A Higher Law

Charles Finney held the conviction that the moral law announced in the Ten Commandments is both the ground and the goal of all human laws. He popularized the notion (soon to pervade the debates over slavery) that there is indeed a higher law than the Constitution of the United States. And he and his associates translated that principle into a denunciation of all laws and customs that exploit or abuse human beings—whether in the enslavement of black people, discrimination against women, land speculation that deprived newcomers of the privileges that earlier settlers had enjoyed, or in the exploitation of the poor that flowed from a single-minded pursuit of profits in business or industry.

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