THERE are many good people who, as they note the indications that things are going to the bad in society and in politics, feel it their duty to raise a cry of alarm and call for vigorous legislation to stay the advancing tide of evil. And it is quite proper that they should sound an alarm; that much is perfectly scriptural. But what is to be gained by an appeal to legislation?
How good can society be made by the power of human law?
The fountain of all this evil is in the heart, where no human law can touch it. “An evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth evil things.” “From within, out of the heart of man, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these things come from within, and defile the man.”
What would human society be with all these things, or even a part of them, in the hearts of the people, unrepressed by any power save that of the law of the land? Human society would simply be unendurable; it would be utterly that. The society of the beasts of the forest would be far preferable.
In antediluvian days will whole earth became so wicked that it had to be destroyed by a flood, and that wickedness is described by the statement that “every imagination of the thoughts of his [man’s) heart was only evil continually.” But how much can legislation do to suppress the imagination of the heart? And if it can do nothing to root out these, how much can it do toward preventing the earth from becoming even as wicked as it was in the days of Noah?
The only law that touches the thoughts of the heart is the law of God; the only power that cleanses the heart is the power of divine grace, exercise through faith. When the tide of moral evil is rising in the land, good people should double their zeal in holding up and calling the people to the one great remedy. To spend time and strength in efforts to stop the flood by legislation, is worse than useless.