UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA.
DANIEL C. OILMAN.
MORAL GOVERNMENT OF GOD,
NATHANIEL . TAYLOR, D. D.,
LATE D WIGHT PROFESSOR OF DIDACTIC THEOLOGY
IN YALE COLLEGE.
" OF LAW THREE CAN BE NO LESS ACKNOWLEDGED THAN THAT HER SEAT IS TUB BOSOM OF,
GuD HEE VOICE THE IIAEMONY OF THE WOELD."
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THE MOKAL GOVERNMENT OF GOD AS REVEALED IN
THE FACT AND THE PKOOF. PAOK
The nature of Man. Man, from the first, placed under Moral Government This relation of
God formally claimed throughout the Scriptures. The history of God s Providence. The
Theocracy of Israel. The leading doctrines of the Scriptures 1
Introduction. Discussion involves the consideration of the Mosaic Economy. Mistaken or
defective views. As preliminary, we ask, "What is a Theocracy ? "1
THE MOSAIC LAW A THEOCRACY.
Plan of argument Certain characteristics of the system are undeniable, viz., the Mosaic
system reveals God as national king and tutelary deity. All its laws are from God. It
was administered to some extent by a human magistracy, as well as by an extraordinary
providence. It involved political propitiatory rites, &c. It was sustained expressly only
by temporal sanctions. External action is the criterion but not the rule of judgment
That it was a theocracy evident from its religious services ; also from its direct or primary
design. It was a positive, as distinguished from a moral institution. It was a civil
government, administered by God, as distinguished/Vow a civil government, adminis
tered ~by man. Its late beginning and transient continuance 43
THE MOSAIC LAW A THEOCRACY.
The Mosaic law shown to be a theocracy by its adaptation to a people trained in Egypt,
particularly as designed to exhibit, by representation, God s moral government The
Israelites accustomed in Egypt to such a system. They would naturally infer the new
government to be similar. Given from God, it could not but suggest some higher truths.
Reflection would confirm the suggestion. The Hebrew ritual similar to the Esyptian in
many particulars. A representative system adapted to the great ends which God must
have proposed , G8
THE MOSAIC LAW A THEOCRACY. PAGE
The Mosaic law shown to be a theocracy from the prevalence in early ages of representative
language and symbolic actions- as also from the nature of the case. From examples in the
Scriptures : Gen. iii. 15 ; xxii. 2 ; xii. and xvii. ; Psalms 2, 22, 47, 67, 72. From the proph
ets. From Christ s manner of teaching, confirmed by his striking declarations in Matt. v.
17 ; John, xviii. 33 ; Luke, xxiv. 44, 45 89
THE MOSAIC LA"W A THEOCRACY.
The views of Paul in respect to this system. The premises from which he argued familiar
to him and to the Jews : Kom. i. 17, 18 ; ii. 1, 2 ; ii. 20 ; iii. 21 ; vii. 3-6 ; GaJL iii. 16, sqq. ;
Eph. ii. 15 Col. ii. 14. The Epistle to the Hebrews 105
THE NATURE OF GOD S MORAL GOVERNMENT AS REVEALED
Introduction. Plan unfolded. The subjects of six sections announced. Section first : Law
immutable in its authority. Dogma, of man s inability discussed. Three theories in
support of it: The Augustinian, the Arminian, the Edwardian. These theories discussed.
Section second: The laic immutable in its claim. Claim defined. Can never be satis
fied in case of disobedience. Neither by the infliction of penalty, nor by repentance, nor
by an atonement - 123
THE NATURE OF GOD S MORAL GOVERNMENT AS REVEALED,
Section third : Law immutable in its sanctions. Law used in a generic sense. Theologians
too often confine it to a legal system. Consequent errors. Error of Dr. John Taylor in
asserting that the transgressor can be pardoned by and only by the prerogative of the
sovereign. Similar error of those who hold that the legal penalty can be executed (by
imputation or mystical union) on another than the transgressor. Contrary to known
principles of law and justice. The authority only of the lawgiver sustained by penalty and
an atonement Pardon not a matter of right, nor merit, nor claim. General view of
sanctions from the Scripture history 149
THE NATURE OF GOD S MORAL GOVERNMENT AS REVEALED.
Section 2: The law a rule of action and not of judgment. Error on this point Law as a
rule of action never called law in the Scriptures. All men are under it, however. All
men, in fact, condemned by it, but not judged by it as yet. Objections considered. Posi
tion confirmed by a view of the facts of the Scriptures. Section 3 : The law, in requiring
obedience, prohibits disobedience, and nice versa. Distinction made by theologians, un
tenable from the nature of law. Impossible to be applied to a subject of law. Intro
duced to justify another; viz., that between the active and passive obedience of Christ.
Source in the use of negative terms. Denied in the Scriptures 174
THE NATURE OF GOD S MOKAL GOVERNMENT AS EEYEALED.
Section 4: The law in the sum of its requirements. The sum of requirements stated.
Measured by human and not angelic capacities. The law requires supreme love and honor
to the extent of man s power. This love comprehends those great duties that are always
binding, and every other duty whenever it is binding. Mistake of divines in considering
" the two commandments of the law" as equal. Love to God. Love of benevolence and
not love of complacency. Relation of one to the other. This love is an elective prefer
ence, and supreme. The law of God is perfect ; it is holy, just, and good. This view im
portant to elevate the standard of Christian piety. Ought to be enforced by the Christian
ministry to stimulate to holiness, and to expose the defects of a godless philanthropy 191
THE NATURE OF GOD S MORAL GOVERNMENT AS REVEALED.
Section 5 : The law in the import of its sanctions. The reward. Proposition stated.
Eternal life not the sanction of the law of Moses. The reward not directly revealed.
Not frequently repeated. Made known by inference and representation. Does this in
volve double sense f The proper and accidental sense of words distinguished. Both
authorized by usage. Allegorical and fantastic interpretations deprecated. Twofold sense
abundant in the Scriptures. Examples in parables: Gen. iii. 15; xvii. 8. Application to
reward promised in the Mosaic law. Use of the word life in the Old and New Testament.
The law of Eden 210
THE NATURE OF GOD S MORAL GOVERNMENT AS REVEALED.
Section 5 continued: viz., The law in the import of its sanctions. 2. The penalty of the
law. The nature of the penalty, viz., temporal death and eternal suffering. The penalty
originally denounced, general and indefinite. Temporal death, as it now occurs to all
men, not penal. The sentence in Gen. iii. 19 not a part of the legal penalty. Spiritual
death not penal. Proof of Prop. The temporal death of the Mosaic law taught eternal
death without mercy. External obedience clearly shown not to suffice. The words to die
and death. Illustration from the double or extended meaning of exile under certain sup
posed circumstances. Death and to die used in the Old Testament with this additional
meaning. Additional considerations. Book of Ecclesiastes. Enoch and Abraham.
Prayer of Balaam. Destruction by the deluge, and of Sodom and Gomorrah. Argument
from the New Testament 224
THE NATURE OF GOD S MORAL GOVERNMENT AS REVEALED.
Section 6: The law expresses God s preference of obedience to disobedience, all things con
sidered. Two opposite views on this subject possible. The first, inadmissible by the
language of the law; opposed to the dictates of common sense; self-contradictory and
absurd ; mistakes an involuntary state for a preference ; converts sin into holiness, and
holiness into sin. The second view supported by the language of the law; by God s sin
cerity, &c., tfec. ; by his own solemn assurances in the Scriptures. No texts teach the
APPENDIX No. I.
ESSAY ON JUSTICE AS THE ATTRIBUTE OF A PERFECT
PART I.-CONCEPTION OF JUSTICE ANALYZED AND EXPLAINED.
Justice defined. 1. Justice a benevolent disposition. Manifested in subordinate purposes
and executive doings. Relation of one to tbe other. 2. Justice is a disposition to render
to every one his due. What is it to render to every one his due? Difference between
what is due and what is "his due." Executive acts divided into two classes, and each
of these subdivided into two. The cases arising under these classes considered in order.
What is "his due" arises from a special relation, and involves a right Inalienable rights.
What is a right ? Eight involves obligation 253
PART II DIFFERENT SPECIES OF JUSTICE WITH APPLICATION TO
Justice commonly classified as commutative, distributive, and general. This erroneous.
Theological errors founded upon it In opposition to these views three propositions vin
dicated, viz. : 1. Justice in a moral governor not general benevolence ; 2. Not distributive
justice; but, 3. A benevolent disposition to maintain authority. These propositions de
fended from a consideration of various instances of justice, and from the fact that it is
not exposed to the theological errors specified 2T3
APPENDIX No. II.
ESSAY ON THE PROVIDENTIAL GOVERNMENT OF GOD.
PART I.-RELATION OF PROVIDENTIAL TO MORAL GOVERNMENT.
Providential and moral government defined. Moral government included in providential.
All events fall under providential government Grounds of the certainty of different kinds
of action differ in their nature and their design. In what sense does God purpose wrong
moral action?... 294
PART II. THE PROVIDENTIAL PURPOSES OF GOD.
Topics to be discussed. Remarks on the terms decrees, predestination, &c. I. Nature of
the divine purposes. II. Their extent ; they include every event. III. The certainty of
their accomplishment IV. The mode of their accomplishment : 1. As they respect events
in the material world ; Question argued at length in respect to th-e efficiency of second
causes ; 2. As they respect the acts of moral agents. These determined by the constitu
tion of man and his circumstances. Objections considered 302
PART I1I.-THE DIFFERENT KINDS OR 6PECIE3 OF PROVIDENCE.
Kinds of providence incorrectly divided. Providence considered as mediate, particular,
universal, ordinary, and extraordinary. Question of special providence discussed at
APPENDIX No. III.
ESSAY ON THE QUESTION IN WHAT DIFFERENT RESPECTS MAY
GOD BE SUPPOSED TO PURPOSE DIFFERENT AND
EVEN OPPOSITE EVENTS?
PART I. QUESTION EXPLAINED AND DISCUSSED.
Importance of the question. Confused and unsatisfactory views in respect to it Question
stated hypothetically. Three suppositions. Vindications of the propriety of arguing from
the purposes of man to the purposes of God. Supposition of a father. Application to the
present question. Illustration to show the use of language 327
PART II. OBJECTIONS CONSIDERED.
1. To suppose that the highest conceivable good is impossible with God, is inconsistent with
omnipotence. 2. God could have prevented some sins which he has permitted, and thus
caused a less amount of sin. 3. The theory requires that less than the highest conceivable
happiness should exist, and less glory to God. 4. Also that the glory of God as a moral
governor should be diminished, so far as this depends on the obedience of his subjects 340
PART III. ADDITIONAL OBJECTIONS.
5. According to this theory God cannot be as happy or blessed as if there were no sin.
6. That sin is the necessary means of the greatest good is proved decisively on two grounds.
Otherwise God could not purpose its existence. By mercy he can produce greater
happiness than had there been no sin. 7. A high degree of temptation necessary to tlia
highest degree of holiness, and of course to the highest happiness; and this is the reason
why God has permitted sin 349
APPENDIX No. IY.
ARE ANY OF THE PUNISHMENTS OF CIVIL LAW LEGAL SANCTIONS
EXCEPT THE PUNISHMENT OF DEATH?
(VIDE LECTURE VII., SECT. I., VOL. I.)
Prevalent errors to be considered. All evil employed in punishment not penal sanction of
supreme law. How to decide what is the supreme law. Civil government does not require
virtuous benevolence. Overt action cognized. Assumption in favor of every subject.
Eeward given by the State. How viewed as a sanction. Penalty how considered as a
sanction. Malum in se and malum prohibition, in one respect no transgression of civil
] aw . Malum in se. Many overt acts which are prohibited, not considered as violations
of the supreme law. Burglary and robbery. Falsely assumed that civil law assigns punish
ment according to a just moral estimate of offenses. Diversity in degree of penalty. The
enactments under consideration not enforced by legal sanctions. Punishment of death 3C7
APPENDIX No. Y.
THOUGHTS ON THE EVIDENCE FOE DIVINE REVELATION, AND
ESPECIALLY THE ARGUMENT FROM MIRACLES.
1. Miracles defined. Misconceptions removed. 2. Miracles are credible. A strong pre
sumption ngainst miracles as contrary to experience. 8. Are capable of proof. 4. Under
the circumstances; and, 5. Are therefore credible. To complete the argument, the his
torical narrative must be shown to be true and its authors inspired.
It is urged that events like the recorded miracles have been wrought. Also by Dr. Chalmers,
that miracles may be wrought by other beings than God. This opinion controverted :
1. As inconsistent with the proper meaning of the word ; 2. As subverting the object of
miracles ; 3. As destitute of proof; and, 4 As opposed by reason and the Scriptures 888
THE MORAL GOVERNMENT OF GOD,
THE MORAL GOVERNMENT OF GOD AS REVEALED
IN THE SCRIPTURES.
LECTURE I. TTTE FACT AND THE PROOF.
The nature of Man. Man, from the first, placed under Moral Government. This relation of God
formally claimed throughout the Scriptures. The history of God s Providence. The Theocracy
of Israel. The leading Doctrines of the Scriptures.
To present God to men as their perfect Moral Governor, and
to unfold the nature, the mode, and the issues of his moral ad
ministration nnder its different forms, is obviously the great
design of Revelation, and that to which every other is subor
dinate and subservient. The manifestation of God in this au
gust relation to man, carrying with it the relation of man to
God as the subject of his moral government, and implying its
foundation and its origin in the character of God, and in the
nature and condition of man man s duty, character, and des
tiny, the influences under which he must act, the progress and
results of the system may be justly said to be the compre
hensive theme of Revealed Theology.
In attempting to unfold a subject so comprehensive, it is
often necessary to discuss singly some of its prominent and es
sential parts. Especially must this be true when every such
part of the whole subject has been one of long, extensive, and
continued controversy. The part which has called forth the
discussion and the controversy may be more or less compre
hensive ; it has usually been so in theology, as different cir
cumstances and occasions have given rise to these partial and
insulated discussions. Witness for example, without going
VOL. II. 1
2 MORAL GOVERNMENT AS REVEALED
further back in dogmatic history the Augustinian and Pe
lagian, the Calvin istic and Arminian controversies, and also
those far more restricted and limited themes and topics which
have employed the labors of such men as Butler, Howe, Ed
wards, and many others. Such have been the forms in which
the ablest arid most distinguished theologians have professedly
given to the world the theology of the Scriptures, the substan
tial truths of God s Revelation. In this way we have had,
with more or less of Natural Theology, Institutes of the Chris
tian Religion, Bodies of Divinity, Systems of Theology, Con
fessions of Faith, Creeds, and Catechisms. It is not my design
to raise the question concerning the utility of what may be
called Systematic Theology, but to say that all the attempts
made by theologians to systematize the great and substantial
truths of both Natural and Revealed Theology, have hitherto
proved utter and complete failures, by a necessity arising
from the manner in which they have been made. For, in all
these attempts, there never has been any full and ^thorough ex
hibition, nor even a professed attempt at an exhibition, of that
great and comprehensive relation of God to men, to which all
things besides in creation and providence are subordinate and
subservient ; his relation to men as administering a perfect
moral government over them as moral and immortal beings
created in his own image, I do not say, that on some parts
of this commanding relation of God to men, nothing has been
said nor even much which is true, with however, much more
that is false, or if true, not decisively proved. But I say, in
all the theology of uninspired men, there has been to this
hour not even an attempt formally and fully to unfold the
comprehensive relation of God to men as their perfect moral
governor, in the nature, the essential principles, and actual
administration of this government.
But if God actually sustains this comprehensive relation to
men ; if he is actually administering a system of perfect moral
government over men ; if all his works of creation and provi
dence are subordinate and subservient to this high and compre
hensive relation, then all theological truth must be comprised
either in the truths which are essentially involved in this sys
tem of moral government, or must be in entire and perfect har
mony with them.
It is not then my Immediate design to call your attention to
PLAN OF THE PRESENT DISCUSSION.
a full view of God s moral government as exhibited in the
Scriptures. My present design in this series of lectures is,
I. To establish from the Scriptures the general FACT of God s
moral government over men ; and,
II. To unfold the nature of this government as presented in
the Scriptures. I proceed then on the authority of the Scrip
I. To establish the general fact of God s moral government
Of this fact, the Scriptures furnish such manifold and abund
ant proofs, that it is quite impossible to present them in all their
fullness and force. What I propose is, to present some of
them with as little amplification as may be, though at the sacri
fice of their fullness and weight. These proofs will, of course,
necessarily relate to the general fact of ^a moral government, as
distinguished from any particular mode of its administration.
A moral government, whether it consist of a merely legal sys
tem, or of law and grace combined, is still a moral government,
and may be proved to exist by arguments which prove either
particular form of it, or which prove neither in distinction from
the other. I argue the fact of God s moral government over
1. From the account given of man s nature as a creature of
The first description of man is one which imparts the
highest significance and grandeur to the work of creation as at
first recorded. " God created man in his own ima;e." What
were this world in all its beauty and sublimity, without this
creature man in the likeness of the Being that made him !
No other being so exalted in the essential elements of his
nature, could have been created ; for he was essentially God
like. He was therefore immortal ; and as endued with intel
lect, affections, and elective power, a free agent, and from the
necessity of his condition, as created male and female, as well
as in his relations to his Maker, a moral agent y capable of
moral character and of moral action fitted to do the will, to
accomplish the designs of God, thus to live and act in eternal
fellowship with God, in doing good. The great end of his
being was thus to bless God, to bless a sentient universe, and
to bless himself in the highest degree ; and yet he was not less
capable of defeating this end, and promoting its fearful oppo-
MORAL GOVERNMENT AS REVEALED.
site in the highest misery. He was destined to be the progeni
tor of other myriads like himself. Would the benignant Father
of existence forsake this work of his own hands, and leave
these children of his power to the darkness and dreariness, to the
self-disposal and ruin of an unguided and unprotected orphan
age ? or, would he assume that relation, and adopt that system
of control which should combine every influence of wise and
benignant authority, of discipline, of guidance and of guar
dianship, which is adapted in the highest degree to secure the
end of their creation in perfection of character and of happi
ness, the system of a perfect moral government ? Can we, in
any case of moral reasoning, infer with greater assurance any
truth from any reason ? The first and most momentous fact
then of divine revelation concerning man, decides that he was
created, so that from the beginning he might live and act for
ever under the perfect moral government of God.
2. Man at the first was actually placed under the perfect
moral government of God, when created and put into the
garden of Eden to dress and keep it, " the Lord God com
manded the man, saying : Of every tree of the garden thou
mayest freely eat ; but of the tree of the knowledge of good
and evil, thou shalt not eat of it ; for in the day that thon eatest
thereof, thou shalt surely die."
Man indeed, by the institution of the Sabbath and the
creation of Eve, may perhaps have already come under
the full measure of moral obligation to obey, what are com
monly called the first and second commandments of the law.
Be this as it may, God first and formally instituted his moral
government over man when he gave the law in Eden,
which has now been cited. In giving this law, he in the
first instance formally assumed his rightful authority as a
moral ruler, claimed in his true character as " the Lord
God" the right to govern, which imposes an obligation to
obey, gave a perfect rule of action, which demands the spirit
of unqualified loyalty, and sustained his absolute dominion
by the requisite legal sanction. Without here attempting
to interpret, in its more particular meaning, the language of
the requirement and of the penalty of this law, it is suffi
cient for my present purpose, that it requires that spirit of
loyalty, or that unqualified submission in all things which is
due to an infinitely perfect Being in the relation of a moral
ILLUSTRATED FROM SCRIPTURE HISTORY. 5
governor, and fully sustains his authority by the legal sanction
which is annexed to the requirement. God then, from the
beginning, assumed the high relation of perfect moral gov
ernor over men, as moral and immortal beings.
3. This relation of God to men, is set before us, in different
instances throughout the Scriptures, with similar formality and
The moral government, as given in its first form to our
first parents in Eden, was a merely legal dispensation. Im
mediately after their apostasy however, is revealed a prom
ised Redeemer ; and now this simply legal system, though it
ceases not to be a perfect moral government, is greatly modi
fied, by a divine and wonderful combination of law and grace
in one system ; in which, while there is an ample provision
for the pardon and acceptance of penitent transgressors,
neither the obligation of the law as a perfect rule of action,
nor the authority of God as a perfect moral governor, is
impaired. The reason is, that in pardoning the penitent or
believing transgressor under the provision of an atonement,
the authority of the lawgiver or moral governor is as fully sus
tained every iota of the influence of law to secure perfect
obedience is as fully established, as it would be by the inflic
tion of the legal penalty on the transgressor. And thus it is,