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  • HUMAN GOVERNMENT - A,
    CHARLES FINNEY SYS. THEOLOGY

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    Human governments a part of the moral government of God.

    In the discussion of this subject I will:

    Inquire into the ultimate end of God in creation.

    We have seen in former lectures, that God is a moral agent, the self-existent and supreme; and is therefore Himself, as ruler of all, subject to, and observant of, moral law in all His conduct. That is, His own infinite intelligence must affirm that a certain course of willing is suitable, fit, and right in Him. This idea, or affirmation, is law to Him; and to this His will must be conformed, or He is not good. This is moral law, a law founded in the eternal and self-existent nature of God. This law does, and must, demand benevolence in God. Benevolence is good willing. God's intelligence must affirm that He ought to will good for its own intrinsic value. It must affirm His obligation to choose the highest possible good as the great end of His being. If God is good, the highest good of Himself, and of the universe, must have been the end which He had in view in the work of creation. This is of infinite value, and ought to be willed by God. If God is good, this must have been His end. We have also seen:

    That providential and moral governments are indispensable means of securing the highest good of the universe.

    The highest good of moral agents is conditionated upon their holiness. Holiness consists in conformity to moral law. Moral law implies moral government. Moral government is a government of moral law and of motives. Motives are presented by providential government; and providential government is, therefore, a means of moral government. Providential and moral government must be indispensable to securing the highest good of the universe.

    Civil and family governments are indispensable to the securing of this end, and are, therefore, really a part of the providential and moral government of God.

    In the discussion of this question I remark,

    1. Human beings will not agree in opinion on any subject without similar degrees of knowledge. No human community exists, or ever will exist, the members of which will agree in opinion on all subjects. This creates a necessity for human legislation and adjudication, to apply the great principles of moral law to all human affairs. There are multitudes of human wants and necessities that cannot properly be met, except through the instrumentality of human governments.

    2. This necessity will continue as long as human beings exist in this world. This is as certain as that the human body will always need sustenance and clothing; and that the human soul will always need instruction; and that the means of instruction will not come spontaneously, without expense and labor. It is as certain as that men of all ages and circumstances will never possess equal talents and degrees of information on all subjects. If all men were perfectly holy and disposed to do right, the necessity for human governments would not be set aside, because this necessity is founded in the ignorance of mankind, though greatly aggravated by their wickedness. The decisions of legislators and judges must be authoritative, so as to settle questions of disagreement in opinion, and at once to bind and protect all parties.

    The Bible presents human governments not only as existing, but as deriving their authority and right to punish evildoers, and to protect the righteous, from God. But:

    3. Human governments are plainly recognized in the Bible as a part of the moral government of God.

    "He changeth the times and the seasons; He removeth kings, and setteth up kings: He giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding" (Daniel 2:21). "This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones; to the intent that the living may know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will, and setteth up over it the basest of men."They shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field, and they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and they shall wet thee with the dew of heaven, and seven times shall pass over thee, till thou know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever He will" (Daniel 4:17, 25). "He was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses: they fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till he knew that the Most High God ruleth in the kingdom of men, and that he appointeth over it whomsoever he will" (Daniel 5:21). "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God, the powers that be are ordained of God.

    Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: for he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain; for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath but also for conscience's sake. For, for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render, therefore, to all their dues; tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor" (Romans 13:1-7). "Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey civil officers, to be ready to every good work" (Titus 3:1). "Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme, or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by Him for the punishment of evil doers, and for the praise of them that do well" (1 Peter 2:13, 14). These passages prove conclusively, that God establishes human government, as parts of moral government.

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