« ForrigeFortsett »
in pure mathematicks. The only proof we have that the sun will rise to-morrow, and the tides flow, or that the whule course of nature may not undergo a complete change, is derived from an experience of the uniformity of its operations hitherto; and if we are not contented with this degree of proof, the Creator furnishes us with no better; and if we repose not confidence in the order of nature, until we shall prove its stability by strict and mathematical demonstration, we shall never do so.
But, if any one is inclined to think that I have given a wrong interpretation to Dr. Barrow's meaning, hear him speak further in illustration of his doctrine. In his sixth mathematical lecture, after expressing himself as has been already mentioned, he proceeds. “For every action of an efficient cause, as well as its consequent effect, depends upon the free will and power of Almighty God, who can hinder the influx and efficacy of any cause, at his pleasure; neither is there any effect so confined to one cause, but it may be produced by perhaps innumerable others. Hence it is possible that there may be such a cause without a subsequent effect, or such an effect and no peculiar cause. Because there is fire, it does not necessarily fol. low that there is fuel for it to feed on or smoke sent from it, since history relates that, in fact, it has happened otherwise. Neither, on the contrary, is the necessary existence of fire inferred from ashes or smoke. For who doubts but God can immediately create ashes and smoke, or produce it by other means? In like manner, from that most celebrated and trite example of a demonstration from the efficient cause which is used by Aristotle and other writers of logick, of the Earth's interposition between the sun and moon, it does not follow that the moon undergoes an Eclipse; for if God please, the Solar rays may pass through the body of the Earth, or reach the moon by an indirect passage, without touching the Earth; or otherwise the moon may be enlightened some other way. Nay, the sun itself does not infer light; for at the death of our Lord, the setting of the better light of the world, the sun, as if struck with fear and confounded with shame, drew in his rays and hid his face, and even at noon day suffered an Eclipse without any moon to intercept his light, or any cloud to darken his brightness. A defect of light, then, cannot be concluded from the interposition of an opaque body, nor this from that. I own, according to the law and custom of nature, that such effects do always proceed from such causes; but, in reality, it is one thing to happen naturally, and another to exist of necessity. For necessary propositions have an universal, immutable and eternal truth, subject to nothing, nor to be hindered by any power. Because, therefore, the efficacy of agents may be stopped or changed, and every effect may proceed from various causes, there can be no demonstration from an efficient cause, or from an effect.”
We shall conclude these strictures upon the doctrines of the Professor upon cause and effect, by briefly descanting upon his peculiarities." In consequence of the inferences,” says he," which Mr. Hume has deduced from this doctrine concerning cause and effect, some late authors have been led to dispute its truth; not perceiving that the fallacy of Mr. Hume's system does not consist in his premises, but in the conclusion which he draws from them.” This to be sure, is speaking in very complacent terms of the premises of Mr. Hume, and greatly calculated to palliate their atrocious nature in the estimation of his readers; and at the same time paying no very flattering compliment to the ingenuity of that celebrated atheist, since it implies, that he has constructed his premises with so little address, that two directly contradictory conclusions may be drawn from them, that there is a God, and that there is no God. Mr. Hume, thick as is the cloud in which he frequently chooses to involve himself, and full of jargon as is his metaphysical language, knew better than all this how to draw his readers towards his sceptical conclusions. Which of the premises of Mr. Hume would the Professor admit, and yet avoid the force of his conclusion? Does he imagine, that all the premises of Mr. Hume are concentrated in those two propositions, we can discover no power or efficacy in causes to produce their effects, and there is no necessary connexion between effects and causes? This seems to be implied in what he remarks on this subject relative to Father Mallebranche, “ this accordingly was the conclusion which Mallebranche deduced from premises very nearly the same with Mr, Hume's." The shade of that venerable and truly philosophick Father, methinks, would frown with indignation upon any one who should presume to accuse him of abetting such abominable principles as those of Mr. Hume. How easy a task to throw philosophical subjects into confusion and obscurity; how difficult the task to present them in a clear and satisfactory point of light! Let us hear Mallebranche speak for himself, and we shall then be able to discover how nearly his principles approach to Mr. Hume’s*—“ Il y a," says he, “ bien des raisons qui m'empechent d'attribuer aux causes secondes ou naturelles, une force, une puissance, une efficace pour produire quoi que ce soit-Mais la principalle est que cette opinion ne me paroit pas meme concevable. Quelq' effort que je fasse pour la comprendre, je ne puis trouver en moi d'idee qui me represente ceque ce peut-etre que la force ou la puissance qu'on attribue aux creatures. Et je ne crois pas meme faire de jugement temeraire d'assurer qui soutiennent que les creatures sont en elles-memes de la force et de la puissance, avancent ce qu ils ne conçoivent point clairement. Car, enfin, si les philosophes concevoient clairement que les causes secondes ont une veritable force pour agir et pour produire leur sembable, etant homme aussi bien que’ux et participant comme eux a la souveraine raison; je pourrois apparement decouvrir l’idee qui leur represente cette force. Mais quelq' effort d'esprit que je fasse, je ne puis trouver de force, d'efficace, de puissance, que dans la volunte de l'etre infinement parfait.” Again, he says, “ Mais non seulement les hommes ne sont point les veritables causes des mouvemens qu'ils produisent dans leur corps, il semble meme qu'il y ait contradiction qu'ils puissent l'etre: Cause veritable, est une cause entre laquelle et son effet l'esprit apperçoit une liaison necessaire, c'est ainsi que je l’entens. Or, il n'y a que l'etre infiniment parfait, entre la volunte du quel et ses effets l'esprit apperçoive une liaison necessaire. Il n'y a donc que Dieu qui soit veritable cause, et qui ait veritablement la puissance de mouvoir les corps. Je dis de plus, qu'il n'est pas concevable que Dieu puisse communiquer aux hommes ou aux Anges la puissance, qu'il a de remuer les corps: et que ceux qui pretendent, que le pouvoir que nous avons de remuer nos bras, est une veritable puissance, doivent avouer que Dieu peut aussi donner aux esprits la puissance de creer, d'anneantir, de faire toutes les choses possibles; et en un mot, qu'il peut les rendre toutpuissans.” However indefensible we may deem the principles of Mallebranche, and the extravagant and absurd lengths to which he extends them, render their refutation altogether superfluous, we cannot but perceive the very essential and important distinction between them, and those which are maintained by Mr. Hume. Those of the one, introduce God as immediately and constantly operating throughout the whole structure and course of nature; those of the other totally exclude him, and lead to a denial of his being and providence. You cannot admit the premises of Mallebranche, without allowing his conclusion, neither can you those of Hume. And what are the points which constitute this essential distinction? They are the following-Mallebranche cannot discover an idea which represents to him any force, efficacy or power in finite beings, and can clearly conceive of these as subsisting only in the will of a perfect Being. Mr. Hume denies, that
we have any idea of power or efficacy in any being whatever. Mallebranche defines a true cause to be a cause, between which and its effect, the mind perceives a necessary connection, (une liaison necessaire) and asserts that this necessary connection can subsist only between God and the universe; Mr. Hume gives the same definition of a cause, but supposes that this necessary connection can in no case be perceived, Mallebranche confines all efficiency to one sole cause; but Hume maintains that we have no reason to conclude that there is any efficiency in any cause whatever, and reduces us to the necessity of admitting an eternal succession of objects. Mallebranche recognises in the very structure of his argument the immutable truth, that for every effect there must be a cause, but concludes that this cause in all cases is God alone; Hume denies the truth of that maxim, and endeavours to demonstrate that we have no good reason to admit it, and of course uproots
foundation of the argument in proof of a God. So little ground, therefore, is there for the representation of the Professor, that the conclusions of the one are deduced from premises very nearly the same with those of the other! They are as widely different from each other, as the principles of a mistaken and mystical theism can be from those of a rank and unblushing atheism.
The account which the professor gives of “ that bias of the mind,” which leads us to conceive that physical events are somehow linked together, and that material substances are possessed of certain powers and virtues which fit them to produce particular effects, is really a philosophical curiosity, and on this account alone worthy of insertion here. “It is a curious question,” says he,“ what gives rise to this prejudice? In stating the argument for the existence of the Deity several modern philosophers have been at pains to illustrate that law of our nature, which ads us to refer every change we perceive to the operation of an efficient cause. This refer