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will be reduced by the clear and unprejudiced minds of youth to the purest moral standard, and will be answered in a beautiful and unanimous accordance with the influence of truth. Truth, at that age, receives from the still candid mind an entire and, as it were, instructive veneration and adoption, and occasions an instantaneous repugnance to the distortion of its own eternal principle. It is then apparent
that morality and law are really but one principle in essence, . though different in form and application; since both lie in the reasonable nature of man, both decide between right and wrong in action.
For a still further proof of this latter opinion, we turn to a consideration of the law of nations, which is based upon a number of general principles, which all civilized nations have harmoniously regarded as reasonable and necessary for the welfare of all, and have consequently declared to be binding upon all.
Another proof of this opinion is the destiny and ultimate end of man. In this earthly state his end and destiny are, as we know, so to shape his course, as perfectly to develope his entire being in all its relations to the Creator, to himself and to the world about him. The development of the reasonable and moral nature being thus the object of man's existence it will be necessary for the laws under which this object is to be effected, to be laws derived from his reason and moral sense. Consequently it is not the power, but the unreasonableness of a law, which makes it weigh heavily upon human nature.
From what has been said we may infer that the source of law is in the ideal. We may define law as the result of reason applied to the external affairs of man; when applied to the internal affairs, it is called morality.
Law being therefore so immediately dependent upon reason, it will be necessary to make a few remarks upon the nature of the latter.
Reason is nothing but a system of harmonious rules controlling the power of thinking correctly, which seems to be subject to one supreme rule, for without such there would be no order. What then is rule ? Rule is that constant and invariable form according to which every thing apparently irregular moves and is concordant. There is, as was remarked above, something ever constant in the reasonable thoughts of the human race in all ages, times and countries, which seems to indicate a supreme rule, which is the centre of that system of controlling rules of the mind, and was originated in our souls by God, as the infinitely and absolutely rational and just being.
The power of thinking, of which we have spoken, is not itself any rule capable of definition by words, but a faculty under the direction of the rules of reason, ever ready to decide the various questions submitted to its jurisdiction.
It cannot be justly supposed that moral beings, on account of the freedom of their will, were not governed by rules of absolute accuracy; for the partial reduction of the mental processes to orderly and accurate systems, as we see in logic, &c., indicates that the laws of the moral nature are as absolute and as invariable as those of the physical world. And consequently one of the most eminent intellectual philosophers of the day, professor Herbart, of Goettingen, in his Psychology, has attempted to reduce mental philosophy to a system of mathematical principles; such as we trace in astronomy, chemistry, physics, and in general in all the departments of nature, which seem absolutely to govern the material world; the laws, as far as we perceive them, in which the government of the divinity exhibits itself in the latter being mathematical laws. Thus the natural sciences appear to be mathematics in application.
It seems then that the eternal principle which orders all things in the world is the same which is found to pervade and direct the very being and essence of man. It is called
in that form reason, and is seen to incline the actions of mankind to a general conformity to its own rules; and in this case we have termed it law. Law, therefore, appears, in the abstract, as the image, the ideal, of a perfect uniformity between man's actions and this divine principle. This law is positive and affirmative, able to exhibit all the conditions of a free, reasonable life; and is not merely, as it is commonly supposed, a collection of the restraints imposed upon the freedom of human action.
A perfect system of law we could consequently call the reign of reasonable freedom, or the government of the reasonable mind carried out in the external world, and it would be therefore what Leibnitz calls a reign based upon laws: "Civitas Dei.”
Since some philosophers and statesmen have looked too much to the free will for the source of the law, not sufficiently discriminating real freedom of the will, it is necessary that we make a few remarks on this subject.
The source of the law is, as we have seen, reason, - but its enacting power is the will, which, in order to be free, must itself follow the direction of reason, otherwise it would be wilful and unreasonable, being under the impulse of passion. Taking also will into consideration, we can give the following definition of law, which will be found to agree with the previous one. Law is the determination of our will, in accordance with reason.
One, who may never have introduced into his mind the government of reason, may fancy himself free, when his actions are wilful and without restraint, but, acting, as he thus acts, under the arbitrary impulses of his own nature, and without exerting over his will a rational control, he only shows himself not free. He that exerts his will according to the rules of reason will be seen to act not as an isolated individual, but in harmony with an eternal principle. In acting he will be less prominent than the actions
themselves; whilst, on the other hand, the man who perversely acts without regard to reason, will exhibit more prominently his own depraved individuality. Reason is the highway, in which all may travel without making themselves conspicuous.
When a great genius has executed a master piece of art, spectators cannot help exclaiming that it is right; which means, that truth has been represented, and the author's individuality suppressed; that no mannerism is visible. Raphael has no mannerism; his figures seem to have life, and stand forth from the canvass.
It is therefore a narrow and false principle, to hold that arbitrary might can constitute right. For it is only the might of reason which can obtain for a law the universal and permanent consent of mankind. This will fully explain the cause of the gradual decline of all those laws which are contrary to reason, even though in the first instance they may have been established by the power of physical or other accidental force. The chief principle of a law which shall hope for permanence, is to be found in the degree of its approach to the reasonable in man's nature. For man, being a creature endowed with reason, cannot be expected long to submit to be governed by laws which are not founded in reason. It is not consistent for a reasonable being to be governed by any thing unreasonable. And it is proved by experience that laws of the latter description have never been able to endure for a great length of time.
In proportion as statutes shall approach the inherent principle of man's reasonable nature, in so far will be the advance of men to meet such statutes; as the acknowledgment of truth, whether in jurisprudence, in morality, or in any other science, is instinctive and natural. As it is obvious that under certain conditions the development of the public mind may not be such as to enable it immediately to appreciate the higher and better applications of reason,
while it is at the same time necessary that truth shall in the end, as public intelligence is increased, be perceived and adopted, it is therefore of manifest importance that legislators should be the most intelligent and rational men of the community. For it is far better, that the laws should be even in advance of the public mind, and thus require the latter to be elevated, in order to attain their level, than that they should be below it, and thus either sink it in the scale of improvement, or destroy at once the respect and ascendancy which they ought to maintain. With good laws men will become better, and with bad laws they may become worse, as may be seen in the example of some of the old criminal laws, and those for the imprisonment of debtors. In any case these laws can and ought to be derived from reason, adapted to the condition and wants of the people according to their historical development.
As, therefore, the law of a nation must in all its ramifications be deduced from reason, it will follow, that law will be of a more or less elevated character, according to the greater or less advance which that nation shall have made in the development of its reason. The degree of that advance will be the measure of the state of the law by which it is or ought to be governed. Distinctive elements are besides given to it, by the leading features of the nation, by its history, and by the modifying influences of climate, geographical position, and other circumstances.
Nature of Common Law. Law, as previously exhibited in its purity and conformity to reason, forms only the fountain head of all statutes, and is very seldom found in its perfection in practice. The reason of this fact is not merely to be found in an imperfect development of the public mind, which would prevent its appreciating truth and justice, but also in the many counteracting elements of society, such as self-interest, the pas