« ForrigeFortsæt »
which led Spinoza into his foolish and destructive PROP. opinion, and on which alone all his argumentation is entirely built, is that absurd definition of substance,* that it is something, the idea of which does not depend on, or presuppose the idea of any other thing, from which it might proceed; but includes in itself necessary-existence. Which definition is either false, and signifies nothing; and then his whole doctrine built upon it falls at once to the ground : Or, if it be true, then neither matter nor spirit, nor any finite being whatsoever, (as has been before shown,) is in that sense properly a substance, but (the ó üv) the self-existent being alone : and so it will prove nothing (notwithstanding all his show and form of demonstration,) to his main purpose, which was to make us believe that there is no such thing as power or liberty in the universe, but that every particular thingt in the world is by an absolute necessity just what it is, and could not possibly have been in any respect otherwise. Supposing, I say, his definition of substance to be true, yet even that would really conclude nothing to his main purpose concerning the necessity of all things. For since, according to that definition, neither matter nor spirit, nor any finite beings whatsoever, are substances, but only modes; how will it follow, that, because substance is self-existent, therefore all these modes are so too? Why, because, from an infinite cause infinite effects must needsfollow. Very true,supposing that infinite self-existent cause not to be a vo
* Per substantiam intelligo id quod in se est. et per se concipitur; hoc est, id cujus conceptus non indiget conceptu alterius rei a quo formari debeat.-Definitio 3. which, presently after, he thus explains :- :-Ad naturam substantiæ pertinet existere ; hoc est, ipsius essentia involvit necessario existentiam. Ethic. Par. 1. prop. 7.
+ Res nullo alio modo, neque alio ordine, a Deo produci potuerunt quam productæ sunt.--Prop. 33.
# Ex necessitate divinæ naturæ, infinita infinitis modis (hoc est, omnia quæ sub intellectum infinitum cadere possunt,) seque de bent.--Prop. 16.
PROP: luntary, but a mere necessary agent, that is, no agent
at all : and supposing also, that in mere necessity there could and must be all or any variety. Both which suppositions (in the present argument) are the question begged : and what he afterwards attempts to allege in proof of them, shall afterwards be considered in its proper place.
VIII. The self-existent and original cause of all self-exist things must be an intelligent being. In this promust be in- position lies the main question between us and the telligent. atheists. For, that something must be self-exist
ent, and that that which is self-existent must necessarily be eternal and infinite, and the original cause of all things, will not bear much dispute. But all atheists, whether they hold the world to be of itself eternal both as to the matter and form, or whether they hold the matter only to be necessary and the form contingent, or whatever hypothesis they frame, have always asserted, and must maintain, either directly or indirectly, that the self-existent being is not an intelligent being, but either pure unactive matter, or (which in other words is the very same thing) a mere necessary agent. For a mere necessary agent must of necessity either be plainly and directly in the grossest sense unintelligent; which was the ancient atheist's notion of the self-existent being : or else its intelligence (which is the assertion of Spinoza and some moderns,) must be wholly separate from any power of will and choice; which, in respect of any excellency and perfection, or indeed to any common sense, is the very same thing as no intelligence at all.
Now, that the self-existent being is not such a blind and unintelligent necessity, but in the most proper sense an understanding and really active being, does not indeed so obviously and directly appear to us by considerations a priori ; because (through the imperfection of our faculties) we know not wherein intelligence consists, nor. can see the immediate and necessary connexion of it with self
existence, as we can that of eternity, infinity, unity, PROP. &c. But, a posteriori, almost every thing in the world demonstrates to us this great truth, and affords undeniable arguments to prove that the world, and all things therein, are the effects of an intelligent and knowing cause.
And ist. Since in general there are manifestly in Proved things various kinds of powers, and very different from the excellencies and degrees of perfection, it must needs perfection be, that, in the order of causes and effects, the cause in things, must always be more excellent than the effect: and order of consequently the self-existent being, whatever that causes and be supposed to be, must of necessity (being the original of all things) contain in itself the sum and highest degree of all the perfections of all things: not because that which is self-existent must therefore have all possible perfections; (for this, though most certainly true in itself, yet cannot be so easily demonstrated a priori ;) but because it is impossible that any effect should have any perfection, which was not in the cause. For, if it had, then that perfection would be caused by nothing; which is a plain contradiction. Now an unintelligent being, it is evident, cannot be indued with all the perfections of all things in the world ; because intelligence is one of those perfections. All things, therefore, cannot arise from an unintelligent original; and consequently the self-existent being, must, of necessity, be intelligent.
There is no possibility for an atheist to avoid the force of this argument any other way than by asserting one of these two things : either that there is no intelligent being at all in the universe; or that intelligence is no distinct perfection, but merely a composition of figure and motion, as colour and sounds are vulgarly supposed to be. Of the former of these assertions, every man's own consciousness is an abundant confutation. For they who contend that beasts are mere machines, have yet never presumed to conjecture that men are so too. And that
From the intelli.
PROP. the latter assertion (in which the main strength of
atheism lies,) is most absurd and impossible, shall be shown presently; though if that assertion could be supposed to be true, yet even still it would unavoidably follow that the self-existent being must needs be intelligent; as shall be proved in my fourth argument upon this present head. In the meantime, that the assertion itself, viz. that intelligence is not any distinct perfection, properly speaking, but merely a composition of unintelligent figure and motion; that this assertion, I say, is most absurd and impossible, will appear from what shall be said in the ensuing argument.
2dly. Since in men in particular there is undenia
bly that power, which we call thought, intelligence, is in crea- consciousness, perception or knowledge; there must ted beings. of necessity either have been from eternity, without
any original cause at all, an infinite succession of men, whereof no one has had a necessary, but
every one a dependent and communicated being; or else these beings, indued with perception and consciousness, 'must at some time or other have arisen purely out of that which had no such quality as sense, per ception, or consciousness; or else they must have been produced by some intelligent superior being. There never was nor can be any atheist whatsoever, that can deny but one of these three suppositions must be the truth. If, therefore, the two former can be proved to be false and impossible, the latter must be owned to be demonstrably true. Now, that the first is impossible, is evident from what has been already said in proof of the second general head of this discourse; and that the second is likewise impossible, may be thus demonstrated: If perception, or intelligence, be a distinct quality or perfection, and not a mere effect or composition of unintelligent figure and motion, then beings indued with perception or consciousness can never have arisen purely out of that which had no such quality as perception or consciousness ; because nothing can ever give to another
any perfection, which it hath not either actually in PROP. itself, or at least in a higher degree. But perception or intelligence is a distinct quality or perfection, and not a mere effect or composition of unintelligent figure and motion.
First: If perception or intelligence be any real distinct quality, or perfection, and not a mere effect or composition of unintelligent figure and motion, then beings indued with perception or consciousness can never possibly have arisen purely out of that which itself had no such quality as perception or consciousness; because nothing can ever give to another any perfection which it hath not either actually in itself, or at least in a higher degree. This is very evident; because, if any thing could give to another any perfection which it has not itself, that perfection would be caused absolutely by nothing; which is a plain contradiction. If any one here replies, (as Mr Gildon has done* in a letter to Mr Blount,) that colours, sounds, tastes, and the like, arise from figure and motion, which have no such qualities in themselves; or that figure, divisibility, mobility, and other qualities of matter, are confessed to be given from God, who yet cannot, without extreme blasphemy, be said to have any such qualities himself; and that therefore, in like manner, perceptiont or intelligence may arise out of that which has no intelligence itself; the answer is very easy,-first, that colours, sounds, tastes, and the like, are by no means effects arising from mere figure and motion; there being nothing in the bodies themselves, the ob
Oracles of Reason, p. 186. See also my Letter to Mr Dodwell, with several answers and replies concerning the natural immortality of the soul.
+ If, with one of Cicero's dialogists, they would infer that the whole [of the world] must have understanding, because some portions of it are intelligent-we inay retort with the other speaker in Cicero, that, by the same argument, the whole must be a courtier, a musician, a dancing-master, or a philosopher, because many of the parts are such. Mr Toland's Letter; motion essential to matter.