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OF THE DOCTRINE OF MORALITY.
THE study of morals is becoming more general of is more
and more important because it has suffered from a long period of neglect and of prejudice. We have been studying the science of ethics and the elements of morality. And in doing so, we have mostly confined ourselves to these two questions, What is the criterion of virtue? and, What is the faculty by which we perceive moral duty? We have inquired, What is morality? and, What is the conscience? These are the questions which the philosopher investigates, and for which we seek an answer in those natural principles of the human mind, or in those relations in which man stands to the surrounding circumstances. We endeavor to find why he is benevolent and just and truthful and pure and obedient. We ask why these virtues must be the characteristics of man, and how man
comes to practise those virtues. And when Moral Science has answered the question, it has accomplished its task. But there is a further work to be done. This does not make men moral. Principal Shairp1 asks, “Suppose that we have settled rightly what the true ideal of character is, how are we to attain it? What is the dynamic power in the moral life? What is that which shall impel a man to persevere in aiming at this ideal, shall carry him through all that hinders him outwardly and inwardly, and enable him, in some degree at least, to realize it?" Yet he would not disparage the work of the philosopher, but would only say, that, when the philosopher has done his work, there is a still greater work to be done, which is to show the relation of the moral life to the redemption and grace of the gospel. It remains to show how the one depends on the other, and how the one cannot be carried into the practical life without the other, — to show how the moral life cannot be cultivated without redemption and grace, and how redemption and grace cannot avail without morality. This is the task which I set myself. I wish to show the connection and relation of these two; how they are parts of one whole; and how they depend upon each other; and how the life is not a good life, and is not approaching the perfect life, fit for the eternal
1 Studies in Poetry and Prose, p. 287. By J. C. Shairp, LL.D.