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.given to it; nothing that now has had a beginning, could, therefore) have made itself. Thus far the proposition must bcevident.
Though it is clear to all, that nothing could make itself, ret it may not be equally clear to all, that no being could come into . existence of itself. Let this matter benow particularly attended to.
The supposition is, that some being or thing, which now exists, did, at some certain period, begin to be, or came into existence of itself. Before this period it was not, and there was nothing existing. Let it only be contemplated, that every tiling which begins to be, must have some ground or reason of its beginning to exist; but in this case, there could be no reason, cause, or ground of its existence. Because, to suppose this, will be to return back to the former absurdity of its making itself, or of being and not being, at the same time. There also coujd be no ground or cause of its beginning to be, in any other being or thing—because, on the supposition, there was no other being or thing existent at the time it began to be, of consequence, no other being or thing could have contributed to its existence, but itself; neither could itself, for antecedently to the particular time it began to be, it was nothing, and, therefore, could do nothing in any respect whatever; it is, therefore, evident, with the greatest certainty, that nothing tliat now exists, could come into existence of itself.—From hence, i: necessarily follows,
Thirdly, That something always was, or some being is eternal, and never began to be.
This proposition is as evident as either of the former, and follows from them as an absolutely necessary inference. Because they are true, this must be true also. For seeing something now is, it is plain something always was, or that some being is eternal. Because, on the supposition that at some certain period there was nothing, it has been demonstrated, there never could have been any thing. For if at any time there was nothing, and now there is something in existence, then, necessarily, so:i:sthing must have made itself, or something must come into being of itself, all .of which, we have clearly proved to be impossible; now, from the plain fact, that something exists, no other conclusion can remain, but that something always was, or is eternal, and never began to be. That something always was, or existed from eternity, is, therefore, as certain, and rests upon as sure a foundation, as that something now is. Whoever admits the latter, must be obliged to admit the former. There is no possible evading this conclusion, that something existed from eternity, never began to be, but by denying that any thing now exists. And where any thing is made so evident, that it cannot be evaded by a person, but by renouncing all his senses, his reason, and his own existence, it may be justly said to be strict and proper demonstration.—From the preceding propositions, it follows, with the utmost certainty, in the
Fourth place, That some being was uncaused, or was from eternity of itself, without a cause. Attention to the preceding propositions, will administer the fullest conviction of this truth. For what always was, and never began to be, but was from eternity, can have no cause of its existence. To say that any being bas a cause of its existence, is the same thing as to say, that: such a being was produced; but to say a,being that always was, and never begun to be, was produced, is a gross contradiction. Because, saying that a being is produced, is the same thing as saying that once it was not, or that antecedently to this production, it did not exist. Whereas this Being is eternal, did always exist, and never had a beginning.—Besides, all beings had a cause of their existence, or some being is uncaused. If it be said that all beings had a cause of their existence, then it is plais that some being must have caused or produced itself. The first being that existed, at least, must have come into being of itself, or have been the cause of its own existence, which returns us to tli» old absurdity, of some being making itself. Therefore, it is absolutely certain, that some being is uncaused, or exists etern iliy, without a cause of its existence, and this being is God.
It may be proper here to observe, that this being without any cause of its existence, is a part of the idea intended to be expressed, when we say, that Got! is self-existent. It does not mean that he came into being ctf himself, or was the cause of his own existence, but it is used to signify, that he is not of another, nor of himself as a cause, but that he is a Being of so peculiar, exalted, transcendent, and incomprehensible a nature, as renders it impossible that he should ever not have existed.
From these foregoing principles, it follows,
Fifthly, That there is a being which is absolutely independent.
If there be some being which exists without a cause, then it is undeniable, that in regard to its existence, this being must be independent, he exists in an inconceivable manner, in and of himself. And he who is independent as to his being, must be equally so with respect to the continuance of his existence, and all that he is. For there can be no possible reason, why the continuance of his being should be dependent, whose existence itself is independent. He who receives not his existence from another, but has it in himself, cannot be dependent on another for the continuance of it. Because, to have his existence in himself', and yet to be dependent on another, is a plain contradiction. Moreover all being is dependent, or some one being is independent. To say that any being is dependent, necessarily implies, that there is some one on which he depends; for he, who depends on no one, does not depend, or he is independent. Therefore, it is perfectly certain, that there is some being;, which is simply and absolutely independent, the cause of all other beings, and on which all other tilings depend, and this independent Being is God. Thus far, the demonstration is clear. Hence we proceed to add,
Sixthly, That some being exists necessarily, or which is the same thing, is self-evident.
He who is an eternal, uncaused and independent being, mast needs be a necessary or self-existent being. For such «n one coulJ not be produced by another; it is eternal, and never began to be. It could not make itself—for this supposes it did not always exist, but had a beginning, the contrary of which, has been already proved. If, therefore, it did not come i»to existence by its own will, nor by the will of any other, it is undeniable, that it must be self-existent; and the true and proper notion of selfexistence is necessary existence, that cannot but be, and it is impossible, it should not have always existed, or should cease to exist.
Now for a being to exist, necessarily is to be all that it is by the necessity of its own nature. This is plain from this consideration. Because if there exists not such a being, there never possibly could have been any thing. And there is no way of avoiding the force of this conclusion, that some being exists by an essential and absolute necessity of nature, but by denying the existence of any thing and every thing, than which, we have seen, nothing can be more absurd.
When we say that a being exists by an absolute necessity of nature, it means that its nature is of such a kind, it is impossible but that it must exist, or that its nature implies existence, as much as any one proposition or truth implies another. .
With regard to a being, whose essence is simply necessary, all the attributes, properties, and perfections which belong to his being must be necessary also, in the same absolute manner as his essence. To suppose otherwise, is to suppose he is not necessarily what he is. But the weakness and inconsistency of this, has been before shown.
From this character of a necessary, self-existent, and independent being, it is easy to demonstrate his almighty and eternal power. Contemplate the things which you see, hear, feel and understand—contemplate your own existence, the world on which you dwell, with all its furniture and inhabitants, and lift up your er e; and behold the heavens, the sun, moon and stars, those im
mense and unnumbered orbs which roll around us, and scepticism itself cannot deny infinite, almighty, and eternal power. But I
do not mean at present to discourse of the astonishing attributes of the most high.
. I proceed, therefore, to say,
Seventhly, That the being whose existence hath been demonstrated, must be a self-active being.—Activity must be essen" . tial to his nature, or he must necessarily possess a power of action in and of himself, underived and independent,
In order to evince this matter, let it be considered, that it is altogether unreasonable to suppose, that the only being who can be proved eternal and independent, should be an inactive being, destitute of all ability to do or effect any thing. Such a being could be of no service whatsoever; the existence of such an one could answer no purpose—there could be nothing desirable or excellent in the existence of such an inert and sluggish being. It would be as fit a thing in itself, that there should be no being, or nothing whatsoever, as one perfectly incapable of doing any thing. A being that can do nothing, is plainly no better than non-entity. Therefore, to suppose the only being who can be demonstrated to be eternal, is an inert or inactive being, one destitute of all power of action, is very little short of an express contradiction. Can any thing be more absurd, than to suppose that a being which is eternal, and exists by the necessity and fullness of his own nature, should, notwithstanding, be destitute
of that which only can make his existence better than non-existence.
It is very clear that something now exists, and, therefore, that something has always existed, or been from eternity, without beginning, and exists necessarily and of itself; because, otherwise
there could have bean nothing that now is. For as nothing could
make itself, the things which are, must necessarily be made by some one who is unmade and self-existent. C
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