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"I must again remind you of that in which moral character consists, and occupy a few moments in stating what I have already said, that moral character belongs solely to the ultimate intention of the mind, or to choice, as distinguished from volition. The law of God requires supreme disinterested benevolence, and all holiness, in the last analysis, resolves itself into some modification of supreme disinterested benevolence, or good-willing. Benevolence, or good-willing, is synonymous with good-intending, or intending good. Now the true spirit of the requirement of the moral law is this-that every moral being shall choose every interest according to its value as perceived by the mind. This is holiness. It is exercising supreme love or good will to God, and equal love or good will to our neighbor.
This is a choice or intention, as distinguished from a volition. It is also an ultimate intention, as distinguished from a proximate intention.
Choice is the selection of an ultimate end. Volition is produced by choice, and is the effort of the will to accomplish the end chosen. An ultimate intention, or choice, is that which is intended or chosen for its own sake, or as an ultimate end, and not something chosen or intended as a means to accomplish some other and higher end. A proximate end is that which is chosen or intended, not as an ultimate end, but as a means to an ultimate end. If I choose an end, I, of course, put forth those volitions which are requisite to the accomplishment of that end. Holiness, or virtue, consists in the supreme ultimate intention, choice, or willing of the highest wellbeing of God and the highest good of his kingdom. Nothing else than this is virtue or holiness.
As holiness consists in ultimate intention, so does sin. And as holiness consists in choosing the highest well-being of God and the good of the universe, for its own sake, or as the supreme ultimate end of pursuit; so sin consists in willing, with a supreme choice or intention, self-gratification and selfinterest. Preferring a less to a greater good because it is our own is selfishness. All selfishness consists in a supreme ultimate intention. By an ultimate intention, as I have said, is intended that which is chosen for its own sake as an end, and not as a means to some other end. Whenever a moral being prefers or chooses his own gratification, or his own interest, in preference to a higher good, because it is his own, he chooses it as an end, for its own sake, and as an ultimate end; not designing it as a means of promoting any other and
higher end, nor because it is a part of universal good. Every sin, then, consists in an act of will. It consists in preferring self-gratification, or self-interest, to the authority of God, the glory of God, and the good of the universe. It is, therefore, and must be, a supreme ultimate choice, or intention.
Sin and holiness, then, both consist in supreme, ultimate, and opposite choices, or intentions, and can not, by any possibility, co-exist.
But for the sake of entering more at large into the discussion of this question, I will
1. Examine a little in detail the philosophy of the question, and, 2. Bring the philosophy into the light of the Bible.
And in discussing the philosophy of the question, I would observe that five suppositions may be made, and so far as I can see, only five, in respect to this subject.
1. It may be supposed, that selfishness and benevolence can co-exist in the same mind.
2. It may be supposed, that the same act or choice may have a complex character, on account of complexity in the motives which induce it.
3. It may be supposed, that an act or choice may be right, or holy in kind, but deficient in intensity or degree. Or,
4. That the will, or heart, may be right, while the affections, or emotions, are wrong. Or,
5. That there may be a ruling, latent, actually existing, holy preference, or intention, co-existing with opposing volitions.
Now unless one of these suppositions is true, it must follow that moral character is either wholly right or wholly wrong, and never partly right and partly wrong at the same time. And now to the examination.
1. It may be supposed, that selfishness and benevolence can co-exist in the same mind.
It has been shown that selfishness and benevolence are supreme, ultimate, and opposite choices, or intentions. They can not, therefore, by any possibility, co-exist in the same mind.
2. The next supposition is, that the same act or choice may have a complex character, on account of complexity in the motives. On this let me say:
(1.) Motives are objective or subjective. An objective motive is that thing external to the mind that induces choice or intention. Subjective motive is the intention itself.
(2.) Character, therefore, does not belong to the objective motive, or to that thing which the mind chooses; but moral
character is confined to the subjective motive, which is synonymous with choice or intention. Thus we say a man is to be judged by his motives, meaning that his character is as his intention is. Multitudes of objective motives or considerations, may have concurred directly or indirectly in their influence, to induce choice or intention; but the intention or subjective motive is always necessarily simple and indivisible. In other words, moral character consists in the choice of an ultimate end, and this end is to be chosen for its own sake, else it it not an ultimate end. If the end chosen be the highest well-being of God and the good of the universe-if it be the willing or intending to promote and treat every interest in the universe according to its perceived relative value, it is a right, a holy motive, or intention. Ifit be any thing else, it is sinful. Now whatever complexity there may have been in the considerations that led the way to this choice or intention, it is selfevident that the intention must be one, simple, and indivisible.
(3.) Whatever complexity there might have been in those considerations that prepared the way to the settling down upon this intention, the mind in a virtuous choice has and can have but one reason for its choice, and that is the intrinsic value of the thing chosen. The highest well-being of God, the good of the universe, and every good according to its perceived relative value, must be chosen for one, and only one reason, and that is the intrinsic value of the good which is chosen for its own sake. If chosen for any other reason the choice is not virtuous. It is absurd to say, that a thing is good and valuable in itself, but may be chosen, not for that but for some other reason-that God's highest well-being and the happiness of the universe, are an infinite good in themselves, but are not to be chosen for that reason, and on their own account, but for some other reason. Holiness, then, must always consist in singleness of eye or intention. It must consist in the supreme disinterested choice, willing, or intending the good of God and of the universe, for its own sake. In this intention there can not be any complexity. If there were, it would not be holy, but sinful. It is, therefore, stark nonsense to say, that one and the same choice may have a complex character, on account of complexity of motive. For that motive in which moral character consists. is the supreme ultimate intention, or choice. This choice, or intention must consist in the choice of a thing as an end and for its own sake. The supposition, then, that the same choice or intention may have a complex character, on account of complexity in the motives, is wholly inadmissible.
If it be still urged, that the intention or subjective motive may be complex-that several things may be included in the intention and aimed at by the mind-and that it may, therefore, be partly holy and partly sinful-I reply;
(4.) If by this it be meant that several things may be aimed at or intended by the mind at the same time, I inquire what things? It is true that the supreme, disinterested choice of the highest good of being, may include the intention to use all the necessary means. It may also include the intention to promote every interest in the universe, according to its perceived relative value. These are all properly included in one intention; but this implies no such complexity in the subjective motive as to include both sin and holiness.
(5.) If by complexity of intention is meant that it may be partly disinterestedly benevolent, and partly selfish, which it must be to be partly holy and partly sinful, I reply, that this supposition is absurd. It has been shown that selfishness and benevolence consist in supreme, ultimate, and opposite choices or intentions. To suppose, then, that an intention can be both holy and sinful, is to suppose that it may include two supreme opposite and ultimate choices or intentions at the same time; in other words, that I may supremely and disinterestedly intend to regard and promote every interest in the universe according to its perceived relative value, for its own sake; and at the same time, may supremely regard my own self-interest and self-gratification, and in some things supremely intend to promote my selfish interests, in opposition to the interests of the universe and the commands of God. But this is naturally impossible. An ultimate intention, then, may be complex in the sense, that it may include the design to promote every perceived interest, according to its relative value; but it can not, by any possibility, be complex in the sense that it includes selfishness and benevolence, or holiness and sin.
3. The third supposition is, that holiness may be right, or pure in kind, but deficient in degree. On this, I remark:
(1.) We have seen that moral character consists in the ultimate intention.
(2.) The supposition, therefore, must be, that the intention may be right, or pure in kind, but deficient in the degree of its strength.
(3.) Our intention is to be tried by the law of God, both in respect to its kind and degree.
(4.) The law of God requires us to will, or intend the promotion of every interest in the universe according to its per
ceived relative value, for its own sake; in other words, that all our powers shall be supremely and disinterestedly devoted to the glory of God and the good of the universe.
(5.) This cannot mean that any faculty shall at every moment be kept upon the strain, or in a state of utmost tension, for this would be inconsistent with natural ability. It would be to require a natural impossibility, and therefore be unjust.
(6.) It cannot mean that at all times, and on all subjects, the same degree of exertion shall be made; for the best possible discharge of duty does not always require the same degree or intensity of mental or corporeal exertion.
(7.) The law can not, justly or possibly, require more, than that the whole being shall be consecrated to God—that we shall fully and honestly will or intend the promotion of every interest according to its perceived relative value, and according to the extent of our ability.
(8.) Now the strength or intensity of the intention must, and ought, of necessity, to depend upon the degree of our knowledge or light in regard to any object of choice. If our obligation is not to be graduated by the light we possess, then it would follow that we may be under obligation to exceed our natural ability, which can not be.
(9.) The importance which we attach to objects of choice, and consequently the degree of ardor or intenseness of the intention, must depend upon the clearness or obscurity of our views of the real or relative value of the objects of choice.
(10.) Our obligation can not be measured by the views which God has of the importance of those objects of choice. It is a well settled and generally admitted truth, that increased light increases responsibility or moral obligation. No creature is bound to will any thing with the intenseness or degree of strength with which God wills it, for the plain reason, that no creature sees its importance or real value, as He does. If our obligation were to be graduated by God's knowledge of the real value of objects, we could never obey the moral law either in this world or the world to come, nor could any being but God ever, by any possibility, meet its demands.
(11.) Nor can our obligation be measured by the views or knowledge which angels may have of the intrinsic or relative value of the glory of God, the worth of souls, and the good of the universe.
(12.) Nor can the obligation of a heathen be measured by the knowledge and light of a Christian.
(13.) Nor the obligation of a child, by the knowledge of a man.