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those latent fallacies in our habitual maxims and recognised principles of thought and action, which militate against Christianity, and introduce into our minds an apparently fatal and irremediable discord between the conclusions of science and the doctrines of revelation. We may hail a philosophy, which may be competent to do all this, as something even greater than the Novum Organon, or the whole scheme of that Instauratio Magnu, which Bacon sketched in outline, but never completed. From it we may hope for an alleviation of present political disorder, and the removal of the present intense social distress. We may expect it to strengthen the empire of religion while extending the bounds of knowledge; and to elevate and ennoble human science, while ministering to the more efficient satisfaction of the real wants, not of the caprices or passions of men. From it, too, we may anticipate the restoration of the true dignity of man, which will be no longer left to be the accidents of wealth, of popular clamour, or of seductive talents. It will consecrate the heart to the service of God, to the full discharge of every duty, to the sympathizing benefaction of humanity. It will subject the intellect, however brilliant, to the prescriptions of a genial morality, and employ it as the minister, but no longer as the tyrant, of right affections and lofty sentiments. It will discrown that intellectual despotism which has paralyzed the more generous springs of human action, has withered the green verdure of simplicity and innocence, and has dried up the refreshing fountains at which the weary traveller through the arid wilderness of worldly life was of old wont to quench his thirst. Such is the philosophy for which we yearn, and in which alone we will consent to repose our hopes. Such a philosophy, we believe, will, before many more long years, be vouchsafed to us. We wait patiently for its advent: and recognising with grateful admiration what is true and valuable in Positivism, we shall not suffer ourselves to be seduced by it, or any other scheme narrower than the one which we have indicated. We want something more than Positivism, something more accordant with the more mysterious and lofty aspirations of our half-angelic, half-human nature. That purely humanitarian philosophy, starting from the mere material frame-work of creation, sees nothing beyond it but the operation of phenomenal laws, without ascending to the Lawgiver, and limits the highest range of its flight to the deification of humanity, without attaining to the acknowledgment of the Creator of the universe, on whom man, as all things else, are dependent. This anthropological fetichism-for it is a recurrence to the lowest and earliest form of heathen superstition—is the culminating point of the despotism of the intellect. As we wander through the long, systematic, and elaborately constructed system of M. Comte, we cannot but recall in fancy that dazzling but terrific palace of art, in which the poet's song clothes the prophet's wisdom, and remember how the intellect, the mistress of that vast pile, found the domain, which acknowledged no jurisdiction but her own, barren, lifeless, and productive only of despair and dismay:

“Back on herself her serpent pride had curl'd

•No voice,' she shriek', 'in that lone hall,
No voice breaks through the stillness of this world;

One deep deep silence all!
“She, mouldering with the dull earth's mouldering sod,

Inwrapt ten-fold in slothful shame,
Lay there, exiled from the eternal God,

Lost to her place and name.” Such is the autocracy of the intellect; such nearly all the philosophy of the nineteenth century; such preëminently the system of M. Comte, and, as such, it is weighed in the balance and found wanting; and we look forward with hope to a better time and better things to come.


By ground of moral obligation, is meant the reason or cause of it; and by reason or cause, not the efficient cause, or that by which it is produced, but the final reason or cause; that is, the ultimate end for which it is produced.

This explication of the principal term in the proposition is the more important, here in the outset, as a little attention to the subject is to satisfy us that the ground of moral obligation and the reason of it, and, consequently, the ultimate ground and the ultimate reason of it, are identical.

Still further to narrow the proposed inquiry we remark, that by obligation is intended the consideration which obliges or binds the subject, not to suffer the penalty of the law-if obligation in this sense could be supposed to hold with relation to it—but to comply with its precept; and, finally, that by moral obligation is mainly meant the obligation which man is under to obey God.

These preliminaries settled, we address ourselves to the inquiry, What is the ground of moral obligation? The most obvious answer is, The law of God. But what is the basis of the law of God? Answer, Relation; which is the basis of all law. And what


relation? The absolute propriety which the Author of the law has in the subject of it. What endues him with that propriety? Communication of being, involving, with its other properties, capability for the required obedience. But there must have been a cause, ground, or reason for that communication; what was it? Proximately--though this is to speak, not of a moral, but the efficient cause—it was volition or choice. And there was a ground on which that choice was exercised; what was that ground? Good

Under what specific form? Benevolence, or the willing of good to its object. Thus, combining the latter processes, while Infinite Goodness willed man's existence, he also willed his happiness, and the former out of regard to the latter.

But though we now seem to have reached the primitive base on which the other and upper strata are superposed, yet neither this nor they exhibit the natural adaptation which we have a right to look for in the object of our inquiry. If law rests on relation, and relation on ownership, and ownership on creation, and creation on volition,--that is, goodness willing happiness to its object--the question then arises, as to how this good-willing can constitute the final ground or reason of obligation. That final reason, whatever it is, must be identical with the final end, out of regard to which the Deity imposes obligation. To suppose benevolence in him to be the final reason of obligation, is the same as to suppose it the final end of it; which is a palpable confounding of the end with the means to which it is related. For benevolence in him is necessarily objective; and the object of it is but another name for the end to which it is related; and it is only as a means that it can be related to it. Therefore, as the object and end of divine benevolence are necessarily extraneous to it, and identical with each other, at the same time, so they must be mutually identical with that only object and end to which benevolence can have any intelligible relationthe happiness of being.

And this final end, out of regard to which the divine Agent must have imposed obligation, must also be the final end out of regard to which the subject ought, that is, is bound, to submit to it. For that which is a reason to him for doing so, must, as the very term implies, affect, operate on, impress bim, as such; as otherwise it would be a contradiction to suppose it a reason to him for the action in question, or for anything else. But benevolence, (as discriminate from beneficence,) that is, mere good will—as it does not affect nor even reach its object, and cannot therefore impress him-has in it nothing of the nature of a reason, either for the claim of service on the one hand, or for its rendition on the other.

We say mere benevolence. No being is qualified to impose moral obligation who is devoid of it; but, by itself, it cannot justify its imposal. Satan is devoid of it; and, for that reason, whatever other qualifications we might suppose him to possess—as omniscience and omnipotence-he could bind no being to his service. And he could not, for the simple reason that, being essentially void of goodness, he is under the moral disability of willing good, from which results the corresponding disability of doing it, and from all of which would ultimately result, that the only consideration which impresses moral obligation would, in his case, be a moral impossibility. Omniscience and omnipotence, then, cannot impose obligation on other ground than that of good, or well-being, produced in the subject of it. The anchoret, on the other hand, whatever amount of benevolence we suppose him to possess, cannot, merely on that ground, bind the object to his service; because, as that mental action is, from the obvious nature of it, limited to his own bosom, and so does neither reach nor affect its object, to suppose it to bind him, at the same time, is to suppose a contradiction.

Neither sheer goodness, nor that intransitive action of it which only wills the bestowment of good on its object, can create obligation. To do this it must not only act within itself, but it must go out of itself. It must reach its object, and it must act upon it. It must not only will to do it good, but it must do it the good which it wills. The former act is benevolence, the latter is beneficence, that wills good, this does it.

As a precedent and concurrent condition, benevolence, as has been already explained, is indispensable to obligation. As an intermediate cause, it is also indispensable; and it is so in both these characters for the reason that, as obligation depends on good done to the subject, so the act which affects that good, does as naturally depend on the benevolence or good-will of the agent, as his goodwill depends on his goodness.

But it is the good done which finally causes obligation, and not the mere willing of good, -any more than it is mere goodness, or creation, or propriety, or relation, or law. Benevolence wills you an estate, subject to a proviso that you shall make it pay him certain annual returns; but the rendition of the returns cannot be felt as matter of actual obligation for any other final reason than that of actual investment. Here is law; here is relation; here is propriety; here is volition; here is goodness. Here also is goodness willing; and here, finally, is goodness acting-acting directly on the subject of the obligation, and in such a way as to create the obligation by the identical act which imposes it.

Benefit, then—good done to the subject, to which beneficence in the agent corresponds, as a cause to its effect—is the ultimate and proper ground of what we call moral obligation. In all its innumerable modifications, as recognised among men-whether legal, social, or political-it stands upon this ground: nor is it so much as possible to suppose its absence, without putting out of our minds every intelligible conception of moral obligation.

That it is obviously present in a great majority of those modifications, will not be disputed, on the one hand; that it is obscurely present in some, is admitted on the other. But still, it is present: for instance, in the obligation which relates to helpless children and the poor. In these and similar cases we feel the obligation, with no very vivid consciousness of the constituent benefit. But, apart from the development and indulgence of refined and ennobling sympathies, which are real benefits, we draw upon the consideration, that the interests of society are mutually inseparable, and that our present and future well-being is conditioned on our discharge of these, with our other obligations.

That moral obligation is ultimately based on benefit or well-being in the subject, as the final end to which the obligation itself is related, is shown by the insufficiency of all other assignable grounds of it, as well as by the manifest absurdity of founding that obligation on any or all such grounds; and, finally, by the terms in which it is stated and referred to in the divine rescript itself.

I. Our first proof that God can impress obligation on the subject of his government on no other ground than that of communicated benefit, is derived from the insufficiency of any or all the other reasons which can be assigned for it.

1. Benevolence in God—to resume a preliminary topic, not to repeat, but to add a single thought-benevolence in him is not a sufficient ground of our obligation to obey him. If it were so, then would not only beneficence be a superfluity in the matter of such cause for obligation, but benevolence itself, which consists in willing good to prospective or actual being, would accomplish the whole of its ultimate purpose, as far as moral government is concerned, without ever effecting that very good which it has willed ;-a supposition which is attended by the further absurdity, that benevolence—which can only exercise itself with relation to prospective or actual being -is satisfied by doing so with relation to being which it only wills to exist; or that supposing the being to have become actualit can satisfy itself by giving it a constitution involving no benefit to the subject, which is an equal absurdity. But if benevolence,

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