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God will not overrule to some good account. Even "the wrath of man shall praise Him, and the remainder of wrath He will restrain." A most Divine economy is every where manifest in the works and ways of God. If He is love, we might expect this. Nay if He is love, it is impossible that this should not be. He lives only for one end. All things were created and are ruled or overruled by Him. All things, then, must directly or indirectly work together for good. He will secure some benefit from every thing. Nothing has occurred, or will occur, or can ever occur to all eternity that will not in some way be used to promote the good of being. Even sin and punishment will not be without their use. God has created nothing, nor has He suffered any thing to occur in vain. There is nothing without its use. Sin, inexcusable and ruinous as it is, is not without its use. And God will take care to glorify Himself in sinners whether they consent or not. He says, "He has created all things for Himself, even the wicked for the day of evil." That is, He created no man wicked, but He created those who have become wicked. He created them not for the sake of punishing them, but knowing that they would become incorrigible sinners, He designed to punish them, and by making them a public example, render them useful to His government. He created them, not because He delighted in their punishment for its own sake, but that He might make their deserved punishment useful to the universe. In this sense, it may be truly said, that he created them for the day of evil. Foresceing that they would become incorrigible sinners, He designed, when He created them, to make them a public example.
God's glorious economy in husbanding all events for the public good, is affectingly displayed in the fact that all things are made to work together for good to them who love God. All beings, saints and sinners, good and evil angels, sin and holiness; in short there is not a being nor an event in the universe that is not all used up for the promotion of the highest good. Whether men mean it or not, God means it. If men do not mean it, no thanks to them whatever use God may make of them He will give them, as he says, according to their endeavors or intentions, but He will take care to use them in one way or another for His glory. If sinners will consent to live and die for His glory and the good of being, well; they shall have their reward. But if they will not consent, He will take care to dispose of them for the public benefit. He will make the best use of them He can. If they are will
ing, and obedient, if they sympathize with Him in promoting the good of the universe, well. But if not, He can make them a public example, and make the influence of their punishment useful to His kingdom. Nothing shall be lost in the sense that God will not make it answer some useful purpose. No, not even sin with all its deformities and guilt, and blasphemy with all its guilt and desolating tendencies shall be suffered to exist in vain. It will be made useful in innumerable ways. But no thanks to the sinner; he means no such thing as that his sin shall be useful. He is set upon his own gratification regardless of consequences. Nothing is farther from his heart than to do good and glorify God. But God has His eye upon him; has laid His plans in view of his foreseen wickedness; and so surely as Jehovah lives, so surely shall the sinner in one way or another be used all up for the glory of God and the highest good of being.
Economy is necessarily an attribute of benevolence in all minds. The very nature of benevolence shows that it must be so. It is consecration to the highest good of being. It lives for no other end. Now all choice must respect means or ends. Benevolence has but one end; and all its activity, every volition that it puts forth, must be to secure that end. The intellect will be used to devise means to promote that end. The whole life and activity of a benevolent being is and must be a life of strenuous economy for the promotion of the one great end of benevolence. Extravagance, self-indulgence, waste, are necessarily foreign to love. Every thing is devoted to one end. Every thing is scrupulously and wisely directed to secure the highest good of God and being, in general. This is, this must be the universal and undeviating aim of every mind just so far as it is truly benevolent. "He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear."
There are many other attributes of benevolence that might be enumerated and enlarged upon, all of which are implied in entire obedience to the law of God. Enough has been said I hope to fix your attention strongly upon the fact that every modification of virtue, actual, conceivable or possible, is only an attribute or form of benevolence. That atttribute is always a phenomenon of will and an attribute of benevolence. And where benevolence is, there all virtue is and must be, and every form in which virtue does or can exist, must develop itself as its occasions shall arise, if benevolence really exists.
WHAT CONSTITUTES DISOBEDIENCE TO MORAL LAW.
In discussing this question, I will,
1. Revert to some points that have been settled.
II. Show what disobedience to the Moral Law cun not consist in.
I. Revert to some points that have been settled.
1. That moral law requires love or benevolence, and that this is the sum of its requirements.
2. That benevolence is good will to being in general. In other words, that it consists in the impartial choice of the good of being, as an end, or for its own sake.
3. That obedience to moral law is a unit or that it invariably consists in disinterested benevolence. That consecration to the highest good of being is virtue and the whole of virtue.
4. That feeling and outward action are only results of ultimate intention, and in themselves neither virtue nor vice.
5. That all choice and volition must terminate upon some object, and that this object must be chosen as an end or as a
6. That the choice of any thing as a means to an end is in fact only carrying into execution the ultimate choice or the choice of an end.
7. That the mind must have chosen an end, or it can not choose the means. That is, the choice of means implies the previous choice of an end.
8. That moral character belongs to the ultimate intention only, or to the choice of an end.
9. That virtue or obedience to moral law consists in choosing in accordance with the demands of the intelligence in opposition to following the feelings, desires, or impulses of the sensibility.
10. That whatever is chosen for its own sake, and not as a means to an end, is and must be chosen as an end.
11. That the mind must always have an end in view, or it can not choose at all. That is, as has been said, the will must have an object of choice, and this object must be regarded as an end or as a means.
12. That the fundamental reason for choosing an end and the end chosen are identical. That is, the fundamental reason of the obligation to choose a thing must be found in the nature of the thing itself, and this reason is the end or thing chosen. Example: If the intrinsic value of a thing be the foundation of the obligation to choose it, the intrinsically valuable is the end or thing chosen.
II. Show what disobedience to moral law can not consist in. 1. It can not consist in malevolence, or in the choice of evil or misery as an ultimate end. This will appear if we consider, (1.) That the choice of an end implies the choice of it not for no reason, but for a reason and for its own intrinsic value, or because the mind prizes it on its own account. But moral agents are so constituted that they can not regard misery as intrinsically valuable. They can not, therefore, choose it as an ultimate end, nor prize it on its own account.
(2.) To will misery as an ultimate end, would imply the choice of universal misery and every degree of it according to its relative amount.
(3.) The choice of universal misery as an end implies the choice of all the means necessary to that end.
(4.) The end chosen is identical with the reason for choosing it. To say that a thing can be chosen without any reason is to say that nothing is chosen, or that there is no object of choice, or that there is no choice. Misery may be chosen to assert our own sovereignty, but this were to choose selfgratification and not misery as an ultimate end. To choose misery as an ultimate end is to choose it, not to assert my own sovereignty, nor for any other reason than because it is misery.
(5.) To choose an end is not to choose without any reason, as has been said, but for a reason.
(6.) To choose misery as an end is to choose it for the reason that it is misery, and that misery is preferred to happiness for its own sake, which is absurd. Such a supposition overlooks the very nature of choice.
(7.) To will misery as a means is possible, but this is not malevolence, but might be either benevolence or selfishness.
(8.) The constitution of moral beings renders malevolence, or the willing of misery for its own sake impossible. Therefore disobedience to moral law can not consist in it.
2. Disobedience to moral law can not consist in the constitution of soul or body. The law does not command us to have a certain constitution, nor forbid us to have the constitution with which we came into being.
3. It can not consist in any state either of the sensibility or of the intelligence; for these, as we have seen, are involuntary and are dependent upon the actings of the will.
4. It can not consist in outward actions; for these, we have seen, are controlled by the actions of the will, and therefore can have no moral character in themselves.
5. It can not consist in inaction: for total inaction is to a moral agent impossible. Moral agents are necessarily active. That is, they can not exist as moral agents without choice. They must by a law of necessity choose either in accordance with, or in opposition to the law of God. They are free to choose in either direction, but they are not free to abstain from choice altogether. Choose they must. The law directs how they shall or ought to choose. If they do not choose thus, it must be because they choose otherwise, and not because they do not choose at all.
6. It can not consist in the choice of moral evil or sin as an ultimate end. Sin is but an element or attribute of choice or intention, or it is intention itself. If it be intention itself, then to make sin an end of intention would be to make intention or choice terminate on itself, and the sinner must choose his own choice or intend his own intention as an end: this is absurd.
If sin is but an element or attribute of choice or intention, then to suppose the sinner to choose it as an end, were to make choice or intention terminate on an element or attribute of itself, to suppose him to choose as an end an element of his own choice. This also is absurd and a contradiction.
The nature of a moral being forbids that he should choose sin for its own sake. He may choose those things the choosing of which is sinful, but it is not the sinfulness of the choice upon which the intention terminates. This is naturally impossible. Sin may be chosen as a means of gratifying a malicious feeling, but this is not choosing it as an end, but as a means. Malevolence, strictly speaking, is impossible to a moral agent. That is, the choice of moral or natural evil for its own sake contradicts the nature of moral agents and the nature of ultimate choice, and is therefore impossible.
III. What disobedience to moral law must consist in.
1. It must consist in choice or ultimate intention, for moral character belongs strictly only to ultimate intention.
2. As all choice must terminate on an end or on means, and as the means can not be chosen until the end is chosen and but for its sake, and as the choice of means for the sake of an end is but an endeavor to secure the end chosen, therefore it fol