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PROP. been used to converse only with generations and
corruptions, and never saw any thing made or created, but only formed or framed, are apt to endeavour to conform our idea of creation to that of formation, and to imagine, that as in all formations there is some pre-existing matter, out of which a thing is formed, so in creation there must be considered a pre-existing nothing, out of which, as out of a real material cause, a thing is created; which looks, indeed, very like a contradiction. But this is only a confusion of ideas, just like children's imagining that darkness is some real thing, which in the morning is driven away by the light, or transformed into it; whereas the true notion of creation is not a forming something out of nothing, as out of a material cause, but only a bringing something into being that before had no being at all, or a causing something to exist now that did not exist before, or which, without this cause, would not have existed; which no man can ever reduce to a contradiction, any more than the formation of any thing into a shape which it had not before, can be reduced to a contradiction.
But further : The creation of matter is a thing not only not impossible in itself, but what, moreover, even by bare reason, is demonstrated to be true. For it is a contradiction (as I have shown above) to suppose matter necessarily existing:
2dly. It is possible to infinite power to create any power of immaterial cogitative substance, indued with a power immaterial of beginning motion, and with a liberty of will or cogitative choice. This also has been always denied by all
atheists; and, because it is a proposition of the greatest consequence to religion and morality, therefore I shall be particular in endeavouring the proof of the several parts of it.
First, It is possible to infinite power to create any immaterial cogitative substance. That there can be such a thing as a cogitative substance, that is, a substance indued with consciousness and thought, is granted by all, because every man's own experience
convinces him that he himself is such a substance. PROP. Further : That if there be, or can be, any such thing
X. as immaterial substances, then it is most reasonable to believe that such substances as are indued with consciousness and thought [properties the farthest distant from the known properties of matter, and the most unlike them that can possibly be imagined,] are those immaterial substances; this also will, I think, be granted by all men. The only point, therefore, that remains to be proved, is, that immaterial substances are not impossible, or, that a substance immaterial is not a contradictory notion. Now, whoever asserts that it is contradictory, must affirm, that whatever is not matter is nothing, and that to say any thing exists which is not matter, is saying that there exists something which is nothing; which, in other words, is plainly this: That whatever we have not an idea of, is nothing, and impossible to be; for there is no other way to reduce immaterial substance to a contradiction, but by supposing immaterial to signify the same as having no existence; and there is no possible way to prove that, but by saying we have no idea of it; and, therefore, it neither has nor can have any existence. By which same argument, material substance will in like manner be a contradiction ; for of that also, (viz. of the substance to which solidity belongs,) we have no idea. But supposing it were true (as it is indeed most false,) that we had a clearer idea of the substance of matter, than we have of immaterial substance, still by the same argument, wherewith an atheist will prove immaterial substance to be impossible, a man born blind may demonstrate irrefragably that light or colour is an impossible and contradictory notion, because it is not a sound or a smell ; for the power of seeing light or colour is, to a man born blind, altogether as incomprehensible and absolutely beyond
the reach of all his ideas, as either the operations and perceptions, or even the simple essence of a pure immaterial substance of spirit, can be to any of us. If, therefore,
PROP. the blind man's want of ideas be not a sufficient X.
proof of the impossibility of light or colour, how comes our bare want of ideas to be a demonstration of the impossibility of the being of immaterial substances ? A blind man, they will say, has testimony of the existence of light : Very true; so also have we of the existence of immaterial substances. But there is this further advantage on our side in the comparison, that a blind man, excepting the testimony of others, finds not, by any reasoning within himself
, the least likelihood or probability, no not in the lowest possible degree, that there can be any such thing as light or colour; but we, besides testimony, have great and strong arguments, both from experience and reason, that there are such things as immaterial substances, though we have no knowledge of their simple essence; as indeed of the substance even of matter itself its simple substance, considered as abstract from, and as the foundation of that essential property of solidity,) we have no idea, (for to say that extension is the substance of matter, is the same way of thinking, as to say that existence, or that duration, is the substance of matter.) We have, I say, great and strong arguments both from experience and reason, that there are such things as immaterial substances, though we have no idea of their simple essence; even the very first and most universal principle of gravitation itself, in all matter, since it is ever proportional, not at all to the surfaces of bodies, or of their particles in any possible supposition, but exactly to the solid content of bodies, it is evident it cannot be caused by matter acting upon the surfaces of matter, which is all it can do, but must (either immediately or mediately) be caused by something which continually penetrates its solid substance. But in animals, which have a power of self-motion, and in the perfecter sorts of them, which have still higher faculties, the thing is yet more evident; for we see and feel, and observe daily in ourselves and others, such powers and operations and
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perceptions, as undeniably evince themselves either PROP. to be the properties of immaterial substances; or else it will follow, that matter is something, of whose essential powers (as well as of its substance itself,) we have altogether as little idea as we have of immaterial beings; and then how are immaterial substances more impossible than material ? But of this, more hereafter.
From what has been said on this head, it will be of the imeasy to answer all the objections, that have been materialibrought by any atheists against the notion of hu- inan souls. man souls being immaterial substances, and distinct from body. For since it is possible there may be See a leto such things as immaterial substances; and since, if Dodwell, any such substance can be, there is all the reason in with the the world to believe that conscious and thinking sub- fences of stance is such, these properties being the most re-it. mote from the known properties of matter, that are possible to be conceived; the foundation of all the objections against the immateriality of the soul is entirely taken away. I shall not here tarry to consider the objections in particular, which have been often and fully answered by learned pens, but shall only mention one, on which all the rest depend, and to which they may all be reduced; and it is this :* That seeing the only means we have of perception, are the five senses; and these all plainly
-Si immortalis natura animæ est,
Lucret. lib. 3.
PROP. depend upon the organs of the body, therefore the
soul, without the body, can have no perception, and consequently is nothing. Now (besides that these very senses or perceptions, however they may be obstructed by bodily indisposision, and so do indeed depend upon the organs of the body as to their present excercise, yet in their nature are really entirely distinct powers, and cannot possibly, as has been* bé fore shown, be absolutely founded in, or arise from, any of the known properties or qualities of matter; besides this, I say :) of him that thus argues, I would
I only ask this one question : are our five senses, by an absolute necessity in the nature of the thing, all and the only possible ways of perception ? and is it impossible and contradictory that there should be any being in the universe, indued with ways of perception different from these that are the result of our present composition ? or are these things, on the contrary, purely arbitrary; and the same power that gave us these, may have given others to other beings, and might (if he had pleased) have given to us others in this present state, and may yet have made us capable of different ones in another state? If they be purely arbitrary, then the want of these does by no means infer a total want of perception : but the same soul, which in the present state has the powers of reflection, reason and judgment; which are faculties entirely different from sense; may as easily in another state have different ways even of perception also. But if any one will contend, that these senses of ours are necessarily the only ways of perception; still the soul may be capable of having these very same ways of perception at any time restored to it. For as that which sees, does not cease to exist, when, in the dark, all objects are removed; so, that which perceives, does not necessarily cease to exist, when, by death, all organs of perception are removed.
But what reason can any man allege, why he should imagine these present senses of ours to be