Monday, May 30, 2016

Duty of Moral Culture

It is very important for us to teach that we can possess virtues, only by being virtuous; and that to have been virtuous is not necessarily to be so:—-—that Virtue in general, and every virtue in particular, is a living thing, which is only while it grows :---that the current of Duty must flow from a perennial spring of right thoughts and affections and desires, of which no words can reach the bottom. And since we can act, not only upon external things, and upon other persons, but also upon ourselves, we have here, too, a sphere of duty. We have it for our business to form within ourselves these springs of duty; or at least, if it is not ours to form them, we have to draw them forth, to encourage their flow, to carry their clearness further and further into the depths of our minds and hearts. We have to cultivate Virtues, as well as to perform Duties :—-—to become, and to be, as well as to do. It is this recognition of the Duty of Moral Culture, which will prevent our Virtue from being stagnant. We are not only to try to be benevolent and just and true and pure; but always to be more benevolent, more just, more true, more pure; to carry these qualities deeper and deeper into our hearts, so that they may more and more give their colour to our intentions, desires and affections. Thus only can we save our Morality from being of that rigid and contracted kind, which the expanding heart of man cannot bear ;-—of that stationary and finite extent, which the progressive soul of man soon leaves behind.

William Whewell, Lectures on Systematic Morality, Lecture V

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