Marriage Index
Van Deusen/Kosinski Collection

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HUMAN LAWS are variously distinguished, conformably to their peculiar principles and different ends. As soon as men enter into a social compact, the equality, essential to a state of nature, ceases. As they increase in numbers and spread over the earth, new societies arise, new nations are formed; which render some common principles necessary for their individual safety, and oblige them to adopt some general laws for their mutual intercourse. What they adopt for this purpose is called the LAW OF NATIONS; which is a law "that regulates the intercourse and determines the rights of peace and war between separate states and kingdoms." Quod naturalis ratio inter omnes homines constituit, vocatur JUS GENTIUM.

The safety, propriety and government of each individual nation require laws suited to their respective choice and circumstances. These are comprised under the denomination of the CIVIL LAW. "Quod quisque populus ipse sibi jus constituit, id ipsius proprium civitatis est, vocaturque JUS CIVILE, quasi jus proprium ipsius civitatis." Justian.


The civil Law is divided into two branches. That which relates to the governors, and those who are governed, is distinguished by the title of POLITICAL LAW, or the constitution of the state. [Montesquieu. Spirit of Laws, book 1. chap. 3.] That which respects the mutual rights and duties of citizens is called the MUNICIPAL LAW, not as restricted to a particular municipality, but in a more extensive sense, as the rule by which members of the same community or nation are bound to regulate their conduct towards each other.

Each of these great classes comprehends many subdivisions, agreeably to the different objects to which they relate, or the immediate power by which they are enforced; which give a name or title to distinct kinds of laws, whether they belong to the civil laws of the state, or the canon laws of the Church. - But the law of God is superior in authority to all these. No human laws, of whatever name or description, are of any validity, if they be contrary to the divine law; and such of them as are valid, derive all their force, either mediately or immediately from this original.


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