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study of current biblical discussions in our theological seminaries the writer pleads for the young men who feel themselves called to the work of the ministry, but have been staggered and perplexed by what they hear and read respecting the higher criticism. He pleads in behalf of the older ministry who increasingly feel that, in the most intelligent circles they are called upon to influence, their competence to deal with the new phases of the question of the anthority of the Bible is more and more discredited. He pleads in behalf of the laity who are calling for pastors to whom they can carry any problem that is agitating the public mind and disturbing their own religious faith. He pleads in behalf of the Holy Scriptures themselves, all of which deserve to be searched and studied in the light of their actual authorship. He pleads in behalf of the Spirit of truth who, far from closing the gate to any knowledge, is evermore striving to lead us into all truth.
William F. Warren,
ART. IV.-THE ORIGIN AND NATURE OF LAW. In seeking the origin of law, whether in morals or in physics, we must first of all discriminate between laws and distinguish them by their specific differences. We shall then be able to classify them, and so avoid confusion. Laws are legion, yet they may be classified under three general heads: (1) the modes of being, (2) the modes of action, and (3) the modes of relation.
1. Let us consider the laws of being. “God is a personality.” This is a law of being. It is the mode of his eternal being; it is grounded in the necessities of his eternal nature; hence it is uncaused, it is eternal. “ Man is a personality” is also a law of being. This law existed subjectively in the
. thought of God before it existed objectively in the world; but it had no more existence apart from man subjectively in God's thought than it has apart from man objectively in the world. This law of being is not objectively eternal, for man and the universe had a beginning. If this law is eternal at all, it is eternal subjectively in the thought of the eternal mind. It cannot be eternal in space, apart from mind. But we do not think it necessary to regard the law of man’s being as eternal subjectively in God's thought. We may say it was a creation of the divine mind operating according to the laws of divine thought when the occasion for it was reached. We do not conceive that the infinite mind had the universe, with all its laws fully elaborated, eternally in subjective thought, but that they unfolded according to the laws of divine thought as the occasion required. This does not mean, however, that God increases in knowledge, but that he is infinite because he is the ground of all knowledge. It is not necessary to suppose that God has forever carried all science, fully elaborated, in his mind, but that he possesses the ground of infinite knowledge in his infinite mind forever. The unfolding and elaboration of knowledge is complete and perfect in the infinite mind, but is imperfect and incomplete in the finite mind. The laws of being, then, of all that is not God, whether matter or spirit, have their origin in God, their ultimate cause.
2. Notice the laws of action. In morals action always has reference to just authority. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God” is such a law of action. It supposes at least two personalities, the actor and the acted upon. It has no existence, either subjective or objective, apart from the actor and the acted upon. We may say it did not exist even subjectively in the divine thought until it was there elaborated according to the laws of divine thought, when the occasion for it was reached. As a mode of action it is not eternal, except as having its ground in the inherent qualities of the infinite mind.
There is a law of action in physics. In this departinent action always has reference to cause. “Light varies inversely as the square of the distance” is a physical law of action. Time and space are involved in it, and so are the four "causes” of Aristotle. In this law of action something is acting. Change is wrought by it. This change occurs in time. We may call this “something” energy or “efficient cause.” In this law
” something is being acted upon. We may call it substance or "material cause." We also find another factor here. Let it be called “ mathematical truth," if you wish. It is a mode of relation or “formal cause.” It is the relation of quantity to
” space expressed in the ratio, “inversely as the square of the distance.” We also notice intelligibility here, for in this mode of action change always proceeds according to this same mode of relation. This intelligibility points to intelligence as its origin, and intelligence points to personality as its seat. Intelligible action of an intelligent person indicates motive or end. Here, then, is "final cause.” This law is not self-made. Final cause points unmistakably to an “ultimate cause” back of all as the origin of the law. God is the ultimate cause of this law and of all other laws of action in physics. Now, this is not saying that God made the formal cause or “mathematical truth” found in this law; but it is saying that he formulated the law of light. Some scientists confound the modes of action with the modes of relation in physics. They are widely different in nature and origin. Having now torn the law of light to pieces, let us put it together, and what do we have ? We have the law of action, “ Light varies inversely as the square of the distance”-a law involving efficient, material,
formal, final, and ultimate causes, time, and space. We would say the law of light and other laws of action in physics are not eternal, except as having their ground in the inherent powers of the eternal mind. We do not think they existed even subjectively in the thought of God until they were there suggested and elaborated, when the occasion for them was reached. If the laws or modes of action in physics are necessary, and could not have been otherwise than they are, it would seem that they are so only as considered in their relation to the grand scheme or plan of the universe, which was adopted by the Creator in the beginning. We are not competent to say the Creator might not have adopted some other plan, and so have elaborated some other laws of physical action. This also holds true of the modes of being, of all that is not God. But it is not true of the modes of action in morals, for they are what they are by the necessities of the divine nature itself, and not by an act of the divine will.
3. Let us now turn briefly to the laws of relation. “Transgression of the law is sin” is such a law. It is a truth. It
” supposes personality and just authority. Just authority inheres in God's nature and is eternal. As an act, considered either objectively or subjectively, transgression originates in the will of a rational cause. But transgression is also a mode of elation. It is the relation between the transgressor and just authority. Obedience is the relation of the obedient to just authority. Now, why is obedience good and transgression evil ? God's will cannot be the ultimate ground of difference, for, if so, there could be no essential difference between the two acts. We know there is an essential difference. To illustrate, man commits two acts-obedience and transgression. God's nature is what it is; hence obedience is good and transgression evil. If God's nature were not what it is, obedience would not be good nor would transgression be evil, yet an essential difference would exist between the two acts. The moral quality of the act and the moral relation of the actor are therefore determined by the moral nature of God. Hence evil and good are such by the necessities of the divine nature, and the mode of relation between the transgressor and just authority is what it is by necessity. But that is not saying the mode of relation is eternal. No such relation existed even subjectively in God's thought until brought forth by the energies of his mind when the occasion for it was reached. It could not exist anywhere in thought-and much less in space -apart from its own terms, or from the things themselves.
What is true of modes of relation in morals is true of modes of relation or “mathematical truths” in physics. They are what they are by necessity, but they are not eternal, except as they may exist in the thought of the eternal mind. Such is the law of the circumference of a circle. The relation of the circumference to the diameter of a circle is what it is by necessity. Now, in summing up, it is evident that,
(a) The modes of action and of being, in physics, and the modes of being in morals—of all that is not God—are what they are by the will of God. They are necessary laws only as they are related to the plan of the universe—a relative necessity.
(6) The modes of action and of relation in morals are what they are, being determined by attribntes of the divine nature and not by act of God's will—an absolute necessity.
(c) The modes of relation in physics are what they are, being determined by the qualities of the things themselves or of their terms—an absolute necessity.
But these relative necessities are not eternal, nor are all absolute necessities eternal. They have no existence apart from the things themselves or their terms. They may be said to exist, properly, first, subjectively in the divine thought. The thoughts of God have their ground in the inherent powers of his infinite mind; hence these relative and absolute necessities are eternal only as they have their ground in the infinite mind. But since personality is the ultimate form of being, and since thought is the ultimate form of action, it follows that the law of divine being and the law of divine thought only may properly be said to be both necessary and eternal.
In conclusion, therefore, we would say that the position of those scientists who hold natural law to exist independently of God, as being both necessary and eternal, is untenable.