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sure and health to be gained by it; if by steamboat, it may be for the coolness and pleasure of the sail, or, if in the night, for securing the gains of a day's business ; if by rail, for the company of a friend or the saving made by greater expedition. So that the determination to act is still dependent on the choice of an object and is a manifestation or expression of the choice.
867. Ethical Application. This is not the place for the discussion of ethics; but for the further elucidation of the doctrine of the will I will briefly notice some of its ethical applications.
I. The object of the supreme choice is always a person or persons to be trusted and served, not any thing, quality, power or condition to be acquired, possessed, used and enjoyed.
The objects or ends of action among which choice is possible lie in these two spheres. There are persons to be trusted or served; there are things, qualities, powers and conditions to be acquired, possessed, used and enjoyed.
In the sphere of objects to be acquired, that which ought to be chosen as the ultimate and highest end is well-being, or the good estimated by reason as having true worth; and all things, qualities, powers and conditions, which are the legitimate means or conditions of attaining the true and highest good, are rightly chosen as relative good.
But the object of the supreme choice can never be in the sphere of objects to be acquired, possessed, used and enjoyed. For the further question arises : for whom is the object acquired, for myself or for another? Thus beyond all objects that are acquired and used, there is always and necessarily a higher and supreme object — the person for whom the objects, that may be possessed, used and enjoyed, are to be acquired. Therefore the object of a supreme choice, whether morally right or wrong, must always be a person or persons to be trusted or served, not any thing, quality or condition to be acquired, possessed, used and enjoyed.
This is evident, also, because a person is essentially by virtue of his personality in himself an end of action, a being to be trusted and served, never an object to be acquired, possessed and used. So our Lord teaches that the sum total of all worldly values is not equal to the worth of a man. He has a dignity beyond all price. A person by virtue of his personality has rights. Something is due to him from other persons; they owe him duty. The object of the supreme choice to which the whole activity is to be consecrated cannot be anything which is a means to an end ; it must be that which is an end in itself and unconditionaily. A person only is thus an end. A person, there
fore, must be the object of the supreme choice, whether that choice be morally right or wrong..
Hence the true good itself is not the object of a right supreme choice. For the true good is nothing real except as the good of a person; and the choice of it is impossible except as it is chosen for some person.
II. The object of a right supreme choice is God in his relation to all personal beings in the universal moral system. Or, it is God and all rational beings in their real relations in the unity of the universal rational and moral system.
Here it may be objected that the right supreme choice must be the consent of the will to the reason; the acceptance by the will of the truths, laws, ideals and ends of Reason as regulative of the whole activity; and that the wrong supreme choice must be the refusal by the will of this consent. This accords with Kant's ethics, that the right moral character consists in reverence for law, in the doing of duty. It is true that the right supreme choice carries in it the consent of the will to the law; that so far as action is distinctively moral it involves the recognition of law, obligation and duty; and that the right character involves the fixed purpose of the will to do all duty. This, however, is only a partial and incomplete description of a right moral character. For, in the first place, it is only a resolution to perform actions. It thus remains no more than an immanent volition. It has not in it that which alone is the real determination, the choice of the object of action. And, besides this, the will cannot consent to the formal principle of the law otherwise than in the act of love to God and man which the real principle of the law requires. And, further, the universe is not abstract, but concrete; it is a universe of being. All knowledge, thought and causal energy are attributes of being and terminate on being as their object. But the objection makes the supreme act of will which determines the whole course of action and the whole moral character and destiny of the man, terminate in abstract ideas of law and duty. Virtue thus defined lacks reality.
We must, then, look beyond this to the realm of personal beings to find the object of the right supreme choice. The Absolute Reason is God. In him all truth, law, ideals and good are eternal. The object of the right supreme choice, which determines man's moral character in the whole course of his activity, is God. He is chosen as the supreme object of trust and service.
God, however, does not exist alone, but in relation to the universe in which he is expressing the archetypal thoughts of eternal Reason and progressively realizing the ideals and ends of his wisdom and love. The natural universe exists in the unity of a Cosmos by its relation to God. Personal beings exist in the unity of a moral system having common
relations to each other and to God. They have a common constitution as rational and free. Knowledge, truth, rational and moral principles, ideals of perfection, worth and well-being as estimated by reason, are the same to them all under the one universal law of God. If, then, I choose God as the supreme object of trust and service, I choose him in his real relations to the universe; I consent to the truths, laws, ideals and ends of the supreme reason; I devote my energies to realize as a worker with God all the ends of his wisdom and love in the realm of personality, and so to advance his kingdom of righteousness and peace. In choosing God as the supreme object of trust and service, I choose all rational beings within the sphere of my knowledge and influence as equally with myself objects of trust and service in the moral system in which we are all united. And in that choice my will consents to the truths, laws, ideals and ends which are eternal in the divine Reason and are the constitution of the system of things in which we all exist and act. So Christ declares the object of human service to be God as supreme and our neighbor (every one within our influence) as ourselves.
In a wrong supreme choice, a man chooses himself alone, and thus refuses God, his neighbor and himself in their relations in the moral system, as the supreme object of trust and service.
I have spoken of trust and service. These constitute the entire activity of man so far as persons are the object of it. Trust is the activity expressing man's consciousness of dependence and accords with the reality that man is finite and dependent. Service is the activity expressing man's consciousness of freedom and power, and accords with the reality that man is endowed with freedom and power, and so is a sort of subcreative center of intelligence and energy.
III. The love which is required in the law of God is a free choice of the will.
We are embarrassed by the fact that love in popular language is used with different meanings. We use the word indiscriminately to denote natural appetites or desires or affections, and the moral character required in the law of God. We say indiscriminately a man loves an apple, he loves intoxicating liquors, he loves money, he loves his children, he loves his neighbor and he loves God. It is evident that the love required in the law cannot be the same with love in all the different meanings which it has in popular use. It is necessary to discriminate and to ascertain what is the distinctive meaning of the love required in the law.
Evidently, for the very reason that love is commanded by law, it cannot be a natural appetite, desire or affection, nor even a rational sensibility. For these are constitutional impulses and are only in
directly and remotely under our own control. A mother's love is instinctive. At the birth of her child it rises in her heart as involuntarily as the milk in her breast. The law cannot command us, as our primary and supreme duty, to feel, to melt in tender sensibility, to equip ourselves with the instincts and impulses of nature.
If, then, the love commanded in the law must be under our immediate control, it must be a determination of the will; it can only be the choice, as the supreme object of trust and service, of God and all personal beings in their real relations in the unity of the universal system. It is the free choice, after thoughtful comparison, of God as the person to whom I consecrate all my energies in trust and service, and of my neighbor equally with myself as the object of trust and service in the universal moral system in which we all are in unity under the common law and love of God. If, on the contrary, I love myself supremely, this selfishness is also the free choice of myself as the supreme object of trust and service.
Here we attain a clear and complete psychological and philosophical distinction between the love which the law requires, and appetites, desires, affections and sensibilities of every kind which in popular language are called love. The affections of nature are involuntary impulses; the love which dominates in the moral and spiritual life is a free and abiding choice of the will.
If this is not so, then the love to God and man which is the essence of all virtue, and God's love which is the essence of his own moral perfection, is not different in kind from a cat's love of her kittens or a cow's love of her calf; and in man no psychological distinction exists between the instinctive appetites, desires and affections of nature, and the love which constitutes obedience to the law and is the essence of right moral character both in man and God. And it is because the love which is the perfection of moral character is man's free choice, that we may describe the man who exercises it, in the quotation aptly applied to him by Kant:
“Liber, pulcher, honoratus, Rex denique regum.”
IV. Moral character consists primarily in the supreme choice, of which subordinate choices and all volitional determinations and actions are immediately or remotely manifestations. The state of the intellect and of the sensibilities, and the habits of action have moral character only so far as they have been formed or modified by acts of will. They are moral character only in a secondary sense. This conception is a psychological and ethical basis for the scriptural representation that sin is an apostasy from God, that all men are morally in two classes,
those who trust and serve God and those who do not, and that the change of a sinner to the new spiritual life is a critical change of alldetermining moment, represented by a new birth, a resurrection from the dead, and other equally startling analogies. These representations require for their justification and significance a recognition of the unity of moral and spiritual character under some one dominant and all-characterizing determination or choice.
V. The existence of God and all rational creatures in one rational system is the fundamental and dominant truth in theology, and equally in all philosophy, speculative, ethical, æsthetic and teleological. In it philosophy and theology, morality and religion, are at one. Persons exist by and for persons, to trust and serve one another. God, indeed, is independent and supreme. But only through the universe of nature and spirit can he reveal his perfections; and when the universe exists he comes to men in Christ in the form of a servant and advances his kingdom through the agency of redeemed men who are workers together with God. All that is greatest in humanity reveals the membership of man in this rational system. We have seen that the sense of beauty prompts to communicate it. So all that is noblest in man arouses his consciousness of fellowship with man and quickens the feeling that he lives not for himself alone. It arouses a sort of universal consciousness of all rational life mingling with his own in the mightiest inspirations and the most ennobling ends of human action. The illuminism which tries to construct an ethical philosophy on the basis of mere individualism misses what is mightiest and most profound in Christian ethics. The love of God and of our neighbor as ourselves which Christ requires, is, in its essential significance, the choice of God and his rational creatures in their real relations in the unity of the universal moral system, as the supreme object of trust and service.
8 68. The Freedom of the Will. I. The freedom of the will consists in the fact that the will is a power which, in the light of reason and under the influence of rational motives, can determine the ends or objects to which it will direct its energy and the exertion of its energy in reference to the determined end or object. In other words, the freedom of the will consists in the fact that the will is a will. The definition of will is in itself the definition of free will.
1. Freedom is inherent in rationality. The will is Reason energizing; or, as Kant calls it, the Practical Reason.
If man were not endowed with reason, he would be susceptible only of natural or instinctive motives and emotions, and would follow the