is adopted, which distributes the laws of God into two classes. One comprises which is denominated
MORAL, the other PECULIAR. - The MORAL LAWS are those which proceed essentially from the perfections
of God, and which are universally binding. The PECULIAR laws are such as arise from peculiar circumstances,
which bind a particular people only, and are limited in their duration - of the moral laws
there are two arrangements. - Some moral laws are so evidently founded in the nature of man, so easily
investigated, so firm in their binding power upon every conscience, that they have, in the aggregate,
obtained the name of the LAW OF NATURE. Justinian defines it, "Jus naturale est quod omnia animalia docuit," Inst. Lib. 1. Tit. 2.
The law of
nature is that which teaches all animals, a definition exhibiting the law of nature in the most extensive sense of the term.
But the law of nature which belongs to man, must be restricted to the obligations, which are exclusively founded upon his rational as
well as his animal nature. The law of nature is the law of God, and eminently belongs to the moral class.
[See VATTEL. Law of nations - preface.] - Other moral laws, which are distinct from
the law of nature, are comprehended in what are called POSITIVE LAWS. - Positive laws are those which are
ascribed to the sovereignty of God: because, however essential they may be to his perfections, or
accomodated to the nature and situation of man, they cannot be investigated by the light of reason;
nor can they have any binding power, except by the express revelation of God. Positive laws are also of two
kinds, they are either positive moral laws, or positive peculiar laws - the former
are those which are universally promulgated and universally binding - the latter such as are restricted
in their objects and period. - But this analysis of the divine laws requires explanation. The distinctions
must be more minutely defined and illustrated.
As every thing actually existing and all that can possibly exist, with all their relations and properties,
depend upon God; so all the consequences and duties arising from such possible or actual existences must also be dependent upon him.
There is a fitness or propriety of obligations, resulting from relations, which, considered as existing in the nature of
things, antecedent to any positive precept, may be said to constitute the eternal and immutable basis of