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the strongest tendency to arouse in him a sense of the infinite and intrinsic value of the soul, and thus quicken a sense of obligation. Should I behold multitudes rushing to extinguish a flaming house, it would not be a contemplation of their goodness, but the contemplation of the interests at stake to the consideration of which their zeal would lead me that would quicken a sense of obligation in me to hasten to lend my aid.
(8.) Again: it is asserted that moral action is impracticable upon any other principle.
[1.] What does this mean? Does it mean that there can be no obligation unless the goodness of God be regarded as the foundation of moral obligation? If so, the mistake is radical.
[2.] Or does it mean that action can have no moral character whatever, unless it be put forth in view of the fact or upon the assumption that the goodness of God is the foundatian of moral obligation? If this be the meaning, the mistake is no less radical.
Thus we see that it is grossly absurd and self-contradictory for any one to maintain that moral obligation respects the ultimate intention or choice of an end for its own intrinsic value, and at the same time assert that the Divine moral excellence is the foundation of moral obligation. The fact is, it never is, and never can be the foundation of moral obligation. Our whole duty resolves itself into an obligation to will the highest good or well-being of God and of the universe as an ultimate end. Faith, gratitude, and every phase of virtue resolves itself into this love or good will, and the foundation of the obligation to will this end for its own sake, can by no possibility be any other than its own intrinsic value. To affirm that it can is a most palpable contradiction. The moral law proposes an end to be sought, aimed at, chosen, intended. It is the duty of the Divine Being as well as of every other moral agent, to consecrate himself to the promotion of the most valuable end. This end can not be his own virtue. His virtue consists in choosing the end demanded by the law of his own reason. This end can not be identical with the choice itself; for this would be only to choose his own choice as an ultimate end. But again it is impossible that God should require moral agents to make His own virtue an ultimate end.
If it be said that the law requires us to will God's good, blessedness, &c., because or for the reason that He is virtu
ous, I ask what can be intended by this assertion? Is it intended that we are bound to will His good not because it is valuable to Him, but because He is good? But why, I ask again, should we will good rather than evil to Him? The only answer must be because good is good or valuable. If the good is to be willed because it is valuable, this must be the fundamental reason or foundation of the obligation to will it; and His goodness is and can be only a secondary reason or condition of the obligation to will good to Him in particular, or to will His actual blessedness. My intelligence demands, and the intelligence of every moral being demands that holiness should be the unalterable condition of the blessedness of God and of every moral agent. This God's intelligence must demand. Now his complying with this condition is a changeless condition of the obligation of a moral agent to will His actual blessedness. Whatever His character might be, we are under obligations to will His blessedness with the conditions and means thereof, on account of its own intrinsic value. But not until we are informed that he has met this demand of reason and conscience and performed this condition and thus rendered himself worthy of blessedness, are we under obligation to will it as a reality and fact.
Revelation is concerned to make known the fact that He is holy and of course calls on us in view of His holiness to love and worship Him. But in doing this, it does not, can not mean that His holiness is the foundation of the obligation to will His good as an ultimate end.
The moral excellence of God, so far as I can see, can modify moral obligation only as follows. Every moral agent is under obligation of infinite weight to will the highest wellbeing of God as an ultimate end, or for its own sake, as a possible good, whether God be holy or sinful. But since the intelligence affirms that blessedness ought to be conditionated upon holiness, no moral agent is under obligation to exercise the love of complacency in God, that is, to will His actual blessedness but upon condition of his holiness. Now seeing that He is holy, moral agents are under obligation to will His actual, and perfect, and infinite and eternal blessedness. Or in other words, they are under infinite obligation to exercise that modification of benevolence toward Him which is properly termed complacency.
Our obligation when viewed apart from His character is to will or wish that God might fulfil all the conditions of perfect
blessedness and upon that condition that He might actually enjoy perfect and infinite satisfaction. But seeing that He meets the demands of His own intelligence and the intelligence of the universe, and that he voluntarily fulfils all the necessary conditions of his highest well-being, our obligation is to will his actual and most perfect and eternal blessedness.
But here it is said, as was noticed in a former lecture, that we often and indeed generally affirm our obligation to love God in view of His moral excellence, without any reference to the good or well-being of God as an end; that His goodness is the foundation of the obligation, and that in affirming this we have no respect to the value of his blessedness, and that indeed His well-being or blessedness is not so much as thought of, but only His holiness or goodness is the object of thought and attention. To this I answer: If we really affirm obligation to love God, we must affirm either that we ought to feel complacency in Him, or that we ought to will something to Him. It is admitted that the obligation is to will something to Him. But if God is good, holy, what ought we to will to Him? Why certainly something which is valuable to Him and that which is most valuable to Him. What should this be but his actual, perfect, infinite, eternal blessedness? It is certainly nonsense to say that a moral agent affirms himself to be under obligation to love God without any reference to his well-being. It is true that moral agents may be consciously and deeply affected with the consideration of the goodness of God when they affirm their obligation to love him. But in this affirmation they do and must assume the intrinsic value of his blessedness as the foundation of the obligation, or they make no intelligent affirmation whatever. They really do affirm and must affirm that they ought to will good to God, assuming the intrinsic value of the good to Him, or they would just as soon affirm obligation to will evil as good to Him.
FOUNDATION OF MORAL OBLIGATION.
VI. THEORY OF MORAL ORDER.
VII. THEORY of Nature and RELATIONS.
VIII. THEORY THAT THE IDEA OF DUTY IS THE FOUNDATION
OF MORAL OBLIGATION.
IX. COMPLEX THEORY.
VI. I come now to consider the philosophy which teaches that Moral Order is the Foundation of Moral Obligation.
But what is moral order? The advocates of this theory define it to be identical with the fit, proper, suitable. It is, then, according to them, synonymous with the right. Moral order must be in their view either identical with law or with virtue. It must be either an idea of the fit, the right, the proper the suitable, which is the same as objective right; or it must consist in conformity of the will to this idea or law, which is virtue. It has been repeatedly shown that right, whether objective or subjective can not by any possibility be the end at which a moral agent ought to aim and to which he ought to consecrate himself. If moral order be not synonymous with right in one of these senses, I do not know what it is; and all that I can say is, that if it be not identical with the highest well-being of God and of the universe, it cannot be the end at which moral agents ought to aim, and can not be the foundation of moral obligation. But if by moral order, as the phraseology of some would seem to indicate, be meant that state of the universe in which all law is universally obeyed and as a consequence of universal well-being, this theory is only another name for the true one. It is the same as willing the highest well-being of the universe with the conditions and means thereof.
Or if it be meant, as other phraseology would seem to indicate, that moral order is a state of things in which either all law is obeyed, or the disobedient are punished for the sake of promoting the public good;-if this be what is meant by moral order-it is only another name for the true theory. Willing moral order is only willing the highest good of the universe for its own sake with the condition, and means thereof.
But if by moral order be meant the fit, suitable, in the sense
of law physical or moral, it is absurd to represent moral order as the foundation of moral obligation.
VII. I will next consider the Theory that maintains that the Nature and Relations of Moral Beings is the true Foundation of Moral Obligation.
1. The advocates of this theory confound the conditions of moral obligation with the foundation of obligation. The nature and relations of moral agents to each other and to the universe is the condition of their obligation to will the good of being, but not the foundation of the obligation. What! the nature and relations of moral beings the foundation of their obligation to choose an ultimate end. Then this end must be their nature and relations. This is absurd. Their nature and relations, being what they are, their highest well-being is known to them to be of infinite and intrinsic value. But it is and must be the intrinsic value of the end, and not their nature and relations that imposes obligation to will the highest good of the universe as an ultimate end.
Writers upon this subject are often falling into the mistake of confounding the conditions of moral obligation with the foundation of moral obligation. Moral agency is a condition, but not the foundation of the obligation. Light, or the knowledge of the intrinsically valuable to being, is a condition, but not the foundation of moral obligation. The intrinsically valuable is the foundation of the obligation, and light or the perception of the intrinsically valuable, is only a condition of the obligation. So the nature and relations of moral beings is a condition of their obligation to will each other's good, and so is light or a knowledge of the intrinsic value of their blessedness, but the intrinsic value is alone the foundation of the obligation. It is, therefore, a great mistake to affirm "that the known nature and relations of moral agents is the true foundation of moral obligation."
VIII. The next theory that demands attention is that which teaches that Moral Obligation is founded in the Idea of Duty.
According to this philosophy the end at which a moral agent ought to aim, is duty. He must in all things "aim at doing his duty." Or, in other words, he must always have respect to his obligation, and aim at discharging it.
It is plain that this theory, is only another form of stating the rightarian theory. By aiming, intending to do duty, we must understand the advocates of this theory to mean the adoption of a resolution or maxim, by which to regulate their lives—the formation of a resolve to obey God-to serve God