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and are useful at all only as so much enlightened testimony,only as the tables of the law which they announce shall show them to have stood upon the mount, and had personal vision and audience of the All-Supreme. They are antecedent explorers for the unveiling of an omni-temporal truth.

Take the general definition of Sir William Blackstone, that law is “a rule of action dictated by some superior being." This rule cannot stand even the ordinary tests of definition ;the simplest analysis and restatement will reduce it to an obvious absurdity. A, who is in some sense—if you please, in every sense-superior to B, dictates a certain formula of words as a rule for the governing of B's conduct. Plainly this may not have authority as law, because, first, there is no such privity in mere superiority, natural or artificial, as to warrant such dictation; or there may be no relations whatever between the parties, or only the remotest and slightest.

How superior? by natural gifts, by acquisitions, or by the accident of position? Does the natural superiority of the spe. cies, or the abundant juices which come to the tree from fertility, authorize it to sit in dominion over the fruit of its boughs ? God has said what the apple or the nut should be, let the tree obey its servitudes. Does the fact that its tiny seedgerm was dropped upon the topmost hillock, make the oak the monarch of the forest?

Again, there is in the definition no exclusion of other supe. riorities than A, also dictating other rules of conduct, both partially and totally in conflict with A's rule, and thus obligating B morally, legally, and by an ultimate authority to the

В impossible obedience of each of a thousand irreconcilably antagonistic rules. Married to so many masters, which shall the soul recognize as her legal spouse? If the superiority exists as one of relation or dependence, not even then does the soundness of the rule follow, because there is one Great Superior, whose will antecedes and controls the moral obligations of all edicts from all inferior superiorities ;-the mantle of whose supremacy is broader and ampler than humanity.

Again, it involves no fixed data, nothing ultimate; it is not exhaustive, as every fundamental definition must be; it hints at no first-of-all subject or primal sanction.

But this, or any formula of conduct, whether of tradition or of statute, is law, if it is law, because God sustains an irrevocable pre-relation to it, indispensable to it, and because it is the legitimate logical fruit and out-life of a First-will.

So, again, the definition which Blackstone gives of muni. cipal law, “a rule of civil conduct prescribed by the supreme power in a state commanding what is right and prohibiting what is wrong," is at fault for the same reason, that it leaves out of view the universal test of right and wrong, and does not by any form of necessity assert or imply that such a test is essential or possible;—it appeals to no ultimate, universal, immutable sanction :the definition bounds its own horizon, completes itself, and is therefore justly liable to the charge that right and wrong in the state are the enactments of the state, —that whatever stands as law upon the statute page, however obnoxious to truth, mercy, justice, must be obeyed ;-a doctrine rapidly acquiring prevalence among us at the present, and legitimately deducible from the definitions and doctrines of modern jurisprudents, but as clearly at war with every requisite of general science, as with every principle of sound morals, or true politics.

For, observe, that except by legal fiction, the law-making power is in no sense the sovereign or supreme power of the state, but only the servant or deputy of the people, to do the work of the people, to fill up and body out, in detail, those greater and higher laws which, from the throne of God, pervade, surround, and ramify the whole humanity-agents, not sovereigns-media, not causes—of deputed, not of original powers—whose works the people are not bound to ratify or accept. Indeed, the whole body of the people, even if they could act in their primary, individual, and sovereign capacity, could do no more legitimately than modify and adjust the laws of their personal being, and the laws of nature, to the facts of social dependence; in other words, could only so estimate and govern all the facts and conjunctions of the social state, as first, that they should conform to, and uphold, certainly not conflict with, the fundamental laws of nature; and secondly, leave those fundamental laws the least abridged possible. Without entering upon any particular discussion of other forms of government, this seems the clearly recognized doctrine of all republican and democratic policies, and, indeed, to rest under all policies at the very basis of man and the state.

It is true the great commentator is often cited as direct authority for the doctrines here advocated, and against those which we have deduced from his definition. But the super. structure of the science of law, as the superstructure of the science of geometry or of numbers, follows, by a severe logic, from the exactest statement of the axioms and primary definitions ;-a single necessary term or factor, however slight, omitted in the initial formula, becomes an ever-magnifying error in the evolving problems. Let but an error of the fraction of a second creep into the data of the mathematician's problem, and his formulæ, otherwise so beautiful and truthrevealing, become a nexus of ever-evolving error. And it is but candor to say, that the defects apparent in the definitions of Blackstone, considered as the first statement for the science of the law, do not seem to appertain to the general course of his reasoning, nor to the general scope of his thought. “Man," he says, “considered as a creature, must necessarily be subject to the laws of his Creator, for he is entirely a dependent being." And after showing that this necessary subjection to law is equal to the extent of the dependence, he adds, “and consequently as man depends absolutely upon his Maker for everything, it is necessary that he should, in all points, conform to his Maker's will.” Now, if we conceive that society, government, and law are involved potentially in man, as speech, or locomotion, or emotion, are involved in him, that is, that the germ of these various out-lives are a part of the human constitution, and not mere accidental adjuncts, then the statement is commensurate with our demands, that he should in all things, in his speech, in his locomotion, in his emotion, in his society, in his government, in his law, conform to his Maker's will. And while the Creator might have prescribed for man

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any laws, “however unjust or severe,” he has only laid down, he says, “the eternal, immutable laws of good and evil to which He, the Creator himself, in all His dispensations, conforms, and which he has enabled human reason to discover so far as they are necessary for the conduct of human actions ;"> among others, these, “that we should live honestly, should hurt nobody, should render to every one his due.” Moreover, that he has established the relations of man to his law in such an intimate and interwoven connection, that man's happiness and self-interest are coincident with his duty, to wit, lis obedience to this divine law, and then adds, that this law, which he calls the law of nature," or the law of the creature, is "binding over all the globe, in all countries, and at all times; no human laws are of any validity if contrary to this.And further, that God has also made a revelation of this same will to man, and that “upon these two foundations, the law of nature and the law of revelation, depend all human laws, that is to say, no human laws should be suffered to contradict them,”—and "if any human law should allow or enjoin us to commit what these forbid, we are bound to transgress the human law."

To make sure of this witness in our favor, even against the force of his own definition, we cite what he says in another place of the decisions of the judges in determination of the common law :—“it is an established rule to abide by former precedents, where the same points come in litigation," " yet this rule admits of exception, where the former determination is most evidently contrary to reason-much more, if it be contrary to divine law. But even in such cases the subsequent judges do not pretend to make a new law, but to vindicate the old one from misrepresentation. For, if it be found that the former decision is manifestly absurd or unjust, it is declared, not that such a sentence was bad law, but that it was not law.”

This testimony of Blackstone is of the greatest interest and moment, because, along with the darkness that streams from the dogma of his definition, it, from the very fountain, sends a concurring light, and because it so fully answers the delinquency of that instruction from the rostrum, the pulpit, and the Congress, that the enactments of the state are law per se, and must be obeyed by the citizen as ultimate determinations of right and wrong

Professor Christian, annotating upon the Commentaries, accepts the dogma they state, and, in following out the logic which the dogma involves, maintains " that precedents and rules must be followed even when they are flatly absurd and unjust, if they are agreeable to ancient principles," a condition of no account to the view under consideration ; and also, that "if an act of parliament should, like the edict of Herod, command all the children of a certain age to be slain, the judge ought to resign his office rather than be auxiliary to its execution, but it could only be declared void by the high authority by which it was ordained ;"—that is to say, the law is valid, has every essential sanction, conforms to every legitimate test of law, commands what is right, yet ought not to be executed; there can be no higher expression of law than is in this one, there is no appeal beyond it, yet the judge should resign rather than aid in its execution, but the people, the natural sovereigns of the state, must not only aid in, but, in their own persons, suffer the execution. It would, indeed, seem that stronger reasoning against the soundness of his principle could hardly be suggested than is involved in its own terms. The morale of the proposition is neither more nor less than bald atheism; and than an atheistic state there can be no greater absurdity, except it be an atheistic religion.

“Up, up, trampled truths, it's a lie! it's a lie !
They may carve ‘State' and · Altar' in characters golden,

But Tyranny's symbols are ceasing to win.” Another support of the prevalent error is found in Justinian's definition, which is, as might be presumed, highly satisfactory to Professor Christian, and is defective upon the same grounds before urged ;-it is this, “Quod quisque populus ipse sibi jus constituit, id ipsius proprium civitatis est, vocaturque jus civile, quasi jus proprium ipsius civitatis.”

Now it would seem as if nothing could be plainer to an intelligent Christian mind than the falsity of this definition, set in the form either of an imaginary or historic concrete. Sup

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