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then this conclusion is perfectly correct. Cheever did not mean to say, that if And if our courts could take perfect cog- expediency be the sole ground of punnizance of future results, so as to be sure that in any given case this method would, the law-making power may, if it is seen
ishment, then, not courts of justice, but on the whole, be productive of the great to be useful, punish “ the innocent as est good, they ought to punish the innocent as much as the guilty. This mon
much as the guilty.” Such a position strous proposition is just a fair result of would not, at least, betray a gross misshutting out ihe idea of simple justice in conception of the point in dispute ; but view of desert as one of the ends of penal still it would involve it in no little obinfliction.
The moral sense scurity. For what is meant by “ the of the human mind intuitively demands innocent” in such an assertion ? If' and regards justice as one of the objects of they are those who have never transsuch iufliction; a truth which we think every reflecting mind must acknowledge, gressed any law, either human or divine, if it be not blinded by a system of philo
we admit that it would be monstrous, on sophy founded solely in expediency."
every scheme of political justice, to punish them. It would be at war with
the principle of utility no less than with We have made a long extract; but that of "simple justice in view of deif we had made it shorter we could not sert.” It is very true, that if utility is have done justice to the author's pecu- the sole ground of punishment, and if liar mode of handling this great subject. it were useful to punish the innocent, We could not have shown with what and if there were no higher principle facility he can darken a difficult ques- in the universe, then it would be right tion by words without meaning, and by to punish the innocent. But what does images without application. We in- all this signify, when it is admitted tend to take this whole passage to that it can never be useful to punish pieces and show of what materials it is the innocent ? Dr. Cheever forgets composed.
that human government is a great pracIn the first place, what have "courts tical affair, not built up out of abstracof justice” to do with the question in tions, but out of such materials as are controversy ? It is not affirmed by not condemned by the moral law, and Hume, nor by Godwin, nor by any admit of being so adapted to the actual body else, that courts have any thing nature and state of things in the world to do with the question of expediency, as to subserve the purposes of wisdom or with the policy of the law. This is and goodness; and that, in the view of placed entirely beyond their reach, the true statesman, it is no objection to both by conscience and by expediency. political principles, that they furnish no It is universally conceded that judges solution of imaginary problems ; that have nothing to do with the question of they provide no remedies for impossiexpediency; that they are sworn to ble cases. decide according to the law as it is. If he refers to those who have transIt would be a great outrage on every gressed the moral law, but not the law principle of expediency as well as of of the land, we ourselves contend, and conscience, for a court of justice, from ask him to admit that no law should be its views of policy, even if those views made to punish them; because moral : were perfectly correct, to condemn the guilt is not the ground of punishment, innocent or to acquit the guilty. The and it is not expedient for men to punbare thought of such a thing is sufficient ish except by means of law. Thoug to arouse a feeling of indignation ; and they may have violated the law of God hence the illustration of Mr. Cheever yet if a law were made to punish them, is well calculated to awaken such a it would be an ex post facto law, confeeling in the breast of the unreflecting, demned alike by our constitution of who do not see its total irrelevancy, and government and every principle of a blindly direct it against the principle of sound expediency. If the act is already his opponents. This is a great blun- passed, whether it were tainted with der in Dr. Cheever, but it is an exceed- moral guilt, or were as pure as the ingly slight one when compared with moral law itself, it should not be punsome of those which still remain to be ished by subsequent legislation. We noticed.
admit this is a fair consequence of our Let us suppose, then, that Dr. principles; and that, in this respect,
guilt and innocence are equal in the nor felt, except by means of the pains eye of human law and of expediency. and penalties it is made to bear ? It is That is to say, that neither should be amazing, that any man should underpunished by the law of the land until take to show that expediency is not the there is a law of the land to punish sole foundation of penal law; and yet them, and that all penal legislation argue from a principle which inevitably shall refer to the future and not to the plunges him into the lowest depths of past.
the lowest form of expediency ; making But if he intends to say, that if expe- pain and suffering essential to the very diency be the sole ground of human existence of moral distinctions. Dr. punishment, then, in case the public Cheever should revise his logic. good require it, a law inay be enacted, We have one more criticism to make by which an act, perfectly innocent in on the passage under review. Dr. every point of view, prior to its enact- Cheever is quite sure, that “the punment, is rendered penal ;-if this be his ishment of death for murder” has jusmeaning, we say, the inference is freely tice, retributive justice, “ simple jusand fully acknowledged. This princi- tice in view of desert," is one of the ple is sanctioned by the legislation of ends of its infliction. We have seen the whole Christian world. Penal of- his arguments in favor of this position ; fences are divided, in all our elementa- they are wound up with the assertion, ry treatises on that branch of law, into that this is truth which “ every reflecttwo classes, namely: the mala in se, ing mind must acknowledge, if it be not and the mala in prohibita. In no point blinded by a system of philosophy of view, then, can this remarkable pas- founded solely in expediency.” Now, sage be made to serve the doctor's pur we presume that Dr. Cheever is acpose : it is a mere confused jumble of quainted with the writings of Samuel words and ideas, possessing a far great- Taylor Coleridge; he has, in the work er capacity to general heat than light. before us, made several quotations from
We are utterly amazed at the asser The Friend. If so, he must be aware tion, that “ if the utility of punishment that Coleridge held expediency to be be absolutely the sole ground of its in- the sole ground of human laws. Dr. fiiction," then we cannot escape the Cheever has quoted from the fourth absurd conclusion of Godwin, that and fifth essays of The Friend ; we "there is no such thing as desert.” commend to his notice the following This is one of Dr. Cheever's ipferences extract from the third essay of the same from our doctrine, as we have seen;
volume : “Every institution of
governbut we shoulddeem it one of the greatest ment,” says Coleridge, “needs no calamities of life, were we compelled other justification than a proof, that to allow Dr. Cheever to draw conclu- under the particular circumstances it is sions for us. Who, beside himself, EXPEDIENT. Having, in my former would infer, that because it is not the numbers, expressed myself (so at least prerogative of human governments to I am conscious I shall have appeared punish crime as crime, therefore, there to do to many persons) with comparais no such thing as crime in the world ? tive slight of the understanding consi· Who else would infer, that because so- dered as the sole guide of human conciety punishes crime, not on account of duct, and even with something like conits intrinsic demerit, but to prevent its tempt and reprobation of the maxims recurrence, therefore, it never did, and of expediency, when represented as never can, occur ? that because society the only steady light of the conscience, punishes crime, not because it deserves and the absolute foundation of all mopunishment, but to protect itself against rality ; I shall perhaps seem guilty of the consequences of crime, leaving its an inconsistency, in declaring myself a intrinsic desert to God; therefore, all zealous advocate for deriving the origin desert, all guilt, is quite banished out of of all government from human pruthe universe ? Shall we believe, for dence, and of deeming that to be just the sake of Dr. Cheever's learned ar which experience has proved to be exgument, that if crime were to cease to pedient." Now, if the assertion of Dr. be punished, it would cease to be Cheever be true, it follows that the crime ? that guilt can neither be seen mind or Coleridge was “blinded by a VOL. XIX-NO. XCVIII.
system of philosophy founded solely in but revenge. It is in this sense, that the expediency;" by a system of philoso. Deity, as the sole fountain of all law, dephy which he utterly repudiated. clares in the Old Testament Scriptures, Never was there a more strenuous ad- and repeats in the New—" Vengeance is vocate of the absolute, -in its proper perverted to a sense the very opposite of
How often do we find this text place,-than Mr. Coleridge.
that which was intended,
,-a sense which, It is remarkable, that in opposing the if carried out, would sweep all law from doctrine of his adversaries, that expe- the Universe, except that which was ex: diency is the sole ground of human ercised by the direct, miraculous, personal punishment, Dr. Cheever is careful to act of the Deity, without the intervention, represent such writers as Hume and in any case, of any intermediate agents. Godwin as its chief supporters. He Vengeance belongs to God, says some seems determined not to lose the pow- should not exercise it.
modern theologues, therefore, human laws erful influence of the odium theologicum. which is a word nearly synonymous, is
So also jnstice, Of the fact, that Coleridge held the claimed as his peculiar attribute, and there. same doctrine, and was a zealous advo- fore, too, must form no ingredient in hucate of it, he says nothing; and he is man legislatiou."--pp. 28, 29. equally silent with respect to the fact, that it has only been maintained by the great lights of jurisprudence, both in
In regard to the terms vengeance and England and America. On both sides revenge, the author says, in a note, that of the Atlantic it has been advocated
although these words are from the and upheld by Christian philosophers striking, that it seems strange they,
same radical, yet the difference is so and profound statesmen. It has received the sanction of the wisdom and What has become of the learned au
should ever have been confounded." experience of ages; it has been emphatically the doctrine of great think- thor's etymology? He wonders, as ers; and it ill-becomes those who op
we have seen, that any one should be
so stupid as not to derive the present pose it, to speak of the shallow philosophy of the present day. It is not to
meaning of the terms punishment, pebe sneered out of existence, nor sud- nalty, and so forth, from their roots; denly demolished by snatching great departure from the meaning thus deri
and he seems inclined to think, that a principles from
their appropriate spheres, and wielding them as mere
ved, is so gross an abuse of language, it cant phrases.
ought to be made a “ statutable misOur authors have shown no little so
demeanor.” But now the wonder is all licitude, as they certainly should have turned the other way; and although done, to prove that their views of hu- the term revenge comes from the same
radical with vengeance, it is passing man government do not impart to it a revengeful, harsh and forbidding aspect. strange that it should be thought to But a closer view of this subject will, wonder, however, that the learned au
have the same meaning ! We do not we think, show that they are mistaken, thor finds it so much easier to wonder, and that their attempts in this way in the present case, than to render a have been unsuccessful. Let us consider, for example, the following pas- for no mortal man can defend such a
reason, or to preserve his consistency; sage from Professor Lewis :
cause without contradicting himself. "If penalty, then, has reference prima.
It seems, then, that if a private indirily, if not solely, to the intrinsic demerit vidual inflicts such punishment on anof crime; if the priuciple pervades all other as he deserves, it will be revenge; moral law, divine or human, just in pro. but if society inflicts it, it will be simply portion as it is a law—then we see the vengeance. Now, we are free to conpropriety of that much abused and misun- fess, that this distinction is rather too derstood term, retributive or vindictive fine for our optics. If we had a mind justice. It is that which the law, as the to deal in such arbitrary distinctions, highest (although it may be imperfect) earthly representative of Divine authority,
we do not see why we might not just vindicates, claims, or challenges to itself,
as well say, that if men in their social as its peculiar prerogative, and thus ab capacity, and law, punish criminals on slracts it from that privale exercise, in account of their moral guilt, it is rewhich it would be co longer vengeance, venge; and that when God punishes
them therefor, it is simply vengeance. argument would deny justice to human For our part, it seems to us, that whe- government. Now, what does this ther an individual, or society, or the menn? Does the learned author seriSupreme Being, punishes a man simply ously intend to maintain the thesis, because he deserves it, and he actually that vengeance, as contradistinguished does deserve it, the punishment is from retributive justice, belongs to hujust; it is not vengeance in the one case man government ? Surely, this cannot and revenge in the other; and the only be his intention; he has merely comreason why men should not undertake mitted an inadvertency. to punish crime as such, is because Let us suppose, then, as in all chathey have not been authorized to wield rity we are bound to suppose, that when the awful power of retributive justice; God says, " Vengeance is mine," Profor the proper exercise of which they fessor Lewis understands Him to chalare, both in their social and in their in- lenge nothing more than simple justice dividual capacity, wholly incompetent. to Himself. His argument will then
If any " inodern theologue" has sup- stand thus : “ Justice belongs to God, posed, that God challenges all justice say some modern theologues, thereto himself, both retributive and adminis- fore, human laws should not exercise trative, or public justice, leaving no it. So also justice—." Truly, we may kind of justice to human society, then as well say that justice belongs to God; we admit that their doctrine does di- for in saying this, we merely say the rectly and irresistibly dissolve all buman same thing over again; and so the government. It is not necessary that reductio ad absurdum whirls around in their interpretation of Scripture should a circle, and returns upon itself. It even be * carried out," in order to ends in the proposition with which it sweep all human law from the earth ; begins—and what is that monstrous profor it carries itself out. We confess, position? What is that frightful conhowever, that we have met with no clusion which should drive us from the such modern theologues; but we admit doctrine from which it is deduced ? that wherever they may be found, or Why, this frigh:sul conclusion is the whoever they are, they should be re- doctrine itself; the very thing it is inbuked. But let us see how Professor tended to overthrow, namely, that reLewis carries out their views, and de- tributive justice belongs to God, and molishes them by a reductio ad absur- therefore, "forms no ingredient in hudum :
man legislation.” Would he say, that * Vengeance belongs to God, say he does not ascribe retributive justice some modern theologues, therefore, hu- to God in the last clause, but justice man laws should not, exercise it. So in a lawyer sense,-in that sense in also justice, which is a word nearly sy- which it sees to the enactment and exenonymous, is claimed as his peculiar cution of laws for the good of society ; attribute ; and therefore it, too, must and therefore he does not go around in form no ingredient in human legisla- a circle? If so, we reply, that it is not tion." Now, in our view, there is not true that justice, in any such sense, bethe least possible degree of angry per- longs to God alone; this is believed, turbation in the bosom of God; and neither by Professor Lewis nor by his that the words vengeance and justice, adversaries. This is evidently one of when applied to Him, are not only the confused ideas in his mind, because nearly, but perfectly synonymous. We he supposes that his argument, his reare sure that Professor Lewis did not ductio ad absurdum, leads to the overintentionally mean to deny this position, throw of all social law; but, in this when his argument was coined and sense, justice is ascribed to God, exclusent forth to the world.
sively, only by imaginary antagonists. Let us look at it again, for it de- If Professor Lewis had wound up this serves attention. T'his argument is in argument with three points of admirathe form of a reductio ad absurdum ; tion instead of one, we think they would being designed to expose the folly of have been admirably well placed. those who leny vengeance to human Thus, Professor Lewis goes round government, because God challenges it in a circle, being led captive by the to Himself, by showing that the same ambiguity of words, and rejoicing in his
strength, demolishes a great doctrine inflict retributive justice, it is right; if by a reductio ad absurdum, which he doth not, it is merciful. We are terminates in the very doctrine de- perfectly willing to leave the whole molished, leaps from thought to thought moral government of the universe in his with the most delightful activity and hands. freedom of motion, knocks down his “ If you see a wagoner in the streets man of straw, scatters him to the four needlessly beating his horse," says Dr. winds, claps his hands with admiration Cheever, “you will wish to beat the over the thing he has done, and carries wagoner." This may be true; but all odds over the embatuled ranks of ought you to beat him ? The question
“modern theologies." We is not whether he deserves to be beaten, should not have dwelt thus minutely on but who should beat him, and why he a single passage, if there had not been should be beaten. Dr. Cheever says, more such in the essay from which it he wishes to beat him; but surely he is taken ; but as it is, we have deemed would not do so. And if this deep, , it proper to give a searching analysis spontaneous feeling, that the wagoner of at least one passage of the kind, in deserves punishment," is no reason order to show the importance and the why the doctor himself should punish necessity of greater care, of greater him, no more is it why society should patience and accuracy of thought, when do so. In so far as the intrinsic desuch momentous questions are to be merit of the map is concerned, both discussed, or the word of God is to be may safely leave it to a higher and a interpreted.
holier tribunal. For our part, we have never dwelt We condemn not the spontaneous on those simple words, " Vengeance is feeling, for all good must experience it; mine, I will repay, saith the Lord," but we cannot exactly approve the wish without a feeling of solemn awe. to gratify it. The emotion, the sponThey were intended to restrain every taneous excitation of the moral sensifeeling of resentment within its proper bility, is well ; it may burn to the cenlimits; and 10 every believing and con tre of the soul, provided it do not arouse siderate mind, they are amply sufficient and inflame (as it is, alas ! too apt to for that purpose. The moral govern- do) the malignant passions of our nament of God is perfect; the moral guilt, ture. It may do all this without just the intrinsic demerit of yo man will go censure or condemnation; but let it unpunished, unless it be right that it never be mentioned while we are speakshould be so. It is sufficient for us, jng of the rules of private conduct or that he to whom all things are known, the maxims of public justice. It is the and who can weigh all things in the overflowing source of all lynch-law; most exact balances of justice, will one it hus stained the penal codes of past day call all men to account for the deeds ages with barbarities too shocking to be done in the body. In view of this mentioned: and its abominable pollugreat and solemn truth, we would not, tions have not yet been swept from the for worlds, advocate the doctrine that laws of the Christian world. It is a man has, in any capacity, the right to fire to be restrained by all the powers punish his fellow man for the intrinsic within us and above us, and not indemerit of crime, or on account of his dulged. We have witnessed its manimoral guilt. We do not stop to con- festations even in our own age and sider your nice verbal criticisins about country; and we have shuddered with vengeance and revenge ; it is sufficient indescribable horror at the exhibitions that we see and feel the great truth, of its terrific power. In one of the that God is the judge of the quick and most enlightened cities of our Union the dead. It is sufficient, that we are bave we seen learned men, and intelauthorized both by the law of nature ligent men,-aye, and godly professors and the law of God, to protect ourselves too-all congregated together, and burnagainst private aggression, by self-de- ing with the desire to gratify this feelfence if needs be, and against public ing of vindictive wrath. We have seen wrong by penal law; we feel no desire them, with clenched teeth, and pale to anticipate the great day when all lips, and flaming eyes, seize their vicmust stand in trembling expectation be- tim, reeking with the blood of his felfore the throne of God. If God doth low man, and drag him to the stake,