Imágenes de páginas


he please, as easily remove the relation of equality PROP, between twice two and four.

III, That to suppose immensity removed out of the universe, or not necessarily eternal, is an express con. tradiction ; is intuitively evident to every one who attends to his own ideas, and considers the essential nature of things. To suppose* any part of space removed, is to suppose it removed from and out of

, itself: and to suppose the whole to be taken away, is supposing it to be taken away from itself, that is, to be taken away while it still remains; which is a contradiction in terms. There is no obscurity in this argument but what arises to those who think immense space to be absolutely nothing : which notion is itself likewise an express contradiction ; for nothing is that which has no properties or modes whatsoever ; that is to say, it is that of which no. thing can truly be affirmed, and of which every thing can truly be denied; which is not the case of im. mensity or space.

From this third proposition it follows,

1st, That the only true idea of a self-existent or the true necessarily-existing being, is the idea of a being, the notion of

self.exista supposition of whose not-existing is an express con- ence. tradiction. For since it is absolutely impossible but Pages 10 there must be somewhat self-existent; that is, which exists by the necessity of its own nature ; it is plain that that necessity cannot be a necessity consequent upon any foregoing supposition, (because nothing can be antecedent to that which is self-existent, no not its own will, so as to be the cause or ground of its own existence,) but it must be a necessity absolutely such in its own nature. Now, a necessity, not relatively or consequentially, but absolutely such in its own nature, is nothing else but its being a plain impossibility or implying a contradiction to suppose the contrary. For instance; the relation of equali



Moveantur partes spatii de locis suis, et movebuntur (ut ita dicam) de seipsis.- Newton. Princip. lib. I. Schol. ad Definit

. 8.


PROP. ty between twice two and four is an absolute neces

sity only because it is an immediate contradiction in terms to suppose them unequal. This is the only idea we can frame of an absolute necessity; and to use the word in any other sense seems to be using it without any signification at all.

If any one now asks, what sort of idea the idea of that being is, the supposition of whose not-existing is thus an express contradiction; I answer, it is the first and simplest idea we can possibly frame; an idea necessarily and essentially included or presupposed, as a sine qua non, in every other idea whatsoever; an idea, which (unless we forbear thinking at all) we cannot possibly extirpate or remove out of our minds ; of a most simple being, absolutely eternal and infinite, original and independent. For, that he who supposes there is no original independent being in the universe, supposes a contradiction, has been shown already. And that he who supposes there may possibly be no eternal and infinite being in the universe supposes likewise a contradiction, is evident from hence; (besides that these two attributes do necessarily follow from self-originate independent existence, as shall be shown hereafter ;) that when he has done his utmost, in endeavouring to imagine that no such being exists, he cannot avoid imagining an eternal and infinite* nothing ; that is. he will imagine eternity and immensity removed out of the universe, and yet that at the same time they still continue there ; as has been abovet distinctly explained.

This argument the Cartesians, who supposed the of the Car- idea of immensity to be the idea of matter, have been

greatly perplexed with. For, (however in words they have contradicted themselves, yet in reality) they have more easily been driven to that most in

The error

See the Answer to a Seventh Letter, at the end of this Book. + Page 15.

tolerable absurdity of asserting matter* to be a ne- PROP. cessary being; than being able to remove out of_111. their minds the idea of immensity, as existing necessarily and inseparably from eternity. Which absurdity and inextricable perplexity of theirs, in respect of the idea of immensity, shows that they found that indeed to be necessary and impossible to be removed; but, in respect of matter, it was only a perverse applying an idea to an object, whereto it noways belongs ; for, that it is indeed absolutely impossible and contradictory to suppose matter necessarily-existing, shall be demonstrated presently.


* Puto implicare contradictionem, ut mundus sit finitus : i. e. I think it implies a contradiction for the world to be finite.-Cartes. Epist. 69. primæ partis.

And his follower Mr. Regis, Mais peutêtre (saith he) que je raisonne mal, &c. i. e. But perhaps I argue ill, when I conclude that the property my idea hath to represent extension, [that is, in the sense of the Cartesians, matter,) comes from extension itself as its cause. For, what hinders me from believing that if this property comes not from myself, yet at least it may come from some spirit (or being] superior to me, which produces in me the idea of extension, though extension does not actually exist? Yet when I consider the thing attentively, I find that my conclusion is good; and that no spirit (or being] how excellent soever, can cause the idea which I have of extension to represent to me extension rather than any thing else, if extension does not actually exist; because if he should do so, the idea which I should then have of extension would not be a representation of extension, but a representation of nothing ; which is impossible.

But it may be I still deceive myself, when I say that the idea I have of extension supposes an object actually existing. For it seems that I have ideas, which do not suppose any object: I have, for example, the idea of an enchanted castle ; though no such thing really exists. Yet when I consider the difficulty still more attentively, I find there is this difference between the idea of extension, and that of an enchanted castle, that the first, being natural, that is, independent on my will, supposes an object which is necessarily such as it represents, whereas the other, being artificial, supposes indeed an object, but it is not necessary that that object be absolutely such as the idea represents, because my will can add to that object, or diminish from it, as it pleases, as I have before said, and as shall be proved hereafter, when I come to treat of the origin of ideas.- Regis Metaphys. lib. I. par. 1. cap. 3.




ent cause.

2dly. From hence it follows, that there is no man

whatsoever, who makes any use of his reason, but Nothingso may easily become more certain of the being of a certain as supreme independent cause, than he can be of any ence of a thing else besides his own existence ; for how much supreme thought soever it may require to demonstrate the independ other attributes of such a being, as it may do to de

monstrate the greatest mathematical certainties, (of which more hereafter,) yet, as to its existence, that there is somewhat eternal, infinite, and self-existing, which must be the cause and origin of all other things; this is one of the first and most natural conclusions that any man, who thinks at all, can frame in his mind : and no man can any more doubt of this, than he can doubt whether twice two be equal to four.It is impossible, indeed, a man may in some sense be ignorant of this first and plain truth, by being utterly stupid, and not thinking at all; (for though it is absolutely impossible for him to imagine the contrary, yet he may possibly neglect to conceive this : though no man can possibly

think that twice two is not four, yet he may possibly be stupid, and never have thought at all whether it be so or not.) But this I say : there is no man, who thinks or reasons at all, but may easily become more certain, that there is something eternal, intinite, and self-existing, than he can be certain of any thing else.

3dly. Hence we may observe, that our first cerGed,

in- tainty of the existence of God does not arise from cluding this, that in the idea our minds frame of him, (or self-exist. rather in the definition that we make of the word

God, as signifying a being of all possible perfections,) we include self-existence; but from hence, that it is demonstrable both negatively, that neither can all things possibly have arisen out of nothing, nor can they have depended one on another in an endless succession ; and also positively, that there is something in the universe, actually existing without us, the supposition of whose not-existing plainly implies a contradiction. The argument which has by

Of the idea of



some been drawn from our including self-existence PROP. in the idea of God, or our comprehending it in the definition or notion we frame of him, has this obscurity and defect in it: that it seems to extend only to the nominal idea or mere definition of a self-ex. istent being, and does not with a sufficiently evident connexion refer and apply that general nominal idea, definition, or notion which we frame in our own mind, to any real particular being actually existing without us. For it is not satisfactory, that I have in my mind an idea of the proposition; there exists a being indued with all possible perfections; or, there is a self-existent being. But I must also have some idea of the thing. I must have an idea of something actually existing without me. And I must see wherein consists the absolute impossibility of removing that idea, and consequently of supposing the non-existence of the thing, before I can be satisfied, from that idea, that the thing actually exists. The bare having an idea of the proposition there is a self-existent being, proves indeed the thing not to be impossible ; (for of an impossible proposition there can be no idea ;) but that it actually is, cannot be proved from the idea; unless the certainty of the actual existence of a necessarily-existing being follows from the possibility of the existence of such a being; which that it does in this particular case, many learned men have indeed thought; and their subtile arguings upon this head are sufficient to raise a cloud not very easy to be seen through. But it is a much clearer and more convincing way of arguing, to demonstrate that there does actually exist without us a being, whose existence is necessary and of itself; by shewing the evident contradiction contained in the contrary supposition, (as I have before done,) and at the

same time the absolute impossibility of destroying or removing some ideas, as of eternity and immensity, which therefore must needs be modes or attributes of a necessary being actually existing. For if I have


[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »