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by virtue of those new endowments; nor is it to be wondered that we cannot, whilst we limit all its operations to those qualities it had before, and would explain them by the known properties of matter in general, without any such induced perfections. For, if this be a right rule of rea soning, to deny a thing to be, because we cannot conceive the manner how it comes to be; I shall desire them who use it to stick to this rule, and see what work it will make both in divinity as well as philosophy: and whether they can advance any thing more in favour of scepticim.
For to keep within the present subject of the power of thinking and self-motion, bestowed by omnipotent power in some parts of matter: the objection to this is, I cannot conceive how matter should think. What is the consequence? Ergo, God cannot give it a power to think. Let this stand for a good reason, and then proceed in other cases by the same. You cannot conceive how matter can attract matter at any distance, much less at the distance of 1,000,000 miles; ergo, God cannot give it such a power: you cannot conceive how matter should feel, or move itself, or affect an immaterial being, or be moved by it; ergo, God cannot give it such powers: which is in effect to deny gravity, and the revolution of the planets about the sun; to make brutes mere machines, without sense or spontaneous motion; and to allow man neither sense nor voluntary motion.
Let us apply this rule one degree farther. You cannot conceive how an extended solid substance should think, therefore God cannot make it think can you conceive how your own soul, or any substance, thinks? You find indeed that you do think, and so do I; but I want to be told how the action of thinking is performed: this, I confess, is beyond my conception; and I would be glad any one, who conceives it, would explain it to me. God, I find, has given me this faculty; and since I cannot but be convinced of his power in this instance, which though I every moment experiment in myself, yet I cannot conceive the manner of; what would it be less than an insolent absurdity, to deny his power in other like cases, only for this reason, because I cannot conceive the manner how?
To explain this matter a little farther: God has created a substance; let it be, for example, a solid extended substance. Is God bound to give it, besides being, a power of action? that, I think, nobody will say: he therefore may leave it in a state of inactivity, and it will be nevertheless a substance; for action is not necessary to the being of any substance that God does create. God has likewise created and made to exist, de novo, an immaterial substance, which will not lose its being of a substance, though God should bestow on it nothing more but this bare being, without giving it any activity at all. Here are now two distinct substances, the one material, the other immaterial, both in a state of perfect inactivity. Now I ask, what power God can give to one of these substances (supposing them to retain the same distinct natures that they had as substances in their state of inactivity) which he cannot give to the other? In that state, it is plain, neither of them thinks; for thinking being an action, it cannot be denied, that God can put an end to any action of any created substance, without annihilating of the substance whereof it is an action; and if it be so, he can also create or give existence to such a substance, without giving that substance any action at all. By the same reason it is plain, that neither of them can move itself: now, I would ask, why Omnipotency cannot give to either of these substances, which are equally in a state of perfect inactivity, the same power that it can give to the other? Let it be, for example, that of spontaneous or self-motion, which is a power that it
is supposed God can give to an unsolid substance, but denied that he can give to solid substance.
If it be asked, why they limit the omnipotency of God, in reference to the one rather than the other of these substances? all that can be said to it is, that they cannot conceive, how the solid substance should ever be able to move itself. And as little, say I, are they able to conceive, how a created unsolid substance should move itself. But there may be something in an immaterial substance, that you do not know. I grant it; and in a material one too: for example, gravitation of matter towards matter, and in the several proportions observable, inevitably shows, that there is something in matter that we do not understand, unless we can conceive self-motion in matter; or an inexplicable and inconceivable attraction in matter at immense, almost incomprehensible distances: it must therefore be confessed, that there is something in solid, as well as unsolid substances, that we do not understand. But this we know, that they may each of them have their distinct beings, without any activity superadded to them, unless you will deny, that God can take from any being its power of acting, which it is probable will be thought too presumptuous for any one to do; and I say, it is as hard to conceive self motion in a created imma. terial, as in a material being, consider it how you will; and therefore this is no reason to deny Omnipotency to be able to give a power of selfmotion to a material substance, if he pleases, as well as to an immaterial; since neither of them can have it from themselves, nor can we conceive how it can be in either of them.
The same is visible in the other operation of thinking; both these substances may be made, and exist without thought; neither of them has, or can have the power of thinking from itself: God may give it to either of them, according to the good pleasure of his omnipotency; and in which ever of them it is, it is equally beyond our capacity to conceive, how either of these substances thinks. But for that reason, to deny that God, who had power enough to give them both a being out of nothing, can by the same omnipotency give them what other powers and perfections he pleases, has no better foundation than to deny his power of creation, because we cannot conceive how it is performed: and there, at last, this way of reasoning must terminate.
That Omnipotency cannot make a substance to be solid and not solid at the same time, I think with due reverence we may say; but that a solid substance may not have qualities, perfections, and powers, which have no natural or visibly necessary connexion with solidity and extension, is too much for us (who are but of yesterday, and know nothing) to be positive in. If God cannot join things together by connexions inconceivable to us, we must deny even the consistency and being of matter itself; since every particle of it having some bulk, has its parts connected by ways inconceivable to us. So that all the difficulties that are raised against the thinking of matter, from our ignorance, or narrow conceptions, stand not at all in the way of the power of God, if he pleases to ordain it so; nor prove any thing against his having actually endued some parcels of matter, so diposed as he thinks fit, with a faculty of thinking, till it can be shown, that it contains a contradiction to suppose it.
Though to me sensation be comprehended under thinking in general, yet, in the foregoing discourse, I have spoke of sense in brutes, as distinct from thinking; because your lordship, as I remember, speaks of sense in But here I take liberty to observe, that if your lordship allows brutes
brutes to have sensation, it will follow, either that God can and doth give to some parcels of matter a power of perception and thinking; or that all animals have immaterial, and consequently, according to your lordship, immortal souls, as well as men; and to say, that fleas and mites, &c. have immortal souls as well as men, will possibly be looked on as going a great way to serve an hypothesis.
I have been pretty large in making this matter plain, that they who are so forward to bestow hard censures or names on the opinions of those who differ from them, may consider whether sometimes they are not more due to their own; and that they may be persuaded a little to temper that heat, which, supposing the truth in their current opinions, gives them (as they think) a right to lay what imputations they please on those who would fairly examine the grounds they stand upon. For talking with a supposi tion and insinuations, that truth and knowledge, nay, and religion too, stand and fall with their systems, is at best but an imperious way of begging the question, and assuming to themselves, under the pretence of zeal for the cause of God, a title to infallibility. It is very becoming that men's zeal for truth should go as far as their proofs, but not go for proofs themselves. He that attacks received opinions with any thing but fair arguments, may, I own, be justly suspected not to mean well, nor to be led by the love of truth; but the same may be said of him too, who so defends them. An error is not the better for being common, nor truth the worse for having lain neglected: and if it were put to the vote any where in the world, I doubt, as things are managed, whether truth would have the majority, at least whilst the authority of men, and not the examination of things, must be its measure. The imputation of scepticism, and those broad insinuations to render what I have writ suspected, so frequent, as if that were the great business of all this pains you have been at about me, has made me say thus much, my lord, rather as my sense of the way to establish truth in its full force and beauty, than that I think the world will need to have any thing said to it, to make it distinguish between your lordship's and my design in writing, which therefore I securely leave to the judgment of the reader, and return to the argument
What I have above said, I take to be a full answer to all that your lord. ship would infer from my idea of matter, of liberty, of identity, and from the power of abstracting. You ask, * How can my idea of liberty agree with the idea that bodies can operate only by motion and impulse? Ans. By the omnipotency of God, who can make all things agree, that involve not a contradiction. It is true, I say, "+ That bodies operate by impulse, and nothing else." And so I thought when I writ it, and can yet conceive no other way of their operation. But I am since convinced by the judicious Mr. Newton's incomparable book, that it is too bold a presumption to limit God's power in this point by my narrow conceptions. The gravitation of matter towards matter, by ways unconceivable to me, is not only a demonstration that God can, if he pleases, put into bodies powers, and ways of operation, above what can be derived from our idea of body, or can be explained by what we know of matter, but also an unquestionable, and every where visible instance, that he has done so. And therefore in the next edition of my book, I will take care to have that passage rectified.
* 1st Answer.
+ Essay, B. 2. Ch. 8. §. 11.
As to self-consciousness, your lordship asks, * What is there like selfconsciousness in matter? Nothing at all in matter as matter. But that God cannot bestow on some parcels of matter a power of thinking, and with it self-consciousness, will never be proved by asking, + How is it possible to apprehend that mere body should perceive that it doth perceive? The weakness of our apprehension I grant in the case: I confess as much as you please, that we cannot conceive how a solid, no, nor how an unsolid created substance thinks; but this weakness of our apprehensions reaches not the power of God, whose weakness is stronger than any thing in men.
Your argument from abstraction we have in this question, ‡ If it may be in the power of matter to think, how comes it to be so impossible for such organized bodies as the brutes have, to enlarge their ideas by abstraction? Ans. This seems to suppose, that I place thinking within the natural power of matter. If that be your meaning, my lord, I never say, nor suppose, that all matter has naturally in it a faculty of thinking, but the direct contrary. But if you mean that certain parcels of matter, ordered by the Divine power, as seems fit to him, may be made capable of receiving from his omnipotency the faculty of thinking; that, indeed, I say; and that being granted, the answer to your question is easy; since, if Omnipotency can give thought to any solid substance, it is not hard to conceive, that God may give that faculty in a higher or lower degree, as it pleases him, who knows what disposition of the subject is suited to such a particular way or degree of thinking.
Another argument to prove, that God cannot endue any parcel of matter with the faculty of thinking, is taken from those words of mine, where I show, by what connexion of ideas we may come to know, that God is an immaterial substance. They are these, "The idea of an eternal "actual knowing being, with the idea of immateriality, by the inter"vention of the idea of matter, and of its actual division, divisibility, "and want of perception," &c. From whence your lordship thus argues, **Here the want of perception is owned to be so essential to matter, that God is therefore concluded to be immaterial. Answ. Perception and knowledge in that one eternal being, where it has its source, it is visible must be essentially inseparable from it; therefore the actual want of perception in so great part of the particular parcels of matter, is a demonstration, that the first being, from whom perception and knowledge are inseparable, is not matter: how far this makes the want of perception an essential property of matter, I will not dispute; it suffices that it shows, that perception is not an essential property of matter; and therefore matter cannot be that eternal original being to which perception and knowledge are essential. Matter, I say, naturally is without perception: ergo, says your lordship, want of perception is an essential property of matter, and God does not change the essential properties of things, their nature remaining. From whence you infer, that God cannot bestow on any parcel of matter (the nature of matter remaining) a faculty of thinking. If the rules of logic, since my days, be not changed, I may safely deny this consequence. For an argument that runs thus, God does not; ergo, he cannot, I was taught when I first came to the university, would not hold. For I never said God did; but, ++ "That I see no contradiction in it,
** Ist Ans.
Ibid. || 1st Letter. tt B. 4. C. 3. §. 6.
"that he should, if he pleased, give to some systems of senseless matter "a faculty of thinking;" and I know nobody, before Des Cartes, that ever pretended to show that there was any contradiction in it. So that at worst, my not being able to see in matter any such incapacity, as makes it impossible for Omnipotency to bestow on it a faculty of thinking, makes me opposite only to the Cartesians. For, as far as I have seen or heard, the fathers of the christian church never pretended to demonstrate that matter was incapable to receive a power of sensation, perception and thinking, from the hand of the omnipotent Creator. Let us, therefore, if you please, suppose the form of your argumentation right, and that your lordship means, God cannot: and then, if your argument be good, it proves, that God could not give to Balaam's ass a power to speak to his master as he did; for the want of rational discourse being natural to that species, it is but for your lordship to call it an essential property, and then God cannot change the essential properties of things, their nature remaining whereby it is proved, that God cannot, with all his omnipotency, give to an ass a power to speak as Balaam's did.
my lord, You do not set bounds to God's omnipotency: for he may, if he please, change a body into an immaterial substance, i. e. take away from a substance the solidity which it had before, and which made it matter, and then give it a faculty of thinking, which it had not before, and which makes it a spirit, the same substance remaining. For if the substance remains not, body is not changed into an immaterial substance, but the solid substance, and all belonging to it, is annihilated, * and an immaterial substance created, which is not a change of one thing into another, but the destroying of one, and making another de novo. In this change therefore of a body or material substance into an immaterial, let us observe these distinct considerations.
First, you say, God may, if he pleases, take away from a solid substance solidity, which is that which makes it a material substance or body; and may make it an immaterial substance, i. e. a substance without solidity. But this privation of one quality gives it not another; the bare taking away a lower or less noble quality does not give it an higher or nobler; that must be the gift of God. For the bare privation of one, and a meaner quality, cannot be the position of an higher and better; unless any one will say, that cogitation, or the power of thinking, results from the nature of substance itself; which if it do, then wherever there is sub. stance, there must be cogitation, or a power of thinking. Here then, upon your lordship's own principles, is an immaterial substance without the faculty of thinking.
In the next place, you will not deny, but God may give to this substance, thus deprived of solidity, a faculty of thinking; for you suppose it made capable of that, by being made immaterial; whereby you allow, that the same numerical substance may be sometimes wholly incogitative, or without a power of thinking, and at other times perfectly cogitative, or endued with a power of thinking.
Further, you will not deny, but God can give it solidity and make it material again. For, I conclude, it will not be denied, that God can make it again what it was before. Now I crave leave to ask your lordship, why God, having given to this substance the faculty of thinking, after solidity was taken from it, cannot restore to it solidity again, with
* 1st Answer.