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education as will give them a fair opportunity for a useful and happy life, can be protected only by competent and coöperative action through government. Both causes have contributed to our growing realization of the truth that a selfgoverning community is something very different from a community of self-governing individuals.
Many in our times look with apprehension upon this rapid extension of the function and powers of government. We are departing, they say, from the traditions of our fathers; and they are right. We are compelled to depart from the traditions of our fathers. They traveled in stagecoaches, we travel in Pullman cars; they communicated by mail, we increasingly communicate by telegraph and telephone ; they used coin as a medium of exchange, or bank-bills at their own risk, we use bank-bills without any risk ; they suffered from devastating epidemics, we are protecting ourselves from devastating epidemics by Governmental regulation; they burned candles or whale oil, we illuminate our houses by kerosene or electricity; they had few books and poor schools, we have excellent schools and public libraries. Life in the twentieth century is very different from life in the eighteenth; government in the twentieth century must be
different from government in the eighteenth. It must be
either more extensive in its function and operation, or far less effective in its protection of human rights and its enforcement of human duties.
The notion that a complex and extended government is inconsistent with freedom grows out of the notion that freedom is exemption from law; that liberty and independence are synonymous. But freedom and independence are not synonymous, and freedom is not exemption from law. Leonard Bacon, in his “ Pilgrim Hymn," thus describes the cargo the Pilgrims brought with them :
Laws, freedom, truth, and faith in God
Came with these exiles o'er the waves.
Laws! Freedom! Can these live in the same ship? Can these flourish in the same community ? What do we mean by law?
Austin, the famous writer on English law, has defined law as the edict of a superior who has the power to enforce his will by penalty, a power which confers on him his authority, and creates in the subject a duty or obligation of obedience.' It is true that power to enforce law is necessary to law; but more is necessary; the possession of power does not of itself confer authority or create duty. Authority is rightful or just power,
1 " A command is an order issued by a superior to an inferior. It is a signification of desire distinguished by this peculiarity, that the party to who it is directed is liable to evil from the other, in case he comply not with the desire. If you are able and willing to harm me in case I comply not with your wish, the expression of your wish amounts to a command.' Being liable to
and something more than the mere possession of power is necessary to give the possessor a right to command or create in the subject a duty of obedience. If the law is an unjust law, disobedience may become duty. King Darius had power to enforce by decree his command, but the plain duty of Daniel was to disobey. The Italian bandit has power to command his prisoners, but he has no just authority over them. If law is simply an edict issued by one who has power to enforce obedience by penalty, then law and liberty are inconsistent. For reluctant submission to a superior power which I obey, not because I choose, but because I must, is not liberty. The Puritans in their revolt against the Stuarts no less than the French in their revolt against the Bourbons, refused such submission. But the Puritans were evil in case I comply not with the wish which you signify, I am bound or obliged by it, or I lie under a duty to obey it. The evil is called a sanction, and the command or duty is said to be sanctioned by the chance of incurring the evil. The three terms, command, duty, and sanction are thus inseparably connected. As Austin expresses it in the language of formal logic, each of the three terms signifies the same notion, but each denotes a different part of that notion, and connotes the residue.'” - Encyclopædia Britannica, vol. xiv, p. 356.
not a lawless folk; they put an unaccustomed emphasis on the sacredness of law.
I venture to offer my own definition of law, without, however, claiming for it any originality. It is Hebraic in its origin, although it is not formally stated, so far as I recall, in Hebrew literature. But it underlies the conception of law embodied in the Old Testament Scriptures. A striking illustration of it is afforded by the Nineteenth Psalm, which many
Biblical scholars regard as two different psalms put together by some editor.' I hesitate to dissent from them, but in my judgment the psalm is by one poet who saw what modern thinkers have often failed to see, - that law is essentially the same in the physical and in the spiritual world. “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork.” That is the operation of law in the physical universe. Not less is it true that “the law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul : the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.” That is the operation of law in the spiritual realm.
1 Charles Augustus Briggs, LL.D., Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Psalms, vol. i, p. 162: “Psalm 19 is composed of two originally separate poems : (a) a morning hymn, praising the glory of 'El in the heavens (v. 2-5b) and glorious movements of the sun (v. 5c-7); (b) a didactic poem, describing the excellence of the Law (v. 8–11), with a petition for absolution, restraint from sin, and acceptance in worship (v. 12-15)."
Law is the nature of the thing of which it is predicated. X By “the law of gravitation ” we mean that it
is the nature of material objects to attract each other in a certain definite ratio. By“the laws of health ” we mean that the nature of the body is such that if one takes certain food, drink, air, baths, exercise, he will enjoy good health; if he does not, he will have disease. By “the moral
we mean that the social organism is such that if we respect each other's right to person, property, the family, reputation, the community will be prosperous ; if we do not, it will be unprosperous. The scientist does not make the law of gravitation; he finds it. The physician does not make the laws of health; he discovers them. Moses did not make the Ten Commandments; he interpreted them. They are not right because Jehovah commanded them ; Jehovah commanded them because they are right.
If this be true, if law is the nature of things, the nature of man, the nature of society, the nature of the universe, the nature of God, there is no such thing as freedom from law. To
from law it would be necessary to escape from the universe, to escape from God, to escape from ourselves. Liberty and lawlessness are not synonymous. Liberty is not escape from law.