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every thing which is proved (you say) by this consideration, that space is a property of the self-existert substance; and, being both necessary in itself, and needful to the existence of every thing else; consequently the substance, of which it is a property, must be so too. Space, I own, is in one sense a property of the self-existent substance; but, in the same sense, it is also a property of all other substances. The only difference is in respect to the quantity. And since every part of space, as well as the whole, is necessary; every substance consequently must be self-existence because it hath this self-existent property which, since you will not admit for true, if it directly follows from your arguments, they cannot be conclusive.
What you say under the first head, proves (I think) to a very great probability, though not to me with the evidence of demonstration: but your arguments under the second, I am not able to see the force of.
I am so far from being pleased that I can form objections to your arguments, that, besides the satisfaction it would have given me in my own mind, I should have thought it an honor to have entered into your reasonings, and seen the force of them. I cannot desire to trespass any more upon your better employed time; so shall only add my hearty thanks for your trouble on my account, and that I am, with the greatest respect,
December 5th, 1713.
Your most obliged humble Servant.
THE THIRD LETTER.
Though when I turn my thoughts every way, ery way, I fully pursuade myself there is no defect in the argument itself; yet in my manner of expression I am satisfied there must be some want of clearness, when there remains any difficulty to a person of your abilities and sagacity. I did not mean that your saying a necessary Being exists somewhere, does necessarily suppose it to be finite; but that the manner of expression is apt to excite in the mind an idea of a finite being, at the same time that you are thinking of a necessary Being, without accurately attending to the nature of that necessity by which it exists. Necessity absolute, and antecedent (in order of nature) to the existence of any subject, has nothing to limit it; but, if it operates at all, (as it must needs do,) it must operate (if I may so speak) every where and at all times alike. Determination of a particular quantity, or particular time or place of existence of any thing, cannot arise but from somewhat external to the thing itself. For example: why there should exist just such a small determinate quantity of matter, neither more or less, interspersed in the immense vacuities of space, no reason can be given. Nor can there be any thing in nature, which could have determined a thing so indifferent in itself, as is
the measure of that quantity, but only the will of an intelligent and free agent. To suppose matter, or any other substance, necessarily existing in a finite determinate quantity; in an inch cube, for instance, or in any certain number of cube inches, and no more, is exactly the same absurdity, as supposing it to exist necessarily, and yet for a finite duration only; which every one sees to be plain contradiction. The argument is likewise the same, in the question about the original of motion. Motion cannot be necessarily existing; because, it being evident that all determinations of motion are equally possible in themselves, the original determination of the motion of any particular body this way rather than the contrary way, could not be necessary in itself, but was either caused by the will of an intelligent and free agent, or else was an effect produced and determined without any cause at all, which is an express contradiction; as I have shown in my demonstration of the being and attributes of God, p. 14. [Edit. 4th, and 5th.]; p. 12. [Edit. 6th, 7th, and 8th.]
To the second head of argument, I answer,-Space is a property for mode] of the self-existent substance, but not of any other substances. All other substances are in space, and are penetrated by it; but the selfexistent substance is not in space, nor penetrated by it, but is itself (if I may so speak) the substratum of space, the ground of the existence of space and duration itself. When [space and duration] being evidently necessary, and yet themselves not substances, but properties or modes, show evidently that the substance, without which these modes could not subsist, is itself much more (if that were possible) necessary. And as space and duration are needful (i. e. sine qua non) to the existence of every thing else; so, consequently, is the substance, to which these modes belong in that peculiar manner which I before mentioned.
December 10th, 1713.
I am, SIR,
Your affectionate Friend and Servant.
WHATEVER is the occasion of my not seeing the force of your reasonings, I cannot impute it to (what you do) the want of clearness, in your expression. I am too well acquainted with myself, to think my not understanding an argument, a sufficient reason to conclude that it is either improperly expressed, or not conclusive; unless I can clearly show the defect of it. It is with the greatest satisfaction I must tell you, that the more I reflect on your first argument, the more I am convinced of the truth of it; and it now seems to me altogether unreasonable to suppose absolute necessity can have any relation to one part of space more than to another; and if so, an absolutely necessary Being must exist every where.
I wish I was as well satisfied in respect to the other. You say,-All substances, except the self-e..istent one, are in space, and are penetrated by it. All substances, doubtless, whether body or spirit, exist in space: but when I say that a spirit exists in space, were I put upon telling my meaning, I know not how I could do it any other way than by saying, such a particular quantity of space terminates the capacity of acting in finite spirits at one and the same time, so that they cannot act beyond that determined quantity. Not but that I think there is somewhat in the manner of existence of spirits in respect of space, that more directly answers to the manner of the
existence of body; but what that is, or of the manner of their existence, I cannot possibly form an idea. And it seems (if possible) much more difficult to determine what relation the self-existent Being hath to space. To say he exists in space, after the same manner that other substances do, (somewhat like which I too rashly asserted in my last,) perhaps would be placing the Creator too much on the level with the creature; or however, it is not plainly and evidently true and to say the self-existent substance is the substratum of space, in the common sense of the word, is scarce intelligible, or at least is not evident. Now though there may be a hundred relations distinct. from either of these, yet how we should come by ideas of them, I cannot conceive. We may indeed have ideas to the words, and not altogether depart from the common sense of them, when we say the self-existent substance is the substratum of space, or the ground of its existence : but I see no reason to think it true; because space seems to me to be as absolutely self-existent, as it is possible any thing can be so that, make what other supposition you please, yet we cannot help supposing immense space; because there must be either an infinity of being, or (if you will allow the expression) an infinite vacuity of being. Perhaps it may be objected to this, that though space is really necessary, yet the reason of its being necessary, is its being a property of the self-existent substance; and that it being so evidently necessary, and its dependence on the self-existent substance not so evident, we are ready to conclude it absolutely self-existent, as well as necessary; and that this is the reason why the idea of space forces itself on our minds, antecedent to, and exclusive of (as to the ground of its existence) all other things. Now this, though it is really an objection, yet it is no direct answer to what I have said; because it supposes the only thing to be proved, viz. that the reason why space is necessary, is its being a property of a selfexistent substance. And supposing it not to be evident, that space is absolutely self-existent; yet, while it is doubt