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turns wholly upon Solomon's taking the soul to be immortal, which was not what I questioned: all that I quoted that place for, was to show, that spirit in English might properly be applied to the soul, without any notion of its immateriality, as was by Solomon, which, whether he thought the souls of men to be immaterial, does little appear in that passage, where he speaks of the souls of men and beasts together, as he does. But farther, what I contended for is evident from that place, in that the word spirit is there applied by our translators to the souls of beasts, which your lordship, I think, does not rank amongst the immaterial, and consequently immortal spirits, though they have sense and spon
But you say, * If the soul be not of itself a free thinking substance, you do not see what foundation there is in nature for a day of judgment. Ans. Though the heathen world did not of old, nor do to this day, see a foundation in nature for a day of judgment; yet in revelation, if that will satisfy your lordship, every one may see a foundation for a day of judgment, because God has positively declared it; though God has not by that revelation taught us what the substance of the soul is; nor has any where said, that the soul of itself is a free agent. Whatsoever any created substance is, it is not of itself, but is by the good pleasure of its Creator: whatever degrees of perfection it has, it has from the bountiful hand of its Maker. For it is true in a natural, as well as a spiritual sense, what St. Paul says, † Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God.
But your lordship, as I guess by your following words, would argue, that a material substance cannot be a free agent; whereby I suppose you only mean, that you cannot see or conceive how a solid substance should begin, stop, or change its own motion. To which give me leave to answer, that when you can make it conceivable, how any created, finite, dependent substance can move itself, or alter or stop its own motion, which it must to be a free agent; I suppose you will find it no harder for God to bestow this power on a solid than an unsolid created substance. Tully, in the place above quoted, ‡ could not conceive this power to be in any thing but what was from eternity; Cum pateat igitur æternum id esse quod seipsum moveat, quis est qui hanc naturam animis esse tributam neget? But though you cannot see how any created substance, solid or not solid, can be a free agent, (pardon me, my lord, if I put in both, till your lordship please to explain it of either, and show the manner how either of them can, of itself, move itself or any thing else) yet I do not think you will so far deny men to be free agents, from the difficulty there is to see how they are free agents, as to doubt whether there be foundation enough for a day of judgment.
It is not for me to judge how far your lordship's speculations
* 1st Answer. † 2 Cor. iii. 5.
Tusculan. Quæst. L. 1. c. 23.
impossible for us, by the contemplation of our own ideas, without revelation, to discover whether omnipotency has not given to some systems of matter, fitly disposed, a power to perceive and think, or else joined and fixed to matter so disposed a thinking immaterial substance: it being, in respect of our notions, not much more remote from our comprehension to conceive that
reach but finding in myself nothing to be truer than what the wise Solomon tells me, *As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child; even so thou knowest not the works of God, who maketh all things; I gratefully receive and rejoice in the light of revelation, which sets me at rest in many things, the manner whereof my poor reason can by no means make out to me. Omnipotency, I know, can do any thing that contains in it no contradiction; so that I readily believe whatever God has declared, though my reason find difficulties in it, which it cannot master. As in the present case, God having revealed that there shall be a day of judgment, I think that foundation enough to conclude men are free enough to be made answerable for their actions, and to receive according to what they have done; though how man is a free agent surpass my explication or comprehension.
In answer to the place I brought out of St. Luke †, your lordship asks, Whether from these words of our Saviour it follows, that a spirit is only an appearance? I answer, No; nor do I know who drew such an inference from them: but it follows, that in apparitions there is something that appears, and that which appears is not wholly immaterial; and yet this was properly called veμa, and was often looked upon, by those who called it veμa in Greek, and now call it spirit in English, to be the ghost or soul of one departed; which I humbly conceive justifies my use of the word spirit, for a thinking voluntary agent, whether material or immaterial.
Your lordship says, § That I grant, that it cannot upon these principles be demonstrated, that the spiritual substance in us is immaterial; from whence you conclude, That then my grounds of certainty from ideas are plainly given up. This being a way of arguing that you often make use of, I have often had occasion to consider it, and cannot after all see the force of this argument. I acknowledge that this or that proposition cannot upon my principles be demonstrated; ergo, I grant this proposition to be false, that certainty consists in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas. For that is my ground of certainty, and till that be given up, my grounds of certainty are not given up.
* Eccl. xi. 5. + Chap. xxiv. v. 39.
God can, if he pleases, superadd to matter a faculty of thinking, than that he should superadd to it another substance, with a faculty of thinking; since we know not wherein thinking consists, nor to what sort of substances the Almighty has been pleased to give that power, which cannot be in any created being, but merely by the good pleasure and bounty of the Creator. For I see no contradiction in it, that the first eternal thinking being should, if he pleased, give to certain systems of created senseless matter, put together as he thinks fit, some degrees of sense, perception, and thought: though, as I think, I have proved, lib. iv. ch. 10. § 14, &c. it is no less than a contradiction to suppose matter (which is evidently in its own nature void of sense and thought) should be that eternal first-thinking being. What certainty of knowledge can any one have that some perceptions, such as, v. g. pleasure and pain, should not be in some bodies themselves, after a certain manner modified and moved, as well as that they should be in an immaterial substance, upon the motion of the parts of body? Body, as far as we can conceive, being able only to strike and affect body; and motion, according to the utmost reach of our ideas, being able to produce nothing but motion: so that when we allow it to produce pleasure or pain, or the idea of a colour or sound, we are fain to quit our reason, go beyond our ideas, and attribute it wholly to the good pleasure of our Maker. For since we must allow he has annexed effects to motion, which we can no way conceive motion able to produce, what reason have we to conclude, that he could not order them as well to be produced in a subject we cannot conceive capable of them, as well as in a subject we cannot conceive the motion of matter can any way operate upon? I say not this, that I would any way lessen the belief of the soul's immateriality: I am not here speaking of probability, but knowledge; and I think not only, that it becomes the modesty of philosophy not to pronounce magisterially, where we want that evidence that can produce knowledge; but
also, that it is of use to us to discern how far our knowledge does reach: for the state we are at present in not being that of vision, we must, in many things, content ourselves with faith and probability; and in the present question, about the immateriality of the soul, if our faculties cannot arrive at demonstrative certainty, we need not think it strange. All the great ends of morality and religion are well enough secured, without philosophical proofs of the soul's immateriality; since it is evident, that he who made us at the beginning to subsist here, sensible intelligent beings, and for several years continued us in such a state, can and will restore us to the like state of sensibility in another world, and make us capable there to receive the retribution he has designed to men, according to their doings in this life. And therefore it is not of such mighty necessity to determine one way or the other, as some, over-zealous for or against the immateriality of the soul, have been forward to make the world believe. Who, either on the one side, indulging too much their thoughts immersed altogether in matter, can allow no existence to what is not material: or who, on the other side, finding not cogitation within the natural powers of matter, examined over and over again by the utmost intention of mind, have the confidence to conclude, that omnipotency itself cannot give perception and thought to a substance which has the modification of solidity. He that considers how hardly sensation is, in our thoughts, reconcileable to extended matter; or existence to any thing that has no existence at all; will confess, that he is very far from certainly knowing what his soul is. It is a point which seems to me to be put out of the reach of our knowledge: and he who will give himself leave to consider freely, and look into the dark and intricate part of each hypothesis, will scarce find his reason able to determine him fixedly for or against the soul's materiality. Since on which side soever he views it, either as an unextended substance, or as a thinking extended matter, the difficulty to
conceive either will, whilst either alone is in his thoughts, still drive him to the contrary side; an unfair way which some men take with themselves, who, because of the inconceiveableness of something they find in one, throw themselves violently into the contrary hypothesis, though altogether as unintelligible to an unbiassed understanding. This serves not only to show the weakness and the scantiness of our knowledge, but the insignificant triumph of such sort of arguments, which, drawn from our own views, may satisfy us that we can find no certainty on one side of the question; but do not at all thereby help us to truth by running into the opposite opinion, which, on examination, will be found clogged with equal difficulties. For what safety, what advantage to any one is it, for the avoiding the seeming absurdities, and to him unsurmountable rubs he meets with in one opinion, to take refuge in the contrary, which is built on something altogether as inexplicable, and as far remote from his comprehension? It is past controversy, that we have in us something that thinks; our very doubts about what it is confirm the certainty of its being, though we must content ourselves in the ignorance of what kind of being it is: and it is in vain to go about to be sceptical in this, as it is unreasonable in most other cases to be positive against the being of any thing, because we cannot comprehend its nature. For I would fain know what substance exists, that has not something in it which manifestly baffles our understandings. Other spirits, who see and know the nature and inward constitution of things, how much must they exceed us in knowledge! To which if we add larger comprehension, which enables them at one glance to see the connexion and agreement of very many ideas, and readily supplies to them the intermediate proofs, which we by single and slow steps, and long poring in the dark, hardly at last find out, and are often ready to forget one before we have hunted out another; we may guess at some part of