William Blackstone: Conforming to the Law of God
Sir William Blackstone was born into privilege in 1723 to a wealthy apothecary. But after the death of his father and mother, at the age of 12 years old things began to change drastically for the young William. The once privileged child of well to do parents had now became an orphan and in these times being an orphan meant living with little and wanting for much.
Despite William’s difficult childhood this didn’t stop him from persevering and attending a series of prestigious universities. Supported by local prominent members of the community Blackstone attended the Inns of Court at the Middle Temple where he joined the bar association in 1746.
As Blackstone’s career continued to thrive he began to receive recognition and respect from his fellow contemporaries and those who shared his Judeo-Christian view and morality. It was while he held the office of Professor of Law at Oxford University that Blackstone wrote his famed “Commentaries”. These writings consisted of what he believed to be “the rights of persons, the rights of things, of private wrongs and of public wrongs”.Many sighted that there had been no rival of the similar Bracton writings until Blackstone’s Commentaries.
While Blackstone taught his commentaries at lectures it wasn’t until attendees began selling notes from his conferences that these teachings were published. These writings were used to define English law in the 1800’s or as Blackstone said “to render the whole [of his analysis of the Common Law] intelligible to the uniformed minds of beginners . . . .” The Commentaries eventually became a four series set. His hope was to connect with “the Profession of the Common Law; but of such others also, as are desirous to be in some Degree acquainted with the Constitution and Polity of their own Country.”
At heart, Blackstone used his position not only as a platform but a pulpit to better the country and uphold its moral standing at the same time. Blackstone said “No enactment of man can be considered law unless it conforms to the law of God.” And at the very heart of Common Law Blackstone believed there should be one very important component . . . the Ten Commandments.Blackstone’s career was deeply rooted in his Christian faith and his Commentaries continue to mold the face of our country today and even in today’s modern world quickly changing, many still believe in Blackstone’s statement“Man…must necessarily be subject to the laws of his Creator, for he is entirely a dependent being…And, consequently, as man depends absolutely upon his Maker for everything, it is necessary that he should in all points conform to his Maker’s will.”