Nor can the sovereign command and enforce anything which is repugnant to the will of the community. It would be also wrong to say that all law finds its origin in the customary behaviour of the people and the sovereign can command and enforce nothing which is not acceptable to the masses.
A customary law is stationary and it does not cater to the needs of the people and the realities of human life. Its source is the antiquated past and outmoded customs. If law is to really serve its purpose, it must be a progressive and expanding force and able to adjust itself according to the social, moral, religious and economic needs of the people
The Jurists of all Schools now generally regard law as the instrument of human welfare. They consider not only what the laws are, but also what effects they have produced in the past, how they operate today, and how they may be improved by deliberate human effort.
What a law may order and what it may prohibit is what appears to us just and unjust, good and bad. But if law is to be obeyed by all, there must be some compulsion behind it. Compulsion has two aspects, physical and ethical compulsion.
The physical compulsion is to be found in the organised force of government. But the root of obedience to law is not coercion; it is the will to obey. It cannot, however, be denied that law takes the form of an imperative.
It is an imperative in the sense that it must be obeyed by all and in order that it must be obeyed by all, it should be accompanied by physical compulsion. Even the pluralists admit the compulsive nature of law, provided it coincides with the moral purposes of the State.
Two definitions of law, which are widely quoted, may be noted. The first is the one given by Holland. He says, “A law is a general rule of action taking cognisance only of external acts, enforced by a determinate authority, which authority is human and among human authorities is that which is paramount in a political society; or briefly, a law is a general rule of external action enforced by a sovereign political authority.”
This definition is a legal analysis of law, pure and simple. Woodrow Wilson’s definition is more logical as it harmonises the analytical point of view of law with the historical point of view.
“Law,” according to Wilson, “is that portion of the established thought and habit which has gained distinct and formal recognition in the shape of uniform rules backed by the authority and power of government.” According to Maclver, “The root of obedience to a law is not coercion but the will to obey; nevertheless, law takes the force of an imperative.”