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to do at all times what appears to be right-to meet the demands of conscience-to obey the law-to discharge obligation, &c. I have expressed the thing intended in all these because it is common to hear this theory expressed in ways all these terms and in others like them. Especially in giving instruction to inquiring sinners, nothing is more common than for those who profess to be spiritual guides to assume the truth of this philosophy, and give instructions accordingly. These philosophers or theologians will say to sinners, Make up your mind to serve the Lord; resolve to do your whole duty and to do it at all times; resolve to obey God in all things to keep all his commandments; resolve to deny yourselves—to forsake all sin—to love the Lord with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself. They often represent regeneration as consisting in this resolution or purpose.
Such-like phraseology, which is very common and almost universal among rightarian philosophers, demonstrates that they regard virtue or obedience to God as consisting in the adoption of a maxim of life. With them, duty is the great idea to be realized. All these modes of expression mean the same thing, and amount to just Kant's morality, which he admits does not necessarily imply religion, namely, "Act upon a maxim at all times fit for law universal," and to Cousin's, which is the same thing, namely, "Will the right for the sake of the right." Now, I can not but regard this philosophy on the one hand, and utilitarianism on the other, as equally wide from the truth, and as lying at the foundation of much of the spurious religion with which the church and the world are cursed. Utilitarianism begets one type of selfishness, which it calls religion, and this philosophy begets another, in some respects more specious, but not a whit the less selfish, God-dishonoring and soul-destroying. The nearest that this philosophy can be said to approach either to true morality or religion, is, that if the one who forms the resolution understood himself he would resolve to become truly moral instead of really becoming so. But this is in fact an absurdity and an impossibility, and the resolution-maker does not understand what he is about when he supposes himself to be forming or cherishing a resolution to do his duty. Observe: he intends to do his duty. But to do his duty is to form and cherish an ultimate intention. To intend to do his duty is merely to intend to intend. But this is not doing his duty, as will be shown. He intends to serve God, but this is not serving God as will also be shown. Whatever he intends, he is
neither truly moral nor religious, until he really intends the same end that God does; and this is not to do his duty, nor to do right, nor to comply with obligation, nor to keep a conscience void of offence, nor to deny himself, nor any such-like things. God aims at and intends the highest well-being of Himself and the Universe as an ultimate end, and this is doing his duty. It is not resolving or intending to do his duty, but is doing it. It is not resolving to do right for the sake of the right, but it is doing right. It is not resolving to serve himself and the universe but is actually rendering that service. It is not resolving to obey the moral law, but is actually obeying it. It is not resolving to love but actually loving his neighbor as himself. It is not, in other words, resolving to be benevolent but is being so. It is not resolving to deny self, but is actually denying self.
A man may resolve to serve God without any just idea of what it is to serve Him. If he had the idea of what the law of God requires him to choose clearly before his mind-if he perceived that to serve God was nothing less than to consecrate himself to the same end to which God consecrates himself, to love God with all his heart and his neighbor as himself, that is, to will or choose the highest well-being of God and of the universe as an ultimate end-to devote all his being, substance, time and influence to this end;-I say, if this idea were clearly before his mind, he would not talk of resolving to consecrate himself to God-resolving to do his duty, to do right-to serve God--to keep a conscience void of offence, and such-like things. He would see that such resolutions were totally absurd and a mere evasion of the claims of God. It has been repeatedly shown that all virtue resolves itself into the intending of an ultimate end or of the highest well-being of God and the universe. This is true morality and nothing else is. This is identical with that love to God and man which the law of God requires. This then, is duty. This is serving God. This is keeping a conscience void of offence. This is right and nothing else is. But to intend or resolve to do this is only to intend to intend instead of at once intending what God requires. It is resolving to love God and his neighbor instead of really loving him; choosing to choose the highest well-being of God and of the universe instead of really choosing it. Now this is totally absurd, and when examined to the bottom will be seen to be nothing else than a most perverse postponement of duty and a most God-provoking evasion of his claims. To intend to do duty is gross nonsense, To do
duty is to love God with all the heart and our neighbor as ourselves, that is, to choose, will, intend the highest well-being of God and our neighbor for its own sake. To intend to do duty, to aim at doing duty, at doing right, at discharging obligation, &c. is to intend to intend, to choose to choose, and suchlike nonsense. Moral obligation respects the ultimate intention. It requires that the intrinsically valuable to being shall be willed for its own sake. To comply with moral obligation is not to intend or aim at this compliance as an end, but to will, choose, intend that which moral law or moral obligation requires me to intend, namely, the highest good of being. To intend obedience to law is not obedience to law, for the reason that obedience is not that which the law requires me to intend. To aim at discharging obligation is not discharging it, just for the reason that I am under no obligation to intend this as an end. Nay, it is totally absurd and nonsensical to talk of resolving, aiming, intending to do duty-to serve the Lord, &c. &c. All such resolutions imply an entire overlooking of that in which true religion consists. Such resolutions and intentions from their very nature must respect outward actions in which is no moral character, and not the ultimate intention, in which all virtue and vice consist. A man may resolve or intend to do this or that. But to intend to intend an ultimate end, or to choose it for its intrinsic value instead of willing and at once intending or choosing that end, is grossly absurd, self-contradictory, and naturally impossible. Therefore this philosophy does not give a true definition and account of virtue. It is self-evident that it does not conceive rightly of it. And it can not be that those who give such instructions or those who receive and comply with them have the true idea of religion in their minds. Such teaching is radically false and such a philosophy leads only to bewilder, and dazzles to blind.
It is one thing for a man who actually loves God with all his heart and his neighbor as himself to resolve to regulate all his outward life by the law of God, and a totally different thing to intend to love God or to intend his highest glory and wellbeing. Resolutions may respect outward action, but it is totally absurd to intend or resolve to form an ultimate intention. But be it remembered that morality and religion do not belong to outward action, but to ultimate intentions. It is amazing and afflicting to witness the alarming extent to which a spurious philosophy has corrupted and is corrupting the church of God. Kant and Cousin and Coleridge have adopted a phraseology and manifestly have conceived in idea a philoso
phy subversive of all true love to God and man, and teach a religion of maxims and resolutions instead of a religion of Love. It is a philosophy, as we shall see in a future Lecture, which teaches that the moral law or law of right, is entirely distinct from and may be opposite to the law of benevolence or love. The fact is, this philosophy conceives of duty and right as belonging to mere outward action. This must be, for it can not be crazy enough to talk of resolving or intending to form an ultimate intention. Let but the truth of this philosophy be assumed in giving instructions to the anxious sinner, and it will immediately dry off his tears and in all probability lead him to settle down in a religion of resolutions instead of a religon of love. Indeed this philosophy will immediately dry off, (if I may be allowed the expression) the most genuine and powerful revival of religion, and run it down into a mere revival of a heartless, Christless, loveless philosophy. It is much easier to persuade anxious sinners to resolve to do their duty, to resolve to love God, than it is to persuade them really to do their duty, and really to love God with all their heart and with all their soul and their neighbor as themselves.
IX. We now come to the consideration of that philosophy which teaches the Complexity of the Foundation of Moral Obligation.
This theory maintains that there are several distinct grounds of moral obligation; that the highest good of being is only one of the grounds of moral obligation, while right, moral order, the nature and relations of moral agents, merit and demerit, truth, duty, and many such like things, are distinct grounds of moral obligation; that these are not merely conditions of moral obligation, but that each one of them can by itself impose moral obligation. The advocates of this theory, perceiving its inconsistency with the doctrine that moral obligation respects the ultimate choice or intention only, seem disposed to relinquish the position that obligation respects strictly only the choice of an ultimate end, and to maintain that moral obligation respects the ultimate action of the will. By ultimate action of the will they mean, if I understand them, the will's treatment of every thing according to its intrinsic nature and character; that is, treating every thing or taking that attitude in respect to every thing known to the mind that is exactly suited to what it is in and of itself. For example, right ought to be regarded and treated by the will as right, because it is right. Truth ought to be regarded and treated as truth for its own sake, virtue as virtue, merit as merit, demerit as demerit, the useful as useful, the beautiful
as beautiful, the good or valuable as valuable, each for its own sake; that in each case the action of the will is ultimate in the sense that its action terminates on these objects as ultimates; in other words, that all those actions of the will are ultimates that treat things according to their nature and character, or according to what they are in and of themselves. Now in respect to this theory I would enquire:
1. What is intended by the will's treating a thing or taking that attitude in respect to it that is suited to its nature and character? Are there any other actions of will than choices and intentions? Choice, preference, intention, volition-are not all the actions of the will comprehended in these? Choice, preference, intention are not these identical? Do not all the actions of the will consist either in the choice of an end or in the choice of means to secure an end? If there are any other actions than these, are they intelligent actions? If so, what are those actions of will that consist neither in the choice of an end, nor in volitions or efforts to secure an end? Can there be intelligent acts of will that neither respect ends nor means? Can there be moral acts of will when there is no choice or intention? If there is choice or intention, must not these respect an end or means? What then can be meant by ultimate action of will as distinguished from ultimate choice or intention? Can there be choice without there is an object of choice? If there is an object of choice, must not this object be chosen either as an end or as a means? If as an ultimate end, how does this differ from ultimate intention? If as a means, how can this be regarded as an ultimate action of the will? What can be intended by actions of will that are not acts of choice nor of volition? I can conceive of no other. But if all acts of will must of necessity consist in willing or nilling, that is in choosing or refusing, which is the same as willing one way or another in respect to all objects of choice apprehended by the mind, how can there be any intelligent act of the will that does not consist in or that may not and must not in its last analysis be resoluble into, and be properly considered as the choice of an end or of means to secure an end? Can moral law require any other action of will than choice and volition? What other actions of will are possible to us? Whatever moral law does require, it must and can only require choices and volitions. It can only require us to choose ends or means. It can not require us to choose as an ultimate end any thing that is not intrinsically worthy of choice-nor as a means any thing that does not sustain that relation.