The life of those who dwell in the secret place of the Most High may be called a Hidden Life, because the animating principle, the vital or operative element, is not so much in itself as in another. It is a life grafted into another life. It is the life of the soul, incorporated into the life of Christ; and in such a way, that, while it has a distinct vitality, it has so very much in the sense, in which the branch of a tree may be said to have a distinct vitality from the root.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

How the Gospel Spirit Modifies Jurisprudence

In all times past, society, (with some exceptions undoubtedly, but comparatively few,) has treated those who have offended against it, on the principles of strict justice, — returning "blow for blow, and stripe for stripe." One of the results of the greater prevalence of the Gospel spirit will be, to mingle mercy with justice, and to save and bless the criminal, at the same time that all necessary measures are taken for the protection of society. Within a few years, benevolent men, in different parts of the world, have directed their attention to this important subject. They have not been ashamed to have it understood that they have felt a deep interest in the situation of their erring and lost brethren, who have violated the rights of the state, — remembering that they themselves also are sinners. In the true spirit, as it, seems to me, of our blessed Savior, who would not and did not "break the bruised reed," they have gone to the prisoner; they have taken him by the hand; they have fed him, clothed him, instructed him. And while they have pressed upon him the necessity of repentance for sins committed, they have held up, at the same time, the joyous hope of sins forgiven.

The result of the prevalence of this truly Gospel spirit will be gradually to modify the systems of civil and criminal jurisprudence. Love, founded upon faith, and never at variance with justice, will be recognized as a regulating principle in the conduct of the social body, as it is and ought to be in the conduct of the individual. Society, having faith in God, and in itself as an instrument of God, will no longer crush the criminal whom it holds in its grasp; but will show its confidence in its mighty strength, by mourning for those whom it condemns, and by gently leading them back to truth, to duty, and to happiness.

— edited from A Treatise on Divine Union (1851) Part 7, Chapter 7.

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