When we approach the second point, the relation of the Gospel to legal ordinance generally, we again encounter two different views. One of them— in modern times more particularly maintained, in his treatise on Canon Law, by Prof. Sohm of Leipzig, who presents points of contact with Tolstoi—lays down that in their respective natures law and the world of spiritual things are diametrically opposed; and that it is in contradiction with the character of the Gospel and the community founded thereon that the Church has developed any legal ordinances at all. In his survey of the earliest development of the Church Prof. Sohm has gone so far as to see in the moment when Christendom gave a place in its midst to legal ordinances a second Fall. Nevertheless be is unwilling to impugn the law in its own province. But Tolstoi refuses, in the name of the Gospel, to allow the law any rights at all. He maintains that the leading principle of the Gospel is that a man is never to insist upon his rights, and that not even constituted authority is to offer any external resistance to evil. Authority and law are simply to cease. Opposed to Tolstoi there are others who more or less positively contend that the Gospel takes law and legal relations under its protection; that it sanctifies them and thereby raises them into a divine sphere. These are, briefly, the two leading points of view which are here in conflict.
As regards the latter, there is little that need be said. It is a mockery of the Gospel to say that it protects and sanctifies everything that presents itself as law and legal relation at a given moment. Leaving a thing alone and bearing with it are not the same as sanctioning and preserving it. Nay, it is a serious question whether even bearing with it is not too much to say, and whether Tolstoi is not right. The difficulty of the matter makes it necessary that I should take you back a little way in Jewish history.