In discussing this subject I will,
I. Repeat The Definition Of Moral Obligation.
II. Remind You Of The Conditions Of Moral Obligation.
Iii. Show What 18 Intended By The Foundation Of Mon- Al Obligation.
IV. Point our Again The Extent Of Moral Obligation.
V. Notice THE Points Of Agreement Between The
PRINCIPAL PARTIES IN THIS DISCUSSION.
VI. SHOW WHEREIN THEY DISAGREE.
VII. Show From Reason And Revelation What Must Be The Foundation Of Moral Obligation.
Viii. Show Wherein That Consists Which Constitutes The Foundation Of MORAL Obligation.
IX. Examine The Claims Of The Principal Theories
} THAT HAVE BEEN ADVOCATED ON THIS SUBJECT.
* Before I enter directly upon the discussion I would observe that this question, like most Theological questions, is both Psychological and Theological. It is common, and as absurd and vain as it is common, to object to Metaphysical discussions in the examination of Theological questions. The fact is that there is no such thing as holding Theological opinions without assuming the truth of some system of Mental Philosophy. Metaphysical Theology is only Bible Theology explained; and to object to Metaphysics in Theology is only to object to the application of Reason in the explanation of the facts of Revealed Theology. It has, however, been too common to discuss this question without suitable reference to the Bible, that is, it has been common to treat it as a purely Psychological Question. But this mode of procedure can never be satisfactory to a Christian Mind. I shall therefore discuss it both as a Biblical and as a Psychological Question.
I. I am to repeat the Definition of Moral Obligation.
Obligation is that which binds. Moral Obligation is the bond or ligament that binds D E Moral Agent to Moral Law. The idea, however, is too plain to be defined by the use of other language. It is a pure idea of the Reason, and better understood than explained by any term except that of Mor; al Obligation itself.
//. I am to call attention again to the Conditions of Moral Obligation.
These have been so fully discussed in a preceding lecture that it is only necessary to observe that these conditions are the powers of moral agency, together with so much light on moral relations as to develop the idea of Oughtness or Moral Obligation.
m. I am to show what is intended by the Foundation of Moral Obligation.
The Foundation of Moral Obligation is the Reason or Consideration that imposes obligation on a moral agent to obey moral law. Should the question be asked, why does the moral law require what it does? the true answer to this question would also answer the question, what is the Foundation of Moral Obligation? There must be some good and sufficient reason for the law requiring what it does, or it cannot be Moral Law or impose Moral Obligation. The question then is, why does the Moral Law require what it does? (The reason that justifies and demands the requisition must be the reason why it ought to be obeyed. The reason for the command must be identical with the reason for obedience—the reason why the law should require what it does, is the reason why we should do what it requires. This reason, whatever it is, is the Foundation of Moral Obligation, that is, of the obligation to obey Moral Law. To ascertain what this reason is, is the object of the discussion upon which we have entered.
IV. I am to remind you of the Extent of Moral Obligation, In a former Lecture, it has been shown that moral obligation extends, strictly speaking, to the ultimate intention only, that the Law of God requires only entire consecration to the right end.
U. I am to notice the points of agreement among the principal parties in this discussion.
I. They agree in their definition of Moral Obligation.
2. They also agree in respect to the conditions of moral obligation—that they are, us has just been stated, the powers of moral agency with so much light respecting moral relations as to develop the idea of oughtness or obligation.
3. They agree also in respect to what is intended by the foundation of moral obligation—namely, that the foundation of moral obligation is the fundamental reason or consideration on which the obligation rests or is founded.
4. They agree also in respect to the extent of moral obligation, that strictly speaking, it extends only to the ultimate action or choice of the Will; or in other words, that it extends to the ultimate intention only, or to the choice of an ultimate end, or of something for its own sake.
5. They agree in holding that an ultimate end is one chosen for what it is in and of itself, or for its own intrinsic value, and not as a condition or means of securing any other end.
6. They hold in common that the moral law as revealed in the Bible covers the whole ground of moral obligation—that is, that the Law of God as revealed in the Bible requires all that is obligatory on moral agents.
7. They agree also that the sum of the requirements of the Moral Law is expressed in one word, Love; that the term love is comprehensive of all that the true spirit of the Moral Law requires.
8. They agree also that this love is not an emotion or mere involuntary feeling of any kind, but that it consists in ultimate choice, preference, intention, or in the choice of an ultimate end, that is, of something for its own sake, or for what it is in and of itself.
9. They agree that the fundamental reason of the obliga-tion to choose an ultimate end must be found in the end itself, and that this reason, or that in the end which imposes obligation to choose it as an end, must be identical with the end itself. The fundamental reason for choosing a thing, is that in the thing which renders it obligatory to choose it. This reason is the end on which the choice ought to and must terminate, or the true end is not chosen. This brings me,
VI. To show wherein they differ.
From the foregoing it must be plain that they must differ only in respect to the end on which choice, preference, intention, ought to terminate; that is, they differ in respect to that which moral agents ought to choose as an ultimate end. This is the true point of difference. The question on which they differ is this: What is the ultimate end to which moral agents are under obligation to consecrate their whole being?
VII. I am to show from Reason and Revelation what must be the Foundation of Moral Obligation.
This inquiry, as will be seen, resolves itself into an inquiry concerning the true spirit and meaning of the Law of God. What does the Moral Law mean? What does it require? What is the end which it commands moral agents to choose, will, intend, for its own sake? Let it be remembered that it is agreed that moral obligation cannot exist in respect to the choice of an ultimate end, unless there be something in the itself that renders it worthy or deserving of being chosen
Good may be chosen disinterestedly, that is, for its own invalue to being in general, that is, the highest well be/ ing of being in general may be chosen for its own sake or on ! account of its intrinsic value. This is what is called disinter' ested benevolence.
It should be observed that all the actions of the Will consist in choices or willings. These actions are generally regarded as consisting in Choice and Volition. By choice is intended the selection or choice of an end. By volition is intended the executive efforts of the Will to secure the end intended.
The Nilling or refusing of the will is only choice in an opposite direction. In Nilling, the will as really chooses as in any other acts of will. If it refuses one end, it in the very act chooses another. If it refuses one means, it is only because it seeks another.
It should further be observed in this place that all intelligent choices or actions of the Will, must consist either in the choice of an end or of means to secure an end. To deny this is the same as to deny that there is any object of choice. If the Will acts at all, it wills, chooses. Ifit chooses, it chooses something—there is some object of choice. In other words, it chooses something for some reason, and that reason is truly the object of the choice. Or at least, the fundamental reason for choosing a thing is the object chosen. Now whenever the Will chooses, it chooses something for its own sake or for what it is in and of itself, or as a means or condition of securing that which is chosen for its own sake. To say that there can be an intelligent action of the Will that does not consist either in the choice of an end or of means to secure an end, is the same thing as to say that there is an action of the Will, when nothing whatever is willed, or chosen; which is absurd.
It should further be observed that the choice of an end implies the choice of all the known, necessary conditions and means of securing that end; that the choice of an end, secures and even necessitates, while the choice of the end continues, the choice of the known necessary conditions and means.
VIII. I am to show wherein that consists which constitutes the true Foundation of Moral Obligation; in other words, in what the highest Well-Being or Ultimate Good of sentient beings consists?
In discussing this question I will endeavor to show,
1. Wherein it can not consist .
2. Show wherein it must consist .
But first I must define the different sense of the term good. Good may be natural or moral. Natural good is synonymous with valuable. Moral good is synonymous with virtue. Moral good may be a natural good in the sense that it may be a means or condition of natural good. Good may be Absolute and Relative. Absolute good is that which is valuable in itself or intrinsically valuable. Relative good is that which is valuable as a means. Absolute good may also be a relative good, that is, it may be a means of perpetuating and augmenting itself. Good may also be Ultimate. Ultimate good is that absolute good in which all relative good terminates or results. It is that absolute good to which all relative good sustains the relation of conditions or means.
I would here remark also that there is a broad distinction between the conditions and means of the highest good of being and that which constitutes the absolute and ultimate good of being.
1. Wherein the ultimate and absolute good can not consist. By an ultimate good is intended that which is intrinsically valuable. Relative good is that which is valuable as a means of ultimate good. I here remark,
(L) That the ultimate and absolute good must belong to being or to sentient existences. It must be inseparable from beings that have a conscious existence. It is nonsense to speak of an insentient or unconscious existence as being capable of or as being a subject of the absolute and ultimate good. Nothing can be a good or intrinsically valuable to such a being. A block of marble can not be the subject of good. To it nothing is good or evil. Let it be distinctly understood that none but a sentient being can know or possibly be a subject of good in the sense of the valuable. I remark,
(2.) That with moral agents at least the ultimate good must consist in a state of mind. It must consist in something that must be sought and found, if found at all, within the field of consciousness.
(L) The ultimate and absolute good in the sense of the intrinsically valuable, can not be identical with Moral Law, Moral Law as we have seen, is an Idea of the Reason. Moral Law and Moral Government must propose some end to be secured by means of law. Law can not be its own end. It can not require the subject to seek itself as an ultimate end. This were absurd. The Moral Law is nothing else than the Reason's Idea, or Conception of that course of willing and acting that is fit, proper, suitable to, and demanded by the nature, rcla
tions, necessities, and circumstances of moral agents. Their nature, relations, circumstances and wants being perceived, the Reason necessarily affirms that they ought to propose to themselves a certain end, and to consecrate themselves to the promotion of this end for its own sake, or for its own intrinsic value. This end can not be law itself. The law is a simple and pure idea of the Reason and can never be in itself the supreme, intrinsic, absolute and ultimate good. d'hÃ ́te [2.] Nor can obedience, or the course of acting or willing required by the law, be the ultimate end aimed at by the law or the lawgiver. The law requires action in reference to an end,or that an end should be willed; but the willing and the end to be willed can not be identical. The action required and the end to which it is to be directed can not be the same. To affirm that it can, is absurd. It is to affirm that obedience to law is the ultimate end proposed by Law or Government . The obedience is one thing, the end to be secured by obedience is and must be another. Obedience must be a means or condition, and that which law and obedience are intended to secure, is and must be the ultimate end of obedience. the law or the lawgiver aims to promote the highest good or blessedness of the universe. This must be the
of Moral Law and Moral Government. Law and obedience must be the means or conditions of this end. It is absurd to deny this. To deny this is to deny the very nature of Moral Law, and to lose sight of the true and only end of Moral Government. Nothing can be Moral Law, and nothing can be Moral Government that does not propose the highest good of moral beings as its ultimate end. But if this is the end of law and the end of government it must be the end to be aimed at or intended by the ruler and the subject. And this end must be the foundation of moral obligation. The end proposed to be secured must be intrinsically valuable or that would not be Moral Law that proposed to secure it. The end must be good or valuable, per se, or there can be no Moral Law requiring it to be sought or chosen as an ultimate end, nor any obligation to choose it as an ultimate end.
It must be true, then, that the end proposed by Moral Law can neither be the law itself norobedience to law. Obedience consists in the choice of an end. It is impossible that choice should be an ultimate end. To make choice an ultimate end were to choose choice, and to intend intention as an ultimate end—this is plainly impossible.
[3.] The absolute and ultimate good of being can not con
sist in moral worth or good desert. Moral worth or good dessert is a result of obedience to law. It is not a state of mind —it is merit. It is a quality or attribute of character. As it is not a state of mind, it can not be the ultimate and absolute good of being. It is good desert, and is not identical with the good deserved. It is a good and an indispensable condition ot of the ultimate and absolute good, but can not be identical with it. As it does not consist in a state of mind, it is impossible that it should be the ultimate good. It is intrinsically meritorious or deserving of good, but not identical with the ultimate good. It is that to which the law and the lawgiver promise the ultimate good, but it is not the good promised.
Moral worth, merit, and good desert, can never have been the end proposed by the lawgiver. The law proposes to secure moral worth, not as an ultimate end, not as the ultimate and absolute good of the subject, but as a condition of his being rewarded with absolute good. The Lawgiver and the law propose ultimate and perfect satisfaction and blessedness as a result of virtue and of moral worth. This result must be the ultimate and absolute good.
The reason why virtue and moral excellence or worth have been supposed to be a good in themselves, and intrinsically and absolutely valuable, is, that the mind necessarily regards them with satisfaction. They meet a demand of the Reason and Conscience; they are the archetypes of the Ideas of the Reason and are therefore naturally and necessarily regarded with satisfaction,just as when we behold natural beauty, we necessarily enjoy it. We naturally experience a mental satisfaction in the contemplation of beauty, and this is true whether the beauty be physical or moral. Both meet a demand of our nature, and therefore we experience satisfaction in their contemplation. Now it has been said that this satisfaction, is, itself proof that we pronounced the beauty a good in itself. But ultimate good must, as we have said, consist in a state of mind. But neither physical nor moral beauty is a state of mind. Aside from the satisfaction produced by their contemplation, to whom or to what can they be a good? Take physical beauty for example, aside from every beholder, to whom or to what is it a good? Is it a good to itself? But it can not be a subject of good. It must be a good only as and because it meets a demand of our being and produces satisfaction in its contemplation. It is a relative good. The satisfaction experienced by contemplating it, is an ultimate good. It is only a condition of ultimate
good. So virtue or holiness is morally beautiful. Moral worth or excellence is morally beautiful. Beauty is an attribute or element of holiness, virtue, and of moral worth, or right character. But the beauty is not identical with holiness nor moral worth any more than the beauty of a rose and the rose are identical. The rose is beautiful. Beauty is one of its attributes. So virtue is morally beautiful. Beauty is one of its attributes. But the beauty in neither case is a state of mind, and can not be an ultimate good. The contemplation of either and of both naturally begets mental satisfaction because of the relation of the archetype to the idea of our Reason. We are so constituted that beholding the archetypes of certain ideas of our Reason produces mental satisfaction. Not because we affirm the archetypes to be good in themselves; for often, to say the least, as for instance in the case of physical beauty, this cannot be, but because these archetypes meet a demand of our nature. They meet this demand, and thus produce satisfaction. This satisfaction is an ultimate good, but that which produces it, is only a relative good. Apart from the satisfaction produced by the contemplation of moral worth, of what value can it be? Can the worthiness of good,or the moral beauty be the end proposed by the lawgiver? Or must we seek to secure moral worth in moral agents for the sake of the good in which it results? If neither the subject of moral excellence or worth nor any one else experienced the least satisfaction in contemplating it—if it did not so meet a demand of our being or of any being as to afford the least satisfaction to any sentient existence, to whom or to what would it be a good? If it meets a demand of the nature of a moral agent, it must produce satisfaction. It does meet a demand of our being, and therefore produces satisfaction to the Intelligence, the Conscience, the Sensibility. It is therefore necessarily pronounced by us to be a good. We are apt to say it is an ultimate good; but it is only a relative good. It meets a demand of our being and thus produces satisfaction. This satisfaction is the ultimate good of being. At the very moment we pronounce it a good in itself, it is only because we experience such a satisfaction in contemplating it. At the very time we say that we consider it a good in itself wholly independent of its results, we only say so the more positively because we are so gratified at the time by thinking of it. It is its experienced results that is the ground of the affirmation.
[4.] It cannot be too distinctly understood that Right Chari>deter. Moral Worth, Good Desert, Meritoriousness, or whatever you call it, can not be or consist in a state of Mind, and therefore it is impossible that it should be an ultimate good of intrinsically valuable. By Right Character, Moral Worth, Good Desert, Meritoriousness, &c., as distinguished from virtue, we can mean nothing more than that it is fit and proper and suitable to the nature and relation of things, that a virtuous person should be blessedo The Intelligence is gratified when this character is perceived to exist. This perception produces intellectual satisfaction. This satisfaction is" a good in itself. But that which produces this satisfaction, is in no proper sense a good in itself. Were it not for the fact that it meets a demand of the Intelligence and thus produces satisfaction, it could not so much as be thought of as a good in itself any more than any thing else that is a pure conception of the Reason, such, for instance, as a mathematical line. It is impossible that the Lawgiver or the Law should make obedience or the worthiness resulting from obedience, an ultimate end. God requires the highest good of the universe to be willed as an ultimate end. Now he requires the willing for the sake of the good willed. He aims and must aim at securing the good and not merely the willing. He mu st aim at securing the good, and not merely securing the wi Hing or the worthiness resulting from willing. It is the end He aims at. The willing and the worthiness of zeilling are valuable only as the end willed is valuable. Were it not that the end is intrinsically valuable, the willing would not be so much as relatively valuable. It would have no value whatever. And but for the intrinsic value of the end willed, Good Desert would not result from willing it. Both the virtuousness and the meritoriousness of willing the end depends altogether upon the intrinsic value of the end. But for this, I say again, neither Virtue nor Merit could exist. Now it is absurd to make that an ultimate good and to affirm that to be intrinsically and ultimately valuable, whose whole value consists in its relations to an ultimate good.
[5.] 'The ultimate or absolute good can not consist in any thing external to Mind itself. Moral Agents are so constituted as to sustain certain correlations to things external to themselves, many of which things are necessary means and conditions of their well being. But none of these can be good or valuable in themselves. That is, nothing without the consciousness of being can be a good per se. The Constitution of Moral Agents has three primary Departments or Faculties as we have formerly seen, namely, the Intellect, the Sensibility, and the Will. All the demands of our being may be and must be made by one of these Faculties. The Intellect has its demands or wants. The Sensibility has its objects of desire, or its demands and wants. Our whole being is comprised in these three departments, and they sustain such correlations to each other and to the universe that the objects demanded by these powers or susceptibilities are indispensable conditions of our well-being or being satisfied. For instance, the Intellect demands knowledge of Truth; the Conscience demands obedience to Moral Law; the Sensibility demands those objects that excite its desires. These are only specimens of the demands or wants of our being. Our well-being or our highest good is, from the constitution of our Nature, conditionated upon the demands of our Nature being met and our wants supplied. These wants are numerous. Now the objects that are so correlated to us as to be the conditions of our blessedness, are not the ultimate and absolute good. Truth, for example, is a condition or means of our ultimate good, but it is not itself an ultimate good. To whom or what would it be a good were there no Intelligence to apprehend it? It meets a demand of the Intelligence, and is therefore a relative good. The same is and must be true of every thing that is so correlated to us as to meet a demand of our Constitution. The meeting of these demands, the supply of these wants produces mental satisfaction. This satisfaction is an ultimate good. But the things that produce it are only relative good.
It is possible that an ultimate good may be also a relative good. Thus the satisfaction or blessedness that constitutes the ultimate good may and does tend to perpetuate and increase itself. The contemplation by us of the joy of others may be, and often is, a means of increasing our own. In this case the ultimate good is both an ultimate and a relative good; that is, it is both an ultimate end and a means.
It is true also that a thing may meet a demand of our being and be at the same time a means and an ultimate end. Our Nature demands Satisfaction, Blessedness, Enjoyment. This is an ultimate demand. That which supplies or meets this demand is an ultimate good. The universal satisfaction of all the powers and susceptibilities of our Nature is the ultimate good of our being. This demand is only met by the ultimate and absolute good. All other demands are met by their appropri- . ate objects, not one of which is an ultimate or absolute good,
but only a relative good. As these objects meet the demands of our Constitution they produce satisfaction; this satisfaction is an ultimate good. Did they not produce satisfaction they would not be a good in any sense. The Intelligence is met and the Reason is satisfied, that is, the things which it demanded, it has obtained, or they are accomplished.
Virtue, then, or obedience to Moral Law is in some sense a good to a Moral Agent, that is, it meets a demand of his Reason or Conscience. Moral Worth, also, or Right Character, is demanded by the Intelligence of every Moral Agent, and where Moral Worth is seen to exist, this demand of the Intelligence is met. So far that exists which it demanded; so that in this sense Moral Worth is valuable to a Moral Agent inasmuch as it meets a demand of his being. So all the objects of desire are valuable in the sense that they meet a demand of the Constitution.
Buthere an inquiry arises. Arethese the ultimate good? I answer no, for this reason, that they are not, and cannot be regarded by the mind as ultimate. The universal intelligence demands Virtue or obedience to moral law, and when this is seen to exist the Intelligence is satisfied. For example; when the mind perceives any thing to which it sustains such a correlation that the thing is demanded by the mind, in other words, that it is a necessity of nature, the possession of the object satisfies the demand. When the Intelligence acquires the knowledge that it demands, it is satisfied. When the Conscience has that which it demands, or when that exists which the conscience demands, the conscience is satisfied. When the Sensibility possesses those objects of desire which it craved, the Sensibility is satisfied. Whenever the Intelli
fencc perceives the concrete realization of those ideas of the lesson whose realization was demanded by the Intelligence, the Intelligence is satisfied. The mind continues to struggle after all the objects that are so correlated to it as to be demanded by any power of the mind, and it does not rest until that demand is met. As soon as the demand is met the mind rests and is satisfied. Now observe, those things after which the mind is struggling to meet its demands, are not the ultimate good of the mind that is thus struggling. When the mind has obtained the objects after which it struggles, and which it demands, it then rests—it is satisfied. And it matters not which of the powers of the mind makes the demand, the power is not satisfied until the end is gained. And when the end is gained, thus far the mind is satisfied. A benevolent mind is not seeking merely self-satisfaction, for this is not what Reason demands. But it seeks the satisfaction of being in general, including its own, and in willing the general good is sure to secure its own.
This brings me to remark again, that those objects external to the mind itself after which the mind struggles and which, when obtained, meet the demands of the constitution and satisfy the mind are not the ultimate good of the mind, butthe satisfaction resulting from the possession of those objects is the ultimate good.
It appears to me that this must be self-evident. If the C mind is perfectly satisfied, the satisfaction itself is to the mind a perfect, an ultimate, and an absolute good. For example, God possesses a self-existent and infinite nature. Certain things were demanded by the constitution and laws of his own being; such as that his will should be conformed to the Law of his Intelligence, or in other words that he should be virtuous. Now when this demand was met, and the heart or Will was conformed to the law of the Intelligence, which was from eternity with him, this demand of his Being was met—his Conscience, and his Intelligence were satisfied. They are so. His Intelligence is in a state of in fin tle and eternal satisfaction, or in other words, he possesses necessarily what we call an intellectual pleasure or delight or satisfaction in the state of his Will, or in other words, in the Will's conformity to the law of his Intelligence. Nowmark: the virtue that meets this demand is to Him a good, because it meets a demand of his Being. But it is not the ultimate good, but the satisfaction which he has in that state of his Will is the ultimate good. So there were many other ideas of the Divine Reason, such as the idea of the Just, of the Right, the Beautiful, the Useful, the Merciful, and such like. Now the Intelligence demanded that these ideas should be realized, and the Sensibility also desires the realization of these ideas. In other words still, the realization of these ideas was not only demanded by the Intelligence, but their realization was an object of rational desire.
When creativepower went forth for the realization of these ideas, when the universe sprang into existence as the archetype or living expression and exemplification of these ideas, the Divine Mind was satisfied. He is represented as having looked upon all that He had made, and pronounced it "very good." That is, He was satisfied with the work of his hands. He beheld the realization of the ideas of his own Reason, and saw that these demands of his being were met. Now observe: from eternity these things were present to God in such a sense that He was from eternity satisfied with or enjoyed the realization of all these ideas. In other words, every demand of his Being was from eternity met—since from eternity all things that are or will be have been present to the Divine Omniscience.
Now I inquire what must be the ultimate good of God? Certainly not these created things, not any thing created or uncreated that is so correlated to Him as to meet a demand of his Being with the exception of this one thing—the infinite satisfaction of the Divine Mind. God can say, I have no want. All the demands of his infinite mind are fully met. The ideas of his Reason are realized. His desires are, upon the whole, fulfilled, and every power and susceptibility is full. His satisfaction is perfect and infinite. When I say all the demands of his nature are met, I mean that his Omniscience embraces all events, and to Him all things that will be, are already to Him in such a sense as to satisfy the Divine Mind. He pronounces it all very good, in the sense that, upon the whole, he is satisfied.
That state of mind, the Satisfaction, the perfect and infinite Rest of the Divine Mind, in having every demand of His being met, is His ultimate good. t"
Now, it is self-evident, that this must also be the ultimate good of every being in existence. That which meets the demands of His being is not its ultimate good, with the single exception of the satisfaction that results from having all the other demands of every department of the being fully met and satisfied. This satisfaction is the ultimate demand of our being. That is, it is that which is ultimately demanded, and for the sake of which all the other things arc demanded. This is an ultimate good. But that which meets no other demand of our being, can be the ultimate good; for all these things, whatever they are, only result in satisfaction, but do not constitute it. Satisfaction is, and must be, the ultimate good; and whatever produces this result must be only a relative y good. The highest well-being of God and of the universe, then, or the highest good of universal being must consist in a state of entire satisfaction. Whenever a mind is in a state in which it can affirm, I have no wants that are unsupplied, my whole being is satisfied—that state of satisfaction that results from the meeting of all the demands of the constitution, is, and it seems to me must be, the ultimate good of the being.
Here let it be observed, that Satisfaction of mind, in the sense in which I have explained it, is the ultimate good of being, whether any one possesses it or not. The Reason affirms, that it is an ultimate and an absolute good, for any mind to be perfectly and universally satisfied. This is the thing which ought to be willed for its own sake, whether any one ever possesses it or not. Every Moral Agent ought to will the perfect satisfaction of God and of all beings, for the sake of the intrinsic value of that state of mind.
They only, of Moral Agents, will possess this ultimate Good, whose heart and life are conformed to the dictates of their Intelligence, and every want or demand of whose being is met and fully satisfied.
Just so far as any mind is entirely satisfied, just so far it possesses that which belongs to or constitutes the ultimate good. Suppose my heart to be entirely conformed to the Law of my Intelligence—thus far my Conscience, my Intelligence and my Sensibility are satisfied. My Sensibility is satisfied thus far, for the conformity of my Will to the Law of my Intelligence is not only a demand of my Intelligence, but of my Sensibility. So that if I am virtuous, thus far I. am satisfied whether any body else is virtuous or not. Thus far I possess that satisfaction which constitutes the ultimate good. But as yet, I may not possess this in perfection. All the demands of my being, in respect to myself and others, may not be met, and consequently my satisfaction may not be perfect and universal. But so far as I have it, it is in kind of the ultimate good. I shall never possess it in a perfect degree, until every demand of my constitution is met—until T can say, I have no want that is not supplied.
By the term satisfaction, I mean more than is generally understood by the term happiness. This term is generally used to express merely the satisfaction of the Sensibility. There is, however, such a thing as intellectual satisfaction, the satisfaction of Conscience. In other words, there is a natural, and if I may so speak, a moral satisfaction. The demands of the Intelligence and of the Heart and of the Sensibility, are all fully met. This results in a state of universal and entire mental satisfaction. It is a state perhaps well and fully expressed by the term Blessedness. Every power and susceptibility is full, is satisfied. The mind can say, it is enough,—I have no want. This state must > be the ultimate and the absolute good. Whatever conduces to this state, whatever meets any demand of any power or susceptibility, is a means, or condition of this state, and is in this sense a good. It is not an absolute, but a relative good. This appears to be self-evident. When I can say that every demand of my being is met, then I possess the ultimate good in a degree that is unmixed with any alloy. If the demands of my Intelligence, or of any power of my being are enlarged, if I come into relations where my constitution demands more, when these demands are all met, my satisfaction will increase. But so long as my satisfaction is universal and complete, my blessedness is perfect in the sense that I have no want that is not fully met. This satisfaction, let it be repeated, is, and must be the ultimate good of being, v
The Intelligence of a Moral Agent demands moral order. But Moral Order itself is not the ultimate good. But the satisfaction which the mind has in contemplating a state of Moral Order is an ultimate good. \/
Here again let me observe that it has been insisted that those things demanded by the Intelligence must be affirmed to be a good Hi themselves, or we should not have pleasure in them, or in other words, we should not be satisfied with them. I perceive beauty. Now it is said that unless I affirm that beauty is a good in itself it would afford me no satisfaction to behold it But this is certainly a mistake. As I have observed before, the ultimate good belongs to sentient beings and must certainly be inseparable from them; that is, none but a sentient being can be the subject of ultimate good. The j ultimate good of all beings must of necessity be subjective; < that is, it must belong to themselves. As moral agents the ultimate good must consist in a state of mind. This should .I always be borne in mind. Now if it be objected that when we behold beauty for example, the Intelligence must pronounce it to be a good in itself as a condition of its producing satisfaction in us, I answer: To whom or what is beauty, I as separate from sentient existences a good? I behold this archetype of my idea of beauty. Now in what sense can it be a good in itself? Can it be a good to itself? If not in what sense can it be a good tn itself? Good as I have said, belongs to sentient beings. But in the case supposed, this beauty does not belong to any sentient existence. It is an object of contemplation distinct from all being. It is not a state of mind. To whom or to what then is it a good in itself? It is and must be a relative good to every beholder that has the idea of beauty. But it can by no means be a good in itself. The same is and must be true of all those archetypes of the Reason that do not consist in a state of mind.
They belong to no being. They can be in no sense a good 229 themselves, unless they are a good to themselves, which is absurd. They are good only relatively to those who have the idea whose archetype they are. This class of beings are satisfied or gratified with beholding them, not because they are good in themselves, but because being archetypes of the ideas of their own Reason, they necessarily take pleasure in them. Now it is not the archetype itself which I affirm to be an ultimate good, but I am so constituted that beholding the archetype of my idea affords me satisfaction, and this satisfaction is an ultimate good. It is a state of blessedness.
That which remains at present, is to examine this Philosophy in the light of Revelation; to see whether it recognizes the highest well being, blessedness, or satisfaction of God and of the Universe as the Foundation of Moral Obligation. And here I observe that it is agreed that the Law of God demands that that should be chosen which ought to be chosen; that the identical end which Moral Agents arc required to choose is proposed as the ultimate end on which choice ought to terminate, by the Law of God. We will inquire then,
What is the true spirit and meaning of the Moral Law as revealed in the Bible? Its two great precepts are, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy Heart, with all thy Soul, with all thy Mind, and with all thy strength; and thy neighbor as thyself." Now it is agreed that this love is not a mere emotion or feeling, but that it consists in willing, choosing, intending an end. I observe again that it requires that something should be willed to God and our neighbor, or which is the same, to God and the universe of creatures. But what is this something that is to be willed to them? What is this love but good will, willing the good of God and of the Universe? What is of equal value to this? Nay what is of any intrinsic value but this? The highest well being of God and of the Universe must be that which we ought to will. And this must be the love which we are commanded to exercise. This implies the willing of the universal satisfaction of the Divine Mind with all the necessary means and conditions of this result; this satisfaction being the ultimate end both in respect to God and our neighbor, and the conditions and means as relatively valuable.
And here let me remark that it is very plain that the hate recognizes but one Foundation of Moral Obligation.
*' The whole law" it is said " is fulfilled in one word—Love." q Therefore love is the fulfilling of the Law." And this love must be the love of God and our neighbor, and not of other things. The law does not say, Thou shalt love right—truth —beauty or any thing else, with all thy heart and with all thy soul, but God and thy neighbor. This then is the End. Truth, beauty, virtue, and a multitude of things are relative goods and conditions of the ultimate good or of the universal satisfaction that results from all the demands of the being of God and of our neighbor being fully satisfied.
Whoever contends that there is more than one foundation of Moral Obligation should bereminded that one word expresses all that is required by the Moral Law. That word is Ixjve, and this love respects God and our neighbor only. In other words whoever loves God with all his heart and soul, and mind, and strength, and his neighbor as himself, fulfils the whole law. This is the Ultimate End—the good of God and our neighbor. That this love, if it consists in willing any thing to God and our neighbor, must consist in willing their highest well-being .with all the necessary conditions and means thereof must be self-evident; for as I have said, these are the only things that are valuable to God or our neighbor, and to be under obligation to will any thing else than these to God and to our neighbor were absurd. When we have willed the highest well-being of God and our neighbor as an ultimate end, we have willed to them every good of which they are capable; and what more can we will to them? and if we refuse to will this, of what use is it to will any thing else?
Let this theory again be viewed in the light of some of the precepts of the gospel.—" Whether therefore ye eat or drink or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God*" By this language, as it is used in the Scriptures, we are to understand that God requires of us to aim at pleasing Him in all that we do. That is, we are to aim at satisfying God and meeting the demands of His Conscience, His Intelligence, His Sensibility and in short, so to demean ourselves as that He shall be perfectly satisfied with us. This satisfaction is His ultimate good. At this we should aim—at pleasing God, at satisfying God,so that He shall say, all that I want in respect to you, I have. This is what God requires us to will. He requires that we should live to please or gratify Him for the sake of the intrinsic value of his well-being or of His satisfaction. To love God—to consecrate ourselves to God—to do all to the glory of God, is to choose or intend in all our ways to please God; that is, to choose the pleasure, the gratification or satisfaction or well-being of God as the ultimate end to which we consecrate ourselves.
Let this question again be brought into the light of the example of God and of Christ. God no doubt has the same end in view which He requires us to have. Christ has also the same end in view that his Father has and that He requires us to have. But what end have they in view? God says, "I have created all things for myself." That is, He has exerted his almighty power in the creation of objects to realize the ideas of his own Reason for the sake of the satisfaction which necessarily results to Himself and to the universe from their realiza-tion. He pronounces the works ofhis hands "very good" that is, they are satisfactory to Him, they are good in such a sense that He is satisfied with them as the archetypes of his own ideas. In the contemplation of these archetypes He is satisfied. This satisfaction must be to Him an infinite good. Christ must have the same end in view.
The whole Moral Government of God as well as his providential government—in short, all creation, and providence, and government, physical and moral, show that God and Christ are endeavoring to realize the ideas of the good, the just, the merciful, the beautiful, the useful, the right, the perfect, and all those ideas in the realization of which they have so much satisfaction.
The good of creatures must enter into the end at which they aim. This is manifest from creation, and providence, and the Bible. To meet the demands of the nature and constitution of every being, is manifestly the tendency of things so far as we can understand them. These things are means of producing satisfaction in the minds of Moral Agents, and in "satisfying the wants of every living thing." Thus it is said, "Thou openest thy hand and satisfyest the wants of every living thing." This satisfaction of creatures is an ultimate good. Their virtue and every thing else but this satisfaction itself, is a condition and means of promoting it. The highest good then of the universe must be that at which God and all holy beings ought to aim and really do aim. Unless they aim at this, their aim can never meet the demands of the Intelligence of Moral Agents. If they do aim at this, the Intelligence cannot but be satisfied.
But to this philosophy it is objected,
1. That if the highest good or well-being of God and of the Universe be the sole foundation of Moral Obligation, it follows that we are not under obligation to will any thing except this end with the necessary conditions and means thereof. That every thing but this end, which we are bound to will must be willed as a means to this end or because of its tendency to promote this end. And this it is said is the doctrine of Utility.
To this I answer; The doctrine of Utility is, that the foundation of the obligation to will both the end and the means is the tendency of the willing to promote the end. But this is absurd. The doctrine of this discourse is not, as Utilitarians say, that the foundation of the obligation to will the End or the Means is the tendency of the willing to promote that end, but that the foundation of the obligation to will both the end and the means, is the intrinsic value of the end. And the condition of the obligation to will the means is the perceived tendency of the means to promote the end.
The end is to be willed for its own sake. The conditions and means of this end are to be willed for the sake of the end; that is, it is the intrinsic value of the end, that is the foundation of the obligation to will the conditions and means. The tendency of the means to promote the end is not, as Utilitarians say, the Foundation of the Obligation to will the means, but both the end and the means are to be willed for the same reason, to wit, the intrinsic value of the end. The obligation to will the means being only conditions ted upon, but not found in their tendency to promote the end. This then is not the doctrine of Utility.
2. It is objected that if the good of being be the only Foundation of Moral Obligation, we should be indifferent in respect to the means, if the end could be obtained. But this, it is said, contradicts human consciousness. To this I answer, the end to be obtained is the satisfaction of universal mind, that results from having every demand of the being fully met. Now it is impossible that this satisfaction should exist unless these demands are met. To suppose then that the end can be obtained without these demands being met, is the same as to suppose that the end can be obtained without the natural and necessary conditions and means. This supposition is therefore an impossible supposition, and consequently inadmissible.
Again; if universal mind were perfectly satisfied so that there were no demand or want of any being that was not fully met, we should of course be satisfied, and well satisfied, and perfectly satisfied, on this supposition.
The philosohpy to which this objection is opposed teaches that the highest well being of God and of the universe is the ultimate, the absolute good of moral agents and therefore that it is the foundation of Moral Obligation. It further teaches that the absolute and ultimate good of moral agents in its last analysis consists in mental satisfaction, enjoyment, blessedness, happiness, and that this state of mind is conditionated upon the fact that every demand of every power of our being is fully met and satisfied. The objection is this, that if mental satisfaction, enjoyment, blessedness or happiness were but complete and universal, we should be indifferent, that is, that we should be satisfied as it respects the means and conditions of this satisfaction. That if the universal mind were satisfied it would be satisfied by whatever means. This is, to be sure, a truism. Or the objection amounts to this. If the highest well-being of God and of the universe of moral agents be the foundation of Moral Obligation, it follows that'if this end is obtained and the highest well-being of God and of the universe be secured, we should be indifferent as it. respects the conditions and means. In other words we should be indifferent whether it was accomplished by possible or impossible means. If the mental satisfaction do but universally exist it matters not whether the Intelligence, the Conscience or the Sensibility be satisfied. If that state of mind which can alone result from the fact that every demand of every power and susceptibility of our nature be fully met and satisfied, do but exist, it matters not whether any demand of our being is met, whether we are at all satisfied. Or again: If our nature is such that it can not be satisfied unless virtue be connected with happiness; and sin with misery, that is, unless misery exist in connection with sin, and happiness in connection with holiness, did happiness but exist it would be indifferent to us and we should be just as well satisfied did happiness exist in connection with sin and misery in connection with holiness as we now are. The objection is an absurdity and a contradiction. It overlooks that which is implied in the well being of God and of the universe.
3. "It is said that if the sole Foundation of Moral Obligation be the highest good of Universal Being, all obligation pertaining to God would respect his susceptibilities and the means necessary to this result. When we have willed God's highest well-being with the means necessary to that result we have fulfilled all our duty to Him."
To this I reply; certainly, when we have willed the highest well-being of God and of the universe with the necessary conditions and means thereof, we have done our whole duty to him: for this is loving Him with all our heart and our neighbor as ourselves. The necessary conditions of the highest well-being of the universe, are that every moral being shouldbe perfectly virtuous and that every demand of the Intelligence and of the whole being of God and of the universe of creatures be perfectly met, so that universal mind shall be in a state of perfect and universal satisfaction. To will this is all that the Law of God does or can require.
4. It is said that "If the highest good of being be the Foundation of Moral Obligation, it would follow that if God's character were the opposite of what it is, we should be under the same obligation to Him that we are now." To this I answer:—
(1.) It is not true. We are to will the highest wellbeing of God. This results from the meeting of every demand of his being. We are to will his perfect satisfaction as a good in itself. But it is impossible that we should will that He should be actually and perfectly satisfied except on the condition that He obeys the laws of his being. If He should not fulfill the laws of his being—if, for example, He should not conform his Will to the law of his Intelligence it would be impossible for us to will or be under an obligation to will that He should be actually and perfectly satisfied with Himself. (Fe can not, therefore, be under an obligation to will the perfect and universal satisfaction or blessedness of God, except on condition that He is perfectly virtuous. ")We should not be under an obligation to will his actual well being and satisfaction were his character otherwise than what it is. But the demands of his being being met, He being perfectly virtuous and meeting every demand of his Intelligence, we are under an obligation, in view of this consideration, to will his actual,perfect, universal, eternal, infinite blessedness or satisfaction. It is not true, then, as the objection affirms, that our obligation would be the same to God that it now is, whether his character were what it now is or not
(2.) As a possible good we should be under obligation to will his highest well being with all the conditions and means thereof. But we should not be under obligation to will his highest well being as an actual good without the necessary conditions and means thereof; and therefore if He refused to fulfill the necessary conditions we should not be under obligation to will his actual satisfaction or blessedness. In one sense we should be under obligation to love God let his character be what it might, just as we are under obligation to love wicked men. We should be under obligation to regard and will his and their highest well being as a possible good of infinite value in itself. But as an actually existing good, we should not be under an obligation to will it, but upon the condition that they deserve it, by fulfilling on their part the indispensable conditions.
5. It is objected, "That if the good of being be the sole Foundation of Moral Obligation, right and wrong would be contingent and not fixed, that is, the same intention or choice would possess a character according as it is contemplated relatively to the good of Being."
To this I reply,—That right and wrong are not contingent but fixed. Towillthehighestgoodofbeingisrightinitsclf, andnothing else is in itself right. To will any thing else than this as an ultimate end is wrong in itself, and therefore unalterably and invariably wrong. An intention is right or wrong as it terminates on the good of being or on some thing else as an ultimate end. This must be, and every thing else in the only sense in which it has moral character at all, is right or wrong as it proceeds from the choice of the highest well-being of God and the Universe as an ultimate end or from some other choice.
6. It is objected, "That if this be the sole Foundation of Moral Obligation, it follows that if all the good now in existence were connected with sin and all the misery connected with holiness, we should be just as well satisfied as we now are."
To this I answer, We arc satisfied only when the demands of our being are met. One demand of our being is, that all moral agents should be holy, and that they should be actually and perfectly happy only on the condition that they are holy. Now if our constitution only demanded their happiness irrespective of their holiness, then were they perfectly happy we should be satisfied whether they were holy or not. But our constitution being what it is, we should not be and can not be satisfied, with their happiness unless they are holy: for their holiness, as a condition of their actual blessedness, is an unalterable demand of our Intelligence. Now, therefore, although we are to regard their universal satisfaction as the ultimate good, yet we also know, and can not but affirm that their universal satisfaction or blessedness is naturally impossible, and that it ought to be, except on condition of their perfect holiness. Therefore the supposition is impossible and inadmissible.
Let it be understood that the highest well being of God
and of the Universe of Moral Agents is conditioned on the fact that every demand of every power of their being is satisfied. Therefore as the Intelligence and Conscience of every Moral Agent demands that actual happiness should be connected with holiness and actual misery should be connected with sin, we should not be satisfied with happiness in Moral Agents unless it were connected with holiness, nor with misery unless it were connected with sin—such being, the laws of our being that nothing else than this can meet the demands of our being in respect to Moral Agents.
7. It is said, "If any moral act can be conceived of, which has not the element of willing the highest good of being in it, this theory is false!" To this I reply, That strictly speaking it is agreed on all hands by the parties in this discussion, that no act is a moral act, but an ultimate act, choice, or intention of the Will. Now if any ultimate choice can be conceived of that does not terminate on the good of universal being which after all is morally right or virtuous, then this theory is false. But no such moral act or ultimate choice can be found. But an example is brought forward of moral obligation to do that which does not imply the choice of the highest good of being. It is said we are under obligation to esteem and treat as worthy of confidence those whose known veracity entitles them to our confidence. This, let it be observed, is an example or an instance in which it is said that we are under obligation where no reference is had to the good of being. Now, let it be remembered, that the theory to overthrow which this example is brought forward is that the satisfaction of the mind arising from the fact that every demand of his being is met, is that in which the ultimate good of being consists. Now it is a demand of the Intelligence of every moral being that we should esteem and treat as worthy of confidence those whose character entitles them to this confidence. Thus, then, to esteem and treat all that are truthful, is one of the demands of the universal Intelligence of Moral Agents. Unless this demand be met by a being he cannot be satisfied with himself. His Intelligence and Conscience are not satisfied.
We are under obligation, therefore, to treat every individual of known veracity as worthy of confidence; for this is an unalterable condition of our being satisfied, or of the demands of our nature being met. We are under obligation also to will that every Moral Agent in the Universe should meet this demand of his being as an unalterable condition of his highest wellbeing. So we see that this example is not one in which no reference is had to the highest good of being. For in this very example the highest good of being is the ultimate end, and treating the individual according to his nature, relations, and character for veracity, is one of the indispensable conditions and means of realizing this end. It is not only a demand of my being that I should treat one who is worthy of confidence as worthy, but it also is a demand of His being and Intelligence that I should thus treat him. If I would aim, therefore, at his highest good, or at meeting the demands of his being for the sake of promoting his entire and perfect satisfaction, I must treat him as worthy of confidence. So that his highest good and my highest good and the highest good of all beings demand that I should thus treat him. For the Intelligence of God and of every intelligent being in the universe demands that I should treat a being with confidence who is worthy of confidence. So that I do not really meet the demands of my own being, nor of the Intelligence of any being unless I do thus treat him. Therefore, thus esteeming and treating him is indispensable to the highest good of being. And if I am under an obligation to choose the highest satisfaction or good of Universal Being as an end, I must be under an obligation to treat every being so as to meet the demands of my own Intelligence and the Intelligence of the Universe. This I cannot do without esteeming the holy as holy, the truthful as truthful, &c.
8. It is objected again that we are all conscious of often affirming ourselves to be under moral obligation when no reference is had by us to the good of being as an end. Example—To love God because he is good. This affirmation, it is said, has no reference to the good of God. To this I answer,
Such an affirmation, if it be made, is most nonsensical. What is it to love God? Why, as is agreed, it is not to exercise a mere emotion of complacency in Him. It is to will something to Him. But what ought I to will to Him in view of his goodness? Why surely I ought to will good to Him. But why ought I to will good rather than evil to God? Surely, first and fundamentally, because good is good or valuable to Him, and secondarily, because and upon condition that He is holy or good. The fact is, there is in all such cases a mistake in supposing that we affirm moral obligation when no reference is had to the good of being as an ultimate end. It is a first truth of reason that the good of being is valuable in itself, and that it ought to be chosen for its own sake. This truth is every where and at all times and by all moral agents assumed and known. While this is a first truth that the good of being is valuable and ought to be willed as a possible good for its own sake entirely irrespective of moral character, yet it is also a first truth of reason that the high' est good or the actual blessedness of moral agents is necessarily conditionated upon their holiness, and that this ought to be so. Therefore, every moral agent while he assumes his obligation to will the well being of all moral agents as a possible good whether they are holy or unholy, at the same time affirms, and assumes, his obligation to will the actual blessedness of God and of every moral agent only upon the condition that He is holy. Thus necessarily stand the assumptions of every mind. Now when we perceive that a being is holy, we thereupon affirm our obligation to will his actual blessedness. And being assured that God is holy we irresistibly affirm that we are under infinite obligation to love Him. And being consciously affected at the time by a consideration of his goodness, and overlooking the assumption at the bottom of our minds, that his good is of infinite value, we loosely suppose ourselves to have no reference to his good or to the intrinsic value of his good. Now in every case of this kind we do and must have respect to his good, or we really make no intelligent affirmation at all in respect to moral obligation. If I do not affirm myself under obligation to will good to God, I in fact make no intelligent and just affirmation about it. This in fact is and must be my duty; and nothing else, more or less, is. My whole duty to God and my neighbor is to love the one with all my heart, and the other as myself. This God himself has expressly asserted, and whoever makes the assertion that He requires more of me than this, let him look to it. There is not, there can not be moral obligation when no reference is had to the good of God and of being, for to love God and our neighbor is not and can not be any thing else than to will their highest good. The fact is that those who make such objections as this to the philosophy and theology of this lecture, either do not mean what they say, or they must assume the existence of some other law and of some other rule of duty than the law of love revealed in the Bible. What! can it be possible that they have in mind the fact that the whole law is fulfiled in one word love or good will to God and our neighbor, when they make such assertions? This law allows of no obligation but to love God and our neighbor, that is to will their e
good, for surely this love can be nothing else. But here comes an objector and says that we often affirm moral obligation when no reference is had to the good of God and our neighbor. To such an one I only reply, if this affirmation of obligation is ever really made by any one, "he knows not what he says nor whereof he affirms."
9. But it is said that a moral agent may sometimes be under obligation to will evil instead of good to others. I answer:—
It can never be the duty of a moral agent to will evil to any being for its own sake or as an ultimate end. The chars acterand governmental relations of a beingmay be such that it may be duty to will the execution of law upon him to meet a demand of the public conscience and intelligence and thus promote the public good. But in this case good is the end willed and misery only a means. So it may be the duty of a moral agent to will the temporary misery of even a holy being to promote the public interests. Such was the case with the sufferings of Christ. The Father willed his temporary misery to promote the public good. But in all cases when it is duty to will misery, it is only as a means or condition of good to the public or to the individual and not as an ultimate end.
There are several other objections to this theory. But as each of the other theories stand opposed to this and are of course so many objections to it, I will consider them in their proper place, and proceed to remove objections to the truth as I go forward.