« PreviousContinue »
say, in the nature of the thing, that matter should be PROP. absent from any other place, or from every place.
Spinoza, the most celebrated patron of atheism Spinoza's in our time, who taught that there is no difference opinion of substances,* but that the whole and every part of the material world is a necessarily-existing being, and that there is no other God but the universe ;t that he might seemingly avoid the manifold absurdities of that opinion, endeavours by an ambiguity of expression, in the progress of his discourse, to elude the arguments by which he foresaw his assertion would be confuted. For, having first plainly asserted, that all substance is necessarily-existing,t he would afterward seem to explain it away, by asserting, that the reason why every thing exists necessarily,and could not possibly have been in any respect different from what it now is, is because every thing flows from the necessity of the divine nature. By which, if the unwary reader understands, that he means things are therefore necessarily such as they are, be. cause infinite wisdom and goodness could not possibly make things but in that order which is fittest and wisest in the whole, he is very much mistaken: for such a necessity is not a natural, but only a moral and consequential necessity, and directly contrary to the author's true intention. Further, if the reader hereby understands, that God was determined, not by a necessity of wisdom and goodness, but by a mere natural necessity, exclusive of will and choice,
* Una substantia non potest produci ab alia substantia. Et hi prop.
6. Omnis substantia est necessaria infinita. Ibid.
8. Ad naturam substantiæ pertinet existere. Ibid. prop. 7. + Præter Deum nulla dari neque concipi potest substantia. Ibid. # Ad naturam substantiæ pertinet existerc. 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,) sequi debent.
PROP. to make all things just as they now are; neither is
; this the whole of Spinoza's meaning: for this, as absurd as it is, is still supposing God as a substance distinct from the material world ; which he expressly denies.* Nay, further, if any one thinks his meaning to be, that all substances in the world are only modifications of the divine essence, neither is this all ; for thus God may still be supposed as an agent, acting upon himself at least, and manifesting himself in different manners, according to his own will; which Spinoza expressly denies.t But his true meaning, therefore, however darkly and ambiguously he sometimes speaks, must be this; and if he means any thing at all consistent with himself, can be no other than this : that, since it is absolutelyt impossible for any thing to be created or produced by another; and || also absolutely impossible for God to have caused any thing to be in any respect different from what it now is ; every thing that exists, must needs be so a part of the divine substance, not as a modi
$ fication caused in it by any** will or good-pleasure, or wisdom in the whole, but as of absolute necessity in itself, with respect to the mannerft of the existence of each part, no less than with respect to the self-existence of the whole. Thus the opinion of Spinoza, when expressed plainly and consistently, comes evidently to this ; that the material world, and every part of it, with the order and manner of being of each part, is the only self-existent, or necessarily-existing being. And now, consequently, he must of necessity affirm all the conclusions which I have be
* Locis supra citatis.
+ Deum non operari ex libertate voluntatis. Prop. 32. corol. 1. et scholium ad prop. 17.
# Una substantia non potest produci ab alia substantia. Prop. 6.
|| Res, nullo alio niodo, neque alio ordine, a Deo produci potuerunt quam productæ sunt. Prop. 33.
$ Præter Deum nulla dari, neque concipi potest substantia. Prop. 14.
** Deum non operari ex libertate voluntatis. Prop. 32. corol. 1. At Nullo alio modo, neque ordine, &c.
fore shown to follow demonstrably from that opin- PROP. ion. He cannot possibly avoid affirming, that it is a contradiction, (not to the perfections of God, for that is mere senseless cant and amusement in him who maintains that there is but one substance in the universe ; but he must affirm that it is in itself and in terms a contradiction,) for any thing to be, or to be imagined, in any respect otherwise than it now is. He must say it is a contradiction, to suppose the number, or figure, or order of the several parts of the world, could possibly have been different from what they now are. He must say, motion is necessarily of itself, and consequently that it is a contradiction in terms to suppose any matter to be at rest; or else he must affirm, (which is rather the more absurd of the two, as may appear from what has been already said in proof of the second general head of this discourse ;* and yet he has chosen to affirm it;) that motion, as a dependent being, has been eternally communicated from one piece of matter to another, without having at all any original cause of its being, either within itself or from without, which, with other the like consequences touching the necessity of the existence of things, (the very mention of which is a sufficient confutation of any opinion they follow from,) do, as I have said, unavoidably follow from the fore-mentioned opinion of Spinoza. And consequently, that opinion, viz. that the uni. verse, or whole world, is the self-existent or necessarily-existing being, is demonstrated to be false.
I have, in this attempt to show that the material world cannot possibly be the first and original being, uncreated, independent, and self-existent, designedly omitted the argument usually drawn from the supposed absolute impossibility, in the nature of the thing itself, of the world's being eternal, or having
* Corpus motum, vel quiescens, ad motum vel quietem determinari debuit ab alio corpore, quod etiam ad motum vel quietum determinatum fuit ab alio, et illud iterum ab alio, et sic in infinitum. Par. II. prop. 13. lemma 3.
PROP. existed through an infinite succession of time; and
this I have done for the two following reasons. of the opi
1st. Because the question between us and the nion con- atheists is not whether the world can possibly have cerning
been eternal, but whether it can possibly be the orithe eterni. ty of the ginal, independent self-existing being ?—which is a
very different question. For many, who have affirmed the one, have still utterly denied the other. And almost all the ancient philosophers, that held the eternity of the world, in whose authority and reasons our modern atheists do so greatly boast and triumph, defended that their opinion by such arguments as show plainly that they did by no means thereby intend to assert that the material world was the original, independent, self-existing being, in opposition to the belief of the existence of a supreme all-governing mind, which is the notion of God. So that the deniers of the being of God have no manner of advantage from that opinion of the eternity of the world, even supposing it could not be disproved. Almost all the old philosophers, I say, who held the eternity of the world, did not thereby mean (at least their arguments do not tend to prove) that it was independent and self-existent; but their arguments are wholly levelled, either to prove barely that something must needs be eternal, and that the universe could not possibly arise out of nothing absolutely and without cause; which is all that Ocellus Lucanus's arguments amount to : or else that the world is an eternal and necessary effect, flowing from the essential and immutable energy of the divine nature; which seems to have been Aristotle's opinion: or else that the world is an eternal voluntary emanation from the all-wise and supreme cause; which was the opinion of many of Plato's followers. None of which opinions or arguments will in the least help out ourmodern atheists; who wouldexcludesuprememind and intelligence out of the universe. For, however the opinion of the eternity of the world is really inconsistent with the belief of its being created in time,
yet so long as the defenders of that opinion either PROP. did not think it inconsistent with the belief of the II. world's being the effect and work of an eternal, allwise, and all-powerful mind; or at least could defend that opinion by such arguments only as did not in the least prove the self-existence or independency of the world, but most of them rather quite the contrary; it is with the greatest injustice and unreasonableness in the world, that modern atheists (to whose purpose the éternity or non-eternity of the world would signify nothing, unless at the same time the existence and sovereignty of eternal intelligence or mind were likewise disproved,) pretend either the authority or the reasons of these men to be on their side.
Ocellus Lucanus, one of the ancientest asserters of the eternity of the world, (whose antiquity and authority* Mr Blunt opposes to that of Moses,) in delivering his opinion, speaks, indeed, like one that believed the material world to be self-existent; as. serting,† that it is utterly incapable either of generation or corruption, of beginning or end ; that it is of itself eternal and perfect, and permanent for ever, and that the frame and parts of the world must needs be eternal as well as the substance and matter of the whole. But when he comes to produce his arguments or reasons for his opinion, they are either so very absurd and ridiculous, that even any atheist in this age ought to be ashamed to repeat them; as when he attempts to prove that the world must needs be
* Oracles of Reason ; Letter to Mr Gildon, p. 216.
Κόσμος αυτός εξ εαυτ8 άιδιός έστι και αυτοτελής, και διαμένων των πάντα αιώνα.
'Αεί όντος τε κόσμε, αναγκαίων και τα μέρη αυτού συνυπάρχειν. Λέγω δε μέρη ουρανόν, γήν, &c. Ocell. Lucan. Περί της ού παντός φύσεως.
# Το άναρχον και ατελέυτητον ού σχήματος και της κινήσεως πιστεται, διότι αγεννητος ο κόσμος και άφθαρτος ήτε γαρ του σχήματος ιδέα, κύκλος έτος δε