A TREATISE Concerning the PRINCIPLES OF Human Knowlege.


Wherein the chief Causes of Error and Dif­ficulty in the Sciences, with the Grounds of Scepticism, Atheism, and Irreligion, are inquir'd into.

By George Berkeley, M. A. Fellow of Trinity-College, Dublin.

DVBLIN: Printed by AARON RHAMES, for JEREMY PEPYAT, Bookseller in Skinner-Row, 1710.

TO THE Right Honourable THOMAS EARL OF PEMBROKE, &c. Knight of the Most Noble Order of the GARTER, AND One of the Lords of Her MAJESTY's Most Honourable PRIVY COUNCIL.


YOu'll, perhaps, wonder that an obscure Person, who has not the Honour to be known to Your Lord­ship, shou'd presume to Ad­dress You in this manner. But [Page ii] that a Man, who has Written something with a design to pro­mote useful Knowledge and Religi­on in the World, shou'd make Choice of Your Lordship for his Patron, will not be thought strange by any one that is not altogether unacquainted with the present State of the Church and Learning, and consequent­ly ignorant how great an Or­nament and Support You are to both. Yet, nothing cou'd have induced me to make You this present of my poor Endea­vours, were I not Encourag'd by that Candour and Native Goodness, which is so bright a Part in Your Lordship's Chara­cter. I might add, my Lord, that the Extraordinary Favour and Bounty You have been pleas'd [Page iii] to shew towards our Society, gave me Hopes, You'd not be unwilling to countenance the Studies of one of its Mem­bers. These Considerations determin'd me to lay this Trea­tise at Your Lordship's Feet. And the rather, because I was Ambitious to have it known, that I am with the truest and most profound Respect, on ac­count of that Learning and Vertue which the World so justly Admires in Your Lord­ship,

My Lord,
Your Lordship's Most Humble And most Devoted Servant. George Berkeley.


WHat I here make Publick has, af­ter a long and scrupulous Inqui­ry, seem'd to me evidently true, and not unuseful to be known, particularly to those who are tainted with Scepticism, or want a Demonstration of the Existence and Immateriality of GOD, or the Natural Im­mortality of the Soul. Whether it be so or no, I am content the Reader shou'd impartially Examine. Since I do not think my self any farther concern'd for the Success of what I have Written, than as it is agreeable to Truth. But to the end This may not suffer, I make it my Request that the Reader suspend his Judgment, till he has once, at least, read the whole through with that degree of Attention and Thought which the subject Matter shall seem to deserve. For as there are some Passages that, taken by them­selves, [Page] are very liable (nor cou'd it be reme­died) to gross Misinterpretation, and to be charged with most absurd Consequences, which, nevertheless, upon an intire perusal will ap­pear not to follow from them: So likewise, thô the whole shou'd be read over, yet, if this be done Transiently, 'tis very probable my Sense may be mistaken; but to a Think­ing Reader, I flatter my self, it will be throughout Clear and Obvious. As for the Characters of Novelty and Singularity, which some of the following Notions may seem to bear, 'tis, I hope, needless to make any Apology on that account. He must surely be either very weak, or very lit­tle acquainted with the Sciences, who shall reject a Truth, that is capable of Demonstra­tion, for no other Reason but because it's newly known and contrary to the Prejudices of Mankind. Thus much I thought fit to premise, in order to prevent, if possible, the hasty Censures of a sort of Men, who are too apt to condemn an Opinion before they right­ly comprehend it.


6014for one, read own.
6111for shou'd, r. might.
ibid14after Intelligence, r. without the help of External Bodies
839for came, r. come.
1217after there, r. are.
1241f. acception, r. acceptation.
1257after by, r. the.
1313for many, r. may.
15610for shew, r. shewing.
16019after relation, r. in.
1657for any r. some.
18719for have r. hath.

☞Page 12, line 5, after General Ideas whatsoever, these Words are to be Inserted, viz. To be plain, I own my self able to abstract in one Sense, as when I consider some particular Parts or Qua­lities separated from others, with which thô they are united in some Object, yet it is possible they may really Exist without them. But I deny that I can abstract from one another, or conceive separately, those Qualities which it is impossible shou'd Exist so separated; or that I can frame a General Noti­on by abstracting from Particulars in the manner aforesaid. Which two last are the proper Acceptations of Abstraction.


§ 1. PHILOSOPHY being no­thing else but the study of Wisdom and Truth, it may with reason be expected, that those who have spent most Time and Pains in it shou'd enjoy a greater calm and serenity of Mind, a greater clearness and evidence of Knowlege, and be less disturb'd with Doubts and Diffi­culties than other Men. Yet so it is, we see the Illiterate Bulk of Mankind that walk the High-road of plain, com­mon Sense, and are govern'd by the Dictates of Nature, for the most part easy and undisturb'd. To them nothing that's familiar appears unaccountable or difficult to comprehend. They com­plain not of any want of Evidence in their Senses, and are out of all danger of becoming Sceptics. But no sooner do we depart from Sense and Instinct to follow the Light of a Superior Prin­ciple, [Page 2] to reason, meditate and reflect on the Nature of Things, but a thou­sand Scruples spring up in our Minds, concerning those Things which before we seem'd fully to comprehend. Preju­dices and Errors of Sense do from all Parts discover themselves to our view; and endeavouring to correct these by Reason we are insensibly drawn into uncouth Paradoxes, Difficulties, and Inconsistences, which multiply and grow upon us as we advance in Specu­lation; till at length, having wander'd thro' many intricate Mazes, we find our selves just where we were, or, which is worse, sit down in a forelorn Scepticism.

§ 2. The cause of this is thought to be the Obscurity of things, or the na­tural Weakness and Imperfection of our Understandings. It is said the Fa­culties we have are few, and those de­sign'd by Nature for the Support and Pleasure of Life, and not to penetrate into the inward Essence and Constitu­tion of Things. Besides, the Mind of [Page 3] Man being Finite, when it treats of Things which partake of Infinity, it's not to be wonder'd at, if it run into Ab­surdities and Contradictions, out of which it is impossible it shou'd ever ex­tricate it self, it being of the nature of Infinite not to be comprehended by that which is Finite.

§ 3. But, perhaps, we may be too partial to our selves in placing the Fault originally in our Faculties, and not rather in the wrong use we make of them. It is a hard thing to suppose, that right Deductions from true Prin­ciples shou'd ever end in Consequences which cannot be maintain'd or made consistent. We shou'd believe that God has dealt more bountifully with the Sons of Men, than to give them a strong desire for that Knowlege, which he had placed quite out of their reach. This were not agreeable to the wont­ed, indulgent Methods of Providence, which, whatever Appetites it may have implanted in the Creatures, doth usual­ly furnish 'em with such means as, if [Page 4] rightly made use of, will not fail to sa­tisfie them. Upon the whole, I am inclin'd to think that the far greater Part, if not all, of those Difficulties which have hitherto amus'd Philosophers, and block'd up the way to Knowlege, are intirely owing to our selves. That we have first rais'd a Dust, and then com­plain, we cannot see.

§ 4. My Purpose therefore is, to try if I can discover what those Principles are, which have introduced all that Doubtfulness and Uncertainty, those Ab­surdities and Contradictions into the se­veral Sects of Philosophy; insomuch that the Wisest Men have thought our Igno­rance incurable, conceiving it to arise from the natural dulness and limitation of our Faculties. And surely it is a Work well deserving our Pains, to make a strict inquiry concerning the first Prin­ciples of Human Knowlege, to Sift and examine them on all sides, especially since there may be some Grounds to sus­pect that those Lets and Difficulties, which stay and embarrass the Mind in [Page 5] it's search after Truth, do not spring from any Darkness and Intricacy in the Objects, or natural Defect in the Under­standing, so much as from false, Princi­ples which have been insisted on, and might have been avoided.

§ 5. How difficult and discouraging soever this Attempt may seem, when I consider what a number of very great and extraordinary Men have gone be­fore me in the like Designs: Yet I am not without some Hopes, upon the Con­sideration that the largest Views are not always the Clearest, and that he who is Short-sighted will be obliged to draw the Object nearer, and may, perhaps, by a close and narrow Survey discern that which had escaped far better Eyes.

§ 6. In order to prepare the Mind of the Reader for the easier conceiving what follows, I thought it proper to premise somewhat, by way of Introduc­tion, concerning the Nature and Abuse of Language. But the unraveling this Matter leads me in some measure to [Page 6] anticipate my Design, by taking notice of what seems to have had a chief part in rendering Speculation intricate and perplex'd, and to have occasion'd innu­merable Errors and Difficulties in almost all parts of Knowlege. And that is the opinion that the Mind hath a pow­er of framing Abstract Ideas or Noti­ons of Things. He who is not a per­fect Stranger to the Writings and Dis­putes of Philosophers, must needs ac­knowlege that no small part of them are spent about abstract Ideas. These are, in a more especial manner, thought to be the Object of those Sciences which go by the name of Logic and Metaphy­sics, and of all that which passes under the Notion of the most abstracted and sublime Learning, in all which one shall scarce find any Question handled in such a manner, as does not suppose their Ex­istence in the Mind, and that it is well acquainted with them.

§ 7. It is agreed on all hands, that the Qualities or Modes of things do ne­ver really exist each of them apart by [Page 7] it self, and separated from all others, but are mix'd, as it were, and blended together, several in the same Object. But we are told, the Mind being able to consider each Quality singly, or ab­stracted from those other Qualities with which it is united, does by that means frame to it self abstract Ideas. For ex­ample, there is perceiv'd by Sight an Object extended, coloured, and moved: This mix'd or compound Idea the mind resolving into it's Simple, constituent Parts, and viewing each by it self, ex­clusive of the rest, does frame the ab­stract Ideas of Extension, Colour & Mo­tion. Not that it is possible for Colour or Motion to exist without Extension, but only that the Mind can frame to it self by Abstraction the Idea of Colour exclusive of Extension, and of Motion exclusive of both Colour and Extension.

§ 8. Again, the Mind having ob­serv'd that in the particular Extensions perceiv'd by Sense, there is something common and alike in all, and some o­ther things peculiar, as this or that Fi­gure [Page 8] or Magnitude, which distinguish them one from another; it considers a­part or singles out by it self that which is common, making thereof a most ab­stract Idea of Extension, which is neither Line, Surface nor Solid, nor has any Figure or Magnitude but is an Idea in­tirely prescinded from all these. So like­wise the Mind by leaving out of the par­ticular Colours perceiv'd by Sense, that which distinguishes them one from ano­ther, and retaining that only which is common to all, makes an Idea of Colour in abstract which is neither Red, nor Blue, nor White, &c. And in like man­ner by considering Motion abstractedly not only from the Body moved, but like­wise from the Figure it describes, and all particular Directions and Velocities, the abstract Idea of Motion is framed; which equally corresponds to all particular Motions whatsoever that may be per­ceiv'd by Sense.

§ 9. And as the Mind frames to it self abstract Ideas of Qualities or Modes, so does it, by the same precision or [Page 9] mental Separation, attain abstract Ideas of the more compounded Beings, which include several coexistent Qualities. For example, the Mind having observ'd that Peter, James and John, &c. resemble each other, in certain common Agree­ments of Shape and other Qualities, leaves out of the complex or compound­ed Idea it has of Peter, James, &c. that which is peculiar to each, retaining on­ly what is common to all; and so makes an abstract Idea wherein all the particulars equally partake, abstracting intirely from and cutting off all those Circumstances and Differences, which might determine it to any particular Existence. And after this manner it is said we come by the abstract Idea of Man or, if you please, Humanity or Humane Nature. wherein 'tis true, there's included Colour, because there is no Man but has some Colour, but then it can be neither White, nor Black, nor any particular Colour; because there is no one particular Colour wherein all Men partake. So likewise there is in­cluded Stature, but then 'tis neither Tall [Page 10] Stature nor Low Stature, nor yet Mid­dle Stature, but something abstracted from all these; and so of the rest. More­over, there being a great variety of o­ther Creatures that partake in some Parts, but not all, of the complex Idea of Man, the Mind leaving out those Parts which are peculiar to Men, and retaining those only which are common to all the li­ving Creatures, frames the Idea of Ani­mal, which abstracts not only from all particular Men, but also all Birds, Beasts, Fishes and Insects. The constituent Parts of the abstract Idea of Animal are Body, Life, Sense and Spontaneous Mo­tion. By Body is meant, Body with­out any particular Shape or Figure, there being no one Shape or Figure common to all Animals, without Covering, either of Hair, or Feathers, or Scales, &c. nor yet Naked: Hair, Feathers, Scales, and Nakedness being the distinguishing Pro­perties of particular Animals, and for that reason left out of the Abstract Idea. Upon the same account the spontaneous Motion must be neither Walking, nor Flying, nor Creeping, it is [Page 11] nevertheless a Motion, but what that Motion is, it is not easy to conceive.

§ 10. Whether others have this wonderful Faculty of Abstracting their Ideas, they best can tell: for my self I dare be confident I have it not. I have indeed a Faculty of imagining, or re­presenting to my self the Ideas of those particular things I have perceiv'd and of variously compounding and divid­ing them. I can imagine a Man with Two Heads or the upper parts of a Man joyn'd to the Body of a Horse. I can consider the Hand, the Eye, the Nose each by it self abstracted or sepa­rated from the rest of the Body. But then whatever Hand or Eye I imagine, it must have some particular Shape and Colour. Likewise the Idea of Man that I frame to my self, must be either of a White, or a Black, or a Tawny, a Streight, or a Crooked, a Tall, or a Low, or a Middle-sized Man. I can­not by any effort of Thought conceive the abstract Idea above described. And it is equally impossible for me to form [Page 12] the abstract Idea of Motion distinct from the Body moving, and which is neither Swift nor Slow, Curvilinear nor Rectili­near; and the like may be said of all other abstract general Ideas whatsoever. And there's Grounds to think most Men will acknowledge themselves to be in my Case. The generality of Men which are Simple and Illiterate never pretend to abstract Notions. It's said they are difficult and not to be attain'd without Pains and Study; we may therefore reasonably conclude that, if such there be, they are confin'd only to the Learned.

§ 11. I proceed to examine what can be alleg'd in defence of the Doctrine of Abstraction, and try if I can discover what it is that inclines the Men of Spe­culation to embrace an Opinion, so re­mote from common Sense as that seems to be. There has been a late excellent and deservedly Esteem'd Philosopher, who, no doubt, has given it very much Coun­tenance by seeming to think the having abstract general Ideas is what puts the [Page 13] widest difference in point of Understand­ing betwixt Man and Beast. ‘The ha­ving of general Ideas (saith he) is that which puts a perfect distinction be­twixt Man and Brutes, and is an Ex­cellency which the Faculties of Brutes do by no means attain unto. For it is evident, we observe no Foot-steps in them of making use of general Signs for universal Ideas; from which we have reason to imagine that they have not the Faculty of abstracting or making general Ideas, since they have no use of Words or any other general Signs. And a little after. Therefore, I think, we may suppose that 'tis in this that the Species of Brutes are discriminated from Men, and 'tis that proper difference wherein they are wholly separated, and which at last widens to so wide a Distance. For if they have any Ideas at all, and are not bare Machines (as some wou'd have 'em) we cannot deny 'em to have some Reason. It seems as e­vident to me that they do some of 'em in certain Instances Reason as that [Page 14] they have Sense, but it is only in par­ticular Ideas, just as they receive them from their Senses. They are the best of 'em tied up within those narrow Bounds, and have not (as I think) the Faculty to enlarge 'em by any kind of Abstraction. Essay on Hum. Vnderst. B. 2. C. 11. § 10 and 11. I readily agree with this Learned Author, that the Faculties of Brutes can by no means attain to Abstraction. But then if this be made the distinguishing pro­perty of that sort of Animals, I fear a great many of those that pass for Men must be reckon'd into their number. The reason that is here assign'd why we have no Grounds to think Brutes have Abstract general Ideas, is that we ob­serve in 'em no use of Words or any o­ther general Signs; which is built on this Supposition, viz. that the making use of Words, implys the having gene­ral Ideas. From which it follows, that Men who use Language are able to Ab­stract or Generalize their Ideas. That this is the Sense and Arguing of the Author will further appear by his an­swering [Page 15] the Question he in another place puts. ‘Since all things that ex­ist are only Particulars, how come we by general Terms? His Answer is, Words become general by being made the Signs of general Ideas. Essay on Hum. Vnderst. B. 3. C. 3. § 6. To this I cannot assent being of opinion that a Word becomes general by being made the Sign, not of an abstract general Idea but, of several particular Ideas, any one of which it indifferently sug­gests to the Mind. For Example, When it is said the change of Motion is propor­tional to the impressed force, or that what­ever has Extension is divisible; these Propo­sitions are to be understood of Motion and Extension in general, and nevertheless it will not follow that they suggest to my Thoughts an Idea of Motion without a Body mov'd, or any determinate Dire­ction, Velocitie, &c. or that I must con­ceive an abstract general Idea of Ex­tension, which is neither Line, Surface nor Solid, neither Great nor Small, Black, White, nor Red, &c. 'Tis on­ly implied that whatever Motion I con­sider, [Page 16] whether it be Swift or Slow, Perpendicular, Horizontal or Oblique, or in whatever Object, the Axiom con­cerning it holds equally true. As does the other of every particular Extension, it matters not whether Line, Surface or Solid, whether of this or that Mag­nitude or Figure, &c.

§ 12. By observing how Ideas be­come general, we may the better judge how Words are made so. And here it is to be noted that I do not de­ny absolutely there are general Ideas, but only that there are any abstract general Ideas: For in the Passages we have Quoted wherein there is mention of general Ideas, it is always supposed that they are formed by Abstraction, af­ter the manner set forth in Sect. VIII and IX. Now if we will annex a meaning to our Words, and speak only of what we can conceive, I believe we shall ac­knowledge, that an Idea, which consi­der'd in it self is particular, becomes general, by being made to represent or stand for all other particular Ideas of [Page 17] the same sort. To make this plain by an Example, suppose a Geometrician is demonstrating the Method, of cut­ting a Line in two equal Parts. He draws, for instance, a Black Line of an Inch in Length, this which in it self is a particular Line is nevertheless with re­gard to it's signification General, since as it is there used, it represents all particular Lines whatsoever; so that what is de­monstrated of it, is demonstrated of all Lines or, in other Words, of a Line in General. And as that particular Line becomes General, by being made a Sign, so the name Line which taken absolutely is particular, by being a Sign is made General. And as the former owes its Generality, not to its being the Sign of an abstract or general Line, but of all particular right Lines that may possibly exist, so the latter must be thought to derive its Generality from the same Cause, namely, the various, particular Lines which it indifferently denotes.

[Page 18]§ 13. To give the Reader a yet clearer View of the Nature of abstract Ideas, and the Uses they are thought necessary to, I shall add one more Pas­sage out of the Essay on Human Vnder­standing, which is as follows. Ab­stract Ideas are not so obvious or easy to Children or the yet unexercis­ed Mind as particular ones. If they seem so to grown Men 'tis only be­cause by constant and familiar Use they are made so. For when we nice­ly reflect upon them, we shall find that general Ideas are Fictions and Contrivances of the Mind, that carry Difficulty with them, and do not so easily offer themselves, as we are apt to imagine. For Example, Does it not require some Pains and Skill to form the general Idea of a Triangle (which is yet none of the most abstract com­prehensive and difficult) for it must be neither Oblique nor Rectangle, nei­ther Equilateral, Equicrural, nor Sca­lenon, but all and none of these at once. In effect it is something imper­fect [Page 19] that cannot exist, an Idea where­in some Parts of several different and inconsistent Ideas are put together: 'Tis true the Mind in this imperfect State has need of such Ideas, and makes all the haste to them it can, for the con­veniency of Communication and En­largement of Knowledge, to both which it is naturally very much in­clin'd. But yet one has reason to su­spect such Ideas are Marks of our Im­perfection. At least this is enough to shew that the most abstract and ge­neral Ideas are not those that the Mind is first and most easily acquainted with, nor such as its earliest Know­lege is conversant about.’ B. 4. C. 7. § 9. If any Man has the Faculty of framing in his Mind such an Idea of a Triangle as is here describ'd, it's in vain to pretend to dispute him out of it, nor wou'd I go about it. All I desire is, that the Reader wou'd fully and and cer­tainly inform himself whether he has such an Idea or no. And this, methinks, can be no hard Task for any one to per­form. What more easy than for any one [Page 20] to look a little into his own Thoughts, and there try whether he has, or can at­tain to have, an Idea that shall corre­spond with the description that is here given of the General Idea of a Triangle, which is, neither Oblique nor Rectangle, Equilateral, Equicrural nor Scalenon, but all and none of these at once?

§ 14. Much is here said of the Diffi­culty that abstract Ideas carry with them, and the Pains and Skill requisite to the forming them. And it is on all Hands agreed that there is need of great Toil and Labour of the Mind, to Eman­cipate our Thoughts from paticular Ob­jects, and raise them to those Sublime Speculations that are conversant about abstract Ideas. From all which the na­tural Consequence shou'd seem to be, that so Difficult a thing as the forming abstract Ideas was not necessary for Com­munication, which is so easy and fami­liar to all sorts of Men. But we are told if they seem obvious and easy to Grown Men, 'Tis only because by constant and fa­miliar use they are made so. Now I wou'd [Page 21] fain know at what time it is, Men are imploy'd in surmounting that Difficul­ty, and furnishing themselves with those necessary helps for Discourse. It can­not be when they are grown up, for then it seems they are not conscious of any such Pains-taking; it remains therefore to be the business of their Childhood. And surely, the great and multiply'd La­bour of framing abstract Notions will be found a hard Task for that tender Age. Is it not a hard thing to imagine that a couple of Children can't Prate together, of their Sugar-plumbs and Rat­tles and the rest of their little Trinkets, till they have first Tack'd together num­berless Inconsistencies, and so framed in their Minds abstract general Ideas, and annexed them to every common Name they make use of?

§ 15. Nor do I think them a whit more needful for the Enlargement of Knowlege than for Communication. It is I know a Point much insisted on, that all Knowlege and Demonstration are a­bout universal Notions, to which I ful­ly [Page 22] agree: But then it does not appear to me that those Notions are form'd by Abstraction in the manner premised, Vni­versality, so far as I can comprehend, not consisting in the absolute, positive Na­ture or Conception of any thing, but in the relation it bears to the Particu­lars signified or represented by it: By vertue whereof it is that things, Names or Notions, being in their own Nature, Particular are render'd Vniversal. Thus when I demonstrate any Proposition con­cerning Triangles, it is to be supposed that I have in view the universal Idea of a Triangle; which ought not to be understood as if I cou'd frame an Idea of a Triangle which was neither Equi­lateral nor Scalenon, &c. But only that the particular Triangle I consider, whether of this or that sort it matters not, does equally stand for and repre­sent all Rectilinear Triangles whatso­ever, and is in that sense Vniversal. All which seems very Plain and not to in­clude any Difficulty in it.

[Page 23]§ 16. But here it will be demand­ed, how we can know any Proposition to be true of all particular Triangles, except we have first seen it demonstrat­ed of the abstract Idea of a Triangle which equally agrees to all? For be­cause a Property may be demonstrated to agree to some one particular Trian­gle, it will not thence follow that it e­qually belongs to any other Triangle, which in all respects is not the same with it. For Example, Having demon­strated that the three Angles of an Iso­sceles, Rectangular Triangle are equal to two right Ones, I cannot therefore con­clude this Affection agrees to all other Triangles, which have neither a right An­gle, nor two equal Sides. It seems there­fore that, to be certain this Proposition is universally true, we must either make a particular Demonstration for every particular Triangle, which is impossible, or once for all demonstrate it of the ab­stract Idea of a Triangle, in which all the Particulars do indifferently partake, and by which they are all equally represent­ed. [Page 24] To which I answer, that tho' the Idea I have in view whilst I make the Demonstration be, for instance, that of an Isosceles, Rectangular Triangle whose Sides are of a determinate Length, I may nevertheless be certain it extends to all other Rectilinear Triangles, of what Sort or Bigness soever. And that, because neither the right Angle, nor the equality, nor determinate Length of the Sides are at all concern'd in the Demon­stration. 'Tis true, the Diagram I have in view includes all these Particulars, but then there's not the least mention made of 'em in the Proof of the Proposition. It is not said the three Angles are equal to two right Ones, because one of them is a right Angle, or because the Sides com­prehending it are of the same Length. Which sufficiently shews that the right Angle might have been Oblique, and the Sides unequal, and for all that the Demonstration have held good. And for this reason it is, that I conclude that to be true of any Obliquangular or Scalenon, which I had demonstrated of a particular Right-angled, Equicrural [Page 25] Triangle; and not because I demon­strated the Proposition of the abstract Idea of a Triangle.

§ 17. It were an endless, as well as an useless Thing, to trace the Schoolmen, those great Masters of abstraction, thrô all the manifold inextricable Labyrinths of Error and Dispute, which their Do­ctrine of abstract Natures and Notions seems to have led 'em into. What Bicker­ings and Controversies, and what a learn­ed Dust have been raised about those Matters, and what mighty Advantage has been from thence deriv'd to Mankind are things at this Day too clearly known to need being insisted on. And it had been well if the ill effects of that Doctrine were confin'd to those only who make the most avow'd Profession of it. When Men consider the great Pains, Industry and Parts, that have for so many Ages been laid out on the Cultivation and Advancement of the Sciences, and that notwithstanding all this the far greater Part of them remain full of Darkness and Uncertainty, and Disputes, that [Page 26] are like never to have an end, and even those that are thought to be supported by the most clear and cogent Demon­strations, contain in them Paradoxes which are perfectly irreconcilable to the Understandings of Men, and that taking altogether, a very small Portion of them does supply any real Benefit to Man­kind, otherwise than by being an inno­cent Diversion and Amusement. I say, the Consideration of all this is apt to throw them into a Despondency, and perfect Contempt of all Study. But this may perhaps cease, upon a view of the false Principles that have obtain'd in the World, amongst all which there is none, methinks, hath a more wide and extended Sway over the Thoughts of Speculative Men, than that we have been endeavouring to overthrow.

§ 18. I come now to consider the Source of this prevailing Notion, and that seems to me to be Language. And surely nothing of less extent than Rea­son it self cou'd have been the Source of an Opinion so universally receiv'd. [Page 27] The truth of this appears as from other Reasons, so also from the plain Confes­sion of the ablest Patrons of abstract Ideas, who acknowlege that they are made in order to naming, from which it is a clear Consequence that if there had been no such thing as Speech or Universal Signs, there never had been any thought of Abstraction. See B. 3. C. 6. § 39. and elsewhere of the Essay on Human Vnderstanding. But let us examine the manner wherein Words have contributed to the Origine of that Mistake. First then, 'Tis thought that every Name has, or ought to have, one only precise and settled Signification, which inclines Men to think there are certain abstract, determinate Ideas that constitute the true and only immediate Signification of each general Name. And that it is by the mediation of these abstract Ideas, that a general Name comes to signifie any particular Thing. Whereas, in truth, there is no such thing as one precise and definite Signification annexed to any general Name, they all signifying indifferently a great number [Page 28] of particular Ideas. All which does e­vidently follow from what has been already said, and will clearly appear to any one by a little Reflexion. To this, I doubt not, it will be objected that every Name that has a Definition is is thereby restrain'd to one certain Sig­nification. e. g. a Triangle is defin'd to be a plain Surface comprehended by three right Lines; by which that Name is li­mited to denote one certain Idea and no other. To which I answer, that in the Definition it is not said whether the Surface be Great or Small, Black or White, &c. nor whether the Sides are Long or Short, Equal ot Unequal, nor with what Angles they are inclin'd to each other, in all which there may be great variety, and consequently there is no one settled Idea which limits the Signification of the word Triangle. 'Tis one thing for to keep a Name constant­ly to the same Definition, and another to make it stand every where for the same Idea, the one is necessary, the o­ther useless and impracticable.

[Page 29]§ 19. But to give a farther Account how Words came to produce the Do­ctrine of abstract Ideas, it must be ob­serv'd that it's a receiv'd Opinion, that Language has no other End but the communicating our Ideas, and that every significant Name stands for an I­dea. This being so, and it being with­all certain, that Names, which yet are not thought altogether Insignificant, do not always mark out particular con­ceivable Ideas, it is straightway conclud­ed that they stand for abstract Notions. That there are many Names in use a­mongst Speculative Men, which do not always suggest to others determinate, particular Ideas, or in truth any thing at all, is what no Body will deny. And a little Attention will discover, that it is not necessary (even in the strictest Rea­sonings) significant Names which stand for Ideas shou'd, every time they are us'd, excite in the Understanding the I­deas they are made to stand for: In Reading and Discoursing Names being for the most part used as Letters are in [Page 30] Algebra, in which thô a particular quan­tity be mark'd by each Letter, yet to proceed right it is not requisite that in every step each Letter suggest to your Thoughts, that particular quantity it was appointed to stand for.

§ 20. Besides, the communicating of Ideas marked by Words is not the chief and only end of Language, as is common­ly suppos'd. There are other Ends, as the raising of some Passion, the exciting to, or deterring from an Action, the putting the Mind in some particular Disposition; to which the former is in many Cases barely subservient, and sometimes in­tirely omitted, when these can be ob­tain'd without it, as I think does not infrequently happen in the familiar use of Language. I intreat the Reader to reflect with himself, and see if it does not oft happen either in Hearing or Reading a Discourse, that the Passions of Fear, Love, Hatred, Admiration, Disdain, &c. arise immediately in his Mind upon the perception of certain Words, without any Ideas coming be­tween. [Page 31] At first, indeed, the Words might have ocasion'd Ideas that were fitting to produce those Emotions; but, if I mistake not, it will be found that when Language is once grown familiar, the hearing of the Sounds or Sight of the Characters is oft immediately attended with those Passions, which at first were wont to be produced by the interven­tion of Ideas, that are now quite omit­ted. May we not, for Example, be af­fected with the promise of a Good thing, thô we have not an Idea of what it is? Or is not the being threaten'd with Danger sufficient to excite a Dread, thô we think not of any particular Evil like­ly to befall us, nor yet frame to our selves an Idea of Danger in Abstract? If any one shall join ever so little Re­flection of his own to what has been said, I believe it will evidently appear to him, that general Names are often used in the propriety of Language with­out the Speakers designing them for marks of Ideas in his own, which he wou'd have 'em raise in the Mind of the Hearer. Even proper Names them­selves [Page 32] do not seem always spoken, with a design to bring into our view the I­deas of those Individuals that are sup­posed to be marked by them. For Ex­ample, when a Schoolman tells me Aristotle hath said it, all I conceive he means by it, is to dispose me to em­brace his Opinion with the Deference and Submission which Custom has an­nex'd to that Name. And this effect is oft so instantly produced in the Minds of those who are accustom'd to resign their Judgment to the Authority of that Philosopher, as it is impossible any Idea either of his Person, Writings, or Re­putation shou'd go before. So close and immediate a Connexion may Custom establish, betwixt the very word Aristotle and the Motions of Assent and Reve­rence in the Minds of some Men. In­numerable Examples of this kind may be given, but why shou'd I insist on those things, which every one's Experi­ence, will, I doubt not, plentifully suggest unto him?

[Page 33]§ 21. We have, I think, shewn the Im­possibility of abstract Ideas. We have consider'd what has been said for them by their ablest Patrons; and endeavor'd to shew they are of no Use for those Ends, to which they are thought neces­sary. And lastly, we have traced them to the Source from whence they flow, which appears evidently to be Language. It cannot be deny'd that Words are of excellent Use, in that by their means all that Stock of Knowlege which has been purchas'd by the joint Labours of Inquisitive Men in all Ages and Nations, may be drawn into the view and made the possession of one single Person. But most parts of Knowlege have been so strangely perplex'd and darken'd by the abuse of Words, and general ways of Speech wherein they are deliver'd, that it may almost be made a Question whe­ther Language, has contributed more to the hindrance or advancement of the Sciences. Since therefore Words are so apt to impose on the Understanding, I [Page 34] am resolv'd in my Inquiries to make as little use of them as possibly I can. What­ever Ideas I consider, I shall endeavour to take them bare and naked into my View, keeping out of my Thoughts, so far as I am able, those Names which long and constant Use hath so strictly united with them; from which I may expect to derive the following Advan­tages.

§ 22. First, I shall be sure to get clear of all Controversies purely Verbal; the springing up of which weeds in al­most all the Sciences has been a main Hindrance to the Growth of true and sound Knowlege. Secondly, this seems to be a sure way to extricate my self, out of that fine and subtile Net of ab­stract Ideas, which has so miserably perplex'd and entangled the Minds of Men, and that with this peculiar Cir­cumstance, that by how much the finer and more curious was the Wit of any Man, by so much the deeper was he like to be ensnar'd, and faster held there­in. [Page 35] Thirdly, so long as I confine my Thoughts to my own Ideas divested of Words, I do not see how I can easily be mistaken. The Objects I consider, I clearly and adequately know. I cannot be deceiv'd in thinking I have an Idea which I have not. It is not possible for me to imagine, that any of my own I­deas are alike or unlike, that are not tru­ly so. To discern the Agreements or Disagreements there are between my I­deas, to see what Ideas are included in any compound Idea, and what not, there is nothing more requisite, than an attentive Perception of what passes in my own Understanding.

§ 23. But the attainment of all these Advantages does presuppose an intire de­liverance from the Deception of Words, which I dare hardly promise my self; so difficult a thing it is to dissolve an U­nion so early begun, and confirm'd by so long a Habit as that betwixt Words and Ideas. Which Difficulty seems to have been very much increas'd by the Do­ctrine [Page 36] of Abstraction. For so long as Men thought abstract Ideas were annexed to their Words, it does not seem strange that they shou'd use Words for Ideas: It be­ing found an impracticable thing to lay aside the Word, and retain the abstract Idea in the Mind, which in it self was perfectly inconceivable. This seems to me the principal Cause, why those Men who have so emphatically recommend­ed to others, the laying aside all use of Words in their Meditations, and Con­templating their bare Ideas, have yet fail'd to perform it themselves. Of late many have been very sensible of the ab­surd Opinions and insignificant Disputes, which grow out of the abuse of Words. And in order to remedy these Evils they advise well, that we attend to the Ideas signified, and draw off our Attention, from the Words which signifie them. But how good soever this Advice may be, they have given others, it is plain they cou'd not have a due regard to it themselves, so long as they thought the only immediate use of Words was to [Page 37] signifie Ideas, and that the immediate signification of every general Name was a determinate, abstract Idea.

§ 24. But these being known to be Mistakes, a Man may with greater Ease prevent his being impos'd on by Words. He that knows he has no other than particular Ideas, will not puzzle him­self in vain to find out and conceive the abstract Idea, annexed to any Name. And he that knows Names do not always stand for Ideas, will spare himself the labour of looking for Ideas, where there are none to be had. It were, therefore, to be wish'd that every one wou'd use his utmost Endeavors, to obtain a clear view of the Ideas he'd consider, separating from them all that dress and incumbrance of Words which so much contribute to blind the Judgment and divide the Attention. In vain do we extend our View into the Heavens, and pry into the Entrails of the Earth, in vain do we consult the Writings of Learned [Page 38] Men, and trace the dark Foot-steps of Antiquity, we need only draw the Cur­tain of Words, to behold the fairest Tree of Knowlege, whose Fruit is ex­cellent, and within the reach of our Hand.

§ 25. Unless we take care to clear the first Principles of Knowlege, from the embarras and delusion of Words, we may make infinite Reasonings upon them to no purpose; we may draw Con­sequences from Consequences, and be never the Wiser. The farther we go we shall only lose our selves the more irre­coverably, and be the deeper entangled in Difficulties and Mistakes. Whoever therefore designs to Read the follow­ing Sheets, I do Intreat him that he wou'd make my Words the Occasion of his own Thinking, and endeavour to attain the same Train of Thoughts in Reading, that I had in Writing them. By this means, it will be easy for him to discover the Truth or Falsity of what I say. He will be out of all danger [Page 39] of being deceiv'd by my Words, and I do not see how he can be led into an Error by considering his own Na­ked, undisguised Ideas.


§ 1. IT is evident to any one who takes a Survey of the Objects of Human Knowlege, that they are ei­ther Ideas actually imprinted on the Senses, or else such as are perceiv'd by attending to the Passions and Operations of the Mind, or lastly Ideas formed by help of Memory and Imaginati­on; either compounding, dividing, or barely representing those originally per­ceiv'd in the aforesaid ways. By Sight I have the Ideas of Light and Co­lours with their several Degrees and Variations. By Touch I perceive Hard [Page 42] and Soft, Heat and Cold, Motion and Resistance, &c. and of all these more and less either as to Quantity or De­gree. Smelling furnishes me with O­dors; the Palate with Tastes, and Hear­ing conveys Sounds to the Mind in all their variety of Tone and Composition. And as several of these are observ'd to accompany each other, they come to be marked by one Name, and so to be reputed as one Thing. Thus, for Ex­ample, a certain Colour, Taste, Smell, Figure and Consistence having been observ'd to go together, are accounted one distinct Thing, signified by the name Apple. Other Collections of Ideas con­stitute a Stone, a Tree, a Book and the like sensible Things; which as they are pleasing or disagreeable excite the Passi­ons of Love, Hatred, Joy, Grief, &c.

§ 2. But besides all that endless vari­ety of Ideas or Objects of Knowlege, there is likewise something which knows or perceives them, and exercises divers Operations, as Willing, Imagining, Re­membering, &c. about them. This per­ceiving, [Page 43] active Being is what I call Mind, Spirit, Soul or my Self. By which Words I do not denote any one of my Ideas, but a thing intirely distinct from them, wherein they Exist, or, which is the same thing, whereby they are Perceiv'd, for the Existence of an Idea consists in being Perceiv'd.

§ 3. That neither our Thoughts, nor Passions, nor Ideas formed by the Ima­gination, Exist without the Mind, is what every Body will allow. And to me it is no less evident that the various Sensations or Ideas imprinted on the Sense, however Blended or Combin'd together (that is whatever Objects they compose) cannot Exist otherwise than in a Mind perceiving them. I think an intuitive Knowlege may be obtain'd of this, by any one that shall attend to what is meant by the Term Exist when apply'd to sensible Things. The Table I Write on, I say, Exists, i. e. I See and Feel it, and if I were out of my Study I shou'd say it Existed, meaning there­by that if I was in my Study I might [Page 44] perceive it, or that some other Spirit actually does perceive it. There was an Odor, i. e. it was Smelt; There was a Sound, i. e. it was Heard; a Colour or Figure and it was perceiv'd by Sight or Touch. This is all that I can un­derstand by these and the like Expressi­ons. For as to what is said of the Ab­solute Existence of unthinking Things without any relation to their being per­ceiv'd, that is to me perfectly Unintel­ligible. Their Esse is Percipi, nor is it possible they shou'd have any Existence, out of the Minds or thinking Things which perceive them.

§ 4. It is indeed an Opinion strangely prevailing amongst Men, that Houses, Mountains, Rivers and in a word all sensible Objects have an Existence Na­tural or Real, distinct from their being perceiv'd by the Understanding. But with how great an Assurance and Acquiescence soever, this Principle may be entertained in the World: Yet who­ever shall find in his Heart to call it in Question may, if I mistake not, perceive [Page 45] it to involve a manifest Contradiction. For what are the foremention'd Objects but the things we perceive by Sense, and what, I pray you, do we perceive besides our own Ideas or Sensations, and is it not plainly repugnant that any one of these or any Combination of them shou'd Exist unperceiv'd?

§ 5. If we throughly examine this Te­nent, it will, perhaps, be found at Bot­tom to depend on the Doctrine of Ab­stract Ideas. For can there be a nicer Strain of Abstraction then to distinguish the Existence of sensible Objects from their being Perceiv'd, so as to conceive them Existing Unperceiv'd? Light and Colours, Heat and Cold, Extension and Figures, in a word the Things we See and Feel what are they but so many Sensations, Notions, Ideas or Impressions on the Sense, and is it possible to sepa­rate, even in thought, any of these from Perception? For my part I might as ea­sily divide a Thing from it Self. I may, indeed, divide in my Thoughts or con­ceive apart from each other those Things [Page 46] which, perhaps, I never perceiv'd by Sense so divided. Thus I imagine the Trunk of a Human Body without the Limbs, or conceive the Smell of a Rose without thinking on the Rose it self. So far I will not deny I can Abstract, if that may properly be called Abstraction, which extends only to the conceiving separately such Objects, as it is possible may really exist or be actually percei­ved asunder. But my conceiving or imagining Power does not extend be­yond the possibility of real Existence or Perception. Hence as it is impossible, for me to See or Feel any Thing with­out an actual Sensation of that Thing, so is it impossible for me to conceive in my Thoughts any sensible Thing or Ob­ject distinct from the Sensation or Per­ception of it. In truth the Object and the Sensation are the same thing, and cannot therefore be Abstracted from each other.

§ 6. Some Truths there are so near and obvious to the mind that a Man need only open his Eyes to see 'em. Such I [Page 47] take this Important one to be, viz. that all the Choir of Heaven and Furniture of the Earth, in a word all those Bodies which compose the mighty Frame of the World, have not any Subsistence without a Mind, that their Esse is to be Perceiv'd or Known; that conse­quently so long as they are not actual­ly Perceiv'd by Me, or do not Exist in my Mind or that of any other Creat­ed Spirit, they must either have no Ex­sistence at all, or else subsist in the Mind of some Eternal Spirit: It being per­fectly unintelligible and involving all the Absurdity of Abstraction, to attri­bute to any single part of them an Ex­istence independent of a Spirit. To make this appear with all the Light and Evidence of an Axiom, it seems sufficient if I can but awaken the Re­flexion of the Reader, that he may take an impartial View of his own Meaning, and turn his Thoughts upon the Subject it self, free and disengaged from all Embarras of Words and Prepossession in favour of received Mistakes.

[Page 48]§ 7. From what has been said, 'tis e­vident, there is not any other Substance than Spirit or that which perceives. But for the fuller Demonstration of this Point, let it be consider'd, the sensible Qualities are Colour, Figure, Motion, Smell, Taste, &c. i. e. the Idea [...] perceiv'd by Sense. Now for an Idea to Exist in an unperceiving Thing is a manifest Contradiction, for to have an Idea is all one as to perceive, that there­fore wherein Colour, Figure, &c. Ex­ist must perceive them; Hence 'tis clea [...] there can be no unthinking Substance or Substratum of those Ideas.

§ 8. But say you, thô the Ideas them­selves do not Exist without the Mind yet there may be Things like them whereof they are Copies or Resem­blances, which Things Exist withou [...] the Mind, in an unthinking Substance I answer an Idea can be like nothing but an Idea, a Colour, or Figure, ca [...] be like nothing but another Colour o [...] Figure. If we look but never so little into [Page 49] our Thoughts, we shall find it impossi­ble for us to conceive a Likeness except only between our Ideas. Again, I ask whether those suppos'd Originals or Ex­ternal Things, of which our Ideas are the Pictures or Representations, be themselves Perceivable or no? If they are, then they are Ideas and we have gain'd our Point; but if you say they are not, I appeal to any one whether it be Sense, to assert a Colour is like some­thing which is invisible; Hard or Soft, like something which is Intangible, and so of the rest.

§ 9. Some there are who make a di­stinction betwixt Primary and Secondary Qualities: By the former, they mean Extension, Figure, Motion, Rest, Soli­dity or Impenetrability and Number: By the latter they denote all other Sen­sible Qualities as Colours, Sounds, Tastes, &c. the Ideas we have of these they acknowlege not to be the Resem­blances, of any thing existing without the Mind or unperceiv'd, but they will have our Ideas of the Primary Qualities [Page 50] to be Patterns or Images of things which exist without the Mind, in an unthink­ing Substance which they call Matter. By Matter, therefore, we are to under­stand an Inert, Senseless Substance, in which Extension, Figure, Motion, &c. do actually subsist, But it is evident from what we have already shewn, that Extension, Figure and Notion are only Ideas existing in the Mind, and that an Idea can be like nothing but another Idea. and that consequently neither They nor their Archetypes can Exist in an unperceiving Substance. Hence it is plain, that the very Notion of what is called Matter or Corporeal Substance, involves a Contradiction in it. Insomuch that I shou'd not think it necessary to spend more time in exposing it's Absur­dity. But because the Tenent of the Existence of Matter seems to have taken so deep a Root in the Minds of Philo­sophers, and draws after it so many ill Consequences, l chuse rather to be thought Prolix and Tedious, than omit any thing that might conduce to the full Discovery and Extirpation of that Prejudice.

[Page 51]§ 10. They who assert that Figure, Motion, and the rest of the Primary or Original Qualities do Exist without the Mind, in unthinking Substances, do at the same time acknowlege that Colours, Sounds, Heat, Cold, &c. do not, which they tell us are Sensations existing in the Mind alone, that depend on and are occasion'd by the different Size, Texture, Motion, &c. of the minute Particles of Matter. This they take for an undoubted Truth, which they can demonstrate be­yond all Exception. Now if it be certain, that those Original Qualities are insepa­rably united with the other sensible Qua­lities, and not, even in Thought, capable of being Abstracted from them, it plainly follows that they Exist only in the Mind. But I desire any one to reflect and try, whether he can by any Abstraction of Thought, conceive the Extension and Motion of a Body, without all other sensible Qualities. For my own part, I see evidently that it is not in my power to frame an Idea of a Body Extended and Moving, but I must withal give it [Page 52] some Colour or other sensible Quality which is acknowleg'd to Exist only in the Mind. In short, Extension, Figure, and Motion, abstracted from all o­ther Qualities, are inconceivable. Where therefore the other sensible Qualities are, there must these be also, i. e. in the Mind and no where else.

§ 11. Again, Great and Small, Swift and Slow, are allow'd to Exist no where without the Mind, being intirely rela­tive and changing as the Frame or Po­sition of the Organs of Sense varies. The Extension therefore which Exists without the Mind, is neither Great nor Small, the Motion, neither Swift nor Slow, that is, they are nothing at all. But say you they are Extension in General, and Motion in General: Thus we see how much the Tenent of extended, moveable Substan­ces Existing without the Mind depends on that strange Doctrine of Abstract I­deas. And here I can't but remark, how nearly the Vague and indetermi­nate Description of Matter or Corpo­real Substance which the Modern Phi­losophers [Page 53] are run into by their own Principles, resembles that antiquated and so much ridicul'd Notion of Materia Pri­ma, to be met with in Aristotle and his Followers. Without Extension Solidi­ty cannot be conceiv'd; since therefore it has been shewn that Extension Exists not in an unthinking Substance, the same must also be true of Solidity.

§ 12. That Number is intirely the Creature of the Mind, even thô the o­ther Qualities be allow'd to Exist with­out, will be evident to whoever con­siders, that the same thing bears a dif­ferent Denomination of Number, as the Mind views it with different respects, Thus, the same Extension is One or Three or Thirty Six, according as the Mind considers it with reference to a Yard, a Foot, or an Inch. Number is so visibly relative, and dependent on Mens Understanding, that it is strange to think how any one shou'd give it an absolute Existence without the Mind. We say one Book, one Page, one Line, &c. all these are equally Unites, thô [Page 54] some contain several of the others. And in each Instance 'tis plain, the Unite relates to some particular Combination of Ideas arbitrarily put together by the Mind.

§ 13. Unity I know some will have to be a simple or uncompounded Idea, accompanying all other Ideas into the Mind. That I have any such Idea an­swering the Word Vnity, I do not find, and if I had, methinks, I cou'd not miss finding it, on the contrary it shou'd be the most familiar to my Understand­ing since if is said to accompany all o­ther Ideas, and to be perceiv'd by all the ways of Sensation and Reflexion. To say no more it is an abstract Idea.

§ 14. I shall farther add, that after the same manner, as modern Philoso­phers prove Colours, Tastes, &c. to have no Existence in Matter, or with­out the Mind, the same thing may be likewise prov'd of all other sensible Qua­lities whatsoever. Thus, for Instance, it is said that Heat and Cold, are Af­fections only of the Mind, and not at [Page 55] all Patterns of real Beings, existing in the Corporeal Substances which excite them, for that the same Body which ap­pears Cold to one Hand, seems Warm to another. Now why may we not as well argue that Figure and Extension, are not Patterns or Resemblances of Qualities existing in Matter, because to the same Eye at different Stations, or Eyes of a different Texture at the same Sta­tion, they appear various, and cannot therefore be the Images of any thing settled and determinate without the Mind? again, 'Tis prov'd that Sweet­ness is not really in the Sapid Thing, because the thing remaining unalter'd the Sweetness is changed into Bitter, as in case of a Fever or otherwise vitiated Palate. Is it not as reasonable to say, that Motion is not without the Mind, since if the Suc­cession of Ideas in the Mind become Swifter, the Motion, it is acknowledg'd, shall appear Slower without any exter­nal Alteration.

§ 15. In short, let any one consider those Arguments, which are thought [Page 56] manifestly to prove that Colours, Tastes, &c. Exist only in the Mind, and he shall find they may with equal force, be brought to prove the same thing of Ex­tension, Figure, and Motion. Thô it must be confess'd this method of Argu­ing does not so much prove that there is no Extension, Colour, &c. in an out­ward Object, as that we do not know by Sense which is the true Extension or Colour of the Object. But the Argu­ments foregoing plainly shew it to be impossible that any Colour or Extensi­on at all, or other sensible Quality what­soever, shou'd Exist in an unthinking Subject without the Mind, or in truth, that there shou'd be any such thing as an outward Object.

§ 16. But let us examine a little the receiv'd Opinion: It is said Extension is a mode or accident of Matter, and that Matter is the Substratum that sup­ports it. Now I desire that you wou'd explain to me what is meant by Mat­ter's supporting Extension: Say you, I have no Idea of Matter and therefore [Page 57] cannot explain it. I answer, thô you have no positive, yet if you have any meaning at all, you must at least have a Relative Idea of Matter; thô you know not what it is, yet you must be supposed to know what Relation it bears to Accidents, and what is meant by its supporting them. 'Tis evident Support cannot here be taken in its u­sual or literal Sense, as when we say that Pillars support a Building; in what Sense therefore must it be taken? For my part I am not able to discover any Sense at all that can be applicable to it.

§ 17. If we inquire into what the most accurate Philosophers declare themselves to mean by Material Sub­stance; we shall find them acknowlege, they have no other meaning annexed to those Sounds, but the Idea of Being in general, together with the Relative No­tion of its supporting Accidents. The general Idea of Being appeareth to me the most abstract and incomprehensible of all other, and as for its supporting Accidents, this, as we have just now ob­serv'd, [Page 58] cannot be understood in the com­mon Sense of those Words, it must therefore be taken in some other Sense, but what that is they do not explain. So that when I consider the two Parts or Branches which make the significati­on of the Words Material Substance, I am convinced there is no distinct mean­ing annext to them. But why shou'd we trouble our selves any farther, in discussing this Material Substratum or Support of Figure and Motion, &c. does it not suppose they have an Ex­istence without the Mind? And is not this a direct Repugnancy and altoge­ther Inconceivable?

§ 18. But thô it were possible that solid, Figur'd moveable Substances may Exist without the Mind, corresponding to the Ideas we have of Bodies, yet how is it possible for us to know this? Ei­ther we must know it by Sense or by Reason. As for our Senses, by them we have the Knowlege only of our Sen­sations, Ideas, or those things that are immediately perceiv'd by Sense, call 'em [Page 59] what you will: But they do not inform us that things Exist without the Mind, or unperceiv'd, like to those which are perceiv'd. This the Materialists them­selves acknowlege. It remains there­fore that if we have any Knowlege at all of External Things, it must be by Reason, inferring their Existence from what is immediately perceiv'd by Sense. But I do not see what reason can in­duce us to believe the Existence of Bo­dies without the Mind, from what we perceive, since the very Patrons of Mat­ter themselves do not pretend, there is any necessary Connexion betwixt them and our Ideas. I say it is granted on all Hands (and what happens in Dreams, Frenzys and the like puts it be­yond dispute) that it is possible we might be affected with all the Ideas we have now, thô there were no Bodies Existing without resembling them. Hence it is evident the Supposition of External Bodies is not necessary for the producing our Ideas: Since it is grant­ed they are produced sometimes, and might possibly be produced always in [Page 60] the same Order, we see them in at pre­sent, without their Concurrence.

§ 19. But, thô we might possibly have all our Sensations without them, yet perhaps it may be thought easier to conceive and explain the manner of their Production, by supposing External Bodies in their likeness rather than o­therwise, and so it might be at least probable there are such things as Bodies that excite their Ideas in our Minds. But neither can this be said, for thô we give the Materialists their External Bodies, they by their one confession are never the nearer knowing how our Ideas are produced: Since they own themselves unable to comprehend in what manner Body can act upon Spirit, or how it is possible it shou'd imprint any Idea in the Mind. Hence it is evident the Producti­on of Ideas or Sensations in our Minds, can be no reason why we shou'd suppose Matter or Corporeal Substances, since that is acknowleg'd to remain equally in­explicable with, or without this Suppo­sition. If therefore it were possible for [Page 61] Bodies to Exist without the Mind, yet to hold they do so, must needs be a ve­ry precarious Opinion; since it is to sup­pose, without any reason at all, that God has Created innumerable Beings that are intirely useless, and serve to no manner of purpose.

§ 20. In short, thô there were Exter­nal Bodies, 'tis impossible we shou'd e­ver come to know it; and if there were not, we shou'd have the very same Rea­sons to think there were that we have now. Suppose, what no one can deny possible, an Intelligence to be affected with the same train of Sensations or I­deas that you are, imprinted in the same order and with like vividness in his Mind. I ask whether that Intelligence hath not all the Reason to believe the Existence of Corporeal Substances, represented by his Ideas, and exciting them in his Mind, that you can possibly have for believing the same thing? Of this there can be no Question, which one Consideration were enough to make any reasonable Person, suspect the strength of whatever [Page 62] Arguments he may think himself to have, for the Existence of Bodies without the Mind.

§ 21. Where it necessary to add any farther Proof against the Existence of Matter, after what has been said, I cou'd instance several of those Errours and Difficulties (not to mention Impieties) which have sprung from that Tenent. It has occasion'd numberless Contro­versies and Disputes in Philosophy, and not a few of far greater moment in Re­ligion. But I shall not enter into the detail of them in this Place, as well be­cause I think, Arguments a Posteriori are unnecessary for confirming what has been, if I mistake not, sufficiently de­monstrated a Priori, as because I shall hereafter find occasion to speak some­what of them.

§ 22. I am affraid I have given cause to think, I am needlesly Prolix in hand­ling this Subject. For to what purpose is it to dilate on that which may be demonstrated with the utmost Evidence [Page 63] in a Line or Two, to any one that's ca­pable of the least Reflexion? It is but looking into your own Thoughts, and so trying whether you can conceive it possible for a Sound, or Figure, or Mo­tion, or Colour to Exist without the Mind, or Unperceiv'd. This easy Try­al may perhaps make you see, that what you contend for, is a downright Con­tradiction. Insomuch that I am con­tent to put the whole upon this Issue; if you can but conceive it possible for one Extended, moveable Substance, or in general, for any one Idea or any thing like an Idea to Exist otherwise than in a Mind perceiving it, I shall readily give up the Cause: And as for all that com­pages of External Bodies you contend for, I shall grant you its Existence, thô you cannot either give me any Reason why you believe it Exists, or assign any use to it when it is supposed to Exist. I say, the bare possibility of your Opini­ons being true, shall pass for an Argu­ment that it is so.

[Page 64]§ 23. But say you, surely there's no­thing easier than for me to imagine Trees, for Instance, in a Park, or Books Exist­ing in a Closet, and no Body by to per­ceive them. I answer you may so, there is no difficulty in it: But what is all this, I beseech you, more than framing in your Mind certain Ideas which you call Books and Trees, and at the same time omitting to frame the Idea of a­ny one that may perceive them? But do not you your self Perceive or Think of them all the while? This therefore is nothing to the purpose: It only shews you have the power of Imagining or Forming Ideas in your Mind; but it does not shew that you can conceive it possible, the Objects of your Thought may Exist without the Mind; to make out this, it is necessary that you conceive them Existing unconceiv'd or unthought of, which is a manifest Repugnancy. When we do our utmost to conceive the Ex­istence of External Bodies, we are all the while only Contemplating our own Ideas. But the Mind taking no notice [Page 65] of it self, is deluded to think it can and does conceive Bodies Existing unthought of or without the Mind; thô at the same time they are apprehended by or Exist in it self. A little Attention will disco­ver to any one the Truth and Evidence of what is here said, and make it un­necessary to insist on any other Proofs a­gainst the Existence of Material Sub­stance.

§ 24. Cou'd Men but forbear to a­muse themselves with Words, we shou'd I believe, soon come to an Agreement in this Point. It is very obvious upon the least inquiry into our own Thoughts, to know whether it be possible for us to understand what is meant, by the abso­lute Existence of sensible Objects in them­selves, or without the Mind. To me 'tis evident those Words mark out either a direct Contradiction, or else nothing at all. And to convince others of this, I know no readier or fairer way, than to intreat they wou'd calmly attend to their own Thoughts: And if by this Atten­tion, the Emptiness or Repugnancy of [Page 66] those Expressions does appear, surely no­thing more is requisite for their Con­viction. 'Tis on this therefore that I insist, viz. that the absolute Existence of unthinking Things are Words with­out a Meaning, or which include a Con­tradiction. This is what I repeat and inculcate, and earnestly recommend to the attentive Thoughts of the Reader.

§ 25. All our Ideas, Sensations, Noti­ons or the things which we perceive by whatsoever Names they may be distin­guish'd, are visibly Inactive, there is no­thing of Power or Agency included in them. So that one Idea or Object of Thought cannot Produce, or make any Alteration in another. To be satisfied of the Truth of this, there is nothing else re­quisite but a bare Observation of our Ide­as. For since they and every part of them Exist only in the Mind, it follows that there is nothing in them but what is Perceiv'd: But whoever shall attend to his Ideas, whether of Sense or Reflexi­on, will not perceive in them any Pow­er or Activity, there is, therefore, no [Page 67] such thing contained in them. A little Attention will discover to us that the very Being of an Idea implies Passive­ness and Inertness in it, insomuch that it is impossible for an Idea to do any thing, or, strictly speaking, to be the Cause of any thing: Neither can it be the Resemblance or Pattern of any active Being, as is evident from Sect. VIII. Whence it plainly follows that Extension, Figure and Motion, cannot be the Cause of our Sensations. To say, therefore, that these are the effects of Powers resulting from the Configu­ration, Number, Motion, Size, &c. of Corpuscles must certainly be false.

§ 26. We perceive a continual Suc­cession of Ideas, some are anew Excited, others are Changed or totally Disappear. There is therefore some Cause of these Ideas whereon they depend, and which produces and changes them. That this Cause cannot be any Quality or Idea or Combination of Ideas, is clear from the preceding Section. It must therefore be a Substance, but it has been shewn that [Page 68] there is no Corporeal or Material Sub­stance: It remains therefore that the Cause of Ideas is an Incorporeal, active Substance or Spirit.

§ 27. A Spirit is one Simple, Undi­vided, active Being, as it perceives I­deas, it is called the Vnderstanding, and as it produces or otherwise operates a­bout them, it is called the Will. Hence there can be no Idea formed of a Soul or Spirit: For all Ideas whatever, be­ing Passive and Inert, vid. Sect. XXV, they cannot represent unto us, by way of Image or Likeness, that which Acts. A little Attention will make it plain to any one, that to have an Idea which shall be like that active Principle of Mo­tion and Change of Ideas, is absolutely impossible. Such is the Nature of Spi­rit or that which Acts, that it cannot be of it self Perceived, but only by the Effects which it produceth. If any Man shall doubt of the Truth of what is here delivered, let him but reflect and try if he can frame the Idea of any Power or active Being; and whether he has Ideas [Page 69] of two Principal Powers, mark'd by the Names Will and Vnderstanding, di­stinct from each other as well as from a third Idea of Substance or Being in general, with a relative Notion of its supporting or being the Subject of the aforesaid Powers, which is signified by the Name Soul or Spirit. This is what some hold; but so far as I can see, the Words Will, Vnderstanding, Mind, Soul, Spirit, do not stand for different Ideas, or in truth, for any I­dea at all, but for Something which is very different from Ideas, and which being an Agent cannot be like unto, or represented by, any Idea whatso­ever.

§ 28. I find I can Excite Ideas in my Mind at pleasure, and vary and shift the Scene as oft as I think fit. 'Tis no more than Willing, and straightway this or that Idea arises in my Fancy: And by the same Power it is obliterated, and makes way for another. This mak­ing and unmaking of Ideas doth very properly denominate the Mind Active. [Page 70] Thus much is certain, and grounded on Experience: But when we talk of un­thinking Agents, or of exciting Ideas ex­clusive of Volition, we only amuse our selves with Words.

§ 29. But whatever Power I may have over my own Thoughts, I find the Ideas actually perceiv'd by Sense have not a like Dependence on my Will. When in broad Day-light I open my Eyes, 'tis not in my Power to chuse whether I shall See or no, or to deter­mine what particular Objects shall pre­sent themselves to my View; And so likewise as to the Hearing and other Senses, the Ideas imprinted on them are not Creatures of my Will. There is therefore some other Will or Spirit that produces them.

§ 30. The Ideas of Sense are more strong, lively and distinct than those of the Imagination, they have likewise a Steddiness, Order and Coherence, and are not excited at Random, as those which are the effects of Human Wills [Page 71] often are, but in a regular Train or Series, the admirable Connexion where­of sufficiently testifies the Wisdom and Benevolence of its Author. Now the set Rules or establish'd Methods, where­in the Mind we depend on excites in us the Ideas of Sense, are called the Laws of Nature: And these we learn by Ex­perience, which teaches us that such and such Ideas are attended with such and such other Ideas, in the ordinary course of Things.

§ 31. This gives us a sort of Fore­sight, which enables us to regulate our Actions for the benefit of Life. And without this we shou'd be eternally at a loss, we cou'd not know how to act any thing that might procure us the least Pleasure, or remove the least Pain of Sense. That Food Nourishes, Sleep Refreshes, and Fire Warms us; that to Sow in the Seed-time is the way to Reap in the Harvest, and, in general, that to obtain such or such Ends, such or such Means are conducive, all this we know, not by discovering any ne­cessary [Page 72] Connexion between our Ideas, but only by the Observation of the set­tled Laws of Nature, without which we shou'd be all in Uncertainty and Confusion, and a grown Man no more know how to manage himself in the Af­fairs of Life, than an Infant just Born.

§ 32. And yet this consistent, uni­form Working which so evidently dis­plays the Goodness and Wisdom of that Governing Spirit whose Will constitutes the Laws of Nature, is so far from lead­ing our Thoughts to Him, that it rather sends 'em a wandering after second Cau­ses. For when we perceive certain I­deas of Sense constantly follow'd by o­ther Ideas, and we know this is not of our own doing, we forthwith attribute Power and Agency to the Ideas them­selves, and make one the Cause of ano­ther, than which nothing can be more Absurd and Unintelligible. Thus, for Example, having observ'd that when we perceive by Sight a certain round, luminous Figure, we at the same time per­ceive by Touch the Idea or Sensation [Page 73] called Heat, we do from thence con­clude the Sun to be the cause of Heat. And in like manner perceiving the Mo­tion and Collision of Bodies to be at­tended with Sound, we are inclined to think the latter the effect of the former.

§ 33. The ideas imprinted on the Senses by the Author of Nature are cal­led real things, and those excited in the Imagination being less Regular, Vivid and Constant, are more properly term­ed Ideas, or Images of Things, which they copy and represent. But then our Sen­sations, be they never so Vivid and Di­stinct, are nevertheless Ideas, i. e. they Exist in the Mind, or are perceived by it, as truly as the Ideas of its own fram­ing. The Ideas of Sense are allow'd to have more reality in them, i. e. to be more Strong, Orderly and Coherent than the Creatures of the Mind; but this is no Argument that they Exist without the Mind. They are also less dependent on the Spirit, or thinking Substance which perceives them, in that they are excited by the Will of a­nother [Page 74] and more Powerful Spirit: yet still they are Ideas, and certainly no I­dea, whether Faint or Strong, can Exist otherwise than in a Mind perceiving it.

§ 34. Before we proceed any far­ther, it is necessary we spend some Time in Answering Objections which may probably be made against the Princi­ples we have hitherto laid down. In doing of which, if I seem too Prolix to those of quick Apprehensions, I desire I may be excused, since all Men do not equally apprehend things of this Nature; and I am willing to be under­stood by every one. First, then, it will be objected that by the foregoing Prin­ciples, all that is real and substantial in Nature is banish'd out of the World: And instead thereof a Chimerical Scheme of Ideas takes place. All things that Exist, Exist only in the Mind, that is, they are purely Notional. What there­fore becomes of the Sun, Moon and Stars? What must we think of Houses, Rivers, Mountains, Trees, Stones; nay, even of our own Bodies? Are all these [Page 75] but so many Chimeras and Illusions on the Fancy? To all which, and whatever else of the same sort may be objected, I Answer, that by the Principles pre­mis'd, we are not deprived of any one thing in Nature. Whatever we See, Feel, Hear, or any wise Conceive or Un­derstand, remains as secure as ever, and is as real as ever. There is a rerum na­tura, and the Distinction between Rea­lities and Chimeras retains its full force. This is evident from Sect. XXIX, XXX, and XXXIII, where we have shewn what is meant by real Things in oppo­sition to Chimeras, or Ideas of our own framing; but then they both equally Exist in the Mind, and in that Sense are alike Ideas.

§ 35. I do not Argue against the Existence of any one thing that we can apprehend, either by Sense or Reflexion, That the things I see with my Eyes and touch with my Hands do Exist, really Exist, I make not the least Question, The only thing whose Existence we de­ny, is that which Philosophers call Mat­ter [Page 76] or Corporeal Substance. And in doing of this, there is no Damage done to the rest of Mankind, who, I dare say, will never miss it. The Atheist, indeed, will want the Colour of an empty Name to support his Impiety; and the Philosophers may possibly find, they have lost a great Handle for Trifling and Disputation. But that's all the Harm that I can see done.

§ 36. If any Man thinks we detract from the Existence or Reality of things, he is very far from Understanding what has been premis'd in the plainest Terms I cou'd think of. Take here an Ab­stract of what has been said. There are Spiritual Substances, Minds or Hu­man Souls which will or excite Ideas in themselves at pleasure: but these are faint, weak, and unsteady in respect of others they perceive by Sense, which be­ing impress'd upon them according to certain Rules or Laws of Nature, speak themselves the effects of a Mind more powerful and wise than Human Spirits. These latter are said to have more Re­ality [Page 77] in them than the former: By which is meant that they are more affecting, orderly and distinct, and that they are not Fictions of the Mind perceiving them. And in this Sense, the Sun that I see by Day is the real Sun, and that which I imagine by Night is the Idea of the former. In the Sense here given of Reality, 'tis evident that every Vegeta­ble, Star, Mineral, and in general each part of the Mundane System, is as much a Real Being by our Principles as by any other. Whether others mean any thing by the Term Reality different from what I do, I intreat them to look into their own thoughts and see.

§ 37. It will be urg'd that thus much at least is true, viz. that we take away all Corporeal Substances. To this my An­swer is, That if the word Substance be taken in the vulgar Sense, for a Combi­nation of Sensible Qualities, such as Ex­tension, Solidity, Weight, &c. This we cannot be accused of taking away. But if it be taken in a Phylosophic Sense, for the support of Accidents or Quali­ties [Page 78] without the Mind: then, indeed, I acknowlege that we take it away, if one may be said to take away that which never had any Existence, not e­ven in the Imagination.

§ 38. But after all, say you, it sounds very harsh to say we Eat and Drink I­deas, and are Cloathed with Ideas. I acknowlege it does so, the word Idea not being used in common Discourse to signifie the several Combinations of sensible Qualities, which are called Things: and it is certain that any Ex­pression which varies from the familiar Use of Language will seem harsh and ridiculous. But this does not concern the Truth of the Proposition, which in other Words is no more than this, viz. we are Fed and Cloathed with those Things which we perceive immediately by our Senses. The Hardness or Soft­ness, the Colour, Taste, Warmth, Fi­gure, &c. which combin'd together constitute the several sorts of Victuals and Apparel, have been shewn to Exist only in the Mind that perceives them; [Page 79] and this is all that's meant by calling 'em Ideas, which Word if it was as or­dinarily used as Thing, wou'd sound no Harsher nor more Ridiculous than it. I am not for disputing about the Pro­priety, but the Truth of the Expression. If therefore you agree with me that we Eat, and Drink, and are Clad with the immediate Objects of Sense which can­not Exist unperceiv'd or without the Mind: I shall readily grant it is more proper or conformable to Custom, that they shou'd be called Things rather than Ideas.

§ 39. If it be demanded why I make use of the word Idea, and do not ra­ther in compliance with Custom call them Things. I answer, I do it for two Reasons: First, because the Term Thing, in contradistinction to Idea, is generally supposed to denote somewhat Existing, without the Mind; Secondly, because Thing hath a more comprehen­sive Signification than Idea, including Spirits or thinking Things as well as I­deas. Since therefore the Objects of [Page 80] Sense Exist only in the Mind, and are withal thoughtless and inactive, I chose to mark them by the word Idea which implies those Properties.

§ 40. But say what we can, some one perhaps may be apt to Reply, he will still believe his Senses, and never suffer any Arguments, how plausible so­ever, to prevail over the Certainty of them. Be it so, assert the Evidence of Sense as high as you please, we are willing to do the same. That what I See, Hear and Feel doth Exist, i. e. is perceived by me, I no more doubt than I do of my own Being. But I do not see how the Testimony of Sense can be alleg'd, as a proof for the Existence of any Thing, which is not perceiv'd by Sense. We are not for having any Man turn Sceptic, and disbelieve his Senses; on the contrary we give them all the Stress and Assurance imaginable; nor are there any Principles more opposite to Scepticisim, than those we have laid down, as shall be hereafter clearly shewn.

[Page 81]§ 41. Secondly, It will be objected that there is a great difference betwixt real Fire, for Instance, and the Idea of Fire, betwixt dreaming or imagining ones self Burnt, and actually being so: If you suspect it to be only the Idea of Fire which you see, do but put your Hand into it, and you'll be convinced with a witness. This and the like may be urged in opposition to our Tenents. To all which the Answer is evident from what hath been already said, and I shall only add in this place, that if real Fire be very different from the Idea of Fire, so also is the real Pain that it occasions, very different from the Idea of the same Pain, and yet no Body will pretend that real Pain either is, or can possibly be, in an unperceiving Thing or without the Mind, any more than its Idea.

§ 42. Thirdly, It will be objected that we see things actually without or at a distance from us, and which con­sequently do not Exist in the Mind, it being absurd that those Things, which [Page 82] are seen at the Distance of several Miles, shou'd be as near to us as our own Thoughts. In answer to this, I desire it may be consider'd that in a Dream we do oft perceive Things, as Existing at a great distance off, and yet for all that, those Things are acknowleg'd to have their Existence only in the Mind.

§ 43. But for the fuller clearing of this Point, it may be worth while to consider, how it is that we perceive Di­stance and Things placed at a Distance by Sight. For that we shou'd in truth see External Space, and Bodies actually Existing in it, some nearer, others far­ther off, seems to carry with it some Opposition to what hath been said, of their Existing no where without the Mind. The Consideration of this Dif­ficulty it was, that gave birth to my Es­say towards a new Theory of Vision, which was publish'd not long since. Where­in it is shewn that Distance or Outness is neither immediately of it self perceiv­ed by Sight, nor yet apprehended or judged of by Lines and Angles, or any [Page 83] thing that hath a necessary Connexion with it: But that it is only suggested to our Thoughts, by certain visible Ideas and Sensations attending Vision, which in their own Nature have no manner of Similitude or Relation, either with Di­stance, or Things placed at a Distance. But by a Connexion taught us by Ex­perience, they came to signify and Sug­gest them to us, after the same manner that Words of any Language Suggest the Ideas they are made to stand for. Insomuch that a Man Born Blind, and afterwards made to see, wou'd not, at first Sight, think the things he saw to be without his Mind, or at any Distance from him. vid. Sect. XLI. of the fore­mentioned Treatise.

§ 44. The Ideas of Sight and Touch make two Species, intirely distinct and heterogeneous. The former are Marks and Prognostics of the latter. That the proper Objects of Sight neither Exist without the Mind, nor are the Images of External Things, was shewn even in that Treatise. Thô throughout the [Page 84] same, the contrary be supposed true of Tangible Objects: Not that to suppose that Vulgar Error, was necessary for establishing the Notion therein laid down, but because it was beside my Purpose to Examine and Refute it in a Discourse concerning Vision. So that in strict Truth the Ideas of Sight, when we apprehend by them Distance and Things placed at a Distance, do not Suggest or mark out to us Things actually Existing at a Distance, but only admonish us what Ideas of Touch will be imprinted in our Minds at such and such distances of Time, and in consequence of such or such Actions. It is, I say, evident from what has been said in the foregoing Parts of this Treatise, and in Sect. CXLVII and elsewhere of the Essay con­cerning Vision, that Visible Ideas are the Language whereby the governing Spirit, on whom we depend, informs us what Tangible Ideas he is about to imprint upon us, in case we Excite this or that Motion in our own Bodies. But for a fuller Information in this Point, I refer to the Essay it self.

[Page 85]§ 45. Fourthly, It will be object­ed that from the foregoing Principles it follows, Things are every mo­ment annihilated and created anew. The Objects of Sense Exist only when they are Perceived: The Trees therefore are in the Garden, or the Chairs in the Parlour, no longer than while there is some Body by to perceive them. Up­on shutting my Eyes all the Furniture in the Room is reduc'd to nothing, and barely upon opening 'em it is again created. In answer to all which, I re­fer the Reader to what has been said in Sect. III, IV, &c. and desire he will con­sider whether he means any thing, by the actual Existence of an Idea, distinct from its being perceiv'd. For my part after the nicest Inquiry I cou'd make, I am not able to discover that any thing else is meant by those Words. And I once more intreat the Reader to sound his own Thoughts, and not suffer him­self to be imposed on by Words. If he can conceive it possible either for his Ideas or their Archetypes to Exist with­out [Page 86] being perceived, then I give up the Cause: But if he cannot, he will acknow­lege it is unreasonable for him to stand up in Defence of he knows not what, and pretend to charge on me as an Ab­surdity, the not assenting to those Pro­positions which at Bottom have no meaning in them.

§ 46. It will not be amiss to ob­serve, how far the receiv'd Principles of Philosophy are themselves chargeable with those pretended Absurdities. It is thought strangely Absurd that upon closing my Eye-lids, all the Visible Ob­jects round me shou'd be reduced to no­thing; and yet is not this what Philo­sophers commonly acknowlege, when they agree on all Hands that Light and Colours, which alone are the proper and immediate Objects of Sight, are meer Sensations that Exist no longer than they are perceiv'd? Again it may to some perhaps seem very incredible, that things shou'd be every moment creating, yet this very Notion is com­monly taught in the Schools. For the [Page 87] Schoolmen, thô they acknowlege the Ex­istence of Matter and that the whole mundane Fabrick is framed out of it, are nevertheless of Opinion that it can­not subsist without the Divine Conser­vation, which by them is expounded to be a continual Creation.

§ 47. Farther, a little Thought will discover to us, that thô we allow the Existence of Matter or Corporeal Sub­stance, yet it will unavoidably follow from the principles which are now ge­nerally admitted, that the Particular Bodies of what kind soever do none of them Exist whilst they are not perceiv­ed. For it is evident from Sect. XI, &c. that the Matter Philosophers con­tend for is an incomprehensible Some­what which hath none of those particu­lar Qualities, whereby the Bodies fal­ling under our Senses are distinguished one from another. But to make this more plain, it must be remarked that the Infinite Divisibility of Matter is now universally allow'd, at least by the most approv'd and considerable Philo­sophers, [Page 88] who on the receiv'd Principles demonstrate it beyond all exception. Hence it follows, there is an infinite number of Parts in each Particle of Matter, which are not perceiv'd by Sense. The reason, therefore, that any particular Body seems to be of a finite Magnitude, or exhibits only a finite number of Parts to Sense, is, not be­cause it contains no more, since in it self it contains an infinite number of Parts, but because the Sense is not acute enough to discern them. In proporti­on therefore as the Sense is render'd more acute, it perceives a greater num-of Parts in the Object i.e. the Object appears greater, and its Figure varies, those Parts in its Extremities which were before unperceivable, appearing now to bound it in very different Lines and Angles from those perceived by an obtuser Sense. And at length, after various changes of Size and Shape, when the Sense becomes infinitely acute, the Body shall seem infinite. During all which there is no alteration in the Bo­dy, but only in the Sense. Each Body, [Page 89] therefore, consider'd in it self is infinite­ly extended, and consequently void of all Shape or Figure. From which it follows that thô we shou'd grant the Existence of Matter to be never so cer­tain, yet it is withal as certain, the Ma­terialists themselves are by their own Principles forced to acknowlege, that neither the particular Bodies perceived by Sense, nor any thing like them Exists without the Mind. Matter, I say, and each Particle thereof is according to them Infinite and Shapeless, and it is the Mind that frames all that variety of Bodies which compose the visible World, any one whereof does not Ex­ist longer than it is perceiv'd.

§ 48. But after all, if we consider it, the Objection proposed in Sect. XLV; will not be found reasonably charg'd on the Principles we have premised, so as in truth to make any Ojection at all against our Notions. For thô we hold indeed the Objects of Sense to be no­ [...]hing else but Ideas which cannot Exist [...]nperceiv'd: yet we may not hence con­clude [Page 90] they have no Existence except only while they are perceiv'd by us, since there may be some other Spirit that perceives them thô we do not. Wherever Bodies are said to have no Existence without the Mind, I wou'd not be understood to mean this or that particular Mind, but all Minds what­soever. It does not therefore follow from the foregoing Principles, that Bo­dies are annihilated and created every moment, or Exist not at all during the Intervals between our perception o [...] them.

§ 49. Fifthly, it may perhaps be objected, that if Extension and Figure exist only in the Mind, it follows that the Mind is extended and figured; since Ex­tension is a Mode or Attribute which (to speak with the Schools) is predicated of the Subject in which it Exists. answer, Those qualities are in the Mind only as they are perceiv'd by it, that not by way of Mode or Attribute bu [...] only by way of Idea, and it no more fo [...] lows the Soul or Mind is extended because [Page 91] Extension Exists in it alone, than it does that it is Red or Blue because those Colours are on all Hands acknow­leg'd to Exist in it, and no where else. As to what Philosophers say of Subject and Mode, that seems very groundless and unintelligible. For instance, in this Proposition, a Die is Hard, Extended and Square, they will have it that the word Die denotes a Subject or Sub­stance, distinct from the Hardness, Ex­tension, and Figure which are predicat­ed of it, and in which they Exist. This I can't comprehend: To me a Die seems to be nothing distinct from those things which are termed its Modes or Accidents. And to say a Die is Hard, Extended and Square, is not to attribute those Qualities to a subject distinct from and supporting them, but only an Explication of the meaning of the word Die.

§ 50. Sixthly, you'll say there have been a great many things explain'd by Matter and Motion, take away these and you destroy the whole Corpuscular [Page 92] Philosophy, and undermine those Me­chanical Principles which have been ap­plied with so much success to account for the Phaenomena. In short, whate­ver Advances have been made, either by Ancient or Modern Philosophers, in the Study of Nature do all proceed on the Supposition, that Corporeal Sub­stance or Matter doth really Exist. To this, I answer, that there is not any one Phaenomenon explain'd on that Suppo­sition, which may not as well be ex­plain'd without it, as might easily be made appear by an induction of Parti­culars. To Explain the Phenomena, is all one as to shew why upon such and such Occasions, we are affected with such and such Ideas. But how Matter shou'd Operate on a Spirit, or produce any Idea in it, is what no Philosopher will pretend to explain. It is therefore evident, there can be no use of Matter in Natural Philosophy. Besides, they who attempt to account for Things, do it, not by Corporeal Substance but, by Figure, Motion, &c. which are in truth no more than meer Ideas, and therefore [Page 93] cannot be the cause of any thing, as hath been already shewn vid. Sect. XXV.

§ 51. Seventhly, it will upon this be demanded whether it does not seem absurd, to take away Natural Causes, and ascribe every thing to the immedi­ate Operation of Spirits? We must no longer say upon these Principles that Fire Heats, or Water Cools, but that a Spi­rit Heats, &c. wou'd not a Man be de­servedly laught at, who shou'd talk after this manner? I answer he wou'd so, in such Things we ought to Think with the Learned, and Speak with the Vulgar. They who to demonstration are convinced of the truth of the Copernican System, do nevertheless say the Sun Rises, the Sun Sets or comes to the Meridian: And if they affected a contrary Stile, in com­mon talk, it wou'd without doubt ap­pear very ridiculous. A little Reflexion on what is here said will make it mani­fest, that the common use of Language wou'd receive no manner of Alteration or Disturbance from the admission of our Tenents.

[Page 94]§ 52. In the ordinary affairs of Life, any Phrases may be retain'd, so long as they Excite in us proper Sentiments, or Dispositions to act in such a manner as is necessary for our well-being, how false soever they may be, if taken in a strict and Speculative Sense. Nay this is unavoidable since, Propriety being re­gulated by Custom, Language is suited to the received Opinions which are not always the truest. Hence it is impossi­ble even in the most rigid, Philosophic Reasonings, so far to alter the Bent and Genius of the Tongue we speak, as ne­ver to give a handle for Cavillers to pre­tend Difficulties and Inconsistencies. But a fair and ingenuous Reader will collect the Sense, from the Scope and Tenor and Connexion of a Discourse, making allowances for those unaccurate Modes of Speech, which use has made inevita­ble.

§ 53. As to the Opinion that there are no Corporeal Causes, this has been heretofore maintain'd by some of the [Page 95] Schoolmen, as it is of late by others a­mong the Modern Philosophers, who thô they allow Matter to Exist, yet will have GOD alone to be the immediate efficient Cause of all Things. These Men saw, that amongst all the Objects of Sense there was none, which had any Power or Activity included in it, and that by consequence this was likewise true, of whatever Bodies they supposed to Exist without the Mind, like unto the immediate Objects of Sense. But then, that they shou'd suppose an innu­merable multitude of Created Beings, which they acknowlege are not capable of producing any one effect in Nature, and which therefore are made to no manner of purpose, since God might have done every thing as well without them, this I say thô we shou'd allow it possible, must yet be a very unaccoun­table and extravagant Supposition.

§ 54. In the Eighth Place, the univer­sal concurrent assent of Mankind may be thought by some, an invincible Ar­gument in behalf of Matter, or the Ex­istence [Page 94] of External Things. Must we suppose the whole World to be mistak­en, and if so, what cause can be assign'd of so wide-spread and predominant an Error? I answer, First, that upon a nar­row inquiry, it will not perhaps be found, so many as is imagin'd do really believe the Existence of Matter, or Things without the Mind. Strictly speaking, to believe that which involves a Contradiction, or has no meaning in it, is impossible, and whether the fore­going Expressions are not of that sort, I refer it to the impartial Examination of the Reader. In one Sense, indeed, Men may be said to believe that Matter Exists, i. e. they act as if the immediate Cause of their Sensations, which affects them every moment, and is so nearly present to them, were some senseless un­thinking Being. But that they shou'd clearly apprehend any meaning marked by those Words, and form thereof a Settled Speculative Opinion, is what I am not able to conceive. This is not the only Instance wherein Men impose upon themselves, by Imagining they [Page 97] believe those Propositions they have of­ten heard, thô at Bottom they have no meaning in them.

§ 55. But Secondly, Thô we shou'd grant a Notion to be never so universally and stedfastly adhered to, yet this is but a weak Argument of its truth, to whoever considers what a vast number of Preju­dices and false Opinions are every where embraced, with the utmost te­naciousness by the unreflecting (which are the far-greater) part of Mankind. There was a time when the Antipodes and Motion of the Earth, were look'd upon as monstrous Absurdities, even by Men of Learning: And if it be consi­der'd what a small proportion they bear to the rest of Mankind, we shall find that at this Day, those Notions have gain'd but a very inconsiderable foot­ing in the World.

§ 56. But it is demanded, that we assign a cause of this Prejudice, and account for its obtaining in the World. To this I answer, That Men knowing [Page 98] they perceiv'd several Ideas, whereof they themselves were not the Authors, as not being excited from within, nor depending on the operation of their Wills, this made 'em maintain, those I­deas or Objects of Perception had an Existence independent of, and without the Mind, without ever dreaming that a Contradiction was involved in those Words. But Philosphers having plain­ly seen, that the immediate Objects of Perception do not Exist without the Mind, they in some degree corrected the mistake of the Vulgar, but at the same time run into another which seems no less Absurd, viz. that there are certain Objects really Existing without the Mind, or having a subsistence di­stinct from being perceived, of which our Ideas are only Images or Resem­blance, imprinted by those Objects on the Mind. And this Notion of the Phi­losophers ows its Origine to the same cause with the former, namely their be­ing conscious that they were not the Authors of their own Sensations, which they evidently knew were imprinted [Page 99] from without, and which therefore must have some cause, distinct from the Minds on which they are imprinted.

§ 57. But why they shou'd suppose the Ideas of Sense to be excited in us, by things in their likeness, and not ra­ther have recourse to Spirit which alone can act, may be accounted for, First, because they were not aware of the Repugnancy there is, as well in suppo­sing things like unto our Ideas Existing without, as in attributing to them Power or Activity. Secondly, because the supreme Spirit which Excites those Ideas in our Minds, is not mark'd out and limited to our view by any particu­lar, finite Collection of sensible Ideas, as Human Agents are by their Size, Complexion, Limbs, Motions, &c. And Thirdly, because his Operations are re­gular and uniform. Whenever the Course of Nature is interrupted by a Miracle, Men are ready to own the presence of a Superiour Agent. But when we see things go on in the ordinary Course, they do not Excite in us any Reflexion, [Page 100] their Order and Concatenation, thô it be an Argument of the greatest Wis­dom, Power, and Goodness in their Creator, is yet so constant and familiar to us, that we do not think 'em the im­mediate effects of a Free Spirit: especi­ally since Inconstancy and Mutability in acting, thô it be an Imperfection, is look'd on as a mark of Freedom.

§ 58 Tenthly, It will be objected, that the Notions we advance are in­consistent with several sound Truths in Philosophy and Mathematics. For Ex­ample, The Motion of the Earth is now universally admitted by Astronomers, as a Truth grounded on the clearest and most convincing Reasons. But on the foregoing Principles there can be no such thing. For Motion being only an Idea, it follows that if it be not per­ceived it Exists not, but the Motion of the Earth is not perceiv'd by Sense. I Answer, That Tenent, if rightly under­stood, will be found to agree with the Principles we have premised: For the Question, whether the Earth moves or [Page 101] no, amounts in reality to no more than this, viz. whether we have reason to conclude, from what hath been ob­serv'd by Astronomers, that if we were placed in such and such Circumstan­ces, and such or such a Position and Distance, both from the Earth and Sun, we shou'd perceive the former to move among the Choir of the Planets, and appearing in all respects like one of them: And this, by the Establish'd Rules of Nature, which we have no rea­son to mistrust, is reasonably collected from the Phaenomena.

§ 59. We may from the Experience we have had, of the Train and Succes­sion of Ideas in our Minds, often make, I will not say uncertain Conjectures, but, sure and well grounded Predicti­ons, concerning the Ideas we shall be affected with pursuant to a great Train of Actions, and be enabled to pass a right Judgement of what wou'd have appear'd to us, in case we were placed in Circumstances, very different from those we are in at present. Herein con­sists [Page 102] the Knowlege of Nature, which may preserve its use and certainty very consistently with what hath been said. It will be easy, to apply this to whate­ver Objections of the like sort may be drawn, from the Magnitude of the Stars, or any other Discoveries in As­tronomy or Nature.

§ 60. In the eleventh Place, it will be demanded to what purpose serves that curious Organization of Plants, and the admirable Mechanism in the Parts of Animals; might not Vegeta­bles grow, and shoot forth Leaves and Blossoms, and Animals perform all their Motions, as well without, as with all that variety of Internal Parts so ele­gantly contriv'd and put together, which being Ideas, have nothing Pow­erful or Operative in them, nor have any necessary connexion with the effects ascribed to them? If it be a Spirit that immediately produces every effect by a fiat, or act of his will, we must think all that's fine and artificial in the Works, whether of Man or Nature, to be [Page 103] made in vain. By this Doctrine, thô an Artist has made the Spring and Wheels, and every Movement of a Watch, and adjusted them in such a manner, as he knew wou'd produce the Motions he design'd; yet he must think all this done to no purpose, and that it is an Intelligence which directs the Index, and points to the Hour of the Day. If so, why may not the Intelli­gence do it, without his being at the pains of making the Movements, and putting them together? Why does not an empty Case serve as well as ano­ther; and how comes it to pass, that whenever there is any Fault in the go­ing of a Watch, there is some corres­ponding Disorder to be found in the Movements, which being mended by a skilful Hand, all is right again? The like may be said of all the Clock-work of Nature, great part whereof is so wonderfully Fine and Subtile, as scarce to be discern'd by the best Microscope. In short it will be ask'd, how upon our Principles any tolerable Account can be given, or any final Cause assign'd [Page 104] of an innumerable multitude of Bo­dies and Machines, fram'd with the most exquisite Art, which in the common Phi­losophy have very apposite Uses assigned them, and serve to explain abundance of Phaenomena.

§ 61. To all which, I answer, First, That thô there were some Difficulties relating to the administration of Pro­vidence, and the Uses by it assign'd to the several parts of Nature, which I cou'd not solve by the foregoing Prin­ciples, yet this Objection cou'd be of small weight against the truth and cer­tainty of those Things, which may be prov'd a Priori, with the utmost Evi­dence and Rigor of Demonstration. Secondly, But neither are the receiv'd Principles free from the like Difficul­ties; for it may still be demanded, to what end God shou'd take those round-about Methods of effecting things by Instruments and Machines, which no one can deny might have been effect­ed by the meer command of his Will, without all that apparatus: Nay, if we [Page 105] narrowly consider it, we shall find the Objection may be retorted with grea­ter force, on those who hold the Ex­istence of those Machines without the Mind; for it has been made evident, that Solidity, Bulk, Figure, Motion, &c. have no Activity or Efficacy in them, so as to be capable of producing any one effect in Nature, vid. Sect. XXV. whoever therefore supposes them to Exist (allowing the Supposition possible) when they are not perceived, does it manifestly to no purpose, since the on­ly use that is assign'd to them, as they Exist unperceiv'd, is that they produce those perceivable Effects which, in truth, cannot be ascrib'd to any thing but Spirit.

§ 62 But to come nigher the Diffi­culty, it must be observ'd, that thô the Fabrication of all those Parts and Or­gans be not absolutely necessary to the producing any Effect, yet it is ne­cessary to the producing of things in a constant, regular way, according to the Laws of Nature. There are certain ge­neral [Page 106] Laws, that run thrô the whole Chain of Natural Effects, these are learn'd by the Observation and Study of Nature, and are by Men applied as well to the framing artificial Things, for the Use and Ornament of Life, as to the explaining the various Phaenomena, which Explication consists only in shew­ing the Conformity, any particular Phae­nomenon hath to the general Laws of Nature, or, which is the same thing, in discovering the Vniformity, there is in the Production of natural Effects, as will be evident to whoever shall attend to the several Instances, wherein Philo­sophers pretend to account for Appear­ances. That there is a great and con­spicuous Use in these regular, constant Methods of working, observ'd by the Supreme Agent, has been shewn in Sect. XXXI. and it is no less visible, that a particular Size, Figure, Motion and Dis­position of Parts are necessary, thô not absolutely to the producing any Effect yet to the producing it according to the Standing, Mechanical Laws of Na­ture. Thus, for Instance, It cannot be [Page 107] denied that God, or the Intelligence that sustains and rules the ordinary course of Things, might if He were minded to produce a Miracle, cause all the Moti­ons on the Dial-plate of a Watch, thô no Body had ever made the Movements, and put them in it: But yet if he will act agreeably to the Rules of Mecha­nism, by him for wise Ends establish'd and maintain'd in the Creation, it is ne­cessary that those Actions of the Watch­maker, whereby he makes the Move­ments and rightly adjusts them, pre­cede the production of the aforesaid Motions, as also that any disorder in them be attended with the Perception of some corresponding Disorder, in the Movements, which being once Cor­rected all is right again.

§ 63. It may, indeed, on some Oc­casions be necessary, that the Author of Nature display his over-ruling Power, in producing some Appearance out of the ordinary Series of Things. Such Exceptions from the general Rules of Nature, are proper to surprise and awe [Page 108] Men into an acknowledgment of the of the Divine Being: But then they are to be used but seldom, otherwise there is a plain reason, why they shou'd fail of that Effect. Besides, God seems to choose the convincing our Reason of his Attributes by the works of Nature, which discover so much Harmony and Contrivance in their Make, and are such plain Indications of Wisdom and Beneficence in their Author, rather than to astonish us into a belief of his Being by anomalous and surprising Events.

§ 64. To set this Matter in a yet clearer Light, I shall observe that what has been objected in Sect. LX. amounts in reality to no more than this. Ideas are not any how and at random pro­duced, there being a certain Order and Connexion between them, like to that of Cause and Effect: There are also se­veral Combinations of them, made in a very Regular and Artificial Manner, which seem like so many Instruments in the hand of Nature, that being hid as it were behind the Scenes, have a secret [Page 109] Operation in producing those Appear­ances, which are seen on the Theatre of the World, being themselves discernible only to the curious Eye of the Philoso­pher. But since one Idea cannot be the Cause of another, to what purpose is that Connexion? And since those In­struments, being barely inefficacious Per­ceptions in the Mind, are not subservi­ent to the Production of Natural Ef­fects; it is demanded why they are made, or, in other Words, what reason can be assign'd, why God shou'd make us upon a close inspection into His Works, behold so great variety of Ideas, so artfully laid together, and so much according to Rule: It not being imagi­nable, that he'd be at the Expence (if one may so speak) of all that Art and Regularity to no purpose.

§ 65. To all which my Answer is, First, That the Connexion of Ideas does not imply the Relation of Cause and Effect, but only of a Mark or Sign with the Thing signified. The Fire which I see, is not the Cause of the Pain I [Page 110] suffer upon my approaching it, but the Mark that forewarns me of it. In like manner the Noise that I hear is not the Effect of this or that Motion, or colli­sion of the ambient Bodies, but the Sign thereof. Secondly, The reason why Ideas are form'd into Machines, i. e. artificial and regular Combinations, is the same with that for combining Let­ters into Words. That a few Original Ideas may be made to signifie, a great number of Effects and Actions, 'tis ne­cessary they be variously combin'd to­gether: And to the end their Use be permanent and universal, these Combi­nations must be made by Rule, and with wise Contrivance. By this means abundance of Information is convey'd unto us, concerning what we are to expect from such and such Actions, and what Methods are proper to be taken, for the Exciting such and such Ideas: Which in effect, is all that I conceive to be distinctly meant, when it is said that by discerning the Figure, Texture, and Mechanism of the inward Parts of Bodies, whether Natural or Artificial, [Page 111] we may attain to know the several Uses and Properties depending thereon, or the Nature of the Thing.

§ 66. Hence it is evident, that those Things, which under the Notion of a Cause co-operating or concurring to the production of Effects, are altogether in­explicable, and run us into great Absur­dities, may be very naturally explain'd, and have a proper and obvious Use as­sign'd 'em, when they are consider'd only as Marks, or Signs for our Information. And it is the searching after, and endea­vouring to understand this Language (if I may so call it) of the Author of Nature, that ought to be the Employ­ment of the Natural Philosopher; and not the pretending to explain Things by Corporeal Causes, which Doctrine seems to have too much estranged the Minds of Men, from that active Princi­ple, that supreme and wise Spirit, in whom we Live, Move, and have our Being.

§ 67 In the Twelfth place, it may perhaps be objected, that thô it be clear [Page 112] from what has been said, that there can be no such thing as an Inert, Senseless, Extended, Solid, Figured, Moveable Substance Existing without the Mind, such as Philosophers describe Matter: Yet if any Man shall leave out of his I­dea of Matter, the positive Ideas of Ex­tension, Figure, Solidity and Motion, and say that he means only by that word, an Inert, Senseless Substance that Exists without the Mind or unperceiv'd, which is the Occasion of our Ideas, or at the presence whereof God is pleased to excite Ideas in us: It doth not ap­pear, but that Matter taken in this Sense may possibly Exist. In Answer to which I say, First, That it seems no less Absurd to suppose a Substance without Accidents, than it is to suppose Acci­dents without a Substance. But Se­condly, Thô we shou'd grant this un­known Substance may possibly Exist, yet where can it be supposed to be? That it Exists not in the Mind is a­greed, and that it Exists not in Place is no less certain; since all Place or Ex­tension Exists only in the Mind as hath [Page 113] been already prov'd. It remains there­fore that it Exists no where at all.

§ 68. Let us examine a little, the description that is here given us of Mat­ter. It neither acts, nor perceives, nor is perceiv'd: For this is all that's meant by saying it is an Inert, Senseless, Un­known Substance, which is a Definition intirely made up of Negatives, excepting only the relative Notion of its standing under or Supporting: But then it must be observ'd that it Supports nothing at all; and how nearly this comes to the description of a non-entity, I desire may be consider'd. But say you it is the unknown occasion, at the presence of which, Ideas are Excited in us by the will of God. Now I wou'd fain know, how any thing can be present to us, which is neither perceivable by Sense nor Reflexion, nor capable of produc­ing any Idea in our Minds, nor is at all extended, nor hath any Form, nor Exists in any place. The words to be present, when thus applied, must needs be taken in some abstract and strange [Page 114] Meaning, and which I am not able to comprehend.

§ 69. Again, let us examine what is meant by Occasion: So far as I can gather from the common Use of Lan­guage, that Word signifies, either the Agent which produces any Effect, or else something that is observ'd to ac­company, or go before it, in the ordi­nary course of things. But when it is applied to Matter as above described, it can be taken in neither of those Sen­ses. For Matter is said to be Passive and Inert, and so cannot be an Agent or Efficient Cause. It is also unper­ceivable as being devoid of all Sensible Qualities, and so cannot be the Occasi­on of our Perceptions in the latter Sense: As when the burning my Finger, is said to be the Occasion of the Pain that attends it. What therefore can be meant by calling Matter an Occasion? This Term is either used in no Sense at all, or else in some very distant from its receiv'd Signification

[Page 115]§ 70. You will perhaps say that Mat­ter, thô it be not perceiv'd by us, is ne­vertheless perceived by GOD, to whom it is the Occasion of Exciting Ideas in our Minds. For, say you, since we ob­serve our Sensations to be imprinted in an orderly and constant manner, it is but reasonable to suppose, there are certain Constant, and Regular Occasi­ons of their being produced. That is to say, that there are certain permanent, and distinct parcels of Matter, corres­ponding to our Ideas, which thô they do not excite them in our Minds, or any wise immediately affect us, as being altogether Passive and Unperceivable to Us, they are nevertheless to GOD, by whom they are Perceiv'd, as it were so many Occasions, to remind him when and what Ideas, to imprint on our Minds: that so things may go on in a constant, uniform manner.

§ 71. In answer to this I observe, that, as the Notion of Matter is here Stated, the Question is no longer con­cerning [Page 116] the Existence of a Thing di­stinct from Spirit and Idea, from Per­ceiving and being Perceiv'd: But whe­ther there are not certain Ideas, of I know not what Sort, in the Mind of GOD, which are so many Marks or Notes, that direct him how to produce Sensations in our Minds, in a constant and regular Method: Much after the same manner, as a Musician is directed by the Notes of Music, to produce that harmonious train and composition of Sound, which is called a Tune; thô they who Hear the Music do not Per­ceive the Notes, and may be intirely ignorant of them. But this Notion of Matter (which after all is the only in­telligible one that I can pick, from what is said of unknown Occasions) seems too extravagant to deserve a Confutation. Besides, it is in effect no Objection against what we have ad­vanced, viz. that there is no senseless, un­perceiv'd Substance.

§ 72. If we follow the Light of Rea­son, we shall, from the constant uni­form [Page 117] Method of our Sensations, collect the Goodness and Wisdom of the Spirit who excites them in our Minds. But this is all that I can see reasonably con­cluded from thence. To me, I say, 'tis evident that the Being of a Spirit infi­nitely Wise, Good, and Powerful is abun­dantly sufficient, to explain all the Ap­pearances of Nature. But as for Inert, Sensless Matter, nothing that I perceive has any the least Connexion with it, or leads to the Thoughts of it. And I wou'd fain see any one Explain, any the meanest Phaenomenon in Nature by it, or shew any manner of Reason, thô in the lowest Rank of Probability, that he can have for its Existence; or even make any tolerable Sense or Meaning of that Supposition. For as to its being an Oc­casion, we have, I think, evidently shewn that with regard to us it is no Occa­sion: It remains therefore that it must be, if at all, the Occasion to GOD of exciting Ideas in us; and what this a­mounts to we have just now seen.

[Page 118]§ 73. It is worth while to reflect a lit­tle, on the Motives which induced Men to suppose the Existence of Material Sub­stance; that so having observ'd the gra­dual Ceasing, and Expiration of those Motives or Reasons, we may proporti­onably withdraw the Assent that was grounded on them. First, therefore, it was thought that Colour, Figure, Mo­tion, and the rest of the Sensible Qua­lities or Accidents, did really Exist with­out the Mind; and for this reason, it seem'd needful to suppose some unthink­ing Substratum, or Substance wherein they did Exist, since they cou'd not be con­ceived to Exist by themselves. After­wards, in process of time, Men being convinced that Colours, Sounds, and the rest of the Sensible, Secondary Qua­lities had no Existence without the Mind, they stripped this Substratum or materi­al Substance of those Qualities, leaving only the Primary Ones, Figure, Moti­on, &c. which they still conceived to Exist without the Mind, and consequent­ly, to stand in need of a material Sup­port. [Page 119] But it having been shewn, that none, even of these, can possibly Exist otherwise than in a Spirit or Mind which perceives them, it follows, that we have no longer any reason, to suppose the be­ing of Matter. Nay, that it is utterly im­possible there shou'd be any such thing, so long as that Word is taken to denote, an unthinking Substratum of Qualities or Accidents, wherein they Exist without the Mind.

§ 74. But thô it be allow'd by the Materialists, themselves, that Matter was thought of only for the sake of support­ing Accidents; and the reason intirely ceasing, one might expect the Mind shou'd naturally, and without any reluct­ance at all, quit the belief of what was solely grounded thereon. Yet the Prejudice is riveted so deeply in our Thoughts, that we can scarce tell how to part with it, and are therefore incli­ned, since the Thing it self is indefensi­ble, at least to retain the Name; which we apply to, I know not what, abstract­ed and indefinite Notions of Being, Oc­casion, [Page 120] &c. thô without any shew of Reason, at least so far as I can see. For what is there, I beseech you, on our part, or what do we perceive amongst all the Ideas, Sensations, Notions, which are imprinted on our Minds, either by Sense or Reflexion, from whence may be infer'd the Existence of an inert, thoughtless, unperceiv'd Occasion? and on the other hand, on the part of an All-sufficient Spirit, what can there be that shou'd make us believe, or even suspect, he is directed by an inert Occasion to excite Ideas in our Minds?

§ 75. It is a very extraordinary In­stance of the force of Prejudice, and much to be lamented, that the Mind of Man retains so great a Fondness, against all the evidence of Reason, for a stupid, thoughtless Somewhat, by the interpo­sition whereof it wou'd, as it were, skreen it self, from the Providence of God, and remove it farther off from the Affairs of the World. But thô we do the ut­most we can, to secure the belief of Matter, thô when Reason forsakes us, [Page 121] we endeavour to support our Opinion on the bare possibility of the Thing, and thô we Indulge our selves in the full Scope, of an Imagination not regulated by Reason, to make out that poor Pos­sibility, yet the Up-shot of all is, that there certain unknown Ideas in the Mind of God; for this, if any thing, is all that I conceive to be meant by Occasion with regard to God. And this, at the Bottom, is no longer contending for the Thing, but for the Name.

§ 76. Whether therefore there are such Ideas in the Mind of GOD, and whether they may be called by the name Matter I shan't dispute. But if you stick to the Notion of an unthinking Sub­stance, or Support of Extension, Moti­on, &c. then to me it is most evident­ly impossible, there shou'd be any such thing. Since it is a plain Repugnancy, that those Qualities shou'd Exist in or be supported by an unperceiving Substance.

§ 77. But say you, thô it be grant­ed that there is no thoughtless support [Page 122] of Extension, and the other Qualities or Accidents which we Perceive; yet there may, perhaps, be some Inert, Un­perceiving Substance, or Substratum of some other Qualities, as incomprehen­sible to us as Colours are to a Man born Blind, because we have not a Sense a­dapted to them. But if we had a new Sense, we shou'd possibly no more doubt of their Existence, than a Blind-man made to See does of the Existence of Light and Colours. I answer, First, if what you mean by the word Matter be only the unknown Support of unknown Qualities, it's no matter whether there is such a thing or no; since it no way concerns us: And for my part, I do not see the Advantage there is in di­sputing about we know not what, and we know not why.

§ 78. But, Secondly, if we had a new Sense it cou'd only furnish us with new Ideas or Sensations: And then we shou'd have the same reason, against their Ex­isting in an unperceiving Substance, that has been already offer'd with relation [Page 123] to Figure, Motion, Colour, &c. Qua­lities, as hath been shewn, are nothing else but Sensations or Ideas, which Exist only in a Mind perceiving them; and this is true not only of the Ideas we are ac­quainted with at present, but likewise of all possible Ideas whatsoever.

§ 79. But you will insist, what if I have no reason to believe the Existence of Matter, what if I cannot assign any use to it, or explain any thing by it, or even conceive what is meant by that Word? Yet still it is no Contradiction to say that Matter Exists, and that this Matter is in general a Substance, or Occa­sion of Ideas; thô, indeed, to go about to unfold the meaning, or adhere to any particular Explication of those Words, may be attended with great Difficulties. I answer, when Words are used with­out a Meaning, you may put them to­gether as you please, without danger of running into a Contradiction. You may say, for Example, that twice Two is e­qual to Seven, so long as you declare you do not take the Words of that Pro­position [Page 124] in their usual Acception, but for Marks of you know not what. And by the same reason you may say, there is an inert, thoughtless Substance with­out Accidents, which is the occasion of our Ideas. And we shall understand just as much by one Proposition, as the o­ther.

§ 80. In the last place, you will say, What if we give up the Cause of mate­rial Substance, and stand to it, that Matter is an unknown Somewhat, nei­ther Substance nor Accident, Spirit nor Idea, Inert, Thoughtless, Indivisible, Im­moveable, Unextended, Existing in no Place? For, say you, Whatever may be urged against Substance or Occasion, or any other positive or relative Notion of Matter hath no place at all, so long as this negative Definition of Matter is ad­hered to. I answer you may, if so it shall seem good, use the word Matter in the same Sense, that other Men use No­thing, and so make those Terms conver­tible in your Stile. For after all, this is what appears to me to be the Result [Page 125] of that Difinition, the Parts whereof when I consider with Attention, either collectively, or separate from each o­ther, I do not find that there's any kind of Effect or Impression made on my Mind, different from what is excited by term Nothing.

§ 81. Upon this, you'll Reply that in the foresaid Definition, is included, what doth sufficiently distinguish it from no­thing, the positive, abstract Idea of Quid­dity, Entity, or Existence. I own indeed, that those who pretend to the Faculty of framing Abstract, General Ideas, do talk as if they had such an Idea, which is, say they, the most abstract and ge­neral Notion of all, that is, to me, the most Incomprehensible of all Others. That there are a great variety of Spirits of different Orders and Capacities, whose Faculties, both in Number and Extent, are far exceeding those the Author of my Being has bestowed on me, I see no reason to deny. And for me, to pre­tend to determine, by my own few, stin­ted, narrow Inlets of Perception, what [Page 126] Ideas the inexhaustible Power of the SUPREME SPIRIT may Imprint upon 'em, were certainly the utmost Folly and Presumption. Since there may be, for ought that I know, innumerable sorts of Ideas or Sensations, as different from one another, and from all that I have perceiv'd, as Colours are from Sounds. But how ready soever I may be, to ac­knowlege the Scantiness of my Com­prehension, with regard to the endless variety of Spirits and Ideas, that may possibly Exist, yet for any one to pre­tend to a Notion of Entity or Existence, abstracted from Spirit and Idea, from Perceiving and being Perceiv'd, is, I sus­pect, a downright Repugnancy nnd Tri­fling with Words. It remains that we consider the Objections, which may pos­sibly be made on the part of Religion.

§ 82. Some there are who think, that thô the Arguments for the real Exist­ence of Bodies, which are drawn from Reason, be allow'd not to amount to Demonstration, yet the Holy Scriptures are so clear in the Point, as will suffici­ently [Page 127] convince every good Christian, that Bodies do really Exist, and are some­thing more than meer Ideas; there be­ing in Holy Writ innumerable Facts re­lated, which evidently suppose the rea­lity of Timber, and Stone, Mountains, and Rivers, and Cities, and Human Bodies, &c. To which I Answer, that no sort of Writings, whatever Sacred or Profane, which use those and the like Words in the Vulgar Acceptation, or so as to have a meaning in 'em, are in danger of having their Truth call'd in question by our Doctrine. That all those Things do really Exist, that there are Bodies, even Corporeal Substances, when taken in the Vulgar Sense, has been shewn to be agreeable to our Principles: And the difference betwixt Things and Ideas, Realities and Chimeras, has been distinct­ly Explain'd, vid. Sect. XXIX, XXX, XXXIII, XXXVI, &c. And I do not think, that either what Philosophers call Matter, or the Existence of Objects with­out the Mind is any where mention'd in Scripture.

[Page 128]§ 83. Again, whether there be, or be not External Things, it is agreed on all hands, that the proper Use of Words, is the marking our Conceptions, or Things only as they are Known and Per­ceiv'd by us; whence it plainly follows, that in the Tenents we have laid down, there is nothing inconsistent with the right Use and Significancy of Language and that Discourse of what kind soever, so far as it is Intelligible, remains Un­disturb'd. But all this seems so very manifest, from what hath been largely set forth in the Premises, that it is need­less to insist any farther on it.

§ 84. But it will be urg'd, that Mi­racles do, at least, lose much of their Stress and Import, by our Principles. What must we think of Moses's Rod, was it not really turn'd into a Serpent, or was there only a Change of Ideas in the Minds of the Spectators? And can it be supposed, that our Saviour did no more at the Marriage-Feast in Cana, than impose on the Sight, and Smell, and Taste [Page 129] of the Guests, so as to create in them the Appearance or Idea only of Wine? The same may be said of all other Mi­racles: Which, in consequence of the foregoing Principles, must be look'd up­on only as so many Cheats, or Illu­sions of Fancy. To this I Reply, that the Rod was changed into a real Ser­pent, and the Water into real Wine. That this does not, in the least, contra­dict what I have elsewhere said, will be evident from Sect. XXXIV, and XXXV. But this Business of Real and Imaginary has been already so plainly and fully Explain'd, and so often Refer'd to, and the Difficulties about it are so easily Answer'd from what has gone before, that it were an Affront to the Reader's Understanding, to resume the Explica­tion of it in this place. I shall only ob­serve, that if at Table all who were present shou'd See, and Smell, and Taste, and Drink Wine, and find the effects of it, with me there cou'd be no doubt of it's Reality. So that, at Bottom, the Scruple concerning real Miracles has no place at all on ours, but only on the [Page 130] receiv'd Principles, and consequently makes rather for, than against what has been said.

§ 85. Having done with the Objecti­ons, which I endeavour'd to propose in the clearest Light, and gave them all the Force and Weight I cou'd, we proceed in the next place to take a view of our Te­nents in their Consequences. Some of these appear at first Sight, as that seve­ral Difficult and obscure Questions, on which abundance of Speculation has been thrown away, are intirely banish'd from Philosophy. Whether Corporeal Substance can think: Whether Matter be infinitely Divisible: And how it O­perates on Spirit; these and the like In­quiries have given infinite Amusement to Philosophers, in all Ages. But de­pending on the Existence of Matter, they have no longer any place on our Prin­ciples. Many other Advantages there are, as well with regard to Religion as the Sciences, which it is easy for any one to deduce, from what has been premi­sed. But this will appear more plainly in the Sequel.

[Page 131]§ 86. From the Principles we have laid down, it follows, Human Know­lege many naturally be reduced to two Heads, that of Ideas, and that of Spi­rits. Of each of these I shall treat in Order. And first as to Ideas or Un­thinking Things, our Knowlege of these has been very much obscur'd, and con­founded, and we have been led into very dangerous Errors, by supposing a two-fold Existence of the Objects of Sense, the one Intelligible, or in the Mind, the other Real and without the Mind: Whereby Unthinking Things are thought, to have a natural Subsistence of their own, distinct from being per­ceiv'd by Spirits. This which, if I mis­take not, hath been shewn to be a most groundless and absurd Notion, is the very Root of Scepticism; for so long as Men thought that Real Things subsist­ed without the Mind, and that their Knowlege was only so far forth Real as it was conformable to real Things, it follows, they cou'd not be certain, that they had any real Knowlege at all. For [Page 132] how can it be known, that the Things which are Perceiv'd, are conformable to those which are not Perceiv'd, or Ex­ist without the Mind?

§ 87. Colour, Figure, Motion, Ex­tension and the like, consider'd only as so many Sensations in the Mind, are per­fectly known, there being nothing in them which is not Perceiv'd. But if they are look'd on as Notes or Images, refer­ed to Things or Archetypes Existing with­out the Mind, then are we involved all in Scepticism. We see only the Appear­ances, and not the real Qualities of Things. What may be the Extension, Figure, or Motion of any Thing really and absolutely, or in it self, its impos­sible for us to know, but only the pro­portion or relation they bear to our Senses. Things remaining the same, our Ideas vary, and which of them, or even whether any of them at all, represent the true Quality really Existing in the Thing, it is out of our Reach to deter­mine. So that, for ought we know, all we See, Hear, and Feel, may be only [Page 133] Phantome and vain Chimera, and not at all agree with the Real Things, Existing in Rerum Natura. All this Sceptical Cant fol­lows, from our supposing a difference between Things and Ideas, and that the former have a Subsistence without the Mind, or Unperceiv'd. It were easy to dilate on this Subject, and shew how the Arguments urged by Sceptics in all Ages, depend on the supposition of Ex­ternal Objects. But this is too obvious to need being insisted on.

§ 88. So long as we attribute a real Existence to Unthinking Things, distinct from their being perceiv'd, it is not on­ly impossible, for us to know with evi­dence the Nature of any real, unthink­ing Being, but even that it Exists. Hence it is, that we see Philosophers distrust their Senses, and doubt of the Existence of Heaven and Earth, of every thing they See or Feel, even of their own Bo­dies. And after all their labouring and struggle of Thought, they are forced to own, we cannot attain to any self-evi­dent, or demonstrative Knowlege, of [Page 134] the Existence of sensible Things. But all this Doubtfulness, which so Bewil­ders and Confounds the Mind, and makes Philosophy ridiculous in the Eyes of the World, vanishes if we annex a meaning to our Words, and not amuse our selves with the terms Absolute, Ex­ternal, Exist, &c. signifying we know not what. For my part, I can as well doubt of my own Being, as of the Be­ing of those things, which I actually perceive by Sense: It being a manifest Contradiction, that any sensible Object shou'd be immediately perceiv'd by Sight or Touch, and, at the same time, have no Existence in Nature, since the very Existence of an unthinking Being, con­sists in being perceiv'd.

§ 89. Nothing seems of more Impor­tance, towards Erecting a firm System of sound and real Knowlege, which may be Proof against the Assaults of Scepticism, than to lay the beginning in a distinct Explication, of what is meant by Thing, Reality, Existence: For in vain shall we Dispute, concerning the real [Page 135] Existence of Things, or pretend to any Knowlege thereof, so long as we have not fix'd the meaning of those Words. Thing or Being is the most general Name of all, it comprehends under it two Kinds intirely distinct and heterogene­ous, and which have nothing common but the Name, viz. Spirits and Ideas. The former are Active, Indivisible, Incorrup­tible Substances: The latter are Inert, Fleeting, Perishable Passions, or Dependent Beings, which subsist not by themselves, but are supported by, or Exist in Minds or Spiritual Substances.

§ 90. Ideas imprinted on the Senses are real Things, or do really Exist, this we do not deny, but we deny they can subsist without the Minds which per­ceive them, or that they are Resemblan­ces of any Archetypes Existing without the Mind: Since the very Being of a Sen­sation or Idea consists in being percei­ved, and an Idea can be like nothing but an Idea. Again the Things perceived by Sense may be termed External, with regard to their Origine, in that they are [Page 136] not generated from within, by the Mind it self, but imprinted by a Spirit distinct from that which perceives them. Sen­sible Objects may likewise be said to be without the Mind, in another sense, namely when they Exist in some other Mind. Thus when I shut my Eyes, the Things I saw may still Exist, but it must be in another Mind.

§ 91. It were a mistake to think, that what is here said derogates in the least, from the Reality of Things. It is acknowleg'd on the receiv'd Princi­ples, that Extension, Motion, and in a Word, all sensible Qualities have need of a Support, as not being able to sub­sist by themselves. But the Objects per­ceiv'd by Sense, are allow'd to be no­thing but Combinations of those Qua­lities, and consequently cannot subsist by themselves. Thus far it is agreed on all hands. So that in denying the Things perceiv'd by Sense, an Existence inde­pendent of a Substance, or Support wherein they may Exist, we detract no­thing from the receiv'd Opinion of their [Page 137] Reality, and are guilty of no Innovati­on in that respect. All the Difference is, that according to us the Unthinking Beings perceiv'd by Sense, have no Ex­istence distinct from being Perceiv'd, and cannot therefore Exist in any other Sub­stance, than those Unextended, Indivisi­ble Substances, or Spirits, which act, and think, and perceive them: Whereas Phi­losophers vulgarly hold, the Sensible Qualities do Exist in an Inert, Extended, Unperceiving Substance, which they call Matter, to which they attribute a Na­tural Subsistence, exterior to all Think­ing Beings, or distinct from being per­ceiv'd by any Mind whatsoever, even the Eternal Mind of the CREATOR, wherein they suppose only Ideas of the Corporeal Substances created by him. If indeed they allow them to be at all Created.

§ 92. For as we have shewn the Doct­rine of Matter or Corporeal Substance, to have been the main Pillar and Support of Scepticism, so likewise upon the same Foundation have been rais'd all the Im­pious Schemes of Atheism and Irreligion. [Page 138] Nay so great a difficulty has it been thought, to conceive Matter produced out of Nothing, that the most Celebrat­ed among the Ancient Philosophers, e­ven of these who maintain'd the Being of a GOD, have thought Matter to be Uncreated and Coeternal with him. How great a Friend material Substance has been to Atheists in all Ages, were needless to relate. All their monstrous Systems have so visible and necessary a dependence on it, that when this Cor­ner-Stone is once remov'd, the whole Fabrick cannot choose but fall to the Ground. insomuch that it is no long­er worth while, to bestow a particular Consideration on the Absurdities of e­very wretched Sect of Atheists.

§ 93. That Impious and Profane Per­sons, shou'd readily fall in with those Systems, which favour their Inclinati­ons, by deriding Immaterial Substance, and supposing the Soul to be Divisible, and subject to Corruption as the Bo­dy, which exclude all Freedom, Intelli­gence, and Design from the Formation [Page 139] of Things, and instead thereof make a Self-existent, Stupid, Unthinking Sub­stance the Root and Origine of all Be­ings. That they shou'd hearken to those who deny a Providence, or Inspection of a Superior Mind over the Affairs of the World, attributing the whole Se­ries of Events either to Blind Chance, or Fatal Necessity arising from the Impulse of one Body on another. All this is ve­ry natural. And on the other hand, when Men of better Principles observe the Enemies of Religion lay so great a Stress on Vnthinking Matter; and all of them use so much Industry and Artifice to reduce every thing to it; methinks they shou'd Rejoyce to see them De­priv'd of their grand Support, and dri­ven from that only Fortress, without which your Epicureans, Hobbists, and the like, have not even the Shadow of a Pretence, but become the most cheap and easy Triumph in the World.

§ 94. The Existence of Matter, or Bodies unperceiv'd, has not only been the main Support of Atheists and Fata­lists, [Page 140] but on the Principle does Idolatry likewise in all its various Forms, depend. Did Men but consider that the Sun, Moon, and Stars and every other Ob­ject of the Senses, are only so many Sen­sations in their Minds, which have no other Existence but barely being Per­ceiv'd: Doubtless they wou'd never fall down, and worship their own Ideas. But rather address their Homage to that ETERNAL INVISIBLE MIND which pro­duces and sustains all Things.

§ 95. The same absurd Principle, by mingling it self with the Articles of our Faith, has occasion'd no small Difficul­ties to Christians. For Example, about the Resurrection, how many Scruples and Objections have been raised by Socini­ans and Others? But do not the most plausible of them depend on the suppo­sition, that a Body is denominated the same, with regard not to the Form or that which is perceiv'd by Sense, but the Material Substance, which remains the same under several Forms? Take away this Material Substance, about the Iden­tity [Page 141] whereof all the Dispute is, and mean by Body what every plain, ordinary Per­son means by that Word, viz. that which is immediately Seen and Felt, which is only a Combination of sensi­ble Qualities, or Ideas: And then their most unanswerable Objections come to nothing.

§ 96. Matter being once expell'd out of Nature, drags with it so many Scep­tical and Impious Notions, such an in­credible number of Disputes and puz­ling Questions, which have been Thorns in the sides of Divines, as well as Phi­losophers, and made so much fruitless Work for Mankind; that if the Argu­ments we have produced against it, are not found equal to Demonstration (as to me they evidently seem) yet I am sure all Friends to Knowlege, Peace, and Religion have reason to wish they were.

§ 97. Beside the external Existence of the Objects of Perception, another great Source of Errors and Difficulties, [Page 142] with regard to Ideal Knowlege, is the Doctrine of Abstract Ideas, such as it hath been set forth in the Introduction. The plainest things in the World, those we are most intimately acquainted with, and perfectly know, when they are con­sider'd in an Abstract way, appear strangely difficult and incomprehensi­ble. Time, Place, and Motion, taken in particular, or concrete, are what e­very Body knows; but having passed thro' the Hands of a Metaphysician, they become too Abstract and Fine, to be apprehended by Men of ordinary Sense. Bid your Servant meet you at such a Time, in such a Place, and he shall never stay to deliberate on the mean­ing of those Words: In conceiving that particular Time and Place, or the Mo­tion by which he is to get thither, he finds not the least Difficulty. But if Time be taken, exclusive of all those particu­lar Actions and Ideas that diversifie the Day, meerly for the Continuation of Existence, or Duration in Abstract, then it will perhaps Gravel even a Philoso­pher to comprehend it.

[Page 143]§ 98. For my own part, whenever I attempt to frame a simple Idea of Time, abstracted from the succession of Ideas in my Mind, which flows uniformly, and is participated by all Beings, I am lost and embrangled in inextricable Dif­ficulties. I have no Notion of it at all, only I hear others say, it is infinitely Di­visible, and speak of it in such a manner, as leads me to harbour odd Thoughts of my Existence: Since that Doctrine lays one under an absolute necessity, of thinking, either that he passes away in­numerable Ages without a Thought, or else that he is annihilated every moment of his Life: Both which seem equally absurd. Time therefore being nothing, abstracted from the Successon of Ideas in our Minds, it follows, that the Du­ration of any Finite Spirit must be esti­mated, by the Number of Ideas or Acti­ons succeeding each other, in that same Spirit or Mind. Hence it is a plain Con­sequence that, the Soul always thinks: And in truth whoever shall go about to divide in his Thoughts, or abstract the [Page 144] Existence of a Spirit from its Cogitation will, I believe, find it no easy Task.

§ 99. So likewise, when we attempt to abstract Extension and Motion, from all other Qualities, and consider them by themselves,, we presently lose sight of 'em, and run into great Extravagan­cies. Hence spring those odd Paradoxes, that the Fire is not Hot, nor the Wall White, &c. or that Heat and Colour are in the Objects, nothing but Figure and Moti­on. All which depend on a two-fold Abstraction: First it is supposed that Ex­tension, for example, may be abstracted from all other sensible Qualities; and Secondly, that the Entity of Extension, may be abstracted from its being Per­ceiv'd. But whoever shall reflect, and take care to understand what he says, will, if I mistake not, acknowlege that all sensible Qualities are alike Sensations, and alike Real, that where the Extension is, there is the Colour too, i. e. in his Mind, and that their Archetypes, can exist only in some other Mind. And that the Objects of Sense are nothing [Page 145] but those Sensations combin'd, blended or (if one may so speak) concreted toge­ther: None of all which can be suppos'd to Exist unperceiv'd. And that, conse­quently, the Wall is as truly White, as it is Extended, and in the same Sense.

§ 100. What it is for a Man to be Happy, or an Object Good, every one may think he knows. But to frame an Abstract Idea of Happiness, prescinded from all particular Pleasure, or of Good­ness, from every thing that is Good, this is what few can pretend to. So like­wise, a Man may be Just and Virtuous, without having precise Ideas of Justice and Virtue. The opinion that those and the like Words, stand for General Notions abstracted from all particular Persons and Actions, seems to have render'd Morali­ty very difficult, and the Study thereof of small use to Mankind. And, in effect, one may make a great progress in School-Ethics, without ever being the wiser or better Man for it, or knowing how to behave himself in the affairs of Life, more to the Advantage of himself, or [Page 146] his Neighbours, than he did before. This Hint may suffice, to let any one see, the Doctrine of Abstraction, has not a little contributed, towards spoiling the most useful Parts of Knowledge.

§ 101. The two great Provinces of Speculative Science, conversant about Ideas receiv'd from Sense, are Natural Philosophy and Mathematics; with regard to each of these I shall make some Ob­servations. And first I shall say somewhat of Natural Philosophy. On this Subject it is, that the Sceptics triumph: All that stock of Arguments they produce to depreciate our Faculties, and make Mankind appear Ignorant and Low, are drawn principally from this Head, namely, that we are under an Invinci­ble Blindness, as to the True and Real Nature of Things. This they exaggerate, and love to enlarge on. We are mise­rably Banter'd, say they, by our Senses, and amus'd only with the Outside and Shew of Things. The real Essence, the internal Qualities, and Constitution of every the meanest Object, is hid from [Page 147] our view; something there is, in every drop of Water, every grain of Sand, which it is beyond the Power of Hu­man Understanding, to Fathom or Com­prehend. But it is evident from what has been shewn, that all this Complaint is groundless, and that we are influen­ced by False Principles, to that degree as to mistrust our Senses, and think we know nothing, of those things which we perfectly comprehend.

§ 102. One great Inducement, to our pronouncing our selves Ignorant of the Nature of Things, is, the current O­pinion that every thing includes within it self, the Cause of its Properties: Or that there is in each Object, an inward Es­sence, which is the Source whence its discernible Qualities flow, and whereon they depend. Some have pretended to account for Appearances by Occult Qua­lities, but of late they are mostly resolv­ed into Mechanical Causes. viz. the Fi­gure, Motion, Weight, &c. of insensi­ble Particles: Whereas, in truth, there is no other Agent or Efficient Cause than [Page 148] Spirit, it being evident, that Motion, as well as all other Ideas, is perfectly Inert. vid. Sect. XXV. Hence, to endeavour to explain the production of Colours, Sounds, &c. by Figure, Motion, Mag­nitude and the like, must needs be la­bour in vain. And accordingly, we see the Attempts of that Kind, are not at all satisfactory. Which may be said, in general, of those Instances, wherein one Idea or Quality is assign'd for the Cause of another. I need not say, how many Hypotheses and Speculations are left out, and how much the study of Nature is Abridged by this Doctrine.

§ 103. The great Mechanical Princi­ple now in Vogue is Attraction. That a Stone falls to the Earth, or the Sea swells towards the Moon, may to some appear sufficiently explain'd thereby. But how are we Enlighten'd by being told this is done by Attraction? Is it that, that Word signifies the manner of the Tendency, and that it is by the mutual drawing of Bodies, instead of their be­ing impell'd or protruded towards each [Page 149] other? But nothing is determin'd of the Manner or Action, and it may as truly (for ought we know) be termed Impulse or Protrusion as Attraction. Again, the Parts of Steel we see cohere firmly together, and this also is accounted for by Attraction; but in this, as in the o­ther Instances, I do not perceive, that a­ny thing is signified besides the Effect it self; for as to the manner of the Action whereby it is produced, or the Cause which produces it, these are not so much as aim'd at.

§ 104. Indeed, if we take a view of the several Phaenomena, and compare them together, we may observe some likeness and conformity between them. For Ex­ample, in the Falling of a Stone to the Ground, In the Rising of the Sea towards the Moon, in Cohesion, Crystallization, &c. there is something alike, namely an Union or Mutual Approach of Bodies. So that any one of these, or the like Phae­nomena, may not seem Strange, or Sur­prising, to a Man woh has nicely ob­serv'd and compar'd the Effects of Na­ture. [Page 150] For that only is thought so which is uncommon, or a thing by it self, and out of the ordinary Course of our Ob­servation. That Bodies shou'd tend to­wards the Center of the Earth, is not thought strange, because 'tis what we perceive every moment of our Lives. But that they shou'd have a like Gravi­tation towards the Center of the Moon, may seem odd and unaccountable to most Men, because it's discern'd only in the Tides. But a Philosopher, whose Thoughts take in a larger compass of Nature, having observ'd a certain simi­litude of Appearances, as well in the Hea­vens as the Earth, that argue innumera­ble Bodies to have a mutual Tendency towards each other, which he denotes by the general Name Attraction, what­ever can be reduced to that he thinks justly accounted for. Thus he explains the Tides, by the Attraction of the Ter­raqueous Globe towards the Moon, which to him does not appear odd or anomalous, but only a particular Exam­ple of a general Rule or Law of Na­ture.

[Page 151]§ 105. If, therefore, we consider the Difference there is betwixt Natural Phi­losophers, and other Men, with regard to their Knowlege of the Phaenomena, we shall find it consists, not in an exacter Knowlege of the efficient Cause that produces them, for that can be no o­ther than the Will of a Spirit, but only in a greater Largeness of Comprehen­sion, whereby Analogies, Harmonies, and Agreements are discover'd in the Works of Nature, and the particular Effects explain'd, i. e. reduced to gene­ral Rules, vid. Sect. LXII. which Rules grounded on the Analogy, and Uniform­ness observ'd in the Production of Na­tural Effects, are most agreeable, and sought after by the Mind, for that they extend our Prospect beyond what is pre­sent, and near to us, and enable us to make very probable Conjectures, touch­ing Things that may have happen'd at very great distances of Time and Place, as well as to predict Things to come; which sort of Endeavour towards Om­niscience, is much affected by the Mind.

[Page 152]§ 106. But we shou'd proceed wari­ly in such Things, for we are apt to lay too great a Stress on Analogies, and to the prejudice of Truth, humour that Eagerness of the Mind, whereby it is carried to extend its Knowlege into ge­neral Theoremes. For Example, In the business of Gravitation, or mutual Attra­ction, because it appears in many In­stances, some are straightway for pro­nouncing it Vniversal; and that to At­tract, and be Attracted by, every other Bo­dy is an Essential Quality, inherent in all Bodies whatsoever. Whereas, its evident the Fix'd Stars have no such Tendency towards each other; and so far is that Gravitation, from being Essential to Bo­dies, that, in some Instances a quite contrary Principle seems to shew it self: As in the Perpendicular Growth of Plants, and the Elasticity of the Air. There is nothing Necessary or Essential in the Case, but it depends intirely on the Will of the Governing Spirit, who causes cer­tain Bodies to cleave together, or tend towards each other, according to vari­ous [Page 153] Laws; whilst he keeps others at a fix'd Distance; and to some he gives a quite contrary Tendency to fly asun­der, just, as he sees convenient.

§ 107. After what has been premis'd, I think we may lay down the follow­ing Conclusions. First, 'Tis plain, Phi­losophers amuse themselves in vain, when they inquire for any Natural, Efficient Cause, distinct from a Mind or Spirit. Secondly, Considering the whole Crea­tion is the Workmanship of a Wise and Good Agent, it shou'd seem to become Philosophers, to employ their Thoughts (contrary to what some hold) about the Final Causes of Things: For be­sides that this wou'd prove a very pleasing Entertainment to the Mind, it might be of great Advantage, in that it not only discovers to us the Attributes of the CREATOR, but may also direct us in several Instances to the proper Uses and Applications of Things; and I must confess, I see no reason, why pointing out the various Ends, to which Natural Things are adapted, and for which they [Page 154] were originally, with unspeakable Wis­dom, contriv'd, shou'd not be thought one good way of accounting for them, and altogether worthy a Philosopher. Thirdly, from what has been premis'd no reason can be drawn, why the Hi­story of Nature shou'd not still be stu­died, and Observations and Experiments made, which, that they are of use to Mankind, and enable us to draw any general Conclusions, is not the Result of any immutable Habitudes, or Relati­ons between Things themselves, but on­ly of GOD'S Goodness and Kindness to Men, in the Administration of the World. vid. Sect. XXX and XXXI. Fourthly, By a diligent Observation of the Phaenome­na within our View, we may discover the general Laws of Nature, and from them deduce the other Phaenomena, I do not say Demonstrate; for all Deductions of that kind, depend on a Supposition that the Author of Nature always ope­rates uniformly, and in a constant ob­servance of those Rules, we take for Principles: Which we cannot evident­ly know.

[Page 155]§ 108. It appears from Sect. LXVI, &c. that the steady, consistent Methods of Nature, may not unfitly be Stiled the Language of its Author, whereby he dis­covers his Attributes to our View, and directs us how to act for the Conveni­ence and Felicity of Life. And to me, those Men who frame General Rules from the Phaenomena, and afterwards de­rive the Phaenomena from those Rules, seem to be Grammarians, and their Art the Grammar of Nature. Two ways there are of Learning a Language, ei­ther by Rule or by Practise: A Man may be well read in the Language of of Nature, without understanding the Grammar of it, or being able to say, by what Rule a Thing is so or so. And as 'tis very possible to Write Improper­ly, thro' too strict an Observance of General Grammar-rules: So in Arguing from General Laws of Nature, 'tis not impossible we may stretch the Analogy too far, and by that means run into Mi­stakes.

[Page 156]§ 109. To carry on the resemblance, as in reading other Books, a Wise Man will chuse to fix his Thoughts, on the Sense and apply it to Use, rather than lay them out in Grammatical Remarks on the Language; so in perusing the Vo­lume of Nature, methinks it is beneath the Dignity of the Mind, to affect an Exactness, in reducing each particular Phaenomenon to general Rules, or shew how it follows from them. We shou'd propose to our selves nobler Views, name­ly to recreate and exalt the Mind, with a prospect of the Beauty, Order, Extent, and Variety of Natural Things: Hence, by proper Inferences, to enlarge our No­tions of the Grandeur, Wisdom, and Be­neficence of the CREATOR: And lastly, to make the several Parts of the Creati­on, so far as in us lies, subservient to the Ends they were design'd for, GOD'S Glo­ry, and the Sustentation and Comfort of our Selves and Fellow-Creatures.

§ 110. The best Grammar of the kind we are speaking of, will be easily ac­knowleg'd [Page 157] to be a Treatise of Mecha­nics, demonstrated and applied to Na­ture, by a Philosopher of a Neighbour­ing Nation whom all the World Ad­mire. I shall not take upon me to make Remarks, on the Performance of that Extraordinary Person: Only some Things he has advanced, so directly op­posite to the Doctrine we have hitherto laid down, that we shou'd be wanting, in the regard due to the Authority of so great a Man, did we not take some notice of them. In the Entrance of that justly admired Treatise, Time, Space and Motion, are distinguished into Absolute and Relative, True and Ap­parent, Mathematical and Vulgar: Which Distinction, as it is at large explain'd by the Author, does suppose those Quan­tities to have an Existence without the Mind: And that they are ordinarily conceiv'd with relation to sensible Things, to which nevertheless, in their own Nature, they bear no Relation at all.

§ 111. As for Time, as it is there ta­ken in an absolute or abstracted Sense, [Page 158] for the Duration or Perseverance of the Existence of Things, I have nothing more to add concerning it, after what has been already said, on that Subject. For the rest, this Celebrated Author holds there is an Absolute Space, which, being unperceivable to Sense, remains in it self similar and immoveable: And Relative Space to be the measure thereof, which being moveable, and defin'd by its Si­tuation in respect of Sensible Bodies, is vulgarly taken for Immoveable Space. Place he Defines, to be that Part of Space which is occupied by any Body. And according as the Space is Absolute or Relative, so also is the Place. Absolute Motion is said to be the Translation of a Body, from Absolute Place to Absolute Place, as Relative Motion is, from one Relative Place to another. Now because the Parts of Absolute Space, do not fall under our Senses, instead of them we are obliged to use their Sensible Measures: And so define both Place and Motion with respect to Bodies, which we re­gard as immoveable. But it is said, in Philosophical Matters we must Abstract [Page 156] from our Senses, since it may be, that none of those Bodies, which seem to be quiescent, are truely so: And the same thing which is mov'd Relatively, may be really at rest. As likewise one and the same Body may be in Relative Rest and Motion, or even mov'd with contrary Relative Motions, At the same time, ac­cording as its place is variously defin'd. All which Ambiguity is to be found in the apparent Motions, but not at all in the true or absolute, which shou'd there­fore he alone regarded in Philosophy. And the True, we are told, are distin­guish'd from Apparent or Relative Moti­ons, by the following Properties. First, In True or Absolute Motion, all Parts which preserve the same Position with respect to the Whole, partake of the Motions of the Whole. Secondly, The Place being moved, that which is placed therein is also mov'd: So that a Body moving in a place which is in Motion, doth parti­cipate the Motion of its Place. Thirdly, True Motion is never generated or chang­ed, otherwise then by Force impressed on the Body it self. Fourthly, True Mo­tion [Page 160] is always changed, by Force im­pressed on the Body moved. Fifthly, In Circular Motion barely Relative, there is no Centrifugal Force, which neverthe­less in that which is True or Absolute, is proportional to the Quantity of Mo­tion.

§ 112. But notwithstanding what has been said, I must confess, it does not ap­pear to me, that there can be any Mo­tion other than Relative, So that to con­ceive Motion, there must be at least con­ceived two Bodies, whereof the Di­stance or position in regard to each o­ther is varied. Hence if there was one only Body in being, it cou'd not possi­bly be mov'd. This to me seems very evident, in that the Idea I have of Mo­tion does necessarily involve relation it. Whether others can conceive it other­wise, a little Attention may satisfie them.

§ 113. But tho' in every Motion, it be necessary to conceive more Bodies than one, yet it may be that one only is moved, namely that on which the Force [Page 161] causing the change, in the Distance or Situation of the Bodies, is impressed. For however some may define Relative Motion, so as to term that Body mov'd, which changes its Distance from some other Body, whether the Force causing that Change were impressed on it, or no: Yet I can't assent to this, for since we are told, Relative Motion is that which is perceiv'd by Sense, and regard­ed in the ordinary Affairs of Life, it fol­lows that every Man of common Sense knows what it is, as well as the best Philosopher: Now I ask any one, whe­ther in his Sense of Motion, as he walks along the Streets, the Stones he passes over may be said to move, be­cause they change Distance with his Feet? To me it appears, that thô Motion includes a Relation of one thing to another, yet it is not nec­essary, that each term of the Rela­tion be denominated from it. As a Man may think of somewhat which does not think, so a Body may be mov­ed to, or from, another Body which which is not, therefore, it self in Moti­on, [Page 162] I mean Relative Motion, for other I am not able to conceive.

§ 114. As the Place happens to be variously defin'd, the Motion which is related to it varies. A Man in a Ship may be said to be Quiescent, with rela­tion to the sides of the Vessel, and yet move, with relation to the Land. Or he may move Eastward in respect of the one, and Westward in respect of the other. In the common Affairs of Life, Men never go beyond the Earth, to define the place of any Body: And what is quiescent in respect of that, is accounted absolutely to be so. But Phi­losophers, who have a greater Extent of Thought, and juster Notions of the System of Things, discover even the Earth it self to be moved. In order therefore to fix their Notions, they seem to conceive the Corporeal World as Finite, and the utmost, unmoved Walls or Shell thereof to be the Place, where­by they estimate True Motions. If we sound our own Conceptions, I believe we may find all the Absolute Motion [Page 163] we can frame an Idea of, to be at Bottom no other than Relative Moti­on thus defined. For as I have already said, absolute Motion exclusive of all external Relation is incomprehensible: And to this kind of Relative Motion, all the above-mention'd Properties, Causes, and Effects ascribed to Absolute Motion will, if I mistake not, be found to agree. As to what is said of the Cen­tifugal Force, that it does not at all be­long to Circular, Relative Motion: I do not see how this follows from the Experiment which is brought to prove it. See Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica, p. 9. in Schol. Def. VIII. For the Water in the Vessel, at that time wherein it is said to have the great­est Relative, Circular Motion, has, I think, no Motion at all: As is plain from the foregoing Section.

§ 115. For, to denominate a Body Moved, it is requisite, first, that it change its Distance or Situation with regard to some other Body, Secondly, that the force occasioning that Change be im­pressed [Page 164] on it. If either of these be want­ing, I do not think that agreeably to the Sense of Mankind, or the Propriety of Language, a Body can be said to be in Motion. I grant, indeed, that it is pos­sible for us to think a Body, which we see change its Distance from some other, to be moved, tho' it have no force im­pressed on it, (in which Sense there may be apparent Motion,) but then it is, be­cause the Force causing the change of Di­stance, is imagin'd by us to be impress'd on that Body thought to move. Which, indeed, shews we are capable of mistak­ing a thing to be in Motion which is not, but does not prove that, in the com­mon acceptation of Motion, a Body is moved meerly because it changes Di­stance from another; since as soon as we are undeceiv'd, and find that the moving Force was not communicated to it, we no longer hold it to be mov­ed. So on the other hand, when one only Body (the Parts whereof preserve a given Position between themselves) is imagin'd to Exist; some there are who think that it can be moved all manner [Page 165] of ways, tho' without any change of Distance or Situation to any other Bo­dies; which we shou'd not deny, if they meant only that it might have an im­pressed Force, which, upon the bare crea­tion of other Bodies, wou'd produce a Motion of any certain Quantity and De­termination. But that an actual Moti­on (distinct from the impressed Force, or Power productive of Change of Place in case there were Bodies present where­by to define it) can Exist in such a sin­gle Body, I must confess I am not able to comprehend.

§ 116. From what has been said, it follows, that the Philosophic Considera­tion of Motion, does not imply the be­ing of an Absolute Space, distinct from that which is perceiv'd by Sense, and related to Bodies: Which that it cannot Exist without the Mind, is clear upon the same Principles, that demonstrate the like of all other Objects of Sense. And, perhaps, if we inquire narrowly into the Matter, we shall find we can­not even frame an Idea of Pure Space, [Page 166] exclusive of all Body. This I must con­fess, is above my Capacity, as being a most Abstract Idea. When I excite a Motion in some part of my Body, if it be Free or without Resistance, I say there is Space: But if I find a Resistance, then I say there is Body: and in proportion as the Resistance to Motion is lesser or great­er, I say the Space is more or less Pure. So that when I speak of pure or empty Space, it is not to be supposed, that the Word Space stands for an Idea distinct from, or conceivable without Body and Motion. Tho' indeed, we are apt to think, every Noun Substantive stands for a distinct Idea, that may be separat­ed from all others: Which has occasi­on'd infinite Mistakes. When therefore supposing all the World to be Annihi­lated besides my own Body, I say there still remains Pure Space: Thereby no­thing else is meant, but only that I con­ceive it possible, for the Limbs of my Body to be mov'd on all sides, without the least Resistance: But if that too were Annihilated, then there cou'd be no Motion, and consequently no Space. [Page 167] Some, perhaps, may think the Sense of Seeing does furnish 'em with the Idea of Pure Space; but it is plain from what we have elsewhere shewn, that the Ideas of Space and Distance are not obtain'd by that Sense. See the Essay concerning Vision.

§ 117. What is here laid down seems to put an end, to all those Disputes, and Difficulties, that have sprung up amongst the Learned concerning the nature of Pure Space. But the chief Advantage a­rising from it, is, that we are freed from that dangerous Dilemma, to which seve­ral, who have imploy'd their Thoughts on that Subject, imagine themselves re­duced. viz. of thinking either that Real Space is GOD, or else that there is some­thing beside GOD which is Eternal, Un­created, Infinite, Indivisible, Immuta­ble, &c. Both which may justly be thought pernicious and absurd Notions. It is certain that not a few Divines, as well as Philosophers of great Note, have, from the Difficulty they found in con­ceiving, either Limits or Annihilation [Page 168] of Space, concluded it must be Divine. And some of late, have set themselves particularly to shew, the Incommunica­ble Attributes of GOD agree to it. Which Doctrine, how unworthy soever it may seem of the Divine Nature, yet, I must confess, I do not See how we can get clear of it, so long as we adhere to the receiv'd Opinions.

§ 118. Hitherto of Natural Philoso­phy: We come now to make some In­quiry concerning that other great Branch of Speculative Knowlege, viz. Mathe­matics. These, how Celebrated soever they may be, for their clearness and cer­tainty of Demonstration, which is hard­ly any where else to be found, cannot nevertheless be suppos'd altogether free from Mistakes, if so be that in their Prin­ciples there lurks some secret Error, which is common to the Professors of those Sciences with the rest of Mankind. Mathematicians, tho' they deduce their Theorems from a great Height of Evi­dence, yet their first Principles are limit­ed by the consideration of Quantity: [Page 169] And they do not ascend into any Inquiry concerning those Transcendental Max­ims, which influence all the particular Sciences, each Part whereof, Mathema­tics not excepted, does consequently participate of the Errors involved in them. That the Principles laid down by Mathematicians are true, and their way of Deduction from those Prin­ciples clear and incontestable, we do not deny. But we hold, there may be certain Erroneous Maxims of greater Extent than the Object of Mathematics, and, for that reason, not expressly men­tion'd, tho' tacitly supposed throughout the whole progress of that Science; and that the ill effects of those secret, unex­amin'd Errors are diffused thrô all the Branches thereof. To be plain, we sus­pect the Mathematicians are no less deep­ly concern'd than other Men, in the Errors arising from the Doctrine of Abstract, General Ideas, and the Existence of Ob­jects without the Mind.

§ 119. Arithmetic has been thought to have for its Object, Abstract Ideas of [Page 170] Number. Of which to understand the Properties and mutual Habitudes, is supposed no mean part of Speculative Knowlege. The Opinion of the pure and intellectual Nature of Numbers in Abstract, has made 'em in esteem with those Philosophers, who seem to have affected an uncommon Fineness and Elevation of Thought. It hath set a Price on the most trifling Numerical Specula­tions, which in practice are of no use, but serve only for Amusement. And hath heretofore so far infected the Minds of some, that they have dreamt of migh­ty Mysteries involved in Numbers, and attempted the Explication of Natural Things by them. But if we narrowly inquire into our own Thoughts, and con­sider what has been premised, we may perhaps entertain a low Opinion of those high Flights and Abstractions, and look on all Inquiries about Numbers, only as so many difficiles nugae, so far as they are not subservient to practise, and pro­mote the benefit of Life.

§ 120. Unity in Abstract we have [Page 171] before consider'd vid. Sect. XIII. from which and what has been said in the In­troduction, it plainly follows, there is not any such Idea. But Number being defin'd a Collection of Vnites, we may con­clude that, if there be no such thing as Unity or Unite in Abstract, there are no Ideas of Number in Abstract denoted by the Numeral Names and Figures. The Theories, therefore, in Arithmetic, if they are abstracted from the Names and Figures, as likewise from all Use and Practice, as well as from the parti­cular things number'd, can be supposed to have nothing at all for their Object. Hence we may see, how intirely the Science of Numbers is subordinate to Practice, and how jejune and trifling it becomes, when consider'd as a matter of meer Speculation.

§ 121. However, since there may be some, who, deluded by the specious Shew of Discovering Abstracted Verities, waste their time in Arithmetical Theo­remes and Problemes, which have not a­ny Use: It will not be amiss, if we more [Page 172] fully consider, and expose the Vanity of that Pretence; And this will plainly ap­pear, by taking a view of Arithmetic in its Infancy, and observing what it was that originally put Men on the Study of that Science, and to what Scope they di­rected it. It is natural to think that at first, Men, for ease of Memory and help of Computation, made use of Counters, or in writing of Single Stroaks, Points or the like, each whereof was made to signi­fie an Unite i. e. some one thing of what­ever Kind they had occasion to reckon. Afterwards, they found out the more compendious ways, of making one Cha­racter stand in place of several Stroaks, or Points. And lastly, the Notation of the Arabians or Indians came into use, wherein by the repetition of a few Cha­racters or Figures, and varying the Sig­nification of each Figure according to the the place it obtains, all Numbers may be most aptly express'd: Which seems to have been done in Imitation of Language, so that an exact Analogy is observ'd betwixt the Notation by Fi­gures, and Names, the nine simple Fi­gures [Page 173] answering the nine first numeral Names, and Places in the former corre­sponding to Denominations in the lat­ter. And agreeably to those Conditi­ons of the simple and local Value of Figures, were contrived Methods of find­ing from the given Figures or Marks of the Parts, what Figures and how plac­ed, are proper to denote the whole or vice versa. And having found the sought Figures, the same Rule or Analogy be­ing observ'd throughout, it is easy to read them into Words; and so the Number becomes perfectly known. For then the Number of any particular Things is said to be known, when we know the Name or Figures (with their due arangement) that according to the standing Analogy belong to them. For these Signs being known, we can by the Operations of Arithmetic, know the Signs of any Part of the particular Sums signified by them; and thus computing in Signs, (because of the connexion esta­blish'd betwixt them and the distinct multitudes of Things, whereof one is taken for an Unite, we may be able [Page 174] rightly to sum Up, Divide, and Propor­tion the things Themselves that we in­tend to Number.

§ 122. In Arithmetic, therefore, we regard not the Things but the Signs, which nevertheless are not regarded for their own sake, but because they direct us how to act with relation to Things, and dispose rightly of them. Now a­greeably to what we have before ob­serv'd, of words in general (vid. Sect. XIX Introd.) it happens here likewise, that abstract Ideas are thought to be sig­nified by Numeral Names or Charact­ers, while they do not suggest Ideas of particular Things to our Minds. I shall not at present, enter into a more particu­lar Dissertation on this Subject, but only observe that it's evident from what has been said, those Things which pass for ab­stract Truths and Theorems concerning Numbers, are, in reality, conversant a­bout no Object distinct from particular numerable Things, except only Names and Characters, which originally came to be consider'd, on no other ac­count [Page 175] but their being Signs, or capa­ble to represent aptly, whatever parti­cular Things Men had need to compute. Whence it follows, that to study them for their own sake wou'd be just as wise, and to as good purpose, as if a Man neg­lecting the true Use or original Intenti­on and subserviency of Language, shou'd spend his time in impertinent Criticisms upon Words, or Reasonings and Contro­versies purely Verbal.

§ 123. From Numbers we proceed to speak of Extension, which is the Ob­ject of Geometry. The Infinite Divisi­bility of Finite Extension tho' it is not expresly laid down, either as an Axiom or Theoreme in the Elements of that Science, yet, is throughout the same e­very where suppos'd, and thought to have so inseparable and essential a Con­nexion, with the Principles and Demon­strations in Geometry, that Mathemati­cians never admit it into Doubt, or make the least Question of it. And as this No­tion is the Source from whence do spring, all those Amusing Geometrical Para­doxes, [Page 176] which have such a direct Repug­nancy to the plain, common Sense of Mankind, and are admitted with so much Reluctance, into a Mind not yet debauched by Learning: So is it the prin­cipal occasion of all that nice and ex­tream Subtilty, which renders the Study of Mathematics so very difficult and te­dious. Hence, if we can make it ap­pear, that no Finite Extension contains innumerable Parts, or is infinitely Divi­sible, it follows that we shall at once clear the Science of Geometry, from a great number of Difficulties and Con­tradictions which have ever been esteem­ed a Reproach to Human Reason, and withal make the Attainment thereof, a business of much less Time and Pains, then it hitherto has been.

§ 124. Every particular, Finite Ex­tension, which may possibly be the Ob­ject of our Thought, is an Idea Existing only in the Mind, and consequently each Part thereof must be perceiv'd. If, there­fore, I cannot perceive innumerable Parts, in any Finite Extension that I consider, [Page 177] it is certain they are not contained in it: But it's evident, that I can't distin­guish innumerable Parts in any particu­lar Line, Surface, or Solid, which I either perceive by Sense, or Figure to my self in my Mind: Wherefore I conclude they are not contained in it. Nothing can be plainer to me, than that the Ex­tensions I have in View, are no other than my own Ideas, and it is no less plain, that I cannot resolve any one of my Ideas, into an infinite Number of other Ideas, that is, that they are not in­finitely Divisible. If by Finite Extensi­on be meant something distinct from a Finite Idea: I declare I do not know what that is, and so cannot affirm or deny any thing of it. But if the terms Extension, Parts, &c. are taken in any Sense conceivable i. e. for Ideas; then to say, a Finite Quantity or Extension consists of Parts infinite in Number, is so manifest and glaring a Contradicti­on, that every one at first sight acknow­leges it to be so. And it's impossible, it shou'd ever gain the assent of any rea­sonable Creature, who is not brought [Page 178] to it by gentle and slow Degrees, as a Pagan Convert to the belief of Transub­stantiation. Ancient and rooted Preju­dices do often pass into Principles: And those Propositions which once obtain the force and credit of a Principle, are not only themselves, but likewise what­ever's deducible from them, thought privileg'd from all Examination. And there's no Absurdity so gross, which, by this means, the Mind of Man may not be prepared to swallow.

§ 125. He whose Understanding is prepossest with the Doctrine of Ab­stract, general Ideas, may be easily per­swaded, that (whatever be thought of the Ideas of Sense,) Extension in Abstract is infinitely Divisible. And any one, who thinks the Objects of Sense Exist with­out the Mind, will not stick to affirm, a Line but an Inch long may contain innumerable Parts, really Existing, thô too small to be discern'd. These Er­rors are grafted, as well in the Minds of Geometricians, as of other Men, and have a like influence on their Reaso­nings; [Page 179] and it were no difficult thing, to shew how the Arguments from Geome­try made use of to support the infinite di­visibility of Extension, are bottom'd on them. But this, if it be thought neces­sary, we may hereafter find a proper place to treat of in a particular man­ner. At present we shall only observe in general, whence it is the Mathema­ticians are all so fond and tenacious of that Doctrine.

§ 126. It has been observ'd in ano­ther place, that the Theorems and De­monstrations in Geometry are conver­sant about Universal Ideas. vid. Sect. XV. Introd. Where it is explain'd in what Sense this ought to be understood, namely, the particular Lines and Figures included in the Diagram, are supposed to stand for innumerable Others of diffe­rent Sizes, or, in other Words, the Geo­meter considers them abstracting from their Magnitude, which does not imply, that he forms an Abstract Idea, but on­ly that he cares not what the particular Magnitude is, whether Great or Small, [Page 180] but looks on that as a thing indifferent to the Demonstration: Hence it fol­lows, that a Line in the Scheme, but an Inch long, must be spoken of, as tho' it contain'd ten-thousand Parts, since it is regarded, not in it self, but as it is universal, and it is universal only in its Signification, whereby it represents in­numerable Lines greater than it self, in which may be distinguish'd ten-thousand Parts or more, tho' there may not in it. After this manner, the properties of the Lines signified are (by a very usual Figure) transfer'd to the Sign, and thence, thro' Mistake, thought to appertain to it consider'd in its own nature.

§ 127. Because there is no number of Parts so great, but its possible there may be a Line containing more, the Inch-line is said to contain Parts more than any assignable Number; which is true, not of the Inch taken absolutely, but only for the things signified by it. But Men not retaining that Distinction in their Thoughts, slide into a belief, that the small particular Line described on Paper [Page 181] contains in it self Parts innumerable. There is no such thing as the ten-thou­sandth Part of an Inch; but there is of a Mile or Diameter of the Earth, which may be signified by that Inch. When there­fore, I Delineate a Triangle on Paper, and take one side not above an Inch, for Example, in length to be the Radius: This I consider as divided into 10000 or 100000 Parts, or more. For tho' the ten-thousandth Part of that Line, con­sider'd in it self, is nothing at all, and consequently may be neglected without any Error or Inconveniency; yet these described Lines being only Marks, stand­ing for greater Quantities, whereof, it may be, the ten-thousandth Part is ve­ry considerable, it follows that, to pre­vent notable Errors in Practice, the Ra­dius must be taken of 10000 Parts, or more.

§ 128. From what has been said the reason is plain why, to the end any Theorem become universal in its Use, its necessary we speak of the Lines describ­ed on Paper, as tho' they contain'd Parts [Page 182] which really they do not. In doing of which, if we examine the matter through­ly, we shall, perhaps, discover that we cannot conceive an Inch it self as consist­ing of, or being divisible into, a thousand Parts, but only some other Line which is far greater than an Inch, and repre­sented by it. And that when we say a Line is infinitely Divisible. We mean (if we mean any thing) a Line which is in­finitely Great. What we have here ob­serv'd seems to be the chief Cause, why, to suppose the infinite divisibility of Fi­nite Extension, has been thought neces­sary in Geometry.

§ 129. The several Absurdities and Contradictions which flow'd from this false Principle might, one wou'd think, have been esteem'd so many Demon­strations against it. But, by I know not what Logic, it is held that Proofs a posteriori are not to be admitted, against Propositions relating to Infinity. As tho', it were not impossible, even for an Infinite Mind, to reconcile Contra­dictions. Or as if any thing Absurd and [Page 183] Repugnant cou'd have a necessary con­nexion with Truth, or flow from it. But whoever considers the weakness of this Pretence, will think it was contri­ved on purpose, to humour the Laziness of the Mind, which had rather acquiesce in an indolent Scepticism, than be at the Pains, to go through with a severe Ex­amination of those Principles it has ever embraced for true.

§ 130. Of late the Speculations about Infinites have run so high, and grown to such strange Notions, as have oc­casion'd no small Scruples and Disputes, among the Geometers of the present Age. Some there are of great Note, who not content with holding, that Fi­nite Lines may be divided into an In­finite number of Parts, do yet farther maintain, that each of those Infinitesi­mals is it self subdivisible, into an infini­ty of other Parts, or Infinitesimals of a se­cond Order, and so on ad infinitum. These, I say, assert, there are Infinitesimals of infinitesimals of Infinitesimals, &c. with­out ever coming to an end. So that, [Page 184] according to them an Inch does not barely contain an infinite number of Parts, but an Infinity of an Infinity of an Infinity ad infinitum of Parts. Others there be who hold, all orders of Infinitesimals below the first to be nothing at all, think­ing it, with good reason, Absurd, to imagine there is any positive Quantity or Part of Extension, which, tho' mul­tiplyed Infinitely, can never equal the smallest given Extension. And yet on the other hand, it seems no less Absurd, to think the Square, Cube, or other Pow­er of a positive, real Root, shou'd it self be nothing at all; which they, who hold Infinitesimals of the first Order, de­nying all of the subsequent Orders, are obliged to maintain.

§ 131. Have we not, therefore, rea­son to conclude, they are both in the wrong, and that there is in effect no such thing as Parts infinitely Small, or an infinite number of Parts contain'd in any Finite Quantity? But you'll say, that if this Doctrine obtains, it will follow, the very Foundations of Geometry are [Page 185] destroy'd: And those Great Men who, have raised that Science to so astonishing an Height, have been all the while build­ing a Castle in the Air. To this it may be Replied, that whatever is useful in Geometry, and promotes the benefit of Human Life, does still remain firm and unshaken on our Principles. That Science consider'd as Practical, will rather re­reive Advantage, than any Prejudice from what has been said. But to set this in a due Light, and shew how Lines and Figures may be measur'd, and their Properties investigated, without suppos­ing Finite Extension to be infinitely Di­visible, may be the proper Business of another place. For the rest, tho' it shou'd follow that some of the more intricate and subtile Parts of Specula­tive Mathematics may be pared of, with­out any prejudice to Truth; yet I do not see, what Damage will be thence derived to Mankind. On the contrary, I think it were highly to be wish'd, that Men of the greatest Abilities and most obstinate Application, wou'd draw off their Thoughts from those Amusements, [Page 186] and imploy them in the study of such Things, as lie nearer the concerns of Life, or have a more direct Influence on the Manners.

§ 132. If it be said that several The­orems undoubtedly true, are discover'd by methods in which Infinitesimals are made use of, which cou'd never have been, if their Existence included a con­tradiction in it. I answer, that upon a thorough Examination it will not be found, that in any Instance it is neces­sary to make use of or conceive Infinite­simal Parts of finite Lines, or even Quan­tities less than the Minimum Sensibile: Nay it will be evident this is never done, it being impossible. And what­ever Mathematicians may think of Fluxi­ons or the Differential Calculus and the like, a little Reflexion will shew them, that in working by those Methods, they do not conceive or imagine Lines or Surfaces less than what are perceivable to Sense. They may, indeed, call those little and almost Insensible Quantities Infinitesimals or Infinitesimals of Infinitesi­mals, [Page 187] if they please: But at Bottom this is all, they being in truth Finite, nor does the Solution of Problemes re­quire the supposing any other. But this will be more clearly made out here­after.

§ 133. By what we have hitherto said, 'tis plain that very numerous and and important Errors have taken their Rise, from those false Principles which were impugned in the foregoing Parts of this Treatise. And the Opposites of those erroneous Tenents, at the same time, appear to be most fruitful Prin­ciples, from whence do flow innume­rable Consequences highly advantagi­ous, to true Philosophy as well as to Religion. Particularly, Matter or the Absolute Existence of Corporeal Objects, have been shewn to be that wherein the most avow'd and pernicious Enemies of all Knowlege, whether Human or Divine, have ever placed their chief Strength and Confidence. And surely, if by di­stinguishing the real Existence of un­thinking Things from their being per­ceiv'd, [Page 188] and allowing them a Subsi­stence of their own out of the Minds of Spirits, no one thing is explained in Nature, but, on the contrary, a great many inexplicable Difficulties arise: If the Supposition of Matter is barely pre­carious, as not being grounded on so much as one single Reason: If its Con­sequences cannot endure the light of Examination and free Inquiry, but skreen themselves under the dark and general pretence of Infinites being Incom­prehensible: If withal the Removal of this Matter be not attended with the least evil Consequence, if it be not even missed in the World, but every thing as well, nay much easier conceiv'd without it: If in fine, both Sceptics and Atheists are for ever silenced upon sup­posing only Spirits and Ideas, and this Scheme of Things is perfectly agreeable both to Reason and Religion: Methinks we may expect it shou'd be admitted and firmly embraced, tho' it were pro­pos'd only as an Hypothesis, and the Existence of Matter had been allow'd possible, which yet, I think, we [Page 189] have evidently demonstrated that it is not.

§ 134. True it is, that in conse­quence of the foregoing Principles, se­veral Disputes and Speculations, which are esteem'd no mean Parts of Learn­ing, are rejected as useless, and in ef­fect conversant about nothing at all. But how great a Prejudice soever against our Notions, this may give to those who have already been deeply Engag'd, and made large Advances in Studies of that Nature: Yet by Others, we hope it will not be thought any just ground of Dislike, to the Principles and Tenents herein laid down, that they abridge the labour of Study, and make Human Sciences far more Clear, Compendious, and Attainable than they were before.

§ 135. Having dispatch'd what we intended to say concerning the know­lege of Ideas, the Method we propos'd leads us, in the next place, to treat of Spirits: With regard to which, per­haps, Human Knowlege is not so de­ficient [Page 190] as is vulgarly imagined. The great Reason that's assign'd, for our be­ing thought Ignorant of the nature of Spirits, is, our not having an Idea of it. But surely it ought not to be look'd on as a defect in a Human Understand­ing, that it does not perceive the Idea of Spirit, if it is manifestly impossible there shou'd be any such Idea. And this if I mistake not, has been demon­strated in Sect XXVII to which I shall here add that a Spirit has been shewn to be the only Substance, or Support wherein Unthinking Beings or Ideas can Exist: But that this Substance which supports or perceives Ideas, shou'd it self be an Idea or like an Idea is evident­ly Absurd.

§ 136. It will perhaps be said, that, we want a Sense (as some have ima­gin'd) proper to know Substances with­al, which if we had, we might know our own Soul, as we do a Triangle. To this I answer, that in case we had a new Sense bestow'd upon us, we cou'd only receive thereby some new Sensati­ons [Page 191] or Ideas of Sense. But, I believe, no Body will say, that what he means by the terms Soul and Substance, is on­ly some particular sort of Idea or Sen­sation. We may therefore infer, that, all things duly consider'd, it is not more reasonable to think our Faculties defective, in that they do not furnish us with an Idea of Spirit, or Active, Thinking Substance, than it wou'd be if we shou'd blame them for not being able to comprehend a round Square.

§ 137. From the opinion that Spirits are to be known after the manner of an Idea or Sensation, have risen many absurd and heterodox Tenents, and much Scepticism about the Nature of the Soul. 'Tis even probable, that this Opinion may have produced a doubt in some, whether they had any Soul at all distinct from their Body, since upon inquiry they cou'd not find they had an Idea of it. That an Idea which is Inactive, and the Existence whereof consists in being Perceiv'd, shou'd be the Image or Likeness of an [Page 192] Agent subsisting by it self, seems to need no other Refutation, than barely at­tending to what is meant by those Words. But, perhaps, you'll say, that tho' an Idea cannot resemble a Spirit, in its Thinking, Acting, or Subsisting by it self, yet it may in some other re­spects: And it is not necessary, that an Idea or Image be in all respects like the Original.

§ 138. I answer, If it does not in those mention'd, it is impossible it shou'd re­present it in any other thing. Do but leave out the Power of Willing, Think­ing, and Perceiving Ideas, and there re­mains nothing else wherein the Idea can be like a Spirit. For by the Word Spi­rit we mean only that which Thinks, Wills, and Perceives, this, and this a­lone, constitutes the Signification of that Term. If, therefore, it is impossi­ble that any degree of those Powers, shou'd be represented in an Idea or No­tion, 'tis evident there can be no Idea or Notion of a Spirit.

[Page 193]§ 139. But it will be objected, that if there is no Idea signified by the terms Soul, Spirit, and Substance, they are wholly insignificant, or have no mean­ing in 'em. I answer those Words do mean or signify a real Thing, which is neither an Idea nor like an Idea, but that which perceives Ideas, and Wills, and Reasons about them. What I am my self, that which I denote by the term I, is the same with what is meant by Soul, or Spiritual Substance. But if I shou'd say, that I was nothing, or that I was an Idea or Notion, nothing cou'd be more evidently Absurd than either of these Propositions. You'll per­haps, insist, that this is only Quarrel­ling at a Word, and that since the im­mediate significations of other Names, are by common consent called Ideas, no reason can be assign'd, why that which is signified by the name Spirit or Soul may not partake in the same Ap­pellation. I answer, all the Unthink­ing Objects of the Mind agree, in that they are intirely Passive, and their Ex­istence [Page 194] consists only in being perceiv'd: Whereas a Soul or Spirit is an active being, whose Existence consists not in Being perceiv'd, but in perceiving Ideas and Thinking. It is, therefore, neces­sary in order to prevent Equivocation and confounding Natures perfectly dis­agreeing and unlike, that we distin­guish between Spirit and Idea. Vid. Sect. XXVII.

§ 140. In a large Sense, indeed, we may be said to have an Idea of Spirit, that is, we understand the meaning of the Word otherwise we cou'd not affirm or deny any thing of it. Moreover, as we conceive the Ideas that are in the Minds of other Spirits, by means of our own, which we suppose to be Resem­blances of them. So we know other Spirits by means of our own Soul, which, in that Sense, is the Image or Idea of them, it having a like respect to other Spirits, that Blueness or Heat by me perceiv'd has to those Ideas perceiv'd by another.

[Page 195]§ 141. The natural Immortality of the Soul is a necessary Consequence of the foregoing Doctrine. But before we attempt to prove this, 'tis fit that we explain the meaning of that Tenent. It must not be supposed, that they who assert the natural Immortality of the Soul are of opinion, that, it is absolutely incapable of Annihilation, even by the infinite power of the CREATOR, who first gave it Being. But only that it is not liable to be broken, or dissolv'd, by the ordinary Laws of Nature or Motion. They indeed, who hold the Soul of Man to be only a thin, vital Flame, or System of animal Spirits, make it Per­ishing and Corruptible as the Body, since there is nothing more easily dissi­pated than such a Being, which it is na­turally impossible shou'd survive the Ruin of the Tabernacle, wherein it is inclos'd. And this Notion has been greedily embraced, and cherish'd by the worst Part of Mankind, as the most ef­fectual Antidote against all Impressions of Vertue and Religion. But it has [Page 196] been made evident, that Bodies, of what frame or Texture soever, are barely passive Ideas in the Mind, which is more distant and heterogeneous from them, than Light is from Darkness. We have shewn that the Soul is Indivisible, Incor­poreal, Unextended, and it is conse­quently Incorruptible. Nothing can be plainer, than that the Motions, Changes, Decays, and Dissolutions which we hourly see befal natural Bodies (and which is what we mean by the course of Nature) cannot possibly affect an Active, Simple, Uncompounded Sub­stance: Such a being, therefore, is In­dissoluble by the force of Nature, that is to say, the Soul of Man is naturally Immortal.

§ 142. After what has been said, 'tis, I suppose, plain that our Souls are not to be known in the same manner as senseless, inactive Objects, or by way of Idea. Spirits and Ideas are things so wholly different, that when we say, they Exist, they are Known, or the like, these Words must not be thought to [Page 197] signifie any thing common to both Na­tures. There is nothing alike or com­mon in them: And to expect, that by any multiplication or enlargement of our Faculties, we may be enabled to know a Spirit as we do a Triangle, seems as Absurd as if we shou'd hope to see a Sound. This is inculcated because I imagine it may be of Moment, to­wards clearing several important Questi­ons, and preventing some very dange­rous Errors concerning the Nature of the Soul.

§ 143. It will not be amiss to add, that the Doctrine of Abstract Ideas has had no small share, in rendering those Sciences Intricate and obscure, which are particularly conversant about Spiri­tual Things. Men have imagin'd they cou'd frame abstract Notions, of the Powers and Acts of the Mind, and con­sider them prescinded, as well from the Mind or Spirit it self, as from their respective Objects and Effects. Hence a great number of dark and ambiguous Terms, presum'd to stand for abstract [Page 198] Notions, have been introduced into Me­taphysics and Morality, and from these have grown Infinite Distractions and Dis­putes amongst the Learned.

§ 144. But nothing seems more to have contributed, towards engaging Men in Controversies and Mistakes, with regard to the Nature and Operations of the Mind, than the being used to speak of those things, in Terms borrow'd from sensible Ideas. For Example, The Will is termed the Motion of the Soul: This infuses a Belief, that the Mind of Man is as a Ball in Motion, impell'd and deter­min'd by the Objects of Sense, as neces­sarily as that is by the Stroak of a Racket. Hence arise endless Scruples and Errors of dangerous Consequence in Morality. All which, I doubt not, may be clear­ed, and Truth appear Plain, Uniform, and Consistent, cou'd but Philosophers be prevail'd on, to depart from some receiv'd prejudices and modes of Speech, and retiring into themselves attentively consider their own meaning. But the Difficulties arising on this Head, demand [Page 199] a more particular Disquisition, than suits with the Design of this Treatise.

§ 145. From what has been said, 'tis plain, that we cannot know the Exist­ence of other Spirits, otherwise than by their Operations, or the Ideas by them excited in us. I perceive several Moti­ons, Changes, and Combinations of I­deas, that inform me there are certain particular Agents, like my self, which accompany them, and concur in their Production. Hence, the Knowlege I have of other Spirits is not immediate, as is the Knowlege of my Ideas, but depending on the Intervention of Ideas, by me refer'd to Agents or Spirits di­stinct from my self, as Effects or con­comitant Signs.

§ 146. But tho' there be some things which convince us, Human Agents are concern'd in producing them; yet it is e­vident to every one, that those things which are call'd the works of Nature, i. e. the far greater part of the Ideas or Sensations perceived by us, are not pro­duced [Page 200] by, or dependent on, the Wills of Men. There is therefore some other Spirit that causes them, since it is repug­nant that they shou'd subsist by them­selves. See Sect. XXIX. But if we at­tentively consider the constant Regula­rity, Order, and Concatenation of Na­tural Things, the surprising Magnifi­cence, Beauty and Perfection of the lar­ger, and the Exquisite Contrivance of the smaller Parts of the Creation, to­gether with the exact Harmony and Correspondence of the whole, but, a­bove all, the never enough admir'd Laws of Pain and Pleasure, and the In­stincts or natural Inclinations, Appetites, and Passions of Animals, I say if we con­sider all these things, and at the same time attend to the meaning and im­port of the Attributes One, Eternal, Infinitely Wise, Good and Perfect, we shall clearly perceive that they belong to the aforesaid Spirit, who works all in all, and by whom all things consist.

§ 147. Hence it is evident, that GOD, is known as certainly and imme­diately [Page 201] as any other Mind or Spirit whatsoever, distinct from our selves. We may even assert, that the Existence of GOD is far more evidently perceiv'd than the Existence of Men; because the Effects of Nature are infinitely more nu­merous and considerable, than those as­cribed to Human Agents. There is not any one Mark that denotes a Man, or Effect produced by him, which does not more strongly evince the Being of that Spirit, who is the Author of Nature. For it is evident that in affecting other Persons, the will of Man has no other Object, than barely the Motion of the Limbs of his Body, but that such a Mo­tion shou'd be attended by, or excite, any Idea in the Mind of another, de­pends wholly on the Will of the CREA­TOR. He alone it is who, upholding all things by the word of his Power, main­tains that Intercourse between Spirits, whereby they are able to perceive the Existence of each other. And yet this pure and clear Light which enlightens every one, is it self invisible to the greatest part of Mankind.

[Page 202]§ 148 It seems to be a general Pre­tence of the Unthinking Herd, that they cannot see GOD. Cou'd we but see him, say they, as we see a Man, we shou'd believe that he is, and believing obey his Commands. But alas we need only open our Eyes to see the So­vereign Lord of all Things, with a more full and clear view than we do any one of our Fellow-Creatures. Not that I imagine, we see GOD (as some will have it) by a direct and immediate View, or see Corporeal Things, not by themselves but, by seeing that which represents them in the Essence of GOD, which Doctrine is, I must confess, to me Incomprehensible. But I shall ex­plain my Meaning. A Human Spirit or Person is not perceiv'd by Sense, as not being an Idea; when therefore we see the Colour, Size, Figure, and Moti­ons of a Man, we perceive only certain Sensations or Ideas excited in our own Minds: And these, being exhibited to our view in sundry, distinct Collections serve to mark out unto us the Existence [Page 203] of Finite, and Created Spirits like our selves. Hence 'tis plain, we do not see a Man, if by Man is meant that which Lives, Moves, Perceives, and Thinks as we do: But only such a certain Collecti­on of Ideas, as directs us to think there is a distinct Principle of Thought and Motion, like to our selves, accompany­ing and represented by it. And after the same manner we see GOD; all the dif­ference is, that, whereas some one finite and narrow assemblage of Ideas de­notes a particular Human Mind, whi­thersoever we direct our view, we do at all times and in all places, perceive manifest Tokens of the Divinity: Eve­ry thing we See, Hear, Feel or any wise perceive by Sense, being a Sign or Ef­fect of the Power of GOD: as is our Perception of those very Motions, which are produced by Men.

§ 149. 'Tis therefore plain, that no­thing can be more evident to any one that's capable of the least Reflexion, than the Existence of GOD, or a Spirit who is intimately present to our Minds, [Page 204] producing in them all that variety of Ideas or Sensations, which continually affect us, on whom we have an absolute and intire Dependence, in short in whom we Live, and Move, and have our Being. That the Discovery of this great Truth which lies so near and obvious to the Mind, shou'd be attain'd to by the Rea­son of so very few, is a sad instance of the Stupidity and Inattention of Men, who, thô they are Surrounded with such clear manifestations of the Deity, are yet so little affected by them, that they seem, as it were, blinded with ex­cess of Light.

§ 150. But you'll say has Nature no share in the Production of Natural Things, and must they be all ascrib'd to the immediate and sole Operation of GOD? I answer, if by Nature is meant only the visible Series of Effects, or Sensations imprinted on our Minds, according to certain fixt and general Laws: Then 'tis plain, that Nature tak­en in this Sense cannot produce any thing at all. But if by Nature is meant [Page 205] some Being distinct from GOD, as well as from the Laws of Nature, and things perceiv'd by Sense, I must confess, that Word is to me an empty Sound, with­out any intelligible Meaning annexed to it. Nature, in this Acceptation, is a vain Chimera introduced by those Hea­thens, who had not just Notions of the Omnipresence and infinite Perfection of GOD. But it is more unaccounta­ble, that it shou'd be receiv'd among Christians professing belief in the Holy Scriptures, which constantly ascribe those Effects to the immediate Hand of GOD, that Heathen Philosophers are wont to impute to Nature. The LORD, he causeth the Vapours to ascend; he mak­eth Lightnings with Rain; he bringeth forth the Wind out of his Treasures. Jerem. Chap. 10. v. 13. He turneth the shadow of Death into the Morning, and maketh the Day dark with Night. Amos Chap. 5. v. 8. He visiteth the Earth, and maketh it soft with Showers: He blesseth the Spring­ing thereof, and crowneth the Year with his Goodness; so that the Pastures are cloath­ed with Flocks, and the Valleys are cover'd [Page 206] over with Corn. See Psal. 65. But notwith­standing that this is the constant Lan­guage of Scripture; yet we have I know not what Aversion from believing, that GOD concerns himself so nearly in our Affairs. Fain wou'd we suppose him at a great distance off, and substitute some blind, unthinking Deputy in his stead, thô (if we may believe Saint Paul) he be not far from every one of us.

§ 151. It will, I doubt not, be ob­jected, that the slow, gradual and round-about Methods observ'd in the Pro­duction of Natural Things, do not seem to have for their Cause the im­mediate Hand of an Almighty Agent. Besides, Monsters, untimely Births, Fruits blasted in the Blossom, Rains fal­ling in desert Places, Miseries incident to Human Life, and the like, are so ma­ny arguments that the whole frame of Nature, is not immediately actuated and superintended by a Spirit of infinite Wisdom and Goodness. But the An­swer to this Objection is in a good measure plain from Sect. LXII, it being [Page 207] visible, that the aforesaid Methods of Nature are absolutely necessary, in or­der to working by the most simple and general Rules, and after a steady and consistent Manner; which argues both the Wisdom and Goodness of GOD. For, it doth hence follow, that the Finger of GOD is not so conspicuous to the re­solv'd and careless Sinner, which gives him an oppertunity to harden in his Im­piety, and grow ripe for Vengeance. vid. Sect. LVII. Such is the Artificial Con­trivance of this mighty Machine of Nature, that whilst its Motions and va­rious Phaenomena strike on our Senses, the Hand which actuates the whole is it self unperceivable to Men of Flesh and Blood. Verily (saith the Prophet) thou art a GOD that hidest thy self. Isaiah Chap. 45. ver. 15. But thô the Lord con­ceal himself from the Eyes of the Sen­sual and Lazy, who will not be at the least expence of Thought; yet to an unbiassed and attentive Mind, nothing can be more plainly legible, than the intimate Presence of an All-wise Spirit, who Fashions, Regulates, and Sustains [Page 208] the whole System of Beings. Second­ly, It is clear from what we have else­where observ'd, that the Operating ac­cording to general and stated Laws, is so necessary for our Guidance in the af­fairs of Life, and letting us into the Secret of Nature, that without it, all Reach and Compass of Thought, all Human Sagacity and Design cou'd serve to no manner of Purpose: It were even impossible, there shou'd be any such Faculties or Powers in the Mind, vid. Sect. XXXI. Which one Consideration abundantly out-ballances whatever par­ticular Inconveniences may thence arise.

§ 152. But we shou'd further consi­der, that the very Blemishes and Defects of Nature are not without their Use, in that they make an agreeable sort of Va­riety, and augment the Beauty of the rest of the Creation, as Shades in a Pi­cture serve to set off the brighter and more enlighten'd Parts. We wou'd likewise do well to examine, whether our taxing the Waste of Seeds and Em­bryo's, and accidental Destruction of [Page 209] Plants and Animals, before they come to full Maturity, as an Imprudence in the Author of Nature, be not the effect of Prejudice, contracted by our Fami­liarity with impotent and saving Mor­tals. In Man, indeed, a thrifty Ma­nagement of those Things, which he cannot procure without much Pains and Industry, may be esteem'd Wisdom. But we must not imagine, that the in­explicably fine Machine of an Animal or Vegetable, costs the Great CREATOR any more Pains or Trouble in its Pro­duction, than a Pebble does: nothing being more evident, than that an Om­nipotent Spirit, can indifferently produce every thing, by a meer Fiat or act of his Will. Hence it is plain, that the splendid Profusion of Natural Things shou'd not be interpreted, Weakness or Prodigality in the Agent who produces them, but rather be look'd on as an Argument of the Riches of his Power.

§ 153. As for the mixture of Pain or Uneasiness which is in the World, [Page 210] pursuant to the General Laws of Na­ture, and the Actions of Finite, Imper­fect Spirits; This, in the State we are in at present, is indispensibly necessary to our Well-being. But our Prospects are too narrow: We take, for Instance, the Idea of some one particular Pain into our Thoughts, and account it Evil; whereas if we enlarge our View, so as to comprehend the various Ends, Con­nexions, and Dependencies of things, on what Occasions and in what Proporti­ons, we are affected with Pain and Plea­sure, the Nature of Human Freedom, and the Design with which we are put into the World; we shall be forced to acknowlege that those particular Things, which consider'd in themselves appear to be Evil, have the Nature of Good, when consider'd as link'd with the whole System of Beings.

§ 154. From what has been said it will be manifest to any Considering Per­son, that it's meerly for want of at­tention and comprehensiveness of Mind [Page 211] that there are any Favourers of Atheism or the Manichaean Heresie to be found. Little and unreflecting Souls may, in­deed, Burlesque the Works of Provi­dence, the Beauty and Order whereof they have not Capacity, or will not be at the Pains, to comprehend. But those who are Masters of any justness and ex­tent of Thought and are withal used to reflect, can never sufficiently ad­mire the Divine Traces of Wisdom and Goodness, that shine throughout the Oe­conomy of Nature. But what Truth is there which glares so strongly on the Mind, that by an aversion of Thought, a wilful shutting of the Eyes, we may not escape seeing it, at least with a full and direct view? Is it therefore to be wonder'd at, if the generality of Men, who are ever intent on Busi­ness or Pleasure, and little used to fix or open the Eye of their Mind, shou'd not have all that Conviction and E­vidence of the Being of GOD, which might be expected in Reasonable Creatures?

[Page 212]§ 155. We shou'd rather admire, that Men can be found so Stupid as to neglect, than that neglecting they shou'd be unconvinced of, such an evident and momentous Truth. And yet it is to be fear'd that too ma­my of Parts and Leisure, who live in Christian Countries, are meerly thrô a supine and dreadful Negli­gence sunk into a sort of Demy-Atheism. They can't say there is not a GOD, but neither are they convinced that there is. For what else can it be but some lurking Infidelity, some secret misgivings of Mind, with regard to the Existence and Attributes of GOD, which permits Sinners to grow and harden in Impiety? Since it is down­right impossible, that a Soul pierced and enlighten'd with a thorough Sense of the Omnipresence, Holiness, and Justice of that Almighty Spirit, shou'd persist in a remorsless Violation of his Laws. We ought, therefore, ear­nestly to meditate and dwell on those [Page 213] important Points; that so we may attain Conviction without all Scru­ple, that the Eyes of the LORD are in every place beholding the Evil and the Good; that he is with us and keepeth us in all places whither we go, and giv­eth us Bread to eat and Raiment to put on; that he is present and conscious to our innermost Thoughts; in fine, that we have a most absolute and immediate Dependence on Him. A clear View of which great Truths cannot chuse but fill our Hearts, with an awful Circumspection and holy Fear, which is the strongest Incen­tive to Vertue, and the best Guard a­gainst Vice.

§ 156. For after all, what deserves the first place in our Studies, is the Consideration of GOD, and our Du­ty; which to promote as it was the the main drift and design of my La­bours, so shall I esteem them altoge­ther useless and ineffectual, if, by what I have said I cannot inspire my [Page 214] Readers with a pious Sense of the Pre­sence of GOD: And having shewn the Falseness or Vanity of those barren Spe­culations, which make the chief Em­ployment of Learned Men, the better dispose them to reverence and embrace the Salutary Truths of the GOSPEL, which to Know and to Practise, is the highest Perfection of Human Nature.


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