ページの画像
PDF
ePub

and the body are one person, but in death that union ceases. No past gifts of the soul can restore the body to life again. Far different was it with the Lord's body, which became life itself, and not a mere receptacle and instrument of life; that body had from the beginning a Divine capability which our bodies do not possess,the capability of receiving infinite power, not as separate from the Father who gave it, but as one with Him. Death had no prevailing power over that wondrous body; for even in the sepulchre He proved how true were those words of His : “I lay down my life that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me : but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again ” (John x. 17, 18).

The word " giventherefore does not imply that the Lord was a separate person from the Father, much less that He was an inferior person; for the gift of all Divine attributes from the Father to the Son, from Jehovah to the body of which He was the soul, so far from implying separation did but make their union more and more complete, until there was perfect oneness, and it could be truly said of the Redeemer : “ In Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. ii.). After that the very name of God was changed. No longer Jehovah, He is now the Lord, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord our Saviour and our King, who has "all power in heaven and in earth.”

If there should still be a lingering uneasiness on account of the word “given,” let me ask you one question : could God give to you "all power ”? Infinite power? The very thought of it would make you shudder, as at something surpassingly profane. You would feel at once that only a being of infinite capacity could receive the gift of infinite power, and in the heartfelt conviction of your own littleness every doubt must vanish, and you will say with me: “The Lord He is God, the Lord He is God,” ALONE.

HUMAN AUTHORITY, IN THE STATE, IN SOCIETY,

AND IN THE CHURCH.

(Continued from p. 63.) THERE are three classes amenable to state authority. The first class are subject to it and yet are above it. They are the best of citizens but they are so because the law of the Lord is their delight; and they would be equally good were state authority wholly suspended. They are not like the horse that needs to be guided by bit and bridle, but in their wildest moments their conduct falls within the circle of law.

The second class are men who walk by rule, and are helped by formulated regulations of good conduct. They were never in prison, but still the fact that prisons exist is a help to their integrity. They were never non-suited in a civil action, yet the fact that there are law courts, judges, and juries, that attest the majesty of statute enactments, has a salutary effect upon their general behaviour. They are average men, men needing aids, men who find finger-posts useful, and keep the road more easily by being warned that “trespassers will be prosecuted according to the utmost rigour of the law."

The third class are men who need actual restraint. They are naturally of a lawless disposition; they have, in many cases, been trained to defy law, and they are only made good citizens by the most vigilant supervision. They are indeed never to be trusted by themselves ; they are weak and erring by nature, and yield to temptation on the smallest provocation. Outward authority is the first essential of their life; the limit of their wickedness being certain detection and punishment.

For the laws that we consider good most men have a true reverence, and to them they find it an asy matter to conform.

This point we may pass over without further remark. But it not unfrequently happens that laws are considered bad ; they are believed to act injuriously upon society, and to be a grievance. And then the questions come, What is our duty ? Ought we to conform to what we consider bad laws ? Shall we submit, or shall we assume a defiant attitude and rebel? Probably every one finds some law opposed to his way of thinking. And to religious men the questions are, What ought we to do? Ought we to keep such law, or ought we to break it?

Probably these questions will provoke a smile with some readers, because they surely smack of treason. It is well no doubt to scout such questions as soon as possible, and happily most of us are prompt in this decision. Either for the sake of their own interests, or from the higher perception that submission is the duty of an orderly and good citizen, men either conform even to bad laws, or emigrate.

It is delightful to see the tenacity with which the disaffected cling to the soil of Old England. The Permissive advocate, or Maine Law enthusiast, may grumble at England's want of sympathy with the righteous cause of temperance; but he sticks to his old arm-chair in

66

the drunkenest country on earth; he does not rashly break any of the statute laws out of revenge, he does not become an outsider" in his native land, from pique forfeit his citizenship, or rush off to that elysium of water-drinkers in the state of Maine. He may try to make converts to bis way of thinking, circulate temperance literature, train up his own children to hate the accursed liquor, and regulate his own household on purely temperance principles, but he does not cease paying the Queen's taxes till his ideas on temperance have become law. That would be impolitic, it would be rebellion—the sin of witchcraft -it would be sure to make him a martyr, but as the age of martyrdom and the belief in martyrdom are both dead, he finds submission the next best virtue, and he wisely submits.

Now many people regard temperance as a vital subject; they think that our drink laws are a disgrace to our Christianity, and a blot upon the name of England, and very properly too ; indeed some go so far as to say, that temperance is now saving more souls than the Christian religion. Temperance is no mere fancy with them, but a root love of their life. But although they cannot induce or force Government to change the liquor laws according to their own framing, they remain loyal citizens, they support the Government that makes what they call bad laws, and wait and work till their wishes can be made law in an orderly manner.

If no higher motive self-interest makes men magnanimous; only the fool injures himself to spite himself. Conformity to law gives what the natural man prides himself in above all things-strength, worldly gain, success, protection from enemies, and a host of minor advantages ever dear to his heart. Rebellion-except in the rarest and most exceptional cases-never pays, and with a grace worthy the noblest self-sacrifice, the disaffected to state authority bow to its decrees, because to rebel does not pay.

This motive to obedience, however, operates with the lowest only. The thoughtful are actuated by considerations of a much higher order. The lowest men obey to serve themselves; the spiritual man obeys to serve all; because the laws are a necessity of human society, and the first essential of order, progress, and universal good. With him, obedience is not a matter of vulgar expediency, but of duty to God, and the sine qua non of doing the greatest good to the greatest possible number.

Only those who are either notoriously wicked, or suffer from the morbid love of notoriety and martyrdom, condescend to wilfully defy statute law. Though law may be radically unjust, or have an immoral tendency, as our liquor laws are accounted, yet for our own sake, if from no higher motive, we submit to authority in high places as the first duty of citizenship. Were we to cease paying taxes because we considered certain laws unjust, or morally hurtful, we should merit the scorn and contempt even of our own children, and win the unenviable renown of one either ignorant of or wilfully rebellious to the primary conditions of our national weal. It matters not what the laws are which we hold in disesteem-conspiracy laws, adulteration laws, tariff laws, laws of libel, or laws of a religious or a semi-religious character, as the burial laws, marriage laws, or those regulating public worship,—we can never break them knowingly without a sense of guilt, and not even evade them without some degree of odium. It

may be true that a coach and four may be driven through any Act of Parliament, but even if the feat be successfully accomplished it never redounds to the man's credit who thụs manages to dodge the law.

The voice of the majority is usually, at least for the time being, accounted as sacred as if God spoke ; obedience to human authority is acknowledged to be a necessity of order, the source of strength, freedom, and earthly prosperity, and if from nothing higher than personal gain, we all-excepting the foolish and wicked—consider obedience to it our

first duty.

To the illustration of the Permissive Bill advocate, I will add another, because our liquor laws are merely prohibitive, and while they forbid the sale of liquors during certain hours, yet they leave men free to purchase them or not during the hours of sale. But now take an affirmative law that is binding alike upon

all. Take the currency. Some people think our currency is based upon a wrong principle. They think it ought to be on the decimal system, and others think that private citizens ought to be allowed to coin their own money. Still the law is imperative; no man is allowed to use any other coin than that issued by Government. Every man is called upon to conformi to law whatever may be his opinions; the law is affirmative, and it does not leave the objector free to use money of any other kind. He must either use the ordinary currency or none at all. But in this and all other cases in which laws are affirmative, conformity is nearly universal, regardless of opinion, except in the few cases of criminal rebellion. The motive is not now the question, conformity is given. The motive may be low and selfish, or it may rise to the dignity of spiritual charity. In any case conformity is better than

the same.

rebellion, and men of all classes, except criminals, attest their belief in

I therefore conclude that conformity even to bad laws is a Christian duty.

For rebellion to the authority of any representative government there is little good to be affirmed. There are instances in which rebellion is just, but as a rule it is most criminal. As Goethe said of the French Revolution, “ The rulers were destroyed, but who was there to protect the many against the many? The mob became the tyrant.” Generally speaking, rebellion is not merely a violation of order, but it defeats the object of those who choose to set the law at defiance. This truth is too often overlooked, and pettishly set at nought; yet it applies to every relation of life. He who sets the fashion of making his own caprices or settled conviction superior to established law and order, must of necessity extend the same privilege to every one else ; he has no right to expect or to exact from others what he refuses to give. If every one chose the same licence, and became a law unto himself, the end is not far to seek. The object of the chief rebel would be frustrated. To succeed in gaining an object by disobedience to law, the chief malcontent must discipline and marshal his forces ; he must impose law upon his followers, order must prevail in his rebel ranks, or otherwise he is powerless. Pirates, freebooters, brigands, and robbers, have laws even more stringent than those which they defy. But if every one chose to defy law, mankind would be so many units without coherence ; there would be boundless anarchy, unimaginable confusion, endless strife, and utter ruin to every possible enterprise and hope. The fable of the belly and its members, would be repeated ; disorder would defeat itself, and bring ruin to those by whom it was created. If laws are radically bad they will in the end defeat themselves. This is proved by the fact, that many laws now on the statute-books have become obsolete. There is a law now extant, if any one chose to enforce it, compelling all men to attend church once every fourteen days. It is radically wrong, and therefore it has fallen into disuse. At the same time, if we think laws are unrighteous we are not to suffer under them without murmur, nor endure their injustice without seeking redress. But for rebellion there is no justification, except in cases where the great majority are against prevailing law, and rise in a body under chosen leaders to demand a new regime. The voice of the great majority may in some cases justify rebellion, and by this rule we may justify the English Commonwealth, the Reformation, and the American Revolution.

« 前へ次へ »