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  • MORAL GOVERNMENT - 2 - A,
    CHARLES FINNEY SYS. THEOLOGY

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    The primary idea of government, is that of direction, guidance, control by, or in accordance with, rule or law.

    All government is, and must be, either moral or physical; that is, all guidance and control must be exercised in accordance with either moral or physical law; for there can be no laws that are neither moral nor physical.

    Physical government is control, exercised by a law of necessity or force, as distinguished from the law of free will, or liberty. It is the control of substance, as opposed to free will. The only government of which substance, as distinguished from free will, is capable, is and must be physical. This is true, whether the substance is material or immaterial, whether matter or mind. States and changes, whether of matter or mind, that are not actions of free will, must be subject to the law of necessity. They must therefore belong to the department of physical government. Physical government, then, is the administration of physical law, or the law of force.

    Moral government consists in the declaration and administration of moral law. It is the government of free will by motives as distinguished from the government of substance by force. Physical government presides over and controls physical states and changes of substance or constitution, and all involuntary states and changes. Moral government presides over and controls, or seeks to control the actions of free will: it presides over intelligent and voluntary states and changes of mind. It is a government of motive, as opposed to a government of force control exercised, or sought to be exercised, in accordance with the law of liberty, as opposed to the law of necessity. It is the administration of moral as opposed to physical law.

    Moral government includes the dispensation of rewards and punishments; and is administered by means as complicated and vast as the whole of the works, and providence, and ways, and grace of God.

    The fundamental reason of moral government.

    Government must be founded in a good and sufficient reason, or it is not right. No one has a right prescribe rules for, and control the conduct of another, unless there is some good reason for his doing so. There must be a necessity for moral government, or the administration of it is tyranny. Moral government is indispensable to the highest well-being of the universe of moral agents. The universe is dependent upon this as a means of securing the highest good. This dependence is a good and sufficient reason for the existence of moral government. Let it be understood, then, that moral government is a necessity of moral beings, and therefore right.

    Our nature and circumstances demand that we should be under a moral government; because no community can perfectly harmonize in all their views and feelings, without perfect knowledge, or to say the least, the same degree of knowledge on all subjects on which they are called to act. But no community ever existed, or will exist, in which all possess exactly the same amount of knowledge, and where the members are, therefore, entirely agreed in all their thoughts, views, and opinions. But if they are not agreed in opinion, or have not exactly the same amount of knowledge, they will not, in every thing, harmonize, as it respects their courses of conduct. There must, therefore, be in every community, some standard or rule of duty, to which all the subjects of the community are to conform themselves. There must be some head or controlling mind, whose will shall be law, and whose decision shall be regarded as infallible, by all the subjects of the government. However diverse their intellectual attainments are, in this they must all agree, that the will of the lawgiver is right, and universally the rule of duty. This will must be authoritative, and not merely advisory. There must of necessity be a penalty attached to, and incurred by, every act of disobedience to this will. If disobedience be persisted in, exclusion from the privileges of the government is the lowest penalty that can consistently be inflicted. The good, then, of the universe imperiously requires that there should be a moral governor.

    Whose right is it to govern?

    We have just seen that the highest well-being of the universe demands, and is the end of moral government. It must, therefore, be his right and duty to govern, whose attributes, physical and moral, best qualify him to secure the end of government. To him all eyes and hearts should be directed, to fill this station, to exercise this control, to administer all just and necessary rewards and punishments. It is both his right and duty to govern.

    That God is a moral governor, we infer:

    1. From our own nature. From the very laws of our being, we naturally affirm our responsibility to Him for our conduct. As God is our creator, we are naturally responsible to Him for the right exercise of our powers. And as our good and His glory depend upon our conformity to the same rule to which He conforms His whole being, He is under a moral obligation to require us to be holy, as He is holy.

    2. His natural attributes qualify Him to sustain the relation of a moral governor to the universe.

    3. His moral character also qualifies Him to sustain this relation.

    4. His relation to the universe as creator and preserver, when considered in connection with the necessity of government, and with His nature and attributes, confers on Him the right of universal government.

    5. His relation to the universe, and our relations to Him and to each other, render it obligatory upon Him to establish and administer a moral government over the universe. It would be wrong for Him to create a universe of moral beings, and then refuse or neglect to administer over them a moral government, since government is a necessity of their nature and relations.

    6. His happiness must demand it, as He could not be happy unless He acted in accordance with His conscience.

    7. If God is not a moral governor He is not wise. Wisdom consists in the choice of the best ends, and in the use of the most appropriate means to accomplish those ends. If God is not a moral governor, it is inconceivable that He should have had any important end in view in the creation of moral beings, or that He should have chosen the most desirable end.

    8. The conduct or providence of God plainly indicates a design to exert a moral influence over moral agents.

    9. His providence plainly indicates that the universe of mind is governed by moral laws, or by laws suited to the nature of moral agents.

    10. If God is not a moral governor, the whole universe, so far as we have the means of knowing it, is calculated to mislead mankind in respect to this fundamental truth. All nations have believed that God is a moral governor.

    11. We must disapprove the character of God, if we ever come to a knowledge of the fact that He created moral agents, and then exercised over them no moral government.

    12. The Bible, which has been proved to be a revelation from God, contains a most simple and yet comprehensive system of moral government.

    13. If we are deceived in respect to our being subjects of moral government, we are sure of nothing.

    What is implied in the right to govern?

    1. From what has just been said, it must be evident, that the right to govern implies the necessity of government, as a means of securing an intrinsically valuable end.

    2. Also that the right to govern implies the duty, or obligation to govern. There can be no right, in this case, without corresponding obligation; for the right to govern is founded in the necessity of government, and the necessity of government imposes obligation to govern.

    3. The right to govern, implies obligation, on the part of the subject, to obey. It cannot be the right, or duty, of the governor to govern, unless it is the duty of the subject to obey. The governor and subjects are alike dependent upon government, as the indispensable means of promoting the highest good. The governor and the subject must, therefore, be under reciprocal obligation, the one to govern, and the other to be governed, or to obey. The one must seek to govern, the other must submit to be governed.

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