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interpreting my own sense, yet you by no means thought that my words were wholly misunderstood or misapplied by that author, but rather that he saw into the true consequence of them as they lie in my book.” I shall here set down your lordship’s words, where (to give me and others satisfaction) you say,“ you took care to prevent being misunderstood,” which will best appear by your own words, viz.“ that you must do that right to the ingenious author of the Essay of Human Understanding, from whom these notions are borrowed to serve other purposes than he intended them. It was too plain, that the bold writer against the mysteries of our faith took his notions and expressions from thence, and what could be said more for my vindication, than that he turned them to other purposes than the author intended them ?”
This you endeavoured to prove, and then concluded; “ by which it is sufficiently proved, that you had reason to say, that my notion was carried beyond my intention.” These words out of your first letter I shall leave here, set by those out of your second, that you may at your leisure, if you
think fit, (for it will not become me to tell your lordship that I am willing to allow it) explain yourself to the general satisfaction, that it may be known which of them is now your sense; for they are, I suppose, too much to be together any one's sense at the same time.
My intention being thus so well vindicated by your lordship, that you think nothing could be said more for my vindication, the misunderstanding or not misunderstanding of my book, by that or any other author, is what I shall not waste my time about. If your lordship thinks he saw into the true consequence of this position of mine, that certainty consists in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas (for it is from the inference that you suppose he makes from that my definition of knowledge, that you are here proving it to be of dangerous consequence) he is beholden to your lordship for your good opinion of his quick sight: I take no part in that, one way or other. What consequences your lordship's quick sight (which must be allowed to
have outdone what you suppose of that gentleman's) has found and charged on that notion as dangerous, Í shall endeavour to give you satisfaction in.
You farther add, that“ though I answered not a word in the proper place, yet afterwards, Let. 2. p. 95, (for you would omit nothing that may seem to help my cause) I offer something towards an answer.”
I shall be at a loss hereafter what to do with the 82d and following pages to the 95th; since what is said in those pages of my second letter goes for nothing, because it is not in its proper place. Though if any one will give himself the trouble to look into my second letter, he will find, that the argument I was upon in the 46th page obliged me to defer
what I had farther to say to your new accusation : but that I reassumed it in the 82d, and answered it in that and the following pages.
But supposing every writer had not that exactness of method, which showed, by the natural and visible connexion of the parts of his discourse, that every thing was laid in its proper place;
is it a sufficient answer, not to take any notice of it ? The reason why I put this question is, because if this be a rule in controversy, I humbly conceive, I might have passed over the greatest part of what your lordship has said to me, because the disposition it has under numerical figures, is so far from giving me a view of the orderly connexion of the parts of
your discourse, that I have often been tempted to suspect the negligence of the printer, for misplacing your lordship’s numbers; since, so ranked as they are, they do to me, who am confounded by them, lose all order and connexion quite.
The next thing in the defence, which you go on with, is an exception to my use of the word certainty. In the close of the answer I had made in the pages you pass over, I add,“ that though the laws of disputation allow bare denials as a sufficient answer to sayings without any offer of a proof; yet, my lord, to show how willing I am to give your lordship all satisfaction in what you apprehend may be of dangerous consequence in my book, as to that article, I shall not stand still sullenly, and put your lordship upon the difficulty of showing wherein that danger lies; but shall on the
other side endeavour to show your lordship, that that definition of mine, whether true or false, right or wrong, can be of no dangerous consequence to that article of faith. The reason which I shall offer for it, is this; because it can be of no consequence to it at all.” And the reason of it was clear from what I had said before, that knowing and believing were two different acts of the mind : and that my placing of certainty in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, i. e. that my definition of knowledge, one of those acts of the mind, would not at all alter or shake the definition of faith, which was another act of the mind distinct from it. And therefore I added, “that the certainty of faith (if your lordship thinks fit to call it so) has nothing to do with the certainty of knowledge. And to talk of the certainty of faith, seems all one to me, as to talk of the knowledge of believing; a way of speaking not easy to me to understand.”
These and other words to this purpose in the following paragraphs your lordship lays hold on, and sets down as liable to no small exception : though, as you tell me, “ the main strength of my defence lies in it.” Let what strength you please lie in it, my defence was strong enough without it. For to your bare saying, “my method of certainty might be of dangerous consequence to any article of the Christian faith,” without proving it, it was a defence strong enough' barely to deny, and put you upon showing wherein that danger lies; which therefore, this main strength of my defence, as you call it, apart, I insist on.
But as to your exception to what I said on this occasion, it consists in this, that there is a certainty of faith, and therefore you set down my saying, “ that to talk of the certainty of faith, seems all one as to talk of the knowledge of believing;" as that “which shows the inconsistency of my notion of ideas with the articles of the Christian faith.” These are your words here, and yet you tell me, “ that it is not my way of ideas, but my way of certainty by ideas, that your lordship is unsatisfied about.” “What must I do now in the case, when your words are expressly, that my notion of ideas have an inconsistency with the articles of the Christian
faith? Must I presume that your lordship means my notion of certainty? All that I can do is to search out your meaning the best I can, and then show where I
apprehend it not conclusive. But this uncertainty, in most places, what you mean, makes me so much work, that a great deal is omitted, and yet my answer is too long.
Your lordship asks in the next paragraph,“ how comes the certainty of faith to be so hard a point with me?" Answer. I suppose you ask this question more to give others hard thoughts of my opinion of faith, than to be informed yourself. For you cannot be ignorant that all along in my Essay I use certainty for knowledge; so that for you to ask me,“ how comes the certainty of faith to become so hard a point with me?” is the same thing as for you to ask, how comes the knowledge of faith, or, if you please, the knowledge of believing, to be so hard a point with me ? A question which, I suppose, you will think needs no answer, let your meaning in that doubtful phrase be what it will.
I used in my book the term certainty for knowledge so generally, that nobody that has read my book, though much less attentively than your lordship, can doubt of it. That I used it in that sense there, I shall refer my reader but to two places amongst many to convince him*. This, I am sure, your lordship could not be ignorant of, that by certainty I mean knowledge, since I have so used it in my letters to you, instances whereof are not a few; some of them may be found in the places marked in the margent: and in my second letter, what I say in the leaf immediately preceding that which you quote upon this occasion, would have put it past a possibility for any one to make show of a doubt of it, had not that been amongst those pages of my answer which, for its being out of its proper place, it seems you were resolved not to take notice of; and therefore I hope it will not be besides my purpose here to mind you of it again.
After having said something to show why I used certainty and knowledge for the same thing, I added, " that your lordship could not but take notice of this in
* B. 4. c. 1. $ 1, and c. 11. $ 9.
the 18th sect. of chap. iv. of my fourth book, it being a passage you had quoted, and runs thus: Wherever we perceive the agreement or disagreement of any of our ideas, there is certain knowledge; and wherever we are sure those ideas agree with the reality of things, there is certain real knowledge: of which having given the marks, I think I have shown wherein certainty, real certainty, consists." And I farther add, in the immediately following words, “ that my definition of knowledge, in the beginning of the fourth book of my Essay, stands thus: Knowledge seems to be nothing but the perception of the connexion, and agreement or disgreement, and repugnancy of any of our ideas.” Which is the very definition of certainty that your lordship is here contesting.
Since then you could not but know that in this discourse certainty with me stood for, or was the same thing with knowledge; may not one justly wonder how you come to ask me such a question as this, "how comes the knowledge of believing to become so hard a point with me?" For that was in effect the question that you asked, when you put in the term certainty, since you knew as undoubtedly that I meant knowledge by certainty, as that I meant believing by faith; i.e. you could doubt of neither. And that you did not doubt of it, is plain from what you say in the next page, where you endeavour to prove this an improper way of speaking: .
Whether it be a proper way of speaking, I allow it to be a fair question. But when you knew what I meant, though I expressed it improperly, to put questions in a word of mine, used in a sense different from mine, which could not but be apt to insinuate to the reader, that my notion of certainty derogated from the waypocopia or full assurance of faith, as the Scripture calls it; is what I guess, in another, would make your lordship ask again, “is this fair and ingenuous dealing ?”
My lord, my Bible expresses the highest degree of faith, which the apostle recommended to believers in his time, by full assurance*. But assurance of faith, though it be what assurance soever, will by no means down with
* Heb. x. 22.