Angilbert (fl. ca. 840/50), On the Battle Which was Fought at Fontenoy

The Law of Christians is broken,
Blood by the hands of hell profusely shed like rain,
And the throat of Cerberus bellows songs of joy.

Angelbertus, Versus de Bella que fuit acta Fontaneto

Fracta est lex christianorum
Sanguinis proluvio, unde manus inferorum,
gaudet gula Cerberi.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Brownson on the End of Law

IN THIS EXCERPT from his critique of a reviewer Mercersburg Review, Orestes Brownson, addresses the relationship between God as our final cause or end, and the concept of law. All law, like all power, finds its source in God, and is never independent of him. The political philosophy behind modern secularism, which disdains this fact, is deeply flawed.

"The reviewer* sins against this undeniable truth, when he censures us for allowing man no autonomy, no right, collectively or individually, to be governed only by his own will, no voice in constituting the law to which he is to be subject. Nothing can be worse than this, for it supposes the law is created, and in part at least by man himself. But this cannot be. The law is not created at all; it is eternal, and, as a rule, has its seat, not in the creative will of God as such, not precisely in God regarded as first cause, but in God as final cause, that is, in God as the sovereign good, and is promulgated and enforced by God as supreme ruler, because he always rules as he creates, in accordance with and for himself as the sovereign good. The law is not only eternal, but immutable, and God himself cannot change it; for he cannot change his own immutable nature which is it. To suppose God creates it, is to suppose that he creates himself; to suppose that man creates it, is to suppose that man creates God; and to assert man's autonomy, or right to be governed only by his own will, is to deny that he is under law, or bound at all to seek God as the sovereign good. Does the reviewer maintain that we are not morally bound to seek God as our ultimate end? Does he deny all morality, and assert that man is free to live as he lists? Is he an Antinomian? We cannot believe it. Then God is himself man's law, and then man is morally bound to will what God wills, that is, to love what God loves, that is to say, God himself, as supreme good, and has no right to will or to love as his ultimate end anything else. How, then, pretend that man is his own legislator, his own lawgiver? As well might you say, man is his own maker, that man is God, nay, that man is God's maker. No laws that are not transcripts of the divine law, the eternal and immutable law, which is God himself, have any of the essential characteristics of law."

[The reviewer is the author of a piece in the Mercesburg Review who criticized Brownson's observations about Protestantism in various publications.]

[From Brownson's Works, "The Mercersburg Theology" (H. F. Brownson: Detroit, 1900), Vol. 3, p. 74.]

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