observe.? The theory that law originates in arbitrary will results in an effeminate type of piety, just as the theory that legislation has for its sole end the greatest happiness results in all manner of compromises of justice. Jones, Robert Browning, 43 ? ?He who cheats his neighbor believes in tortuosity, and, as Carlyle says, has the supreme Quack for his god.?
(b) Not temporary, or ordained simply to meet an exigency. The law is a manifestation, not of temporary moods or desires, but of the essential nature of God.
The great speech of Sophocles? Antigone gives us this conception of law: ?The ordinances of the gods are unwritten, but sure. Not one of them is for today or for yesterday alone, but they live forever.? Moses might break the tables of stone upon which the law was inscribed, and Jehoiakim might cut up the scroll and cast it into the fire( <023219>Exodus 32:19; Jeremiah36:23), but the law remained eternal as before in the nature of God and in the constitution of man. Prof. Walter Rauschenbusch: ?The moral laws are just as stable as the law of gravitation. Every fuzzy human chicken that is hatched into the world tries to fool with those laws. Some grow wiser in the process and some do not. We talk about breaking God?s laws. But after those laws have been broken several billion times since Adam first tried to play with them, those laws are still intact and no seam or fracture is visible in them ? not even a scratch on the enamel. But the lawbreakers ? that is another story. If you want to find their fragments, go to the ruins of Egypt, of Babylon and of Jerusalem. Study statistics, read faces, keep your eyes open, visit Blackwell?s Island. Walk through the graveyard and read the invisible inscriptions left by the Angel of Judgment, for instance: ?Here lie the fragments of John Smith, when he contradicted his Maker, played football with the ten commandments and departed this life at the age of thirty-five. His mother and wife weep for him. Nobody else does. May he rest in peace!?
(c) Not merely negative, or a law of mere prohibition since positive conformity to God is the inmost requisition of law.
The negative form of the commandments in the Decalogue merely takes for granted the evil inclination in men?s hearts and practically opposes its gratification. In the case of each commandment a whole province of the moral life is taken into the account, although the act expressly forbidden is the acme of evil in that one province. So the Decalogue makes itself intelligible; it crosses man?s path just where he most feels inclined to wander. But back of the negative and specific expression do each case lies the whole mass of moral requirement; the thin edge of the wedge has the
<- Previous Table of Contents Next ->
Was this article helpful?