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The Certainty of the Operation of Divine Law
from the Writings of William Fenton Tyree, Sr.
That statement seems simple enough, and it does not appear that it would require any elucidation. However, when you step over into the realm of law, you have entered a universe of simplicities and of complications. The law to be discussed is not municipal law nor canon law, as used in this connection, I do not mean the law of God as revealed in Scripture. I rather mean those rules of order and government that operate upon all objects, animate or inanimate; vegetable or mineral; animal or spiritual. Laws that are so operating regardless of our knowledge or lack of knowledge of their existence. The law of gravitation existed and operated with as great invariable certainty and perfection before its existence was discovered by man as it has since such discovery. The discovery added nothing to and subtracted nothing from the law. The combining of one part hydrogen and two parts oxygen had formed water both before and since man discovered that law, his recent acquisition of the knowledge of the law does not affect the law in any way. Such laws exist not because man has discovered or enacted them. They continue to function and to deliver the fullest impact of their operation upon each and every object within their influence, wholly without reference to whether or not we know of their existence. It is an inherent quality of divine law that it must manifest itself not only with certainty but with perfect completeness upon every occasion. It can not be laggard in one instance and overly active in another. It is this quality in divine law that establishes certainty of operation. If we can learn what these laws are and how they operate, we are assured that they will operate exactly the same way upon every occasion and in every instance. If any law is a divine law, what is commonly referred to as natural law is as truly divine as moral or spiritual law can be. All such laws are properly related to divinity and to divinity only. To go a step farther, I would not look upon these laws as the arbitrary enactments of a supreme intelligence, but I would rather look upon them as the harmonious expressions of the perfectly balanced nature of God, emanating from that nature as rays of light from the central sun. In this respect divine law exists independent of any specific enactment or decree, and wholly without any oral or written statement declaring or defining the same. In other words, natural and spiritual laws exist and operate as truly, perfectly, certainly and universally without our knowledge of their existence as they do after we have acquired knowledge of their existence. These laws maintain the eternal fitness of things both tangible and intangible, physical and spiritual, temporal and eternal. And, in the highest sense, they cannot be violated. For convenience of expression, we speak of violation of divine law, but, in all nature, such a thing is impossible. What we may term a law of death is just as eternal, just as divine, just as holy, and just as good as a law that we may describe as the law of life or of growth. These divine laws are self executing -- there is no possible denial or delay, and each such law, as before stated, must in every instance deliver and execute its full force, without diminution or enlargement. In the administration of our human civil and criminal laws, we frequently find delay, uncertainty, perversion or miscarriage of justice, laxity of enforcement, and escape from the penalties pronounced by such laws, but, such is not the case and cannot be the case where the administration of divine law is involved. This court is always in session, the judge is always on the bench, the decrees, mandates, orders, judgments and sentences of this court are immediately carried out or executed. Science gives universal testimony in support of this truth as it is revealed in the certainty of the uniform, complete and instantaneous action of natural law. The laws governing the inanimate clod, or the animate plant or animal, which we call natural law, are neither less nor more certain, inviolable, eternal nor divine than the laws governing the moral or spiritual realm of existences. There is no more possibility of escape from the complete and perfect operation of the one than from the other. The relation of natural law, so called, to spiritual law does not rest in analogy, but is rather an inherent unity of the entire system, as all such laws proceed from God and emanate from his nature. In this sense a lack of uniformity is not conceivable. It is not my purpose to submit the proofs, nor, in any way, attempt to prove the existence of a spiritual nature or universe peopled with spiritual beings. I am assuming that you possess a spiritual nature. This spiritual nature is inclusive: it includes what is commonly termed our intellectual, moral and spiritual entities, and I shall use the term, spiritual nature or being, in that inclusive sense. It is inconceivable, even as a matter of abstract reasoning, that this spiritual being would not exist under law, and one of the great errors of scientists has been their failure to recognize evidences of, the operation of and the inviolability of these laws. The greatest possible field for future exploration and conquest is the field of mental, moral and spiritual science. Some of these days we will come to realize that the spiritual world is as real as the physical world, making the challenge of its mysteries all the more inviting and alluring to the sober and honest mind. For the sake of brevity, I exclude from consideration, in this article, the lower forms of animal life, and would confine myself to a discussion of the relation of mankind to divine law. Man is an animal plus; he possesses a full and complete animal nature, but, in addition possesses a full and complete spiritual nature. Some may ask, "How do you know that mankind possesses a spiritual nature?" I would answer, in brief, that I acquire this knowledge as a fact of consciousness in the same manner as I acquire knowledge of any other fact. It is not of consequence as to whether or not I acquire this knowledge mediately or immediately: the important fact is that I have this consciousness just as truly and certainly as that I am conscious that I am. As I have before stated, I would include in the spiritual nature of man, his mental and moral perceptions. Now, this spiritual being can exist and function only under law. There is and can be no change in the nature of the law governing the spiritual from that governing the physical or natural man. This law will and must be equally as certain, immutable and positive in its operation as natural law, so called. I apprehend that there are many laws governing our spiritual existence, life, development and welfare, that are, as yet, unknown to us, and many that are very vaguely understood by us. But the same rule holds here, as in the other case; these laws not only exist, but they continue to function and to execute themselves without regard to our knowledge or lack of knowledge of their existence. The progressive farmer knows more about how to successfully raise hogs and sheep and cattle and horses, than was formerly known by men engaged in that industry. The horticulturist and agriculturist, as a result of the study of the laws governing the vegetable kingdom, are able to perform seeming miracles. The modern mother is much better qualified to properly care for her child than were her grandmothers. Unparalleled advancement has been made along these similar lines during the last half-century. I wish as much could be said with reference to the realm of the spiritual. I cannot avoid the conviction that, instead of making progress we have been retrograding. Our failure, first, to recognize the spiritual, and, second, to realize that the spiritual is as truly under law as the physical, has plunged us into all kinds of error and disaster. I am convinced that it, also, follows that abstractly considered, from a purely legal point of view, the spiritual is as completely dominated and controlled by law as is the physical. No chemical formula is more exact nor certain as to the results from combining certain chemical substances in certain proportions, than the law, "The wages of sin is death" or "The soul that sinneth it shall die." One is as changeless and as certain as the other, and, understand, I do not mean to say that the law of sin and of death is the arbitrary decree of a tyrant nor a despot, but this law like every law of nature or a spirit, is grounded in a fixed, unalterable eternal fitness. It is equivalent to an assertion having the dignity of law, that a certain manner of thought and life will as certainly bring about and result in a certain spiritual state or condition as that an object, heavier than air, when thrown into the air will certainly return to the earth. These laws press upon the spirit from every side, they will not be denied, they cannot be set aside, modified, repealed nor annulled. They have their place in an orderly and established government just as truly as the laws of nature, upon which scientists so confidently rely. With them, "There is no variableness neither shadow of turning." There is and can be no more caprice or uncertainty about spiritual law and its full and complete execution of itself than in what we term natural law. Thus far, we have found no place for the operation of moral law, if there is a moral law; that is to say, if some actions or states are either moral or immoral. Abstractly considered, all substances, things and created beings of every class and order, are neither moral nor immoral but, rather, are unmoral. The flowers may be beautiful and pure as a flower, but we cannot ascribe to it moral qualities, and the same is also true as to the entire animal kingdom, as such. There must be something more than mere things, organisms or life upon which to predicate morals. No sort of dextrous or agile argument can overcome the unalterable truth that morality can only be predicated upon freedom of determination and action. The thoughts I have brought to you thus far are in keeping with the theories of the determinists. Determinism is only another word for fatalism. The determinist seeing no farther than the physical is driven into fatalism, and however much he may try to gloss it over, he has no more power for independent action nor to, in any way, alter his course than the most senseless clod under the foot of man. The intellectual undoing of science, so called, rests right here. Every fact of consciousness and every human experience give the lie to such erroneous conclusions. No secondary proof is required to convince a sane man that he possesses volition, that his life has a moral status. In this respect, he stands alone in the midst of a living throbbing universe. The fatalist leaves man bound, as a Hercules, in the unbreakable fetters of heredity and environment. No matter though he feels himself linked to eternity and one with God, filled and thrilled with a consciousness of moral freedom, he is, nevertheless, eternally restrained from the exercise of such God-like powers, by unalterable fate. If such were the case, there could be neither morality nor immorality. It is fundamental that a measure of freedom of action is necessary before any action can partake of moral quality. I do not attempt to say that such freedom is a necessary adjunct to the powers of a human being, but I do say that he cannot be subject to either praise or blame, merit or demerit unless he has the power and privilege of volition. I can conceive of how there could exist a race of beings such as ourselves, in appearance, and yet wholly devoid of moral freedom or volition; such a being, however, could be classed, only, as an animal, - a brute. I both am and am free. It is this freedom that distinguishes us and sets us apart from every other creature or being upon the earth. I therefore conclude that man is such a free being -- a free moral agent. It therefore becomes us to inquire, what is his relation to the law we have been discussing? Can he defy it, or ignore it? Can he remove himself from the area of its operation and its force? By no means. He is as complete - under and subservient to law as any other organism, -- in a sense, more completely under law, in that he not only becomes conscious of the existence and operation of divine law, but, also has power, as a free agent to adjust himself to such law. I repeat, -- He cannot violate the law. It is just as truly the law that certain exercises of his volition will end in consequences which we know as sin, as that certain other exercises of his volition will end in what we term holiness or happiness. The law executes itself upon his spiritual being, with absolute certainty and dispatch. It must necessarily follow that if any line of conduct is viscous and unclean in its nature, the immutable law will work itself out upon him and he will be viscous and unholy in a substantive way, and not merely a technical transgressor of law. What I am trying to get at here is that certain exercises of volitional powers necessarily terminate in a corruption of the spiritual nature, as a matter of law. Such corruption, we know as immorality, unholiness, uncleanness, spiritual death.
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