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other things, as well as the immateriality of the spirit in us, wherein this way does not bring us to a certainty; unless, at the same time, your lordship shall show us another way that will bring us to a certainty in those points, wherein this way of ideas failed. If your lordship, or anybody else, will show me a better way to a certainty in them, I am ready to learn, and will say by that of ideas. The way of ideas will not, from philosophy, afford us a demonstration, that the thinking substance in us is immaterial. Whereupon your lordship asks, “ and is not this an admirable way to bring us to a certainty of reason ?” The way of argument which your lordship opposes to the way of ideas, will, I humbly conceive, from philosophy, as little afford us a demonstration, that the thinking substance in us is immaterial. Whereupon, may not any one likewise ask, “ and is not this an admirable way to bring us to a certainty of reason ?" Is any way, I beseech your lordship, to be condemned as an ill way to bring us to certainty, demonstrative certainty, because it brings us not to it in a point where reason cannot attain to such certainty? Algebra is a way to bring us to certainty in mathematics; but must it be presently condemned as an ill way, because there are some questions in mathematics, which a man cannot come to certainty in by the way of Algebra?
In page 247, after having set down several confessions of mine,“ of the shortness of human understanding,” your lordship adds these words : “ I appeal now to the reason of mankind, whether it can be any reasonable foundation for rejecting a doctrine proposed to us as a divine revelation, because we cannot comprehend the manner of it; especially when it relates to the divine essence." And I beseech you, my lord, where did I ever say so, or any thing like it? And
yet it is impossible for any reader but to imagine, that that proposition which your lordship appeals to the reason of mankind against, is a proposition of mine, which your lordship is confuting out of confessions of my own, great numbers whereof stand quoted out of my Essay, in several pages of your lordship’s book, both
before and after this your lordship's appeal to the reason of mankind. And now I must appeal to your lordship, whether you find any such proposition in my book? If your lordship does not, I too must then appeal to the reason of mankind, whether it be reasonable for your lordship to bring so many confessions out of to confute a proposition that is nowhere in it? There is, no doubt, reason for it; which since your lordship does not, that I see, declare, and I have not wit enough to discover, I shall therefore leave to the reason of mankind to find out.
Your lordship has, in this part of your discourse, spoke very much of reason; as,—“ is not this an admirable way to bring us to a certainty of reason ?And therefore it is a vain thing in any to pretend, that all our reason and certainty is founded on clear and distinct ideas.-I appeal now to the reason of mankind.-I am yet upon the certainty of our reason.The certainty is not placed in the idea, but in good and sound reason.-Allowing the argument to be good, yet it is not taken from the idea, but from principles of true reason.”
What your lordship says at the beginning of this chapter, in these words, “ we must consider what we understand by reason,” made me hope I should here find what your lordship understands by reason explained, that so I might rectify my notion of it, and might be able to avoid the obscurity and confusion which very much perplex most of the discourses, wherein it is appealed to or from as judge. But notwithstanding the explication I flattered myself with the hopes of, from what I thought your lordship had promised, I find no other account of reason, but in quotations out of others, which your lordship justly blames. Had I been so happy as to have been enlightened in this point by your lordship's learned pen, so as to have seen distinctly what your lordship understands by reason, I should possibly have excused myself from giving your lordship the trouble of these papers, and been able to have perceived, without applying myself any farther to your lordship, how so much of my Essay came into a
chapter, which was designed to answer “ objections against the Trinity, in point of reason.” It follows:
“But I go yet farther: and as I have already showed, we can have no certainty of an immaterial substance within us, from these simple ideas; so I shall now show, that there can be no sufficient evidence brought from them, by their own confession, concerning the existence of the most spiritual and infinite substance, even God himself.” And then your lordship goes on to give an account of my proof of a God: which your lordship closes with these words :
“ That which I design is to show, that the certainty of it is not placed upon any clear and distinct ideas, but upon the force of reason distinct from it; which was the thing I intended to prove.'
If this be the thing your lordship designed, I am then at a loss who your lordship designed it against : for I do not remember that I have any where said, that we could not be convinced by reason of any truth, but where all the ideas concerned in that conviction were clear and distinct; for knowledge and certainty, in my opinion, lies in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, such as they are, and not always in having perfectly clear and distinct ideas. Though those, I must own, the clearer and more distinct they are, contribute very much to our more clear and distinct reasoning and discoursing about them. But in some cases we may have certainty about obscure ideas; v.g. by the clear idea of thinking in me, I find the agreement of the clear idea of existence, and the obscure idea of a substance in me, because I perceive the necessary idea of thinking, and the relative idea of a support; which support, without having any clear and distinct idea of what it is, beyond this relative one of a support, I call substance.
If your lordship intended this against another, who has said, “clear and distinct ideas are the sole matter and foundation of all our reasoning;” it seems very strange to me, that your lordship should intend it against one, and quote the words of another. For above ten pages before, your lordship had quoted nothing but my book; and in the immediate preceding paragraph bring
a large quotation out of the tenth section of the tenth chapter of my fourth book; of which your lordship says, " this is the substance of the argument used, to prove an infinite spiritual being, which I am far from weakening the force of; but that which I design is to show, that the certainty of it is not placed upon clear and distinct ideas." Whom now, I beseech your lordship, can this be understood to be intended against, but me? For how can my using an argument, whose certainty is not placed upon clear and distinct ideas, prove any thing against another man, who says, “ that clear and distinct ideas are the sole matter and foundation of all our reasoning ?” This proves only against him that uses the argument; and therefore either I must be supposed here to hold that clear and distinct ideas are the sole matter and foundation of all our reasoning, (which I do not remember that I ever said) or else that your lordship here proves against nobody.
But though I do not remember that I have anywhere said, that clear and distinct ideas are the sole matter and foundation of all our reasoning ; yet I do own, that simple ideas are the foundations of all our knowledge, if that be it which your lordship questions: and therefore I must think myself concerned in what your lordship says in this very place, in these words“Ishall now show, that there can be no sufficient evidence brought from these simple ideas, by their own confession, concerning the existence of God himself.”
This being spoken in the plural number, cannot be understood to be meant of the author of Christianity not mysterious, and nobody else: and whom can any reader reasonably apply it to, but the author of the Essay of Human Understanding; since, besides that it stands in the midst of a great many quotations out of that book, without any other person being named, or any one's words but mine quoted, my proof alone of a Deity is brought out of that book, to make good what your lordship here says; and nobody else is anywhere mentioned or quoted concerning it?
The same way of speaking of the persons you are arguing against in the plural number, your lordship uses
in other places; as, “which they may call a complication of simple ideas, if they please.”
“ We do not envy these pretenders to reason; but methinks they should not at the same time assert the absolute necessity of these ideas to our knowledge, and declare that we may have certain knowledge without them.” And all along in that page, “they.” And in the very next page my words being quoted, your lordship asks,“ how can that be, when the same persons say, that notwithstanding their ideas, it is impossible for matter to think?" So that I do not see how I can exempt myself from being meant to be one of those pretenders to reason, wherewith we can be cer. tain without any foundation of reason, which your lordship, in the immediate foregoing page, does not envy for this new sort of certainty. How can it be understood but that I am one of those persons, that “ at the same time assert the absolute necessity of these ideas to our knowledge, and declare that we may
have certain knowledge without them ?” Though your lordship very civilly says, “ that you must do that right to the ingenious author of the Essay of Human Understanding (from whence these notions are borrowed, to serve other purposes than he intended them) that,” &c. yet, methinks it is the author himself, and his use of these notions, that is blamed and argued against; but still in the plural number, which he confesses himself not to understand.
My lord, if your lordship can show me where I pretend to reason or certainty, without any foundation of reason; or where it is I assert the absolute necessity of any ideas to our knowledge, and declare that we may have certain knowledge without them, your lordship will do me a great favour: for this, I grant, is a new sort of certainty which I long to be rid of, and to disown to the world. But truly, my lord, as I pretended to no new sort of certainty, but just such as human understanding was possessed of before I was born; and should be glad I could get more out of the books and writings that come abroad in my days: so, my lord, if I have anywhere pretended to any new sort of certainty, I beseech