Law and Liberty—Civil and Religious.
Maoriland Worker, Volume 3, Issue 86, 1 November 1912, Page 8
Law and Liberty—Civil and Religious.
Sermon Preached by the Bishop of Auck'ancl in
Rtiount Eden Gaol, Auckland.
Heard by Union Prisoners and Criticised by Them
"The law is holy and tlio connnaiulment' holy and just and good."— Rom. vii., 12. ''It is impossible to live without law —at least, it is impossible to do so for long. "We are alive this morning because, whilst wo slept, law controlklti' the eartli and that universe which is within our knowledge. All wont on under control, and that control, call wo it physical force or dynamic energy or by what name we wish, was constant and in its constancy lies our security tor life. "And amongst men there was always some species or' law. Strength, what we sometimes call brute strength, was at one time law. The strongest survived, dominated and possessed, while often the weaker, and always the weakest, went to the wall. But AFTER A TIME MEN COMBINED— some of them strong, others not so strong—iii order that renny and not only the few should have the right to live and the right to have. "Now. combination always requires sonii? measure of lav.', and law involves nearly always in the moral sphere both restraint and surrender. As a result of this fact, we find we all are, whether we like it or not, law-makers. "The law which is alike fundamental and universal is that code of law which is made by what WE CALL CONSCIENCE. Evory man in every group of peoples has a conscience, which means he has a stTP-'lnrd of what to him is rit?ht and of what to him is wrong. This conscience is neither identical in evory man nor constant. In sonic it may soom a product of tradition or environment, to others a consequence of what is Called intuitive' conceptions; to some it seems a voice of God. "But te pbint is, look at conscience as you like —either as a reflection of Nature or an instinct of God—its imptilse in a man is to make him a lawmaker at all events for himself and his conduct. "Next there is what I may call a STANDARDISATION OF CONSCIENCE, which may be called command, and the weightiest of these commands are what we call God's commands. They are weightiest because they aro universal. The elemental attitude of the child towards 'command' is resistance. And that child attitude is alas! frequently the attitude of the man towsrds the standardised conscience which issues in the commands of God. It is impossible to explain to a child fully the basis of command—most impossible of all to explain to the young child that the true parents' commands are based on nothing else but love for the child. "Now. at the back of EVERY 'DON'T' OF GOD is the desire to save from pain. God's laws are not arbitrary restrictions; they are the expression of.the permanent desire for our well-being. In other words, they are love. "*■ "Now, the famous man who wrote this letter, St. Paul, Owed a lot to the people to whom he wrote it. The Romans, of all nations of antiquity, were the greatest law-makers. You will remember that Roman law saved him out of the clutches of the WORST LAW IN THE WORLD— that is, mob-law. Once he was in the hands of a frenzied mob, and he was rescued by what we might call the Roman police, and when even they Were, doubtful about him he secured the safety of protection and the liberty of stating his case by the proud claim, 'I am a Roman citizen.' "Next to mob law the worst thing that can happfn to a State is CORRUPT JUSTICE, especially the justice which may he bought by gold. St. Paul's judge hoped 'that money should be given him of Paul,' and he left him unjustly in prison for two years. Roman law came to his rescue when before the next judge St. Paul exercised his right of appeal—'l appeal unto Caesar.' "The rights of a citizen of Rome were to him rights worth having. "But what lies at the basis of citizenship? The highor.t oiHzenshin always means lessened liberty, for citizenship is right up against the man who wants to do what he likes. Citizenship is the surrender of a single liberty for the wider liberty of the many. And CITIZENSHIP IS EXPRESSED THROUGH LAW, arid that is the reason why St. Paul is risht when he says that the law is holy and just and good. The principle of law is the prevention or, at all events, the lessening of harm to yourself and others. " 'But laws.' you say. Van J>p improved.' Yes, most certainly lows can be improved, hut law in tho abstract yon cannot do away with. You cannot improve that out of civilised life. ''A wise man has said: 'Tn nur enspri n«ws for improvement it concerns us to ibe on our guard against the temptation that you con have tho fruit or the flower and yc-t destroy tiv? root.' "Laws, than, are best improved by lnw. But you mri.v r^nh: 'Are there not bad laws?- . Of course, THERE MAY BE BAD LAWS. 'Then am I not right.' you say, 'in resisting a bad law?' You may be: that I at once acknowledge. But I ask how are you going to set about altering laws that are bad. "Rome rren wnnt n flood. 'Destroy lot.' thov cry. Thoy comfort , themselves that in that flood there will (inpo fi nrk in '.vli'"b +V>"v V.n sirwl whHn otWs nori-h. Bvt suMi rJnQ+rnvprs ofton ih tb" rr lr hpld vorv few. I itimh it rnnv h* or "oli'Hcnl mml up f<? to rVstrnv that which mnv involve yourself on/! -"'1 v-1-ol«salp bloi'tinii , out. TW<i id niwnys A pr> TfTTTT~P. V A CT'.TV A TTQN ABOUT DFSTRTTPTTON. You it in the child's life. Tt h tho iniTTicdiato gratification of vmvpr. Rnf dewts are not n n i(Vi. a.-" tho r},i]' discovers too, in its lifdle way. when it has ruthlessly smashed tho toy which will not work. "Now. if yon want to b<; a reformer the first and prpatopt lesson you have to learn is this: that libortv costs a very big nricr Law and librrtv may live tospthnr whore law is the witness of the consent of tho mrmv to restrictions which may benefit the more.
"Again, they must remember that laws are us<jk>s without the power to administer them and liberty is impossible unless we arc pieprcd to concede to others what we desire for ourselves. "If we desiro alteration of the law wo must not destroy the administration, for if we destroy the administration we render inuppiicoblo our alteration of law ; at least, if wo are to go on In ing in a'state of civilisation. Don't hit tlic wrong man. THE POLJCFMAX WILL BE AS NIX'ESvSARY under your reformed law as he is today. ''■■So, to sum up briefly the thoughts I have laid.before you: —'■: First, you cannot live without law. Second, liw must' bo a restriction of individual liberty. Third, when a law is worth having it is worth having, nqt because of the good it brings you by yourself, but of the good it brings to yourself with others. Fourth, when you seek alteration of law, don't destroy the civilisation which administers law. "Now, come back to St. Paul, the writer of the text. This great advocate of law, this claimant of citizen rights, is the man whom the law was too much for. It smothered him; it was always finding him wrong; It) was setting a standard he could not live by; IT WAS STRANGLING HIM; it was to him death. "0 wretched man thrit I am. who shall deliver mc from the body of this death?' "Then comes, wrung; from the heart of his conviction, the confession: 'I thank God through Jesus Christ.' That i' 3 what brings mo here to-day. There is a jail delivery which can open doors to-day and set free prisoners. The process is not the- cry of unsov.erned brute strength—'l'll do what I like,' or even 'I'll fight for mv rights,' but rather tho cry, 'I'll do wlmt h best. I'll fight for dirty, not for self, I WILL FIGHT FOR LIBERTY, liberty which I am as willing that others should shnre as that I should or mucinsl: l should.' 'That is the fight which follows the finest banner in the world. "In hoc sifrno vinccs." in this sign thou shalt conquer, and the sign is the Cross of our T ;"rrl .Treus Christ.
"Under that banner be froe, but free from self and sin; under that banner mak* 1 laws, but first tlw law of discipline for yourself; under that banner join tho federation of those who 'think not every man on his own things, but every man on the things of another.'
"There was one prisoner convicted and suffering; the, last penalty of a lingering death and who, under that banner, emancipated himself. And the
STEPS OF HIS EMANCIPATION were these: First came confession. He acknowledged that he was justly condemned and that his dire punishment was a due reward of his deeds. The second was the lonely, solitary witness of his voice to truth dead against the cries and taunts of the mob: 'This man (and that man was Jesus, dying also his death on a cross beside him), this man hath done nothing amiss.' And the third was a short but a very real prayer: Lord, remeinbcr mc when Thou comest into Thy kingdom.'
"The like emancipation can be yours to-day if you are true enough to confess where conscience says 'that act was wrong'; if you are brave enough (though you do it alone, and though you surrender popularity by the doing of it) to witness to innocence, right and truth, and if you are humble enough to pray one real prayer to Him Who called to heaven for all prisoners of sin: 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.' ''This can be yours:' "Because you are a moral being. "Because you are trusted with a will. "Because you are made for immortality."