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Charles G. Finney
(29/08/1792 - 16/8/1875)




LECTURES

ON

SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY
~ 1846 ~


  • PREFACE
    • FINNEY'S LECTURES
      ON
      SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY
      1846

      EMBRACING LECTURES ON MORAL GOVERNMENT
      TOGETHER WITH
      ATONEMENT, MORAL AND PHYSICAL DEPRAVITY,
      REGENERATION, PHILOSOPHICAL THEORIES, AND EVIDENCES OF REGENERATION

      BY

      REV. CHARLES G. FINNEY,

      Professor of Theology in the Oberlin Collegiate Institute

      ------------------


      OBERLIN: JAMES M. FITCH
      BOSTON: CROCKER & BREWSTER.
      NEW YORK: SAXTON & MILES.

      1846

      Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1846,
      By CHARLES G. FINNEY,
      in the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the District of Ohio.

      ------------------


      OBERLIN PRESS:
      JAMES M. FITCH, PRINTER.




      PREFACE.

      1. The truths of the blessed gospel have been hidden under a false Philosophy. Of this I have been long convinced. Nearly all the practical doctrines of Christianity have been embarrassed and perverted by assuming as true the dogma of a Necessitated Will. This has been a leaven of error that, as we shall see, has "leaven nearly the whole lump" of gospel truth. In the present work I have in brief attempted to prove, and have every where assumed, the freedom of the Will.

      2. My principal design in publishing on Systematic Theology at the present time is, to furnish my pupils with a class or text book, where many points and questions are discussed of great practical importance, but which have not, to my knowledge, been discussed in any system of theological instruction extant. I have also hoped to benefit other studious and pious minds.

      3. I have written for those who are willing to take the trouble of thinking and of forming opinions of their own on theological questions. It has been no part of my aim to spare my pupils or any one else the trouble of intense thought. Had I desired to do so, the subjects discussed would have rendered such an attempt abortive.

      4. There are many questions of great practical importance, and questions in which multitudes are taking a deep interest at present, that can not be intelligently settled without instituting fundamental inquiries involving the discussion of those questions that lie at the foundation of morality and religion.

      5. I am too well acquainted with the prejudices of the great mass of professing Christians, and with their unwillingness to be a the pains of studying elementary truths and of judging for themselves, to expect that this book will soon find favor with the majority of them. Still I am aware that a spirit of inquiry into the fundamental and elementary truths of religion and of all science, is abroad, and is waking up more and more in the Church. There is a deep and growing demand for explanation in regard to the subjects discussed in this work. Especially is this true of ministers and of leading laymen and women. This book is a humble attempt to meet this demand. My object has been to simplify and explain. The book has no literary merit and claims none.

      6. I fear that the book will not be understood even by some who are willing to read and are desirous of understanding it. The reasons are,

      (1.) The book is highly metaphysical. This, however, is owing to the nature of the subject. The subject is, mind in its relations to moral law. Hence, the discussion, to be any thing to the purpose, must be metaphysical. To avoid metaphysics in such a discussion were to waive my subject, and to write about something else.

      (2.) There is a good deal of repetition in the work. This I judged to be indispensable to perspicuity. Perhaps the reader will not agree with me in this, and may think he should have understood me just as well if I had repeated less. But my experience upon this subject after having taught these truths for years has ripened the conviction that there is no other way of being understood upon such a subject.

      (3.) I fear that with all my painstaking the book will not be understood even by many who desire to understand it, on account of my inability to simplify and explain so profound a subject. With this thought I have been much oppressed.

      (4.) Not withstanding the repetition alluded to, I fear it is condensed too much to be understood by some. The book to be understood must be studied and not merely read.

      7. This volume is much more difficult to understand than any of the remaining volumes will be. I have begun with the second volume, as this was to be on subjects so distinct from what will appear in the first volume that this volume might as well appear first, and because it seemed especially called for just now, to meet the demand of the Church and of my classes.

      8. Most of the subjects of dispute among Christians at the present day are founded in misconceptions upon the subjects discussed in this volume. If I have succeeded in settling the questions which I have discussed, we shall see that in future volumes most of the subjects of disagreement among Christians at the present day can be satisfactorily adjusted with comparative ease.

      9. What I have said on the "Foundation of Moral Obligation" is the key to the whole subject. Whoever masters and understands that can readily understand all the rest. But he who will not possess himself of my meaning upon this subject will not, can not understand the rest.

      10. Let no one despair in commencing the book, nor stumble at the definitions, thinking that he can never understand so abstruse a subject. Remember that what follows is an expansion and an explanation by way of application of what you find so condensed in the first pages of the book. My brother, sister, friend--read, study, think, and read again. You were made to think. It will do you good to think; to develop your powers by study. God designed that religion should require thought, intense thought, and should thoroughly develop our powers of thought. The Bible itself is written in a style so condensed as to require much intense study. Many know nothing of the Bible or of religion because they will not think and study. I do not pretend to so explain theology as to dispense with the labor of thinking. I have no ability and no wish to do so.

      11. I suppose that faults will be discovered in the book by others that I have not seen myself. If so, I hope to be able to see them and to correct them before I die.

      12. But I hope if any of my brethren think to convince me of error that they will first understand me, and show that they have read the book through, and that they understand it, and are candidly inquiring after truth and not "striving for masteries." I my brother is inquiring after truth, I will, by the grace of God, "hear with both ears and then judge." But I will not promise to attend to all that cavilers may say, nor to notice what those impertinent talkers and writers may say or write who must have controversy. But to all honest inquirers after truth I would say, hail my brother! Let us be thorough. Truth shall do us good.

      13. This volume is designed to supercede my published Skeletons upon the subject of Moral Government. There has been much demand for an amplification of this subject. I have for brevity's sake, in some few instances, quoted from my Skeletons, but in general I have written altogether without reference to that work, until I come to the Atonement and Human Government. I should have expanded these subjects much more than I have, had there been room in this volume for such an amplification. Upon these questions I have transferred most of what was written in my Skeletons to the present volume, making such changes in the arrangement and discussion as I supposed would render so brief a statement perspicuous.

      14. I perceive that the Publisher has put forth a prospectus of this work in which he has spoken of it in terms, I fear, decidedly too high. I knew nothing of this until some time after the prospectus was out. All I can honestly say of the work is, that I have intended to do good, and have done the best that I could under the circumstances. I submit the work to the prayerful study of my Christian brethren, and if it shall meet the end for which it was intended, I have not labored in vain.

      C.G. FINNEY

      Oberlin, July 15, 1846

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  • LECTURE 1 - MORAL GOVERNMENT
    • MORAL GOVERNMENT

      LECTURE I

       

      I. Definition of Law.

      II. Distinction between Physical and Moral Law.

      III. Attributes of Moral Law.

      I. In discussing the subject, I must begin with defining the term Law.

      Law, in a sense of the term both sufficiently popular and scientific for my purpose, is A Rule of Action. In its generic signification, it is applicable to every kind of action, whether of matter or of mind--whether intelligent or unintelligent--whether free or necessary action.

      II. I must distinguish between Physical and Moral Law.

      Physical law is a term that represents the order of sequence, in all the changes that occur under the law of necessity, whether in matter or mind. I mean all changes, whether of state or action, that do not consist in the voluntary states or actions of free will. Physical law is the law of force, or necessity, as opposed to the law of liberty. Physical law is the law of the material universe. It is also the law of mind, so far as its states and changes are involuntary. All changes of mental state or action, which do not consist in free and sovereign changes or actions of will, must occur under, and be subject to Physical Law. They can not possibly be accounted for, except as they are ascribed to the law of necessity or force. In one word, then, Physical Law is the law of necessity or force, and controls all changes and actions, whether of matter or mind, except the actions of free will.

      Moral Law is a rule of moral action with sanctions. It is that rule of action to which moral beings are under a moral obligation to conform all their voluntary actions, and is enforced by sanctions equal to the value of the precept. It is the rule for the government of free and intelligent action, as opposed to necessary and unintelligent action. It is the law of liberty, as opposed to the law of necessity--of motive and free choice, as opposed to force of every kind that renders action necessary, or unavoidable. Moral Law is a rule for the direction of the action of free will, and strictly of free will only. But less strictly, it is the rule for the direction of the actions of free will, and of all those actions and states of mind and body, that are connected with the free actions of will by a Physical Law, or by a law of necessity. Thus, Moral Law controls involuntary mental states and outward action, only by securing conformity of the actions of free will to its precept.

      III. I must point out the essential attributes of Moral Law.

      1. Subjectivity. It is, and must be, an idea of the Reason, developed in the mind of the subject. It is an idea, or conception of that state of will, or course of action which is obligatory upon a moral agent. No one can be a moral agent, or the subject of Moral Law, unless he has this idea developed; for this idea is identical with the law. It is the law developed, or revealed within himself; and thus he becomes "a law to himself," his own reason affirming his obligation to conform to this idea, or law.

      2. A second attribute is Liberty, as opposed to Necessity. Its precept must lie developed in the Reason, as a rule of duty--a law of moral obligation--a rule of choice, or of ultimate intention, declaring that which a moral agent ought to choose, will, intend. But it does not, must not, can not possess the attribute of necessity in its relations to the actions of free will. It must not, can not, possess an element or attribute of force, in any such sense as to render conformity of will to its precept unavoidable and necessary. This would confound it with Physical Law.

      3. A third attribute of Moral Law, is adaptability, or adaptation. It must be the Law of Nature, that is, its precept must prescribe and require just that state of the will, and that course of action which is demanded by the nature and relations of moral beings, and nothing more or less.

      Moral Law, subjectively considered, is simply an idea of that state of the voluntary power, that is befitting to moral agents upon condition of their nature and relations. Their nature and relations being perceived, the reason hereupon necessarily affirms that they ought to will, intend, the highest good of being for its own intrinsic value. This is what is meant by the law of nature. It is a law, or rule, necessarily imposed upon us by our own nature. It is nothing more or less than that which reason spontaneously and necessarily affirms to be fit, proper, right, in view of our nature and relations, and the intrinsic value of the highest well being of God and the universe. Those being given, this is affirmed to be duty. It is an idea of that state of the heart, and that course of life, that from their nature and relations, is indispensable to the highest good of all. By Moral Law being the Law of Nature, is intended, that the nature and relations of moral agents being what they are, a certain course of willing and acting is indispensable to, and will result in their highest well being; that their highest well being is valuable in itself, and should be willed for that reason.

      4. A fourth attribute of Moral Law is Universality. The conditions being the same, it requires, and must require, of all moral agents, the same things, in whatever world they may be found.

      5. A fifth attribute of Moral Law, is Uniformity. All the conditions and circumstances being the same, its claims are uniformly the same. This follows from the very nature of Moral Law.

      6. A sixth attribute of Moral Law is, and must be, Impartiality. Moral Law is no respecter of persons--knows no privileged classes. It demands one thing of all, without regard to anything, except the fact that they are moral agents. By this it is not intended, that the same course of outward conduct is required of all--but the same state of heart in all--that all shall have one ultimate intention--that all shall consecrate themselves to one end--that all shall entirely conform in heart and life to their nature and relations.

      7. A seventh attribute of Moral Law is, and must be, Justice. That which is unjust can not be Law.

      Justice, as an attribute of Moral Law, must respect both the precept and the sanction. Justice, as an attribute of the precept, consists in the requisition of just that, and no more, which is in exact accordance with the nature and relations of the subject.

      Justice, as an attribute of the sanction, consists in the promise of just such rewards and punishments as are equal to the guilt of disobedience, on the one hand, and to the value of obedience on the other.

      Sanctions belong to the very essence and nature of Moral Law. A law without sanctions is no law; it is only counsel, or advice. Sanctions are--in a certain sense, to be explained in a future lecture--the motives which the Law presents, with design to secure obedience to the precept. Consequently, they should always be graduated by the importance of the precept; and that is not properly law which does not promise, expressly or impliedly, a reward proportionate to the value of obedience, and threaten punishment equal to the evil or guilt of disobedience. Law can not be unjust, either in precept or sanction: and it should always be remembered, that what is unjust, is not law, can not be law. It is contrary to the true definition of law. Moral Law is a rule of action, founded in, and suited to, the nature and relations of moral beings, sustained by sanctions equal to the value of obedience, and the guilt of disobedience.

      8. An eighth attribute of Moral Law is Practicability. That which the precept demands, must be possible to the subject.. That which demands a natural impossibility, is not, and can not be Moral Law. The true definition of law excludes the supposition that it can, under any circumstances, demand an absolute impossibility. Such a demand could not be in accordance with the nature and relations of moral agents, and therefore practicability must always be an attribute of Moral Law. To talk of inability to obey Moral Law, is to talk sheer nonsense.

      9. A ninth attribute of Moral Law is Independence. It is founded in the self-existent nature of God. It is an eternal and necessary idea of the Divine Reason. It is the unalterable and eternal self-existent rule of the Divine conduct, the law which the intelligence of God imposes on Himself. He is a law to Himself. Moral Law, as we shall see hereafter more fully, does not, and can not originate in the will of God. It originates, or rather, is founded in his eternal, immutable, self-existent nature. It eternally existed in the Divine Reason. It is the idea of that state of will which is obligatory upon God upon condition of his natural attributes, or in other words, upon condition of his nature. As a law, it is entirely independent of his will, just as his own existence is. It is obligatory also upon every moral agent, entirely independent of the will of God. Their nature and relations being given, and their intelligence being developed, Moral Law must be obligatory upon them, and it lies not in the option of any being to make it otherwise. To pursue a course of conduct suited to their nature and relations, is necessarily and self-evidently obligatory, the willing or nilling of any being to the contrary notwithstanding.

      10. A tenth attribute of moral law is Immutability. Moral Law can never change, or be changed. Moral Law always requires of every moral agent a state of heart and course of conduct precisely suited to his nature and relations. Nothing more nor less. Whatever his nature is, his capacity and relations are, entire conformity to just that nature, those capacities and relations, is required at every moment, and nothing more or less. If capacity is enlarged, the subject is not thereby rendered capable of works of supererogation--of doing more than the Law demands; for the Law still, as always, requires the full consecration of his whole being to the public interests. If by any means whatever, his ability is abridged, Moral Law, always and necessarily consistent with itself, still requires that what is left--nothing more or less--shall be consecrated to the same end as before. Whatever demands more or less than entire, universal, and constant conformity of heart and life, to the nature, capacity and relations of moral agents, be they what they may, is not, and can not be, Moral Law. To suppose that it could be otherwise, would be to contradict the true definition of Moral Law. If therefore, the capacity is by any means abridged, the subject does not thereby become incapable of rendering full obedience; for the Law still demands and urges, that the heart and life shall be fully conformed to the present existing nature, capacity, and relations. Anything that requires more or less than this, whatever else it is, is not, and can not be Moral Law. To affirm that it can, is to talk nonsense. Nay, it is to blaspheme against the immaculate majesty of Moral Law. Moral Law invariably holds one language. It never changes the spirit of its requirement. "Thou shalt love," or be perfectly benevolent, is its uniform, and its only demand. This demand it never varies, and never can vary. It is as immutable as God is, and for the same reason. To talk of letting down, or altering Moral Law, is to talk absurdly. The thing is naturally impossible. No being has the right or the power to do so. The supposition overlooks the very nature of Moral Law. Should the natural capability of the mind, by any means whatever, be enlarged or abridged, it is perfectly absurd and a contradiction of the nature of Moral Law, to say, that the claims of the law are either elevated or lowered. Moral Law is not a statute, an enactment, that has its origin or its foundation in the will of any being. It is the Law of Nature, the law which the nature or constitution of every moral agent imposes on himself. It is the unalterable demand of the Reason, that the whole being, whatever there is of it at any time, shall be entirely consecrated to the highest good of universal being. In other words, it is the soul's idea or conception of that state of heart and course of life, which is exactly suited to its nature and relations. It can not be too distinctly understood, that Moral Law is nothing more or less, than the Law of Nature, that is, it is the rule imposed on us, not by the arbitrary will of any being, but by our own intelligence. It is an idea of that which is fit, suitable, agreeable to our nature and relations for the time being, that which it is reasonable for us to will and do, at any and every moment, in view of all the circumstances of our present existence,--just what the Reason affirms to be suited to our nature and relations, under all the circumstances of the case.

      It has been said, that if we dwarf, or abridge our powers, we do not thereby abridge the claims of God; that if we render it impossible to perform so high a service as we might have done, the Lawgiver, nevertheless, requires the same as before, that is, that under such circumstances He requires of us an impossibility;--that should we dwarf, or completely derange, or stultify our powers, He would still hold us under obligation to perform all that we might have performed, had our powers remained in their integrity. To this I reply,

      That this affirmation assumes, that Moral Law and moral obligation, are founded in the will of God;--that His mere will makes law. This is a fundamental mistake. God can not legislate in the sense of making Law. He declares and enforces the common law of the universe, or, in other words, the Law of Nature. This law, I repeat it, is nothing else than that rule of conduct which is in accordance with the nature and relations of moral beings. The totality of its requisitions are, both in its letter and its spirit, "thou shalt love, etc., with all thy heart, thy soul, thy might, thy strength." That is, whatever there is of us, at any moment, is to be wholly consecrated to God, and the good of being, and nothing more or less. If our nature or relations are changed, no matter by what means, or to what extent, provided we are still moral agents, its language and spirit are the same as before,--"Thou shalt love with all thy strength," etc.

      I will here quote from the Oberlin Evangelist, an extract of a letter from an esteemed brother, embodying the substance of the above objection, together with my reply.

      "One point is what you say of the claims of the law, in the Oberlin Evangelist, Vol. 2, p. 50:--'The question is, What does the law of God require of Christians of the present generation, in all respects in our circumstances, with all the ignorance and debility of body and mind which have resulted from the intemperance and abuse of the human constitution through so many generations?' But if this be so, then the more ignorant and debilitated a person is in body and mind, in consequence of his own or ancestors' sins and follies, the less the law would require of him, and the less would it be for him to become perfectly holy--and, the nearer this ignorance and debility came to being perfect, the nearer would he be to being perfectly holy, for the less would be required of him to make him so. But is this so? Can a person be perfectly sanctified while particularly that 'ignorance of mind,' which is the effect of the intemperance and abuse of the human constitution, remains? Yea, can he be sanctified at all, only as this ignorance is removed by the truth and Spirit of God; it being a moral and not a physical effect of sinning? I say it kindly; here appears to me at least, a very serious entering wedge of error. Were the effect of human depravity upon man simply to disable him, like taking from the body a limb, or destroying in part, or in whole, a faculty of the mind, I would not object; but to say, this effect is ignorance, a moral effect wholly, and then say, having this ignorance, the Law levels its claims according to it, and that with it, a man can be entirely sanctified, looks not to me like the teachings of the Bible."

      (1.) I have seen the passage from my lecture here alluded to, quoted and commented upon, in different periodicals, and uniformly with entire disapprobation.

      (2.) It has always been separated entirely from the exposition which I have given of the Law of God in the same lectures; with which exposition, no one, so far as I know, has seen fit to grapple.

      (3.) I believe, in every instance, the objections that have been made to this paragraph, were made by those who profess to believe in the present natural ability of sinners to do all their duty.

      (4.) I would most earnestly and respectfully inquire, what consistency there is, in denominating this paragraph a dangerous heresy, and still maintaining that men are at present naturally able to do all that God requires of them?

      (5.) I put the inquiry back to those brethren,--by what authority do you affirm, that God requires any more of any moral agent in the universe, and of man in his present condition, than he is at present able to perform?

      (6.) I inquire, does not the very language of the law of God prove to a demonstration, that God requires no more of man than, in his present state, he is able to perform? Let us hear its language: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." Now here, God so completely levels his claims, by the very wording of these commandments, to the present capacity of every human being, however young or old, however maimed, debilitated, or idiotic, as, to use the language or sentiment of Prof. Hickok, of Auburn Seminary, uttered in my hearing that, "if it were possible to conceive of a moral pigmy, the Law requires of him nothing more, than to use whatever strength he has, in the service and for the glory of God."

      (7.) I most respectfully but earnestly inquire of my brethren, if they believe that God requires as much of men as of angels, or a child as a man, of a half-idiot as of a Newton? I mean not to ask whether God requires an equally perfect consecration of all the powers actually possessed by each of these classes; but whether in degree, He really requires the same, irrespective of their present natural ability?

      (8.) I wish to inquire, whether my brethren do not admit that the brain is the organ of the mind, and that every abuse of the physical system has abridged the capacity of the mind, while it remains connected with this tenement of clay? And I would also ask, whether my brethren mean to maintain, at the same breath, the doctrine of present natural ability to comply with all the requirements of God, and also the fact that God now requires of man just the same degree of service that he might have rendered if he had never sinned, or in any way violated the laws of his being? And if they maintain these two positions at the same time, I farther inquire, whether they believe that man has natural ability at the present moment to bring all his faculties and powers, together with his knowledge, on to as high ground and into the same state in which they might have been, had he never sinned? My brethren, is there not some inconsistency here?

      (9.) In the paragraph from the letter above quoted, the brother admits, that if a man by his own act had deprived himself of any of his corporeal faculties, he would not thenceforth be under an obligation to use those faculties. But he thinks this principle does not hold true, in respect to the ignorance of man; because he esteems his ignorance a moral, and not a natural defect. Here I beg leave to make a few inquiries:

      [1.] Should a man wickedly deprive himself of the use of a hand, would not this act be a moral act? No doubt it would.

      [2.] Suppose a man by his own act, should make himself an idiot, would not this act be a moral act?

      [3.] Would he not in both these cases render himself naturally unable, in the one case, to use his hand, and in the other, his reason? Undoubtedly he would. But how can it be affirmed, with any show of reason, that in the one case his natural inability discharges him from the obligation to use his hand, and that in the other case, his natural ability does not affect his obligation--that he is still bound to use his reason, of which he has voluntarily deprived himself, but not his hand? Now the fact is, that in both these cases the inability is a natural one.

      [4.] I ask, if a man has willingly remained in ignorance of God, whether his ignorance is a moral or natural inability? If it is a moral inability, he can instantly overcome it, by the right exercise of his own will. And nothing can be a moral inability that can not be instantaneously removed by our own volition. Do my brethren believe, that the present ignorance of mankind can be instantaneously removed, and their knowledge become as perfect as it might have been had they never sinned, by an act of volition on the part of men? If they do not, why do they call this a moral inability, or ignorance a moral effect? The fact is, that ignorance is often the natural effect of moral delinquency. Neglect of duty occasions ignorance; and this ignorance constitutes a natural inability to do that of which a man is utterly ignorant--just as the loss of a hand, in the case supposed, is the natural effect of a moral act, but in itself constitutes a natural inability to perform those duties that might have been performed but for the loss of this hand. The truth is, that this ignorance does constitute, while it remains, a natural inability to perform those duties of which the mind is ignorant; and all that can be required is, that from the present moment, the mind should be diligently and perfectly engaged in acquiring what knowledge it can, and in perfectly obeying, as fast as it can obtain the light. If this is not true, it is utter nonsense to talk about natural ability as being a sine qua non of moral obligation. And I would kindly, but most earnestly ask my brethren, by what rule of consistency they maintain, at the same breath, the doctrine of a natural ability to do whatever God requires, and also insist that He requires men to know as much, and in all respects to render Him the same kind and degree of service as if they never had sinned, or rendered themselves in any respect naturally incapable of doing and being, at the present moment, all that they might have done and been, had they never in any instance neglected their duty?

      (10.) The brother, in the above paragraph, seems to feel pressed with the consideration, that if it be true that a man's ignorance can be any excuse for his not at present doing what he might have done but for this ignorance, it will follow, that the less he knows the less is required of him, and should he become a perfect idiot, he would be entirely discharged from moral obligation. To this I answer: Yes, or the doctrine of natural ability, and the entire Government of God, are a mere farce. If a man should annihilate himself, would he not thereby set aside his moral obligation to obey God? Yes, truly. Should he make himself an idiot, has he not thereby annihilated his moral agency; and of course his natural ability to obey God? And will my New School brethren adopt the position of Dr. Wilson of Cincinnati, as maintained on the trial of Dr. Beecher, that "moral obligation does not imply ability of any kind?" The truth is, that for the time being, a man may destroy his moral agency, by rendering himself a lunatic or an idiot; and while this lunacy or idiocy continues, obedience to God is naturally impossible, and therefore not required.

      But it is also true, that no human being and no moral agent can deprive himself of reason and moral agency, but for a limited time. There is no reason to believe, that the soul can be deranged or idiotic, when separated from the body. And therefore moral agency will in all cases be renewed in a future, if not in the present state of existence, when God will hold men fully responsible for having deprived themselves of power to render Him all that service which they might otherwise have rendered. But do let me inquire again, can my dear brethren maintain that an idiot or lunatic can be a moral agent? Can they maintain, that a moral being is the subject of moral obligation any farther than he is in a state of sanity? Can they maintain, that an infant is the subject of moral obligation, previous to all knowledge? And can they maintain, that moral obligation can, in any case, exceed knowledge? If they can and do--then, to be consistent, they must flatly deny that natural ability is a sine qua non of moral obligation, and adopt the absurd dogma of Dr. Wilson, that 'moral obligation does not imply any ability whatever.' When my brethren will take this ground, I shall then understand and know where to meet them. But I beseech you, brethren, not to complain of inconsistency in me, nor accuse me of teaching dangerous heresy, while I teach nothing more than you must admit to be true, or unequivocally admit, in extenso, the very dogma of Dr. Wilson, quoted above.

      I wish to be distinctly understood. I maintain, that present ignorance is present natural inability, as absolutely as the present want of a hand is present natural inability to use it. And I also maintain, that the Law of God requires nothing more of any human being, than that which he is at present naturally able to perform, under the present circumstances of his being. Do my brethren deny this? If they do, then they have gone back to Dr. Wilson's ground. If they do not, why am I accounted a heretic by them, for teaching what they themselves maintain?

      (11.) In my treatise upon the subject of entire sanctification, I have shown from the Bible, that actual knowledge is indispensable to moral obligation, and that the legal maxim, "ignorance of the law excuses no one," is not good in morals.

      (12.) Professor Stuart, in a recent number of the Biblical Repository, takes precisely the same ground that I have taken, and fully maintains, that sin is the voluntary transgression of a known law. And he further abundantly shows, that this is no new or heterodox opinion. Now Prof. Stuart, in the article alluded to, takes exactly the same position in regard to what constitutes sin that I have done in the paragraph upon which so much has been said. And may I be permitted to inquire, why the same sentiment is orthodox at Andover, and sound theology in the Biblical Repository, but highly heterodox and dangerous at Oberlin?

      (13.) Will my brethren of the New School, to avoid the conclusiveness of my reasonings in respect to the requirements of the Law of God, go back to Old Schoolism, physical depravity, and accountability based upon natural inability, and all the host of absurdities belonging to its particular views of orthodoxy? I recollect that Dr. Beecher expressed his surprise at the position taken by Dr. Wilson, to which I have alluded, and said he did not believe that "many men could be found, who could march up without winking to the maintenance of such a proposition as that." But to be consistent, I do not see but that my brethren, with or "without winking," are driven to the necessity, either of "marching up" to maintaining the same proposition, or they must admit, that this objectionable paragraph in my lecture is the truth of God.

      11. An eleventh attribute of Moral Law is Unity. Moral Law proposes but one ultimate end of pursuit to God, and to all moral agents. The whole of its requisitions in their spirit and last analysis, are summed up and expressed in one word, love or benevolence. This I only announce here. It will more fully appear hereafter. Law is a pure and simple idea of the reason. It is the idea of perfect, universal and constant consecration of the whole being, to the highest good of being. Just this is, and nothing more nor less, can be Moral Law; for just this, and nothing more nor less, is a state of heart and a course of life exactly suited to the nature and relations of moral agents, which is the only true definition of Moral Law.

      To suppose, that under any possible or conceivable circumstances, the Moral Law should require any thing more or less, were to make a supposition contrary to the very nature of Moral Law. It were to overlook the proper definition of Moral Law, as has been said before.

      12. Equity is another attribute of Moral Law. Equity is equality. That only is equitable which is equal. The interest and well-being of every sentient existence and especially of every moral agent, is of some value in comparison with the interests of others and of the whole universe of creatures. Moral Law, by a necessity of its own nature, demands that the interest and well-being of every member of the universal family shall be regarded according to its relative or comparative value, and that in no case shall it be sacrificed or wholly neglected without his forfeiture to whom it belongs. The distinction allowed by human tribunals between law and equity does not pertain to Moral Law, nor does or can it strictly pertain to any law. For it is impossible that that should be law, in the sense of imposing obligation to obey, of which equity is not an attribute. An inequitable law can not be. The requirements of law must be equal. A moral agent may, by transgression, forfeit the protection of law and may come into such governmental relations by trampling on the Law, that Moral Law may demand that he be made a public example--that his interest and well-being be laid upon the altar, and that he be offered a sacrifice to public justice as a preventive of crime in others. It may happen also that sacrifices may be demanded by Moral Law of innocent beings for the promotion of a greater amount of good than that sacrificed by the innocent. Such was the case with the atonement of Christ, and such is the case with the missionary and with all who are called by the Law of Love to practice self-denial for the good of others. But let it be remembered that Moral Law never requires or allows any degree of self-denial and self-sacrifice that relinquishes a good of greater value than that gained by the sacrifice. Nor does it in any case demand or permit that any interest not forfeited by its possessor, shall be relinquished or finally neglected without adequate ultimate compensation. As has been said, every interest is of some comparative value; and ought to be esteemed just in proportion to its comparative value. Moral Law demands and must demand that it shall be so regarded by all moral agents to whom it is known. "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" is its unalterable language. It can absolutely utter no other language than this, and nothing can be Moral Law or Law in any sense that ought to be obeyed, or that can innocently be obeyed which holds any other language. Law is not and can not be an arbitrary enactment of any being or number of beings. Unequal Law is a misnomer. That is, that which is unequal in its demands is not and can not be Law. Law must respect the interests and the rights of all and of each member of the universal family. It is impossible that it should be otherwise, and still be Law.

      13. Expediency is another attribute of Moral Law.

      That which is upon whole wise, is expedient,--that which is upon the whole expedient is demanded by Moral Law. True expediency and the spirit of Moral Law are always identical. Expediency may be inconsistent with the letter, but never with the spirit of Moral Law. Law in the form of commandment is a revelation or declaration of that course which is expedient. It is expediency revealed, as in the case of the commandments of the decalogue, and the same is true of every precept of the Bible, it reveals to us what is expedient. A revealed law or commandment is never to be set aside by any considerations of expediency. We may know with certainty that what is required is expedient. The command is the expressed judgment of God in the case and reveals with unerring certainty the true path of expediency. When Paul says, "All things are lawful unto me but all things are not expedient," we must not understand him as meaning that all things in the absolute sense were lawful to him, or that anything was in this sense lawful to him that was not expedient. But he doubtless intended that many things were inexpedient that are not expressly prohibited by the letter of the law,--that the spirit of the law prohibited many things not expressly forbidden by the letter. It should never be forgotten that that which is plainly demanded by the highest good of the universe is Law. It is expedient. It is wise. The true spirit of the Moral Law does and must demand it. So, on the other hand, whatever is plainly inconsistent with the highest good of the universe is illegal, unwise, inexpedient, and must be prohibited by the spirit of Moral Law. But let the thought be repeated, that the Bible precepts always reveal that which is truly expedient, and in no case are we at liberty to set aside the spirit of any commandment upon the supposition that expediency requires it. Some have denounced the doctrine of expediency altogether as at all times inconsistent with the Law of Right. These philosophers proceed upon the assumption that the Law of Right and the Law of Benevolence are not identical but inconsistent with each other. This is a common but fundamental mistake, which leads me to remark that,

      14. Exclusiveness is another attribute of Moral Law. That is, Moral Law is the only possible rule of Moral Obligation. A distinction is usually made between Moral, Ceremonial, Civil, and Positive Laws. This distinction is in some respects convenient, but is liable to mislead and to create an impression that a law can be obligatory, or in other words that that can be Law that has not the attributes of Moral Law. Nothing can be Law in any proper sense of the term that is not and would not be universally obligatory upon moral agents under the same circumstances. It is Law because and only because that under all the circumstances of the case the course prescribed is fit, proper, suitable to their natures, relations and circumstances. There can be no Law as a rule of action for moral agents but Moral Law, or the Law of Benevolence. Every other rule is absolutely excluded by the very nature of Moral Law. Surely there can be no Law that is or can be obligatory upon moral agents but one suited to and founded in their nature, relations and circumstances. This is and must be the Law of Love or Benevolence. This is the Law of Right and nothing else is or can be. Everything else that claims to be Law and to impose obligation upon moral agents, from whatever source it emanates, is not and can not be a Law, but must be an imposition and "a thing of nought."

      15. Utility is also an attribute of Moral Law. Law proposes the highest good of universal being as its end and requires all moral agents to consecrate themselves to the promotion of this end. Consequently Utility must be one of its attributes. That which is upon the whole in the highest degree useful to the universe must be demanded by Moral Law. Moral Law must, from its own nature, require just that course of willing and acting that is upon the whole in the highest degree promotive of the public good,--in other words, that which is upon the whole in the highest degree useful. It has been strangely and absurdly maintained that right would be obligatory if it necessarily tended to and resulted in universal and perfect misery. Than which a more nonsensical affirmation was never made. The affirmation assumes that the Law of Right and of Good-Will are not only distinct, but may be antagonistic. It also assumes that that can be Law that is not suited to the nature and relations of moral agents. Certainly it will not be pretended that that course of willing and acting that necessarily tends to and results in universal misery can be consistent with the nature and relations or moral agents. Nothing is or can be suited to their nature and relations that is not upon the whole promotive of their highest well-being. Utility and Right are always and necessarily at one. They can never be inconsistent. That which is upon the whole most useful is right, and that which is right is upon the whole useful.

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  • LECTURE 2 - MORAL GOVERNMENT (CONTINUE)
    • MORAL GOVERNMENT

      (continued)

      LECTURE II

      I. Term Government defined.

      II. Distinction between Moral and Physical Government.

      III. Fundamental Reason of Moral Government.

      IV. Whose right it is to govern.

      V. What is implied in the right to govern.

      VI. Limits of the right to govern.

      VII. What is implied in Moral Government.

      VIII. Moral obligation defined.

      IX. Conditions of moral obligation.

      I. Define the term government.

      The primary idea of government, is that of direction, guidance, control, by, or in accordance with rule, or law. This seems to be the generic signification of the term government; but it appears not to be sufficiently broad in its meaning, to express all that properly belongs to moral government, as we shall see. This leads me,

      II. To distinguish between moral and physical government.

      All government, as we shall see, is, and must be either moral or physical; that is, all guidance and control must be exercised in accordance with either moral or physical Law; for there can be no Laws that are not either moral or physical. Physical government, is control, exercised by a law of necessity or force, as distinguished from the law of free will, or liberty. It is the control of substance, as opposed to Free Will. The only government of which substance, as distinguished from free will, is capable, is and must be physical. This is true, whether the substance be material or immaterial, whether matter or mind. States and changes, whether of matter or mind, that do not consist in the actions of free will, must be subject to the law of necessity. In no other way can they be accounted for. They must therefore belong to the department of physical government. Physical government, then, is the administration of physical law, or the law of force.

      Thus, the states and changes of our Intellect and Sensibility, come under the department of physical government. These states and changes are effected by a law of necessity, as opposed in the law of liberty, or free will. The Intellect and Sensibility, as we shall abundantly see hereafter, are so correlated to the will, that its free actions produce certain changes in them, by a law of force, or necessity. Thoughts and feelings are not, strictly moral actions, for the reason that they are not voluntary, and must therefore belong to the department of physical, as opposed to moral government. There is a secondary sense in which thoughts and feelings, as also outward actions, may be regarded as belonging to the department of moral government, and consequently, as possessing moral character. As thoughts, feelings and outward actions, are connected with, and result from free actions of the will by a law of necessity, a moral agent must be responsible for them in a certain sense. But in such cases, the character of the agent belongs strictly to the intention that caused them, and not to those involuntary and necessary states and actions themselves. They can not strictly come under the category of moral actions, as we shall more fully see hereafter, for the reason, that being the result of a law of necessity, they do not, can not, with strict propriety, be said to belong to the department of moral government.

      Moral Government consists in the declaration and administration of Moral Law. It is the government of free will as distinguished from substance. Physical government presides over and controls physical states and changes of substance or constitution, and all involuntary states and changes. Moral Government presides over and controls, or seeks to control the actions of Free Will: it presides over intelligent and voluntary states and changes of mind. It is a government of motive, as opposed to a government of force--control exercised, or sought to be exercised, in accordance with the Law of Liberty, as opposed to the Law of Necessity. It is the administration of moral as opposed to Physical Law.

      Moral Government includes the dispensation of rewards and punishments.

      Moral Government is administered by means as complicated and vast, as the whole of the works, and providence, and ways, and grace of God.

      III. I am to inquire into the fundamental reason of Moral Government.

      Government must be founded in a good and sufficient reason, or it is not right. No one has a right to prescribe rules for, and control the conduct of another, unless there is some good reason for his doing so. There must be a necessity for moral government, or the administration of it is tyranny. Is there any necessity for moral government? And if so, wherein? I answer, that from the nature and relations of moral beings, virtue, or holiness, is indispensable to happiness. But holiness can not exist without Moral Law, and Moral Government; for holiness is nothing else than conformity to Moral Law and Moral Government. Moral Government then, is indispensable to the highest well being of the universe of Moral agents, and therefore ought to, and must exist. The universe is dependent upon this as a means of securing the highest good. This dependence is a good and sufficient reason for the existence of Moral Government. Let it be understood, then, that Moral Government is a necessity of moral beings, and therefore right.--When it is said, that the right to govern is founded in the relation of dependence, it is not, or ought not to be intended, that this relation itself confers the right to govern, irrespective of the necessity of Government. The mere fact, that one being is dependent on another, does not confer on one the right to govern, and impose upon the other obligation to obey, unless the dependent one needs to be governed, and consequently, that the one upon whom the other is dependent, can not fulfil to him the duties of benevolence, without governing or controlling him. The right to govern, implies the duty to govern. Obligation, and consequently, the right to govern, implies, that government is a condition of fulfilling to the dependent party the duties of benevolence. Strictly speaking, the right to govern, is founded in the intrinsic value of the interests to be secured by government; and the right is conditionated upon the necessity of Government as a means to secure those interests. I will briefly sum up the argument under this head, as follows:

      1. It is impossible that government should not exist.

      2. Everything must be governed by Laws suited to its nature.

      3. Matter must be governed by Physical Laws.

      4. The free actions of Will must be governed by motives, and moral agents must be governed by moral considerations.

      5. We are conscious of moral agency, and can be governed only by a Moral Government.

      6. Our nature and circumstances demand that we should be under a Moral Government; because--

      (1.) Moral happiness depends upon moral order.

      (2.) Moral order depends upon the harmonious action of all our powers, as individuals and members of society.

      (3.) No community can perfectly harmonize in all their views and feelings, without perfect knowledge, or, to say the least, the same degree of knowledge on all subjects on which they are called to act.

      (4.) But no community ever existed, or will exist, in which every individual possesses exactly the same amount of knowledge, and where the members are, therefore, entirely agreed in all their thoughts, views and opinions.

      (5.) But if they are not agreed in opinion, or have not exactly the same amount of knowledge, they will not in everything harmonize, as it respects their course of conduct.

      (6.) There must therefore be in every community some standard or rule of duty, to which all the subjects of the community are to conform themselves.

      (7.) There must be some head or controlling mind, whose will shall be law, and whose decisions shall be regarded as infallible by all the subjects of the government.

      (8.) However diverse their intellectual attainments are, in this they must all agree, that the will of the lawgiver is right, and universally the rule of duty.

      (9.) This will must be authoritative and not merely advisory.

      (10.) There must of necessity be a penalty attached to, and incurred by every act of disobedience to this will.

      (11.) If disobedience be persisted in, exclusion from the privileges of the government is the lowest penalty that can consistently be inflicted.

      (12.) The good then, of the universe imperiously requires, that there should be a Moral Governor.

      VI. Whose right it is to govern.

      We have just seen, that necessity is a condition of the right and duty to govern--that the highest well being of the universe demands, and is the end of Moral Government. It must therefore, be his right and duty to govern, whose attributes, physical and moral, best qualify him to secure the end of government. To him all eyes and hearts should be directed, to fill this station, to exercise this control, to administer all just and necessary rewards and punishments. It is both his right and duty to govern. I will here introduce from my Skeletons, a brief argument, to show that God has a right, and that therefore it is his duty, to govern, and that he is a Moral Governor.

      That God is a Moral Governor, we infer--

      1. From our own consciousness. From the very laws of our being we naturally affirm our responsibility to him for our conduct. As God is our Creator, we are naturally responsible to Him for the right exercise of our powers. And as our good and his glory depend upon our conformity to the same rule, to which He conforms his whole being, he is under a moral obligation to require us to be holy as he is holy.

      2. His natural attributes qualify Him to sustain the relation of a Moral Governor to the universe.

      3. His moral character, also, qualifies Him to sustain this relation.

      4. His relation to the universe as Creator and Preserver, when considered in connection with his nature and attributes, confers on Him the right of universal government.

      5. His relation to the universe, and our relations to Him and to each other, render it obligatory upon him to establish and administer a Moral Government over the universe.

      6. The honor of God demands that he should administer such a government.

      7. His conscience must demand it. He must know that it would be wrong for Him to create a universe of moral beings, and then refuse or neglect to administer over them a Moral Government.

      8. His happiness must demand it, as he could not be happy unless he acted in accordance with his conscience.

      9. If God is not a Moral Governor He is not wise. Wisdom consists in the choice of the best ends, and in the use of the most appropriate means to accomplish those ends. If God is not a Moral Governor, it is inconceivable that He should have had any important end in view in the creation of moral beings, or that he should have chosen the best or any suitable means for the accomplishment of the most desirable end.

      10. The conduct or providence of God plainly indicates a design to exert a moral influence over moral agents.

      11. His providence plainly indicates that the universe of mind is governed by Moral Laws, or by laws suited to the nature of moral agents.

      12. Consciousness recognizes the existence of an inward law, or knowledge of the moral quality of actions.

      13. This inward moral consciousness or conscience implies the existence of a rule of duty which is obligatory upon us. This rule implies a ruler, and this ruler must be God.

      14. If God is not a Moral Governor, our very nature deceives us.

      15. If God is not a Moral Governor, the whole universe, so far as we have the means of knowing it, is calculated to mislead mankind in respect to this fundamental truth.

      16. If there is no such thing as Moral Government, there is, in reality, no such thing as moral character.

      17. All nations have believed that God is a Moral Governor.

      18. Our nature is such, that we must believe it. The conviction of our moral accountability to God, is in such a sense the dictate of our moral nature, that we can not escape from it.

      19. We must abhor God, if we ever come to a knowledge of the fact that He created moral agents, and then exercised over them no Moral Government.

      20. The connection between moral delinquency and suffering is such as to render it certain that Moral Government does, as a matter of fact, exist.

      21. The Bible, which has been proved to be a revelation from God, contains a most simple and yet comprehensive system of Moral Government.

      22. If we are deceived in respect to our being subjects of Moral Government, we are sure of nothing.

      V. What is implied in the right to govern.

      1. From what has just been said, it must be evident, that the right to govern, implies the necessity of government as a means of securing an intrinsically valuable end.

      2. Also that the right to govern, implies the duty, or obligation to govern. There can be no right in this case, without corresponding obligation; for the right to govern is founded in the obligation to govern.

      3. The right to govern implies obligation on the part of the subject to obey. It can not be the right or duty of the governor to govern, unless it is the duty of the subject to obey. The governor and subject are alike dependent upon government, as the indispensable means of promoting the highest good. The governor and the subject must, therefore, be under reciprocal obligation, the one to govern, and the other to be governed, or to obey. They one must seek to govern, the other must seek to be governed.

      4. The right to govern implies the right and duty to dispense just and necessary rewards and punishments--to distribute rewards proportioned to merit, and penalties proportioned to demerit, whenever the public interests demand their execution.

      5. It implies the right and duty to use all necessary means to secure the end of government as far as possible.

      6. It implies obligation on the part of the subject cheerfully to acquiesce in any measure that may be necessary to secure the end of government--in case of disobedience, to submit to merited punishment, and if necessary, to aid in the infliction of the penalty of Law.

      7. It implies the right and obligation of both ruler and ruled, to consecrate themselves to the promotion of the great end of government, with a single and steady aim.

      8. It implies obligation, both on the part of the ruler and ruled, to be always ready, and when occasion offers, actually to make any personal and private sacrifice demanded by the higher public good--to cheerfully meet any emergency, and exercise any degree of self-denial that can and will result in a good of greater value to the public, than that sacrificed by the individual, or by any number of individuals, it always being understood, that present voluntary sacrifices shall have an ultimate reward.

      9. It implies the right and duty to employ any degree of force which is indispensable to the maintenance of order, the execution of wholesome laws, the suppression of insurrections, the punishment of rebels and disorganizers, and sustaining the supremacy of Moral Law. It is impossible that the right to govern should not imply this; and to deny this right is to deny the right to govern. Should an emergency occur, in which a ruler had no right to use the indispensable means of securing order, and the supremacy of Law, the moment this emergency occurred, his right to govern would, and must cease: for it is impossible that it should be his right to govern, unless it be at the same time, and for the same reason, his duty to govern: but it is absurd to say, that it is his right and duty to govern, and yet at the same time, that he has not a right to use the indispensable means of government. It is the same absurdity, as to say, that he has, and has not the right to govern at the same time. If it be asked, whether an emergency like the one under consideration is possible, and if so, what might justly be regarded as such an emergency, I answer, that should circumstances occur under which the sacrifice necessary to sustain, would overbalance the good to be derived from the prevalence of government, this would create the emergency under consideration, in which the right to govern would cease.

      VI. Point out the limits of this right.

      The right to govern is, and must be, just co-extensive with the necessity of government. We have seen, that the right to govern is founded in the necessities of moral beings. In other words, the right to govern, is founded upon the fact, that the highest good of moral agents can not be secured, but by means of government.

      It is a first truth of Reason, that what is good or valuable in itself, should be chosen for its own sake, and that it must therefore be the duty of moral agents to aim at securing, and so far as in them lies, to use the means of securing the highest good of the universe for its own sake, or on account of its intrinsic value. If moral government is the only means by which this end can be secured, then government is a necessity of the universe, thence a duty. But under this head, to avoid mistake, and to correct erroneous impressions which are sometimes entertained, I must show what is not the foundation of the right to govern. The boundary of the right must, as will be seen, depend upon the foundation of the right. The right must be as broad as the reason for it. If the reason of the right be mistaken, then the limits of the right can not be ascertained, and must necessarily be mistaken also.

      1. Hence the right to govern the universe, for instance, can not be found in the fact, that God sustains to it the relation of Creator. This is by itself no reason why He should govern it, unless it needs to be governed--unless some good will result from government. Unless there is some necessity for government, the fact that God created the universe, can give Him no right to govern it.

      2. The fact that God is the Owner and Sole Proprietor of the universe, is no reason why He should govern it. Unless either his own good, or the good of the universe, or of both together, demands government, the relation of Owner can not confer the right to govern. Neither God, nor any other being, can own moral beings, in such a sense as to have a right to govern them, when government is wholly unnecessary, and can result in no good whatever to God, or to his creatures. Government, in such a case, would be perfectly arbitrary and unreasonable, and consequently an unjust, tyrannical and wicked act. God has no such right. No such right can, by possibility in any case exist.

      3. The right to govern can not be founded in the fact, that God possesses all the attributes, natural and moral, that are requisite to the administration of Moral Government. This fact is no doubt a condition of the right; for without these qualifications He could have no right, however necessary government might be. But the possession of these attributes can not confer the right independently of the necessity of government: for however well qualified He may be to govern, still, unless government is necessary to securing His own glory and the highest well-being of the universe, He has no right to govern it. Possessing the requisite qualifications is the condition, and the necessity of government is the foundation of the right to govern. More strictly, the right is founded in the intrinsic value of the interests to be secured by government, and conditionated upon the fact, that government is the necessary means or condition of securing the end.

      4. Nor is the right to govern conferred by the value of the interests to be secured, nor by the circumstance of the necessity of government merely, without respect to the condition just above mentioned. Did not God's natural and moral attributes qualify Him to sustain that relation better than anyone else, the right could not be conferred on Him by any other fact or relation.

      5. The right to govern is not, and can not be an abstract right based on no reason whatever. The idea of this right is not an ultimate idea in such a sense, that our intelligence affirms the right without assigning any reason on which it is founded. The human intelligence can not say that God has a right to govern, because he has such a right; and that this is reason enough, and all the reason that can be given. Our Reason does not affirm that government is right, because it is right, and that this is a first truth, and an ultimate idea. If this were so, then God's arbitrary will would be law, and no bounds possibly could be assigned to the right to govern. If God's right to govern be a first truth, an ultimate truth, fact and idea, founded in no assignable reason, then He has the right to legislate as little, and as much, and as arbitrarily, as unnecessarily, as absurdly, and injuriously as possible; and no injustice is, or can be done; for he has, by the supposition, a right to govern, founded in no reason, and of course without any end. Assign any other reason as the foundation of the right to govern than the value of the interests to be secured and conditionated upon the necessity of government, and you may search in vain for any limit to the right. But the moment the foundation and the condition of the right are discovered, we see instantly, that the right must be co-extensive with the reason upon which it is founded, or in other words, must be limited by, and only by the fact, that thus far, and no farther, government is necessary to the highest good of the universe. No legislation can be valid in heaven or earth--no enactments can impose obligation, except upon the condition, that such legislation is demanded by the highest good of the Governor and the Governed. Unnecessary legislation is invalid legislation. Unnecessary government is tyranny. It can in no case be founded in right. It should, however, be observed, that it is often, and in the government of God, universally true, that the Sovereign, and not the subject, is to be the Judge of what is necessary legislation and government. Under no government, therefore, are laws to be despised or rejected because we are unable to see at once their necessity, and hence their wisdom. Unless they are palpably unnecessary, and therefore unwise and unjust, they are to be respected and obeyed as a less evil than contempt and disobedience, though at present we are unable to see their wisdom. Under the government of God there can never be any doubt, and of course any ground for distrust and hesitancy, as it respects the duty of obedience.

      VII. What is implied in Moral Government.

      1. Moral Government implies a Moral Governor.

      2. It implies the existence of Moral Law.

      3. It implies the existence of Moral Agents as the subjects of Moral Government.

      4. It implies the existence of Moral Obligation to obey Moral Law.

      5. It implies the fact of Moral Character, that is, of praise or blame-worthiness in the subjects of Moral Government. A Moral Agent must be under Moral Obligation, and one who is under Moral Obligation, must have Moral Character. If he complies with obligation, he must be holy and praise-worthy; if he refuses to comply with Moral Obligation, he must be sinful and blame-worthy.

      VIII. Definition of Moral Obligation.

      Obligation is a bond, or that which binds. Moral Obligation is the bond, ligament, or tie that binds a moral agent to Moral Law. Moral Obligation is oughtness. It is a responsibility imposed on the moral agent by his own reason. It is a first truth of Reason that he ought to will the valuable for its own sake.

      Moral Law is the rule in conformity with which he ought to act, or more strictly, to will.

      Obligation we express by the term ought, and say that a moral agent ought to obey Moral Law, or that he ought to choose that which Moral Law requires him to will.

      IX. The conditions of Moral Obligation.

      1. Moral Agency. The conditions of Moral Agency are the attributes of Intelligence, Sensibility, and Free Will; or in other words power or capacity to know, to feel, and to will in conformity or disconformity with knowledge or with moral obligation. There must be Intelligence or the faculty of knowing the valuable or the good, and that the valuable or the good exists or is possible, that something exists or may exist which is a good in itself, or valuable on its own account. There must be reason to affirm Moral Obligation, to will the valuable because it is valuable. Moral Obligation can not exist where there is no knowledge of moral relations, of the valuable, the good, where there is no Intellect to affirm Oughtness or Moral Obligation--to affirm the rightness of willing good or the valuable, and the wrongness of willing evil or of selfish willing.

      It is generally agreed that Moral Obligation respects strictly only the ultimate intention or choice of an end for its own sake. Hence it follows that the idea of this end must be developed as a condition of Moral Obligation. The end must be first known or perceived. This perception must develop the idea or affirmation of obligation to choose or will it. The development of the idea of obligation necessitates the development of the ideas of right and wrong as its correlatives. The development of these last must necessitate the affirmation of praise and blame-worthiness as their correlatives.

      The conditions of moral obligation, strictly speaking, are the powers of moral agency with the development of the ideas of the intrinsically valuable, of moral obligation and of right and wrong. It implies the development also of the ideas of praise and blame-worthiness.

      2. Sensibility, or the power or susceptibility of feeling. Without this faculty the knowledge of the good or the valuable would not be possible. This faculty supplies the chronological condition of the idea of the good or valuable. Feeling pleasure or pain in the sensibility suggests and develops the idea of the good or the valuable in the intelligence, just as the perception of body suggests and develops the idea of space, or just as beholding succession suggests and develops the idea of time. Perceiving body or succession, is the chronological condition of the idea of space or time. So the feeling of pleasure in like manner suggests or develops the idea of the valuable. The existence then of the Sensibility or of a susceptibility to pleasure or pain must be a condition of Moral Agency and hence of Moral Obligation.

      3. Moral Agency implies the possession of Free Will. By Free Will is intended the power of choosing or refusing to choose in compliance with moral obligation in every instance. Free Will implies the power of originating and deciding our own choices and of exercising our own sovereignty in every instance of choice upon moral questions--of deciding or choosing in conformity with duty or otherwise in all cases of moral obligation. That man can not be under a moral obligation to perform an absolute impossibility is a first truth of reason. But man's causality, his whole power of causality to perform or do anything, lies in his Will. If he can not will, he can do nothing. His whole liberty or freedom must consist in his power to will. His outward actions and his mental states are connected with the actions of his Will by a law of necessity. If I will to move my muscles, they must move unless there be a paralysis of the nerves of voluntary motion, or unless some resistance be opposed that overcomes the power of my volitions. The sequences of choice or volition are always under the law of necessity, and unless the Will is free man has no freedom. And if he has no freedom he is not a moral agent, that is, he is incapable of moral action and also of moral character. Free Will then in the above defined sense must be a condition of moral agency and of course of moral obligation.

      4. Moral Agency implies as has been said the actual development of the idea of good, or the valuable, of obligation and of oughtness or duty. The mind must know that there is such a thing as the good or valuable as a condition of the obligation to will it. Mind is so constituted that it can not but affirm obligation to will the good or the valuable as soon as the idea of the good or valuable is developed; but the development of this idea is the indispensable condition of moral obligation. When the faculties of a moral being are possessed, with sufficient light on moral subjects to develop the idea of the good or the valuable together with the idea of right and wrong, the mind instantly affirms and must affirm moral obligation or oughtness. Moral Agency commences at the instant of the development of those ideas, and with them also commences moral obligation and of course moral character.

      REMARKS

      1. If God's government is moral, it is easy to see how sin came to exist; that a want of experience in the universe, in regard to the nature and natural tendencies and results of sin, prevented the due influence of sanctions.

      2. If God's government is moral, we see that all the developments of sin are enlarging the experience of the universe in regard to its nature and tendencies, and thus confirming the influence of moral government over virtuous minds.

      3. If God's government is moral, we can understand the design and tendency of the Atonement; that it is designed, and that it tends to reconcile the exercise of mercy, with a due administration of law.

      4. If God's government is moral, we can understand the philosophy of the Spirit's influences in convicting and sanctifying the soul; that this influence is moral, persuasive, and not physical.

      5. If the government of God is moral, we can understand the influence and necessity of faith. Confidence is indispensable to heart obedience in any government. This is emphatically true under the Divine Government.

      6. If God's government is moral, we can see the necessity and power of Christian example. Example is the highest moral influence.

      7. If God's government is moral, his natural or physical omnipotence is no proof that all men will be saved; for salvation is not effected by physical power.

      8. If God's government is moral, we see the importance of watchfulness, and girding up the loins of our minds.

      9. If God's government is moral, we see the necessity of a well instructed ministry, able to wield the motives necessary to sway mind.

      10. If God's government is moral, we see the philosophical bearings, tendencies, and power of the Providence, Law, and Gospel of God, in the great work of man's salvation.

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  • LECTURE 3 - MORAL GOVERNMENT
    • MORAL GOVERNMENT

      (continued)

      LECTURE III

       

      I. Man a Subject of Moral Obligation.

      II. Extent of Moral Obligation.

      I. Man is a Subject of Moral Obligation.

      This is a first truth of reason. A first truth has this invariable characteristic, namely, all moral agents know it by a necessity of nature and assume its truth in all their practical judgments, whatever their philosophical theories may be.

      Now who does not know that men possess the attributes of moral agents: to wit, Intellect, (including reason, conscience, and consciousness,) Sensibility, and Free Will. Every moral agent does know and can not but know this. That man has Intellect and Sensibility, or the powers of knowing and feeling, has not to my knowledge been doubted. In theory, the freedom of the will in man has been denied. Yet the very deniers have, in their practical judgments, assumed the freedom of the human will as well and as fully as the most staunch defenders of human liberty of will. Indeed nobody ever did or can in practice call in question the freedom of the human will without justly incurring the charge of insanity. By a necessity of his nature every moral agent knows himself to be free. He can no more hide this fact from himself, or reason himself out of the conviction of its truth, than he can speculate himself into a disbelief of his own existence. He may in speculation deny either, but in fact he knows both. That he is, that he is free, that he is a subject of moral obligation are truths equally well known, and known precisely in the same way, namely, he intuits them--sees them in their own light by virtue of the constitution of his being. I have said that man is conscious of possessing the powers of a moral agent. He has also the idea of the valuable, of right and of wrong: of this he is conscious. But nothing else is necessary to constitute man or any other being a subject of moral obligation than the possession of these powers together with sufficient light on moral subjects to develop the ideas just mentioned.

      Again. Man, by a law of necessity, affirms himself to be under moral obligation. He can not doubt it. He affirms absolutely and necessarily that he is praise or blame-worthy as he is benevolent or selfish. Every man assumes this of himself and of all other men of sound mind. This assumption is irresistible as well as universal.

      The truth assumed then is a first truth and not to be called in question. But if it be called in question in theory, it still remains and must remain, while reason remains, a truth of certain knowledge from the presence of which there is and can be no escape. The spontaneous, universal, and irresistible affirmation that men of sound mind are praise or blame-worthy as they are selfish or benevolent, shows beyond contradiction that all men regard themselves and others as the subjects of moral obligation.

      II. Extent of Moral Obligation.

      By this is intended, to what acts and states of mind does moral obligation extend? This certainly is a solemn and a fundamentally important question.

      In the examination of this question I shall,

      1. State again the conditions of moral obligation.

      2. Show by an appeal to reason or to natural theology, to what acts and states of mind moral obligation can not directly extend.

      3. To what acts or states of mind moral obligation must directly extend.

      4. To what acts and mental states moral obligation must indirectly extend.

      5. Examine the question in the light of the oracles of God.

      1. State again the conditions of moral obligation. These must of necessity be introduced here if we would understand this subject, although they have been examined in a former Lecture at considerable length. These conditions are:

      (1.) The powers and susceptibilities of moral agency. Intellect, including Reason, Conscience, and Self-consciousness. Reason is the intuitive faculty or function of the intellect. It gives by direct intuition the following among other truths: the absolute--for example, right and wrong; the necessary--space exists; the infinite--space is infinite; the perfect--God is perfect--God's law is perfect, etc. In short it is the faculty that intuits moral relations and affirms moral obligation to act in conformity with perceived moral relations. It is that faculty that postulates all the a priori truths of science whether mathematical, philosophical, theological, or logical.

      Conscience is the faculty or function of the Intelligence that recognizes the conformity or disconformity of the heart and life to the Moral Law as it lies revealed in the reason, and also awards praise to conformity and blame to disconformity to that law. It also affirms that conformity to the moral law deserves reward and that disconformity deserves punishment. It also possesses a propelling or impulsive power by which it urges the conformity of Will to Moral Law. It does, in a certain sense, seem to possess the power of retribution.

      Consciousness is the faculty or function of self-knowledge. It is the faculty that recognizes our own existence, mental actions, and states, together with the attributes of liberty or necessity, belonging to those actions or states.

      "Consciousness is the mind in the act of knowing itself." By consciousness I know that I am--that I affirm that space is,--that I also affirm that the whole is equal to all its parts--that every event must have a cause, and many such like truths. I am conscious not only of these affirmations, but also that necessity is the law of these affirmations, that I can not affirm otherwise than I do in respect to this class of truths. I am also conscious of choosing to sit at my desk and write, and I am just as conscious that liberty is the law of this choice. That is, I am conscious of necessarily regarding myself as entirely free in this choice, and of affirming my own ability to have chosen not to sit at my desk and of being now able to choose not to sit and write. I am just as conscious of affirming the liberty of necessity of my mental states as I am of the states themselves. Consciousness gives us our existence and attributes, our mental acts and states, and all the attributes and phenomena of our being of which we have any knowledge. In short all our knowledge is given to us by consciousness. The Intellect is a receptivity as distinguished from a voluntary power. All the acts and states of the intelligence are under the law of necessity or physical law. The will can command the attention of the intellect. Its thoughts, perceptions, affirmations, and all its phenomena are involuntary and under a law of necessity. Of this we are conscious. Another faculty indispensable to moral agency is,

      (2.) Sensibility. This is the faculty or susceptibility of feeling. All sensation, desire, emotion, passion, pain, pleasure, and in short every kind and degree of feeling as the term feeling is commonly used, is a phenomenon of this faculty. This faculty supplies the chronological condition of the idea of the valuable, and hence of right and wrong and of moral obligation. The experience of pleasure or happiness develops the idea of the valuable just as the perception of body develops the idea of space. But for this faculty the mind could have no idea of the valuable and hence of moral obligation to will the valuable, nor of right and wrong, nor of praise and blame-worthiness.

      This faculty like the intellect is a receptivity or purely a passive as distinguished from a voluntary faculty. All its phenomena are under the law of necessity. I am conscious that I can not, by any direct effort, feel when and as I will. This faculty is so correlated to the intelligence that when the intellect is intensely occupied with certain considerations, the Sensibility is affected in a certain manner, and certain feelings exist in the Sensibility by a law of necessity. I am conscious that when certain conditions are fulfilled, I can not but have certain feelings, and that when these conditions are not fulfilled, I can not have those feelings. I know by consciousness that my feelings and all the states and phenomena of the Sensibility are only indirectly under the control of my Will. By willing I can direct my Intelligence to the consideration of certain subjects, and in this way alone affect my Sensibility, and produce a given state of feeling. So on the other hand if certain feelings exist in the Sensibility which I wish to suppress, I know that I can not annihilate them by directly willing them out of existence, but by diverting my attention from the cause of them, they cease to exist of course and of necessity. Thus feeling is only indirectly under the control of the Will.

      Another faculty indispensable to moral agency is,

      (3.) Free Will. By Free Will is intended the power to choose, in every instance, in accordance with moral obligation, or to refuse so to choose. This much must be implied in Free Will, and I am not concerned to affirm anything more. The Will is the voluntary power. In it resides the power of causality. As consciousness gives the affirmation that necessity is an attribute of the phenomena of the Intellect and of the Sensibility, so it just as unequivocally gives the affirmation that Liberty is an attribute of the phenomena of the Will. I am as conscious of affirming that I could will differently from what I do in every instance of moral obligation, as I am of the affirmation that I can not affirm, in regard to truths of intuition, otherwise than I do. I am as conscious of being free in willing as I am of not being free or voluntary in my feelings and intuitions.

      Consciousness of affirming the Freedom of the Will, that is, of power to will in accordance with moral obligation, or to refuse thus to will, is a necessary condition of the affirmation of moral obligation. For example: No man affirms, or can affirm, his moral obligation to undo all the acts of his past life, and to live his life over again. He can not affirm himself to be under this obligation, simply because he can not but affirm the impossibility of it. He can affirm, and indeed can not but affirm his obligation to repent and obey God in future, because he is conscious of affirming his ability to do this. Consciousness of the affirmation of ability to comply with any requisition, is a necessary condition of the affirmation of obligation to comply with that requisition. Then no moral agent can affirm himself to be under moral obligation to perform an impossibility.

      (4.) A fourth condition of moral obligation is Light, or so much knowledge of our moral relations as to develop the idea of oughtness. This implies,

      [1.] The perception or idea of the intrinsically valuable.

      [2.] The affirmation of obligation to will the valuable for its own sake.

      [3.] The development of the idea that it is right to will the good or the valuable and wrong not to will it for its own sake or disinterestedly.

      Before I can affirm my obligation to will, I must perceive something in that which I am required to will as an ultimate end, that renders it worthy of being chosen. I must have an object of choice. That object must possess in itself that which commends itself to my Intelligence as worthy of being chosen.

      All choice must respect means or ends. That is, everything must be willed either as an end or a means. I can not be under obligation to will the means until I know the end. I can not know an end, or that which can possibly be chosen as an ultimate end, until I know that something is intrinsically valuable. I can not know that it is right or wrong to choose or refuse a certain end, until I know whether the proposed object of choice is intrinsically valuable or not. It is impossible for me to choose it as an ultimate end, unless I perceive it to be intrinsically valuable. This is self-evident; for choosing it as an end is nothing else than choosing it for its intrinsic value. Moral obligation, therefore, always and necessarily implies the knowledge that the well being of God and of the Universe is valuable in itself, and the affirmation that it ought to be chosen for its own sake, that is, impartially and on account of its intrinsic value. it is impossible that the ideas of right and wrong should be developed until the idea of the valuable is developed. Right and wrong respect intentions, and strictly nothing else, as we shall see. Intention implies an end intended. Now that which is chosen as an ultimate end, is and must be chosen for its own sake or for its intrinsic value. Until the end is apprehended no idea or affirmation of obligation can exist respecting it. Consequently no idea of right or wrong in respect to that end can exist. The end must first be perceived. The idea of the intrinsically valuable must be developed. Simultaneously with the development of the idea of the valuable the Intelligence affirms, and must affirm obligation to will it, or, which is the same thing, that it is right to will it, and wrong not to will it.

      It is impossible that the idea of moral obligation and of right and wrong should be developed upon any other conditions than those just specified. To affirm the contrary were absurd. Suppose, for instance, it should be said that the idea of the intrinsically valuable is not necessary to the development of the idea of moral obligation, and of right and wrong. Let us look at it. It is agreed that moral obligation, and the ideas of right and wrong, respect, directly, intentions only. It is also admitted that all intentions must respect either means or ends. It is also admitted that obligation to will means, can not exist until the end is known. It is also admitted that the choice of an ultimate end implies the choice of a thing for its own sake, or because it is intrinsically valuable. Now, from these admissions, it follows that the idea of the intrinsically valuable is the condition of moral obligation, and also of the idea of moral obligation. It must follow also that the idea of the valuable must be the condition of the idea that it would be right to choose or wrong not to choose the valuable. When I come to the discussion of the subject of moral depravity, I shall endeavor to show that the idea of the valuable is very early developed, and is among the earliest, if not the very first, of human intellections. I have here only to insist that the development of this idea is a sine qua non of moral obligation. It is, then, nonsense to affirm that the ideas of right and wrong are developed antecedently to the idea of the valuable. It is the same as to say that I affirm it to be right to will an end, before I have the idea of an end, or which is the same thing, of the intrinsically valuable, or wrong not to will an end when as yet I have no idea or knowledge of any reason why it should be willed, or in other words, while I have no idea of an ultimate end. This is absurd.

      Let it be distinctly understood then, that the conditions of moral obligation are,

      1. The possession of the powers, or faculties, and susceptibilities of a moral agent.

      2. Light, or the development of the ideas of the valuable, of moral obligation, of right and wrong.

      It has been absurdly contended that Sensibility is not necessary to moral agency. This assertion overlooks the fact that Moral Law is the Law of Nature; that, therefore, were the powers and susceptibilities radically different from what they are, or were the correlation of these powers radically otherwise than it is they could not still be moral agents in the sense of being under the same law that moral agents now are. Possessing a different nature, they must of necessity be subject to a different law. The law of their nature must be their law, and no other could by any possibility be obligatory upon them.

      2. I am to show by an appeal to reason or to natural theology, to what acts and states of mind moral obligation can not directly extend.

      (1.) Not to external or muscular action. These actions are connected with the actions of the Will by a law of necessity. If I will to move my muscles they must move, unless the nerves of voluntary motion are paralyzed, or some resistance is offered to muscular motion that overpowers the strength of my Will, or, if you please, of my muscles. It is generally understood and agreed that moral obligation does not directly extend to bodily or outward action.

      (2.) Not to the states of the Sensibility. I have already remarked that we are conscious that our feelings are not voluntary but involuntary states of mind. Moral obligation can not, therefore, directly extend to them.

      (3.) Not to states of the Intelligence. The phenomena of this faculty we also know by consciousness to be under the law of necessity. It is impossible that moral obligation should extend directly to any involuntary act or state of mind.

      (4.) Not to unintelligent acts of Will. There are many unintelligent volitions or acts of Will, to which moral obligation can not extend, for example, the volitions of maniacs, or of infants, before the reason is at all developed. They must at birth be the subjects of volition, as they have motion or muscular action. The volitions of somnambulists are also of this character. Purely instinctive volitions must also come under the category of unintelligent actions of Will. For example: A bee lights on my hand, I instantly and instinctively shake him off. I tread on a hot iron, and instinctively move my foot. Indeed there are many actions of will which are put forth under the influence of pure instinct, and before the Intelligence can affirm obligation to will or not to will. These surely can not have moral character, and of course moral obligation can not extend to them.

      3. To what acts and states of mind moral obligation must directly extend.

      (1.) To all intelligent acts of will. These are and must be free.

      (2.) All intelligent acts of will must consist, either in the choice of ends or means. The mind does not act intelligently, except as it acts in reference to some end or object of choice.

      (3.) The choice of an ultimate end is an ultimate intention.

      (4.) The choice of the means to secure an ultimate end, is but an endeavor of the will to secure it, and is therefore, but an exertion of the ultimate intention. It is choosing this as a means to that, that is, it is the choice of the end and of the means for its sake. Choosing the means is sometimes, though I think improperly, denominated subordinate choice, or the choice of subordinate ends.

      (5.) All intelligent willing, choosing, intending, must consist, either in the choice of an end, or in volitions or efforts to secure an end. In other words, all choosing must consist in choosing an end, or something for its own sake, or in choosing means to compass the end. This must be, or there is really no object of choice.

      (6.) I have said, that Moral Obligation respects the ultimate intention only. I am now prepared to say still further, that this is a first truth of Reason. It is a truth universally and necessarily assumed by all Moral Agents, their speculations to the contrary in any wise notwithstanding. This is evident from the following considerations.

      [1.] Very young children know and assume this truth universally. They always deem it a sufficient vindication of themselves, when accused of any delinquency, to say, "I did not mean to," or if accused of shortcoming, to say, "I meant or intended to have done it--I designed it." This, if true, they assume as an all-sufficient vindication of themselves. They know that this, if believed, must be regarded as a sufficient excuse to justify them in every case.

      [2.] Every Moral Agent necessarily regards such an excuse as a perfect justification, in case it be sincerely and truly made.

      [3.] It is a saying as common as men are, and as true as common, that men are to be judged by their motives, that is, by their designs, intentions. It is impossible for us not to assent to this truth. If a man intends evil, though perchance he may do us good, we do not excuse him, but hold him guilty of the crime which he intended. So if he intends to do us good, and perchance do us evil, we do not, and can not condemn him. For this intention and endeavor to do us good, we can not blame him, although it has resulted in evil to us. He may be to blame for other things connected with the affair. He may have come to our help too late, and may have been to blame for not coming when a different result would have followed; or he may have been blamable for not being better qualified for doing us good. He may have been to blame for many things connected with the transaction, but for a sincere, and of course hearty endeavor to do us good, he is not culpable, nor can he be, however it may result. If he honestly intended to do us good, it is impossible that he should not have used the best means in his power at the time: this is implied in honesty of intention. And if he did this, reason can not pronounce him guilty, for it must judge him by his intentions.

      [4.] Courts of Criminal Law have always in every enlightened country assumed this as a first truth. They always inquire into the quo animo, that is, the intention, and judge accordingly.

      [5.] The universally acknowledged truth that lunatics are not moral agents and responsible for their conduct, is but an illustration of the fact that the truth we are considering is regarded and assumed as a first truth of Reason.

      (7.) Again if it be true, which certainly it must be, that all choices respect ends or means, and that the choice of means to effect an end is only an endeavor to secure the intended end, it must also be true that Moral Obligation extends directly only to ultimate intention.

      (8.) But the Bible everywhere, either expressly or impliedly recognizes this truth. "If there be a willing mind, that is, a right willing or intention, it is accepted," etc.

      (9.) Again. All the Law is fulfilled in one word, love. Now this can not be true if the spirit of the whole Law does not directly respect intentions only. If it extends directly to thoughts, emotions, and outward actions, it can not be truly said that love is the fulfilling of the Law. This love must be good will, for how could involuntary love be obligatory?

      (10.) Again. The spirit of the Bible everywhere respects the intention. If the intention is right, or if there be a willing mind it is accepted as obedience. But if there be not a willing mind, that is, right intention, no outward act is regarded as obedience. The willing is always regarded by the Scriptures as the doing. If a man look on a woman to lust after her, that is, with licentious intention or willing, he hath committed adultery with her already, etc. So on the other hand, if one intends to perform a service for God which after all he is unable to perform, he is regarded as having virtually done it, and is rewarded accordingly.

      This is too obviously the doctrine of the Bible to need further elucidation.

      4. To what Acts and Mental States Moral Obligation indirectly extends.

      Under this head I remark,

      That it has been already said that outward action together with the states of the Intelligence and Sensibility are connected with the actions of the Will by a Law of Necessity.

      (1.) The muscles of the body are directly under the control of the Will. I will to move, and my muscles must move, unless there be a paralysis of the nerves of voluntary motion, or unless some opposing power of sufficient magnitude to overcome the strength of my Will be interposed.

      (2.) The Intellect is also directly under the control of the Will. I am conscious that I can control and direct my attention as I please, and think upon one subject or another.

      (3.) The Sensibility, I am conscious, is only indirectly controlled by the Will. Feeling can be produced only by directing the attention and thoughts to those subjects that excite Feeling by a Law of Necessity.

      The way is now prepared to say,

      [1.] That Moral Obligation extends indirectly to outward or bodily actions. These are often required in the Word of God. The reason is that being connected with the actions of the Will by a Law of Necessity, if the Will is right the outward action must follow, except upon the contingencies just named, and therefore such actions may reasonably be required. But if the contingencies just named intervene so that outward action does not follow the choice or intention, the Bible accepts the Will for the deed invariably. "If there be a willing mind it is accepted accordingly", etc.

      [2.] Moral Obligation extends indirectly to the states of the Sensibility, so that certain emotions or feelings are required as outward actions are, and for the same reason, namely, the states of the Sensibility are connected with the actions of the Will by a Law of Necessity. But when the Sensibility is exhausted, or when for any reason the right action of the Will does not produce the required feelings, it is accepted upon the principle just named.

      [3.] Moral Obligation indirectly extends also to the states of the Intellect; consequently the Bible, to a certain extent, and in a certain sense, holds men responsible for their Thoughts and Opinions. It everywhere assumes that if the heart be constantly right the Thoughts and Opinions will correspond with the state of the Heart or Will; "If any man will do his will he shall know the doctrine whether it be of God." It is, however, manifest that the Word of God everywhere assumes that, strictly speaking, all virtue and vice belong to the heart or intention. Where this is right, all is regarded as right; and where this is wrong, all is regarded as wrong. It is upon this assumption that the doctrine of total depravity rests. It is undeniable that the veriest sinners do many things outwardly which the Law of God requires. Now unless the intention decides the character of these acts, they must be regarded as really virtuous. But when the intention is found to be selfish, then it is ascertained that they are sinful notwithstanding their literal conformity to the Law of God.

      The fact is that Moral Agents are so constituted that it is impossible for them not to judge themselves and others by their motives and intentions. They can not but assume it as a first truth that a man's character is as his intention is, and consequently that Moral Obligation respects directly only intention.

      [4.] Moral Obligation then indirectly extends to everything about us, over which the Will has direct or indirect control. The Moral Law, while, strictly, it legislates over intention only, yet in fact legislates over the whole being, inasmuch as all our powers are directly or indirectly connected with intention by a Law of Necessity. Strictly speaking, however, Moral Character belongs alone to the intention. In strict propriety of speech, it can not be said that either outward action or any state of the Intellect or the Sensibility has a moral element or quality belonging to it. Yet in common language, which is sufficiently accurate for most practical purposes, we speak of thought, feeling, and outward action as holy or unholy.

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  • LECTURE 4 - FOUNDATION OF MORAL OBLIGATION
    • FOUNDATION OF MORAL OBLIGATION

      LECTURE IV

      In discussing this subject I will,

      I. Repeat the Definition of Moral Obligation.

      II. Remind you of the Conditions of Moral Obligation.

      III. Show what is intended by the Foundation of Moral Obligation.

      IV. Point out again the Extent of Moral Obligation.

      V. Notice the Points of Agreement between the principal parties in this discussion.

      VI. Show wherein they disagree.

      VII. Show from Reason and Revelation what must be the Foundation of Moral Obligation.

      VIII. Show wherein that consists which constitutes the Foundation of Moral Obligation.

      IX. Examine the claims of the Principal Theories that have been advocated on this subject.

      Before I enter directly upon the discussion I would observe that this question, like most Theological questions, is both Psychological and Theological. It is common, and as absurd and vain as it is common, to object to Metaphysical discussions in the examination of Theological questions. The fact is that there is no such thing as holding Theological opinions without assuming the truth of some system of Mental Philosophy. Metaphysical Theology is only Bible Theology explained; and to object to Metaphysics in Theology is only to object to the application of Reason in the explanation of the facts of Revealed Theology. It has, however, been too common to discuss this question without suitable reference to the Bible, that is, it has been common to treat it as a purely Psychological Question. But this mode of procedure can never be satisfactory to a Christian Mind. I shall therefore discuss it both as a Biblical and as a Psychological Question.

      I. I am to repeat the Definition of Moral Obligation.

      Obligation is that which binds. Moral Obligation is the bond or ligament that binds a Moral Agent to Moral Law. The idea, however, is too plain to be defined by the use of other language. It is a pure idea of the Reason, and better understood than explained by any term except that of Moral Obligation itself.

      II. I am to call attention again to the Conditions of Moral Obligation.

      These have been so fully discussed in a preceding lecture that it is only necessary to observe that these conditions are the powers of moral agency, together with so much light on moral relations as to develop the idea of Oughtness or Moral Obligation.

      III. I am to show what is intended by the Foundation of Moral Obligation.

      The Foundation of Moral Obligation is the Reason or Consideration that imposes obligation on a moral agent to obey moral law. Should the question be asked, why does the moral law require what it does? The true answer to this question would also answer the question, what is the Foundation of Moral Obligation? There must be some good and sufficient reason for the law requiring what it does, or it can not be Moral Law or impose Moral Obligation. The question then is, why does the Moral Law require what it does? The reason that justifies and demands the requisition must be the reason why it ought to be obeyed. The reason for the command must be identical with the reason for obedience--the reason why the law should require what it does, is the reason why we should do what it requires. This reason, whatever it is, is the Foundation of Moral Obligation, that is, of the obligation to obey Moral Law. To ascertain what this reason is, is the object of the discussion upon which we have entered.

      IV. I am to remind you of the Extent of Moral Obligation.

      In a former Lecture, it has been shown that moral obligation extends, strictly speaking, to the ultimate intention only, that the Law of God requires only entire consecration to the right end.

      V. I am to notice the points of Agreement among the principal parties in this discussion.

      1. They agree in their definition of Moral Obligation.

      2. They also agree in respect to the conditions of moral obligation--that they are, as has just been stated, the powers of moral agency with so much light respecting moral relations as to develop the idea of oughtness or obligation.

      3. They agree also in respect to what is intended by the foundation of moral obligation--namely, that the foundation of moral obligation is the fundamental reason or consideration on which the obligation rests or is founded.

      4. They agree also in respect to the extent of moral obligation, that strictly speaking, it extends only to the ultimate action or choice of the Will; or in other words, that it extends to the ultimate intention only, or to the choice of an ultimate end, or of something for its own sake.

      5. They agree in holding that an ultimate end is one chosen for what it is in and of itself, or for its own intrinsic value, and not as a condition or means of securing any other end.

      6. They hold in common that the moral law as revealed in the Bible covers the whole ground of moral obligation--that is, that the Law of God as revealed in the Bible requires all that is obligatory on moral agents.

      7. They agree also that the sum of the requirements of the Moral Law is expressed in one word, Love; that the term love is comprehensive of all that the true spirit of the Moral Law requires.

      8. They agree also that this love is not an emotion or mere involuntary feeling of any kind, but that it consists in ultimate choice, preference, intention, or in the choice of an ultimate end, that is, of something for its own sake, or for what it is in and of itself.

      9. They agree that the fundamental reason of the obligation to choose an ultimate end must be found in the end itself, and that this reason, or that in the end which imposes obligation to choose it as an end, must be identical with the end itself. The fundamental reason for choosing a thing, is that in the thing which renders it obligatory to choose it. This reason is the end on which the choice ought to and must terminate, or the true end is not chosen. This brings me,

      VI. To show wherein they differ.

      From the foregoing it must be plain that they must differ only in respect to the end on which choice, preference, intention, ought to terminate; that is, they differ in respect to that which moral agents ought to choose as an ultimate end. This is the true point of difference. The question on which they differ is this: What is the ultimate end to which moral agents are under obligation to consecrate their whole being?

      VII. I am to show from Reason and Revelation what must be the Foundation of Moral Obligation.

      This inquiry, as will be seen, resolves itself into an inquiry concerning the true spirit and meaning of the Law of God. What does the Moral Law mean? What does it require? What is the end which it commands moral agents to choose, will, intend, for its own sake? Let it be remembered that it is agreed that moral obligation can not exist in respect to the choice of an ultimate end, unless there be something in the end itself that renders it worthy or deserving of being chosen for its own sake. It is plainly impossible to choose any thing as an ultimate end or for its own sake, except as it is chosen for what it is in and of itself. And it is just as plain that there can be no obligation to choose it for what it is in and of itself except there be in it that which renders it worthy of choice. This brings me to lay down the following proposition:

      The highest Well Being of God and of the Universe of sentient existences is the end on which ultimate preference, choice, intention, ought to terminate. In other words, the Well Being of God and of the Universe is the absolute and ultimate good, and therefore it should be chosen by every moral agent.

      It is certain that the highest well being of God and of the Universe of sentient existences must be intrinsically and infinitely valuable in itself. It is a first truth of reason that whatever is intrinsically valuable should be chosen for that reason, or as an end. It is and must be a first truth of reason, that whatever is intrinsically and infinitely valuable ought to be chosen as the ultimate end of existence by every moral agent. To say that a thing is intrinsically and infinitely valuable, is the same as to say that it is intrinsically and infinitely worthy or deserving of being chosen for what it is in and of itself. Therefore to admit or affirm that a thing is intrinsically and infinitely valuable, is the same as to affirm that every moral agent who has the knowledge of this intrinsically and infinitely valuable thing, is under an obligation of infinite weight to choose it for the reason that it is intrinsically and infinitely valuable, or, in other words to choose it as an ultimate end. It is then the intrinsic and infinite value of the highest good or well being of God and of the Universe that constitutes the true foundation of Moral Obligation. The Moral Law then must require moral agents to will good or that which is intrinsically valuable to God and the Universe of sentient existences for its own sake or as an ultimate end. Be it remembered that Moral Obligation respects, strictly speaking, the ultimate intention only. It must follow that the highest well being of God and of the Universe, is the intrinsically valuable end on which ultimate choice ought to terminate.

      And here let it be observed that good may be willed for its own sake; that is, because it is good or valuable on condition that it belongs to or can be enjoyed by self. This may be the condition on which a moral agent chooses its existence. He may refuse to choose it because it is valuable, except on the condition that it belongs to self. Its relation to self may with him be the condition on which he will choose it. To choose thus is Selfishness.

      Good may be chosen disinterestedly, that is, for its own intrinsic value to being in general, that is, the highest well being of being in general may be chosen for its own sake or on account of its intrinsic value. This is what is called disinterested benevolence.

      It should be observed that all the actions of the Will consist in choices or willings. These actions are generally regarded as consisting in Choice and Volition. By choice is intended the selection or choice of an end. By volition is intended the executive efforts of the Will to secure the end intended.

      The Nilling or refusing of the will is only choice in an opposite direction. In Nilling, the will as really chooses as in any other acts of will. If it refuses one end, it in the very act chooses another. If it refuses one means, it is only because it seeks another.

      It should further be observed in this place that all intelligent choices or actions of the Will, must consist either in the choice of an end or of means to secure an end. To deny this is the same as to deny that there is any object of choice. If the Will acts at all, it wills, chooses. If it chooses, it chooses something--there is some object of choice. In other words, it chooses something for some reason, and that reason is truly the object of the choice. Or at least, the fundamental reason for choosing a thing is the object chosen. Now whenever the Will chooses, it chooses something for its own sake or for what it is in and of itself, or as a means or condition of securing that which is chosen for its own sake. To say that there can be an intelligent action of the Will that does not consist either in the choice of an end or of means to secure an end, is the same thing as to say that there is an action of the Will, when nothing whatever is willed, or chosen; which is absurd.

      It should further be observed that the choice of an end implies the choice of all the known, necessary conditions and means of securing that end; that the choice of an end, secures and even necessitates, while the choice of the end continues, the choice of the known necessary conditions and means.

      VIII. I am to show wherein that consists which constitutes the true Foundation of Moral Obligation; in other words, in what the highest Well-Being or Ultimate Good of sentient beings consists?

      In discussing this question I will endeavor to show,

      1. Wherein it can not consist.

      2. Show wherein it must consist.

      But first I must define the different sense of the term good. Good may be natural or moral. Natural good is synonymous with valuable. Moral good is synonymous with virtue. Moral good may be a natural good in the sense that it may be a means or condition of natural good. Good may be Absolute and Relative. Absolute good is that which is valuable in itself or intrinsically valuable. Relative good is that which is valuable as a means. Absolute good may also be a relative good, that is, it may be a means of perpetuating and augmenting itself. Good may also be Ultimate. Ultimate good is that absolute good in which all relative good terminates or results. It is that absolute good to which all relative good sustains the relation of conditions or means.

      I would here remark also that there is a broad distinction between the conditions and means of the highest good of being and that which constitutes the absolute and ultimate good of being.

      1. Wherein the ultimate and absolute good can not consist.

      By an ultimate good is intended that which is intrinsically valuable. Relative good is that which is valuable as a means of ultimate good. I here remark,

      (1.) That the ultimate and absolute good must belong to being or to sentient existences. It must be inseparable from beings that have a conscious existence. It is nonsense to speak of an insentient or unconscious existence as being capable of or as being a subject of the absolute and ultimate good. Nothing can be a good or intrinsically valuable to such a being. A block of marble can not be the subject of good. To it nothing is good or evil. Let it be distinctly understood that none but a sentient being can know or possibly be a subject of good in the sense of the valuable. I remark,

      (2.) That with moral agents at least the ultimate good must consist in a state of mind. It must consist in something that must be sought and found, if found at all, within the field of consciousness.

      [1.] The ultimate and absolute good in the sense of the intrinsically valuable, can not be identical with Moral Law. Moral Law as we have seen, is an Idea of the Reason. Moral Law and Moral Government must propose some end to be secured by means of law. Law can not be its own end. It can not require the subject to seek itself as an ultimate end. This were absurd. The Moral Law is nothing else than the Reason's Idea, or Conception of that course of willing and acting that is fit, proper, suitable to, and demanded by the nature, relations, necessities, and circumstances of moral agents. Their nature, relations, circumstances and wants being perceived, the Reason necessarily affirms that they ought to propose to themselves a certain end, and to consecrate themselves to the promotion of this end for its own sake, or for its own intrinsic value. This end can not be law itself. The law is a simple and pure idea of the Reason and can never be in itself the supreme, intrinsic, absolute and ultimate good.

      [2.] Nor can obedience, or the course of acting or willing required by the law, be the ultimate end aimed at by the law or the lawgiver. The law requires action in reference to an end, or that an end should be willed; but the willing and the end to be willed can not be identical. The action required and the end to which it is to be directed can not be the same. To affirm that it can, is absurd. It is to affirm that obedience to law is the ultimate end proposed by Law or Government. The obedience is one thing, the end to be secured by obedience is and must be another. Obedience must be a means or condition, and that which law and obedience are intended to secure, is and must be the ultimate end of obedience. The law or the lawgiver aims to promote the highest good or blessedness of the universe. This must be the end of Moral Law and Moral Government. Law and obedience must be the means or conditions of this end. It is absurd to deny this. To deny this is to deny the very nature of Moral Law and to lose sight of the true and only end of Moral Government. Nothing can be Moral Law and nothing can be Moral Government that does not propose the highest good of moral beings as its ultimate end. But if this is the end of law and the end of government it must be the end to be aimed at or intended by the ruler and the subject. And this end must be the foundation of moral obligation. The end proposed to be secured must be intrinsically valuable or that would not be Moral Law that proposed to secure it. The end must be good or valuable, per se, or there can be no Moral Law requiring it to be sought or chosen as an ultimate end, nor any obligation to choose it as an ultimate end.

      It must be true, then, that the end proposed by Moral Law can neither be the law itself nor obedience to law. Obedience consists in the choice of an end. It is impossible that choice should be an ultimate end. To make choice an ultimate end were to choose choice, and to intend intention as an ultimate end--this is plainly impossible.

      [3.] The absolute and ultimate good of being can not consist in moral worth or good desert. Moral worth or good desert is a result of obedience to law. It is not a state of mind--it is merit. It is a quality or attribute of character. As it is not a state of mind, it can not be the ultimate and absolute good of being. It is good desert, and is not identical with the good deserved. It is a good and an indispensable condition of the ultimate and absolute good, but can not be identical with it. As it does not consist in a state of mind, it is impossible that it should be the ultimate good. It is intrinsically meritorious or deserving of good, but not identical with the ultimate good. It is that to which the law and the lawgiver promise the ultimate good, but it is not the good promised.

      Moral worth, merit, and good desert, can never have been the end proposed by the lawgiver. The law proposes to secure moral worth, not as an ultimate end, not as the ultimate and absolute good of the subject, but as a condition of his being rewarded with absolute good. The Lawgiver and the law propose ultimate and perfect satisfaction and blessedness as a result of virtue and of moral worth. This result must be the ultimate and absolute good.

      The reason why virtue and moral excellence or worth have been supposed to be a good in themselves, and intrinsically and absolutely valuable, is, that the mind necessarily regards them with satisfaction. They meet a demand of the Reason and Conscience; they are the archetypes of the Ideas of the Reason and are therefore naturally and necessarily regarded with satisfaction, just as when we behold natural beauty, we necessarily enjoy it. We naturally experience a mental satisfaction in the contemplation of beauty, and this is true whether the beauty be physical or moral. Both meet a demand of our nature, and therefore we experience satisfaction in their contemplation. Now it has been said that this satisfaction, is itself proof that we pronounced the beauty a good in itself. But ultimate good must, as we have said, consist in a state of mind. But neither physical nor moral beauty is a state of mind. Aside from the satisfaction produced by their contemplation, to whom or to what can they be a good? Take physical beauty for example, aside from every beholder, to whom or to what is it a good? Is it a good to itself? But it can not be a subject of good. It must be a good only as and because it meets a demand of our being and produces satisfaction in its contemplation. It is a relative good. The satisfaction experienced by contemplating it, is an ultimate good. It is only a condition of ultimate good. So virtue or holiness is morally beautiful. Moral worth or excellence is morally beautiful. Beauty is an attribute or element of holiness, virtue, and of moral worth, or right character. But the beauty is not identical with holiness nor moral worth any more than the beauty of a rose and the rose are identical. The rose is beautiful. Beauty is one of its attributes. So virtue is morally beautiful. Beauty is one of its attributes. But the beauty in neither case is a state of mind, and can not be an ultimate good. The contemplation of either and of both naturally begets mental satisfaction because of the relation of the archetype to the idea of our Reason. We are so constituted that beholding the archetypes of certain ideas of our Reason produces mental satisfaction. Not because we affirm the archetypes to be good in themselves; for often, to say the least, as for instance in the case of physical beauty, this can not be, but because these archetypes meet a demand of our nature. They meet this demand, and thus produce satisfaction. This satisfaction is an ultimate good, but that which produces it, is only a relative good. Apart from the satisfaction produced by the contemplation of moral worth, of what value can it be? Can the worthiness of good, or the moral beauty be the end proposed by the lawgiver? Or must we seek to secure moral worth in moral agents for the sake of the good in which it results? If neither the subject of moral excellence or worth nor any one else experienced the least satisfaction in contemplating it--if it did not so meet a demand of our being or of any being as to afford the least satisfaction to any sentient existence, to whom or to what would it be a good? If it meets a demand of the nature of a moral agent, it must produce satisfaction. It does meet a demand of our being, and therefore produces satisfaction to the Intelligence, the Conscience, the Sensibility. It is therefore necessarily pronounced by us to be a good. We are apt to say it is an ultimate good; but it is only a relative good. It meets a demand of our being and thus produces satisfaction. This satisfaction is the ultimate good of being. At the very moment we pronounce it a good in itself, it is only because we experience such a satisfaction in contemplating it. At the very time we say that we consider it a good in itself wholly independent of its results, we only say so the more positively because we are so gratified at the time by thinking of it. It is its experienced results that is the ground of the affirmation.

      [4.] It can not be too distinctly understood that Right Character, Moral Worth, Good Desert, Meritoriousness, or whatever you call it, can not be or consist in a state of Mind, and therefore it is impossible that it should be an ultimate good or intrinsically valuable. By Right Character, Moral Worth, Good Desert, Meritoriousness, etc., as distinguished from virtue, we can mean nothing more than that it is fit and proper and suitable to the nature and relation of things, that a virtuous person should be blessed. The Intelligence is gratified when this character is perceived to exist. This perception produces intellectual satisfaction. This satisfaction is a good in itself. But that which produces this satisfaction, is in no proper sense a good in itself. Were it not for the fact that it meets a demand of the Intelligence and thus produces satisfaction, it could not so much as be thought of as a good in itself any more than any thing else that is a pure conception of the Reason, such, for instance, as a mathematical line.

      It is impossible that the Lawgiver or the Law should make obedience or the worthiness resulting from obedience, an ultimate end. God requires the highest good of the universe to be willed as an ultimate end. Now He requires the willing for the sake of the good willed. He aims and must aim at securing the good and not merely securing the willing. He must aim at securing the good, and not merely securing the willing or the worthiness resulting from willing. It is the end He aims at. The willing and the worthiness of willing are valuable only as the end willed is valuable. Were it not that the end is intrinsically valuable, the willing would not be so much as relatively valuable. It would have no value whatever. And but for the intrinsic value of the end willed, Good Desert would not result from willing it. Both the virtuousness and the meritoriousness of willing the end depends altogether upon the intrinsic value of the end. But for this, I say again, neither Virtue nor Merit could exist. Now it is absurd to make that an ultimate good and to affirm that to be intrinsically and ultimately valuable, whose whole value consists in its relations to an ultimate good.

      [5.] The ultimate or absolute good can not consist in any thing external to Mind itself. Moral Agents are so constituted as to sustain certain correlations to things external to themselves, many of which things are necessary means and conditions of their well being. But none of these can be good or valuable in themselves. That is, nothing without the consciousness of being can be a good per se.

      The Constitution of Moral Agents has three primary Departments or Faculties as we have formerly seen, namely, the Intellect, the Sensibility, and the Will. All the demands of our being may be and must be made by one of these Faculties. The Intellect has its demands or wants. The Sensibility has its objects of desire, or its demands and wants. Our whole being is comprised in these three departments, and they sustain such correlations to each other and to the universe that the objects demanded by these powers or susceptibilities are indispensable conditions of our well-being or being satisfied. For instance, the Intellect demands knowledge of Truth; the Conscience demands obedience to Moral Law; the Sensibility demands those objects that excite its desires. These are only specimens of the demands or wants of our being. Our well-being or our highest good is, from the constitution of our Nature, conditionated upon the demands of our Nature being met and our wants supplied. The wants are numerous. Now the objects that are so correlated to us as to be the conditions of our blessedness, are not the ultimate and absolute good. Truth, for example, is a condition or means of our ultimate good, but it is not itself an ultimate good. To whom or what would it be a good were there no Intelligence to apprehend it? It meets a demand of the Intelligence, and is therefore a relative good. The same is and must be true of every thing that is so correlated to us as to meet a demand of our Constitution. The meeting of these demands, the supply of these wants produces mental satisfaction. This satisfaction is an ultimate good. But the things that produce it are only relative good.

      It is possible that an ultimate good may be also a relative good. Thus the satisfaction or blessedness that constitutes the ultimate good may and does tend to perpetuate and increase itself. The contemplation by us of the joy of others may be, and often is, a means of increasing our own. In this case the ultimate good is both an ultimate and a relative good; that is, it is both an ultimate end and a means.

      It is true also that a thing may meet a demand of our being and be at the same time a means and an ultimate end. Our Nature demands Satisfaction, Blessedness, Enjoyment. This is an ultimate demand. That which supplies or meets this demand is an ultimate good. The universal satisfaction of all the powers and susceptibilities of our Nature is the ultimate good of our being. This demand is only met by the ultimate and absolute good. All other demands are met by their appropriate objects, not one of which is an ultimate or absolute good, but only a relative good. As these objects meet the demands of our Constitution they produce satisfaction; this satisfaction is an ultimate good. Did they not produce satisfaction they would not be a good in any sense. The Intelligence is met and the Reason is satisfied, that is, the things which it demanded, it has obtained, or they are accomplished.

      Virtue, then, or obedience to Moral Law is in some sense a good to a Moral Agent, that is, it meets a demand of his Reason or Conscience. Moral Worth, also, or Right Character, is demanded by the Intelligence of every Moral Agent, and where Moral Worth is seen to exist, this demand of the Intelligence is met. So far that exists which it demanded; so that in this sense Moral Worth is valuable to a Moral Agent inasmuch as it meets a demand of his being. So all the objects of desire are valuable in the sense that they meet a demand of the Constitution.

      But here an inquiry arises. Are these the ultimate good? I answer no, for this reason, that they are not, and cannot be reguarded by the mind as ultimate. The universal intelligence demands Virtue or obedience to moral law, and when this is seen to exist the Intelligence is satisfied. For example; when the mind perceives any thing to which it sustains such a correlation that the thing is demanded by the mind, in other words, that it is a necessity of nature, the possession of the object satisfies the demand. When the Intelligence acquires the knowledge that it demands, it is satisfied. When the Conscience has that which it demands, or when that exists which the conscience demands, the conscience is satisfied. When the Sensibility possesses those objects of desire which it craved, the Sensibility is satisfied. Whenever the Intelligence perceives the concrete realization of those ideas of the Reason whose realization was demanded by the Intelligence, the Intelligence is satisfied. The mind continues to struggle after all the objects that are so correlated to it as to be demanded by any power of the mind, and it does not rest until that demand is met. As soon as the demand is met the mind rests and is satisfied. Now observe, those things after which the mind is struggling to meet its demands, are not the ultimate good of the mind that is thus struggling. When the mind has obtained the objects after which it struggles, and which it demands, it then rests--it is satisfied. And it matters not which of the powers of the mind makes the demand, the power is not satisfied until the end is gained. And when the end is gained, thus far the mind is satisfied. A benevolent mind is not seeking merely self-satisfaction, for this is not what Reason demands. But it seeks the satisfaction of being in general, including its own, and in willing the general good is sure to secure its own.

      This brings me to remark again, that those objects external to the mind itself after which the mind struggles and which, when obtained, meet the demands of the constitution and satisfy the mind are not the ultimate good of the mind, but the satisfaction resulting from the possession of those objects is the ultimate good.

      It appears to me that this must be self-evident. If the mind is perfectly satisfied, the satisfaction itself is to the mind a perfect, an ultimate, and an absolute good. For example, God possesses a self-existent and infinite nature. Certain things were demanded by the constitution and laws of his own being; such as that his will should be conformed to the Law of his Intelligence, or in other words that he should be virtuous. Now when this demand was met, and the heart or Will was conformed to the law of the Intelligence, which was from eternity with him, this demand of his Being was met--his Conscience, and his Intelligence were satisfied. They are so. His Intelligence is in a state of infinite and eternal satisfaction, or in other words, he possesses necessarily what we call an intellectual pleasure or delight or satisfaction in the state of his Will, or in other words, in the Will's conformity to the law of his Intelligence. Now mark: the virtue that meets this demand is to Him a good, because it meets a demand of his Being. But it is not the ultimate good, but the satisfaction which he has in that state of his Will is the ultimate good. So there were many other ideas of the Divine Reason, such as the idea of the Just, of the Right, the Beautiful, the Useful, the Merciful, and such like. Now the Intelligence demanded that these ideas should be realized, and the Sensibility also desires the realization of these ideas. In other words still, the realization of these ideas was not only demanded by the Intelligence, but their realization was an object of rational desire.

      When creative power went forth for the realization of these ideas, when the universe sprang into existence as the archetype or living expression and exemplification of these ideas, the Divine Mind was satisfied. He is represented as having looked upon all that He had made, and pronounced it "very good." That is, He was satisfied with the work of his hands. He beheld the realization of the ideas of his own Reason, and saw that these demands of his being were met. Now observe: from eternity these things were present to God in such a sense that He was from eternity satisfied with or enjoyed the realization of all these ideas. In other words, every demand of his Being was from eternity met--since from eternity all things that are or will be have been present to the Divine Omniscience.

      Now I inquire what must be the ultimate good of God? Certainly not these created things, not any thing created or uncreated that is so correlated to Him as to meet a demand of his Being with the exception of this one thing--the infinite satisfaction of the Divine Mind. God can say, I have no want. All the demands of his infinite mind are fully met. The ideas of his Reason are realized. His desires are, upon the whole, fulfilled, and every power and susceptibility is full. His satisfaction is perfect and infinite. When I say all the demands of his nature are met, I mean that his Omniscience embraces all events, and to Him all things that will be, are already to Him in such a sense as to satisfy the Divine Mind. He pronounces it all very good, in the sense that, upon the whole, he is satisfied.

      That state of mind, the Satisfaction, the perfect and infinite Rest of the Divine Mind, in having every demand of His being met, is His ultimate good.

      Now, it is self-evident, that this must also be the ultimate good of every being in existence. That which meets the demands of His being is not its ultimate good, with the single exception of the satisfaction that results from having all the other demands of every department of the being fully met and satisfied. This satisfaction is the ultimate demand of our being. That is, it is that which is ultimately demanded, and for the sake of which all the other things are demanded. This is an ultimate good. But that which meets no other demand of our being, can be the ultimate good; for all these things, whatever they are, only result in satisfaction, but do not constitute it. Satisfaction is, and must be, the ultimate good; and whatever produces this result must be only a relative good. The highest well-being of God and of the universe, then, or the highest good of universal being must consist in a state of entire satisfaction. Whenever a mind is in a state in which it can affirm, I have no wants that are unsupplied, my whole being is satisfied--that state of satisfaction that results from the meeting of all the demands of the constitution, is, and it seems to me must be, the ultimate good of the being.

      Here let it be observed, that Satisfaction of mind, in the sense in which I have explained it, is the ultimate good of being, whether any one possesses it or not. The Reason affirms, that it is an ultimate and an absolute good, for any mind to be perfectly and universally satisfied. This is the thing which ought to be willed for its own sake, whether any one ever possesses it or not. Every Moral Agent ought to will the perfect satisfaction of God and of all beings, for the sake of the intrinsic value of that state of mind.

      They only, of Moral Agents, will possess this ultimate Good, whose heart and life are conformed to the dictates of their Intelligence, and every want or demand of whose being is met and fully satisfied.

      Just so far as any mind is entirely satisfied, just so far it possesses that which belongs to or constitutes the ultimate good. Suppose my heart to be entirely conformed to the Law of my Intelligence--thus far my Conscience, my Intelligence and my Sensibility are satisfied. My Sensibility is satisfied thus far, for the conformity of my Will to the Law of my Intelligence is not only a demand of my Intelligence, but of my Sensibility. So that if I am virtuous, thus far I am satisfied whether any body else is virtuous or not. Thus far I possess that satisfaction which constitutes the ultimate good. But as yet, I may not possess this in perfection. All the demands of my being, in respect to myself and others, may not be met, and consequently my satisfaction may not be perfect and universal. But so far as I have it, it is in kind of the ultimate good. I shall never possess it in a perfect degree, until every demand of my constitution is met--until I can say, I have no want that is not supplied.

      By the term satisfaction, I mean more than is generally understood by the term happiness. This term is generally used to express merely the satisfaction of the Sensibility. There is, however, such a thing as intellectual satisfaction, the satisfaction of Conscience. In other words, there is a natural, and if I may so speak, a moral satisfaction. The demands of the Intelligence and of the Heart and of the Sensibility, are all fully met. This results in a state of universal and entire mental satisfaction. It is a state perhaps well and fully expressed by the term BLESSEDNESS. Every power and susceptibility is full, is satisfied. The mind can say, it is enough,--I have no want. This state must be the ultimate and the absolute good. Whatever conduces to this state, whatever meets any demand of any power or susceptibility, is a means, or condition of this state, and is in this sense a good. It is not an absolute, but a relative good. This appears to be self-evident. When I can say that every demand of my being is met, then I possess the ultimate good in a degree that is unmixed with any alloy. If the demands of my Intelligence, or of any power of my being are enlarged, if I come into relations where my constitution demands more, when these demands are all met, my satisfaction will increase. But so long as my satisfaction is universal and complete, my blessedness is perfect in the sense that I have no want that is not fully met. This satisfaction, let it be repeated, is, and must be the ultimate good of being.

      The Intelligence of a Moral Agent demands moral order. But Moral Order itself is not the ultimate good. But the satisfaction which the mind has in contemplating a sate of Moral Order is an ultimate good.

      Here again let me observe that it has been insisted that those things demand by the Intelligence must be affirmed to be a good in themselves, or we should not have pleasure in them, or in other words, we should not be satisfied with them. I perceive beauty. Now it is said that unless I affirm that beauty is a good in itself it would afford me no satisfaction to behold it. But this is certainly a mistake. As I have observed before, the ultimate good belongs to sentient beings and must certainly be inseparable from them; that is, none but a sentient being can be the subject of ultimate good. The ultimate good of all beings must of necessity be subjective; that is, it must belong to themselves. As moral agents the ultimate good must consist in a state of mind. This should always be borne in mind. Now if it be objected that when we behold beauty for example, the Intelligence must pronounce it to be a good in itself as a condition of its producing satisfaction in us, I answer: To whom or what is beauty, as separate from sentient existences a good? I behold this archetype of my idea of beauty. Now in what sense can it be a good in itself? Can it be a good to itself? If not in what sense can it be a good in itself? Good as I have said, belongs to sentient beings. But in the case supposed, this beauty does not belong to any sentient existence. It is an object of contemplation distinct from all being. It is not a state of mind. To whom or to what then is it a good in itself? It is and must be a relative good to every beholder that has the idea of beauty. But it can by no means be a good in itself. The same is and must be true of all those archetypes of the Reason that do not consist in a state of mind. They belong to no being. They can be in no sense a good in themselves, unless they are a good to themselves, which is absurd. They are good only relatively to those who have the idea whose archetype they are. This class of beings are satisfied or gratified with beholding them, not because they are good in themselves, but because being archetypes of the ideas of their own Reason, they necessarily take pleasure in them. Now it is not the archetype itself which I affirm to be an ultimate good, but I am so constituted that beholding the archetype of my idea affords me satisfaction, and this satisfaction is an ultimate good. It is a state of blessedness.

      That which remains at present, is to examine this Philosophy in the light of Revelation; to see whether it recognizes the highest well being, blessedness, or satisfaction of God and of the Universe as the Foundation of Moral Obligation. And here I observe that it is agreed that the Law of God demands that that should be chosen which ought to be chosen; that the identical end which Moral Agents are required to choose is proposed as the ultimate end on which choice ought to terminate, by the Law of God. We will inquire then,

      What is the true spirit and meaning of the Moral Law as revealed in the Bible? Its two great precepts are, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy Heart, with all thy Soul, with all thy Mind, and with all thy strength; and thy neighbor as thyself." Now it is agreed that this love is not a mere emotion or feeling, but that it consists in willing, choosing, intending an end. I observe again that it requires that something should be willed to God and our neighbor, or which is the same, to God and the universe of creatures. But what is this something that is to be willed to them? What is this love but good will, willing the good of God and of the Universe? What is of equal value to this? Nay what is of any intrinsic value but this? The highest well being of God and of the Universe must be that which we ought to will. And this must be the love which we are commanded to exercise. This implies the willing of the universal satisfaction of the Divine Mind with all the necessary means and conditions of this result; this satisfaction being the ultimate end both in respect to God and our neighbor, and the conditions and means as relatively valuable.

      And here let me remark that it is very plain that the Law recognizes but one Foundation of Moral Obligation.

      "The whole law" it is said "is fulfilled in one word--Love." "Therefore love is the fulfilling of the Law." And this love must be the love of God and our neighbor, and not of other things. The law does not say, Thou shalt love right--truth--beauty or any thing else, with all thy heart and with all thy soul, but God and thy neighbor. This then is the End. Truth, beauty, virtue, and a multitude of things are relative goods and conditions of the ultimate good or of the universal satisfaction that results from all the demands of the being of God and of our neighbor being fully satisfied.

      Whoever contends that there is more than one foundation of Moral Obligation should be reminded that one word expresses all that is required by the Moral Law. That word is LOVE, and this love respects God and our neighbor only. In other words whoever loves God with all his heart and soul, and mind, and strength, and his neighbor as himself, fulfills the whole law. This is the Ultimate End--the good of God and our neighbor. That this love, if it consists in willing any thing to God and our neighbor, must consist in willing their highest well-being with all the necessary conditions and means thereof must be self-evident; for as I have said, these are the only things that are valuable to God or our neighbor, and to be under obligation to will any thing else than these to God and to our neighbor were absurd. When we have willed the highest well-being of God and our neighbor as an ultimate end, we have willed to them every good of which they are capable; and what more can we will to them? and if we refuse to will this, of what use is it to will any thing else?

      Let this theory again be viewed in the light of some of the precepts of the gospel.--"Whether therefore ye eat or drink or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." By this language, as it is used in the Scriptures, we are to understand that God requires of us to aim at pleasing Him in all that we do. That is, we are to aim at satisfying God and meeting the demands of His Conscience, His Intelligence, His Sensibility and in short, so to demean ourselves as that He shall be perfectly satisfied with us. This satisfaction is His ultimate good. At this we should aim--at pleasing God, at satisfying God, so that He shall say, all that I want in respect to you, I have. This is what God requires us to will. He requires that we should live to please or gratify Him for the sake of the intrinsic value of his well-being or of His satisfaction. To love God--to consecrate ourselves to God--to do all to the glory of God, is to choose or intend in all our ways to please God; that is, to choose the pleasure, the gratification or satisfaction or well-being of God as the ultimate end to which we consecrate ourselves.

      Let this question again be brought into the light of the example of God and of Christ. God no doubt has the same end in view which He requires us to have. Christ has also the same end in view that his Father has and that He requires us to have. But what end have they in view? God says, "I have created all things for myself." That is, He has exerted his almighty power in the creation of objects to realize the ideas of his own Reason for the sake of the satisfaction which necessarily results to Himself and to the universe from their realization. He pronounces the works of his hands "very good," that is, they are satisfactory to Him, they are good in such a sense that He is satisfied with them as the archetypes of his own ideas. In the contemplation of these archetypes He is satisfied. This satisfaction must be to Him an infinite good. Christ must have the same end in view.

      The whole Moral Government of God as well as his providential government--in short, all creation, and providence, and government, physical and moral, show that God and Christ are endeavoring to realize the ideas of the good, the just, the merciful, the beautiful, the useful, the right, the perfect, and all those ideas in the realization of which they have so much satisfaction.

      The good of creatures must enter into the end at which they aim. This is manifest from creation, and providence, and the Bible. To meet the demands of the nature and constitution of every being, is manifestly the tendency of things so far as we can understand them. These things are means of producing satisfaction in the minds of Moral Agents, and in "satisfying the wants of every living thing." Thus it is said, "Thou openest thy hand and satisfyest the wants of every living thing." This satisfaction of creatures is an ultimate good. Their virtue and every thing else but this satisfaction itself, is a condition and means of promoting it. The highest good then of the universe must be that at which God and all holy beings ought to aim and really do aim. Unless they aim at this, their aim can never meet the demands of the Intelligence of Moral Agents. If they do aim at this, the Intelligence cannot but be satisfied.

      But to this philosophy it is objected,

      1. That if the highest good or well-being of God and of the Universe be the sole Foundation of Moral Obligation, it follows that we are not under obligation to will any thing except this end with the necessary conditions and means thereof. That every thing but this end, which we are bound to will must be willed as a means to this end or because of its tendency to promote this end. And this it is said is the doctrine of Utility.

      To this I answer; The doctrine of Utility is, that the foundation of the obligation to will both the end and the means is the tendency of the willing to promote the end. But this is absurd. The doctrine of this discourse is not, as Utilitarians say, that the foundation of the obligation to will the End or the Means is the tendency of the willing to promote that end, but that the foundation of the obligation to will both the end and the means, is the intrinsic value of the end. And the condition of the obligation to will the means is the perceived tendency of the means to promote the end.

      The end is to be willed for its own sake. The conditions and means of this end are to be willed for the sake of the end; that is, it is the intrinsic value of the end, that is the foundation of the obligation to will the conditions and means. The tendency of the means to promote the end is not, as Utilitarians say, the Foundation of the Obligation to will the means, but both the end and the means are to be willed for the same reason, to wit, the intrinsic value of the end. The obligation to will the means being only conditionated upon, but not found in their tendency to promote the end. This then is not the doctrine of Utility.

      2. It is objected that if the good of being be the only Foundation of Moral Obligation, we should be indifferent in respect to the means, if the end could be obtained. But this, it is said, contradicts human consciousness. To this I answer, the end to be obtained is the satisfaction of universal mind, that results from having every demand of the being fully met. Now it is impossible that this satisfaction should exist unless these demands are met. To suppose then that the end can be obtained without these demands being met, is the same as to suppose that the end can be obtained without the natural and necessary conditions and means. This supposition is therefore an impossible supposition, and consequently inadmissible.

      Again, if universal mind were perfectly satisfied so that there were no demand or want of any being that was not fully met, we should of course be satisfied, and well satisfied, and perfectly satisfied, on this supposition.

      The philosophy to which this objection is opposed teaches that the highest well being of God and of the universe is the ultimate, the absolute good of moral agents and therefore that it is the foundation of Moral Obligation. It further teaches that the absolute and ultimate good of moral agents in its last analysis consists in mental satisfaction, enjoyment, blessedness, happiness, and that this state of mind is conditionated upon the fact that every demand of every power of our being is fully met and satisfied. The objection is this, that if mental satisfaction, enjoyment, blessedness or happiness were but complete and universal, we should be indifferent, that is, that we should be satisfied as it respects the means and conditions of this satisfaction. That if the universal mind were satisfied it would be satisfied by whatever means. This is, to be sure, a truism. Or the objection amounts to this. If the highest well-being of God and of the universe of moral agents be the foundation of Moral Obligation, it follows that if this end is obtained and the highest well-being of God and of the universe be secured, we should be indifferent as it respects the conditions and means. In other words we should be indifferent whether it was accomplished by possible or impossible means. If the mental satisfaction do but universally exist it matters not whether the Intelligence, the Conscience or the Sensibility be satisfied. If that state of mind which can alone result from the fact that every demand of every power and susceptibility of our nature be fully met and satisfied, do but exist, it matters not whether any demand of our being is met, whether we are at all satisfied. Or again: If our nature is such that it can not be satisfied unless virtue be connected with happiness, and sin with misery, that is, unless misery exist in connection with sin, and happiness in connection with holiness, did happiness but exist it would be indifferent to us and we should be just as well satisfied did happiness exist in connection with sin and misery in connection with holiness as we now are. The objection is an absurdity and a contradiction. It overlooks that which is implied in the well being of God and of the universe.

      3. "It is said that if the sole Foundation of Moral Obligation be the highest good of Universal Being, all obligation pertaining to God would respect his susceptibilities and the means necessary to this result. When we have willed God's highest well-being with the means necessary to that result we have fulfilled all our duty to Him."

      To this I reply; certainly, when we have willed the highest well-being of God and of the universe with the necessary conditions and means thereof, we have done our whole duty to him: for this is loving Him with all our heart and our neighbor as ourselves. The necessary conditions of the highest well-being of the universe, are that every moral being should be perfectly virtuous and that every demand of the Intelligence and of the whole being of God and of the universe of creatures be perfectly met, so that universal mind shall be in a state of perfect and universal satisfaction. To will this is all that the Law of God does or can require.

      4. It is said that "If the highest good of being be the Foundation of Moral Obligation, it would follow that if God's character were the opposite of what it is, we should be under the same obligation to Him that we are now." To this I answer:--

      (1.) It is not true. We are to will the highest well-being of God. This results from the meeting of every demand of his being. We are to will his perfect satisfaction as a good in itself. But it is impossible that we should will that He should be actually and perfectly satisfied except on the condition that He obeys the laws of his being. If He should not fulfill the laws of his being--if, for example, He should not