Skeletons of a Course of
By Charles G. Finney
Moral Government.--No. 11.
Sanctions Of Law.
First. What constitutes the Sanctions of Law.
1. The Sanctions of Law are the motives to obedience, that which is to be the natural and the governmental consequence, or result of obedience.
2. They are remuneratory, i.e. they reward obedience.
3. They are vindicatory, i.e. they indict punishment upon the disobedient.
4. They are natural, i.e.
(1.) All moral law is that rule of action which is in exact accordance with the nature and relations of moral beings.
(2.) Happiness is naturally connected with, and the necessary consequence of obedience to moral law.
(3.) Misery is naturally and necessarily connected with and results from disobedience to moral law, or from acting contrary to the nature and relations of moral beings.
5. Sanctions are governmental. By governmental sanctions are intended,
(1.) The favour of the government as due to obedience.
(2.) A positive reward bestowed upon the obedient by government.
(3.) The displeasure of government towards the disobedient.
(4.) Direct punishment inflicted by the government as due to disobedience.
6. All the happiness and misery resulting from obedience or disobedience, either natural or from the favour or frown of government, are to be regarded as constituting the sanctions of law.
Second. There can be no Law without Sanctions.
1. It has been said in a former lecture that precept without Sanction is only counsel or advice, and no law.
2. Nothing is law, but that rule of action which is founded in the nature and relations of moral beings. It is therefore absurd to say, that there should be no natural sanctions to this rule of action. It is the same absurdity as to say, that conformity with the laws of our being would not produce happiness, and that non conformity to the laws of our being would not produce misery which is a contradiction, for what do we mean by acting in conformity to the laws of our being, but that course of conduct in which all the powers of our being will sweetly harmonize, and produce happiness. And what do we mean by non conformity to the laws of our being, but that course of action that creates mutiny among our powers themselves, that produces discord instead of harmony, misery instead of happiness.
3. A precept, to have the nature and the force of law, must be founded in reason, i.e., it must have some reason for its existence. And it were unjust to hold out no motives to obedience where a law is founded in a necessity of our nature.
4. But whatever is unjust is no law. Therefore a precept without a sanction is not law.
5. Necessity is the foundation of all government. There would be and could be no just government, but for the necessities of the universe. But these necessities cannot be met, the great end of government cannot be secured without motives or sanctions. Therefore that is no government, no law, that has no sanctions.
Third. In what light Sanctions are to be regarded.
1. Sanctions are to be regarded as an expression of the benevolent regard of the law-giver to his subjects: the motives which he exhibits to induce in the subjects the course of conduct that will secure their highest well being.
2. They are to be regarded as an expression of his estimation of the justice, necessity, and value of the precept.
3. They are to be regarded as an expression of the amount or strength of his desire to secure the happiness of his subjects.
4. They are to be regarded as an expression of his opinion in respect to the desert of disobedience.
5. The natural sanctions are to be regarded as a demonstration of the justice, necessity, and perfection of the precept.
Fourth. The end to be secured by Law, and the execution of penal Sanctions.
1. The ultimate end of all government is happiness.
2. This is the ultimate end of the precept and Sanction of Law.
3. Happiness can be secured only by the prevention of sin and the promotion of holiness.
4. Confidence in the government is the sine qua non of all virtue.
5. Confidence results from a revelation of the lawgiver to his subjects. Confidence in God results from a revelation of himself to his creatures.
6. The moral law, in its precepts and sanctions, is a revelation of God.
7. The execution of penal sanctions, is also a revelation of the mind, will, and character of the lawgiver.
8. The highest and most influential sanctions of government are those measures that most fully reveal the true character of God.
Fifth. The rule for graduating the Sanctions of Law.
1. God has laid the foundations of the natural sanctions of Law, deep in the constitution of moral beings.
2. Therefore the natural Sanctions of law will always and necessarily be proportioned to the perfection of obedience and disobedience.
3. Governmental sanctions should always be graduated by the importance of the precept.
4. Moral law is a unit. Every sin is a violation of the eternal law of love, and its reward should be equal to the value of the precept.
5. Under moral government there can be no small sin, as every sin is a breach of the whole and only law of benevolence, i.e. it is a violation of the principle which constitutes the law of God.
6. The Sanction of moral law should therefore in every case, be equal to the value of the eternal and unalterable law of benevolence, or as near its value as the nature of the case will admit