It may be questioned if there is any other word in our language which awakens so much vague, indefinite, and altogether erroneous thought as the word "law." By a process of abstraction of which the many are wholly unconscious, phrases like "the reign of law," "the dominion of law," etc., have come to convey the thought of effective cause. Law is deemed an agent, that which does something and is responsible therefor. The moment we begin to think closely and analytically upon this subject, however, that moment we can but perceive that in fact law is not a doer in any sense or in any realm. It is simply the method of a doer, to whose unvarying reliability and faithfulness it witnesses.

In an exalted mood the psalmist declared, "The law of the Lord is perfect." This being true, its quality is wholly derived, its distinction is gained entirely, from that perfect, consistent, and divine doer whose nature is disclosed in His acts. He alone performs, and the order of His performance can no more exist apart from Him than motion can exist apart from a moving body. When thus thought of it is a pure abstraction, and belongs to that realm of "impersonal metaphysics" concerning which a great thinker has well said, "They are only the abstract forms of a self-conscious life, and apart from that life they are empty and illusory. ... Law and will must ever be united in our thought of the world."

All this is illustrated in the enactments of legislative bodies. The statutes are nothing in themselves, they simply indicate the way in which, through their representatives, the people deal, or have decided that upon occasion they would deal, with a given person under given circumstances. Every thoughtful person apprehends this, when thoughtful, and yet in greater or less degree even the thoughtful are given to conceding to the so-called laws of matter, disease, heredity, etc., a quasi entity. They are thought of as something in themselves, quite apart from individuality or mind, and thus made responsible for unnumbered facts, good and bad. The law of gravitation merely tells how some being or thing acts, and yet by the average person this law is regarded as agent. So, too, the asserted laws of health are held responsible under given circumstances for the presence or absence of disease, while the laws of physics are made to explain unnumbered phenomena about us. This false sense and veneration of law by the many practically means for them the passing of all thought of the need of causative Mind, and the infinite intelligence, whom Christian teaching has ever recognized as the only creator and governor of the universe, is practically dismissed therefrom, while Christ, the divine idea or manifestation, is crucified afresh.

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April 25, 1908

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