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injuries from the greatest even to the least. They would abolish all hasty, heady quarrels, reconcile all cherished grudges and projected retaliations, and convert all arbitrations of differences and suits at law into a cool, quiet examination of the right and just, thus making all questions subservient to the ends of peace and good order. In the third place, comes the intercourse between man and woman, where, as before, his rule is to oppose the mischief in the beginning. An impure word, an unchaste look, a lustful desire, he makes of equal die with adultery complete ; and he honours marriage as the holy threshold and sacred temple of these affections, which being once joined, is not, save on one account, to be dissolved, without incurring the guilt of infidelity in its most atrocious form. All antecedent life he covers with a robe of vestal purity-all subsequent he binds in a chain of duty dissolvable by nothing but one crime. After these laws upon injury and chastity, come truthfulness and sincerity in our speech; concerning which men are wont to make a distinction, sometimes vowing with a vow, and confirming with an oath, sometimes not. Perceiving that the effect of this distinction was to cast into a secondary place the ordinary every-day intercourse of speech, upon which mainly dependeth the good condition of life, he abrogates it altogether, and appoints that the simplest form of assent and denial-yea and nay-should be strong and binding as the most solemn imprecation.
Having thus restrained insincerity and indecency and injustice, in the very germ, he goes on to legislate for the unexpressed, unsignified movements of the inward man, which all former
. lawgivers had thought to be beside their office. Hatred and malevolence he prohibits in the very last condi. tion of misery to which we can be reduced by the malice of others; for a curse ordering a blessing in return; for contempt, tenderness; for persecution, well-doing, according to the pattern of God, who showers his blessings upon the evil no less than upon the good. Ostentation and vanity, whether in our religious duties or in our natural gifts, he prohibits ; and enjoins the last degree of secrecy in prayer, almsgiving, fasting, and other such avocations. Avarice, or the spirit of accumulation, he denounces as the service of mammon, who is the antagonist of God; anticipation and foresight he guards us against, lest they should destroy a due respect unto the providence of God, which feeds the raven and clothes the lilies of the field. Busying ourselves with the affairs of our neighbours, or scanning a brother's failings, he
sets down as the sign of greater failings in ourselves, which he commands us to redress ; giving, as the sum of all, this golden rule, That whatsoever
we would that men should do unto us, we should do unto them.
Then, to confirm and sanction all the preceding laws, and others in the same strain, he allows of no religion, no worship, which hath not these practices and these sentiments within its bosom. One nourishing a grudge against any brother, he prohibits from depositing a gift upon the altar of God; one disobeying his commandments in the least iota, and teaching men to do so, he accounts least in the kingdom of heaven; one who heareth them and doeth them not, confiding withal in the future approbation of God, he likens to a man building his house upon sand, which fell in the hour of need, and carried him away in its ruins.
These laws differ from all others, not only in the originality of their principles, and in the altitude to which these principles arise, and in the pervading extent to which they go, but in this, above all, that, not resting the offence in the degree but in the spirit, they establish it not by evidence of fact, but by evidence of conscience anterior to fact. It is in the state of passionateness in the soul, not the thousand passionate acts; it is in the state of vindictiveness in the soul, not the thousand vindictive acts ; it is in the state of wantonness in the soul, not the thousand impure acts ; it is in the state of insincerity in the soul, not the thousand breaches of covenant ;-in these first conceptions of evil, which are, as it were, each the root of a wide-branching tree, the lawgiver of Christians find the criminality to exist. As if the mind were a soil into which, if these seeds be ad. mitted, they must necessarily grow and bear fruit and propagate
their kind to an indefinite extent. Seeing then that into the secret place of the heart nothing penetrates but conscience and the eye of God; these two alone can arbitrate the matter. Evidence, therefore, on which all conviction in human institutions ought alone to proceed, is here clean out of the question. The crime is perpetrated long ere it proclaims itself to the perception of the nicest judge. The law is addressed to the spirit of man, from which nothing is hid of its own designs or transactions, of which designs and transactions not the thousandth part do see the light. So that Christ's laws, though a thousand times less numerous, apply to a thousand times more cases than the laws of man.
But a jurisconsult would object to this as their greatest possible imperfection. He would say at once, To what serveth this their saintly purity, if so be that you cannot discern the offence, or bring up the offender to the bar, or if you had him there, could bring nothing home, unless a window should be opened into his breast to reveal the lights and shadows of his mind, or birds of the air should come and testify to his. secret works? What availeth this canopy of perfection, extended so far above the head of all performance as hardly in any point to approximate it? Why confound the thought or even the design with the completed act? Why drive men distracted with the crimination of what they daily and hourly commit? These your Christian laws are, in truth, properly speaking, no laws, but the abstract sentiment and disembodied spirit of law, the justice and the purity, upon the steadiness of which law steers its course, but which, like the two poles of the earth, are for ever defended against all approach. They cannot be applied by any judge, they cannot be watched over by any police, or executed by any human power. Evidence cannot be had, conviction cannot be brought home, and therefore no issue can follow. You might set up a court of conscience, but courts of conscience have uniformly become courts of injustice and oppression.
Now as these peculiarities, by which the Christian is essentially distinguished from every other code, do manifest that it was not meant for being adopted into the courts of men ; it becomes necessary to examine what is its use, seeing it cannot be enforced, where its proper field of operation lies, and how it bears upon those institutions which hold som ciety together. From this inquiry it will appear, that its appeal to conscience, and its sublime purity, are the two very qualities by which it is fitted to gain ascendancy and awaken enthusiasm in the heart, to become the parent of moral feeling, and of good character in the individual, and in the general to patronize enlightened obedience to every wise social institution. In order to exhibit this justification and praise, it becomes necessary to enter a little into the nature of statute law, that by discovering its limited operation, we may perceive the necessity of the Christian institution to do for our well-being that office to which no written executed law of man hath any pretence.
Human laws, judged of and executed by man, have in them properly no moral sanction whatever, as has been well shown by the shrewdest jurisconsult, yet perhaps most limited philosopher, of the day.* They make no appeal to conscience, but to fact. Properly speaking, they never find the
* Mr. Bentham.
verdict of innocent, but not proven, and when they find a verdict of guilty, it may or may not, as it happens, be a guilty act in the eye of conscience and of God." They aim at Dothing but the advancement of the common weal; all the hold, which they have any right to take of their subjects, is by their private weal, which they can amerce or advantage ; and all the guardianship they can have over them is. but as far as the eye of their officers can discern actions, their ear hear words and their shrewdness infer actions from circumstantial evidence. A man may be clear before God, whom nevertheless law hath sentenced to the utmost ignominy and loss; of which all martyrs for religion's sake, all sufferers for conscience sake, are examples. But while we confine the observation of law to outward uttered acts, and its power to physical deprivations, we do not deny, that it so happens in all well regulated states, both that immorality is present, and ignominy
follows the breach of law in the generality of cases. But this is an accidental not a necessary connection. It arises from the connection there is between moral purity and the common weal, between right conduct and real advantage, which connection the jurisconsult alluded to above, hath made the basis of all positive law ; where he is right ; and he hath also made it the basis of all intercourse between man and man, and of all judgments which the mind passes upon itself, in which he is not only wrong in making the effect stand before the cause, but by which he would overthrow, through the corruption of the individual, that very common-weal, which through the body corporate his works are so well fitted to sustain.
Seeing then that the laws of the state do reach no farther than to observed acts, and do not necessarily bring self-accusation in their train, (which might also be shown of the laws of the family, of friendship, of social intercourse, and of every other responsibility of which the eye of man is the guardian,) we ask, Where is the instrument for keeping in check the evil parts of human nature within the breast, which, after a period of hidden incubation there, hatch plots and perpetrations ? Where is the instrument for guiding a man to the good and ill of affection, of desire, of ambition, of knowledge, of temper; which verily are the masters over the tongue that speaks, and the hand that performs ? Where is the reward for good conduct, the punishment for evil conduct, in the little republic within the breast? There are no such provisions in any of the institutions over which the king and the judge preside ; for, long ere human nature comes under their cognizance, while we are scions growing around our parents, not yet come under the cognizance of those in. specting eyes which range abroad to distinguish the good from the evil, even already is the texture of the future man weaving—the weaknesses, the diseases of the spirit engendering
its strength, its beauty and its fruitfulness, becoming inplanted. If education mean any thing, it is to train a man for fulfilling the condition of child, friend, parent, spouse, master, servant and citizen. Now, I ask, how is that education to proceed? Are we to bring, lumbering into the school, the statutes at large, those musty volumes which no living wight did ever master? There must be something more manageable, something that can speak to intellect as it grows, that can touch feeling, that can curb passion, that can minister a present reward to benevolence, to piety and tenderness of heart. Would that jurisconsult, to whom we have alluded, begin at that time to use calculations of ultimate utility to one whose hopes and fears do not range much further than to-morrow or the present day?
Now the christian code sketched above is suited to this case precisely. It addresses itself to states of feeling, and directs the mind inward to observe them. It points the conscience to them the moment they rise, and therefore suits with earliest life, which cares for little but the present. It makes us familiar with the fountains of evil within, whence issue the great streams of wickedness. It is a grammar of conduct; the ideal of perfection; which being contemplated from the earliest age, will bring one familiar with the knowledge of good and ill in every relation of human life ; and, if practised from earliest age, will induce an indelible approbation of the one and disapprobation of the other. Whereas if, without such discipline and such application of the great maxims of purity and justice, you allow youth to grow at random, it will turn out as difficult to bring it under the regulation of the positive laws of society, as it would be to introduce at once into the equestrian's exercise of the circus, the wild horse of the Arabian desert, which snuffeth up the east wind in the pride of its boundless freedom.
Next, as to their sublime and inaccessible reach of virtue, I hold this to be one of the chief points in which the adaptation of the divine laws to human nature is revealed. Yes, paradoxical as it may seem, their application to human nature is in nothing more revealed than in their celestial and ideal perfection. For it is the nature of man, especially of youth, which determineth the cast of future manhood, to