« السابقةمتابعة »
choice of that as an end which is proffered as the reward of virtue. This is and must be the ultimate good. Sin consists in choosing that which defeats or sets aside this end, or in selfishness.
But what is intended by the right, the just, the true, &c. being ultimate goods and ends to be chosen for their own sake? These may be objective or subjective. Objective right, truth, justice, &c. are mere ideas and can not be good or valuable in themselves. Subjective right, truth, justice, &c., are synonymous with righteousness, truthfulness, and justness. These are virtue. They consist in an active state of the will and resolve themselves into choice, intention. But we have repeatedly seen that intention can neither be an end nor a good in itself, in the sense of intrinsically valuable.
Again: Constituted as moral agents are, it is a matter of consciousness that the concrete realization of the ideas of right, and truth, and justice, of beauty, of fitness, of moral order, and in short, of all that class of ideas, is indispensable as the condition and means of their highest well-being, and that enjoyment or mental satisfaction is the result of realizing in the concrete those ideas. This enjoyment or satisfaction then is and must be the end or ultimate upon which the intention of God must have terminated, and upon which ours must terminate as an end or ultimate.
Again: The enjoyment resulting to God from the concrete realization of his own ideas must be infinite. He must therefore have intended it as the supreme good. It is in fact the ultimate good. It is in fact the supremely valuable.
Again: If there is more than one ultimate good, the mind must regard them all as one, or sometimes be consecrated to one and sometimes to another-sometimes wholly consecrated to the beautiful, sometimes to the just, and then again to the right, then to the useful, to the true &c. But it may be asked of what value is the beautiful aside from the enjoy ment it affords to sentient existences. It meets a demand of our being, and hence affords satisfaction. But for this in what sense could it be regarded as good? The idea of the useful, again, can not be an idea of an ultimate end, for utility implies that something is valuable in itself to which the useful sustains the relation of a means and is useful only for that
Of what value is the true, the right, the just, &c., aside from the pleasure or mental satisfaction resulting from them to sentient existences? Of what value were all the rest of
the universe, were there no sentient existences to enjoy
Suppose, again, that every thing else in the universe existed just as it does, except mental satisfaction or enjoyment, and that there were absolutely no enjoyment of any kind in any thing any more than there is in a block of granite, of what value would it all be; and to what or to whom would it be valuable? Mind without susceptibility of enjoyment could neither know nor be the subject of good nor evil, any more than a slab of marble. Truth in that case could no more be a good to mind than mind could be a good to truth; the eye would be the good of light as much as light would be the good of the eye. Nothing in the universe could give or receive the least satisfaction or dissatisfaction. Neither natural or moral fitness or unfitness could excite the least emotion or mental satisfaction. A block of marble might just as well be the subject of good as any thing else upon such a suppo
Again: It is obvious that all creation, where law is obeyed, tends to one end, and that end is happiness or enjoyment. This demonstrates that enjoyment was the end at which God aimed in creation.
Again: It is evident that God is endeavoring to realize all the other ideas of his reason for the sake of, and as a means of realizing that of the valuable to being. This as a matter of fact is the result of realizing in the concrete all those ideas. This must then have been the end intended.
But again: The bible knows of but one ultimate good. This, as has been said, the moral law has forever settled. The highest well-being of God and the universe is the only end required by the law. Creation proposes but one end. Physical and moral government propose but one end. The bible knows but one end, as we have just seen. The law and the gospel propose the good of being only as the end of virtuous intention. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, and thy neighbor as thyself." Here is the whole duty of man. But here is nothing of choosing, willing, loving, truth, justice, right, utility, or beauty, as an ultimate end for their own sakes. The fact is, there are innumerable relative goods, or conditions, or means of enjoyment, but only one ultimate good. Disinterested benevolence to God and man is the whole of virtue, and every modification of love resolves itself in the last analysis into this. If this is so, well-being in the sense of enjoyment must be the only ultimate or good. But well
being, in the complex sense of the term, is made up of enjoy ment and the means and sources or conditions of enjoyment. Conformity to law universal, must be the condition and enjoyment; the ultimate end, strictly and properly speaking.
It is nonsense to object that if enjoyment or mental satisfaction be the only ground of moral obligation, we should be indifferent as to the means. This objection assumes that in seeking an end for its intrinsic value, we must be indifferent as to the way in which we obtain that end, that is, whether it be obtained in a manner possible or impossible, right or wrong. It overlooks the fact that from the laws of our own being it is impossible for us to will the end without willing also the indispensable and therefore the appropriate means; and also that we can not possibly regard any other conditions or means of the happiness of moral agents as possible, and therefore as appropriate or right, but holiness and universal conformity to the law of our being. As we said in a former lecture, enjoyment or mental satisfaction results from having the different demands of our being met. One demand of the reason and conscience of a moral agent is that happiness should be conditionated upon holiness. It is therefore naturally impossible for a moral agent to be satisfied with the happiness or enjoyment of moral agents except upon the condition of their ho liness.
But this class of philosophers insist that all the archetypes of the ideas of the reason are necessarily regarded by us as good in themselves. For example: I have the idea of beauty. I behold a rose. The perception of this archetype of the idea of beauty gives me instantaneous pleasure. Now it is said, that this archetype is necessarily regarded by me as a good. I have pleasure in the presence and perception of it, and as often as I call it to remembrance. This pleasure, it is said, demonstrates that it is a good to me; and this good is in the very nature of the object, and must be regarded as a good in itself. To this I answer, that the presence of the rose is a good to me, but not an ultimate good. It is only a means or source of pleasure or happiness to me. The rose is not a good in itself. If there were no eyes to see it and no olfactories to smell it, to whom could it be a good? But in what sense can it be a good except in the sense that it gives satisfaction to the beholder? The satisfaction and not the rose, is and must be the ultimate good. But it is inquired, do not I desire the rose for its own sake? I answer, yes; you
desire it for its own sake, but you do not, can not choose it for its own sake, but, to gratify the desire. The desires all terminate on their respective objects. The desire for food terminates on food; thirst terminates on drink, &c. These things are so correlated to these appetites that they are desired for their own sakes. But they are not and can not be chosen for their own sakes or as an ultimate end. They are and must be regarded and chosen as the means of gratifying their respective desires. To choose them simply in obedience to the desire were selfishness. But the gratification is a good and a part of universal good. The reason, therefore, urges and demands that they should be chosen as a means of good to myself. When thus chosen in obedience to the law of the intelligence, and no more stress is laid upon the gratification than in proportion to its relative value, and when no stress is laid upon it simply because it is my own gratification, the choice is holy. The perception of the archetypes of the various ideas of the reason will, in most instances, produce enjoyment. These archetypes, or, which is the same thing, the concrete realization of these ideas, is regarded by the mind as a good, but not as an ultimate good. The ultimate good is the satisfaction derived from the perception of them.
The perception of moral or physical beauty gives me satisfaction. Now moral and physical beauty are regarded by me as good, but not as ultimate good. They are relative good only. Were it not for the pleasure they give me, I could not in any way connect with them the idea of good. Suppose no such thing as mental satisfaction existed, that neither the perception of virtue nor of natural beauty, nor of any thing else, could produce the least emotion or feeling or satisfaction of any kind. There would be the idea and its archetype both in existence and exactly answering to each other. But what then? The archetype would no more be the good of, or valuable to the idea, than the idea would be the good of or valuable to the archetype. The mental eye might perceive order, beauty, physical and moral, or any thing else; but these things would no more be a good to the eye or intellect that perceived them than the eye would be a good to them. The fact is, the idea of good or of the valuable could not in such a case exist, consequently virtue or moral beauty could not exist. The idea of good, or of the valuable, must exist before virtue can exist. It is and must be the development of the idea of the valuable, that develops the idea of moral obligation, of right and wrong, and consequently, that makes virtue possible. The mind
must perceive an object of choice that is regarded as intrinsically valuable before it can have the idea of moral obligation to choose it as an end. This object of choice can not be virtue or moral beauty, for this would be to have the idea of virtue or of moral beauty before the idea of moral obligation, or of right and wrong. This were a contradiction. The mind must have the idea of some ultimate good the choice of which would be virtue or concerning which the reason affirms moral obligation, before the idea of virtue or of right or wrong can exist. The development of the idea of the valuable or of an ultimate good must precede the possibility of virtue or of the idea of virtue, of moral obligation, or of right and wrong. It is absurd to say that virtue is regarded as an ultimate good, when in fact the very idea of virtue does not and can not exist until a good is presented in view of which the mind affirms moral obligation to will it for its own sake, and also affirms that the choice of it for that reason would be virtue.