Imágenes de página

may be in the minority, and yet as a third party they may effect such a combination with another party as to secure the passage of a stringent temperance law. In point of both theory and fact this law may be none too stringent, and yet being so far in advance of the popular sentiment that it can not be enforced, the result is free rum. Such legislation is worthless. A law less stringent, so as not to advance beyond the popular sentiment, and therefore sure of being enforced, is practically better than a more perfect piece of legislation which, however, can not be put to use.

On the other hand, it is eminently important that legislation should advance just as far as the popular sentiment will allow, just so far as its enforcement can be secured. There is no safety to public morals, unless the moral sentiment of the people is expressed in forms of law, just so fast and so far as that sentiment advances. A church may erect a most attractive house of worship, call to the pulpit the best talent and piety, and fill the pews with the best people, but little could be done thereby for the morals of the community in general if opposite this church a gin palace should be opened, with rooms for gambling, and the street left free for open vice, and no Sabbath laws to secure an abatement of the public nuisance. Though the number at first opposed to good morals should be small, yet, without the restraint of law, they would have it in their power to tempt multitudes to ruin, and this power of temptation would increase till the body of society would become corrupt.

It is a nice point, therefore, to hold legislation in the proper relation to moral suasion, so that its movement shall be neither too fast nor too slow. Hence no subject of legislation requires sounder judgment, or more skill of statesmanship, than the subject of morals. The opinion seems to prevail in certain quarters, that the civil law should demand nothing less than what is up to the highest level of theoretic truth; that it should be set up as an exact standard of perfect right in a case of morals, with penalty appropriate. For example: it has been said that a temperance law that should allow the sale of

alcohol for medicinal use and the arts, with the heaviest of penalties upon conviction of sale for other uses, would be a perfect law. But though it should be made to appear upon the clearest reasoning, that such a law were none too stringent to meet the intrinsic merits of the case; though it be shown that he who sells his neighbor drink to make him a drunkard, and makes him so, is guilty of murder by indirect means always, and by direct means sometimes, and that the offense is such in its effect upon others than the one against whom it is committed, that it grows to be a crime of multiplied murder; yet it would be useless to put such a law in the book of statutes, so long as the prevailing sentiment should attach nothing criminal to such sale. “By degrees the public sentiment may be carried forward in that direction with progressive enactments of law to suit the growing sentiment, until the most stringent law is thus safely reached; but that high point can not be reached by a single step of legislation. We may freely concede the educating power even of laws not fully executed; but when the law so far outruns the public sentiment as to be a dead letter, not only does that educating influence wholly fail, but a positive habit of lawlessness is generated in the community.

The great need in popular opinion on the subject of temperence, is a greater reverence for divine law as revealed in the word of God, in order to form upon that a proper statute. Where there is no reverence for the divine government, there will be no respect for human authority. Let the popular estimate of justice be so low as to reduce the penalty affixed to the greatest crimes to the smallest amount, do away with capital punishment for murder, excuse the thief, especially if he steal largely, on the ground of kleptomania; let the plea of insanity in the courts become the successful defense for all the worst forms of crime, and then, of course, it will be vain to attempt an exception in the single case of temperance, by enacting a law with a stringent penalty. Let there prevail in the body politic a false notion of mercy as a doctrine of Christianity; let the attribute of mercy in God be held so that, instead of granting forgiveness to penitent souls, it shall grant universal amnesty to all forms of sin, whether repented of or not, and the result will be that this false notion of mercy will proportionately destroy the power of the civil law in that community in proportion. Let false notions of humanity be current,- a humanity of sentimentalism that weeps only over the sufferings of convicts,- and the distinction between right and wrong is so far ignored as to weaken all law. The drift of this false sentimentalism in morals, and of the so-called humanitarianism in religion, is to put disabilities in the way of virtue, and to soothe and flatter vice. To eradicate this poison, and purify public opinion so that it may enact and enforce right law upon temperance, it is necessary that a deeper impression should be made with the word of God. It must be understood more generally that civil law can have no sanction and firm support but that which it receives from the Divine. They who first set aside the law and righteousness of God, and then assume to set up a law and righteousness of their own, only hew out the “broken cisterns” that can hold no water. The moral sanctions of human law are from a supernatural source. Hence, in order to a sound temperance platform, it must be maintained that, as Divine truth leads the way in the introduction of Christian civilization among a heathen people, thus forming at length the right foundation for civil law; so ever after, in all the further progress that this civilization can make among any people, Divine truth must lead, working by moral suasion, and this lead the civil law, with its institutions, must follow, binding all with the statute; while, for the constant improvement of legislation, and greater efficiency of law, there must always be sought in advance of it a higher tone of the popular moral sentiment..


In Swabia, between the Donau and the Necker, stood an old mountain castle, the ancestral home of the Counts of Hohenzollern. A branch of this house appears in the thirteenth century, as Burgraves of Nuremberg, a people knowing well how to make money, and quite as well, how to use it in acquiring influence. On account of their extensive domains and distinguished services, Charles IV., Emperor of Germany, bestowed on them the honor of Princes of the Empire, and their lands, rich in means, were divided into two principalities : on the mountains and under the mountains. In 1411, the Burgrave, Frederick VI., received for valued services in the election of the Emperor Sigismund, the governorship of the district of Brandenburg, which secured to him all the revenue and power of a complete land-holder, the Emperor reserving to himself and heirs, only the dignity of Elector in said district. But, as Sigismund wanted money and other forms of help which the shrewd Frederick could lend, he subsequently mortgaged the Electorate also; and at length, finding it easier to bestow titles than to refund money, he conveyed by deed, the Electorate, making it sure and strong. Thus the Hohenzollern Prince purchased a permanent footing in the district, and as Elector, assumed the title of Frederick I. At this time John Huss was culminating to martyrdom in Bohemia, and the new Elector labored both with Huss and the Emperor to bring matters to a quiet issue : advising Huss to rely simply upon the Word for the support of his cause, and counseling the Emperor to mildness, all, however, without effect. At the death of Sigismund the princes of the empire looked towards Frederick as successor, while he, faithful in his allegiance, guided the choice in favor of Albert II., of Austria, son-in-law of the Emperor.


Frederick II., surnamed the Irontooth, succeeded his father in 1440. Of firm faith in God, naturally mild, but resolute in purpose, the Irontooth addressed himself firmly to reduce the rude people of his district to order. When they opposed his entrance as ruler into Cologne and Berlin, the two cities which have since blended into Berlin, he took advantage of an internal quarrel, to march in at the head of six thousand knights, fortified himself, and built the first installment of the old palace as the headquarters of a permanent capital. In 1470 Frederick II. abdicated in favor of his brother, Albert Achilles, who well merited his surname, and ordained as a law of the house, that the Brandenberg district, with all its appartenances, should fall duly and undirected to the oldest son, or his heirs. In accordance with this ordinance, his son John Cicero succeeded in 1486, and was the first Hohenzollern who permanently resided in the district. Prematurely developed, this Elector commenced his rule at fifteen years of age. Of a firm will, and watchful for the good of his people, John led an earnest mode of life, and established a Supreme Court of Judicature, which he earnestly counselled to judge impartially, to avoid all useless formalities, and above all, to seek the means of amicable adjustment.

In 1499 Joachim succeeded his father. When his brother Albert, Archbishop of Magdeburg, had bestowed on the notorious Tetzel the right to sell indulgences, and received a part of the gains, and Luther came out in scathing opposition to this infamous swindle, Joachim sympathized with his brother, was angry that a monk should assail such ecclesiastical dig. nity, and, opposing the Reformation, at length forbade that his subjects should embrace the Protestant faith, or read any of the reformatory writings. His wife Elizabeth, the accomplished Princess of Denmark, however, warmly espoused the Protestant cause, for which she incurred the estrangement, and, finally, almost brutal treatment of her husband. This Joachim was the first and only ruler of the line who opposed the Protestant cause. Dying in 1535, he was succeeded by his son Joachim II., who, open, cheerful and generous to pro

« AnteriorContinuar »