2015-04-18 Back to basics – a rule of action
ACH Study Groups
Ben & Fran Gilmore – Cofounders
7659 Gingerblossom Drive
Citrus Heights, CA 95621
April 18, 2015
This is a letter to our friends –
Back to basics “A rule of action”
“OF THE NATURE OF LAWS IN GENERAL. Meaning of law. – Law, in the most general and comprehensive sense, signifies a rule of action; and is applied indiscriminately to all kinds of action, whether animate or inanimate, rational or irrational. Thus we say, the laws of nature and of nations. And it is that rule of action, which is prescribed by some superior, and which the inferior is bound to obey.”
So wrote Sir William Blackstone (1723 – 1780), in “The Commentaries”. Blackstone is known as, “The father of the legal profession.”
Can you think of anything that exists without a set of laws to govern it? Now, suppose that which is so governed steps outside those “rules of action” – chaos! Americans don’t care for the part – “And it is that rule of action, which is prescribed by some superior, and which the inferior is bound to obey.” We don’t think in terms like “superior” and “inferior”.
How about, “In our car-pool you don’t smoke.” or, “If you live in our house, you obey our house rules.”
Later on, Sir William continues –
“A being independent of any other, has no rule to pursue, but such as he prescribes to himself; but a state of dependence will inevitably oblige the inferior to take the will of him, on whom he depends, as the rule of his conduct; not indeed in every particular, but in all those points wherein his dependence consists.”
“You are welcome to smoke, but not while riding in our car-pool”. “You can move out, but while you live here you obey house rules.”
Then the “Father of the legal profession” nails it down! –
“This principle, therefore, has more or less extent and effect, in proportion as the superiority of the one and the dependence of the other is greater or less, absolute or limited. And consequently, as man depends absolutely upon his Maker for everything, it is necessary that he should in all parts conform to his Maker’s will.”
How independent are you? How independent does God want you to be? Either you will be governed by God’s will – or – You will be governed by rules of action prescribed by a man, yourself or someone else. You will be governed by God’s law of liberty, or you will be governed by a tyrant (slavery). Note – In anarchy, no rules but your own, you become your own tyrant!
John Locke (1631 – 1704), “The philosopher of American liberty” described man under God’s law of liberty.
“To understand political Power, right, and derive it from its Original, we must consider, what State all Men are naturally in, and that is, a State of perfect Freedom to order their Actions, and dispose of their Possessions, and Persons as they think fit, within the bounds of the Law of Nature, without asking leave, or depending upon the Will of any other Man.” [“Of Civil Government” – Chapter X – Of the State of Nature]
Man in a “State of perfect Freedom” is still governed by God’s Law of Nature. He cannot fly, he must eat, etc. If you were the only person on earth, everything necessary to sustain you is provided. You are at peace – until – you defy the law of gravity and try to fly off a cliff.
Natural laws are discovered by observation and reason. Locke said reason is a gift from God. Suppose now, there are two of you alone on earth. Reason tells you that your State of perfect Freedom must not violate the other’s State of perfect Freedom. The “Golden Rule.”
Locke puts it this way:
“The State of Nature has a Law of Nature to govern it, which obliges everyone: And Reason, which is that Law, teaches all Mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his Life, Health, Liberty, or Possessions.
The problem is that man’s observation and man’s reason is imperfect. Once man reasoned that the earth was flat! Blackstone writes that God in His benevolence, gave us His laws by direct (inspired) revelation.
“The doctrines thus delivered we call the revealed or divine law, and they are to be found only in the Holy Scriptures. These precepts, when revealed, are found upon comparison to really be a part of the original law of nature, as they tend in all their consequences to man’s felicity.” [felicity is man’s happiness, prosperity, blessing]
Blackstone continues to point out that revealed law is infinitely more authoritative than natural law. Because, he says, revealed law (Bible) is given by direct revelation from God, while natural law, though from the same source, is discovered by man’s imperfect observation and reason.
“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.This is the first and great commandment.And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”[Matthew 22:37–40]