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will the happiness of each according to its intrinsic value. Good will being the whole of virtue, and good will having no respect to the moral character of its object, there is no more virtue in loving God (willing his good) than in loving Satan.* No one, of course, denies that benevolence is a virtue; but the slavery to system, to the miserable logic of the understanding, consists in asserting that it is the only virtue, that love to Christ does not differ in its nature from benevolence to the devil, nor the love of the brotherhood from benevolence to the wicked. As the essential nature of religion is changed, perverted, and destroyed by this theory, so also of course is the nature of sin. But this may be more appropriately noticed under the following head.
A THIRD doctrine which flows from the two radical principles of this book is, that there is no moral character in the feelings or affections. This, indeed, is necessarily involved in what has already been said, but it is in itself so important and so characteristic a part of the system, that it deserves a more distinct exhibition. If obligation is limited by ability, and therefore confined to acts of the will, and if the affections are neither acts of the will nor under its immediate control, it follows, of course, that we cannot be responsible for them; they lie "without the pale of legislation and morality." Again, if enjoyment is the only intrinsic good, then all virtue consists in benevolence, or in willing the happiness of sentient beings, and consequently there is no virtue in any state of the affections. So the same conclusion is reached in two different ways.
This consequence of his principles Mr Finney presents on almost every page of his book. Moral obligation, he says, cannot directly extend to any "states of the sensibility. I have already remarked that we are conscious that our feelings are not voluntary but involuntary states of the mind. Moral
* In answer to the objection that we are under obligation "to love God because he is good, and that this affirmation has no reference to the good of God," he answers, "Such an affirmation, if it is 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," which of course is happiness.-(P. 64.) “Should it be said that God's holiness is the foundation of our obligation to love him, I ask in what sense it can be so? It cannot be a mere emotion of complacency, for emotions being involuntary states of mind and mere phenomena of the sensibility are without the pale of legislation and morality,"-(P. 91.) The moral perfections of God do not even increase our obligation to love him. "We are under infinite obligation to love God and will his good with all our power because of the intrinsic value of his wellbeing, whether he is sinful or holy. Upon condition that he is holy, we are under obligation to will his actual blessedness, but certainly we are under obligation to will it with no more than all our heart, and soul, and mind, and strength. But this we are required to do because of the intrinsic value of his blessedness, whatever his character may be."-(P. 99.)
Hence Mr Finney says, "The command is, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. This says nothing about the character of my neighbour. It is the value of his interests, of his well-being, that the law requires me to regard. It does not require me to love my righteous neighbour merely, nor to love my righteous neighbour better than I do my wicked neighbour."—(P. 95.)
obligation, therefore, cannot directly extend to them."-(P.35.) They have no more of a moral nature than outward actions. A man is responsible for his outward acts only as they are determined by the will, and in like manner he is responsible for his feelings only as they are produced or cherished by the will, or rather as the will yields to them. The whole of sin consists in allowing the will to be determined by them. In the feelings themselves there is nothing good or bad. "If any outward action or state of the feeling exists in opposition to the intention or choice of the mind, it cannot by possibility have moral character. Whatever is beyond the control of a moral agent, he cannot be responsible for."-(P. 164.) And therefore, "if from exhaustion, or any cause beyond our control, the emotion does not arise from the consideration of the subject which is calculated to produce it, we are no more responsible for the weakness or absence of the emotion, than we should be for the want or weakness of motion in our muscles when we willed to move them."-(P. 165.) Of course, all self-condemnation for coldness, or hardness of heart, or want of right affections towards God, rests on a false philosophy, that is, arises from overlooking" that in which moral character consists." "Love may, and often does exist, as every one knows, in the form of a mere feeling or emotion. . . This emotion or feeling, as we are aware, is purely an involuntary state of the mind; because it is a phenomenon of the sensibility, and of course a passive state of mind, it has in itself no moral character." (P. 213.) "Gratitude, as a mere feeling or phenomenon of the sensibility, has no moral character."-(P. 278.) The same thing is said of benevolence, compassion, mercy, conscientiousness, &c., &c. The doctrine is, "That no state of the sensibility has any moral character in itself."-(P. 521.)
On this subject we would remark, 1. That there is a form of truth in this as in most other parts of this system; but a half-truth when presented as the whole, and especially when accompanied with the denial of the other elements which enter into the proposition, becomes a dangerous error. It is true that character depends more upon fixed purposes and principles than it does on feelings. It is also true that the tenor of a man's life, as evincing his governing principles, is a better test of his character than mere emotions. But then, what determines these fixed purposes of the soul? Unless they are determined by moral and religious considerations, they are not themselves either moral or religious. Unless our fixed determination to obey God, to devote ourselves to the promotion of his glory, flows from a due appreciation of his excellence, and from a sense of our obligations to him, it is not a religious purpose. And unless our determination that it shall be Christ
for us to live, arises from an apprehension of the glory of his person, and of our relation to him as the purchase of his blood, it is not a Christian purpose. It may be philanthropic or benevolent, but it is neither religious nor Christian. But, 2. The Scriptures, our own consciousness, and the universal judgment of men, recognise those affections which terminate on moral objects as having a moral character, and therefore any theory which denies this must be false. The love of God is essentially the love of the divine perfections, complacency and delight in him as the infinitely good, which leads to adoration and obedience. It can hardly be denied that this is the constant representation of the Bible, and especially of its devotional parts. The psalmist speaks of himself as longing after God, as a hart pants for the cooling waters. "Whom have I in heaven," he exclaims, "but thee? and there is none on earth I desire besides thee." All this Mr Finney pronounces delusion or selfishness. "When a moral agent," he says, "is intensely contemplating moral excellence, and his intellectual approbation is emphatically pronounced, the natural and often the necessary result is, a corresponding feeling of complacency and delight in the sensibility. But this, being altogether an involuntary state of the mind, has no moral character.”—(P. 224.) "Indeed, it is perhaps the general usage now to call this phenomenon of the sensibility love, and, for want of just discrimi nation, to speak of it as constituting religion. Many seem to suppose that this feeling of delight in and fondness for God is the love required by the moral law."—(P. 224.) “It is remarkable to what extent religion is regarded as a phenomenon of the sensibility and as consisting in feeling.”—(P. 225.) Nothing is of greater importance than for ever to understand that religion is a phenomenon, of the will."-(P. 227.) The legitimate and sufficient answer to all this is that it contradicts the common consciousness of men. They know it cannot be true. If Mr Finney says it is a first truth of reason that it is right to will the highest good, which we admit, we say it is a first truth of reason that compassion, benevolence, love of God, conscientiousness, gratitude, devotion, reverence, humility, repentance, as states of feeling, have a moral character. He is forced to admit that this is the common judgment, and recognised in what he calls "the popular language of the Bible." A philosophy which leads to a denial of this plain fact of consciousness, this first truth of reason, is a false philosophy.
It is obvious that a theory which reduces all virtue and religion to a simple act of the will must lead to the same view as to the nature of sin. If virtue has no place in the affec tions, neither can sin have. If all religion is centred in one intention, all sin must be confined to another. If all virtue is
benevolence, all sin is selfishness. But as benevolence is not an affection, but a purpose, so selfishness must be an intention. It cannot consist, the author tells us, in malevolence; "it cannot consist in any state of the intelligence or sensibility, for these, as we have seen, are involuntary, and depend on acts of the will."-(P. 286.) "It must consist in the choice of selfgratification as an end." Or, "sin consists in being governed by the sensibility, instead of being governed by the law of God as it lies revealed in the reason."-(P. 287.) This is a frequently recurring definition. "Benevolence is yielding the will up unreservedly to the demands of the intelligence." (P. 275.) “As the will must either follow the law of reason, or the impulses of the sensibility, it follows that moral agents are shut up to the necessity of being selfish or benevolent."— (P. 290.) "Men naturally desire their own happiness and the happiness of others. This is constitutional. But when, in obedience to these desires, they will their own or others' happiness, they seek to gratify their sensibility or desires. This is selfishness."-(P. 290.) Of course, it makes no manner of difference what the nature of the feeling is that determines the will. The sin does not lie in the nature of the feeling, but in the will's being determined by any feeling. "It matters not what kind of desire it is; if it is desire that governs the will, this is selfishness."-(P. 301.)* It may be a desire of our own salvation, the desire of holiness, of the salvation of others, of the good of the world, of the glory of God, of the triumphs of the Lord Jesus. It matters not. It is just as selfish and as wicked to have the will determined by such desires, as by avarice, envy, or malice. "The choice of any thing because it is desired is selfishness and sin."-(P. 305.) "Some writers have fallen into the strange mistake of making virtue to consist in the gratification of certain desires, because, as they say, those desires are virtuous. They make some of the desires selfish and some benevolent. To yield the will to the control of the selfish propensities is sin. To yield the will to the control of the benevolent desires, such as the desire of my neighbour's happiness and the public happiness, is virtue, because these are good desires, while the selfish desires are evil. Now, this has been a very common view of virtue and vice. But it is fundamentally erroneous. None of the constitutional desires are good or evil in themselves. They are all alike involuntary, and terminate on their correlated objects. To yield the will to the control of any one of them, no matter which, is sin." (P. 503.) Mr Finney is beautifully consistent in all this, and in the consequences which of necessity flow from his
The sinner may "feel deeply malicious and revengeful feelings towards God; but sin does not consist in these feelings or necessarily imply them."-(P. 296.)
doctrine. He admits that if a man pays his debts from a sense of justice or feeling of conscientiousness, he is therein and therefore just as wicked as if he stole a horse; or if a man preaches the gospel from a desire to glorify God and benefit his fellow-men, he is just as wicked for so doing as a pirate.† We may safely challenge Hurtado de Mendoza, Sanchez, or Molina to beat that.
It passes our comprehension to discover why the will being determined by the desire to honour God is selfishness and sin, while its being determined by the desire of the highest good is virtue. It is as much determined by desire in the one case as in the other. Mr Finney says, indeed, that in the one case it is determined by the intelligence, and in the other by the sensibility. But reason as much dictates that we should honour God, as that we should seek the happiness of the universe; and the will is as much decided by the intelligence in the one case as in the other. The only way in which the intelligence can determine the will is, that the truth which the intelligence contemplates, whether it be the value of the well-being of the universe or the excellence of God, awakens the corresponding desire or feeling of right, fitness, or obligation, and that determines the will. If the will is not determined by a desire to secure the happiness of the universe, what benevolence is there in such a determination?
Mr Finney's principles lead him to assert that there is no difference in their feelings between the renewed and the unrenewed, the sinner and the saint. "The sensibility of the sinner," he says, "is susceptible of every kind and degree of feeling that is possible to saints."-(P. 521.) He accordingly goes on to show that sinners may desire sanctification, delight in the truth, abhor sin, have complacency in good men, entertain feelings of love and gratitude to God, and, in short, be, as to feeling and conduct, exactly what saints are. The only essential difference is in the will, in their ultimate purpose or intention. The sinner's ultimate intention may be to promote the glory of God from a sense of duty, or from appreciation of the loveliness of moral excellence, and he be no better than a pirate. If his ultimate end is to promote happiness because happiness is intrinsically valuable, he is a saint.‡
"He may be prevented (committing commercial injustice) by a constitutional or phrenological conscientiousness, or sense of justice. But this is only a feeling of the sensibility; and if restrained only by this, he is just as absolutely selfish as if he had stolen a horse in obedience to acquisitiveness." (P. 317.)
"If the selfish man were to preach the gospel, it would be only because upon the whole it was most pleasing or gratifying to himself, and not at all for the sake of the good of being as an end. If he should become a pirate, it would be for exactly the Whichever cause he takes, he takes it for precisely the same reason; and with the same degree of light, it must involve the same degree of guilt."— (P. 355.)
same reason. .
"Whether he [the unrenewed man] preach and pray, or rob and plunder upon