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one which we cannot perceive to be real. For if it be asserted of any given action that it is virtuous because it tends to the general good, the question arises-In what does the virtue or moral goodness of the act reside?-in the act itself or in the motive which prompted it? If we say in the act itself, the answer will be inconsistent with Dr. Dwight's own views; for in the close of his discussion, he earnestly protests against its being supposed that the virtue of which he speaks is capable of being viewed apart from volition, or that there is any virtue in an action, except as that action is the result of an operation of the understanding and the will. It is, then, in the principle and motice which conduce to virtuous action that the virtue of the action is to be sought. How, then, stands it with Dr. Dwight's theory of virtue ? Plainly thus-An action is virtuous when it is done from a distinct perception by the understanding that it is for the general good, and a deliberate choice by the will of the good which it tends to secure. But what is this but to make the general good or utility the measure and rule of virtue? An action is virtuous when it flows from a virtuous motive, and a virtuous motive is one which has respect to the general good. Can any inference be more direct than to deduce from this the conclusion, that an action is virtuous exactly in the degree in which the agent has contemplated the general good in what he was about to do, and that this formed the rule by which the virtue of his action was determined ?
The conclusion appears to us irresistible; and hence we have not scrupled to rank Dwight with Paley as on the same footing substantially in the views they have advocated respecting the foundation of duty.
There is another class of reasoners on ethics, who appear to us to have erred, from not attaching just importance to the distinction between a motive and an obligation. It is composed of those who, without speculating at all on the foundation of virtue or the original of duty, practically resolve all duty into obedience to the express will of God; deeming that to be right and binding which God commands, because he commands it. Now it is very far from our intention to maintain either that God can enjoin anything but what is right; or that whatever he is pleased to enjoin can be anything else than binding upon all his creatures; or that any of them need any other reason for doing what he has enjoined than such as is furnished by the injunction itself, as coming from him. But after all this has been admitted, the question still rise-Does the expressed will of God, i.e., the mere injunction, constitute in all cases the basis of moral obligation? or, in other words, would that which one man now owes to his fellow-man, or to intelligent and sentient being in general, cease to be owing, provided it could be shown that the performance of it has never been enjoined expressly by God? Or, to place the question in still another light; would the divine command (supposing it possible for such a thing to occur) be sufficient of itself to alter all our present moral obligations, and to make it right for us to practise that which now we know to be wrong? There are many reasons which writers on ethics have adduced, to show that these questions must be answered in the negative; at present we content ourselves with urging that which arises from the distinction we are now considering between a motive and an obligation. Our position is, that there can be no debt without obligation that ought is the moral correlative to must; and the objection we would offer against the doctrine that duty is founded solely on the expressed will of God, is, that on this doctrine moral obligation, in the true idea of it, is set aside, and a mere motive put in its place. For when a man obeys the divine precept simply as a precept, by what is it that his obedience is induced ? Not by reverence for the great truth therein expressed; for the supposition is that it is the precept as precept, i.e., the expression itself as such, and as coming from such an authority, without any regard to the intrinsic worth of the thing expressed, which constitutes the sole source of his duty. In this case it is manifest that the only power inducing to obedience must be either a desire to realize the material advantages attached to obedience, or a feeling of love to the Lawgiver prompting the doing of what he wills, and the avoidance of what he has denounced. On the former hypothesis, the case becomes substantially identical with that first considered. Both belong to the system of Eudaimonism, or that which makes good rather than goodness the end of man's being, and exempts us from all obligation except such as arises from the promotion of our own felicity. The only difference is, that the one makes present pleasure the measure and the motive of virtue, whilst the other holds up the pleasures of a future and eternal reward as the prime stimulus to the discharge of duty. In both cases it is manifest that a mere motive is urged, and that the motive is in both substantially the same. With respect to the latter hypothesis, it is important to keep in mind that the phrase 'love to God may mean either that affection towards him which dwells in the bosom of a creature who is conscious of being the object of his bounty, and whose affection exists on account of this; or that emotion which is animated by the contemplation of what God is in himself and apart from any benefits conferred by him on the creature who is the subject of the emotion.
In the one case, it is love to Him for what he has given; in the other, it is love to Him for what he is. These emotions are very distinct; and it is to be regretted they should be classed under the same name. The latter alone is love to God, properly so called; the former is more correctly gratitude to him for his bounty. Now to apply this to the case before us: when it is said in the case of one who performs duty simply because God has enjoined it that the inducing power is love to God, it can only be in the sense of gratitude to God that the phrase can be used. The terms of the hypothesis exclude the proper meaning of the phrase ; for love to God as he is, must be inseparable from love to goodness for its own sake, and consequently cannot be the power inducing to obedience simply as obedience; in other words, can have no place where an action is performed not for its intrinsic excellence, but simply because it has been enjoined by God. But if the only constraint to duty be a feeling of gratitude to God for bounties already received, something which falls short of the idea of moral obligation is suggested as the inducing power. The individual in this case acts solely from a desire to please ; he has no sense of reverence for the inherent
; authority of the act enjoined; he simply yields to a pleasing emotion, which prompts him to do what he believes to be agreeable to the Being who is the object of that emotion. In this case also, no less than the other, the proper idea of obligation is set aside, and with it, consequently, the just conception of duty or owingness.
To some it may appear as if we were refining here beyond due bounds. Are not, it may be asked, obedience to God and gratitude to God, duties morally binding upon all men ? and if so, how can it be affirmed that, to make either of them the motive from which actions are performed, is to set aside moral obligation? This reasoning appears plausible, but that it is fallacious may be easily shown. For in the first place, when it is affirmed that obedience and gratitude to God are duties morally binding on us, the question arises-Whence the obligation attaching to these? Is it solely from the Divine command, or does it flow from some other source? If it be replied, that it is solely from the Divine command, the case manifestly falls under our previous remarks, and the adduction of it involves the absurdity of alleging as against an argument, a case which is itself as much affected by that argument as those it is adduced to rescue, to say nothing of the absurdity, involved in this reasoning, of making obedience and gratitude causes of themselves; for if these be the only sources of moral action, and if they be themselves moral duties, it can only be from themselves, as sources, that they as duties can flow. If, on the other hand, it be said that obedience and gratitude are duties deriving their moral imperativeness from some other source than the Divine command, this involves an admission fatal to the whole theory to which we are now objecting-viz., that some duties are morally binding anterior to and independent of any express injunction of God in respect to them. If the duties of gratitude and obedience are binding on God's creatures, irrespective of any express law in their favour, why may not other duties--why may not all duties be equally so? What, therefore, may have appeared to some an over-refinement on our part was really nothing more than that necessary caution which was requisite to enable us to steer our course between the Scylla and Charybdis of logical fallacy. But in the second place, it may tend to remove perplexity from the minds of some of our readers on the point now before us, if we remind them that there is a distinction to be observed between immediate and mediate obligation in morals; the former having place in the case of those duties which are binding in and by themselves, the latter being exemplified in the case of those which become binding because of their dependence upon some other and precedent duty. In consequence of this, it happens sometimes that a particular course of conduct is both mediately and immediately obligatory; sometimes that a duty is immediately but not mediately imperative; and sometimes, on the other hand, that a duty which has no immediate obligation becomes binding on us mediately. The first occurs in the case of all those moral duties which God has enjoined; the second, in the case of those which are really moral duties, but which he has not expressly inculcated; and the third, in the case of those which have no moral obligation in themselves, but which have become binding on us in consequence of having been expressly enjoined by God. Now all of these we are morally bound to perform; but it is only those of the last class which derive their obligation exclusively from the Divine command. The effect of that command is to make them morally obligatory, but it cannot confer upon them intrinsic moral obligation; that must come from some other source than mere injunction. We are bound to do these things, not because of their inherent rectitude, but because of the inherent rectitude of yielding obedience to all which God enjoins. The obligation in this case is plainly mediate and derivate. The thing is right, not for anything in itself, but because another thing on which it depends is right in itself. We are bound to the less by being bound to the greater, which includes the less.
From these remarks, our readers will see on what grounds it is that, whilst maintaining the imperativeness of all that God enjoins, we yet maintain that it is not that injunction which constitutes moral obligation, strictly so called. For that we must seek in something anterior to all spoken or written law, and something which takes a deeper hold upon our being than any motive drawn either from the hope of good to come, or a sense of gratitude for good already enjoyed, can possess. Virtue, to be real, must be disinterested. Her true votaries are such as love her for her own sake, and apart from all the rewards she confers. Their language is
• Were there nor heaven por hell
And ne'er ta'en wages of her.' To this all will give response, whose hearts are swayed by a continual reverence for
• The justice Of the unbribed everlasting law.' Before leaving the subject of moral obligation, we must notice the mode in which it has been treated by some of the writers whose works stand at the head of this article. Of these, the first place is, in our judgment, due to Immanuel Kant, who has treated the whole subject of moral obligation with his usual acuteness, and with great depth, sagacity, and truth. The substance of his views on this point is contained in the following paragraphs :
* Duty is the necessity of an act, out of reverence felt for law. Towards an object, as effect of my own will, I may have inclination but never reverence; for it is an effect, not an activity of will. Nay, I cannot venerate any inclination, whether my own or another's. At the utmost I can approve or like. That alone which is the basis and not the effect of my will can I revere ; and what subserves not my inclinations, but altogether outweighs, i.e. the law alone, is an object of reverence, and so fitted to be a commandment. Now, an action performed out of (propter) duty has to be done irrespective of all appetite whatsoever ; and hence there remains nothing present to the will except objectively law, and subjectively pure reverence for it, inducing man to adopt this unchanging maxim, to yield obedience to the law, renouncing all excitements and emotions to the contrary. It is nothing else than the representationt of the law itself-a thing
* Webster, Duchess of Malfy. + Representation' (Vorstellung) in the Kantian phraseology is, according to Mr. Semple,
a general expression used to denote any state of mind whatever.' This is hardly correct. Kant was remarkably precise in the use of terms, and it is hardly to be believed that he would have employed any term so vaguely as tbis, NO. XII.