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ceive it either not to be or to be in any respect otherwise than it now is.” He proceeds all along on the assumption that there is no necessity in the substantive existence of things, unless the denial of that existence involves a logical contradiction in terms. Nay, if without such contradiction we can imagine any variation in the modes or forms of matter from those which obtain actually, this is enough with him to expel from matter the property of self-existence.
Ere we can award to matter this property, “it must,” he says, “ be a contradiction in terms to suppose more or fewer stars, more or fewer planets, or to suppose their size, figure, or motion, different from what it now is, or to suppose more or fewer plants and animals upon the earth, or the present ones of different shape and bigness from what they now are." At this rate, it will be observed, if we can imagine only five planets and without any such contradiction 'as that three and four make five—this of itself is proof that the actual state of the planetary system, or the actual state of matter whereof this system is a part, is not a necessary state, and so matter is not necessarily self-existent.
In like manner the motion of matter is held not to be necessary because it is no contradiction in terms to suppose any matter to be at rest. Thus throughout, our powers or possibilities of conception within, are with him the measures or grounds of inference as to the realities of Being without. He denies the necessary existence of matter, merely because we can conceive it not to exist; and the necessity of motion, because we can conceive of other directions to it than those which obtain actually; and a necessity for the actual order or number or figure of material things, because without logical absurdity we can conceive of them variously. The necessary trueness of eternal truths may be discovered thus, that in the terms of that proposition which affirmed their non-trueness there would be contradiction. And so he would have it that the necessary existence of eternal things may be discovered thus, that in the terms of that proposition which affirmed their non-existence there would be the like contradiction. And therefore when the opposite of any existent thing can be imagined without such contradiction, it exists not necessarily -nor is it of itself eternal. The logical is made to be identical with, or made to be the test and the measure of, the actual or the physical necessity. The one is confounded with the other; and this we hold to be the first fallacy of the a priori argument.
7. On the strength of this fallacy, the puny mind of man hath usurped for itself an intellectual empire over the high things of immensity and eternity—subjugating the laws of nature throughout all her wide amplitudes to the laws of human thought—and finding, as it were, within the little cell of its own cogitations the means of an achievement so marvellous, as that of pronouncing alike on all the objects of infinite space, and on all the events of infinite duration. Because I can imagine Jupiter to be a sphere instead of a spheroid; and no logical absurdity stands in the way of such imagination-therefore Jupiter must have been created. Because he has only four satellites, whilst I can
figure him to have ten; and there is not the same arithmetical falsity in this supposition, as in that three and one make up ten—therefore all the satellites must have had a beginning. Because I can picture of matter that it might have been variously disposed, that its motions and its magnitudes and its forms may have been different from what they are, and that space might have been more or less filled by it–because there is not in short a universal plenum all whose parts are immoveably at restin this Dr. Clarke beholds a sufficient ground for the historical fact that a time was when matter was not, or at least that to the power of another beside itself, it owes its place and its substantive Being in our universe. We must acknowledge ourselves to be not impressed by such reasoning. For aught I know or can be made by the light of nature to believe—matter may, in spite of those its dispositions which he calls arbitrary, have the necessity within itself of its own existence-and yet that be neither a logical nor a mathematical necessity. It may be a physical necessity—the ground of which I understand not, because placed transcendentally above my perceptions and my powers-or lying immeasureably beyond the range of my contracted and ephemeral observation.
8. But we have only touched on what may be called the negative part of the a priori argumentthat by which matter is divested of self-existence. Thence, on the stepping-stone of actual matter, existent though not self-existent, might we pass by inference to a superior and antecedent Being from whom it hath sprung.
But this were de
scending to the a posteriori argument-whereas the high pretension is, that in the light of that same principle which enables the mind to discard from all matter the property of self-existence, may it without the intervention of
derived or created thing lay immediate hold on the truth of a selfexistent God. This forms what we might call the positive part of the a priori argument. The truth is, if matter be not self-existent, because the supposition of its non-existence involves in it no felt and resistlessly felt contradiction; then the supposition of the non-existence of that which really is a self-existent Being must involve in it such a contradiction. “ This necessity must,” to use the language of Dr. Clarke, “force itself upon us whether we will or no, even when we are endeavouring to suppose that no such Being exists.” This is the same principle on which we have animadverted already; but there appears, we think, to be a second and a distinct fallacy involved in the application of it. What is that in the whole compass of thought, whose existence must force itself upon the mind-and whose non-existence involves that contradiction which the mind with all its efforts cannot possibly admit into its belief. The answer is space
and time. We can imagine matter to be swept away and the space which it occupies to be left behind. But we cannot imagine this space to be swept away. We cannot suppose either immensity or eternity to be removed out of the universe, any more than we can remove the relation of equality between twice two and four. “ To suppose,” he adds, “ immensity removed out
of the universe or not necessarily eternal is an express contradiction."
“To suppose any part of space removed, is to suppose it removed from and out of itself; and to suppose the whole to be taken away, is supposing it to be taken away from itself—that is to be taken away while it still remains which is a contradiction in terms.” The language of Sir Isaac Newton to the same effect is“Moveantur partes Spatii de locis suis, et movebuntur (ut ita dicam) de seipsis.” Here then is a something, if you choose thus to designate either of the elements of space or time—here is a something which fulfils what is affirmed to be the essential condition of necessary existence. Its non-existence involves a contradiction which the mind cannot possibly receive; and its existence is forced upon the mind by a necessity as strong as either any logical or any mathematical.
9. Now it is at the transition which the argument makes from the
existence of space and time to the necessary existence of God that we apprehend the second fallacy to lie. Eternity and immensity, it is allowed, are not substances— they are only attributes, and, incapable as they are of existing by themselves, they necessarily suppose a substantive Being in which they are inherent. “For modes and attributes,” says Dr. Clarke, “exist only by the existence of the substance to which they belong.” The denial then of such a Being is held to be tantamount to the denial both of infinite space and of everlasting successive duration-and so such denial involves contradiction in it. It is with him a contradiction in terms to