“No Reform Possible by Law” American Sentinel 12, 47, pp. 737, 738.

THERE can be no such thing as reform by civil law.

This is a fact that should be evident to every Christian, and to every thoughtful student of history.

There never was any such thing as reform by civil law since human history began.

There never was a law enacted by any power whatever that could make a good man out of a bad man, or bring a good life out of an evil heart.

Even the law of God is powerless to produce good in the life of an individual fallen, as all upon earth are, under the power of sin. This is a fact plainly set forth in the scriptures of truth.

Yet the law of God is a perfect law; every other law that was ever passed, or that ever can be, is inferior to it. How, then, can it be expected that a law of man can produce results which are beyond the power of that law?

Yet reforms are necessary. Without them the world [738] would have gone to destruction long ago. And there have been great reforms accomplished, which have brought benefits that have reached down through the ages. There is nothing to which history testifies more plainly than to this.

What, then, is the true agency in real reform? Both history and inspiration answer, The Word of God.

In the first place, the Word of God formed all things, and made them perfect. This being so, it is evident that the same Word has power to re-form all things and restore them to their original state.

When God would destroy the world by a flood because of its wickedness, he sent Noah, “a preacher of righteousness” unto the people, for a hundred and twenty years. The world would not be reformed, it is true; but not Christian will question that God employed a means which would have wrought a reform, if the people had received the message which Noah preached.

When God’s ancient people, Israel, fell into sin, he sent to them, from time to time, the prophets, who proclaimed the word that the Lord had given them. And when the people heeded that word, it brought them again into the ways of righteousness.

Coming down to modern times, we note the great Reformation which swept over Europe in the sixteenth century. What was the power of the Reformation? Was it any other than the power of the divine Word, proclaimed by Luther and his associates?

After them, Wesley, Whitefield, Bunyan, and others, by the same preaching of the Word, wrought reforms which swept over wide communities, and contributed powerfully to the realization of the peace and prosperity which English-speaking nations enjoy to-day.

And now come the great organizations which number in their ranks to inaugurate another great reform—to turn the people again into the way of righteousness and peace—by an agency of which the great reforms of the past know nothing. They propose to inaugurate their great reform through politics.

They propose to mass all their forces at the polls. They propose to have politics preached from the pulpit. They propose to desert the prayer meeting for the primary when the two assemblies are held on the same evening. They propose to lay siege to every legislature until they shall have such laws enacted in every State, and by Congress, as they deem necessary for the regeneration of society and the preservation of good government.

In the face of the fact that no reform was ever in the history of the world accomplished by such means, and of the equally plain fact that the Word of God is the one divinely appointed agency of true reform, they propose to reform society and the nation by civil law. This very next month, one great division of these church forces will send in a petition of a million and a half names to Congress, calling for a recognition of God in the national Constitution.

What will be the result of this work? It will have some result, that is certain. It will have a tremendous result; the magnitude of the forces employed, and of the interests affected, afford sufficient evidence upon that point. But as it cannot produce a genuine reform, the result will be of that nature which every counterfeit must produce,—that of damage to the people. It will bring ruin upon their interests, both material and spiritual.

“By the law is the knowledge of sin;” and by the law is condemnation. But the trouble with the world is not that it has no knowledge of sin, or is not condemned. The world does not need more law; but more of the preaching of the power of love, and of the righteousness of God, which is not by the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ.

THE important question is not that of whether we are citizens of this or that country on earth, but whether we are “fellow citizens with the saints,” or belong to the “strangers and foreigners.” Ephesians 2:19. No foreigner can set foot on the shores of the land of promise.

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