Skeletons of a Course of
By Charles G. Finney
Moral Government.--No. 5.
First. What law is.
Law is a rule of action, and in its most extensive sense, it is applicable to all actions, whether of matter or mind.
Second. Define Moral Law.
1. Moral law is a rule of moral action.
2. It is the law of motive, and not of force.
3. Moral law is a rule, to which moral beings are under obligation to conform all their actions.
4. Moral law is the law of nature; that is--it is that rule of action that is founded in the nature and relations of moral beings.
5. It is that rule which, under the same circumstances, would be equally binding on all moral beings. Its essential elements are --
(1.) A declaratory, but authoritative precept, as distinguished
from counsel or compact.
(2.) The precept should forbid all that is naturally wrong, or in any degree inconsistent with the nature, relations and highest happiness of moral beings.
(3.) It should define and require all that is according to the nature, and relations, and essential to the highest happiness of moral beings.
(4.) Another essential element of law is, requisite sanctions. Sanctions are the motives to obedience. They should be remuneratory and vindicatory.
(5.) Moral law naturally and necessarily connects happiness with obedience, and misery with disobedience; and thus far the sanctions of moral law belong to its own nature. But --
(6.) In addition to this, there should be superadded, to obedience, the favour of the ruler, and to disobedience his displeasure.
(7.) The sanctions should be equivalent to the value of the precept.
(8.) Prescription, or publication, is essential to the binding obligation of law.
Third. Law is a unit.
1. The nature of moral agents is one.
2. The laws of their being are precisely similar.
3. That which will secure the highest good of one, will secure the highest good of all.
4. Perfect conformity of heart and life to the nature and relations of moral beings, will promote the highest good of all.
5. This course of conduct is universally obligatory.
6. It is, therefore, universal law.
7. It is and must be the only law.
8. It is the common law of the universe.
9 No enactment or statute of God or man, is morally obligatory, only as it is declaratory, and an application of this only law.
Fourth. No being can make law.
1. God's existence and nature are necessary.
2. Moral law is that course of action which is in conformity with the laws of his being.
3. It is, therefore, obligatory upon him.
4. God could make moral agents, but not moral law; for when they exist, this rule is law to them, and would be, whether God willed it or not.
5. Law is that course of action demanded by the nature and relations of moral beings. Therefore --
Fifth. Neither the will of God, nor of any other being, can make law, or be obligatory any farther than it is declaratory of what the law of nature is.
1. The true idea of government is that kind and degree of control, the object and tendency of which is, to promote the highest good.
2. The rule, conformity to which is essential to the promotion of the highest good, is founded in the nature, and relations, and circumstances of all the parties concerned, entirely independent of the will of any being.
3. The business of the ruler, is to declare and enforce this rule.
4. Thus far his will is obligatory, and no farther.
5. All legislation, human or divine, not declaratory of and in accordance with the law of nature, or with the nature and relations of moral beings, would be utterly null and void.
6. All positive legislation, except that which is declaratory of natural law is arbitrary and tyrannical, and therefore nugatory