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SUPREMACY OF MORAL REQUIREMENTS.
that physical laws are characterized by constancy and universality, and that there is every reason to believe the like true of ethical ones. It is inferred, that if so, there is no safety but in entire obedience, even in spite of threatening appearances. This inference is enforced by the consideration, that any departure from principle to escape some anticipated evil, is a return to the proved errors of expediency. It is again enforced by the fact that the innumerable attempts of a stiff-necked worldly wisdom to benefit by disobedience have failed.
And it is yet further enforced by the reflection, that to think we can better ourselves by deserting the road marked out for us, is an impious assumption of more than divine omniscience.
The reasons for thus specially insisting on implicit obedience will become apparent as the reader proceeds. Amongst the conclusions inevitably following from an admitted principle, he will most likely find several fo. which he is hardly prepared. Some of these will seem strange; others impracticable; and, it may be—one or two wholy at variance with his ideas of duty. Nevertheless should he find them logically derived from a fundamental truth, he will have no alternative but to adopt them as rules of conduct, which ought to be followed with out exception. If there be any weight in the considerations above set forth, then, no matter how scemingly inexpedient, dangerous, injurious even, may be the course which morality points out as "abstractedly right,” the highest wisdom is in perfect and fearless submission.
DEFINITION OF MORALITY.
§ 1. There does not seem to exist any settled idea as to what a Moral Philosophy properly embraces. Moralists have either omitted to prelude their inquiries by any strict definition of the work to be done, or a definition of a very loose and indiscriminating character has been framed. Instead of confining themselves to the discovery and application of certain essential principles of right conduct, they have attempted to give rules for all possible actions, under all possible circumstances. Properly understood the subject matter for investigation lies within comparatively narrow limits; but, overlooking these, they have entered upon a multitude of questions which we shall shortly find to be quite beyond their province.
$ 2. As already said (p. 27) the moral law must be the law of the perfect man—the law in obedience to which perfection consists. There are but two propositions for us to choose between. It may either be asserted that morality is a code of rules for the behaviour of man as he is! code which recognizes existing defects of character, and allows for them; or otherwise tbat it is a code of rules for the regulation of conduct amongst men as they should be. Of the first alternative we must say, that any proposed system of morals which recognizes existing defects, and countenances acts made needful by them, stands self-condemned; seeing that, by the hypothesis, acts thus excused