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in his Principles, where he briefly lays it down after Chap. this manner: That among the several ideas of our minds, we find one of a Being infinitely perfect in wis- Princip. dom and power, which hath not a contingent, but a necessary existence; which being contained in the idea, it follows that such a Being actually exists. Des Cartes, in his fifth Meditation, confesses, That at first appearance this looks like a piece of sophistry; but he saith, that, upon consideration, necessary existence doth as much belong to an infinite, perfect Being, as three angles do to a triangle. But he objects against his own argument, that our thoughts put no necessity upon things; as if I conceive a mountain, I must likewise conceive a valley ; but it doth not follow that there is a mountain existing. But, saith he, the difference is, that in this case there is no necessity of a mountain's existing, but only that a mountain and valley cannot be separated; but in the other, it is not our thought makes necessary existence to belong to God, but the nature of the thing makes that thought necessary. For, saith he, I can frame no other idea that hath necessary existence besides, nor can I make more than one God who hath it; which shews that it is no arbitrary or fictitious idea. But Gassendus and others say, that all this is a paralogism, because it supposes that which it should prove, viz. that God exists, which was the thing in question; and withal they say, it is a piece of sophistry to argue from the idea in the mind to the existence of the thing out of the mind. And this is the main thing which Mons. Huet insists upon; for he saith, This argument proves no more, than Huet. Centhat a most perfect Being must necessarily exist in
soph. that way in which it doth exist: if it relates to the idea, then it necessarily exists only in the mind; if it relates to the thing, then it really exists out
C. 4. n. 8.
BOOK of the mind; but the argument doth not hold from
one to the other. To this Mons. Regis answers, That Répouse à la Cens. ch. those things which are said only to exist in the mind, iv. p. 233, have their foundation out of the mind; as a Syren,
from the ideas of a fish and a woman joined together : and so other chimeras are formed from joining things in the mind, which nature hath not joined; for a man cannot have an idea of nothing. But in the idea of a perfect Being he cannot distinguish that which is in the mind, and that which is out of the mind. And that here is no taking that for granted which ought to be proved; but it is only arguing from the nature of the thing; and not first supposing it to be, and thence proving that it is. For it is as much of the nature of a perfect Being to have necessary existence, as of the nature of a triangle to have three angles.
And thus the matter stands as to this argument; so that whatsoever force there is in it, we plainly see that persons of great sagacity and judgment suspect that there is something in it of the nature of a paralogism. And therefore there can be no reason why we should quit the former arguments, which were plain and obvious to all capacities, for such a metaphysical demonstration, which those who are most versed in demonstrations will not allow. Let the followers of Des Cartes magnify and defend this argument as well as they can; but let them not despise and reject all others, which have had the approbation of all ages, and the wisest persons in them; and that upon such frivolous pretences, that we cannot comprehend all the ends of
Divine wisdom. Boyleof Fi. But Des Cartes, in an Epistle mentioned by Mr. nal. Causes, Boyle, saith, That it is a childish and absurd thing to
affirm in metaphysics, that God, like a proud man, had no other end in building the world but to be
praised by men; or in making the sun, which is so CHAP. much bigger than the earth, but only to give light to mankind, who take up so small a part of it. Which is an expression not at all becoming the reverence due to the great Creator of the world, from any one that doth acknowledge him truly to be so. For the objection, if it be any, lies against his making the world at all: since it may as well be said to be like a proud prince, only to shew the greatness of his power
and wisdom. But what is it which such men would have? Can they imagine the world should be made without any ends at all? Is that becoming the wisdom of the Maker? Or would they not have these ends to be known? To what purpose are great and noble ends designed, if they are not to be understood ? And by whom can they be understood, but by rational and intelligent beings? It is a great presumption in mankind to pretend to know all the ends which the wise Creator had in the vast fabric of the universe ; for some of the great parts of it are almost wholly unknown to us; I mean as to the fixed stars, every one of which, of the first magnitude, is said to be above a hundred times in bigness beyond the globe of the earth; and yet how small do they appear to us! And in those other celestial bodies, which we can hardly discern without the help of glasses of a late invention: and we are told by skilful astronomers, that there are many stars not visible even with the help of telescopes; and that they rather lessen than add to the greatness of the fixed stars. But if they had given us a fuller view of them, we cannot imagine that God's great ends could depend upon such way of discovery. If all his design had been to be admired by mankind for the greatness of his work, it would have been placed more within our reach, and the earth we live upon would have borne some bigger
BOOK proportion to the celestial bodies, which is concluded
to be but a point in comparison of the starry heaven; and the very orb of the sun is thought to be no more in respect of the whole firmament. So that the main parts of the universe cannot be said to be made for our view. We grant, therefore, that the infinitely wise and powerful Creator hath great and glorious ends, which are above our reach; but how doth it follow from hence, that he hath no ends which we can judge of? For even in those things which we discern at so great a distance, we see enough to admire the infinite Majesty of him that made them; and consequently to adore and fear him: and whatever other ends he
may have which we cannot see into, yet this is the best and most proper end for us with respect to him. Other ends might satisfy our curiosity more; but this tends most to promote our true happiness. As I have shewed in the precedent discourse, that the wisest philosophers, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and the Pythagoreans, all agreed, upon principles of natural reason, that the true happiness of mankind lay in being made like to God, not in an affectation of greatness and power, but in goodness and true wisdom; which lay in the knowledge of God, and a temper of mind suitable to our apprehensions of him. Now if those ends be attainable by such discoveries, which God hath made of himself in the works of creation, it is to little purpose for any to pretend that we cannot know the particular ends which he had in making such a number of vast bodies of light in the heavens, nor why they are placed in such a manner, and at so great a distance from us; nor whether the space between be wholly void, or filled up with an ethereal matter; nor of what use those several bodies of the stars are with respect to themselves, or the rest of the universe. Supposing that we are to seek as to these,
and many other things relating to the visible frame of CHAP. the world, must we therefore cease to admire and praise the great God, the Maker of all, lest we should seem to flatter him for his greatness and power ? There is doubtless a just veneration due to an infinite Majesty, in what way soever he shews himself: but it is too mean a thing to imagine that these things were done by him only to be admired and praised by his own creatures : but if such an admiration tends to beget in them a greater and deeper sense of his wisdom, power, and goodness, and that be the best and most effectual means to bring mankind to a constant fear and love of him, and thereby to fit them for a future happiness, can any man of sense think this to be an end unbecoming the Creator of the world ?
But these are said to be good moral ends; but not proper for physical speculations. I answer, That those are truly the most philosophical contemplations, which lead us to the best and most noble ends of our being; for this was of old looked on as the truest end of philosophy, and the first occasion of it. For it is agreed on all hands, that it had its name from Pythagoras : and it is very well observed by St. Augustin, that the doctrine of the soul's immortality gave the first Aug. ad
Volus. Ep. occasion to the Greeks to apply themselves to philoso- tom. ii. phy: and from hence Pythagoras began it: who was ed. Par. instructed therein by his masters Thales and Pherecydes; and after long travels into several countries for his own satisfaction, he at last fixed at Crotone in Italy, and there took upon him to instruct others in the way to immortality : but finding great reason to mistrust many who came to be his scholars, he set up a very severe discipline in his school, (which proved his ruin at last,) and would admit none but such as he had sufficiently tried. But when he was asked by one of