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THE

BIBLICAL REPOSITORY

AND

Quarterly Observer.

No. XVII.

JANUARY, 1835.

ARTICLE I.

WHAT FORM OF LAW IS BEST SUITED TO THE INDIVIDUAL

AND SOCIAL NATURE OF MAN?

It seems to be a principle of our nature, that a person whom we love, or hate, for any one quality, should be loved or hated by us, not only in regard to that particular quality, but in respect to all that is essentially or accidentally related to him. Thus, that love for a fellow-being, which probably sprang from a single attribute in him, spreads itself over the whole character ; his turn of thought, of feeling, of expression, nay, his person, features, gestures-even the commonest things which belong to him, and are for his daily use, soon become objects of our attachment.-Reverse this, and put hate,-and, because of some hastily spoken word, we come to detest a man, and all that is his; we begin to dislike his face, however well in itself; his grace is awkwardness to us; we hate him ; we hate his very dog.

This springs from the activity of the mind, and its quickly associating processes. Nature, it is said, abhors a vacuum; and it may be as truly said, that the mind abhors a unit. And for the very reason that it does so, it delights in unity; and if in unity, then, in association. Destroy association and its result, Unity ; separate any one part from the whole—the unit from the unity—and it becomes a dead thing; its generating principle Vol. V. No. 17.

1

ceases, and the mind that fastens itself upon it gradually loses its life and the power of thought.

I have alluded to this principle of unity and association, because it is proposed to speak of two forms of Constitution, or Law; in the first place, of that which most resembles the constitution of the country from which we sprang, and next, of that form to which our own Constitution most nearly approaches. A further reason for alluding in the outset to this principle, is its being recognized throughout what is here said. If the associating principle spoken of acts upon us in relation to persons, so does it in relation to things, to modes and ceremonies, to forms of private connections, and to those enlarged and public forms of communities, called Governments.

A new people, for instance, without simply considering what form of Government would be best for them, would be likely to adopt that of the country from which they sprang, or the directly contrary to it, as love or hatred of the mother country might sway them. Had the Constitution of England, at the time of our revolution, been a democracy—had her mandates come from the multitudinous assemblies of the people, and not from the single-voiced throne ; had her troops been the people's, and not the king's ; might not the feeling of resentment at a rabble's insult and wrong have gathered us round a newly founded throne ? Might not the hard, coarse oppression of the throng have refined us into a feeling of revolting against such an exhibition of power? And might we not have seen a glory around a single head, and decorum and grace and fair proportions in rank above rank? Might not a popular form have been offensive to our taste, and the thought of a ruling crowd have stirred in us a fastidious scorn and pride ?

I am aware that the first answer to questions such as these, is likely to be only an incredulous, perhaps, a contemptuous smile. But after we have thought upon them a little, we may begin to hesitate, and next, to allow that there may be some meaning in what is asked. Nor do I at all doubt, that the more we look into our natures, the more strength we shall allow to the principle upon which these questions rest.

If this be so, it becomes important to us, that in graduating the relative merits of different forms of government, we recollect what was the form of government, in our war with which, we grew into an independent nation; and that we make full allowance, in forming our judgement, for our feelings of hostility at the time, and for that associating principle, spoken of, which leads us to involve in one common feeling of hatred, or of love, all that, in any way, bears a relation to the objects of that feeling, whichsoever it be. If, then, the government to which we were opposed, was a form of the monarchical, we must be upon our guard as to our prejudices against that form, and cautious as to our partialities for its opposite, heightened, as they will naturally be, by these very prejudices. We must consider, too, the influence which mere names may have upon our minds, and how, in time, they move us to anger, or to love, while we know very little of the deeper meaning of those things to which the names belong. We must recollect, also, that our war of the revolution was not a conflict about a difference of Constitution, but a war growing out of what we held to be a violation of a certain Constitution.

In treating upon Government, or Law, the peculiar character of our times demands of us, as wise and good men, to lay aside all prepossessions, and to look the subject through and through. It is, indeed, becoming a question with thoughtful men, whether human nature is fitted for a form of Government such as ours, and whether the dangers now threatening us, are accidental and transient, or whether they lie deep in the system itself. As much, then, which will be here said may cross many associations and preconceived notions, I must ask to be listened to patiently, not for my own sake alone, but for the reader's too, and above all, for the Truth's sake, while a short time is given to the question,

What form of Government, or Law, is best suited to the Individual and Social Character of Man?

The term, Law, is here used in its more convenient and comprehensive sense, including within it Constitution and Administration.

“ Of Law," says Hooker, “ there can be no less acknowledged than that her seat is the bosom of God, her voice the harmony of the world; all things in heaven and earth do her homage ; the very least as feeling her care, and the greatest as not exempt from her power; both angels and men and creatures of what condition soever, though each in different sort and manner, yet all with uniform consent admiring her as the mother of their peace and joy.” And Coleridge speaks of “ the awful power of Law, acting on natures preconfigured to its influences."

The answer to the question stated will, in no small measure, depend upon the way in which we are in the habit of considering man—whether we look at him as a higher sort of animal, or whether we are wont to think of him in his inner and more spiritual nature-whether we are accustomed to regard him in his mere earthly, outward wants, comforts, connexions—his clothing, his food, his making and spending of money, in his providing for the bodily wants and worldly happiness of his family-or whether, allowing their due place to these, we think of him as a being, who, having begun to live, must live forever-as a soul to which this body, with its many organs, is but an instrument for the use of a day—as a being with capacities which shall forever go on enlarging, and for which infinitude alone can make roomas one with longings which earth cannot satisfy, and yet one, who in the proportion that these longings possess him, finds more and more, even here, for the soul's joy-a being compounded of ethereal faith and hope, of imagination and sentiment, of sentiment which refines joy, and touches sorrow with a softening hue, a being who looks upon the earth as indeed, dust, and its toils as only the wasting of strength, further than as they minister to these inward sensations and powers.

If we allow Law to have any influence over the character of man, it is evident that as we are habituated to look at him in the one or the other of these lights, so will be our views of Law. For we must first understand what it is which is to be operated upon, before we can determine upon the instrument to be used.

Will any one say, that granting this interior view of man to be the true view, it is a matter with which Law has little, or nothing, to do ?—That Law takes cognizance of only the outward, civil conduct, not concerning itself with motives and feelings within ? True, it must not call the thoughts into judgement; but there is a necessity upon it, grounded in the nature of things, to give à hue to those thoughts. For there is nothing without us which fails of reaching that which lies within: through the countless varieties and differences of the material and moral world, all stand related to all-through the universe of God, there is not one lonely being or thing. What falser view of Law, then, can there be, than that which looks upon as a larger machine regulating merely out-of-door intercourse, and by its complicated motions and parts, only supplying conveniences, and furnishing levers and springs to help on the more

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