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discharge my obligation, I must intend the good, and not the right-the good of God and my neighbor, and not to do my duty. I say again, to intend the good, or valuable, is right; but to intend the right is not right.
(12.) But it is said, that in very many instances, at least, I am conscious of affirming my Moral Obligation to do the right, without any reference to the good of being, when I can assign no other reason for the affirmation of obligation, than the right. For example, I behold virtue, I affirm spontaneously and necessarily, that I ought to love that virtue. And this, it is said, has no reference to the good of being. Are willing the right for the sake of the right and loving virtue, the same thing? But what is it to love virtue? Not a mere feeling of delight or complacency in it? But it is agreed, that Moral Obligation respects the ultimate intention only. What, then, do I mean by the affirmation, that I ought to love virtue? What is virtue? It is ultimate intention, or an attribute of ultimate intention. But what is loving virtue? It consists in willing its existence. But it is said, that I affirm my obligation to love virtue as an end, or for its own sake, and not from any regard to the good of being. This is absurd, and a contradiction. To love virtue, it is said, is to will its existence as an end. But virtue consists in intending an end. Now, to love virtue, it is said, is to will, intend its existence as an end, for its own sake. Then, according to this theory, I affirm my obligation to intend the intention of a virtuous being as an end, instead of intending the same end that he does. This is absurd. His intention is of no value, is neither naturally good nor morally good, irrespective of the end intended. It is neither right nor wrong, irrespective of the end chosen. It is therefore, impossible to will, choose, intend the intention as an end, without reference to the end intended. To love virtue, then, is to love or will the end upon which virtuous intention terminates, namely, the good of being, or, in other words, to love virtue, is to will its existence, for the sake of the end it has in view, which is the same thing as to will the same end. Virtue is intending, choosing an end. Loving virtue is willing that the virtuous intention should exist for the sake of its end. Take away the end, and who would or could will the intention? Without the end, the virtue, or intention, would not, and could not exist. It is not true, therefore, that in the case supposed, I affirm my obligation to will, or intend, without any reference to the good of being.
(13.) But again, it is said, that when I contemplate the
Moral Excellence of God, I affirm my obligation to love him solely for his goodness, without any reference to the good of being, and for no other reason than because it is right. But to love God because of his moral excellence, and because it is right, are not the same thing. It is a gross contradiction, to talk of loving God for his Moral Excellence, because it is right. It is the same as to say, I love God for the reason that he is morally excellent, or worthy, yet not at all for this reason, but for the reason that it is right. To love God for his Moral Worth, is to will good to him for its own sake, upon condition that he deserves it. But to will his Moral Worth because it is right, is to will the right as an ultimate end, to have supreme regard to right, instead of the Moral Worth, or the well-being of God.
But it may reasonably be asked, why should Rightarians bring forward these objections? They all assume that Moral Obligation may respect something else than ultimate intention. Why, I repeat it, should Rightarians affirm that the Moral Excellence of God, is the foundation of Moral Obligation, since they hold that right is the foundation of Moral Obligation? Why should the advocates of the theory, that the Moral Excellence of God is the foundation of Moral Obligation, affirm that right is the foundation, or that we are bound to love God for his Moral Excellence, because this is right? These are gross contradictions. There is no end to the absurdities in which error involves its advocates, and it is singular to see the advocates of the different theories, each in his turn, abandon his own, and affirm some other, as an objection to the true theory. It has also been, and still is common for writers to confound different theories with each other, and to affirm, in the compass of a few pages, several different theories. At least this has been done in some instances.
Consistent Rightarianism is a Godless, Christless, loveless philosophy. This Kant saw, and acknowledged. He calls it pure legality, that is, he understands the law as imposing obligation by virtue of its own nature, instead of the intrinsic value of the end, which the law requires Moral Agents to choose. He loses sight of the end, and does not recognize any end whatever. He makes a broad distinction between morality and religion. Morality consists, according to him in the adoption of the maxim, "Do right for the sake of the right," or "Act at all times upon a maxim fit for law universal." The adoption of this maxim is morality. But now, having adopted this maxim, the mind goes abroad to carry its maxim into practice. It finds God and being to exist, and sees
it to be right to intend their good. This intending the good is religion, according to him. Thus, he says, ethics lead to, or result in religion. (See Kant on Religion.) But who does not feel prompted to inquire, whether, when we apprehend God and being, we are to will their well-being as an end, or for its own sake, or because it is right? Iffor its own sake, where then is the maxim, "Will the right for the sake of the right?" for if we are to will the good, not as an ultimate end but for the sake of the right, then right is the end that is preferred to the highest well-being of God and of the universe. It is impossible that this should be religion. Indeed Kant himself admits that this is not religion.
But enough of this cold and loveless philosophy. As it exalts right above all that is called God and subverts all the teachings of the Bible, it can not be a light thing to be deluded by it. But it is remarkable and interesting to see Christian Rightarians, without being sensible of their inconsistency, so often confound this philosophy with that which teaches that good will to being constitutes virtue. Numerous examples of it occur every where in their writings, which demonstrate that Rightarianism is with them only a theory that "plays round the head but comes not near the heart."
FOUNDATION OF MORAL OBLIGATION.
DIVINE MORAL EXCELLENCE THEORY.
V. I NOW ENTER UPON THE DISCUSSION OF THE THEORY, THAT THE GOODNESS, OR MORAL EXCELLENCE OF GOD IS THE FOUNDATION OF MORAL OBLIGATION.
To this philosophy I reply,
1. That its absurdity may be shown in several ways. (1.) Let it be remembered, that Moral Obligation respects the choice of an ultimate end.
(2.) That the reason of the obligation, or that which imposes obligation, is identical with the end on which the intention ought to terminate. If, therefore, the goodness of God be the reason, or foundation of Moral Obligation, then the goodness of God is the ultimate end to be intended. But as this goodness consists in love, or benevolence, it is impossible that it should be regarded or chosen, as an ultimate end; and to choose it were to choose the Divine choice, to intend the Divine intention as an ultimate end, instead of choosing what God chooses, and intending what he intends.
Or if the goodness or moral excellence of God is to be regarded, not as identical with, but as an attribute or moral quality of benevolence, then, upon the theory under consideration, a moral agent ought to choose a quality or attribute of the Divine choice or intention as an ultimate end, instead of the end upon which the Divine intention terminates. This is absurd.
2. It is impossible that virtue should be the foundation of • Moral Obligation. Virtue consists in a compliance with Moral Obligation. But obligation must exist before it can be complied with. Now, upon this theory, obligation can not exist until virtue exists as its foundation. Then this theory amounts to this: Virtue is the foundation of Moral Obligation; therefore Virtue must exist before Moral Obligation can exist. But as Virtue consists in a conformity to Moral Obligation, Moral Obligation must exist before Virtue can exist. Therefore neither Moral Obligation nor Virtue, can ever, by any possibility, exist. God's Virtue must have existed prior to his obligation, as its foundation. But as Virtue consists in compliance with Moral Obligation, and as obligation could not exist until Virtue existed as its foundation; in other
words, as obligation could not exist without the previous existence of Virtue, as its foundation, and as Virtue could not exist without the previous existence of obligation, it follows, that neither God, nor any other being, could ever be virtuous for the reason that he could never be the subject of Moral Obligation. Should it be said, that God's holiness is the foundation of our obligation to love Him, I ask in what sense it can be so? What is the nature or form of that love, which his Virtue lays us under an obligation to exercise? It can not be a mere emotion of complacency, for emotions being involuntary states of mind and mere phenomena of the Sensibility, are without the pale of legislation and morality. Is this love resolvable into benevolence, or good will? But why will good to God rather than evil? Why, surely, because good is valuable in itself. But if it is valuable in itself, this must be the fundamental reason for willing it as a possible good; and his Virtue must be only a secondary reason or condition of the obligation, to will his actual blessedness. But again, the foundation of Moral Obligation must be the same in all worlds, and with all Moral Agents, for the simple reason, that Moral Law is one and identical in all worlds. If God's Virtue is not the foundation of Moral Obligation in Him, which it can not be, it can not be the foundation of obligation in us, as Moral Law must require Him to choose the same end that it requires us to choose. His Virtue must be a secondary reason of his obligation to will his own actual blessedness, and the condition of our obligation to will his actual and highest blessedness, but can not be the fundamental reason, that always being the intrinsic value of his well-being.
But for the sake of a somewhat systematic examination of this subject, I will,
1. Show what Virtue, or Moral Excellence is.
2. That it can not be the Foundation of Moral Obligation. 3. Show what Moral Worth or Good Desert is.
4. That it can not be the Foundation of Moral Obligation. 5. Show what relation Virtue, Merit, and Moral Worth sustain to Moral Obligation.
6. Answer objections.
1. Show what Virtue, or Moral Excellence is.
Virtue, or Moral Excellence, consists in conformity of will to Moral Law. It must either be identical with love or good will, or it must be the moral attribute or element of good will or benevolence.
2. It can not be the Foundation of Moral Obligation.