wronged in person or property; i. e. smitten on the cheek or despoiled of a garment. The Jewish law commands: Thou shalt not fors wear thyself.-The Christian : Swear not at all; but let your affirmation and negation be yea and nay. And lastly, the Jewish law permitted men to hate their enemies - those who were the enemies of God and Righteousness. But the Christian says, in the spirit of Peace: "Love your enemies,"adding, "for if ye love them that love you, what reward
have ye ?" For, Christians should be in spirit bounteous and merciful to the whole human family, like the Father of all, "who sends his rain on the just as well as on the unjust.”
Now, it is certain that, at the same time, and in the same precepts, in which Christ laid down for his followers a stricter path to walk in than Moses had appointed for the Jews, he relaxed the severity of penal ordinances: for, while he omitted nothing which might lead the obedient disciples onward to perfection, he was silent upon every thing that might seem to warrant the exercise of severity against sinners; because his office was not to punish sin in the repentant sinner, but to take it wholly away; and even when the woman convicted of a capital offence was brought before him for judgment, he gave a memorable lesson to modern legislators; Let him that is without sin cast the first stone. If, therefore, we may take our notions of justice from the spirit of Christ's precepts, it has nothing vindictive in its character: vengeance belongs only to "the Judge of quick and dead."
Hence, if Christian justice be the rule and guide of human councils and it ought to be so, for every follower of Christ should obey his precepts and cultivate the same spirit-it can give no sanction to war and contention, or to any sort of penal retribution from man, except that which leads to the correction of vice and to repentance. Christian justice, being in itself complete, and the very perfection of moral administration in the world, is in all respects identified with, and cannot be separated from, Divine justice. There is no human being, nor any assemblage of human beings, professing Christianity, who, by law or ordinance, can justly authorise an act which is not founded on the principles of Christian justice. These principles, being merciful, must be obeyed, if men would look for mercy from their Maker, however hard the necessity of the case may seem to those who are injured.
Now, unless the rulers of Christian states can prove themselves to be duly commissioned with a special mandate of the Almighty, to execute his sovereign will against transgressors, by some violent penal chastisement, they cannot consistently plead that they have the sanction of Christian justice. For, if they acknowledge that they do not act under this influence and with this divine authority, any other justice, to which they may appeal and lay claim, whether
Jewish or heathen, will neither recommend the tribunal by which it is administered, in the sight of men, as a Christian tribunal, nor will it call down the divine blessing, which was pronounced by the Saviour of the world upon the merciful.
We have an example of Christian jurisprudence in practical operation, in the early history of Pennsylvania: and it appears that the constable's staff was found to be sufficient, both to command the respect of the people, and to enforce the execution of the criminal laws, without sword or musket.
This argument, therefore, gives no countenance to the idea, that all good men may not lawfully co-operate to preserve peace and order, and to restrain the violent, as they would restrain those who are devoid of reason. Bu it insists on the condition, that, in so doing, they carry with them neither the temper nor the instruments of violence. There is not in the universe a greater coward than the man, who is guilty of some flagitious crime, and sees the indignation of the good on all sides roused against him :-"The wicked fleeth when no man pursueth." And there is not, on the contrary, any one more truly bold than the good man, who goes forth unarmed, confiding in God and his integrity, against the weapons of the cruel;" The righteous is bold as a lion."
PLEA OF NECESSITY.
The word necessity, when applied to the moral conduct of free agents, implies nothing more than duty, and in the case of War, it involves two considerations: First, the duty of preserving our existence; and secondly, obedience to moral or divine requisition.
It is plain, that in all cases in which these duties may seem to interfere, the former must yield to the latter. For, under the Christian dispensation, the promise or assurance of immortal felicity to all who obey the divine commands, cuts off the justification that would lean upon self-preservation as a paramount duty; and by making temporal concerns of little account in the scale, whether they be possessions, privileges, rights, or the endearments of kindred, it enhances the value of the eternal, and therefore exacts unconditional