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  • FOUNDATION OF MORAL OBLIGATION - 2 - B,
    CHARLES FINNEY SYS. THEOLOGY

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    But let us examine this philosophy in the light of the oracles of God.

    1. In the light of the moral law. The whole law is expressed by the great Teacher thus: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, with all thy might, and with all thy strength; and thy neighbor as thyself" (Deut. 6:5). Paul says: "All the law is fulfilled in one word love: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law" (Gal. 5:14). Now it is admitted by this philosophy, that the love required by the law is not a mere emotion, but that it consists in willing, choice, intention; that it consists in the choice of an ultimate end, or in the choice of something for its own sake, or, which is the same thing, for its intrinsic value. What is this which the law requires us to will to God and our neighbor? Is it to will something to, or respecting, God and our neighbor, not for the sake of the intrinsic value of that something, but for the sake of the relation of rightness existing between choice and that something? This were absurd. Besides, what has this to do with loving God and our neighbor? To will the something, the good, for example, of God, and our neighbor, for the sake of the relation in question, is not the same as to love God and our neighbor, as it is not willing their good for its own sake. It is not willing their good, out of any regard to them, but solely out of regard to the relation of fitness existing between the willing and the object willed. Suppose it be said, that the law requires us to will the good, or highest blessedness of God and our neighbor, because it is right. This is a contradiction and an impossibility. To will the blessedness of God and our neighbor, in any proper sense, is to will it for its own sake, or as an ultimate end. But this is not to will it because it is right. To will the good of God and our neighbor for its own sake, or its intrinsic value, is right. But to will it, not for the sake of its intrinsic value to them but for the sake of the relation of fitness between the willing and the object, is not right, because it is not willing it for the right reason. The law of God does not, cannot require us to love right more than God and our neighbor. What! Right of greater value than the highest well-being of God and of the universe? Impossible! It is impossible that the moral law should require anything else than to will the highest good of universal being as an ultimate end, i.e., for its own sake. It is a first truth of reason, that this is a most valuable thing possible or conceivable; and that could by no possibility be law, which should require anything else to be chosen as an ultimate end. According to this philosophy, the revealed law should read: "Thou shalt love the right for its own sake, with all thy heart and with all thy soul" The fact is, the law requires the supreme love of God, and the equal love of our neighbor. It says nothing, and implies nothing, about doing right for the sake of the right. Rightarianism is a rejection of the divine law, and a substituting in its stead an entirely different rule of obligation: a rule that deifies right, that rejects the claim of God, and exalts right to the throne.

    2. "Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatever ye do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Cor. 10:31). Does this precept require us to will the glory of God for its intrinsic or relative value, or for the sake of intrinsic fitness between the willing and its object? The glory and renown of God is of infinite value to Him, and to the universe, and for this reason it should be promoted. The thing required here is doing, an executive act. The spirit of the requisition is this: Aim to spread abroad the renown or glory of God, as the means of securing the highest well-being of the universe. Why? I answer: for the sake of the intrinsic value of this will-being, and not for the sake of the relation of fitness existing between the willing and the object.

    3. "Do good unto all men, as ye have opportunity" (Gal. 6:10). Here again, are we required to do the good, for the sake of the good, or for the sake of the relation of rightness, between the doing and the good? I answer: we are to do the good for the sake of the good.

    4. Take commands to pray and labor for the salvation of souls. Do such commandments require us to go forth to will or do the right for the sake of the right, or to will the salvation of souls for the intrinsic value of their salvation? When we pray and preach and converse, must we aim at right, must the love of right, and not the love of God and of souls influence us? When I am engaged in prayer, and travail night and day for souls, and have an eye so single to the good of souls and to the glory of God, and am so swallowed up with my subject as not so much as to think of the right, am I all wrong? Must I pray because it is right, and do all I do, and suffer all I suffer, not from good will to God and man, but because it is right? Who does not know, that to intend the right for the sake of the right in all these things, instead of having an eye single to the good of being, would and must be anything rather than true religion?

    5. Examine this philosophy in the light of the scripture declaration: "God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him might not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). Now, are we to understand that God gave His Son, not from any regard to the good of souls for its own sake, but for the sake of the right? Did He will the right for the sake of the right? Did He give His Son to die for the right, for the sake of the right, or to die to render the salvation of souls possible, for the sake of the souls? Did Christ give Himself to labor and die for the right, for the sake of the right, or for souls, from love to souls? Did prophets, and apostles, and martyrs, and have the saints in all ages, willed the right for the sake of the right, or have they labored and suffered and died for God and souls, from love to them?

    6. But take another passage which is quoted in support of this philosophy: "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this right" (Eph. 6:1). Now what is the spirit of this requirement? What is it to obey parents? Why, if as this philosophy holds, it must resolve itself into ultimate intention, what must the child intend for its own sake? Must he will good to God and his parents, and obey his parents as the means of securing the highest good, or must he will the right as an end, for the sake of the right, regardless of the good of God or of the universe? Would it be right to will the right for the sake of the right, rather than to will the good of the universe for the sake of the good, and obey his parents as a means of securing the highest good?

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