Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

IX.

necessity of the divine nature, he means only the ne- PROP. cessary following of an effect from its cause, or the cause necessarily producing its effect'; this necessity must still always be determined by something antecedent, and so on infinitely. And this, Spinoza (though sometimes he seems to mean the other and equally absurd sense) expressly owns in some places to be his meaning.* There can be no volition, saith he, but from some cause, which cause must likewise be caused by some other cause, and so on infinitely. Again; will,'t saith he, belongs to the nature of God no otherwise than motion and rest do; so that God can no more properly be said to act by the liberty of his will than by the liberty of motion and rest. And what the original of motion and test is, he tells us in these words:I every body in motion, or at rest, must have been determined to that motion or rest by some other body,which must itself likewise have been determined by a third; and so on in infinitum. And thus,since motion is not, in any one of its stages of communication, a necessary self-existent being, (because the body moved may always, without a contradiction, have been imagined to be at rest, and is supposed not to have motion from itself, but from another;) the opinion of Spinoza plainly recurs to an infinite succession of dependent beings produced one from another, in an endless progression, without any original cause at all; which notion I have already in the proof of the second general head of this discourse) demonstrated

* Unaquæque volitio non potest existere, neque ad operandum determinari ; nisi ab alia causa determinetur, et hæc rursus ab alia ; et sic porro in infinitum.- Prop. 33. demonst.

+ Voluntas ad Dei naturam non magis pertinet quam reliqua naturalia ; sed ad ipsam eodem modum sese habet, ut motus et quies.

Deus non magis dici potest ex libertate voluntatis agere, quam dici potest ex libertate motus et quietis agere.- Coroll. ad prop.

# Corpus motum vel quiescens, ad motum vel quietem determinari debuit ab alio corpore, quod etiam ad motum vel quietem determinatum fuit ab alio ; et illud iterum ab alio; et sic in infiniturr.-Ethic. Far. 11. prop. 13. lemma 3.

F

32.

IX.

That li.

in itself an

tion.

PROP. to imply a contradiction. And since, therefore, there

is no other possible way to avoid this absurdity, but by granting that there must be somewhere a principle of motion and action, which is liberty, I suppose it by this time sufficiently proved that the supreme cause must be a being indued with liberty and choice.

From what has been said upon this head, it suffi. berty is not

ciently appears, that liberty is not in itself, and in impossible the very notion of the thing, an absolute contradicand contra- tion and impossibility, as the pleaders for necessity

and fate contend that it is, and place the chief strength of their argument in that supposition. For, that which actually is, is certainly not impossible. And it has already been proved, that liberty actually is, nay that it is impossible for it not to be, in the first and supreme cause. The principal argument used by the maintainers of fate against the possibility of liberty, is this: That since every thing must have a cause, * every volition or determination of the will of an intelligent being must, as all other things, arise from some cause, and that cause from some other cause, and so on infinitely. But now, (besides that in this sort of reasoning, these men always ignorantly confound moral motives with physical efficients, between which two things there is no manner of relation; besides this, I say) this very argument really proves the direct contrary to what they intend. For since every thing must indeed have a cause of its being, either from without, or in the necessity of its own nature; and it is a plain contradiction (as has already been demonstrated) to suppose an infinite series of dependent effects, none of which are necessary in themselves or self-existent; therefore it is impossible but there must be in the uni. verse some being whose existence is founded in the

* Mens ad hoc vel illud volendum determinatur a causa, quæ etiam ab alia determinata est, et hæc iterum ab alia, et sic in infinitum. -Spinoza Ethic. par, II, prop. 48.

PROP.

[ocr errors]

self-existent

be all.

necessity of its own nature; and which, being acted upon by nothing beyond itself, must of necessity have in itself a principle of acting, or power of beginning motion, which is the idea of liberty. It is true, this argument proves only the liberty of the first and supreme cause, and extends not indeed to any created being; but it evinces in general (which is sufficient to my present purpose) that liberty is so far from being impossible and contradictory in itself, that on the contrary it is impossible but that it must really be somewhere; and this being once established, it will be easy to show hereafter, that it is a power capable of being communicated to created beings. Of which, in its proper place.

X. The self-existent being, the supreme cause of that the all things, must of necessity have infinite power. This proposition is evident, and undeniable. For being must since nothing (as has been already proved,) can possibly be self-existent, besides himself; and conse

powerful. quently all things in the universe were made by him, and are entirely dependent upon him ; and all the powers of all things are derived from him, and must therefore be perfectly subject and subordinate to him ; it is manifest that nothing can make any difficulty or resistance to the execution of his will, but he must of necessity have absolute power to do every thing he pleases, with the perfectest ease, and in the perfectest manner, at once, and in a moment, whenever he wills it. The descriptions the scripture gives of this power, are so lively and emphatical, that I cannot forbear mentioning one or two passages. Thus, Job ix. 4:-“ He is wise in heart, and mighty in strength ;—which removeth the mountains, and they know it not; which overturneth them in his anger. Which shaketh the earth out of her place, and the pillars thereof tremble. Which commandeth the sun, and it riseth not; and sealeth up the stars. Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and treadeth upon the waters of the sea. Which oth great things past finding out, yea and wonders

X.

PROP. without number.” Again: “Hell is naked before him,

and destruction hath no covering. He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing. He bindeth up the waters in his thick clouds, and the cloud is not rent under them. The pillars of Heaven tremble, and are astonished at his reproof. He divideth the sea with his power, and by his understanding he smiteth through the proud. Lo, these are part of his ways, but how little a portion is heard of him? But the thunder of his power, who can understand ?” Job xxvi. 6. So likewise, Isaiah xl. 12:4" Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out Heaven with the span ; and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure ; and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance. Be. hold, the nations are as a drop of the bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance ; behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing. All nations: before him are as nothing, and they are counted to him less than nothing, and vanity. To whom then will ye liken God, or what likeness will ye compare unto him ?” But I do not urge authority to the persons I am at present speaking to. It is sufficiently evident, from reason, that the supreme cause must of necessity be infinitely powerful. The only question is, what the true meaning of what we call infinite power is; and to what things it must be understood to extend, or not to extend.

Now, in determining this question, there are some propositions about which there is no dispute ; which

therefore, I shall but just mention. As, Of working 1st, That infinite power reaches to all possible contradice things, but cannot be said to extend to the working

any thing which implies a contradiction : As, that a thing should be and not be at the same time; that the same thing should be made and not be made, or have been and not have been ; that twice two should not make four, or that that which is necessarily false should be true : The reason whereof is plain ; be

tions.

[ocr errors]

cause the power of making a thing to be, at the PROP. same time that it is not, is only a power of doing that which is nothing, that is, no power at all.

2dly. Infinite power cannot be said to extend to Or natural those things which imply natural imperfection in and moral the being to whom such power is ascribed ; as, that it should destroy its own being, weaken itself, or the like. These things imply natural imperfection, and are by all men confessed to be such as cannot possibly belong to the necessary self-existent being. There are also other things which imply imperfection in another kind, viz. moral imperfection ; concerning which, atheism takes away the subject of the question, by denying wholly the difference of moral good and evil; and therefore I shall omit the consideration of them until I come to deduce the moral attributes of God.

But some other instances there are, in the question about the extent of infinite power, wherein the principal difference between us and the atheists, (next to the question, whether the supreme cause be an intelligent being, or not,) does in great measure consist. As,

1st. That infinite power includes a power of crea- Of the ting matter. This has been constantly denied by all power of atheists, both ancient and modern, and as constantly matter. affirmed by all who believe the being, and have just notions of the attributes of God. The only reason which the atheists have, or can pretend to allege, for their opinion, is, that the thing is in its own nature absolutely impossible. But how does it appear to be impossible ? Why, only because they are not able to comprehend how it can be: For, to reduce it to a contradiction, (which is the alone real impossibility,) this they are by no means able to do. For, to say that something which once was not, may since have begun to exist, is neither directly, nor by any consequence whatsoever, to assert that that which is not, can be, while it is not; or that that which is, can not be, while it is. It is true, we who have

« AnteriorContinuar »