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ftill more wonderful formation of the powers and faculties of our minds, that one thould imagine it could never be called in question. It is certain, however, that there have been men, both in ancient and in modern times, who have -exerted all their abilities to weaken this important truth. It is proper, therefore, to understand thoroughly the grounds on which it is founded, and to be able to refute the atheistical reasonings of those who have opposed it. It is extremely - surprising, that some men have employed so much ingenuity and displayed fuch abilities in endeavouring to explode this -truth, since it is evident that the light of the sun is not more neceffary to chear and refresh our planetary system, than the existence of a father of the universe to give comfort to every rational mind.
As it is of the highest importance, both to the happiness of individuals and of human society in general, to have just and rational conceptions of the deity, of his perfections and providence, deeply impressed on the mind, every attempt to promote so desirable an end must meet with the approbation of all wife and good men, and this is due to the performance now under consideration. In the introduction we are prefented with a view of the arguments that have been used for proving the existence and attributes of God, and the reasons for proposing a new one. The author obferves, that there are two general ways of reasoning upon this subject, a priori and a posteriori ; or, according to what is commonly called the synthetic and analytic methods. We treat this subject synthetically when we lay down some self-evident truths or axioms, and deduce by a train of just reasoning the consequences necessarily resulting from them. We treat it analytically, when we begin with phenomena themselves, and trace them up to their original, and from the known properties of these phenomena arrive at the nature of these methods of reasoning; how far each of them has been carried, and with what degree of evidence they have proved their conclufions. This our author has done by giving a short, comprehensive, and elegant view of the principal arguments used by the following celebrated writers on the being and attributes of God: Mr. Locke, Dr. Samuel Clarke, Dr. Fiddes, and Mr. Wollaston. He likewise makes some very just reflections on the arguments used by these authors, and points out several mistakes into which they have fallen. He also enumerates the objections of sceptical writers, particularly those of Spinoza and Hume, against these modes of reasoning, and answers them in a satisfactory manner. Our author next informs us, that many writers have thought it impoffible to treat this subject in a demonstrative manner. He takes notice of the chief ob
jections to this mode of reafoning, and endeavours to anfwer them. Having read some treatises which appeared to him plainly designed to preclude every avenue that could lead to the proof of one all perfect author of the universe, he con, ceived an earnest desire to see the important question concern. ing the being and perfections of God, treated in a concise, and if possible, demonstrative manner. Accordingly, from one simple principle or axiom, he sets himself to demonstrate nine propositions, which prove the being and absolute pero fection of God. Most of these propofitions are demonstrated indire&ly; that is, they are proved to be true, by fhewing that an absurdity would follow the supposition that they are false.
It is obvious to any one acquainted with the principles of mathematics, that an indire&t demonstration, or a demonftration ducens ad absurdum, is as just and true as a dire& demonftration. Accordingly it is often used by Euclid and other mathematicians. But though this be the case, it is not so pleafing to the mind as a direct demonftration, where we not only see ; he proof of the proposition, but every link of the chain of which the proof confifts, deduced by just reafoning from certain axioms or first principles, which are the foundation of all reasoning.
We shall give our readers a specimen of the performance before us, and of our authors's manner of reasoning, by quoting his first axiom and his firft propogtion.
! AN AXIOM. Whatever is contingent, or might poffibly have been otherwise than it is, had fome caufe which determined it to be what it is. Or, in other words : if two different or contrary things were each of them poslible, which ever of them took place, or came to pass, it must have done fo in consequence of some caufe which determined that it, and not the other, should take place.
PROPOSITION. THERE must be in the universe fome ore Being, at least, whole pión-existence is impossible, whole existence had no cause, no beginning, and can have no end.
If there is no Being in the universe but such as might possibly have not exifted, it would follow, that possibly there might have been no existence at all. And then these two cases, viz. that there inight, and that there might not have been existence, being equally poifible, the former could not have taken place rather than the latter, but in consequence of its having been determined, by fome means or other, that it should take place. (Axiom.) But this determination could never have been made, unless Come Being could have determined its own existence, and have been the cause of itself; which it would be abfurd to fuppofc. Therefore, it is not poffible that there might Eet
have been no existence at all. Consequently an impoflibility of not existing must be found somewhere, that is, there must be some one Being, at least, whose non-existence is impossible. And as this inposlibility of his not existing is absolute, or unconditional, and depends not on any fuppolition, it must be at all times the same : lo that this Being never was nor can become non-existent, but has an existence without a beginning and without a poflibility of ending.
• As no cause could have determined that this Being should exit, or have given to him that existence which it is impossible but he must always have had ; he must be unoriginated and have existence in himself independent on any caufe, or be self-existent. • Thus it is proved, that there must be, at least
, some one Being, whatever it is, who cannot but exist, whose exiltençe had no cause, no beginning, and can have no end. And since this Being is such that his non-existence is impoflible, he does not exist contingently but necessarily: weerity is the mode of his exiitence.
• It need not now be considered whether there is only one such Being, or whether there may be in the univerie many Beings, each unoriginated and having existence in itself independent of any caufe. It is fufficient, at present, that we know there must be one such Being, whose nature we may therefore make the subject of our further inquiries.'
If we attend minutely to the nature of demonfiration, as it is exemplified in the pure and abstracted reasonings of logicians, and particularly by Euclid and other mathematicians; and were we to consider farther the specific difference between demonítrative and probable evidence, we might justly conclude, that Dr. Hamilton had not, in the proper and strict sense of the word, demonstrated the existence and abfolute perfection of the supreme ünoriginated Being: Nor does this important truth, perhaps, admit of metaphysical or mathematical denionstration, though it certainly does of the bighest degree of moral evidence. Yet, abstracted fpeculation, however it may leave the mind in doubt and fufpense concerning those unfathomable objects of eternity, and necessary existence, does certainly tend to thew, that the hypothesis of an eternal mind is not encumbered with fa many difficulties as the other' alternative of eternal matter, or an infinite fucceffion of dependent Beings. It humbles the pride, if it does not wholly satisfy the precision of rean son; and prepares the mind for the reception of truth, on such probable evidence as must ever-carry convi&tion where the heart is not pre-engaged, and has not taken part against it. Dr. Hamilton has perceived and offered, at Icast ingenigus and plausible remedies, for the defects of fome of the links in the chains of his predecessors in the walk of the moft sublime of all speculations. He treats his great subject with order, perspicuity, and elegance. His book will be read with pleafure by eyery Theift, and indeed by all lovers of abstracted reasoning on objects which cannot but obtrude themselves on the most sceptical minds.
ART IX. A letter to the People of Scotland, on the alarming Attempt
to infringe the Articles of the Union, and introduce a most pernicinus Innovation, by diminishing the Number of the Lords of Seffion.
By James Bofwell, Efq; 8vo. 2s. 6d. Dilly. THI
HIS is in our opinion, the best performance which has
proceeded from the pen of Mr. Boswell; and it is with a sincere pleasure that we applaud his public virtue and patriotism. The pernicious scheme of invading the Union, appears to have originated in the crooked policy of Henry Dundas, fometimes termed Harry the Ninth, from the despotical principles upon which he acts, and in that of his subservient friend Mr. "Ilay Campbell, the present Lord Advocate for Scotland.
At a period, when the loss of the American provinces is recent, and when the disturbances of Ireland are by no means settled, it is to the highest degree surprising that a plan should be formed to excite diffentions in Scotland. It would secm that the present ministry, by giving encouragement to Mr. Dundas and his aifociate, were defirous of removing Scotland from all connection with Eagland, and of advancing the calamities of this anfortunate country. For to what point but to open rebellion, must it lead, to insult and to destroy the most valuable and the most guarded rights of the Scottish nation? After an attempt fo nefarious, after a project fo traiterous, if the people of Scotland can confide in Mr. Dundas, and the Lord Advocate, they must be corrupted indeed! The inhabitants of England will carry, upon this occasion, a penetrating cye to their conduct; and if the Scots Thall display the symptoms of abjectness and servility, their reputation will be lost for ever.
With respect to argument, it is almost unnecessary to oba serve, that Mr. Bofwell is decidedly clear and convincing.-For the encroachment fo profligately in agitation, is in the most flagrant opposition to the precife and definitive language of the treaty of union. It is also apparent, that by the diminution of the number of the Scots Judges, Mr. Dundas and Mr. Campbell had it in their view to sway and direct the more completely the Court of Session in Scotland. For, of late years, that unhappy jurifdi&tion has been considered as a political engine; and it is an obvious axiom of polity, that it is much easier to command a body which consists of a few members, than of many.
-Mr. Bofwell has touched upon the daring spirit of Mr. Dundas, who affects not only to govern Scotland, but even the present administration. The Itroke however of his fatire is not fufficiently sharp. He indeed appeals to the power of this politician, but he does not apply himself to describe his principles.
li Doany of you want to be informed of Mr. Hen. Dundas's power? 1 I dare say not. Care is taken that its full extent shall be proclaimed as far as Orkney. Yet let us contemplate a striking instance ; it would make a picture for the exhibition, or a scene at Aftley's. Be. kold him in your metropolis, which the death of Sir Laurence Dun, das left open to him. With his right hand he has moved the Lord Provost, Hunter Blair, (gold chain and all) from his political bafe. With his left he has thrust in as representative of the citizens of Edinburgh-Whom?-a respectable merchant ? No-A prosper. ous tradesman ? No.-A Coutts, the father of the great establifhment in the Strand, London ? No.-Kerr, whom Pelbam loved ? No.-A citizen of any fort, good, bad, or indifferent?
No, no. no.--Whom then ? Why, Sir Adam Ferguson, advocate, the late member for the county of Ayre! Sir Adam Ferguson wrote a circular letter against peers interfering in our county election, and feveral very worthy gentlemen joined the standard of independency, as then imagined, which he erected, Carrying them along with him, and
yer having his peers as well as we,” he contrived to poffefs, for two parliaments, the representation of Ayreshire, by means of those superiority votes
, which that county has declared to be nominal and fictitious, while the real interest was unrepresented. Sir Adam Ferguson last year, as we are told, made overtures to the Earl of Eglintoune, and formed a coalition with his lordship. That he was not elected, we know ; that he voted for his former appointment, we know; and it is faid he supports the Earl's friend for one parliament, and the Earl is to make him member pext parliament if he can.
As to all this power assumed by Mr. Dundas, I must say miror!
May eke thae men o'mony wimples,
Wi' their new allies the Dundases,
• Rule aw our lords and lairds like afles ! Among the politicians who will befriend the Scots in protecting the Union, it appears to us very remarkable, that Mr. Boswell should have included the present premier.
And shall we be so unjust to the Minister of the Crown, to the fecond William Pitt, as to apprehend that he will not hear us? · He who first took, he who still holds the reins of government, with the hearty concurrence, the generous applause of an admiring nation! He whose nobleness of foul has so remarkably shewn bow open he is to conviction ! I can have no doubt that, when he has made