IN the August Christian Statesman, Rev. R. C. Allen treats of the “fundamental principles of civil government, specifically considered.” Among these principles, as he enumerates them, are the following:—
“9. The only right a man has is to do right.
“10. But man is a sinner and God is invisible. How will moral law be enforced for the time being?
“11. Moral force is sufficient to control moral beings; but physical force must compel immoral beings.
“12. God has instituted civil government for this end, and has clothed the civil ruler with authority to execute his moral law.
“13. God has ordained civil government to enforce his moral law among men that they shall enjoy their rights.”
This last assertion is italicized and set forth as being the “principal proposition.”
This is the true national reform theory, set forth without any attempt at disguise. Its fundamental proposition is “God … has clothed the civil ruler with authority to execute his moral law.”
Let us suppose that this proposition is true: what follows?
If the civil ruler is true to the requirements of his office, being clothed with this authority, he will proceed to execute God’s moral law upon transgressors as they are brought before him. What then?
The transgression of the law is sin (1 John 3:4); and “the soul that sinneth it shall die.” Ezekiel 18:4, 20.
That the penalty of sin, of every kind or degree, is death, is by the testimony of Scripture too plain a fact to require argument. Adam, in the Garden of Eden, was told by his Creator that in the day that he disobeyed the command given him concerning the tree of knowledge of good and evil, he would surely die. He did disobey, and from that moment he became mortal, and started on his journey to the grave. But mightier than this—a stupendous and unimpeachable testimony to the truth that the penalty of sin is death—is the face of the death of the Son of God on the cross. This was because Adam had transgressed the moral law, and if there had been any escape from the death penalty, this infinite sacrifice could have been avoided. But there was no escape from death, and only through the death of Christ was there escape for Adam and his sinful posterity.
No sinner can enter heaven; this is a fact universally admitted. But he who is shut out of heaven will, it is declared, be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, which is the “second death.”
It being unquestionably true, then, that the penalty of sin is death, when transgressors of the moral law are brought before the civil ruler, he being commissioned of God to execute the moral law, it would simply remain for him to execute the death penalty upon every individual who should be found guilty. And as all people upon the earth are sinners, how long would it be before every man, woman and child in the land would be put to death, supposing the civil rulers to be faithful in doing their “duty”? And all this, in order that men “shall enjoy their rights!” Imagine the people of a land enjoying their rights under such a régime as this!
And being sinners themselves, it would remain finally for the civil rulers, after having put all others to death, to execute the death penalty upon themselves; and then this theory of the authority of the civil power would have been fully carried into effect! And as the result of it, there would remain not a single living soul on the earth!
Is this what the people want? Is it what those want who advocate a union of the civil power with religion? There can be no such union which would leave out the moral law of God, certainly; and being joined with the moral law, the only possible result would be the execution of the death penalty upon the people, as before stated. This is what union of the State with religion means; and that it does mean just this is as plain as A B C.
But to prevent this, to give the transgressor probation and an opportunity still to obtain the eternal life for which he was created, God at an infinite sacrifice provided the plan of salvation. He sends to man the gospel—the “glad tidings”—expressly to prevent the execution of his moral law upon him. He made an infinite sacrifice, giving his only begotten Son to die, expressly to save man from being visited with the execution of his moral law. By and law, in the great Judgment day, he will execute his moral law upon all who shall then be found transgressors, and the result to all such will be eternal death.
It is perfect clear, then, that this doctrine which declares the civil ruler to be authorized to execute the moral law of God, is squarely opposed to the gospel. It is as squarely against God and against Christ, as it Satan himself. It is the doctrine of antichrist. It means death, and not life,—death to the state, death to the church, death to everything. Let it be recognized for what it is, and carefully shunned by the American people.