Note, p. 18.—"Fatherly authority."

121. This statement could not, of course, be heard without displeasure by a certain class of politicians; and in one of the notices of these lectures given in the Manchester journals at the time, endeavour was made to get quit of it by referring to the Divine authority, as the only Paternal power with respect to which men were truly styled "brethren." Of course it is so, and, equally of course, all human government is nothing else than the executive expression of this Divine authority. The moment government ceases to be the practical enforcement of Divine law, it is tyranny; and the meaning which I attach to the words "paternal government," is, in more extended terms, simply this—"The executive fulfilment, by formal human methods, of the will of the Father of mankind respecting His children." I could not give such a definition of Government as this in a popular lecture; and even in written form, it will necessarily suggest many objections, of which I must notice and answer the most probable.

Only, in order to avoid the recurrence of such tiresome phrases as "it may be answered in the second place," and "it will be objected in the third place," etc., I will ask the reader's leave to arrange the discussion in the form of simple dialogue, letting O. stand for objector, and R. for response.

122. O.—You define your paternal government to be the executive fulfilment, by formal human methods, of the Divine will. But, assuredly, that will cannot stand in need of aid or expression from human laws. It cannot fail of its fulfilment.

R. 122. In the final sense it cannot; and in that sense, men who are committing murder and stealing are fulfilling the will of God as much as the best and kindest people in the world. But in the limited and present sense, the only sense with which we have anything to do, God's will concerning man is fulfilled by some men, and thwarted by others. And those men who either persuade or enforce the doing of it, stand towards those who are rebellious against it exactly in the position of faithful children in a family, who, when the father is out of sight, either compel or persuade the rest to do as their father would have them, were he present; and in so far as they are expressing and maintaining, for the time, the paternal authority, they exercise, in the exact sense in which I mean the phrase to be understood, paternal government over the rest.

O.—But, if Providence has left a liberty to man in many things in order to prove him, why should human law abridge that liberty, and take upon itself to compel what the great Lawgiver does not compel?

123. R.—It is confessed, in the enactment of any law whatsoever, that human lawgivers have a right to do this. For, if you have no right to abridge any of the liberty which Providence has left to man, you have no right to punish any one for committing murder or robbery. You ought to leave them to the punishment of God and Nature. But if you think yourself under obligation to punish, as far as human laws can, the violation of the will of God by these great sins, you are certainly under the same obligation to punish, with proportionately less punishment, the violation of His will in less sins.

O.—No; you must not attempt to punish less sins by law, because you cannot properly define nor ascertain them. Everybody can determine whether murder has been committed or not, but you cannot determine how far people have been unjust or cruel in minor matters, and therefore cannot make or execute laws concerning minor matters.

R.—If I propose to you to punish faults which cannot be defined, or to execute laws which cannot be made equitable, reject the laws I propose. But do not generally object to the principle of law.

O.—Yes; I generally object to the principle of law as applied to minor things; because, if you could succeed (which you cannot) in regulating the entire conduct of men by law in little things as well as great, you would take away from human life all its probationary character, and render many virtues and pleasures impossible. You would reduce virtue to the movement of a machine, instead of the act of a spirit.

124. R.—You have just said, parenthetically, and I fully and willingly admit it, that it is impossible to regulate all minor matters by law. Is it not probable, therefore, that the degree in which it is possible to regulate them by it, is also the degree in which it is right to regulate them by it? Or what other means of judgment will you employ, to separate the things which ought to be formally regulated from the things which ought not? You admit that great sins should be legally repressed; but you say that small sins should not be legally repressed. How do you distinguish between great and small sins? and how do you intend to determine, or do you in practice of daily life determine, on what occasions you should compel people to do right, and on what occasions you should leave them the option of doing wrong?