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de Legibus, lib. 2. “ The true and leading law, which is proper both to command and to forbid, is the right reason of the Supreme Being.
IV. That author appears not to have expressed himself with accuracy, who said, We here call the law, the knowledge of right and wrong, binding to do what is right, and to avoid what is wrong. For law pi• perly is not any knowledge, but the object of knowledge. This law, we say, is naturally known to man, but it would be absurd to say, knowledge is naturally known. Knowledge is our act, and is indeed to be squared by the rule of the law. The law is a rule prescribed by God for all our actions.
V. That other author is far less accurate, who thus determines : “ Prior to the fall there was properly no law: For then the love of God prevailed, which requires no law.
There (as the same author elsewhere explains himself) a state of friendship and love obtained, such as is the natural state of a son with respect to a parent, and which is what nature affects. But when that love is violated, then a precept comes to be super-added: and that love, which before was voluntary, (as best agreeing with its nature; for that can scarcely be called love, unless voluntary) falls under a precept, and passes into a law, to be enforced then with commination and coercion; which rigour of coercion properly constitutes a law.
VI. But this way of reasoning is far from being the effect of thought and attention. . For, ist, it is not the rigour of the enforcement properly, that constitutes a law, but the obligatory virtue of what is injoined, proceeding both from the power of the lawgiver, and from the equity of the thing commanded, which is here founded on the holiness of the divine nature, so far as imitable by man. The Apostle James, ch. i. 25. commends “ the perfect law of liberty." 2dly, Nor is there any absurdity to aifirm, that the natural state of a son with respect to a parent, is regulated by laws. It is certain, Plato de Legib. lib. 3. says, that the first mortals practised the customs and laws of their fathers, quoting that sentence of Homer, Suicios de axu5 TLdw every one makes laws for his children.. 3dly, Nor, is it repugnant to do a thing by nature, and at the same time by a law. Philo Judæus de Migratione, explaining that celebrated old saying of the philosophers, say, that to live agreeably to nature, is done when the mind follows God, remembering his precepts. Crysippus in like manner, as commended by Laertius lib. 7. on Zeno, says, that person lives agreeably to nature, who does nothing prohibited by the eommon law, which is right reason. In a sublimer strain al
mosc most than one could well expect from a heathen, is what Hierocles says on Pythagoras's golden verses : “ To obey right reason and God, is one and the same thing. For the rational nature being illuminated, readily embraces what the divine law prescribes. A soul which is conformed to God, never dissents from the will of God, but being attentive to the divinity and brightness, wit', which it is enlightened, does which it does. 4thly, Nor can it be affirmed, that after the breach of love, or, which is the same thing, after the entrance of sin, that then it was the law was superadded ; seeing sin itself is aspecs the transgression of the law. Sthly, Nor is love rendered less voluntary by the precept. For, the law enjoins love to be every way perfect, and therefore to be most volun. tary, not extorted by the servile fear of the threatening, i John iv. 18. Nor does he give satisfaction, when he says, that what is called love, scarce deserves that name, unless volutary ; he ought to say, is by no means charity, unless voPuntary. For love is the most delightful union of our will with the thing beloved; which cannot be so much as concei. ved, without the plainest contradiction, any other than volun. tary. If therefore, by the superadded law, love is rendered involuntary and forced, the whole nature of love is destroyed, and a divine law'set up, which ruins love. 6thly, In fine, the law of nature itself was not without a threatening, and that of eternal death. I shall conclude in the most accurate words of Crysostom, Homil. 12. to the people of Antioch ; “ when God formed man at first, he gave him a natural law. ;And what then is this natural law? He rectified our conscience, and made us have the knowledge of good and evil, without any cther teaching than our own.
VII. It is, moreover, to be observed, that this law of nature is the same in substance with the decalogue ; being what the Apostle calls, Tno svorme pour ses cwn, a commandment which was ordained to life, Rom. vii. 10. that is, that law by the performance of which, life was formerly obtainable. And indeed, the decalogue contains such precepts, “ which if a man do he shall live in them," Lev. xviii. s. But those precepts are undoubtedly the law proposed to Adam, upon which the covenant of works was built. Add to this, what the Apostle says, that that law, which still continues to be the rule of our actions, and whose righteousness ought to be fulfilled in us, was made weak through the flesh, that is, through sin, and that it was become impossible for it to bring us to life, Rom. viii. 3. 4. The same law therefore was in force before the entrance of sin, and, if duly observed, had the power of giving life. Besides, God in the second creation inscribes the
same law on the heart, which in the first creation he had engraven on the soul. For, what is regeneration, but the restitution of the same image of God in which man was at first created ? In fine, the law of nature could be nothing but a precept of conformity to God, and of perfect love; which is the same in the decalogue.
VIII. This law is deduced by infallible consequence from the very nature of God and man, which I thus explain and prove. I presuppose, as a self-evident truth, and clear from the very meaning of the words, that the Great God has a so. vereign and uncontrolable power and dominion over all his creatures. This authority is founded primarily and radically, not on creation, nor on any contract, entered into with the creature, nor on the sin of the creature, as some less solidly maintain; but on the majesty, supremacy, sovereignty and eminence of God, which are his essential attributes, and would have been in God, though no creature had actually existed; though we now conceive them as having a certain respect to creatures that do or at least might exist. From this majesty of the divine nature the prophet Jeremiah, ch. X. 6, 7. infers the duty of the creature. “ For as much as there is none like unto thee, O Lord, thou are great, and thy name is great in might, who would not fear thee, 0 king of nations, for to thee doth it appertain." For if God is the prime, the supreme, the supereminent; it necessarily follows that all creatures do in every respect depend on that prime, supreme and the supereminent God, for existence, power and operation. This is of the essence of creatures, which if not entirely dependent, were not possible to be conceived without the most evident contradiction. But the more degrees of entity there are in any creature, the more degrees also of dependance on the sapreme Being are to be attributed to it. In the rational creature, besides a metaphysical and physical entity, which it has - in common with the rest of the creatures, there is a certain more perfect degree of entity, namely rationality. As, therefore in quality of a Being it depends on God, as the Supreme Being ; so also as rational, on God, as the supreme reason, which it is bound to express, and be conformable to. And as God, as long as he wills any crcature to exist, he necessarily wills it to be dependent on his real providence (ctherwise hie would renounce his own supremacy by transferring it to the creature); so, likewise, if he wills any rational creature to exist, he necessarily wills it to te deperdent on his moral providence; otherwise he would deny himself to be the supreme reason, to whose patiera and tea every dependent Teason ought to conform. And this a rational creature would
be to itself the prime reason, that is, really God; which is an evident contradiction.
IX. It is in vain therefore, that frantie enthusiasts insist, that the utmost pitch of holiness consists in being without law; wresting the saying of the Apostle, 1 Tim. i. 9. the laua is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient. Certainly that passage does not destroy our assertion, by which we evinced that the human nature cannot be without the divine law; but highly confirms it. For, since the ungodly are here described as lawless, who would fain live as without law; and disobedient, who will not be in subjection: it follows, that the acknowledging the divine law; and the subjection of the understanding and will to it, is the character of the righteous and the godly. In the law of God, since the entrance of sin, we are to consider two things. Ist, The rule and direction to submission. 2dly, The power of bridling and restraining by terror and icu, and lastly, of justly condemring. When therefore the Apostle declares, that the law was not made for a righteous man, he does not understand it of the primary and principal work of the law, which is essential to it, but of that other accidental work, which was added to it on account of, and since the entrance of sin, and from which the righteous are freed by Christ.
X. Nor does it only follow from the nature of God and of man, that some law is to be prescribed by God to man in cominon, but even such a law, as may be not only the rule and guide of human actions, but of human nature itself, considered as rational. For, since God himself is in his nature infinitely holy, and manifests this his holiness in all his works; it hence follows, that to man, who ought to be conformed to the likeness of the divine holiness, there should be prescribed a law, requiring not only the righteousness of his works, but the holiness of his nature ; so that the righteousness of his works is no other than the expression of his inward righteousness. Indeed, the Apostle calls that piety and holiness,* which he recommends, and which undoubtedly the law enjoins, the image of God, Col. iii. 10. But the image should resemble its original. Seeing God therefore is holy in his nature, on that very account it follows, that men should be so too. XI. A certain author therefore has advanced with more
* N. B. I suppose there is here an error of the press ; because it is in Fph. iv. 24. that the new nian is said to be alter God created in righteousness and true holiness,
subtilty than truth: that the law. obliges the person only to active righteousness, but not the nature itself to intrinsic rectitude; and consequently, that original righteousness is approved indeed, but not commanded by the law: and on the contrary also, that original unrighteousness is condemned, but not forbidden by the law. For the law approves of 10thing which it did not command, condemns nothing which it did not forbid. The law is 77909, the doctrine of right and wrong. What it teaches to be evil, that it forbids; what to be good, it commands. And therefore it is deservedly called the law of nature ; not only because nature can make it known; but also because it is the rule of nature itself.
XII. To conclude, we are to observe of this law of naturc, that at least its principal and most universal precepts are founded not in the mere arbitrary good will and pleasure of God, but in his unspotted nature. For if it is necessary that God should therefore prescribe a law for man, because himself is the original holiness ; no less necessary is it, he should prescribe a law, which shall be the copy of that original. So that the difference between good and evil, ought to be derived not from any positive law, or arbitrary consti-. tution of the divine will, but from the most holy nature of God himself;, which I thus prove.
XIII. Let us take the summary of the first trible; thoxe shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, &c. Should this command be said to be founded in the arbitrary good pleasure of the divine will, and not in the very nature of God; it may with equal propriety he said, that God might dis; 'eise with the necessity of loving himself. A thing entirely impossible, as appears hence : it is natural to God to be the chief good : it is included in the notion of God, that he is the very best. Now it is natural to the chief good, to be supremely amiable; it is natural also to reason and will to be unable, without a crime, not to love what is proposed as worthy of the highest affection. Whoever therefore shall affirm; that the necessity of loving God, flows not from thic very nature of God, advances the following contradiction : God is in his nature the chief good, and yet in his natuerci supremely amiable. Or this other; God is worthy of the highest love ; and yet it is possible, that he who loves hinna not does nothing unworthy of God.
XIV. But to proceed: if the command to love God is founded; not in his nature, but in his arbitrary good plea:ure; he might have enjoined the hatred of himself. For, in things in their own nature indisserent, whoever has the right of . Vol. I.