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PROP. eternal, without beginning or end, because both its fi
gure and motion are a circle, which has neither beginning nor end: or else they are such arguments as prove only, what no man ever really denied, viz. that something must needs be eternal, because it is impossible for every thing to arise out of nothing, or to fall into nothing; as when he says* that the world must have been eternal, because it is a contradiction for the universe to have had a beginning, since, if it had a beginning, it must have been caused by some other thing, and then it is not the universe. To which one argument all that he says in his whole book is plainly reducible. So that it is evident all that he really proves, is only this : that there must needs be an eternal being in the universe ; and not, that matter is self-existent, in opposition to intelligence and mind. For, all that he asserts about the absolute necessity of the order and parts of the world, is confessedly most ridiculous; not at all proved by the arguments he alleges ; and in some passages of this very book, as well as in other fragments, he himself supposes, and is forced expressly to confess, that, however eternal and necessary every thing in the world be imagined to be, yet even that necessity must flow from an eternal and intelligent mindof the necessary perfections of whose nature are the cause of the harmony
πάντοθεν ίσος και όμοιος, διόπερ άναρχος και ατελεύτητος, ή τε της κινήσεως, &c. Ibid.
Thus translated : Nay, that the figure, motion, &c. thereof, are without beginning and end; thereby it plainly appears, that the world admitteth neither production nor dissolution. For the figure is spherical, and consequently on every side equal, and therefore without beginning or ending. Also the motion is circular, &c. Oracles of Reason, p. 215.
* 'Αγεννητών το παν.-εξ & γαρ γέγονεν, εκείνο πρώτος του παντός έστι.Το γε δε παν γενόμενον σύν πάσι γίνεται, και τούτο γε δε αδύνατον-Εκτός γάρ του Παντός, ουδέν. Ocell. Ibid.
* Το αεικίνησον θείον μεν, και λόγον έχον και έμφρον. Ocell.. Luc. de Leg. Fragm.
* Συνέχει τον κόσμον αρμονία. Ταύτης δ' αίτιος ο Θεός. Ιbid.
and beauty of the world, and particularly of men's PROP. having* faculties, organs of sense, appetites, &c. fit*
. ted even to final causes.
Aristotle, likewise, was a great asserter indeed of the eternity of the world ; but not in opposition to the belief of the being, or of the power, wisdom, or goodness of God. On the contrary, he for no other reason asserted the world to be eternal, but because he fancied that such an effect must needs eternally proceed from such an eternal cause. And so far was he from teaching that matter is the first and original cause of all things, that, on the contrary, he everywhere expressly describes God to be an intelligent being ;t incorporeal ;f the first mover of all things.|| himself immoveable; and affirms, that if there were nothing but matter in the world, there would be no original cause, but an infinite progression of causes, which is absurd.
As to those philosophers who taught plainly and expressly that matter was not only eternal, but also self-existent and entirely independent, co-existing from eternity with God, independently, as a second principle, I have already shown the impossibility of this opinion, at the entrance upon the present head of discourse, where I proved that matter could not possibly be self-existent: and I shall further demonstrate it to be false, when I come to prove the unity of the self-existent being.
Plato, whatever his opinion was about the original matter, very largely and fully declares his sentiments about the formation of the world, viz. that it was composed and framed by an intelligent and wise God. And there is no one of all the ancient philo
* Τας δυνάμεις και τα "Οργανα και τας ορέξεις υπό Θεού δεδομένας, ανθρώπους, ουχ ηδονής ένεκα δεδόσθαι συμβέβηκεν, άλλα, &c. Ιdem, Περί της του παντός φύσεως.
+ Nous. I pòv åsúvatov å népnve. Diog. in Vita Aristot. | Το πρώτον κινούν, ακίνητον. Aristot. Melaph:
5 Ει μη έσται παρά τα αισθητά άλλα, ούκ έσται αρχή και τάξις, αλλ' isi rös ágzens agxcn. Ibid.
PROP. sophers, who does in all his writings speak so excel111.
lently and worthily* as he, concerning the nature and Fattributes of God. Yet as to the time of the world's beginning to be formed, he seems to make it indefinite, when he says † the world must needs be an eternal resemblance of the eternal idea. At least his followers afterward so understood and explained it, as if, by the creation of the world, was not to be understood a creation in time ;£ but only an order of na
a ture, causality and dependence, that is, that the will of God, and his power of acting, being necessarily as eternal as his essence,s the effects of that will and !
* Ο ποιητής και πατήρτούδε τε πάντος.
“Ο γην, ουρανόν, και Θεές, και πάντα τα εν έρανό και τα έν άδου και υπό γής άπαντα εργασάμενος. De Republ. lib. 10.
* Πάσα ανάγκη τόνδε κόσμον, εικόνα τινός είναι. Ρlato in Τimeo. Which words being very imperfect in our copies of the original, are thus rendered by Cicero: Si ergo generatus [est mundus ;] ad id effectus est, quod ratione sapientiaque comprehenditur, atque immutabili æternitate continetur. Ex quo efficitur, ut sit necesse hunc quem cernimus mundum, simulacrum æternum esse alicujus æterni. Cic. de Univers.
4 Νούν προ κόσμο είναι, ουχ ώς χρόνω πρότερον αυτού όντα, άλλ' ότι ο κόσμος παρά νού εστί, φύσει πρότερος εκείνος και αισιον τέτε. Plotinus.
Qui autem a Deo quidem factum fatentur, non tamen eum volunt temporis habere, sed suæ creationis initium ; ut, modo quodam vix intelligibili, semper sit factus. Augustin. de Civit. Dei, lib. 11.
De mundo, et de his quos in mundo deos a Deo factos scribit Plato, apertissime dicit eos esse cæpisse, et habere initium. rum id quomodo intelligant, invenerunt [Platonici ;] non esse hoc videlicet temporis, sed substitutionis initium. Ibid. Tib. 10, cap. 31.
Sed mundum quidem fuisse semper, philosophia auctor est; conditore quidem Deo, sed non ex tempore.
Macrob. in Somn. Scip. lib. 2. cap. 10.
8 Και ει βάλει, παραδείγματι σε τινι των γνωρίμων ξεναγήσω προς το ζητέυενον· φασί γάρ ότι καθάπερ άιτιον το σώμα της εκάστε σκιάς γίνεται ομόχρονος δε τω σώματι η σκιά, και ουχ ομότιμος: έτω δή και όδε ο κόσμος παρακολαθημά έστι τω Θεού αιτία όντος αυτό του είναι, και συναϊδιός έστι TV Osĝ, snéri dè xal Ouótipos. Zacharice Scholast. Disputal.
Sicut enim, inquiunt [Platonici,] si pes ex æternitate semper fuisset in pulvere, semper ei subesset vestigium ; quod tamen vestigium a calcante factum nemo dubitaret; nec alterum altero prius esset quamvis alterum ab altero factum esset : Sic, inquiunt, et mundus atque; in illo dii creati, et semper fuerunt, semper existente qui fecit; et tamen facti sunt.-Augustin de Civitate Dei. lib. 10. cap. 31.
power might be supposed coeval to the will and PROP. power themselves; in the same manner as light would eternally proceed from the sun, or a shadow from the interposed body, or an impression from an imposed seal, if the respective causes of these effects were supposed eternal.
From all which, it plainly appears how little reason modern atheists have to boast either of the authority or reasons of those ancient philosophers who held the eternity of the world. For since these men neither proved, nor attempted to prove, that the material world was original to itself, independent or self-existing, but only that it was an eternal effect of an eternal cause, which is God, it is evident that this their opinion, even supposing it could means be refuted, could afford no manner of advantage to the cause of atheists in our days, who, excluding supreme mind and intelligence out of the universe, would make mere matter and necessity the original and eternal cause of all things.
zdly. The other reason why in this attempt to prove that the material world cannot possibly be the first and original being, uncreated, independent and self-existent,) I have omitted the argument usually drawn from the supposed absolute impossibility of the world's being eternal, or having existed through an infinite succession of time,-is, because that argument can never be so stated as to be of any use in convincing or affecting the mind of an atheist, who must not be supposed to come prepared beforehand with any transcendent idea of the eternity of God. For since an atheist cannot be supposed to believe the nice and subtile (and indeed unintelligible) distinetions of the schools, it is impossible by this argument so to disprove the possibility of the eternity of the world, but that an atheist will understand it to prove equally against the possibility of any thing's being eternal; and, consequently, that it proves nothing at all, but is only a difficulty arising from our not being able to comprehend adequately the
PROP. notion of eternity. That the material world is not
self-existent or necessarily-existing, but the product of some distinct superior agent, may (as I have already shown) be strictly demonstrated by bare reason against the most obstinate atheist in the world. But the time when the world was created, or whether its creation was, properly speaking, in time, is not so easy to demonstrate strictly by bare reason, (as appears from the opinions of many of the ancient philosophers concerning that matter ;) but the proof of it can be taken only from revelation. To endeavour to prove, that there cannot possibly be any such thing as infinite time or space, from the impossibility of an addition* of finite parts ever composing or exhausting an infinite; or from the imaginary inequality of the number of years, days, and hours, that would be contained in the one; or of the miles, yards, and feet, that would be contained in the other ; is supposing infinites to be made up of numbers of finites ; that is, it is supposing finite quantities to be aliquot or constituent parts of infinite ; when indeed they are not so, but do all equally, whether great or small, whether many or few, bear the very same proportion to an infinite, as mathematical points do to a line, or lines to a superficies, or as moments do to time ; that is, none at all. So that, to argue absolutely against the possibility of infinite space or time, merely from the imaginary inequality of the numbers of their finite parts, which are not properly constituent parts, but mere nothings in proportion,-is the very same thing as it would be to argue against the possibility of the existence of any determinate finite quantity, from the imaginary equality or inequality of the number of the mathematical lines and points contained therein ; when indeed neither the one nor the other have (in propriety of speech) any number at all, but they are absolutely without number: neither can any given number or
* Cudworth's System, p. 643,