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istence of God, therefore, according to Clarke, is a truth that follows with demonstrative evidence from those conceptions of space and time which are inseparable from the human mind. These,” says Dr. Reid, “ are the specula“ tions of men of superior genius; but whether they be as solid as they are sublime, or whether they be the wanderings of imagination in a region beyond the limits of human understanding, I am at a loss to determine."
Although the argument as stated by Clarke,” says Professor Stewart, “ does not carry complete satisfaction to my mind, I think it must be granted that there is something peculiarly wonderful and overwhelming in those conceptions of immensity and eternity, which it is not less impossible to banish from our thoughts, than the consciousness of our own existence. Nay, further, I think that these conceptions are very intimately connected with the fundamental principles of Natural Religion. For when we have established, from the evidences of design everywhere manifested around us, the existence of an intelligent and powerful cause, we are unavoidably led to apply to this cause our conceptions of immensity and eternity, and to conceive Him, as filling the infinite extent of both with His presence and with His power. Hence we associate with the idea of God those awful impressions which are naturally produced by the idea of infinite space, and perhaps still more by the idea of endless duration. Nor is this all. It is from the immensity of space that the notion of infinity is originally derived ; and it is hence that we transfer the expression, by a sort of metaphor, to other subjects. When we speak therefore of infinite power, wisdom and goodness, our notions, if not wholly borrowed from space, are at least greatly aided by this analogy; so that the conceptions of immensity and eternity, if they do not of themselves de monstrate the existence of God, yet necessarily enter into the ideas we form of his nature and attributes. To these various considerations it may be added, that the notion of necessary existence which we derive from the contemplation
of space and of time, renders the same notion, when applied to the Supreme Being, much more easy to be apprehended than it would otherwise be."-(Stewart's First Dissertation, p. ii. p. 67.)
How very little the late learned and accomplished Dr. Thomas Brown valued the argument derived from the principles alluded to, appears from the following observations : “I conceive the abstract arguments which have been adduced to shew that it is impossible for matter to have existed from eternity,—by reasonings on what has been termed necessary existence, and the incompatibility of this necessary existence with the qualities of matter,—to be relics of mere verbal logic of the schools, as little capable of producing conviction, as any of the wildest and most absurd of the technical scholastic reasonings, on the properties, or supposed properties, of entity and nonentity. External existence, the existence of that which never had a beginning, must always be beyond our distinct comprehension, whatever the eternal object be, material or mental, and as much beyond our comprehension in the one case, as in the other, though it is not impossible for us to doubt, that some being, material or mental, must have been eternal, if any thing exists.”—(Lectures on the Philosophy of the Human Mind, vol. iv. p. 403.)
Notwithstanding the very respectable names of Reid and Brown, and the sanction which their opinions derive from their high authority, I must take the liberty of saying, that the argument in question, as it appears to me, serves an important use. If Clarke, and his illustrious associates, by their abstract reasonings in proof of the being and perfections of God, do not produce conviction in every mind, they have succeeded in the refutation of metaphysical objections, and in involving the patrons of atheism in contradiction.
I shall conclude this note with the following passage, the grandeur of which has been rarely equalled, from Maclaurin's account of the Newtonian discoveries.
“ The Great Mysterious Being, who made and governs the whole system, has set a part of the chain of causes in our view; but we find that, as he himself is too high for our comprehension, so his more immediate instruments in the universe are also involved in obscurity that philosophy is not able to dissipate; and thus our veneration for the Supreme Author is always increased, in proportion as we advance in the knowledge of his works. As we arise in philosophy towards the First Cause, we obtain more extensive views of the constitution of things, and see his influences more plainly. We perceive that we are approaching to him, from the simplicity and generality of the powers or laws we discover; from the difficulty we find to account for them mechanically; from the more and more complete beauty and contrivance that appears to us in the scheme of his works as we advance ; and from the hints we obtain of greater things yet out of our reach, But still we find our. selves at a distance from Him, the great source of all motion, power and efficacy ; who, after all our inquiries, continues removed from us and veiled in darkness. He is not the object of sense, his nature and essence are unfathomable; the more immediate instruments of his power and energy are but obscurely known to us; the least part of nature, when we endeavour to comprehend it, perplexes us; even place and time, of which our ideas seem to be simple and clear, have enough in them to embarrass those who allow nothing to be beyond the reach of their faculties. These things, however, do not hinder but we may learn to form great and just conceptions of Him from His sensible works, where an art and skill is expressed that is obvious to the most superficial spectator, surprises the most experienced inquirer, and many times surpasses the comprehension of the profoundest philosopher. From what we are able to understand of nature, we may entertain the greatest expectations of what will be discovered to us, if ever we shall be allowed to penetrate to the First Cause himself, and see the whole scheme of his works as they are really
derived from him, when our imperfect philosophy shall be completed.”—(An Account of Sir I. Newton's Phil. Disc. b. i. chap. i. p. 24.)
Note B.-Liberty and Necessity. p. 450.
“ There is one metaphysician of whom America has to boast, who, in logical acuteness and subtilty, does not yield to any disputant bred in the universities of Europe. I need not say, that I allude to Jonathan Edwards. But, at the time when he wrote, the state of America was more favourable than it now is, or can for a long period be expected to be, to such inquiries as those which engaged his attention ; inquiries (by the way) to which his thoughts were evidently turned, less by the impulse of speculative curiosity, than by his anxiety to defend the theological system in which he had been educated, and to which he was most conscientiously and zealously attached. The effect of this anxiety, in sharpening his faculties, and in keeping his polemical vigilance constantly on the alert, may be traced in every step of his argument.” (Dissertation, Part ii. p. 166.)
I have examined, with the utmost attention, all that this distinguished philosopher (Professor Dugald Stewart,) and I would add, most amiable and excellent man, has advanced on what he very justly terms, the “endless subject of controversy," and in regard to the side of it which he espoused, Dr. Jonathan Edwards is “ indisputably the ablest champion,”—and I regret to say, that I am disappointed. While he refrains from any discussion of the important questions at issue, and scarcely distinguishes between those who hold very different doctrines, though styled (improperly I think) Necessitarians, he delivers his opinions with an air of confidence unusual with him, and in a way which, as it appears to me, is very much calculated to mislead.
I cannot, within the limits of a note, do justice to this subject ; but I cannot refrain from remarking,
I. That the philosophical inquiry concerning human liberty, by Collins, and the inquiry into the freedom of the will, by Dr. Jonathan Edwards, ought not to be identified together. Though I by no means would have it to be understood that I agree with this latter Author in all his opinions, I feel persuaded that it is impossible to read his celebrated work with candour and discriminating judgment, without perceiving that it is widely different in many of its principles, and altogether different in its design, spirit, and tendency, from that work of Collins with which Professor Stewart compares it; and respecting which, he affirms, that “ the coincidence is so perfect, that the outline given by the former, of the plan of his work, might have served with equal propriety as a preface to that of the latter.”
II. Neither can I conceive that physical and moral necessity should be identified. “ The distinction,” says Professor Stewart, “ between physical and moral necessity, I conceive to be not less frivolous than those to which the foregoing animadversions relate. On this point I agree with Diderot, that the word necessity admits but of one interpretation.” I have read this assertion with great surprise ; and cannot help thinking that I must attach a meaning to the words physical and moral, very different from Professor Stewart. The distinction between these expressions, as used in “this endless subject of controversy," is pointed out with sufficient clearness in the following passage ;-a distinction, which, as it is there defined, is so far from being “ frivolous,” that it appears to me to be of great importance.
• The phrase moral necessity is used variously; sometimes it is used for a necessity of moral obligation. So we say, a man is under necessity, when he is under bonds of duty and conscience, from which he cannot be discharged. Sometimes by moral necessity is meant that sure connexion of things, that is a foundation for infallible certainty. In this sense, moral necessity signifies much the same as that