صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

If it be the motion of its parts on which its thinking depends, all the thoughts there must be unavoidably accidental and limited; since all the particles that by motion cause thought, being each of them in itself without any thought, cannot regulate its own motions, much less be regulated by the thought of the whole; since that thought is not the cause of motion (for then it must be antecedent to it, and so without it) but the consequence of it, whereby freedom, power, choice, and all rational and wise thinking or acting, will be quite taken away: so that such a thinking being will be no better nor wiser than pure blind matter; since to resolve all into the accidental unguided motions of blind matter, or into thought depending on unguided motions of blind matter, is the same thing; not to mention the narrowness of such thoughts and knowledge that must depend on the motion of such parts. But there needs no enumeration of any more absurdities and impossibilities in this hypothesis (however full of them it be) than that before-mentioned; since let this thinking system be all, or a part of the matter of the universe, it is impossible that any one particle should either know its own or the motion of any other particle, or the whole know the motion of every particle; and so regulate its own thoughts or motions, or indeed have any thought resulting from such motion. § 18. Others would have matter to be

Matter not eternal, notwithstanding that they allow co-eternal an eternal, cogitative, immaterial being. with an eterThis, though it take not away the being nal mind. of a God, yet since it denies one and the first great piece of his workmanship, the creation, let us consider it a little. Matter must be allowed eternal. Why? because you cannot conceive how it can be made out of nothing. Why do you not also think yourself eternal ? You will answer, perhaps, because about twenty or forty years since you began to be. But if I ask you what that you is, which began then to be, you can scarce tell me. The matter, whereof you are made,

VOL. III.

F

[ocr errors]

began not then to be; for if it did, then it is not eternal: but it began to be put together in such ą fashion and frame as makes up your body; but yet that frame of particles is not you, it makes not that thinking thing you are; (for I have now to do with one who allows an eternal, immaterial, thinking being, but would have unthinking matter eternal too) therefore when did that thinking thing begin to be? If it did never begin to be, then have you always been a thinking thing from eternity; the absurdity whereof I need not confute, till I meet with one who is so void of understanding as to own it. If therefore you can allow a thinking thing to be made out of nothing (as all things that are not eternal must be) why also can you not allow it possible for a material being to be made out of nothing, by an equal power, but that you have the experience of the one in view, and not of the other! though, when well considered, creation of a spirit will be found to require no less power than the creation of matter. Nay, possibly, if we would emancipate ourselves from vulgar notions, and raise our thoughts as far as they would reach, to a closer contemplation of things, we might be able to aim at some dim and seeming conception how matter might at first be made, and begin to exist by the power of that eternal first being : but to give beginning and being to a spirit, would be found a more inconceivable effect of omnipotent power. But, this being what would perhaps lead us too far from the notions on which the philosophy now in the world is built, it would not be pardonable to deviate so far from them; or to inquire, so far as grammar itself would authorise, if the common settled opinion opposes it: especially in this place, where the received doctrine serves well enough to our present purpose, and leaves this past doubt, that the creation or beginning of any one substance out of nothing being once admitted, the creation of all other, but the Creator himself, may, with the same ease, be supposed

$ 19. But you will say, is it not impossible to admit of the making any thing out of nothing, since we cannot possibly conceive it? I answer, No: 1. Because it is not reasonable to deny the power of an infinite being, because we cannot comprehend its operations, We do not deny other effects upon this ground, because we cannot possibly conceive the manner of their production. We cannot conceive how any thing but impulse of body can move body; and yet that is not a reason sufficient to make us deny it impossible, against the constant experience we have of it in ourselves, in all our voluntary motions, which are produced in us only by the free action or thought of our own minds; and are not, nor can be the effects of the impulse or determination of the motion of blind matter in or upon our own bodies; for then it could not be in our power or choice to alter it. For example: my right hand writes, whilst my left hand is stili. What causes rest in one, and motion in the other ? Nothing but my will, a thought of my mind; my thought only changing, the right hand reşts, and the left hand moves. This is matter of fact, which cannot be denied. Explain this, and make it intelligible, and then the next step will be to understand creation. For the giving a new determination to the motion of the animal spirits (which some make use of to explain voluntary motion) clears not the annoy one jot: to alter the determination of motion being in this case no easier nor less than to give motion itself; since the new determination given to the animal spirits must be either immediately by thought, or by some other body put in their way by thought, which was not in their way before, and so must owe its motion to thought; either of which leaves voluntary motion as unintelligible as it was before. In the mean time it is an overvaluing ourselves to reduce all to the narrow measure of our capacities, and to conclude all things impossible to be done, whose manner of doing exceeds our comprehension. This is to make

t 2 et at th

ert sfit

zred
roid
cal

ca o be

YOU of the

can the

emat

se ob

31 CON

t som

of the being efect

moule thiu

toi if the

a thi

2006 ouby

tant

Sall

our comprehension infinite, or God finite, when what we can do is liniited to what we can conceive of it. If you

do not understand the operations of your own finite mind, that thinking thing within you, do not deem it strange, that you cannot comprehend the operations of that eternal infinite mind, who made and governs all things, and whom the heaven of heavens cannot contain.

CHAPTER XI.

Of our Knowledge of the Existence of other Things.

It is to be $ 1. The knowledge of our own being had only by we have by intuition. The existence of a sensation,

God reason clearly makes known to us, as has been shown.

The knowledge of the existence of any other thing we can have only by sensation : for there being no

sexion of real existence with any idea a man hath in his memory, nor of any other existence but that of God, with the existence of any particular man; no particular man can know the existence of any other being, but only when by actual operating upon him it makes itself perceived by him. For the having the idea of any thing in our mind no more proves the existence of that thing, than the picture of a man evidences his being in the world, or the visions of a dream make thereby a true history.

w $ 2. It is therefore the actual receiving whiteness of of ideas from without, that gives us notice this paper of the existence of other things, and makes

us know that something doth exist at that time without us, which causes that idea in us, though perhaps we neither know nor consider how it does it:

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

for it takes not from the certainty of our senses, and the ideas we receive by them, that we know not the manner wherein they are produced : v. g. whilst I write this, I have, by the paper affecting my eyes, that idea produced in my mind which, whatever object causes, I call white; by which I know that that quality or accident (i. e. whose appearance before my eyes always causes that idea) doth really exist, and hath a being without me. And of this, the greatest assurance I can possibly have, and to which my faculties can attain, is the testimony of my eyes, which are the proper and sole judges of this thing, whose testimony I have reason to rely on as so certain, that I can no more doubt, whilst I write this, that I see white and black, and that something really exists, that causes that sensation in me, than that I write or move my hand: which is a certainty as great as human nature is capable of concerning the existence of any thing but a man's self alone, and of God.

$ 3. The notice we have by our senses of the existing of things without us, though not so cera

This though it be not altogether so certain as our intuitive knowledge, or the deductions of monstration, our reason, employed about the clear abs- yet may be

called knowtract ideas of our own minds; yet it is ledge, and an assurance that deserves the name of

proves knowledge. If we persuade ourselves that existence of our faculties act and inform us right, con

things with cerning the existence of those objects that affect them, it cannot pass for an ill-grounded confidence: for I think nobody can, in earnest, be so sceptical as to be uncertain of the existence of those things which he sees and feels. At least, he that can doubt so far (whatever he may have with his own thoughts) will never have any controversy with me; since he can never be sure I say any thing contrary to his own opinion. As to myself, I think God has given me assurance enough of the existence of things without me; since by their different application I can

CO US

tain as de.

the

[ocr errors]

out us.

ving

« السابقةمتابعة »