Law, in a sense of the term both sufficiently popular and scientific for my purpose, is a rule of action. In its generic signification, it is applicable to every kind of action, whether of matter or of mind whether intelligent or unintelligent whether free or necessary action.
Physical law is a term that represents the order of sequence, in all the changes that occur under the law of necessity, whether in matter or mind. I mean all changes whether of state or action, that do not consist in the states or actions of free will. Physical law is the law of the material universe. It is also the law of mind, so far as its states and changes are involuntary. All mental states or actions, which are not free and sovereign actions of will, must occur under, and be subject to, physical law. They cannot possibly be accounted for, except as they are ascribed to the law of necessity or force.
Moral law is a rule of moral action with sanctions. It is that rule to which moral agents ought to conform all their voluntary actions, and is enforced by sanctions equal to the value of the precept. It is the rule for the government of free and intelligent action, as opposed to necessary and unintelligent action. It is the law of liberty, as opposed to the law of necessity of motive and free choice, as opposed to force of every kind. Moral law is primarily a rule for the direction of the action of free will, and strictly of free will only. But secondarily, and less strictly, it is the rule for the regulation of all those actions and states of mind and body, that follow the free actions of will by a law of necessity. Thus, moral law controls involuntary mental states and outward action only by securing conformity of the actions of free will to its precept.
The essential attributes of moral law are,
1. Subjectivity. It is, and must be, an idea of reason developed in the mind of the subject. It is an idea, or conception, of that state of will, or course of action, which is obligatory upon a moral agent. No one can be a moral agent, or the subject of moral law, unless he has this idea developed; for this idea is identical with the law. It is the law developed or revealed within himself; and thus he becomes "a law to himself," his own reason affirming his obligation to conform to this idea, or law.
2. Objectivity. Moral law may be regarded as a rule of duty, prescribed by the supreme Lawgiver, and external to self. When thus contemplated, it is objective.
3. Liberty, as opposed to necessity. The precept must lie developed in the reason, as a rule of duty a law of moral obligation a rule of choice, or of ultimate intention, declaring that which a moral agent ought to choose, will, intend. But it does not, must not, cannot possess the attribute of necessity in its relations to the actions of free will. It must not, cannot, possess an element or attribute of force, in any such sense as to render conformity of will to its precept unavoidable. This would confound it with physical law.
4. Fitness. It must be the law of nature, that is, its precepts must prescribe and require just those actions of the will which are suitable to the nature and relations of moral beings, and nothing more nor less; that is, the intrinsic value of the well-being of God and of the universe being given as the ground, and the nature and relations of moral beings as the condition of the obligation, the reason hereupon necessarily affirms the intrinsic propriety and fitness of choosing this good, and of consecrating the whole being to its promotion. This is what is intended by the law of nature. It is the law or rule of action imposed on us by God, in and by the nature which He has given us.
5. Universality. The conditions and circumstances being the same, it requires, and must require, of all moral agents, the same things, in whatever world they may be found.
6. Impartiality. Moral law is no respecter of persons, knows no privileged classes. It demands one thing of all, without regard to anything, except the fact that they are moral agents. By this it is not intended that the same course of outward conduct is required of all; but the same state of heart in all that all shall have one ultimate intention that all shall consecrate themselves to one end that all shall entirely conform, in heart and life, to their nature and relations.
7. Practicability. That which the precept demands must be possible to the subject. That which demands a natural impossibility is not, and cannot be, moral law. The true definition of law excludes the supposition that it can, under any circumstances, demand an absolute impossibility. Such a demand could not be in accordance with the nature and relations of moral agents, and therefore practicability must always be an attribute of moral law. To talk of inability to obey moral law is to talk nonsense.
8. Independence. It is an eternal and necessary idea of the divine reason. It is the eternal, self existent rule of the divine conduct, the law which the intelligence of God prescribes to Himself. Moral law, as we shall see hereafter more fully, does not, and cannot originate in the will of God. It eternally existed in the divine reason. It is the idea of that state of will which is obligatory upon God, upon condition of His natural attributes, or, in other words, upon condition of His nature. As a law, it is entirely independent of His will just as His own existence is.
It is obligatory also upon every moral agent, entirely independent of the will of God. Their nature and relations being given, and their intelligence being developed, moral law must be obligatory upon them, and it lies not in the option of any being to make it otherwise. Their nature and relations being given, to pursue a course of conduct suited to their nature and relations, is necessarily and self evidently obligatory, independent of the will of any being.
9. Immutability. Moral law can never change, or be changed. It always requires of every moral agent a state of heart, and course of conduct, precisely suited to his nature and relations. Whatever his nature is, his capacity and relations are, entire conformity to just that nature, those capacities and relations, so far as he is able to understand them, is required at every moment, and nothing more nor less. If capacity is enlarged, the subject is not thereby rendered capable of works of supererogation of doing more than the law demands; for the law still, as always, requires the full consecration of his whole being to the public interests. If by any means whatever, his ability is abridged, moral law, always and necessarily consistent with itself, still requires that what is left nothing more or less shall be consecrated to the same end as before. Whatever demands more or less entire, universal, and constant conformity of heart and life, to the nature, capacity and relations of moral agents, be they what they may, is not, and cannot be moral law. If therefore, the capacity is by any means abridged, the subject does not thereby become incapable of rendering full obedience; for the law still demands and urges, that the heart and life shall be fully conformed to the present, existing nature, capacity, and relations. Anything that requires more or less than this, cannot be moral law. Moral law invariably holds one language. It never changes its requirement. "Thou shalt love" (Deut. 6:5), or be perfectly benevolent, is its uniform and its only demand. This demand it never varies, and never can vary. It is as immutable as God is, and for the same reason. To talk of letting down, or altering moral law, is to talk absurdly. The thing is naturally impossible. No being has the right or the power to do so. The supposition overlooks the very nature of moral law. Moral law is not a statute, an enactment, that has its origin or its foundation in the will of any being. It is the law of nature, the law which the nature or constitution of every moral agent imposes on himself and which God imposes upon us because it is entirely suited to our nature and relations, and is therefore naturally obligatory upon us. It is the unalterable demand of the reason, that the whole being, whatever there is of it at any time, shall be entirely consecrated to the highest good of universal being, and for this reason God requires this of us, with all the weight of His authority.
10. Unity. Moral law proposes but one ultimate end of pursuit, to God, and to all moral agents. All its requisitions, in their spirit, are summed up and expressed in one word, love or benevolence. This I only announce here. It will more fully appear hereafter. Moral law is a pure and simple idea of the reason. It is the idea of perfect, universal, and constant consecration of the whole being to the highest good of being. Just this is, and nothing more nor less can be, moral law; for just this, and nothing more nor less, is a state of heart and a course of life exactly suited to the nature and relations of moral agents, which is the only true definition of moral law.
11. Expediency. That which is upon the whole most wise is expedient. That which is upon the whole expedient is demanded by moral law. True expediency and the spirit of moral law are always identical. Expediency may be inconsistent with the letter, but never with the spirit of moral law. Law in the form of commandment is a revelation or declaration of that course which is expedient. It is expediency revealed, as in the case of the decalogue, and the same is true of every precept of the Bible, it reveals to us what is expedient. A revealed law or commandment is never to be set aside by our views of expediency. We may know with certainty that what is required is expedient. The command is the expressed judgment of God in the case, and reveals with unerring certainty the true path of expediency.
When Paul says, "All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient" (1 Cor. 6:12), we must not understand him as meaning that all things in the absolute sense were lawful to him, or that anything that was not expedient was lawful to him. But he doubtless intended, that many things were inexpedient that are not expressly prohibited by the letter of the law, that the spirit of the law prohibited many things not expressly forbidden by the letter. It should never be forgotten that which is plainly demanded by the highest good of the universe is law.
It is expedient. It is wise. The true spirit of the moral law does and must demand it. So, on the other hand, whatever is plainly inconsistent with the highest good of the universe is illegal, unwise, inexpedient, and must be prohibited by the spirit of moral law. But let the thought be repeated, that the Bible precepts always reveal that which is truly expedient, and in no case are we at liberty to set aside the spirit of any commandment upon the supposition that expediency requires it. Some have denounced the doctrine of expediency altogether, as at all times inconsistent with the law of right. These philosophers proceed upon the assumption that the law of right and the law of benevolence are not identical but inconsistent with each other. This is a common but fundamental mistake, which leads me to remark that: Law proposes the highest good of universal being as its end, and requires all moral agents to consecrate themselves to the promotion of this end. Consequently, expediency must be one of its attributes. That which is upon the whole in the highest degree useful to the universe must be demanded by moral law. Moral law must, from its own nature, require just that course of willing and acting that is upon the whole in the highest degree useful, and therefore expedient.
It has been strangely and absurdly maintained that right would be obligatory if it necessarily tended to and resulted in universal and perfect misery. Than which a more nonsensical affirmation was never made. The affirmation assumes that the law of right and of good will are not only distinct, but may be antagonistic. It also assumes that that can be law that is not suited to the nature and relations of moral agents. Certainly it will not be pretended that course of willing and acting that necessarily tends to, and results in, universal misery, can be consistent with the nature and relations of moral agents. Nothing is or can be suited to their nature and relations, that is not upon the whole promotive of their highest well-being. Expediency and right are always and necessarily at one. They can never be inconsistent. That which is upon the whole most expedient is right, and that which is right is upon the whole expedient.
12. Exclusiveness. Moral law is the only possible rule of moral obligation. A distinction is usually made between moral, ceremonial, civil and positive laws. This distinction is in some respects convenient, but is liable to mislead, and to create an impression that something can be obligatory, in other words can be law, that has not the attributes of moral law. Nothing can be law, in any proper sense of the term, that is not and would not be universally obligatory upon moral agents under the same circumstances. It is law because, and only because, under all the circumstances of the case, the course prescribed is fit, proper, suitable, to their natures, relations, and circumstances. There can be no other rule of action for moral agents but moral law, or the law of benevolence. Every other rule is absolutely excluded by the very nature of moral law. Surely there can be no law that is or can be obligatory upon moral agents but one suited to, and founded in their nature, relations, and circumstances.
This is and must be the law of love or benevolence. This is the law of right, and nothing else is or can be. Every thing else that claims to be law, and to impose obligation upon moral agents, must be an imposition and "a thing of nought" (Isaiah 29:21).
The primary idea of government, is that of direction, guidance, control by, or in accordance with, rule or law.
All government is, and must be, either moral or physical; that is, all guidance and control must be exercised in accordance with either moral or physical law; for there can be no laws that are neither moral nor physical.
Physical government is control, exercised by a law of necessity or force, as distinguished from the law of free will, or liberty. It is the control of substance, as opposed to free will. The only government of which substance, as distinguished from free will, is capable, is and must be physical. This is true, whether the substance is material or immaterial, whether matter or mind. States and changes, whether of matter or mind, that are not actions of free will, must be subject to the law of necessity. They must therefore belong to the department of physical government. Physical government, then, is the administration of physical law, or the law of force.
Moral government consists in the declaration and administration of moral law. It is the government of free will by motives as distinguished from the government of substance by force. Physical government presides over and controls physical states and changes of substance or constitution, and all involuntary states and changes. Moral government presides over and controls, or seeks to control the actions of free will: it presides over intelligent and voluntary states and changes of mind. It is a government of motive, as opposed to a government of force control exercised, or sought to be exercised, in accordance with the law of liberty, as opposed to the law of necessity.
It is the administration of moral as opposed to physical law.
Moral government includes the dispensation of rewards
and punishments; and is administered by means as complicated and vast as
the whole of the works, and providence, and ways, and grace of God.
There must be a necessity for moral government, or the administration of it is tyranny. Moral government is indispensable to the highest well-being of the universe of moral agents. The universe is dependent upon this as a means of securing the highest good. This dependence is a good and sufficient reason for the existence of moral government.
Let it be understood, then, that moral government is a necessity of moral beings, and therefore right.
Our nature and circumstances demand that we should be under a moral government; because no community can perfectly harmonize in all their views and feelings, without perfect knowledge, or to say the least, the same degree of knowledge on all subjects on which they are called to act. But no community ever existed, or will exist, in which all possess exactly the same amount of knowledge, and where the members are, therefore, entirely agreed in all their thoughts, views, and opinions. But if they are not agreed in opinion, or have not exactly the same amount of knowledge, they will not, in every thing, harmonize, as it respects their courses of conduct. There must, therefore, be in every community, some standard or rule of duty, to which all the subjects of the community are to conform themselves.
There must be some head or controlling mind, whose will
shall be law, and whose decision shall be regarded as infallible, by all
the subjects of the government. However diverse their intellectual attainments
are, in this they must all agree, that the will of the lawgiver is right,
and universally the rule of duty. This will must be authoritative, and
not merely advisory. There must of necessity be a penalty attached to,
and incurred by, every act of disobedience to this will. If disobedience
be persisted in, exclusion from the privileges of the government is the
lowest penalty that can consistently be inflicted. The good, then, of the
universe imperiously requires that there should be a moral governor.
That God is a moral governor, we infer:
1. From our own nature. From the very laws of our being, we naturally affirm our responsibility to Him for our conduct. As God is our creator, we are naturally responsible to Him for the right exercise of our powers. And as our good and His glory depend upon our conformity to the same rule to which He conforms His whole being, He is under a moral obligation to require us to be holy, as He is holy.
2. His natural attributes qualify Him to sustain the relation of a moral governor to the universe.
3. His moral character also qualifies Him to sustain this relation.
4. His relation to the universe as creator and preserver, when considered in connection with the necessity of government, and with His nature and attributes, confers on Him the right of universal government.
5. His relation to the universe, and our relations to Him and to each other, render it obligatory upon Him to establish and administer a moral government over the universe. It would be wrong for Him to create a universe of moral beings, and then refuse or neglect to administer over them a moral government, since government is a necessity of their nature and relations.
6. His happiness must demand it, as He could not be happy unless He acted in accordance with His conscience.
7. If God is not a moral governor He is not wise. Wisdom consists in the choice of the best ends, and in the use of the most appropriate means to accomplish those ends. If God is not a moral governor, it is inconceivable that He should have had any important end in view in the creation of moral beings, or that He should have chosen the most desirable end.
8. The conduct or providence of God plainly indicates a design to exert a moral influence over moral agents.
9. His providence plainly indicates that the universe of mind is governed by moral laws, or by laws suited to the nature of moral agents.
10. If God is not a moral governor, the whole universe, so far as we have the means of knowing it, is calculated to mislead mankind in respect to this fundamental truth. All nations have believed that God is a moral governor.
11. We must disapprove the character of God, if we ever come to a knowledge of the fact that He created moral agents, and then exercised over them no moral government.
12. The Bible, which has been proved to be a revelation from God, contains a most simple and yet comprehensive system of moral government.
13. If we are deceived in respect to our being subjects
of moral government, we are sure of nothing.
2. Also that the right to govern implies the duty, or obligation to govern. There can be no right, in this case, without corresponding obligation; for the right to govern is founded in the necessity of government, and the necessity of government imposes obligation to govern.
3. The right to govern, implies obligation, on the part of the subject, to obey. It cannot be the right, or duty, of the governor to govern, unless it is the duty of the subject to obey. The governor and subjects are alike dependent upon government, as the indispensable means of promoting the highest good. The governor and the subject must, therefore, be under reciprocal obligation, the one to govern, and the other to be governed, or to obey. The one must seek to govern, the other must submit to be governed.
4. The right to govern, implies the right and duty to dispense just and necessary rewards and punishments distribute rewards proportioned to merit, and penalties proportioned to demerit, whenever the public interest demands their execution.
5. It implies obligation, on the part of the subject, cheerfully to acquiesce in any measure that may be necessary to secure the end of government, and in case of disobedience, to submit to merited punishment, and also, if necessary, to aid in the infliction of the penalty of law.
6. It implies obligation, on the part both of the ruler and the ruled, to be always ready, and when occasion arises, actually to make any personal and private sacrifice demanded by the higher public good to cheerfully meet any emergency, and exercise any degree of self-denial, that can, and will, result in a good of greater value to the public than that sacrificed by the individual, or by any number of individuals, it always being understood, that present voluntary sacrifices shall have an ultimate reward.
7. It implies the right and duty to employ any degree of force, which is indispensable to the maintenance of order, the execution of wholesome laws, the suppression of insurrections, the punishment of rebels and disorganizers, and sustaining the supremacy of moral law.
It is impossible that the right to govern should not imply
this, and to deny this right, is to deny the right to govern. Should an
emergency occur, in which a ruler had no right to use the indispensable
means of securing order, and the supremacy of law, the moment this emergency
occurred, His right to govern would, and must, cease: for it is impossible
that it should be His right to govern, unless it be at the same time, and
for the same reason, His duty to govern; and it is absurd to say, that
it is His right and duty to govern, and yet at the same time, that He has
not a right to use the indispensable means of government. If it be asked,
whether an emergency like the one under consideration is possible, and
if so what might justly be regarded as such an emergency, I answer, that
should circumstances occur under which the sacrifice necessary to sustain,
would overbalance the good to be derived from the prevalence of government,
this would create the emergency under consideration, in which the right
to govern would cease.
1. The right to govern the universe cannot be founded in the fact, that God sustains to it the relation of Creator. This is by itself no reason why He should govern it, unless it needs to be governed unless some good will result from government. Unless there is some necessity for government, the fact that God created the universe can give Him no right to govern it.
2. The fact that God is owner and sole proprietor of the universe is no reason why He should govern it. Unless either His own good or the good of the universe, or of both together, demand government, the relation of owner cannot confer the right to govern. Neither God, nor any other being, can own moral beings, in such a sense as to have a right to govern them, when government is wholly unnecessary, and can result in no good whatever to God, or to His creatures.
Government, in such a case, would be perfectly arbitrary and unreasonable, and consequently an unjust, tyrannical and wicked act.
God has no such right. No such right can, by possibility, in any case exist.
3. The right to govern cannot be founded in the fact, that God possesses all the attributes, natural and moral, that are requisite to the administration of moral government. This fact is no doubt a condition of the right; for without these qualifications He could have no right, however necessary government might be. But the possession of these attributes cannot confer the right independently of the necessity of government: for however well qualified He may be to govern, still, unless government is necessary to securing His own glory and the highest well-being of the universe, He has no right to govern it.
Possessing the requisite qualifications is the condition, and the necessity of government is the foundation of the right to govern. More strictly, the right is founded in the intrinsic value of the interests to be secured by government, and conditioned upon the fact, that government is the necessary means of securing the end.
4. Nor is the right to govern conferred by the value of the interests to be secured, nor by the circumstance of the necessity of government merely, without respect to the condition just above mentioned. Did not God's natural and moral attributes qualify Him to sustain that relation better than any one else, the right could not be conferred on Him by any other fact or relation.
5. The right to govern is not, and cannot be, an abstract
right based on no reason whatever. The idea of this right is not an ultimate
idea in such a sense, that our intelligence affirms the right without assigning
any reason on which it is founded. The human intelligence cannot say that
God has a right to govern, because He has such a right; and that this is
reason enough, and all the reason that can be given. Our reason does not
affirm that government is right because it is right; and that this is a
first truth, and an ultimate idea. If this were so, then God's arbitrary
will would be law, and no bounds could possibly be assigned to the right
to govern. If God's right to govern be a first truth, an ultimate truth,
fact, and idea, founded in no assignable reason, then He has the right
to legislate as little, and as much, and as arbitrarily, as unnecessarily,
as absurdly, and injuriously as possible, and no injustice is, or can be
done; for He has, by the supposition, a right to govern, founded in no
reason, and of course without any limit. Assign any other reason, as the
foundation of the right to govern, than the value of the interests to be
secured and the necessity of government, and you may search in vain for
any limit to the right. But the moment the foundation and the condition
of the right are discovered, we see instantly, that the right must be coextensive
with the reason upon which it is founded, or in other words, must be limited
by, and only by the fact, that thus far, and no farther, government is
necessary to the highest good of the universe. No legislation can be valid
in heaven or earth no enactments can impose obligation, except upon the
condition, that such legislation is demanded by the highest good of the
governor and the governed. Unnecessary legislation is invalid legislation.
Unnecessary government is tyranny. It can, in no case be founded in right.
It should, however, be observed, that it is often, and in the government
of God universally true, that the sovereign, and not the subject, is to
be the judge of what is necessary legislation and government. Under no
government, therefore, are laws to be despised or rejected because we are
unable to see at once their necessity, and hence their wisdom. Unless they
are palpably unnecessary, and therefore unwise and unjust, they are to
be respected and obeyed as a less evil than contempt and disobedience,
though at present we are unable to see their wisdom. Under the government
of God there can never be any doubt nor of course any ground for distrust
and hesitancy as it respects the duty of obedience.
The idea of obligation, or of oughtness, is an idea of the pure reason. It is a simple,
rational conception, and, strictly speaking, does not admit of a definition, since there are no terms more simple by which it may be defined. Obligation is a term by which we express a conception or idea which all men have, as is manifest from the universal language of men.
All men have the ideas of right and wrong, and have words
by which these ideas are expressed, and, perhaps, no idea among men more
frequently reveals itself in words than that of oughtness or obligation.
The term cannot be defined, for the simple reason that it is too well and
too universally understood to need or even to admit of being expressed
in any language more simple and definite than the word obligation itself.
There is a distinction of fundamental importance between the condition and the ground of obligation. The ground of obligation is the consideration which creates or imposes obligation, the fundamental reason of the obligation. Of this I shall inquire in its proper place. At present I am to define the conditions of obligation. But I must in this place observe that there are various forms of obligation. For example, obligation to choose an ultimate end of life as the highest good of the universe; obligation to choose the necessary conditions of this end, as holiness, for example; and obligation to put forth executive efforts to secure this end. The conditions of obligation vary with the form of obligation, as we shall fully perceive in the course of our investigations.
A condition of obligation in any particular form is a
sine qua non of obligation in that
particular form. It is that, without which, obligation in that form could not exist, and yet is not the fundamental reason of the obligation. For example, the possession of the powers of moral agency is a condition of the obligation to choose the highest good of being in general, as an ultimate end, or for its own sake. But the intrinsic value of this goal is the ground of the obligation. This obligation could not exist without the possession of these powers, but the possession of these powers cannot of itself create the obligation to choose the good in preference to the ill of being. The intrinsic difference between the good and the ill of being is the ground of the obligation to will the one rather than the other. I will first define the conditions upon which all obligation depends, and without which obligation in no form can exist, and afterward proceed to point out the conditions of distinct forms of obligation.
1. Moral agency is universally a condition of moral obligation. The attributes of moral agency are intellect, sensibility, and free will.
(1) Intellect includes, among other functions which I need not name, reason, conscience, and self-consciousness. As has been said on a former occasion, reason is the intuitive faculty or function of the intellect. It gives by direct intuition the following among other truths: the absolute for example, right and wrong; the necessary space exists; the infinite space is infinite; the perfect God is perfect God's law is perfect, etc. In short, it is the faculty that intuits moral relations and affirms moral obligation, to act in conformity with perceived moral relations. It is the faculty that postulates all the a priori truths of science whether mathematical, philosophical, theological, or logical.
Conscience is the faculty or function of the intellect that recognizes the conformity or disconformity of the heart and life to the moral law as it lies revealed in the reason, and also awards praise to conformity, and blame to disconformity to that law. It also affirms that conformity to the moral law deserves reward, and that disconformity deserves punishment. It also possesses a propelling or impulsive power, by which it urges the conformity, and denounces the nonconformity of will to moral law. It seems, in a certain sense, to possess the power of retribution.
Consciousness is the faculty or function of self-knowledge. It is the faculty that recognizes our own existence, mental actions, and states, together with the attributes of liberty or necessity, belonging to those actions or states.
"Consciousness is the mind in the act of knowing itself." By consciousness I know that I am that I affirm that space is, that I also affirm that the whole is equal to all its parts that every event must have a cause, and many such like truths. I am conscious not only of these affirmations, but also that necessity is the law of these affirmations, that I cannot affirm otherwise than I do, in respect to this class of truths. I am also conscious of choosing to sit at my desk and write, and I am just as conscious that liberty is the law of this choice.
That is, I am conscious of necessarily regarding myself
as entirely free in this choice, and affirming my own ability to have chosen
not to set at my desk, and of being now able to choose not to sit and write.
I am just as conscious of affirming the liberty or necessity of my mental
states as I am of the states themselves. Consciousness gives us our existence
and attributes, our mental acts and states, and all the attributes and
phenomena of our being, of which we have any knowledge. In short, all our
knowledge is given to us by consciousness. The intellect is a receptivity
as distinguished from a voluntary power. All the acts and states of the
intellect are under the law of necessity, or physical law. The will can
attention of the intellect. Its thoughts, perceptions, affirmations, and all its phenomena are involuntary, and under a law of necessity. Of this we are conscious. Another faculty indispensable to moral agency is:
(2) Sensibility. This is the faculty or susceptibility of feeling. All sensation, desire, emotion, passion, pain, pleasure, and in short, every kind and degree of feeling, as the term feeling is commonly used, is a phenomenon of this faculty. This faculty supplies the chronological condition of the idea of the valuable, and hence of right and wrong, and of moral obligation. The experience of pleasure or happiness develops the idea of the valuable, just as the perception of body develops the idea of space. But for this faculty the mind could have no idea of the valuable, and hence of moral obligation to will the valuable, nor of right and wrong, nor of praise worthiness and blame worthiness.
Self love is a phenomenon of this department of the mind. It consists in a constitutional desire of happiness, and implies a corresponding dread of misery. It is doubtless through, or by, this constitutional tendency that the rational idea of the intrinsic value of happiness or enjoyment is at first developed. Animals, doubtless, have enjoyment, but we have no evidence that they possess the faculty of reason in the sense in which I have defined the term.
Consequently they have not, as we suppose, the rational conception of the intrinsic worth or value of enjoyment. They seek enjoyment from a mere impulse of their animal nature, without, as we suppose, so much as a conception of moral law, obligation, right or wrong.
But we know that moral agents have these ideas. Self love is constitutional. Its gratification is the chronological condition of the development of the reason's idea of the intrinsically valuable to being.
This idea develops that of moral law, or in other words, the affirmation that this intrinsic good ought to be universally chosen and sought for its own sake.
The sensibility, like the intellect, is a receptivity
or purely a passive, distinguished from a voluntary faculty. All its phenomena
are under the law of necessity. I am conscious that I cannot, by any direct
effort, feel when and as I will. This faculty is so correlated to the intellect
that when the intellect is intensely occupied with certain considerations,
the sensibility is affected in a certain manner, and certain feelings exist
in the sensibility by a law of necessity. I am conscious that when certain
conditions are fulfilled, I necessarily have certain feelings, and than
when these conditions are not fulfilled, I cannot be the subject of those
feeling. I know by consciousness that my feelings and all the states and
phenomena of the sensibility are only indirectly under the control of my
will. By willing I can direct my intellect to the consideration of certain
subjects, and in this way alone affect my sensibility, and produce a given
state of feelings. So on the other hand, if certain feelings exist in the
sensibility which I wish to suppress, I know that I cannot annihilate them
by directly willing them out of existence, but by diverting my attention
from the cause
of them, they cease to exist of course and of necessity. Thus, feeling is only indirectly under the control of the will.
(3) Moral agency implies the possession of free will.
By free will is intended the power of choosing, or refusing to choose,
in every instance, in compliance with moral obligation. Free will implies
the power of originating and deciding our own choices, and of exercising
our own sovereignty, in every instance of choice upon moral questions of
deciding or choosing in conformity with duty or otherwise in all cases
of moral obligation. That man cannot be under a moral obligation to perform
an absolute impossibility, is a first truth of reason. But man's causality,
his whole power of causality to perform or do anything, lies in his will.
If he cannot will, he can do nothing. His whole liberty or freedom must
consist in his power to will. His outward actions and his mental states
are connected with the actions of his will by a law of necessity. If I
will to move my muscles, they must move, unless there
be a paralysis of the nerves of voluntary motion, or unless some resistance be opposed that overcomes the power of my volition. The sequences of choice or volition are always under the law of necessity, and unless the will is free, man has no freedom; and if he has no freedom he is not a moral agent, that is, he is incapable of moral action and also of moral character. Free will then, in the above defined sense, must be a condition of moral agency, and of course, of moral obligation.
As consciousness gives the rational affirmation that necessity
is an attribute of the
affirmation of the reason, and of the states of sensibility, so it just as unequivocally gives the reason's affirmation that liberty is an attribute of the actions of the will. I am as conscious of the affirmation that I could will differently from what I do in every instance of moral obligation, as I am of the affirmation that I cannot affirm, in regard to truths of intuition, otherwise than I do. I am as conscious of affirming that I am free in willing, as I am of affirming that I am not free or voluntary in my feelings and intuitions.
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