« ZurückWeiter »
faid upon This Head, would amount to This only ;
did exist. Which the Followers of Spinoza
If the Idea of an Eternal and * * Nothing, is That, of Infinite Norbing, were a Pofsible svhich every thing can truly Idea, and not contradictory in ittruly be affirmed. So that the self; the Existence of the Firt Idea of Nothing, (if I may Cause would not be necessary : to speak,) is absolutely the (For Necessity of being, and Posia Negation of All Ideas. The
bility of not being, are contradi&tory. Idea cherefore either of a Fi. mite or Infinite Nothing, is a
Ideas.) And if the Existence of contradiction in Terms.
the First Cause, was not necessary ;
it would be no contradiction, to fuppose it either not io have existed in time past, or to cease to exist at any time to come. The Existence therefore of the First Cause, is Necessary : Necessary absolutely, and in itself. And therefore That Neceffity is, a priori, and in the Order of Nature, the Ground or Reason of its existence. For That, which exifts Necessarily ; or in the Idea of which, Existence and Necessity are inseparably and necessarily Connected ; must either therefore be necefsary, because it exists; or else it must therefore exist, because its Existence is Necessary. If it was therefore necessary, because it existed'; then, for the same reason, every thing that exists, would exist necessarily; and either every thing, or nothing, would be the First Cause. On the contrary ; if the First Caufe does therefore exist, because its Existence is Necessary; then Necessity is the Ground or Reafor or Foundation of that Éxistence : And the Ex ence does 'not infer, (that is, a priori, or in the order of Nature and Consequence, antecede) the Necessity of Existing ; but the Neceflity of existing does on the contrary infer, (that is, a priori, or in the
order of nature, antecede the Supposition of) the Existence. Which is, what I proposed to prove.
The Argument a pofteriori, is indeed by far the most generally useful Argument, most easy to be understood, and in some degree suited to all Capacities ; And therefore it ought Always to be distinctlý insisted upon. But forasmuch as Atheistical Writers have fometimes opposed the Being and Attributes of God by such metaphysical Reasonings, as can no otherwise be obviated, than by arguing a priori ; therefore This manner of arguing also, is useful, and necessary in its proper place.
The Eternity of God, can no otherwise be proved, than by considering à priori che Nature of a Necessary or Self-Existent Cause. The Temporary phænomena of nature, prove indeed demonstrably a pofteriori, that there is, and has been from the Beginning of thoe phanomena, a Being of Power and Wisdom sufficient to produce and preserve those phænomena. But that This First Cause has existed from Eternity, and shall exist to Eternity, cannot be proved from those Temporary phenomena; but must be demonstrated from the intrinsick Nature of New cessary-Existence. If the First Cause exists « abfo
lutely without any Ground or Reason of Existence ; it might as possibly in Times past, without any Reafon, have not existed; and may as possibly in Times to come, without any reason, cease to exist
. Can it be proved a pofteriori, that the First Cause of all things will exist to morrow? Or can it be proved any otherwise, than by showing that Necellery is a certain ground of Future as well as of Present existence? And if so; then the Ground or Reason, upon which the First Cause now does, and hereafter always will, and cannot but exist; is the Ground or Reason, upon which he always did exist: And consequently it cannot with Truth be affirmed, that the First Cause exists “ absolutely without Any, H
66 Ground or Reason of Existence. " When Atheistical Writers affirm, that the material Universe, and every existing Substance in particular, was Eternal « absolutely without any Ground or Reason of Existence;". can This affertion be confuted by Him, who shall himself affirm, that God was Eternal absolutely without Any Ground or Reason of Existence ? Or can it
other way confuted at all, than by showing that Something must be necessarily-existent, (elfe nothing would ever have existed ;) and that That which is necessarily-existent, cannot possibly be either Finite, or Moveable, or at any time capable of Any Diminutions, Alterations, Limitations, Variations, Inequalities, or Diversifications whatsoever, either in whole, or in part, or in different parts either of Space or Time?
In like manner, the Infinity or Immenfury or Omnipresence of God, can no otherwise be proved, than by considering a priori the nature of a Necessary or Self-Existent Cause. The Finite phænomena of nature, prove indeed demonstrably a posteriori, that there is a Being which has Extent of Power and Wisdom (ufficient, to produce and preserve all these phænomena. But that This Author of Nature is Himself absolutely Immense or Infinite, cannot be proved from these Finite phænomena; but muft be demonstrated from the intrinsick nature of Necessary Existence. If the First Cause exists «
abfolutely « without any Ground or Reason of Existence; may as possibly be Finite, as Infinite; it may as possibly be Limited, as be Immense. It may as possibly in Other places, without any reason, not exift'; as it does, without any reason, exist in Those Places, where the phenomena of nature prove that it doos exist. Can it be proved a pofteriori, that That Governing Wisdom and Power, which the phenomena of Nature in this material World demonstrate to be present Here; muft therefore be Immense, In finite, or Omnipresent? must be present likewise in thofe boundless Spaces, where we know of no phanomena or
Effets to prove its existence? Or can the Immenfaty and Omnipresence of the First Cause, be at all proved any other way, than by showing that Necessity of Exiftence is capable of no Limitation ; but must for the same reason be the ground of Immense or Omnipresent existence, as 'tis the Ground or Foundation of any Existence at all?
Again : The Unity of God, (which, I think, has always been allowed to be a Principle of Natural Religion ; Otherwise St Paul could not justly have blamed the Heathen as inexcusable, in that they did not like to retain God in their Knowledge, and that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God: The Unity of God, I say,) can no otherwise be demonstrated, than by considering a priori the nature of a Necessary or Self-existent Caufe. The Phenomena of Nature which come within the reach of Our observation, prove indeed demonstrably, that there is a Supreme Author and Director of That Nature, or of Those phenomena, whereof we have any Knowledge. But that This Supreme Author and Governour of T HIS NATURE, or of THESE phenomena, is likewise the Supreme Author and Governour of UNIVERSAL Nature ; cannot be proved by us from our partial and imperfe&t Knowledge of a Few phanomena, in that small part of the Universe, which comes within the reach of Our Senses; but must be demonstrated from the intrinfick nature of necessary existence. If the First Cause exists « absolutely without any Ground or Reafor of ex“ istence; " 'tis altogether as possible, and as probable, and as reasonable to suppose, that there may, without any reason, exist numberless Finite independent co-exiftent First Canses (either of like Nature and Substance to each other, or of different Nature and Substance from each other,) in different Parts of the immense Universe; as that there should, without any reason, exist
One only, Infinite, Immense, Omnipresent, First Cause,
That there is, and cannot but be one, and One only, such First Cause, Author and Governour of the Universe; is (I conceive) capable of ftria DemonStration, including That part of the Argument which is deduced a priori. The Subject of the Questi-, on, is no Trifle. If any sober-minded man is perfwaded, he can find any Flaw in That Demonstration; or cares not to examine it, least any of its Consequences should prove inconsistent with some other notions he may perhaps thro' prejudice have imbibed; I should be very Thankful to him, to Mow How the Unity of God (the First Principle of Natural Religion) can at all be proved by Reason a posteriori only.
Some such considerations as these (I suppose, they were, or others of the like nature, which moved
Mr Limborch to write thus to Mr Lock: * Argu*Lock's Familiar Let- mentum desiderat Vir magnificus, quo probetur Ēns, ters, pag. cujus exiftentia est necessaria, tantùm posse effe Unum ;
di quidem ut id argumentum à necessitate existentia desumatur, & a priori (ut in Scholis loquuntur,) non a posteriori concludat ; hoc est, ex naturâ necessaria
existentiæ probetur, eam pluribus non poffe effe com+ ibid. pag.
munem. To which Mr Lock replies : † Les Theelo422,423. giens, les Philosophes, & Descartes luy-meme, suppo
lent l'Unité de Dieu, fans la Prouver. After which, having suggested his own Thoughts, he thus concludes : c est là, selon moy, une Preuve a priori, que ľ Etre éternel independent n'est qu' Un.
To argue therefore a priori concerning the Existence and Attributes of the First Cause, is no absurdity. For though No Thing, no Being, can indeed be prior to the Firsi Caufe ; yet Arguments may, and must, be drawn from the Nature and Consen, quences of That necessity, by which the First Cause exists. Mathematical Necessary Truths, are usually