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John Locke, The Works of John Locke, vol. 3 (Letters to Bishop of Worcester) [1696]

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John Locke, The Works of John Locke in Nine Volumes, (London: Rivington, 1824 12th ed.). Vol. 3. http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/1724

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Locke’s responses to criticism of his Essay of Human Understanding by the Bishop of Worcester.

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THE WORKS of JOHN LOCKE,
IN NINE VOLUMES.
THE TWELFTH EDITION.
VOLUME THE THIRD.
LONDON:
printed for c. and j. rivington; t. egerton; j. cuthell; j. and a. arch; longman and co; t. cadell; j. richardson; j. and w. t. clarke; j. mawman; baynes and son; harding and co.; baldwin and co.; harvey and darton; r. scholey; j. bohn; j. collingwood; t. tegg; g. and w. b. whittaker; g. mackie; w. mason; hurst, robinson, and co.; j. hearne; j. brumby; simpkin and marshall; s. prowett; w. pickering; r. saunders; j. parker, oxford; and stirling and slade, edinburgh.
1824.
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C. Baldwin, Printer,

New Bridge Street, London.

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CONTENTS OF THIS VOLUME.

  • A LETTER to the Right Rev. Edward Lord Bishop of Worcester, concerning some Passages relating to Mr. Locke’s Essay of Human Understanding, in a late Discourse of his Lordship’s in Vindication of the Trinity. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . page 1
  • Mr. Locke’s Reply to the Bishop of Worcester’s Answer to his Letter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97
  • An Answer to Remarks upon an Essay concerning Human Understanding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 186
  • Mr. Locke’s Reply to the Bishop of Worcester’s Answer to his second Letter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 191
  • Index.
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A LETTER TO THE RIGHT REVEREND EDWARD, LORD BISHOP OF WORCESTER, CONCERNING SOME PASSAGES RELATING TO MR. LOCKE’S ESSAY OF HUMAN UNDERSTANDING.
IN A LATE DISCOURSE OF HIS LORDSHIP’S, IN VINDICATION OF THE TRINITY.

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John Locke
Locke, John
Oates
Jan. 7, 1696-7
Edward
Edward
my lord,

I cannot but look upon it as a great honour, that your lordship, who are so thoroughly acquainted with the incomparable writings of antiquity, and know so well how to entertain yourself with the great men in the commonwealth of letters, should at any time take into your hand my mean papers; and so far bestow any of your valuable minutes on my Essay of Human Understanding, as to let the world see you have thought my notions worth your lordship’s consideration. My aim in that, as well as every thing else written by me, being purely to follow truth as far as I could discover it, I think myself beholden to whoever shows me my mistakes, as to one who, concurring in my design, helps me forward in my way.

Your lordship has been pleased to favour me with some thoughts of yours in this kind, in your late learned “Discourse, in Vindication of the Doctrine of the Edition: current; Page: [4] Trinity;” and, I hope, I may say, have gone a little out of your way to do me that kindness; for the obligation is thereby the greater. And if your lordship has brought in the mention of my book in a chapter, intitled, “Objections against the Trinity, in Point of Reason, answered;” when, in my whole Essay, I think there is not to be found any thing like an objection against the Trinity: I have the more to acknowledge to your lordship, who would not let the foreignness of the subject hinder your lordship from endeavouring to set me right, as to some errours your lordship apprehends in my book; when other writers using some notions like mine, gave you that which was occasion enough for you to do me the favour to take notice of what you dislike in my Essay.

Your lordship’s name is of so great authority in the learned world, that I who profess myself more ready, upon conviction, to recant, than I was at first to publish, my mistakes, cannot pay that respect is due to it, without telling the reasons why I still retain any of my notions, after your lordship’s having appeared dissatisfied with them. This must be my apology, and I hope such a one as your lordship will allow, for my examining what you have printed against several passages in my book, and my showing the reasons why it has not prevailed with me to quit them.

That your lordship’s reasonings may lose none of their force by my misapprehending or misrepresenting them (a way too familiarly used in writings that have any appearance of controversy), I shall crave leave to give the reader your lordship’s arguments in the full strength of your own expressions; that so in them he may have the advantage to see the deficiency of my answers, in any point where I shall be so unfortunate as not to perceive, or not to follow, the light your lordship affords me.

Your lordship having in the two or three preceding pages, justly, as I think, found fault with the account of reason, given by the Unitarians and a late writer, in those passages you quote out of them; and then coming to the nature of substance, and relating what that author has Edition: current; Page: [5] said concerning the mind’s getting of simple ideas, and those simple ideas being the sole matter and foundation of all our reasonings; your lordship thus concludes,

“Then it follows, that we can have no foundation of reasoning, where there can be no such ideas from sensation or reflection.”

“Now this is the case of substance; it is not intromitted by the senses, nor depends upon the operation of the mind; and so it cannot be within the compass of our reason. And therefore I do not wonder, that the gentlemen of this new way of reasoning have almost discarded substance out of the reasonable part of the world. For they not only tell us, &c.”

This, as I remember, is the first place where your lordship is pleased to quote any thing out of my “Essay of Human Understanding,” which your lordship does in these words following:

“That we can have no idea of it by sensation or reflection: but that nothing is signified by it, only an uncertain supposition of we know not what.” And therefore it is paralleled, more than once, with the Indian philosopher’s “He-knew-not-what; which supported the tortoise, that supported the elephant, that supported the earth: so substance was found out only to support accidents. And that when we talk of substances, we talk like children; who, being asked a question about somewhat which they knew not, readily give this satisfactory answer, that it is something.”

These words of mine your lordship brings to prove, that I am one of “the gentlemen of this new way of reasoning, that have almost discarded substance out of the reasonable part of the world.” An accusation which your lordship will pardon me, if I do not readily know what to plead to, because I do not understand what is “almost to discard substance out of the reasonable part of the world.” If your lordship means by it, that I deny or doubt that there is in the world any such thing as substance, that your lordship will acquit me of, when your lordship looks again into that Edition: current; Page: [6] chapter, which you have cited more than once, where your lordship will find these words:Human understanding, B. ii. c. 23.§ 4. “When we talk or think of any particular sort of corporeal substances, as horse, stone, &c. though the idea we have of either of them be but the complication or collection of those several simple ideas of sensible qualities which we used to find united in the thing called horse or stone; yet because we cannot conceive how they should subsist alone, nor one in another, we suppose them existing in, and supported by some common subject, which support we denote by the name substance; though it be certain we have no clear and distinct idea of that thing we suppose a support.” And again,

§ 5.“The same happens concerning the operations of the mind, viz. thinking, reasoning, fearing, &c. which we considering not to subsist of themselves, nor apprehending how they can belong to body, or be produced by it, we are apt to think these the actions of some other substance, which we call spirit: whereby yet it is evident, that having no other idea or notion of matter, but something wherein those many sensible qualities which affect our senses, do subsist; by supposing a substance, wherein thinking, knowing, doubting, and a power of moving, &c. do subsist, we have as clear a notion of the nature or substance of spirit, as we have of body; the one being supposed to be (without knowing what it is) the substratum to those simple ideas we have from without; and the other supposed (with a like ignorance of what it is) to be the substratum to those operations, which we experiment in ourselves within.” And again,

§ 6.“Whatever therefore be the secret nature of substance in general, all the ideas we have of particular distinct substances are nothing but several combinations of simple ideas, co-existing in such, though unknown, cause of their union, as makes the whole subsist of itself.”

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And I further say in the same section, “That we suppose these combinations to rest in, and to be adherent to that unknown, common subject, which inheres not in any thing else. And that our complex ideas of substances, besides all those simple ideas they are made up of, have always the confused idea of something to which they belong, and in which they subsist: and therefore when we speak of any sort of substance, we say it is a thing having such and such qualities; a body is a thing that is extended, figured, and capable of motion; a spirit, a thing capable of thinking.”

These, and the like fashions of speaking, intimate, that the substance is supposed always something, besides the extension, figure, solidity, motion, thinking, or other observable idea, though we know not what it is.

B. ii. c. 23.§ 22.“Our idea of body, I say, is an extended, solid substance; and our idea of our souls is of a substance that thinks.” So that as long as there is any such thing as body or spirit in the world, I have done nothing towards the discarding substance out of the reasonable part of the world. Nay, as long as there is any simple idea or sensible quality left, according to my way of arguing, substance cannot be discarded; because all simple ideas, all sensible qualities, carry with them a supposition of a substratum to exist in, and of a substance wherein they inhere: and of this that whole chapter is so full, that I challenge any one who reads it to think I have almost, or one jot discarded substance out of the reasonable part of the world. And of this man, horse, sun, water, iron, diamond, &c. which I have mentioned of distinct sorts of substances, will be my witnesses as long as any such thing remains in being;B. ii. c. 12.§ 6. of which I say, “that the ideas of substances are such combinations of simple ideas, as are taken to represent distinct, particular things, subsisting by themselves, in which the supposed or confused idea of substance is always the first and chief.”

If by almost discarding substance out of the reasonable part of the world your lordship means, that I have destroyed, Edition: current; Page: [8] and almost discarded the true idea we have of it,B. ii. c. 23.§ 1.§ 2.§ 3.B. ii. c. 13.§ 19. by calling it “a substratum, a supposition of we know not what support of such qualities as are capable of producing simple ideas in us; an obscure and relative idea: that without knowing what it is, it is that which supports accidents; so that of substance we have no idea of what it is, but only a confused and obscure one, of what it does;” I must confess this, and the like I have said of our idea of substance; and should be very glad to be convinced by your lordship, or any body else, that I have spoken too meanly of it. He that would show me a more clear and distinct idea of substance, would do me a kindness I should thank him for. But this is the best I can hitherto find, either in my own thoughts, or in the books of logicians: for their account or idea of it is, that it is “Ens,” or “res per se subsistens et substans accidentibus;” which in effect is no more, but that substance is a being or thing; or, in short, something they know not what, or of which they have no clearer idea, than that it is something which supports accidents, or other simple ideas or modes, and is not supported itself as a mode or an accident. So that I do not see but Burgersdicius, Sanderson, and the whole tribe of logicians, must be reckoned with “the gentlemen of this new way of reasoning, who have almost discarded substance out of the reasonable part of the world.”

But supposing, my lord, that I, or these gentlemen, logicians of note in the schools, should own, that we have a very imperfect, obscure, inadequate idea of substance; would it not be a little too hard to charge us with discarding substance out of the world? For what almost discarding, and reasonable part of the world, signify, I must confess I do not clearly comprehend: but let almost, and reasonable part, signify here what they will, for I dare say your lordship meant something by them, would not your lordship think you were a little too hardly dealt with, if for acknowledging yourself to have a very imperfect and inadequate idea of God, or of several other things which, in this very treatise, you Edition: current; Page: [9] confess our understandings come short in and cannot comprehend, you should be accused to be one of these gentlemen that have almost discarded God, or those other mysterious things, whereof you contend we have very imperfect and inadequate ideas, out of the reasonable world? For I suppose your lordship means by almost discarding out of the reasonable world something that is blameable, for it seems not to be inserted for a commendation; and yet I think he deserves no blame, who owns the having imperfect, inadequate, obscure ideas, where he has no better: however, if it be inferred from thence, that either he almost excludes those things out of being, or out of rational discourse, if that be meant by the reasonable world; for the first of these will not hold, because the being of things in the world depends not on our ideas: the latter indeed is true, in some degree, but is no fault; for it is certain, that where we have imperfect, inadequate, confused, obscure ideas, we cannot discourse and reason about those things so well, fully, and clearly, as if we had perfect, adequate, clear and distinct ideas.

Your lordship, I must own, with great reason, takes notice that I paralleled, more than once, our idea of substance with the Indian philosopher’s he-knew-not-what, which supported the tortoise, &c.

This repetition is, I confess, a fault in exact writing: but I have acknowledged and excused it in these words in my preface, “I am not ignorant how little I herein consult my own reputation, when I knowingly let my Essay go with a fault so apt to disgust the most judicious, who are always the nicest readers.” And there further add, “that I did not publish my Essay for such great masters of knowledge as your lordship; but fitted it to men of my own size, to whom repetitions might be sometimes useful.” It would not therefore have been besides your lordship’s generosity (who were not intended to be provoked by the repetition) to have passed by such a fault as this, in one who pretends not beyond the lower rank of writers. But I see your lordship would have me exact and without any faults; and I Edition: current; Page: [10] wish I could be so, the better to deserve your lordship’s approbation.

My saying, “that when we talk of substance, we talk like children; who being asked a question about something, which they know not, readily give this satisfactory answer, that it is something;” your lordship seems mightily to lay to heart, in these words that follow:

“If this be the truth of the case, we must still talk like children, and I know not how it can be remedied. For if we cannot come at a rational idea of substance, we can have no principle of certainty to go upon in this debate.”

If your lordship has any better and distincter idea of substance than mine is, which I have given an account of, your lordship is not at all concerned in what I have there said. But those whose idea of substance, whether a rational or not rational idea, is like mine, something he-knows-not-what, must in that, with me, talk like children, when they speak of something they know not what. For a philosopher that says, that which supports accidents is something he-knows-not-what; and a country-man that says, the foundation of the church at Harlem is supported by something he-knows-not-what; and a child that stands in the dark upon his mother’s muff, and says he stands upon something he-knows-not-what; in this respect talk all three alike. But if the country-man knows, that the foundation of the church at Harlem is supported by a rock, as the houses about Bristol are; or by gravel, as the houses about London are; or by wooden piles, as the houses in Amsterdam are; it is plain, that then having a clear and distinct idea of the thing that supports the church, he does not talk of this matter as a child; nor will he of the support of accidents, when he has a clearer and more distinct idea of it, than that it is barely something. But as long as we think like children, in cases where our ideas are no clearer nor distincter than theirs, I agree with your lordship, that I know not how it can be remedied, but that we must talk like them.

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Your lordship’s next paragraph begins thus: “I do not say, that we can have a clear idea of substance, either by sensation or reflection; but from hence I argue, that this is a very insufficient distribution of the ideas necessary to reason.”

Your lordship here argues against a proposition that I know nobody that holds: I am sure the author of the Essay of Human Understanding never thought, nor in that Essay hath any where said, that the ideas that come into the mind by sensation and reflection, are all the ideas that are necessary to reason, or that reason is exercised about; for then he must have laid by all the ideas of simple and mixed modes and relations, and the complex ideas of the species of substances, about which he has spent so many chapters; and must have denied that these complex ideas are the objects of men’s thoughts or reasonings, which he is far enough from. All that he has said about sensation and reflection is, that all our simple ideas are received by them, and that these simple ideas are the foundation of all our knowledge, for as much as all our complex, relative, and general ideas are made by the mind, abstracting, enlarging, comparing, compounding, and referring, &c. these simple ideas, and their several combinations, one to another; whereby complex and general ideas are formed of modes, relations, and the several species of substances, all which are made use of by reason, as well as the other faculties of the mind.

I therefore agree with your lordship, that the ideas of sensation or reflection is a very insufficient distribution of the ideas necessary to reason. Only my agreement with your lordship had been more intire to the whole sentence, if your lordship had rather said, ideas made use of by reason; because I do not well know what is meant by ideas necessary to reason. For reason being a faculty of the mind, nothing, in my poor opinion, can properly be said to be necessary to that faculty, but what is required to its being. As nothing is necessary to sight in a man, but such a constitution of the body and organ, that a man may have the power of seeing; so I submit it to your lordship, whether any thing can properly be Edition: current; Page: [12] said to be necessary to reason in a man, but such a constitution of body or mind, or both, as may give him the power of reasoning. Indeed such a particular sort of objects or instruments may be sometimes said to be necessary to the eye, but it is never said in reference to the faculty of seeing, but in reference to some particular end of seeing; and then a microscope and a mite may be necessary to the eye, if the end proposed be to know the shape and parts of that animal. And so if a man would reason about substance, then the idea of substance is necessary to his reason: but yet I doubt not but that many a rational creature has been, who, in all his life, never bethought himself of any necessity his reason had of an idea of substance.

Your lordship’s next words are; “for besides these, there must be some general ideas which the mind doth form, not by mere comparing those ideas it has got from sense or reflection, but by forming distinct general notions of things from particular ideas.”

Here, again, I perfectly agree with your lordship, that besides the particular ideas received from sensation and reflection, the mind “forms general ideas, not by mere comparing those ideas it has got by sensation and reflection;” for this I do not remember I ever said. But this I say,B. iii. c. 3.§ 6. “ideas become general, by separating from them the circumstances of time and place, and any other ideas that may determine them to this or that particular existence. By this way of abstraction they are made,B. i. c. 11.§ 9. &c.” And to the same purpose I explain myself in another place.

Your lordship says, “the mind forms general ideas, by forming general notions of things from particular ideas.” And I say, the mind forms general ideas, “abstracting from particular ones.” So that there is no difference that I perceive between us in this matter, but only a little in expression.

It follows, “and amongst these general notions, or rational ideas, substance is one of the first; because we find, that we can have no true conceptions of any modes or accidents (no matter which) but we must Edition: current; Page: [13] conceive a substratum, or subject wherein they are. Since it is a repugnancy to our first conceptions of things, that modes or accidents should subsist by themselves; and therefore the rational idea of substance is one of the first and most natural ideas in our minds.”

Whether the general idea of substance be one of the first or most natural ideas in our minds, I will not dispute with your lordship, as not being, I think, very material to the matter in hand. But as to the idea of substance, what it is, and how we come by it, your lordship says, “it is a repugnancy to our conceptions of things, that modes and accidents should subsist by themselves; and therefore we must conceive a substratum wherein they are.”B. ii. c. 23.§ 4. And, I say, “because we cannot conceive how simple ideas of sensible qualities should subsist alone, or one in another, we suppose them existing in, and supported by, some common subject.”§ 1. Which I, with your lordship, call also substratum.

What can be more consonant to itself, than what your lordship and I have said in these two passages is consonant to one another? Whereupon, my lord, give me leave, I beseech you, to boast to the world, that what I have said concerning our general idea of substance, and the way how we come by it, has the honour to be confirmed by your lordship’s authority. And that from hence I may be sure the saying, [that the general idea we have of substance is, that it is a substratum or support to modes or accidents, wherein they do subsist: and that the mind forms it, because it cannot conceive how they should subsist of themselves,] has no objection in it against the Trinity; for then your lordship will not, I know, be of that opinion, nor own it in a chapter where you are answering objections against the Trinity; however my words, which amount to no more, have been (I know not how) brought into that chapter: though what they have to do there, I must confess to your lordship, I do not yet see.

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In the next words your lordship says, “but we are still told, that our understanding can have no other ideas but either from sensation or reflection.”

B. ii. c. 1.§ 5.The words of that section your lordship quotes, are these: “the understanding seems to me, not to have the least glimmering of any ideas, which it doth not receive from one of these two. External objects furnish the mind with the ideas of sensible qualities, which are all those different perceptions they produce in us: and the mind furnishes the understanding with ideas of its own operations. These, when we have taken a full survey of them, and their several modes, and the compositions made out of them, we shall find to contain all our own stock of ideas; and that we have nothing in our minds which did not come in one of those two ways. Let any one examine his own thoughts, and thoroughly search into his own understanding, and then let him tell me, whether all the original ideas he has there, are any other than of the objects of his senses, or of the operations of his mind, considered as objects of his reflection? and how great a mass of knowledge soever he imagines to be lodged there, he will, upon taking a strict view, see, that he has not any idea in his mind but what one of these two have imprinted, though, perhaps, with infinite variety compounded and enlarged by the understanding, as we shall see hereafter.”

These words seem to me to signify something different from what your lordship has cited out of them; and if they do not, were intended, I am sure, by me, to signify all those complex ideas of modes, relations, and specific substances, which how the mind itself forms out of simple ideas, I have showed in the following part of my book; and intended to refer to it by these words, “as we shall see hereafter,” with which I close that paragraph. But if by ideas your lordship signifies simple ideas, in the words you have set down, I grant then they contain my sense, viz. “that our understandings can have (that is, in the natural exercise of our faculties) Edition: current; Page: [15] no other simple ideas, but either from sensation or reflection.”

Your lordship goes on: “and [we are still told] that herein chiefly lies the excellency of mankind above brutes, that these cannot abstract and enlarge ideas, as men do.”

Had your lordship done me the favour to have quoted the place in my book, from whence you had taken these words, I should not have been at a loss to find them. Those in my book, which I can remember any where come nearest to them, run thus:

“This, I think, I may be positive in, that the power of abstracting is not at all in brutes; and that the having of general ideas is that which puts a perfect distinction betwixt man and brutes; and is an excellency which the faculties of brutes do by no means attain to.”B. ii. c. 11.§ 10.

Though, speaking of the faculties of the human understanding, I took occasion, by the by, to conjecture how far brutes partook with men in any of the intellectual faculties; yet it never entered into my thoughts, on that occasion, to compare the utmost perfections of human nature with that of brutes, and therefore was far from saying, “herein chiefly lies the excellency of mankind above brutes, that these cannot abstract and enlarge their ideas, as men do.” For it seems to me an absurdity I would not willingly be guilty of, to say, “that the excellency of mankind lies chiefly, or any ways in this, that brutes cannot abstract.” For brutes not being able to do any thing, cannot be any excellency of mankind. The ability of mankind does not lie in the impotency or disabilities of brutes. If your lordship had charged me to have said, that herein lies one excellency of mankind above brutes, viz. that men can, and brutes cannot abstract; I must have owned it to be my sense; but what I ought to say to what your lordship approved or disapproved of in it, I shall better understand, when I know to what purpose your lordship was pleased to cite it.

The immediately following paragraph runs thus: “but how comes the general idea of substance to be Edition: current; Page: [16] framed in our minds?” Is this by “abstracting and enlarging simple ideas?” no, “but it is by a complication of many simple ideas together:B. ii. c. 23.§ 4. because not imagining how these simple ideas can subsist by themselves, we accustom ourselves to suppose some substratum wherein they do subsist, and from whence they do result, which therefore we call substance.” And is this all indeed, that is to be said for the being of substance, “that we accustom ourselves to suppose a substratum?” Is that custom grounded upon true reason, or not? If not, then accidents or modes must subsist of themselves, and these simple ideas need no tortoise to support them: for figures and colours, &c. would do well enough for themselves, but for some fancies men have accustomed themselves to.”

Herein your lordship seems to charge me with two faults; one, that I make “the general idea of substance to be framed, not by abstracting and enlarging simple ideas, but by a complication of many simple ideas together:” the other, as if I had said, the being of substance had no other foundation but the fancies of men.

As to the first of these, I beg leave to remind your lordship, that I say in more places than one, and particularly those above quoted, where ex professo I treat of abstraction and general ideas, that they are all made by abstracting; and therefore could not be understood to mean, that that of substance was made any other way; however my pen might have slipped, or the negligence of expression, where I might have something else than the general idea of substance in view, make me seem to say so.

That I was not speaking of the general idea of substance in the passage your lordship quotes, is manifest from the title of that chapter, which is, “of the complex ideas of substance.” And the first section of it, which your lordship cites for those words you have set down, stands thus:B. ii. c. 23.§ 1. “The mind being, as I have declared, furnished with a great number of the Edition: current; Page: [17] simple ideas conveyed in by the senses, as they are found in exterior things, or by reflections on its own operations: takes notice also, that a certain number of these simple ideas go constantly together; which being presumed to belong to one thing, and words being suited to common apprehension, and made use of for quick dispatch, are called, so united in one subject, by one name; which, by inadvertency, we are apt afterward to talk of, and consider as one simple idea, which indeed is a complication of many ideas together: because, as I have said, not imagining how these simple ideas can subsist by themselves, we accustom ourselves to suppose some substratum, wherein they do subsist, and from which they do result; which therefore we call substance.”

In which words, I do not observe any that deny the general idea of substance to be made by abstraction; nor any that say, “it is made by a complication of many simple ideas together.” But speaking in that place of the ideas of distinct substances, such as man, horse, gold, &c. I say they are made up of certain combinations of simple ideas; which combinations are looked upon, each of them, as one simple idea, though they are many; and we call it by one name of substance, though made up of modes, from the custom of supposing a substratum, wherein that combination does subsist. So that in this paragraph I only give an account of the idea of distinct substances, such as oak, elephant, iron, &c. how, though they are made up of distinct complications of modes, yet they are looked on as one idea, called by one name, as making distinct sorts of substances.

But that my notion of substance in general is quite different from these, and has no such combination of simple ideas in it, is evident from the immediately following words, where I say;B. ii. c. 23.§ 2. “the idea of pure substance in general is only supposition of we know not what support of such qualities as are capable of producing simple ideas in us.” And these two I plainly distinguish all along, particularly where I say, “whatever therefore Edition: current; Page: [18] be the secret and abstract nature of substance in general,§ 6. all the ideas we have of particular distinct substances, are nothing but several combinations of simple ideas, co-existing in such, though unknown, cause of their union, as makes the whole subsist of itself.”

The other thing laid to my charge, is, as if I took the being of substance to be doubtful, or rendered it so by the imperfect and ill-grounded idea I have given of it. To which I beg leave to say, that I ground not the being, but the idea of substance, on our accustoming ourselves to suppose some substratum; for it is of the idea alone I speak there, and not of the being of substance. And having every where affirmed and built upon it, that a man is a substance; I cannot be supposed to question or doubt of the being of substance, till I can question or doubt of my own being. Further I say, “that sensation convinces us that there are solid extended substances:B. ii. c. 23.§ 29. and reflection, that there are thinking ones.” So that I think the being of substance is not shaken by what I have said: and if the idea of it should be, yet (the being of things depending not on our ideas) the being of substance would not be at all shaken by my saying, we had but an obscure imperfect idea of it, and that that idea came from our accustoming ourselves to suppose some substratum; or indeed, if I should say, we had no idea of substance at all. For a great many things may be and are granted to have a being, and be in nature, of which we have no ideas. For example; it cannot be doubted but there are distinct species of separate spirits, of which we have no distinct ideas at all: it cannot be questioned but spirits have ways of communicating their thoughts, and yet we have no idea of it at all.

The being then of substance being safe and secure, notwithstanding any thing I have said, let us see whether the idea of it be not so too. Your lordship asks, with concern, “and is this all indeed that is to be said for the being” (if your lordship please, let it be the idea) “of substance, that we accustom ourselves to suppose a substratum? Is that custom grounded Edition: current; Page: [19] upon true reason, or no?” I have said, that it is grounded upon this,B. ii. c. 23.§ 4. “that we cannot conceive how simple ideas of sensible qualities should subsist alone, and therefore we suppose them to exist in, and to be supported by, some common subject, which support we denote by the name substance.” Which I think is a true reason, because it is the same your lordship grounds the supposition of a substratum on, in this very page; even on “repugnancy to our conceptions, that modes and accidents should subsist by themselves.” So that I have the good luck here again to agree with your lordship: and consequently conclude, I have your approbation in this, that the substratum to modes or accidents, which is our idea of substance in general, is founded in this, “that we cannot conceive how modes or accidents can subsist by themselves.”

The words next following, are: “if it be grounded upon plain and evident reason, then we must allow an idea of substance, which comes not in by sensation or reflection; and so we may be certain of something which we have not by those ideas.”

These words of your lordship’s contain nothing, that I see in them, against me: for I never said that the general idea of substance comes in by sensation and reflection; or, that it is a simple idea of sensation or reflection, though it be ultimately founded in them: for it is a complex idea, made up of the general idea of something, or being, with the relation of a support to accidents. For general ideas come not into the mind by sensation or reflection, but are the creatures or inventions of the understanding, as, I think,B. iii. c. 3. I have shown; and also, how the mind makes them from ideas, which it has got by sensation and reflection: and as to the ideas of relation, how the mind forms them, and how they are derived from,B. ii. c. 25. & c. 28.§ 18. and ultimately terminate in, ideas of sensation and reflection, I have likewise shown.

But that I may not be mistaken what I mean, when I speak of ideas of sensation and reflection, as the materials of all our knowledge; give me leave, my lord, to Edition: current; Page: [20] set down a place or two out of my book, to explain myself; as, I thus speak of ideas of sensation and reflection:B. ii. c. 1.§ 5. “That these, when we have taken a full survey of them, and their several modes, and the compositions made out of them, we shall find to contain all our whole stock of ideas; and we have nothing in our minds, which did not come in one of those two ways.” This thought, in another place, I express thus:B. ii. c. 2.§ 2. “These simple ideas, the materials of all our knowledge, are suggested and furnished to the mind only by these two ways above mentioned, viz. sensation and reflection.” And again,B. ii. c. 7.§ 10. “These are the most considerable of those simple ideas which the mind has, and out of which is made all its other knowledge; all which it receives by the two forementioned ways of sensation and reflection.” And,B. ii. c. 21.§ 72. “Thus I have, in a short draught, given a view of our original ideas, from whence all the rest are derived, and of which they are made up.”

This, and the like said in other places, is what I have thought concerning ideas of sensation and reflection, as the foundation and materials of all our ideas, and consequently of all our knowledge. I have set down these particulars out of my book, that the reader, having a full view of my opinion herein, may the better see what in it is liable to your lordship’s reprehension. For that your lordship is not very well satisfied with it, appears not only by the words under consideration, but by these also: “But we are still told, that our understanding can have no other ideas, but either from sensation or reflection. And, let us suppose this principle to be true, that the simple ideas, by sensation or reflection, are the sole matter and foundation of all our reasoning.”

Your lordship’s argument, in the passage we are upon, stands thus: “If the general idea of substance be Edition: current; Page: [21] grounded upon plain and evident reason, then we must allow an idea of substance, which comes not in by sensation or reflection:” This is a consequence which, with submission, I think will not hold, because it is founded on a supposition which, I think, will not hold, viz. that reason and ideas are inconsistent; for if that supposition be not true, then the general idea of substance may be grounded on plain and evident reason: and yet it will not follow from thence, that it is not ultimately grounded on, and derived from, ideas which come in by sensation or reflection, and so cannot be said to come in by sensation or reflection.

To explain myself, and clear my meaning in this matter: all the ideas of all the sensible qualities of a cherry, come into my mind by sensation; the ideas of perceiving, thinking, reasoning, knowing, &c. come into my mind by reflection: the ideas of these qualities and actions, or powers, are perceived by the mind to be by themselves inconsistent with existence; or, as your lordship well expresses it, “we find that we can have no true conception of any modes or accidents, but we must conceive a substratum or subject, wherein they are;” i. e. that they cannot exist or subsist of themselves. Hence the mind perceives their necessary connexion with inherence or being supported; which being a relative idea superadded to the red colour in a cherry, or to thinking in a man, the mind frames the correlative idea of a support. For I never denied, that the mind could frame to itself ideas of relation, but have showed the quite contrary in my chapters about relation. But because a relation cannot be founded in nothing, or be the relation of nothing, and the thing here related as a supporter or support, is not represented to the mind by any clear and distinct idea; therefore the obscure, indistinct, vague idea of thing or something, is all that is left to be the positive idea, which has the relation of a support or substratum to modes or accidents; and that general determined idea of something, is, by the abstraction of the mind, derived also from the simple ideas of sensation and reflection: and thus the mind, from the positive, simple ideas got by sensation or reflection, Edition: current; Page: [22] comes to the general relative idea of substance; which, without the positive simple ideas, it would never have.

This your lordship (without giving by retail all the particular steps of the mind in this business) has well expressed in this more familiar way:

“We find we can have no true conception of any modes or accidents, but we must conceive a substratum or subject wherein they are; since it is a repugnancy to our conceptions of things, that modes or accidents should subsist by themselves.”

Hence your lordship calls it the rational idea of substance: and says, “I grant that by sensation and reflection we come to know the powers and properties of things: but our reason is satisfied that there must be something beyond these, because it is impossible that they should subsist by themselves.” So that if this be that which your lordship means by the rational idea of substance, I see nothing there is in it against what I have said, that it is founded on simple ideas of sensation or reflection, and that it is a very obscure idea.

Your lordship’s conclusion from your foregoing words, is, “and so we may be certain of some things which we have not by those ideas;” which is a proposition, whose precise meaning your lordship will forgive me if I profess, as it stands there, I do not understand. For it is uncertain to me, whether your lordship means, we may certainly know the existence of something which we have not by those ideas; or certainly know the distinct properties of something which we have not by those ideas; or certainly know the truth of some proposition which we have not by those ideas: for to be certain of something, may signify either of these. But in which soever of these it be meant, I do not see how I am concerned in it.

Your lordship’s next paragraph is as followeth:

“The idea of substance; we are told again, is nothing but the supposed, but unknown support of those qualities we find existing, which we imagine cannot subsist, sine re substante; which, according to the true import of the word, is in plain English Edition: current; Page: [23] standing under or upholding. But very little weight is to be laid upon a bare grammatical etymology, when the word is used in another sense by the best authors, such as Cicero and Quintilian; who take substance for the same as essence, as Valla hath proved; and so the Greek word imports: But Boethius, in translating Aristotle’s Predicaments, rather chose the word substance, as more proper to express a compound being, and reserved essence for what was simple and immaterial. And in this sense, substance was not applied to God, but only essence, as St. Augustine observes.”

Your lordship here seems to dislike my taking notice, that the derivation of the word substance favours the idea we have of it: and your lordship tells me, “that very little weight is to be laid on a bare grammatical etymology.” Though little weight were to be laid on it, if there were nothing else to be said for it; yet when it was brought to confirm an idea which your lordship allows of, nay, calls a rational idea, and says is founded in evident reason, I do not see what your lordship had to blame in it. For though Cicero and Quintilian take substantia for the same with essence, as your lordship says; or for riches and estate, as I think they also do; yet I suppose it will be true, that substantia is derived a substando, and that that shows the original import of the word. For, my lord, I have been long of opinion, as may be seen in my book, that if we knew the original of all the words we meet with, we should thereby be very much helped to know the ideas they were first applied to and made to stand for; and therefore I must beg your lordship to excuse this conceit of mine, this etymological observation especially, since it hath nothing in it against the truth, nor against your lordship’s idea of substance.

But your lordship opposes to this etymology the use of the word substance by the best authors in another sense; and thereupon give the world a learned account of the use of the word substance, in a sense wherein it is not taken for the substratum of accidents: however, I think it a sufficient justification of myself to your lordship, Edition: current; Page: [24] that I use it in the same sense your lordship does, and that your lordship thinks not fit to govern yourself by those authorities; for then your lordship could not apply the word substance to God, as Boethius did not, and as your lordship has proved out of St. Augustine, that it was not applied. Though I guess it is the consideration of substance, as it is applied to God, that brings it into your lordship’s present discourse. But if your lordship and I (if without presumption I may join myself with you) have, in the use of the word substance, quitted the example of the best authors, I think the authority of the schools, which has a long time been allowed in philosophical terms, will bear us out in this matter.

In the remaining part of this paragraph it follows: “but afterwards the names of substance and essence were promiscuously used with respect to God and his creatures; and do imply that which makes the real being, as distinguished from modes and properties. And so the substance and essence of a man are the same; not being taken for the individual substance, which cannot be understood without particular modes and properties; but the general substance or nature of man, abstractedly from all the circumstances of person.”

Here your lordship makes these terms general substance, nature, and essence, to signify the same thing; how properly I shall not here inquire. Your lordship goes on.

“And I desire to know, whether, according to true reason, that be not a clear idea of man; not of Peter, James, or John, but of a man as such.”

This, I think, nobody denies: nor can any body deny it, who will not say, that the general abstract idea which he has in his mind of a sort or species of animal that he calls man, ought not to have that general name man applied to it: for that is all (as I humbly conceive) which these words of your lordship here amount to.

“This,” your lordship says, “is not a mere universal name, or mark, or sign.” Your lordship says it is an idea, and every body must grant it to be an idea; and Edition: current; Page: [25] therefore it is, in my opinion, safe enough from being thought a mere name, or mark, or sign of that idea. For he must think very oddly, who takes the general name of any idea, to be the general idea itself: it is a mere mark or sign of it without doubt, and nothing else. Your lordship adds:

“But there is as clear and distinct a conception of this in our minds, as we can have from any such simple ideas as are conveyed by our senses.”

If your lordship means by this, (as the words seem to me to import) that we can have as clear and distinct an idea of the general substance, or nature, or essence of the species man, as we have of the particular colour and figure of a man when we look on him, or of his voice when we hear him speak, I must crave leave to dissent from your lordship. Because the idea we have of the substance, wherein the properties of a man do inhere, is a very obscure idea: so in that part, our general idea of man is obscure and confused: as also, how that substance is differently modified in the different species of creatures, so as to have different properties and powers whereby they are distinguished, that also we have very obscure, or rather no distinct ideas of at all. But there is no obscurity or confusion at all in the idea of a figure that I clearly see, or of a sound that I distinctly hear; and such are, or may be, the ideas that are conveyed in by sensation or reflection. It follows:

“I do not deny that the distinction of particular substances, is by the several modes and properties of them, (which they may call a complication of simple ideas if they please): but I do assert, that the general idea which relates to the essence, without these, is so just and true an idea, that without it the complication of simple ideas will never give us a right notion of it.”

Here, I think, that your lordship asserts, “that the general idea of the real essence (for so I understand general idea which relates to the essence) without the modes and properties, is a just and true idea.” For example; the real essence of a thing is that internal constitution on which the properties of that thing depend. Edition: current; Page: [26] Now your lordship seems to me to acknowledge, that that internal constitution or essence we cannot know; for your lordship says, “that from the powers and properties of things which are knowable by us, we may know as much of the internal essence of things, as these powers and properties discover.” That is unquestionably so; but if those powers and properties discover no more of those internal essences, but that there are internal essences, we shall know only that there are internal essences, but shall have no idea or conception at all of what they are; as your lordship seems to confess in the next words of the same page, where you add: “I do not say, that we can know all essences of things alike, nor that we can attain to a perfect understanding of all that belong to them; but if we can know so much, as that there are certain beings in the world, endued with such distinct powers and properties, what is it we complain of the want of?” Wherein your lordship seems to terminate our knowledge of those internal essences in this, “that there are certain beings indued with distinct powers and properties.” But what these beings, these internal essences are, that we have no distinct conceptions of; as your lordship confesses yet plainer a little after, in these words: for “although we cannot comprehend the internal frame and constitution of things.” So that we having, as is confessed, no idea of what this essence, this internal constitution of things on which their properties depend, is; how can we say it is any way a just and true idea? But your lordship says, “it is so just and true an idea, that without it the contemplation of simple ideas will never give us a right notion of it.” All the idea we have of it, which is only that there is an internal, though unknown constitution of things on which their properties depend, simple ideas of sensation and reflection, and the contemplation of them, have alone helped us to; and because they can help us no further, that is the reason we have no perfecter notion of it.

That which your lordship seems to me principally to drive at, in this and the foregoing paragraph, is, to assert, that the general substance of man, and so of any Edition: current; Page: [27] other species, is that which makes the real being of that species abstractly from the individuals of that species. By general substance here, I suppose, your lordship means the general idea of substance: and that which induces me to take the liberty to suppose so, is, that I think your lordship is here discoursing of the idea of substance, and how we come by it. And if your lordship should mean otherwise, I must take the liberty to deny there is any such thing in rerum natura, as a general substance that exists itself, or makes any thing.

Taking it then for granted that your lordship says, that this is the general idea of substance, viz. “that it is that which makes the real being of any thing;” your lordship says, “that it is as clear and distinct a conception in our minds, as we can have from any such simple ideas as are conveyed by our senses.” Here I must crave leave to dissent from your lordship. Your lordship says in the former part of this page, “that substance and essence do imply that which makes the real being.” Now what, I beseech your lordship, do these words, that which, here signify more than something? And the idea expressed by something, I am apt to think, your lordship will not say is as clear and distinct a conception or idea in the mind, as the idea of the red colour of a cherry, or the bitter taste of wormwood, or the figure of a circle brought into the mind by your senses.

Your lordship farther says, “it makes” (whereby, I suppose, your lordship means, constitutes or is) “the real being, as distinguished from modes and properties.”

For example, my lord, strip this supposed general idea of a man or gold of all its modes and properties, and then tell me whether your lordship has as clear and distinct an idea of what remains, as you have of the figure of the one, or the yellow colour of the other. I must confess the remaining something, to me affords so vague, confused and obscure an idea, that I cannot say I have any distinct conception of it; for barely by being something, it is not in my mind clearly distinguished from Edition: current; Page: [28] the figure or voice of a man, or the colour or taste of a cherry, for they are something too. If your lordship has a clear and distinct idea of that “something, which makes the real being as distinguished from all its modes and properties,” your lordship must enjoy the privilege of the sight and clear ideas you have: nor can you be denied them, because I have not the like; the dimness of my conceptions must not pretend to hinder the clearness of your lordship’s, any more than the want of them in a blind man can debar your lordship of the clear and distinct ideas of colours. The obscurity I find in my own mind, when I examine what positive, general, simple idea of substance I have, is such as I profess, and further than that I cannot go: but what, and how clear it is in the understanding of a seraphim, or of an elevated mind, that I cannot determine. Your lordship goes on.

“I 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 he makes the case of spiritual and corporeal substances to be alike, as to their ideas. And that we have as clear a notion of a spirit, as we have of a body; the one being supposed to be the substratum to those simple ideas we have from without, and the other of those operations we find within ourselves. And that it is as rational to affirm, there is no body, because we cannot know its essence, as it is called, or have no idea of the substance of matter; as to say there is no spirit, because we know not its essence, or have no idea of a spiritual substance.”

“From hence it follows, that we may be certain that there are both spiritual and bodily substances, although we can have no clear and distinct ideas of them. But if our reason depend upon our clear and distinct ideas, how is this possible? We cannot reason without clear ideas, and yet we may be certain without them: can we be certain without reason? Or, doth our reason give us true notions of things, without these ideas? If it be so, this new hypothesis about reason must appear to be very unreasonable.”

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That which your lordship seems to argue here, is, that we may be certain without clear and distinct ideas. Who your lordship here argues against, under the title of this new hypothesis about reason, I confess I do not know. For I do not remember that I have any where placed certainty only in clear and distinct ideas, but in the clear and visible connexion of any of our ideas, be those ideas what they will; as will appear to any one who will look into B. iv. c. 4. § 18. and B. iv. c. 6. § 3. of my Essay, in the latter of which he will find these words: “certainty of knowledge is to perceive the agreement or disagreement of ideas, as expressed in any proposition.” As in the proposition your lordship mentions, v. g. that we may be certain there are spiritual and bodily substances; or, that bodily substances do exist, is a proposition of whose truth we may be certain; and so of spiritual substances. Let us now examine wherein the certainty of these propositions consists.

First, as to the existence of bodily substances, I know by my senses that something extended, and solid, and figured does exist; for my senses are the utmost evidence and certainty I have of the existence of extended, solid, figured things. These modes being then known to exist by our senses, the existence of them (which I cannot conceive can subsist without something to support them) makes me see the connexion of those ideas with a support, or, as it is called, a subject of inhesion, and so consequently the connexion of that support (which cannot be nothing) with existence. And thus I come by a certainty of the existence of that something which is a support of those sensible modes, though I have but a very confused, loose, and undetermined idea of it, signified by the same substance. After the same manner experimenting thinking in myself, by the existence of thought in me, to which something that thinks is evidently and necessarily connected in my mind; I come to be certain that there exists in me something that thinks, though of that something which I call substance also, I have but a very obscure imperfect idea.

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Before I go any farther, it is fit I return my acknowledgements to your lordship, for the good opinion you are pleased here to express of the “author of the Essay of Human Understanding,” and that you do not impute to him the ill use some may have made of his notions. But he craves leave to say, that he should have been better preserved from the hard and sinister thoughts, which some men are always ready for, if in what you have here published, your lordship had been pleased to have shown where you directed your discourse against him, and where against others, from p. 234 to p. 262 of your Vindication of the Trinity. For nothing but my book and my words being quoted, the world will be apt to think that I am the person who argue against the Trinity, and deny mysteries, against whom your lordship directs those pages. And indeed, my lord, though I have read them over with great attention, yet, in many places, I cannot discern whether it be against me or any body else, that your lordship is arguing. That which often makes the difficulty is, that I do not see how what I say does at all concern the controversy your lordship is engaged in, and yet I alone am quoted. Your lordship goes on:

“Let us suppose this principle to be true,” that the simple ideas by sensation or reflection are the sole matter and foundation of all our reasoning: “I ask then how we come to be certain, that there are spiritual substances in the world, since we can have no clear and distinct ideas concerning them? Can we be certain, without any foundation of reason? This is a new sort of certainty, for which we do not envy those 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. If there be any other method, they overthrow their own principle; if there be none, how come they to any certainty that there are both bodily and spiritual substances?”

This paragraph, which continues to prove, that we may have certainty without clear and distinct ideas, I Edition: current; Page: [31] would flatter myself is not meant against me, because it opposes nothing that I have said; and so shall not say any thing to it, but only set it down to do your lordship right, that the reader may judge. Though I do not find how he will easily overlook me, and think I am not at all concerned in it, since my words alone are quoted in several pages immediately preceding and following: and in the very next paragraph it is said, “how they come to know;” which word, they, must signify some body besides the author of Christianity not mysterious; and then I think, by the whole tenour of your lordship’s discourse, nobody will be left but me, possible to be taken to be the other: for in the same paragraph your lordship says, “the same persons say, that notwithstanding their ideas, it is possible for matter to think.”

I know not what other person says so but I; but if any one does, I am sure no person but I say so in my book, which your lordship has quoted for them, viz. Human Understanding, B. iv. c. 3. This, which is a riddle to me, the more amazes me, because I find it in a treatise of your lordship’s, who so perfectly understands the rules and methods of writing, whether in controversy or any other way. But this which seems wholly new to me, I shall better understand when your lordship pleases to explain it. In the mean time I mention it as an apology for myself, if sometimes I mistake your lordship’s aim, and so misapply my answer. What follows in your lordship’s next paragraph is this:

“As to these latter (which is my business) I must inquire farther, how they come to know there are such? The answer is, by self-reflection on those powers we find in ourselves, which cannot come from a mere bodily substance. I allow the reason to be very good; but the question I ask, is, whether this argument be from the clear and distinct idea or not? We have ideas in ourselves of the several operations of our minds, of knowing, willing, considering, &c. which cannot come from a bodily substance. Very true; but is all this contained in the simple idea of these operations? How can that be, when the same persons say, that, notwithstanding their ideas, it is Edition: current; Page: [32] possible for matter to think?Human Understanding B. ii. c. 3.§ 6. For it is said—that we have the ideas of matter and thinking, but possibly shall never be able to know whether any material being thinks or not; it being impossible for us, by the contemplation of our own ideas, without revelation, to discover whether omnipotency hath not given to some systems of matter, fitly disposed, a power to perceive or think.—If this be true, then for all that we can know by our ideas of matter and thinking, matter may have a power of thinking: and if this hold, then it is impossible to prove a spiritual substance in us, from the idea of thinking: for how can we be assured by our ideas, that God hath not given such a power of thinking to matter so disposed as our bodies are? Especially since it is said,—that in respect of our notions, it is not much more remote from our comprehension to conceive that God can, if he pleases, super-add to our idea of matter a faculty of thinking, than that he should super-add to it another substance, with a faculty of thinking.—Whoever asserts this can never prove a spiritual substance in us from a faculty of thinking; because he cannot know from the idea of matter and thinking, that matter so disposed cannot think. And he cannot be certain, that God hath not framed the matter of our bodies so as to be capable of it.”

These words, my lord, I am forced to take to myself; for though your lordship has put it the same persons say, in the plural number, yet there is nobody quoted for the following words, but my Essay: nor do I think any body but I has said so. But so it is in this present chapter, I have the good luck to be joined with others for what I do not say, and others with me for what I imagine they do not say; which, how it came about, your lordship can best resolve. But to the words themselves: in them your lordship argues, that upon my principles it “cannot be proved that there is a spiritual substance in us.” To which give me leave, with submission, to say, that I think it may be proved from my principles, and I think I have done it; and the proof Edition: current; Page: [33] in my book stands thus: First, we experiment in ourselves thinking. The idea of this action or mode of thinking is inconsistent with the idea of self-subsistence, and therefore has a necessary connexion with a support or subject of inhesion: the idea of that support is what we call substance; and so from thinking experimented in us, we have a proof of a thinking substance in us, which in my sense is a spirit. Against this your lordship will argue, that by what I have said of the possibility that God may, if he pleases, super-add to matter a faculty of thinking, it can never be proved that there is a spiritual substance in us, because upon that supposition it is possible it may be a material substance that thinks in us. I grant it; but add, that the general idea of substance being the same every where, the modification of thinking, or the power of thinking joined to it, makes it a spirit, without considering what other modifications it has, as whether it has the modification of solidity or no. As on the other side, substance, that has the modification of solidity, is matter, whether it has the modification of thinking or no. And therefore, if your lordship means by a spiritual an immaterial substance, I grant I have not proved, nor upon my principles can it be proved, (your lordship meaning, as I think you do, demonstratively proved) that there is an immaterial substance in us that thinks. Though I presume,B. iv. 6. 10.§. 16. from what I have said about the supposition of a system of matter thinking (which there demonstrates that God is immaterial) will prove it in the highest degree probable, that the thinking substance in us is immaterial. But your lordship thinks not probability enough; and by charging the want of demonstration upon my principles, that the thinking thing in us is immaterial, your lordship seems to conclude it demonstrable from principles of philosophy. That demonstration I should with joy receive from your lordship, or any one. For though all the great ends of morality and religion are well enough secured without it,B. iv. c. 3.§ 6. as I have shown; yet it would be a great advance of our knowledge in nature and philosophy.

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To what I have said in my book, to show that all the great ends of religion and morality are secured barely by the immortality of the soul, without a necessary supposition that the soul is immaterial, I crave leave to add, that immortality may and shall be annexed to that, which in its own nature is neither immaterial nor immortal, as the apostle expressly declares in these words; “for this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”1 Cor. xv. 53. Perhaps my using the word spirit for a thinking substance, without excluding materiality out of it, will be thought too great a liberty, and such as deserves censure, because I leave immateriality out of the idea I make it a sign of. I readily own that words should be sparingly ventured on in a sense wholly new; and nothing but absolute necessity can excuse the boldness of using any term, in a sense whereof we can produce no example. But in the present case, I think, I have great authorities to justify me. The soul is agreed, on all hands, to be that in us which thinks. And he that will look into the first book of Cicero’s Tusculan questions, and into the sixth book of Virgil’s Æneids, will find that these two great men, who of all the Romans best understood philosophy, thought, or at least did not deny, the soul to be a subtile matter, which might come under the name of aura, or ignis, or æther; and this soul they both of them called spiritus: in the notion of which it is plain they included only thought and active motion, without the total exclusion of matter. Whether they thought right in this, I do not say; that is not the question; but whether they spoke properly, when they called an active, thinking, subtile substance, out of which they excluded only gross and palpable matter, spiritus, spirit. I think that nobody will deny, that, if any among the Romans can be allowed to speak properly, Tully and Virgil are the two who may most securely be depended on for it: and one of them, speaking of the soul, says, “dum spiritus hos regit artus;” and the other, “vita continetur corpore & spiritu.” Where it is plain, by corpus he means (as generally every where) only gross matter that may be felt and handled; as appears by those Edition: current; Page: [35] words: “si cor, aut sanguis, aut cerebrum est animus, certe, quoniam est corpus, interibit cum reliquo corpore; si anima est, forte dissipabitur; si ignis extinguetur.” Tusc. Quæst. l. i. c. 11. Here Cicero opposes corpus to ignis and anima, i. e. aura or breath: and the foundation of that his distinction of the soul, from that which he calls corpus or body, he gives a little lower in these words; “tanta ejus tenuitas ut fugiat aciem.” ib. c. 22.

Nor was it the heathen world alone that had this notion of spirit; the most enlightened of all the ancient people of God, Solomon himself, speaks after the same manner:Eccles. iii. 19. “That which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts, even one thing befalleth them; as the one dieth so dieth the other, yea they have all one spirit.” So I translate the Hebrew word רוח here, for so I find it translated the very next verse but one;Ver. 21. “Who knoweth the spirit of a man that goeth upward, and the spirit of a beast that goeth down to the earth?” In which places it is plain that Solomon applies the word רוח, and our translators of him, the word spirit, to a substance, out of which immateriality was not wholly excluded, “unless the spirit of a beast that goeth downwards to the earth” be immaterial. Nor did the way of speaking in our Saviour’s time vary from this:Chap. xxiv. 37. St. Luke tells us, that when our Saviour, after his resurrection, stood in the midst of them, “they were affrighted, and supposed that they had seen πνεῦμα,” the Greek word which always answers spirit in English; and so the translators of the Bible render it here, “they supposed that they had seen a spirit.” But our Saviour says to them, “Behold my hands and my feet,Ver. 39. that it is I myself, handle me and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as you see me have.” Which words of our Saviour put the same distinction between body and spirit, that Cicero did in the place above cited, viz. that the one was a gross compages that could be felt and handled; and the other such as Virgil describes the ghost or soul of Anchises,Lib. vi.

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  • “Ter conatus ibi collo dare brachia circum,
  • Ter frustra comprensa manus effugit imago,
  • Par levibus ventis volucrique simillima somno.”

I would not be thought here to say, that spirit never does signify a purely immaterial substance. In that sense the scripture, I take it, speaks, when it says, “God is a spirit;” and in that sense I have used it; and in that sense I have proved from my principles, that there is a spiritual substance; and am certain that there is a spiritual immaterial substance: which is, I humbly conceive, a direct answer to your lordship’s question in the beginning of this argument, viz. “How come we to be certain that there are spiritual substances, supposing this principle to be true, that the simple ideas by sensation and reflection are the sole matter and foundation of all our reasoning?” But this hinders not, but that if God, that infinite, omnipotent, and perfectly immaterial spirit, should please to give a system of very subtile matter sense and motion, it might, with propriety of speech be called spirit; though materiality were not excluded out of its complex idea. Your lordship proceeds:B. iv. c. 10.§ 5. “It is said indeed elsewhere, that it is repugnant to the idea of senseless matter, that it should put into itself sense, perception, and knowledge. But this doth not reach the present case; which is not what matter can do of itself, but what matter prepared by an omnipotent hand can do. And what certainty can we have that he hath not done it? We can have none from the ideas, for those are given up in this case; and consequently we can have no certainty upon these principles, whether we have any spiritual substance within us or not.”

Your lordship in this paragraph proves, that from what I say,B. iv. c. 10.§ 5. “we can have no certainty whether we have any spiritual substance in us or not.” If by spiritual substance your lordship means an immaterial substance in us, as you speak a little farther on, I grant what your lordship says is Edition: current; Page: [37] true, that it cannot, upon these principles, be demonstrated. But I must crave leave to say at the same time, that upon these principles it can be proved, to the highest degree of probability. If by spiritual substance your lordship means a thinking substance, I must dissent from your lordship, and say, that we can have a certainty, upon my principles, that there is a spiritual substance in us. In short, my lord, upon my principles, i. e. from the idea of thinking, we can have a certainty that there is a thinking substance in us; from hence we have a certainty that there is an eternal thinking substance. This thinking substance, which has been from eternity,B. iv. I have proved to be immaterial. This eternal, immaterial, thinking substance, has put into us a thinking substance, which, whether it be a material or immaterial substance, cannot be infallibly demonstrated from our ideas; though from them it may be proved, that it is to the highest degree probable that it is immaterial. This, in short, my lord, is what I have to say on this point; which may, in good measure, serve for an answer to your lordship’s next leaf or two; which I shall set down, and then take notice of some few particulars which I wonder to find your lordship accuse me of. Your lordship says:

“But we are told,B. ii. c. 23.§ 15. that from the operations of our minds, we are able to frame a complex idea of a spirit. How can that be, when we cannot from those ideas be assured, but that those operations may come from a material substance? If we frame an idea on such grounds, it is at most but a possible idea; for it may be otherwise, and we can have no assurance from our ideas, that it is not: so that the most men may come to in this way of ideas, is, that it is possible it may be so, and it is possible it may not; but that it is impossible for us, from our ideas, to determine either way. And is not this an admirable way to bring us to a certainty of reason?”

“I am very glad to find the idea of a spiritual substance made as consistent and intelligible, as that of a Edition: current; Page: [38] corporeal:—For as the one consists of a cohesion of solid parts, and the power of communicating motion by impulse, so the other consists in a power of thinking and willing,§ 27. and moving the body; and that the cohesion of solid parts, is as hard to be conceived as thinking: and we are as much in the dark about the power of communicating motion by impulse, as in the power of exciting motion by thought. We have by daily experience clear evidence of motion produced, both by impulse and by thought; but the manner how, hardly comes within our comprehension; we are equally at a loss in both.

§ 28.“From whence it follows, that we may be certain of a being of a spiritual substance, although we have no clear and distinct idea of it, nor are able to comprehend the manner of its operations: and therefore it is a vain thing in any to pretend that all our reason and certainty is founded on clear and distinct ideas: and that they have reason to reject any doctrine which relates to spiritual substances, because they cannot comprehend the manner of it. For the same thing is confessed by the most inquisitive men, about the manner of operation, both in material and immaterial substances.§ 31. It is affirmed,—that the very notion of body implies something very hard, if not impossible, to be explained or understood by us; and that the natural consequence of it, viz. divisibility, involves us in difficulties impossible to be explicated, or made consistent; that we have but some few superficial ideas of things;§ 32. that we are destitute of faculties to attain to the true nature of them: and that when we do that, we fall presently into darkness and obscurity, and can discover nothing further but our own blindness and ignorance.

“These are very fair and ingenuous confessions of the shortness of human understanding, with respect to the nature and manner of such things which we are most certain of the being of, by constant and undoubted experience. I appeal now to the reason of mankind, whether it can be any reasonable foundation for rejecting Edition: current; Page: [39] a doctrine proposed to us as of divine revelation, because we cannot comprehend the manner of it; especially when it relates to the divine essence.§ 33, 34, 35. For as the same author observes,—our idea of God is framed from the complex ideas of those perfections we find in ourselves, but enlarging them so, as to make them suitable to an infinite being; as knowledge, power, duration,§ 36. &c. And the degrees or extent of these which we ascribe to the sovereign being, are all boundless and infinite. For it is infinity, which joined to our ideas of existence, power, knowledge, &c. makes that complex idea, whereby we represent to ourselves, the best we can, the supreme being.”

“Now, when our knowledge of gross material substances is so dark; when the notion of spiritual substances is above all ideas of sensation; when the higher any substance is, the more remote from our knowledge; but especially when the very idea of a supreme being implies its being infinite and incomprehensible; I know not whether it argues more stupidity or arrogance to expose a doctrine relating to the divine essence, because they cannot comprehend the manner of it: but of this more afterwards. I am yet upon the certainty of our reason, from clear and distinct ideas: and if we can attain to certainty without them, and where it is confessed we cannot have them, as about substance; then these cannot be the sole matter and foundation of our reasoning, which is peremptorily asserted by this late author.”

Here, after having argued, that notwithstanding what I say about our idea of a spirit, it is impossible, from our ideas, to determine whether that spirit in us be a material substance or no, your lordship concludes the paragraph thus: “and is not this an admirable way to bring us to a certainty of reason?”

I answer; I think it is a way to bring us to a certainty in these things which I have offered as certain, but I never thought it a way to certainty, where we never can reach certainty; nor shall I think the worse of it, if your lordship should instance in an hundred Edition: current; Page: [40] 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 any body else, will show me a better way to a certainty in them, I am ready to learn, and will lay 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 a 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 Edition: current; Page: [41] 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 my book, to confute a proposition that is no-where 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 Edition: current; Page: [42] 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 Edition: current; Page: [43] 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 any where 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, “I shall 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 any where mentioned or quoted concerning it?

The same way of speaking of the persons you are arguing against in the plural number, your lordship uses Edition: current; Page: [44] 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 certain 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 any where pretended to any new sort of certainty, I beseech Edition: current; Page: [45] your lordship show me the place, that I may correct the vanity of it, and unsay it to the world.

Again, your lordship says thus, “I know not whether it argues more stupidity or arrogance to expose a doctrine relating to the divine essence, because they cannot comprehend the manner of it.”

Here, my lord, I find the same “they” again, which, some pages back, evidently involved me: and since that you have named nobody besides me, nor alleged any body’s writings but mine; give me leave, therefore, to ask your lordship, whether I am one of these “they” here also, that I may know whether I am concerned to answer for myself? I am ashamed to importune your lordship so often about the same matter; but I meet with so many places in your lordship’s (I had almost said new) way of writing, that put me to a stand, not knowing whether I am meant or no, that I am at a loss whether I should clear myself from what possibly your lordship does not lay to my charge; and yet the reader, thinking it meant of me, should conclude that to be in my book which is not there, and which I utterly disown.

Though I cannot be joined with those who expose a doctrine relating to the divine essence, because they cannot comprehend the manner of it; unless your lordship can show where I have so exposed it, which I deny that I have any where done; yet your lordship, before you come to the bottom of the same page, has these words, “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.”

If your lordship did mean me in that “they” which is some lines backwards, I must complain to your lordship, that you have done me an injury, in imputing that to me which I have not done. And if “their” here were not meant by your lordship to relate to the same persons, I ask by what shall the reader distinguish them? And how shall any body know who your lordship means? For that I am comprehended here is apparent, by your quoting my essay in the very next words, and arguing against it in the following pages.

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I enter not here into your lordship’s argument; that which I am now considering is your lordship’s peculiar way of writing in this part of your treatise, which makes me often in doubt, whether the reader will not condemn my book upon your lordship’s authority, where he thinks me concerned, if I say nothing: and yet your lordship may look upon my defence as superfluous, when I did not hold what your lordship argued against.

But to go on with your lordship’s argument, your lordship says, “I shall now show that there can be no sufficient evidence brought from simple ideas by their own confession, concerning the existence of the most spiritual and infinite substance, even God himself.”

Your lordship’s way of proving it is this: your lordship says, we are told, b. iv. c. 10. § 1. “That the evidence of it is equal to mathematical certainty; and very good arguments are brought to prove it, in a chapter on purpose: but that which I take notice of, is, that the argument from the clear and distinct idea of a God is passed over.” Supposing all this to be so, your lordship, methinks, with submission, does not prove the proposition you undertook, which was this; “there can be no sufficient evidence brought from simple ideas, by their own confession concerning [i. e. to prove] the existence of a God.” For if I did in that chapter, as your lordship says, pass over the proof from the clear and distinct idea of God, that, I presume, is no confession that there can be no sufficient evidence brought from clear and distinct ideas, much less from simple ideas, concerning the existence of a God; because the using of one argument brought from one foundation, is no confession that there is not another principle or foundation. But, my lord, I shall not insist upon this, whether it be a confession or no.

Leaving confession out of the proposition, I humbly conceive your lordship’s argument does not prove. Your lordship’s proposition to be proved, is, “there can be sufficient evidence brought from simple ideas to prove the existence of a God;” and your lordship’s reason is, because the argument from the clear and distinct idea of God is omitted in my proof of a God. Edition: current; Page: [47] I will suppose, for the strengthening your lordship’s reasoning in the case, that I had said (which I am far enough from saying) that there was no other argument to prove the existence of God, but what I had used in that chapter; yet, my lord, with all this, your lordship’s argument, I humbly conceive, would not hold; for I might bring evidence from simple ideas, though I brought none from the idea of God; for the idea we have of God is a complex, and no simple idea. So that the terms being changed from simple ideas to a clear and distinct complex idea of God, the proposition which was undertaken to be proved, seems to be unproved.

Your lordship’s next words are, “how can this be consistent with deducing our certainty of knowledge from clear and simple ideas?”

Here your lordship joins something that is mine with something that is not mine. I do say, that all our knowledge is founded in simple ideas; but I do not say, it is all deduced from clear ideas; much less that we cannot have any certain knowledge of the existence of any thing, whereof we have not a clear, distinct, complex idea; or, that the complex idea must be clear enough to be in itself the evidence of the existence of that thing; which seems to be your lordship’s meaning here. Our knowledge is all founded on simple ideas, as I have before explained, though not always about simple ideas, for we may know the truth of propositions which include complex ideas, and those complex ideas may not always be perfectly clear ideas.

In the remaining part of this page, it follows: “I do not go about to justify those who lay the whole stress upon that foundation, which I grant to be too weak to support so important a truth; and that those are very much to blame, who go about to invalidate other arguments for the sake of that: but I doubt all that talk about clear and distinct ideas being made the foundation of certainty, came originally from these discourses or meditations, which are aimed at. The author of them was an ingenious thinking man, and he endeavoured to lay the foundation of certainty, as well as he could. The first thing he found any certainty Edition: current; Page: [48] in, was his own existence; which he founded upon the perceptions of the acts of his mind, which some call an internal infallible perception that we are. From hence he proceeded to inquire, how we came by this certainty? And he resolved it into this, that he had a clear and distinct perception of it; and from hence he formed this general rule, that what he had a clear and distinct perception of was true. Which in reason ought to go no farther, than where there is the like degree of evidence.”

This account which your lordship gives here, what it was wherein Descartes laid the foundation of certainty, containing nothing in it to show what your lordship proposed here, viz. “that there can be no sufficient evidence brought from ideas, by my own confession, concerning the existence of God himself;” I willingly excuse myself from troubling your lordship concerning it. Only I crave leave to make my acknowledgment to your lordship, for what you are pleased, by the way, to drop in these words: “But I doubt all this talk about clear and distinct ideas being made the foundation of certainty, came originally from these discourses or meditations, which are aimed at.”

B. iv. c. 10.§ 7.By the quotations in your lordship’s immediately preceding words taken out of my Essay, which relate to that ingenious thinking author, as well as by what in your following words is said of his founding certainty in his own existence; it is hard to avoid thinking that your lordship means, that I borrowed from him my notions concerning certainty. And your lordship is so great a man, and every way so far above my meanness, that it cannot be supposed that your lordship intended this for any thing but a commendation of me to the world as the scholar of so great a master. But though I must always acknowledge to that justly-admired gentleman the great obligation of my first deliverance from the unintelligible way of talking of the philosophy in use in the schools in his time, yet I am so far from entitling his writings to any of the errors or imperfections which are to be found in my Essay, as deriving their original from him, that I must own to Edition: current; Page: [49] your lordship they were spun barely out of my own thoughts, reflecting as well as I could on my own mind, and the ideas I had there; and were not, that I know, derived from any other original. But, possibly, I all this while assume to myself an honour which your lordship did not intend to me by this intimation; for though what goes before and after seems to appropriate those words to me, yet some part of them brings me under my usual doubt, which I shall remain under till I know whom these words, viz. “this talk about clear and distinct ideas being made the foundation of certainty,” belong to.

The remaining part of this paragraph contains a discourse of your lordship’s upon Descarte’s general rule of certainty, in these words: “For the certainty here was not grounded on the clearness of the perception, but on the plainness of the evidence, which is that of nature, that the very doubting of it proves it: since it is impossible, that any thing should doubt or question its own being, that had it not. So that here it is not the clearness of the idea, but an immediate act of perception which is the true ground of certainty. And this cannot extend to things without ourselves, of which we can have no other perception, than what is caused by the impressions of outward objects. But whether we are to judge according to these impressions, doth not depend on our ideas themselves, but upon the exercise of our judgment and reason about them, which put the difference between true and false, and adequate and inadequate ideas. So that our certainty is not from the ideas themselves, but from the evidence of reason, that those ideas are true and just, and consequently that we may build our certainty upon them.”

Granting all this to be so, yet I must confess, my lord, I do not see how it any way tends to show either your lordship’s proof, or my confession “that my proof of an infinite spiritual being is not placed upon ideas; which is what your lordship professes to be your design here.”

But though we are not yet come to your lordship’s Edition: current; Page: [50] proof, that the certainty in my proof of a deity is not placed on ideas, yet I crave leave to consider what your lordship says here concerning certainty; about which one cannot employ too many thoughts to find wherein it is placed. Your lordship says, “That Descartes’s certainty was not grounded on the clearness of the perception, but on the plainness of the evidence.” And a little lower; here (i. e. in Descartes’s foundation of certainty) it is not the clearness of the idea, but an immediate “act of perception, on which is the true ground of certainty.” And a little lower, that “in things without us, our certainty is not from the ideas, but from the evidence of reason that those ideas are true and just.”

Your lordship, I hope, will pardon my dulness, if after your lordship has placed the grounds of certainty of our own existence, sometimes in the plainness of the evidence, in opposition to the clearness of the perception; sometimes in the immediate act of perception, in opposition to the clearness of the idea; and the certainty of other things without us, in the evidence of reason that these ideas are true and just, in opposition to the ideas themselves: I know not, by these rules, wherein to place certainty; and therefore stick to my own plain way, by ideas, delivered in these words:B. 4. c. 4.§ 18. “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 agreement of our ideas with the reality of things, I think I have shown wherein it is that certainty, real certainty, consists.” Whereof more may be seen in chap. vi. in which, if your lordship find any mistakes, I shall take it as a great honour to be set right by you.

Your lordship, as far as I can guess your meaning (for I must own I do not clearly comprehend it) seems to me, in the foregoing passage, to oppose this assertion, that the certainty of the being of any thing might be made out from the idea of that thing. Truly, my lord, Edition: current; Page: [51] I am so far from saying (or thinking) so, that I never knew any one of that mind but Descartes, and some that have followed him in his proof of a God, from the idea which we have of God in us; which I was so far from thinking a sufficient ground of certainty, that your lordship makes use of my denying or doubting of it, against me, as we shall see in the following words:

“But the idea of an infinite being has this peculiar to it, that necessary existence is implied in it. This is a clear and distinct idea, and yet it is denied that this doth prove the existence of God. How then can the grounds of our certainty arise from the clear and distinct ideas, when in one of the clearest ideas of our minds, we can come to no certainty by it?”

Your lordship’s proof here, as far as I comprehend it, seems to be, that it is confessed, “That certainty does not arise from clear and distinct ideas, because it is denied that the clear and distinct idea of an infinite being, that implies necessary existence in it, does prove the existence of a God.”

Here your lordship says, it is denied; and in five lines after you recal that saying, and use these words, “I do not say that it is denied, to prove it:” which of these two sayings of your lordship’s must I now answer to? If your lordship says it is denied, I fear that will not hold to be so in matter of fact, which made your lordship unsay it; though that being most to your lordship’s purpose, occasioned, I suppose, its dropping from your pen. For if it be not denied, I think the whole force of your lordship’s argument fails. But your lordship helps that out as well as the thing will bear, by the words that follow in the sentence, which altogether stands thus: “I do not say, that it is denied, to prove it; but this is said, that it is a doubtful thing, from the different make of men’s tempers, and application of their thoughts. What can this mean, unless it be to let us know that even clear and distinct ideas may lose their effect, by the difference of men’s tempers and studies? So that besides ideas, in order to a right judgment, a due temper and application of the mind is required.”

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If I meant in those words of mine, quoted here by your lordship, just as your lordship concludes they mean, I know not why I should be ashamed of it; for I never thought that ideas, even the most clear and distinct, would make men certain of what might be demonstrated from them, unless they were of a temper to consider, and would apply their minds to them. There are no ideas more clear and distinct than those of numbers, and yet there are a thousand demonstrations concerning numbers, which millions of men do not know, (and so have not the certainty about them that they might have) for want of application.

I could not avoid here to take this to myself: for this passage of your lordship’s is pinned down upon me so close, by your lordship’s citing the 7th sect of the 10th chapter of my ivth book, that I am forced here to answer for myself; which I shall do, after having first set down my words, as they stand in the place quoted by your lordship:B. iv. c. 10.§ 7. “How far the idea of a most perfect being, which a man may frame in his mind, does or does not prove the existence of a God, I will not here examine. For in the different make of men’s tempers and application of their thoughts, some arguments prevail more on one, and some on another, for the confirmation of the same truth. But yet, I think, this I may say, that it is an ill way of establishing this truth, and silencing atheists, to lay the whole stress of so important a point as this, upon that sole foundation, and take some men’s having that idea of God in their minds (for it is evident, some men have none, and some a worse than none, and the most very different) for the only proof of a Deity; and, out of an overfondness of that darling invention, cashier, or at least endeavour to invalidate all other arguments, and forbid us to hearken to those proofs, as being weak, or fallacious, which our own existence, and the sensible parts of the universe, offer so clearly and cogently to our thoughts, that I deem it impossible for a considering man to withstand them. For I judge it as certain and clear a truth, as can any where be delivered, Edition: current; Page: [53] that the invisible things of God are clearly seen from the creation of the world, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and godhead.”

The meaning of which words of mine was not to deny that the idea of a most perfect being doth prove a God, but to blame those who take it for the only proof, and endeavour to invalidate all others. For the belief of a God being, as I say in the same section, the foundation of all religion and genuine morality, I thought no arguments that are made use of to work the persuasion of a God into men’s minds, should be invalidated. And the reason I give why they should all be left to their full strength, and none of them rejected as unfit to be hearkened to, is this: because “in the different make of men’s tempers and application of their thoughts, some arguments prevail more on one, and some on another, for the confirmation of the same truth.” So that my meaning here was not, as your lordship supposes, to ground certainty on the different make of men’s tempers, and application of their thoughts, in opposition to clear and distinct ideas, as is very evident from my words; but to show of what ill consequence it is, to go about to invalidate any argument, which hath a tendency to settle the belief of a God in any one’s mind; because in the difference of men’s tempers and application, some arguments prevail more on one, and some on another: so that I speaking of belief, and your lordship, as I take it, speaking in that place of certainty, nothing can (I crave leave to say) be inferred from these words of mine to your lordship’s purpose. And that I meant belief, and not certainty, is evident from hence, that I look upon the argument there spoken of, as not conclusive, and so not able to produce certainty in any one, though I did not know how far it might prevail on some men’s persuasions to confirm them in the truth. And since not all, nor the most of those that believe a God, are at the pains, or have the skill, to examine and clearly comprehend the demonstrations of his being, I was unwilling to show the weakness of the argument there spoken of; since possibly by it some men might Edition: current; Page: [54] be confirmed in the belief of a God, which is enough to preserve in them true sentiments of religion and morality.

Your lordship hereupon asks, “Wherein is this different from what all men of understanding have said?”

I answer: in nothing that I know; nor did I ever, that I remember, say that it was. Your lordship goes on to demand,

“Why then should these clear and simple ideas be made the sole foundation of reason?”

I answer: that I know not: they must give your lordship a reason for it, who have made clear ideas the sole foundation of reason. Why I have made simple ones the foundation of all knowledge, I have shown. Your lordship goes on:

“One would think by this”—

By what, I beseech your lordship?

“That these ideas would presently satisfy men’s minds, if they attended to them.”

What those ideas are from which your lordship would expect such present satisfaction, and upon what grounds your lordship expects it, I do not know. But this I will venture to say, that all the satisfaction men’s minds can have in their inquiries after truth and certainty, is to be had only from considering, observing, and rightly laying together of ideas, so as to find out their agreement or disagreement, and no other way.

But I do not think ideas have truth and certainty always so ready to satisfy the mind in its inquiries, that there needs no more to be satisfied, than to attend to them as one does to a man, whom one asks a question to be satisfied; which your lordship’s way of expression seems to me to intimate. But they must be considered well, and their habitudes examined; and where their agreement or disagreement cannot be perceived by an immediate comparison, other ideas must be found out to discover the agreement or disagreement of those under consideration, and then all laid in a due order, before the mind can be satisfied in the certainty of that truth, which it is seeking after. This, my lord, requires often a little more time and pains, than attending to a tale Edition: current; Page: [55] that is told for present satisfaction. And I believe some of the incomparable Mr. Newton’s wonderful demonstrations cost him so much pains, that though they were all founded in nothing but several ideas of quantity, yet those ideas did not presently satisfy his mind, though they were such that, with great application and labour of thought, they were able to satisfy him with certainty, i. e. produce demonstration. Your lordship adds,

“But even this will not do as to the idea of an infinite being.”

Though the complex idea for which the sound God stands (whether containing in it the idea of necessary existence or no, for the case is the same) will not prove the real existence of a being answering that idea, any more than any other idea in any one’s mind will prove the existence of any real being answering that idea; yet, I humbly conceive, it does not hence follow, but that there may be other ideas by which the being of a God may be proved. For nobody that I know ever said, that every idea would prove every thing, or that an idea in men’s minds would prove the existence of such a real being: and therefore if this idea fail to prove, what is proposed to be proved by it, it is no more an exception against the way of ideas, than it would be an exception against the way of medius terminus, in arguing that somebody used one that did not prove. It follows:

“It is not enough to say they will not examine how far it will hold; for they ought either to say, that it doth hold, or give up this ground of certainty from clear and distinct ideas.”

Here, my lord, I am got again into the plural number; but not knowing any body but myself who has used these words which are set down out of my essay, and which you are in this and the foregoing paragraph arguing against, I am forced to beg your lordship to let me know, who those persons are whom your lordship, joining with me, entitles with me to those words of my book; or to whom your lordship joining me, entitles me by these words of mine to what they have published, that I may see how far I am answerable for them.

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Now as to the words themselves, viz. “I will not examine how far the idea proposed does or does not prove the existence of a God,” because they are mine; and your lordship excepts against them, and tells me, “it was not enough to say, I will not examine, &c. For I ought either to have said, that it doth hold, or give up this ground of certainty from clear and distinct ideas.” I will answer as well as I can.

I could not then, my lord, well say that that doth hold, which I thought did not hold; but I imagined I might, without entering into the examen, and showing the weakness of that argument, pass it by with saying, I would not examine, and so left it with this thought, “valeat quantum valere potest.”

But though I did this, and said not then, it will hold, nay think now it will not hold, yet I do not see how from thence I was then, or am now under any necessity to give up the ground of certainty from ideas; because the ground of certainty from ideas may be right, though in the present instance a right use were not made of them, or a right idea was not made use of to produce the certainty sought. Ideas in mathematics are a sure ground of certainty; and yet every one may not make so right an use of them, as to attain to certainty by them; but yet any one’s failing of certainty by them, is not the overturning of this truth, that certainty is to be had by them. Clear and distinct I have omitted here to join with ideas, not because clear and distinct make any ideas unfit to produce certainty, which have all other fitness to do it; but because I do not limit certainty to clear and distinct ideas only, since there may be certainty from ideas that are not in all their parts perfectly clear and distinct.

Your lordship, in the following paragraph, endeavours to show, that I have not proved the being of a God by ideas; and from thence, with an argument not unlike the preceding, you conclude, that ideas cannot be the grounds of certainty, because I have not grounded my proof of a God on ideas. To which way of argumentation I must crave leave here again to reply, that your lordship’s supposing, as you do, that there is another Edition: current; Page: [57] way to certainty, which is not that of ideas, does not prove that certainty may not be had from ideas, because I make use of that other way. This being premised, I shall endeavour to show, that my proof of a Deity is all grounded on ideas, however your lordship is pleased to call it by other names. Your lordship’s words are:

“But instead of the proper argument from ideas, we are told, that—from the consideration of ourselves, and what we find in our own constitutions, our reason leads us to the knowledge of this certain and evident truth, that there is an eternal, most powerful, and most knowing being. All which I readily yield; but we see plainly, the certainty is not placed in the idea, but in good and sound reason,” from the consideration of ourselves and our constitutions. “What! in the idea of ourselves? No certainly.”

Give me leave, my lord, to ask where I ever said, that certainty was placed in the idea, which your lordship urges my words as a contradiction of? I think I never said so. 1. Because I do not remember it. 2. Because your lordship has not quoted any place where I have said so. 3. Because I all along in my book, which has the honour to be so often quoted here by your lordship, say the quite contrary. For I place certainty where I think every body will find it, and no where else, viz. in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas; so that, in my opinion, it is impossible to be placed in any one single idea, simple or complex: I must own, that I think certainty grounded on ideas: and therefore to take your lordship’s words here, as I think they are meant, in opposition to what I say, I shall take the liberty to change your lordship’s words here, “What! in the idea of ourselves? No certainly;” into words used by your lordship in the foregoing page, to the same purpose, “What! can the grounds of our certainty arise from the idea of ourselves? No certainly.”

To which permit me, my lord, with due respect to reply, Yes, certainly. The certainty of the being of a God, in my proof, is grounded on the idea of ourselves, Edition: current; Page: [58] as we are thinking beings. But your lordship urges my own words, which are, that “from the consideration of ourselves, and what we find in our constitutions, our reason leads us to the knowledge of this certain and evident truth.”

My lord, I must confess I never thought, that the consideration of ourselves, and what we find in our own constitutions, excluded the consideration of the idea either of being or of thinking, two of the ideas that make a part of the complex idea a man has of himself. If consideration of ourselves excludes those ideas, I may be charged with speaking improperly; but it is plain, nevertheless, that I ground the proof of a God on those ideas, and I thought I spoke properly enough; when meaning that the consideration of those ideas, which our own being offered us, and so finding their agreement or disagreement with others, we were thereby, i. e. by thus reasoning, led into the knowledge of the existence of the first infinite being, i. e. of God; I expressed it as I did, in the more familiar way of speaking. For my purpose, in that chapter, being to make out the knowledge of the existence of a God, and not to prove that it was by ideas, I thought it most proper to express myself in the most usual and familiar way, to let it the easier into men’s minds, by common words and known ways of expression: and therefore, as I think, I have scarce used the word idea in that whole chapter, but only in that one place, where my speaking against laying the whole proof only upon our idea of a most perfect being obliged me to it.

But your lordship says, that in this way of coming to a certain knowledge of the being of a God, “from the consideration of ourselves, and what we find in our own constitutions, the certainty is placed in good and sound reason.” I hope so. “But not in the idea.”

What your lordship here means by not placed in the idea, I confess, I do not well understand; but if your lordship means that it is not grounded on the ideas of thinking and existence before mentioned, and the comparing of them, and finding their agreement or disagreement with other ideas, that I must take the liberty Edition: current; Page: [59] to dissent from: for in this sense it may be placed in ideas, and in good and sound reason too, i. e. in reason rightly managing those ideas so as to produce evidence by them. So that, my lord, I must own I see not the force of the argument, which says, not in ideas but in sound reason; since I see no such opposition between them, but that ideas and sound reason may consist together. For instance; when a man would show the certainty of this truth, that the three angles of a triangle are equal to two right ones; the first thing probably that he does, is to draw a diagram. What is the use of that diagram? but steadily to suggest to his mind those several ideas he would make use of in that demonstration. The considering and laying these together in such order, and with such connexion, as to make the agreement of the ideas of the three angles of the triangle, with the ideas of two right ones, to be perceived, is called right reasoning, and the business of that faculty which we call reason; which when it operates rightly by considering and comparing ideas so as to produce certainty, this showing or demonstration that the things is so, is called good and sound reason. The ground of this certainty lies in ideas themselves, and their agreement or disagreement, which reason neither does nor can alter, but only lays them so together as to make it perceivable; and without such a due consideration and ordering of the ideas, certainty could not be had: and thus certainty is placed both in ideas, and in good and sound reason.

This affords an easy answer to your lordship’s next words, brought to prove, that the certainty of a God is not placed on the idea of ourselves. They stand thus:

“For let our ideas be taken which way we please, by sensation or reflection, yet it is not the idea that makes us certain, but the argument from that which we perceive in and about ourselves.”

Nothing truer than that it is not the idea that makes us certain without reason, or without the understanding: but it is as true, that it is not reason, it is not the understanding, that makes us certain without ideas. It Edition: current; Page: [60] is not the sun makes me certain it is day, without my eyes; nor it is not my sight makes me certain it is day, without the sun; but the one employed about the other. Nor is it one idea by itself, that in this, or any case, makes us certain; but certainty consists in the perceived agreement or disagreement of all the ideas that serve to show the agreement or disagreement of distinct ideas, as they stand in the proposition, whose truth or falsehood we would be certain of. The using of intermediate ideas to show this is called argumentation, and the ideas so used in train, an argument; so that in my poor opinion to say, that the argument makes us certain, is no more than saying, the ideas made use of make us certain.

The idea of thinking in ourselves, which we receive by reflection, we may, by intermediate ideas, perceive to have a necessary agreement and connexion with the idea of the existence of an eternal, thinking being. This, whether your lordship will call placing of certainty in the idea, or placing the certainty in reason; whether your lordship will say, it is not the idea that gives us the certainty, but the argument; is indifferent to me; I shall not be so unmannerly as to prescribe to your lordship what way you should speak, in this or any other matter. But this your lordship will give me leave to say, that let it be called how your lordship pleases, there is no contradiction in it to what I have said concerning certainty, or the way how we came by it, or the ground on which I place it. Your lordship further urges my words out of the fifth section of the same chapter.

But “we find in ourselves perception and knowledge. It is very true. But how doth this prove there is a God? Is it from the clear and distinct idea of it? No, but from this argument, that either there must have been a knowing being from eternity, or an unknowing, for something must have been from eternity: but if an unknowing being, then it was impossible there ever should have been any knowledge, it being as impossible that a thing without knowledge should produce it, as that a triangle Edition: current; Page: [61] should make itself three angles bigger than two right ones.” Allowing the argument to be good, “yet it is not taken from the idea, but from the principles of true reason; as, that no man can doubt his own perception; that every thing must have a cause; that this cause must have either a knowledge or not; if it have, the point is gained: if it hath not, nothing can produce nothing; and consequently a not-knowing being cannot produce a knowing.”

Your lordship here contends, that my argument is not taken from the idea, but from true principles of reason. I do not say it is taken from any one idea, but from all the ideas concerned in it. But your lordship, if you herein oppose any thing I have said, must, I humbly conceive, say, not from ideas, but from true principles of reason; several whereof your lordship has here set down. And whence, I beseech your lordship, comes the certainty of any of those propositions, which your lordship calls true principles of reason, but from the perceivable agreement or disagreement of the ideas contained in them? Just as it is expressed in those propositions, v. g. “a man cannot doubt of his own perception,” is a true principle of reason, or a true proposition, or a certain proposition; but to the certainty of it we arrive, only by perceiving the necessary agreement of the two ideas of perception and self-consciousness.

Again, “every thing must have a cause:” though I find it so set down for one by your lordship, yet, I humbly conceive, is not a true principle of reason, nor a true proposition; but the contrary. The certainty whereof we attain by the contemplation of our ideas, and by perceiving that the idea of eternity, and the idea of the existence of something, do agree; and the idea of existence from eternity, and of having a cause, do not agree, or are inconsistent within the same thing. But “every thing that has a beginning must have a cause,” is a true principle of reason, or a proposition certainly true; which we come to know by the same way, i. e. by contemplating our ideas, and perceiving that the idea of beginning to be, is necessarily Edition: current; Page: [62] connected with the idea of some operation; and the idea of operation, with the idea of something operating, which we call a cause; and so the beginning to be, is perceived to agree with the idea of a cause, as is expressed in the proposition: and thus it comes to be a certain proposition; and so may be called a principle of reason, as every true proposition is to him that perceives the certainty of it.

This, my lord, is my way of ideas, and of coming to a certainty by them; which, when your lordship has again considered, I am apt to think your lordship will no more condemn, than I do except against your lordship’s way of arguments or principles of reason. Nor will it, I suppose, any longer offend your lordship, under the notion of a new way of reasoning; since I flatter myself, both these ways will be found to be equally old, one as the other, though perhaps formerly they have not been so distinctly taken notice of, and the name of ideas is of later date in our English language.

If your lordship says, as I think you mean, viz. that my argument to prove a God, is not taken from ideas, your lordship will pardon me, if I think otherwise. For I beseech your lordship, are not ideas, whose agreement or disagreement, as they are expressed in propositions, is perceived, immediately or by intuition, the principles of true reason? And does not the certainty we have of the truth of these propositions consist in the perception of such agreement or disagreement? And does not the agreement or disagreement depend upon the ideas themselves? Nay, so entirely depend upon the ideas themselves, that it is impossible for the mind, or reason, or argument, or any thing to alter it? All that reason or the mind does, in reasoning or arguing, is to find out and observe that agreement or disagreement: and all that argument does is, by an intervening idea, to show it, where an immediate putting the ideas together will not do it.

As for example, in the present case: the proposition, of whose truth I would be certain, is this: “a knowing being has eternally existed.” Here the ideas Edition: current; Page: [63] joined, are eternal existence, with a knowing being. But does my mind perceive any immediate connexion or repugnancy in these ideas? No. The proposition then at first view affords me no certainty; or, as our English idiom phrases it, it is not certain, or I am not certain of it. But though I am not, yet I would be certain whether it be true or no. What then must I do? Find arguments to prove that it is true, or the contrary. And what is that, but to cast about and find out intermediate ideas, which may show me the necessary connexion or inconsistency of the ideas in the proposition? Either of which, when by these intervening ideas I am brought to perceive, I am then certain that the proposition is true, or I am certain that it is false. As, in the present case, I perceive in myself thought and perception; the idea of actual perception has an evident connexion with an actual being, that doth perceive and think: the idea of an actual thinking being, hath a perceivable connexion with the eternal existence of some knowing being, by the intervention of the negation of all being, or the idea of nothing, which has a necessary connexion with no power, no operation, no casualty, no effect, i. e. with nothing. So that the idea of once actually nothing, has a visible connexion with nothing to eternity, for the future; and hence the idea of an actual being, is perceived to have a necessary connexion with some actual being from eternity. And by the like way of ideas, may be perceived the actual existence of a knowing being, to have a connexion with the existence of an actual knowing being from eternity; and the idea of an eternal, actual, knowing being, with the idea of immateriality, by the intervention of the idea of matter, and of its actual division, divisibility, and want of perception, &c. which are the ideas, or, as your lordship is pleased to call them, arguments, I make use of in this proof, which I need not here go over again; and which is partly contained in these following words, which your lordship thus quotes out of the 10th section of the same chapter.

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“Again, if we suppose nothing to be first, matter can never begin to be; if bare matter without motion to be eternal, motion can never begin to be; if matter and motion be supposed eternal, thought can never begin to be; for if matter could produce thought, then thought must be in the power of matter; and if it be in matter as such, it must be the inseparable property of all matter; which is contrary to the sense and experience of mankind. If only some parts of matter have a power of thinking, how comes so great a difference in the properties of the same matter? What disposition of matter is required to thinking? And from whence comes it? Of which no account can be given in reason.” To which your lordship subjoins:

“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 any clear and distinct ideas, but upon the force of reason distinct from it; which was the thing I intended to prove.”

Your lordship says, that the certainty of it (I suppose your lordship means the certainty produced by my proof of a Deity) is not placed upon clear and distinct ideas. It is placed, among others, upon the ideas of thinking, existence, and matter, which I think are all clear and distinct ideas; so that there are some clear and distinct ideas in it: and one can hardly say there are not any clear and distinct ideas in it, because there is one obscure and confused one in it, viz. that of substance; which yet hinders not the certainty of the proof.

The words which your lordship subjoins to the former, viz. “But upon the force of reason distinct from it;” seem to me to say, as far as I can understand them, that the certainty of my argument for a Deity is placed not on clear and distinct ideas, but upon the force of reason.

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This, among other places before set down, makes me wish your lordship had told us, what you understand by reason: for, in my acceptation of the word reason, I do not see but the same proof may be placed upon clear and distinct ideas, and upon reason too. As I said before, I can perceive no inconsistency or opposition between them, no more than there is any opposition between a clear object and my faculty of seeing, in the certainty of any thing I receive by my eyes; for this certainty may be placed very well on both the clearness of the object, and the exercise of that faculty in me.

Your lordship’s next words, I think, should be read thus; “distinct from them:” for if they were intended as they are printed, “distinct from it,” I confess I do not understand them. “Certainty not placed on clear and distinct ideas, but upon the force of reason distinct from them,” my capacity will reach the sense of. But then I cannot but wonder what “distinct from them” do there; for I know nobody that does not think that reason, or the faculty of reasoning, is distinct from the ideas it makes use of or is employed about, whether those ideas be clear and distinct, or obscure and confused. But if that sentence be to be read as it is printed, viz. “The certainty of it is not placed upon any clear and distinct ideas, but upon the force of reason distinct from it;” I acknowledge your lordship’s meaning is above my comprehension. Upon the whole matter, my lord, I must confess, that I do not see that what your lordship says you intended here to prove, is proved, viz. that certainty in my proof of a God is not placed on ideas. And next, if it were proved, I do not see how it answers any objection against the Trinity, in point of reason.

Before I go on to what follows, I must beg leave to confess, I am troubled to find these words of your lordship, among those I have above set down out of the foregoing page, viz. allowing the argument to be good; and cannot forbear to wish, that when your lordship was writing this passage, you had had in your mind what you are pleased here to say, viz. that you are far Edition: current; Page: [66] from weakening the force of my argument which I used to prove an infinite spiritual being.

My lord, your lordship is a great man, not only by the dignity your merits are invested with, but more by the merits of your parts and learning. Your lordship’s words carry great weight and authority with them; and he that shall quote but a saying or a doubt of your lordship’s, that questions the force of my argument for the proof of a God, will think himself well founded and to be hearkened to, as gone a great way in the cause. These words “allowing the argument to be good,” in the received way of speaking, are usually taken to signify, that he that speaks them, does not judge the argument to be good; but that for discourse-sake he at present admits it. Truly, my lord, till I read these words in your lordship, I always took it for a good argument; and was so fully persuaded of its goodness, that I spoke higher of it than of any reasoning of mine any where, because I thought it equal to a demonstration. If it be not so, it is fit I recall my words, and that I do not betray so important and fundamental a truth, by a weak, but over-valued argument: and therefore I cannot, upon this occasion, but importune your lordship, that if your lordship (as your words seem to intimate) sees any weakness in it, your lordship would be pleased to show it me; that either I may amend that fault, and make it conclusive, or else retract my confidence, and leave that cause to those who have strength suitable to its weight. But to return to what follows in your lordship’s next paragraph.

2. The next thing necessary to be cleared in this dispute, is, the distinction “between nature and person; and of this we can have no clear and distinct idea from sensation or reflection. And yet all our notions of the doctrine of the Trinity depend upon the right understanding of it. For we must talk unintelligibly about this point, unless we have clear and distinct apprehensions concerning nature and person, and the grounds of identity and distinction. But that these come not into our minds by these simple ideas of sensation and reflection, I shall now make it appear.”

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By this it is plain, that the business of the following pages is to make it appear, that “we have no clear and distinct idea of the distinction of nature and person, from sensation or reflection:” or, as your lordship expresses it a little lower, “the apprehensions concerning nature and person, and the grounds of identity and distinction, come not into our minds by the simple ideas of sensation and reflection.”

And what, pray my lord, can be inferred from hence, if it should be so? Your lordship tells us,

“All our notions of the doctrine of the Trinity depend upon the right understanding of the distinction between nature and person; and we must talk unintelligibly about this point, unless we have clear and distinct apprehensions concerning nature and person, and the grounds of identity and distinction.”

If it be so, the inference I should draw from thence (if it were fit for me to draw any) would be this, that it concerns those who write on that subject to have themselves, and to lay down to others, clear and distinct apprehensions, or notions, or ideas, (call them what you please) of what they mean by nature and person, and of the grounds of identity and distinction.

This seems, to me, the natural conclusion flowing from your lordship’s words; which seem here to suppose clear and distinct apprehensions (something like clear and distinct ideas) necessary for the avoiding unintelligible talk in the doctrine of the Trinity. But I do not see your lordship can, from the necessity of clear and distinct apprehensions of nature and person, &c. in the dispute of the Trinity, bring in one, who has perhaps mistaken the way to clear and distinct notions concerning nature and person, &c. as fit to be answered among those who bring objections against the Trinity in point of reason. I do not see why an unitarian may not as well bring him in, and argue against his Essay, in a chapter that he should write, to answer objections against the unity of God, in point of reason or revelation: for upon what ground soever any one writes in this dispute, or any other, it is not tolerable to talk unintelligibly on either side.

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If by the way of ideas, which is that of the author of the Essay of Human Understanding, a man cannot come to clear and distinct apprehensions concerning nature and person; if, as he proposes from the simple ideas of sensation and reflection, such apprehensions cannot be got; it will follow from thence, that he is a mistaken philosopher: but it will not follow from thence, that he is not an orthodox Christian, for he might (as he did) write his Essay of Human Understanding, without any thought of the controversy between the trinitarians and unitarians: nay, a man might have writ all that is in his book, that never heard one word of any such dispute.

There is in the world a great and fierce contest about nature and grace: it would be very hard for me, if I must be brought in as a party on either side, because a disputant, in that controversy, should think the clear and distinct apprehensions of nature and grace, come not into our minds by the simple ideas of sensation and reflection. If this be so, I may be reckoned among the objectors against all sorts and points of orthodoxy, whenever any one pleases: I may be called to account as one heterodox, in the points of free-grace, free-will, predestination, original sin, justification by faith, transubstantiation, the pope’s supremacy, and what not? as well as in the doctrine of the Trinity; and all because they cannot be furnished with clear and distinct notions of grace, free-will, transubstantiation, &c. by sensation or reflection. For in all these, or any other points, I do not see but there may be complaint made, that they have not always right understanding and clear notions of those things, on which the doctrine they dispute of depends. And it is not altogether unusual for men to talk unintelligibly to themselves and others, in these and other points of controversy, for want of clear and distinct apprehensions, or, (as I would call them, did not your lordship dislike it) ideas: for all which unintelligible talking I do not think myself accountable, though it should so fall out that my way, by ideas, would not help them to what it seems is wanting, clear and distinct notions. If my way be ineffectual to that Edition: current; Page: [69] purpose, they may, for all me, make use of any other more successful, and leave me out of the controversy, as one useless to either party, for deciding of the question.

Supposing, as your lordship says, and as you have undertaken to make appear, that “the clear and distinct apprehensions concerning nature and person, and the grounds of identity and distinction, should not come into the mind by the simple ideas of sensation and reflection;” what, I beseech your lordship, is this to the dispute concerning the Trinity, on either side? And if after your lordship has endeavoured to give clear and distinct apprehensions of nature and person, the disputants in this controversy should still talk unintelligibly about this point, for want of clear and distinct apprehensions concerning nature and person; ought your lordship to be brought in among the partisans on the other side, by any one who writ a Vindication of the Doctrine of the Trinity? In good earnest, my lord, I do not see how the clear and distinct notions of nature and person, not coming into the mind by the simple ideas of sensation and reflection, any more contains any objection against the doctrine of the Trinity, than the clear and distinct apprehensions of original sin, justification, or transubstantiation, not coming to the mind by the simple ideas of sensation and reflection, contains any objection against the doctrine of original sin, justification, or transubstantiation, and so of all the rest of the terms used in any controversy in religion; however your lordship, in a Treatise of the Vindication of the Doctrine of the Trinity, and in the chapter where you make it your business to answer objections in point of reason, set yourself seriously to prove, that “clear and distinct apprehensions concerning nature and person, and the grounds of identity and distinction, come not into our minds by these simple ideas of sensation and reflection.” In order to the making this appear, we read as followeth:

“As to nature, that is sometimes taken for the essential property of a thing; as, when we say, that such a thing is of a different nature from another; Edition: current; Page: [70] we mean no more, than it is differenced by such properties as come to our knowledge. Sometimes nature is taken for the thing itself in which these properties are; and so Aristotle took nature for a corporeal substance, which had the principles of motion in itself; but nature and substance are of an equal extent; and so that which is the subject of powers and properties, is the nature, whether it be meant of bodily or spiritual substances.”

Your lordship, in this paragraph, gives us two significations of the word nature: 1. That it is sometimes taken for essential properties, which I easily admit. 2. That sometimes it is taken for the thing itself in which these properties are, and consequently for substance itself. And this your lordship proves out of Aristotle.

Whether Aristotle called the thing itself, wherein the essential properties are, nature, I will not dispute: but that your lordship thinks fit to call substance nature, is evident. And from thence I think your lordship endeavours to prove in the following words, that we can have from ideas no clear and distinct apprehensions concerning nature. Your lordship’s words are:

“I grant, that by sensation and reflection we come to know the powers and properties of things; but our reason is satisfied that there must be something beyond these, because it is impossible that they should subsist by themselves. So that the nature of things properly belongs to our reason, and not to mere ideas.”

How we come by the idea of substance, from the simple ones of sensation and reflection, I have endeavoured to show in another place, and therefore shall not trouble your lordship with it here again. But what your lordship infers in these words, “So that the nature of things properly belongs to our reason, and not to mere ideas;” I do not well understand. Your lordship indeed here again seems to oppose reason and ideas; and to that I say, mere ideas are the objects of the understanding, and reason is one of the faculties of the understanding employed about them; and that the Edition: current; Page: [71] understanding, or reason, which-ever your lordship pleases to call it, makes or forms, out of the simple ones that come in by sensation and reflection, all the other ideas, whether general, relative, or complex, by abstracting, comparing, and compounding its positive simple ideas, whereof it cannot make or frame any one, but what it receives by sensation or reflection. And therefore I never denied that reason was employed about our particular simple ideas, to make out of them ideas general, relative, and complex; nor about all our ideas, whether simple or complex, positive or relative, general or particular: it being the proper business of reason, in the search after truth and knowledge, to find out the relations between all these sorts of ideas, in the perception whereof knowledge and certainty of truth consists.

These, my lord, are, in short, my notions about ideas, their original and formation, and of the use the mind, or reason, makes of them in knowledge. Whether your lordship thinks fit to call this a new way of reasoning, must be left to your lordship; whether it be a right way, is that alone which I am concerned for. But your lordship seems all along (I crave leave here once for all to take notice of it) to have some particular exception against ideas, and particularly clear and distinct ideas, as if they were not to be used, or were of no use in reason and knowledge; or, as if reason were opposed to them, or leads us into the knowledge and certainty of things without them; or, the knowledge of things did not at all depend on them. I beg your lordship’s pardon for expressing myself so variously and doubtfully in this matter; the reason whereof is, because I must own, that I do not every-where clearly understand what your lordship means, when you speak, as you do, of ideas; as if I ascribed more to them, than belonged to them; or expected more of them, than they could do; v. g. where your lordship says,

“But is all this contained in the simple idea of these operations?” And again, “so that here it is not the clearness of the idea, but an immediate act of perception, which is the true ground of certainty.” And farther, “so that our certainty is not from the Edition: current; Page: [72] ideas themselves, but from the evidence of reason.” And in another place, “it is not the idea that makes us certain, but the argument from that which we perceive in and about ourselves. Is it from the clear and distinct idea of it? No! but from this argument.” And here, “the nature of things belongs to our reason, and not to mere ideas.”

These, and several the like passages, your lordship has against what your lordship calls “this new way of ideas, and an admirable way to bring us to the certainty of reason.”

I never said nor thought ideas, nor any thing else, could bring us to the certainty of reason, without the exercise of reason. And then, my lord, if we will employ our minds, and exercise our reason, to bring us to certainty; what, I beseech you, shall they be employed about but ideas? For ideas, in my sense of the word,B. i. c. 1.§ 8. are, “whatsoever is the object of the understanding, when a man thinks; or whatever it is the mind can be employed about in thinking.” And again, I have these words,B. ii. c. 8.§ 8. “whatsoever is the immediate object of perception, thought, or understanding, that I call idea.” So that my way of ideas, and of coming to certainty by them, is to employ our minds in thinking upon something; and I do not see but your lordship yourself, and every body else, must make use of my way of ideas, unless they can find out a way that will bring them to certainty, by thinking on nothing. So that let certainty be placed as much as it will on reason, let the nature of things belong as properly as it will to our reason, it will nevertheless be true, that certainty consists in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas; and that the complex idea the word nature stands for, is ultimately made up of the simple ideas of sensation and reflection. Your lordship proceeds:

“But we must yet proceed farther: for nature may be considered two ways.

“1. As it is in distinct individuals, as the nature of a man is equally in Peter, James, and John; and this Edition: current; Page: [73] is the common nature, with a particular subsistence proper to each of them. For the nature of man, as in Peter, is distinct from the same nature, as it is in James and John; otherwise, they would be but one person, as well as have the same nature. And this distinction of persons in them, is discerned both by our senses, as to their different accidents; and by our reason, because they have a separate existence; not coming into it at once, and in the same manner.”

2. “Nature may be considered abstractly, without respect to individual persons: and then it makes an entire notion of itself. For however the same nature may be in different individuals, yet the nature itself remains one and the same; which appears from this evident reason, that otherwise every individual must make a different kind.”

I am so little confident of my own quickness, and of having got from what your lordship has said here, a clear and distinct apprehension concerning nature, that I must beg your lordship’s pardon, if I should happen to dissatisfy your lordship, by talking unintelligibly, or besides the purpose about it. I must then confess to your lordship, 1. that I do not clearly understand whether your lordship, in these two paragraphs, speaks of nature, as standing for essential properties; or of nature, as standing for substance; and yet it is of great moment in the case, because your lordship allows, that the notion of nature in the former of these senses, may be had from sensation and reflection; but of nature in the latter sense, your lordship says, “it properly belongs to reason, and not mere ideas.” 2. Your lordship’s saying, in the first of these paragraphs, “that the nature of a man, as in Peter, is distinct from the same nature as it is in James and John;” and in the second of them, “that however the same nature may be in different individuals, yet the nature itself remains one and the same;” does not give me so clear and distinct an apprehension concerning nature, that I know which, in your lordship’s opinion, I ought to think, either that one and the same nature is in Peter and John; or that a nature distinct from that in John, is in Edition: current; Page: [74] Peter: and the reason is, because I cannot, in my way by ideas, well put together one and the same and distinct. My apprehension concerning the nature of man, or the common nature of man, if your lordship will, upon this occasion, give me leave to trouble your lordship with it, is, in short, this; that it is a collection of several ideas, combined into one complex, abstract idea, which when they are found united in any individual existing, though joined in that existence with several other ideas, that individual or particular being is truly said to have the nature of a man, or the nature of a man to be in him; for as much as all these simple ideas are found united in him, which answer the complex, abstract idea, to which the specific name man is given by any one; which abstract, specific idea, he keeps the same, when he applies the specific name standing for it, to distinct individuals; i. e. nobody changes his idea of a man, when he says Peter is a man, from that idea which he makes the name man to stand for, when he calls John a man. This short way by ideas has not, I confess, those different, and more learned and scholastic considerations set down by your lordship. But how they are necessary, or at all tend to prove what your lordship has proposed to prove, viz. that we have no clear and distinct idea of nature, from the simple ideas got from sensation and reflection, I confess I do not yet see. But your lordship goes on to it.

“Let us now see how far these things can come from our simple ideas, by reflection and sensation. And I shall lay down the hypothesis of those, who resolve our certainty into ideas, as plainly and intelligibly as I can.”

Here I am got again into the plural number; for though it be said “the hypothesis of those,” yet my words alone are quoted for that hypothesis, and not a word of any body else in this whole business concerning nature. What they are, I shall give the reader, as your lordship has set them down.

Human Understanding, b. ii. c. 30, 31.1. We are told, “that all simple ideas are true and adequate. Not, that they are the true representations of things Edition: current; Page: [75] without us; but that they are the true effects of such powers in them, as produce such sensation within us. So that really we can understand nothing certainly by them, but the effects they have upon us.”

For these words of mine, I find Human Understanding, B. ii. c. 30. 31. quoted; but I crave leave to observe to your lordship, that in neither of these chapters do I find the words, as they stand here in your lordship’s book. In B. ii. c. 31. § 2. of my Essay, I find these words, “that all our simple ideas are adequate, because being nothing but the effects of certain powers in things fitted or ordained by God, to produce such sensations in us; they cannot but be correspondent and adequate to those powers.” And in chap. 30. sect. 2. I say, that “our simple ideas are all real, all agree to the reality of things. Not that they are all of them the images or representations of what does exist; the contrary whereof, in all but the primary qualities of bodies, hath been already shewed.”

These are the words in my book, from whence those in your lordship’s seem to be gathered, but with some difference: for I do not remember that I have any where said, of all our simple ideas, that they are none of them true representations of things without us; as the words I find in your lordship’s book, seem to make me say. The contrary whereof appears from the words which I have set down, out of chap. 30, where I deny only the simple ideas of secondary qualities to be representations; but do every-where affirm, that the simple ideas of primary qualities are the images or representations of what does exist without us. So that my words, in the chapters quoted by your lordship, not saying that all our simple ideas are only effects, and none of them representations, your lordship, I humbly conceive, cannot, upon that account, infer from my words, as you do here, viz. “so that really we can understand nothing certainly by them.”

The remaining words of this sentence, I must beg your lordship’s pardon, if I profess I do not understand: Edition: current; Page: [76] they are these; “but the effects they have upon us.” They here, and them in the preceding words to which they are joined, signify simple ideas; for it is of those your lordship infers, “so that really we can understand nothing certainly by them, but the effects they have upon us.” And then your lordship’s words import thus much, “so that really we can understand nothing certainly by simple ideas, but the effects simple ideas have upon us;” which I cannot understand to be what your lordship intended to infer from the preceding words taken to be mine. For I suppose your lordship argues, from my opinion concerning the simple ideas of secondary qualities, the little real knowledge we should receive from them, if it be true, that they are not representations or images of any thing in bodies, but only effects of certain powers in bodies to produce them in us: and in that sense I take the liberty to read your lordship’s words thus; so that we can really understand nothing certainly but [these ideas] by the effects [those powers] have upon us. To which I answer,

1. That we as certainly know and distinguish things by ideas, supposing them nothing but effects produced in us by these powers, as if they were representations. I can as certainly, when I have occasion for either, distinguish gold from silver by the colour, or wine from water by the taste: if the colour of the one, or the taste of the other, be only an effect of their powers on me; as if that colour and that taste were representations and resemblances of something in those bodies.

2. I answer; that we have certainly as much pleasure and delight by those ideas, one way as the other. The smell of a violet or taste of a peach gives me as real and certain delight, if it be only an effect, as if it were the true resemblance of something in that flower and fruit. And I a little the more wonder to hear your lordship complain so much of want of certainty in this case, when I read these words of your lordship in another place:

“That from the powers and properties of things which are knowable by us, we may know as much of Edition: current; Page: [77] the internal essence of things, as those powers and properties discover. I do not say, that we can know all essences of things alike; nor that we can attain to a perfect understanding of all that belong to them: but if we can know so much, as that there are certain beings in the world, endued with such distinct powers and properties; what is it we complain of in order to our certainty of things? But we do not see the bare essence of things. What is that bare essence, without the powers and properties belonging to it? It is that internal constitution of things, from whence those powers and properties flow. Suppose we be ignorant of this (as we are like to be, for any discoveries that have been yet made) that is a good argument, to prove the uncertainty of philosophical speculations, about the real essence of things; but it is no prejudice to us, who inquire after the certainty of such essences. For although we cannot comprehend the internal frame or constitution of things, nor in what manner they do flow from the substance; yet by them we certainly know, that there are such essences, and that they are distinguished from each other by their powers and properties.”

Give me leave, if your lordship please, to argue after the same manner in the present case: that from these simple ideas which are knowable by us, we know as much of the powers and internal constitutions of things, as these powers discover; and if we can know so much, as that there are such powers, and that there are certain beings in the world, endued with such powers and properties, that, by these simple ideas that are but the effects of these powers, we can as certainly distinguish the beings wherein those powers are, and receive as certain advantage from them, as if those simple ideas were resemblances: what is it we complain of the want of, in order to our certainty of things? But we do not see that internal constitution from whence those powers flow. Suppose we be ignorant of this (as we are like to be for any discoveries that have been yet made) that is a good argument, to show how short our philosophical speculations are about the real, internal constitutions Edition: current; Page: [78] of things; but is no prejudice to us, who by those simple ideas search out, find, and distinguish things for our uses. For though, by those ideas which are not resemblances, we cannot comprehend the internal frame or constitution of things, nor in what manner these ideas are produced in us, by those powers; yet by them we certainly know, that there are such essences or constitutions of these substances, that have those powers, whereby they regularly produce those ideas in us; and that they are distinguished from each other by those powers.

The next words your lordship sets down, as out of my book, are:

“2. All our ideas of substances are imperfect and inadequate, because they refer to the real essences of things of which we are ignorant, and no man knows what substance is in itself: and they are all false, when looked on as the representations of the unknown essences of things.”

In these too, my lord, you must give me leave to take notice,B. ii. c. 21. that there is a little variation from my words: for I do not say, “that all our ideas of substances are imperfect and inadequate, because they refer to the real essences of things;” for some people may not refer them to real essences. But I do say, “that all ideas of substances, which are referred to real essences, are in that respect inadequate.” As may be seen more at large in that chapter.

Your lordship’s next quotation has in it something of a like slip. The words which your lordship sets down, are,

“3. Abstract ideas are only general names, made by separating circumstances of time and place, &c. from them, which are only the inventions and creatures of the understanding.”

For these your lordship quotes chap. iii. § 6. of my third book; where my words are, “The next thing to be considered, is, how general words come to be made. For since all things that exist are only particulars, how come we by general terms? or where find we those general natures they are supposed to Edition: current; Page: [79] stand for? Words become general, by being made signs of general ideas; and ideas become general, by separating from them the circumstances of time or place, and any other ideas that may determine them to this or that particular existence. By this way of abstraction, they are made capable of representing more individuals than one; each of which, having in it a conformity to that abstract idea, is (as we call it) of that sort.” By which words it appears, that I am far enough from saying, “that abstract ideas are only general names.” Your lordship’s next quotation out of my book, is,

“4. Essence may be taken two ways: 1. For the real, internal, unknown constitutions of things; and in this sense it is understood as to particular things. 2. For the abstract idea; and one is said to be the nominal, the other the real essence. And the nominal essences only are immutable, and are helps to enable them to consider things, and to discourse of them.”

Here too, I think, there are some words left out, which are necessary to make my meaning clearly understood; which your lordship will find, if you think fit to give yourself the trouble to cast your eye again on that chapter, which you here quote. But not discerning clearly what use your lordship makes of them, as they are either in your lordship’s quotation, or in my book, I shall not trouble your lordship about them. Your lordship goes on:

“But two things are granted, which tend to clear this matter.

“1. That there is a real essence, which is the foundation of powers and properties.

“2. That we may know these powers and properties, although we are ignorant of the real essence.”

If by that indefinite expression, “we may know these powers and properties,” your lordship means, “that we may know some of the powers and properties that depend on the real essences of substances;” I grant it to be my meaning. If your lordship, in these words, comprehends all their powers and properties, Edition: current; Page: [80] that goes beyond my meaning. From these two things, which I grant your lordship says, you infer,

“1. That from those true and adequate ideas, which we have of the modes and properties of things, we have sufficient certainty of the real essence of them; for these ideas are allowed to be true; and either by them we may judge of the truth of things, or we can make no judgment at all of any thing without ourselves.

“If our ideas be only the effects we see of the powers of things without us; yet our reason must be satisfied, that there could be no such powers, unless there were some real beings which had them. So that either we may be certain, by these effects, of the real being of things; or it is not possible, as we are framed, to have any certainty at all of any thing without ourselves.”

All this, if I mistake not your lordship, is only to prove, that by the ideas of properties and powers which we observe in things, our reason must be satisfied that there are without us real beings, with real essences: which being that which I readily own and have said in my book, I cannot but acknowledge myself obliged to your lordship, for being at the pains to collect places out of my book to prove what I hold in it; and the more, because your lordship does it by ways and steps, which I should never possibly have thought of. Your lordship’s next inference is:

“2. That from the powers and properties of things, which are knowable by us, we may know as much of the internal essence of things, as those powers and properties discover. I do not say, that we can know all essences of things alike; nor that we can attain to a perfect understanding of all that belong to them: but if we can know so much, as that there are certain beings in the world, endued with such distinct powers and properties; what is it we complain of the want of, in order to our certainty of things? But we do not see the bare essence of things. What is that bare essence without the powers and properties belonging Edition: current; Page: [81] to it? It is that internal constitution of things, from whence those powers and properties flow. Suppose we be ignorant of this (as we are like to be, for any discoveries that have been yet made) that is a good argument to prove the uncertainty of philosophical speculations, about the real essences of things; but it is no prejudice to us, who inquire after the certainty of such essences. For although we cannot comprehend the internal frame or constitution of things, nor in what manner they do flow from the substance; yet, by them, we certainly know that there are such essences, and that they are distinguished from each other by their powers and properties.”

This second inference seems to be nothing but a reproof to those who complain, “that they do not see the bare essences of things.” Complaining that God did not make us otherwise than he has, and with larger capacities than he has thought fit to give us, is, I confess, a fault worthy of your lordship’s reproof. But to say, that if we knew the real essences or internal constitutions of those beings, some of whose properties we know, we should have much more certain knowledge concerning those things and their properties, I am sure is true, and I think no faulty complaining; and if it be, I must own myself to your lordship to be one of those complainers.

But your lordship asks, “what is it we complain of the want of, in order to our certainty of things?”

If your lordship means, as your words seem to import, “what is it we complain of, in order to our certainty,” that those properties are the properties of some beings, or that something does exist when those properties exist? I answer, we complain of the want of nothing in order to that certainty, or such a certainty as that is. But there are other very desirable certainties, or other parts of knowledge concerning the same things, which we may want, when we have those certainties. Knowing the colour, figure, and smell of hyssop, I can, when I see hyssop, know so much, as that there is a certain being in the world, endued with such distinct Edition: current; Page: [82] powers and properties; and yet I may justly complain, that I want something in order to certainty, that hyssop will cure a bruise or a cough, or that it will kill moths; or, used in a certain way, harden iron; or an hundred other useful properties that may be in it; which I shall never know; and yet might be certain of, if I knew the real essences or internal constitutions of things, on which their properties depend.

Your lordship agreeing with me, that the real essence is that internal constitution of things, from whence their powers and properties flow; adds farther, “suppose we be ignorant of this [essence] as we are like to be for any discoveries that have been yet made, that is a good argument to prove the uncertainty of philosophical speculations about the real essences of things: but it is no prejudice to us, who inquire after the certainty of such essences.”

I know nobody that ever denied the certainty of such real essences or internal constitutions, in things that do exist, if it be that that your lordship means by certainty of such essences. If it be any other certainty that your lordship inquires after, relating to such essences, I confess I know not what it is, since your lordship acknowledges, “we are ignorant of those real essences, those internal constitutions, and are like to be so;” and seem to think it the incurable cause of uncertainty in philosophical speculations.

Your lordship adds, “for although we cannot comprehend the internal frame and constitution of things, nor in what manner they do flow from the substance.”

Here I must acknowledge to your lordship, that my notion of these essences differs a little from your lordship’s; for I do not take them to flow from the substance in any created being, but to be in every thing that internal constitution, or frame, or modification of the substance, which God in his wisdom and good pleasure thinks fit to give to every particular creature, when he gives a being: and such essences I grant there are in all things that exist. Your lordship’s third inference begins thus:

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“3. The essences of things, as they are knowable by us, have a reality in them: for they are founded on the natural constitution of things.”

I think the real essences of things are not so much founded on, as that they are the very real constitution of things, and therefore I easily grant there is reality in them; and it was from that reality that I called them real essences. But yet from hence I cannot agree to what follows:

“And however the abstracted ideas are the work of the mind, yet they are not mere creatures of the mind; as appears by an instance produced of the essence of the sun being in one single individual; in which case it is granted, that the idea may be so abstracted, that more suns might agree in it, and it is as much a sort, as if there were as many suns as there are stars. So that here we have a real essence subsisting in one individual, but capable of being multiplied into more, and the same essence remaining. But in this one sun there is a real essence, and not a mere nominal or abstracted essence; but suppose there were more suns; would not each of them have the real essence of the sun? For what is it makes the second sun to be a true sun, but having the same real essence with the first? If it were but a nominal essence, then the second would have nothing but the name.”

This, my lord, as I understand it, is to prove, that the abstract general essence of any sort of things, or things of the same denomination, v. g. of man or marigold, hath a real being out of the understanding; which I confess, my lord, I am not able to conceive. Your lordship’s proof here brought out of my Essay, concerning the sun, I humbly conceive will not reach it; because what is said there, does not at all concern the real, but nominal essence; as is evident from hence, that the idea I speak of there, is a complex idea; but we have no complex idea of the internal constitution, or real essence of the sun. Besides, I say expressly, that our distinguishing substances into species by names, is not at all founded on their real essences. So that the Edition: current; Page: [84] sun being one of these substances, I cannot, in the place quoted by your lordship, be supposed to mean by essence of the sun, the real essence of the sun, unless I had so expressed it. But all this argument will be at an end, when your lordship shall have explained what you mean by these words, “true sun.” In my sense of them, any thing will be a true sun, to which the name sun may be truly and properly applied; and to that substance or thing, the name sun may be truly and properly applied, which has united in it that combination of sensible qualities, by which any thing else that is called sun is distinguished from other substances, i. e. by the nominal essence: and thus our sun is denominated and distinguished from a fixed star; not by a real essence that we do not know (for if we did, it is possible we should find the real essence or constitution of one of the fixed stars to be the same with that of our sun) but by a complex idea of sensible qualities co-existing; which, wherever they are found, make a true sun. And thus I crave leave to answer your lordship’s question, “for what is it makes the second sun to be a true sun, but having the same real essence with the first? If it were but a nominal essence, then the second would have nothing but the name.”

I humbly conceive, if it had the nominal essence, it would have something besides the name, viz. that nominal essence, which is sufficient to denominate it truly a sun, or to make it be a true sun, though we know nothing of that real essence whereon that nominal one depends. Your lordship will then argue, that that real essence is in the second sun, and makes the second sun. I grant it, when the second sun comes to exist, so as to be perceived by us to have all the ideas contained in our complex idea, i. e. in our nominal essence of a sun. For should it be true (as is now believed by astronomers) that the real essence of the sun were in any of the fixed stars, yet such a star could not for that be by us called a sun, whilst it answers not our complex idea or nominal essence of a sun. But how far that will prove, that the essences of things, as they are knowable by us, have a reality in them, distinct from that of Edition: current; Page: [85] abstract ideas in the mind, which are merely creatures of the mind I do not see; and we shall farther inquire, in considering your lordship’s following words.

“Therefore there must be a real essence in every individual of the same kind.” Yes, and I beg leave of your lordship to say, of a different kind too. For that alone is it which makes it to be what it is.

That every individual substance which has a real, internal, individual constitution, i. e. a real essence, that makes it to be what it is, I readily grant. Upon this your lordship says,

“Peter, James, and John are all true and real men.” Answ. Without doubt, supposing them to be men, they are true and real men, i. e. supposing the name of that species belongs to them. And so three bobaques are all true and real bobaques, supposing the name of that species of animals belongs to them.

For I beseech your lordship to consider, whether in your way of arguing, by naming them Peter, James, and John, names familiar to us, as appropriated to individuals of the species man, your lordship does not at first suppose them men; and then very safely ask, whether they be not all true and real men? But if I should ask your lordship, whether Weweena, Chuckerey, and Cousheda, were true and real men or no? Your lordship would not be able to tell me, until I having pointed out to your lordship the individuals called by those names, your lordship, by examining whether they had in them those sensible qualities, which your lordship has combined into that complex idea, to which you give the specific name man, determined them all, or some of them, to be the species which you call man, and so to be true and real men: which when your lordship has determined, it is plain you did it by that which is only the nominal essence, as not knowing the real one. But your lordship farther asks,

“What is it makes Peter, James, and John, real men? Is it the attributing the general name to them? No certainly; but that the true and real essence of a man is in every one of them.

If when your lordship asks, what makes them men? Edition: current; Page: [86] your lordship used the word, making, in the proper sense for the efficient cause, and in that sense it were true, that the essence of a man, i. e. the specific essence of that species, made a man; it would undoubtedly follow, that this specific essence had a reality beyond that of being only a general abstract idea in the mind. But when it is said, “that it is the true and real essence of a man in every one of them that makes Peter, James, and John, true and real men;” the true and real meaning of these words is no more, but that the essence of that species, i. e. the properties answering the complex abstract idea, to which the specific name is given, being found in them, that makes them be properly and truly called men, or is the reason why they are called men. Your lordship adds,

“And we must be as certain of this, as we are that they are men.”

How I beseech your lordship, are we certain, that they are men, but only by our senses, finding those properties in them which answer the abstract complex idea, which is in our minds of the specific idea, to which we have annexed the specific name man? This I take to be the true meaning of what your lordship says in the next words, viz. “they take their denomination of being men, from that common nature or essence which is in them;” and I am apt to think, these words will not hold true in any other sense.

Your lordship’s fourth inference begins thus:

“That the general idea is not made from the simple ideas, by the mere act of the mind abstracting from circumstances, but from reason and consideration of the nature of things.”

I thought, my lord, that reason and consideration had been acts of the mind, mere acts of the mind, when any thing was done by them. Your lordship gives a reason for it, viz.

“For when we see several individuals that have the same powers and properties, we thence infer, that there must be something common to all, which makes them of one kind.”

I grant the inference to be true; but must beg leave Edition: current; Page: [87] to deny that this proves, that the general idea the name is annexed to, is not made by the mind. I have said, and it agrees with what your lordship here says, that the mind,B. iii. c. 6.§ 28, 29. “in making its complex ideas of substances, only follows nature, and puts no ideas together, which are not supposed to have an union in nature: nobody joins the voice of a sheep with the shape of an horse; nor the colour of lead with the weight and fixedness of gold, to be the complex ideas of any real substances; unless he has a mind to fill his head with chimeras, and his discourse with unintelligible words. Men observing certain qualities always joined and existing together, therein copied nature, and of ideas so united, made their complex ones of substances, &c.” Which is very little different from what your lordship here says, that it is from our observation of individuals, that we come to infer, “that there is something common to them all.” But I do not see how it will thence follow, that the general or specific idea is not made by the mere act of the mind. No, says your lordship;

“There is something common to them all, which makes them of one kind; and if the difference of kinds be real, that which makes them all of one kind must not be a nominal, but real essence.”

This may be some objection to the name of nominal essence; but is, as I humbly conceive, none to the thing designed by it. There is an internal constitution of things, on which their properties depend. This your lordship and I are agreed of, and this we call the real essence. There are also certain complex ideas, or combinations of these properties in men’s minds, to which they commonly annex specific names, or names of sorts or kinds of things. This, I believe, your lordship does not deny. These complex ideas, for want of a better name, I have called nominal essences; how properly, I will not dispute. But if any one will help me to a better name for them, I am ready to receive it; till then I must, to express myself, use this. Now, my lord, body, life, and the power of reasoning, being Edition: current; Page: [88] not the real essence of a man, as I believe your lordship will agree: will your lordship say, that they are not enough to make the thing wherein they are found, of the kind called man, and not of the kind called baboon, because the difference of these kinds is real? If this be not real enough to make the thing of one kind and not of another, I do not see how animal rationale can be enough to distinguish a man from an horse: for that is but the nominal, not real essence of that kind, designed by the name man. And yet, I suppose, every one thinks it real enough, to make a real difference between that and other kinds. And if nothing will serve the turn, to make things of one kind and not of another (which, as I have showed, signifies no more but ranking of them under different specific names) but their real, unknown constitutions, which are the real essences we are speaking of, I fear it would be a long while before we should have really different kinds of substances, or distinct names for them; unless we could distinguish them by these differences, of which we have no distinct conceptions. For I think it would not be readily answered me, if I should demand, wherein lies the real difference in the internal constitution of a stag from that of a buck, which are each of them very well known to be of one kind, and not of the other; and nobody questions but that the kinds whereof each of them is, are really different. Your lordship farther says,

“And this difference doth not depend upon the complex ideas of substances, whereby men arbitrarily join modes together in their minds.”

I confess, my lord, I know not what to say to this, because I do not know what these complex ideas of substances are, whereby men arbitrarily join modes together in their minds. But I am apt to think there is a mistake in the matter, by the words that follow, which are these:

“For let them mistake in their complication of ideas, either in leaving out or putting in what doth not belong to them; and let their ideas be what they Edition: current; Page: [89] please, the real essence of a man, and an horse, and a tree, are just what they were.”

The mistake I spoke of, I humbly suppose is this, that things are here taken to be distinguished by their real essences; when by the very way of speaking of them, it is clear, that they are already distinguished by their nominal essences, and are so taken to be. For what, I beseech your lordship, does your lordship mean, when you say, “the real essence of a man, and an horse, and a tree;” but that there are such kinds already set out by the signification of these names, man, horse, tree? And what, I beseech your lordship, is the signification of each of these specific names, but the complex idea it stands for? And that complex idea is the nominal essence, and nothing else. So that taking man, as your lordship does here, to stand for a kind or sort of individuals; all which agree in that common, complex idea, which that specific name stands for; it is certain that the real essence of all the individuals, comprehended under the specific name man, in your use of it, would be just the same, let others leave out or put into their complex idea of man what they please; because the real essence on which that unaltered complex idea, i. e. those properties depend, must necessarily be concluded to be the same.

For I take it for granted, that in using the name man, in this place, your lordship uses it for that complex idea which is in your lordship’s mind of that species. So that your lordship, by putting it for, or substituting it in, the place of that complex idea, where you say, the real essence of it is just as it was, or the very same it was; does suppose the idea it stands for to be steadily the same. For if I change the signification of the word man, whereby it may not comprehend just the same individuals which in your lordship’s sense it does, but shut out some of those that to your lordship are men in your signification of the word man, or take in others to which your lordship does not allow the name man, I do not think your lordship will say, that the real essence of man, in both these senses, is the same; and yet your lordship seems to say so, when you Edition: current; Page: [90] say, “let men mistake in the complication of their ideas, either in leaving out or putting in what doth not belong to them; and let their ideas be what they please; the real essence of the individuals comprehended under the names annexed to these ideas, will be the same:” for so, I humbly conceive, it must be put, to make out what your lordship aims at. For as your lordship puts it by the name of man, or any other specific name, your lordship seems to me to suppose, that that name stands for, and not for, the same idea, at the same time.

For example, my lord, let your lordship’s idea, to which you annex the sign man, be a rational animal; let another man’s idea be a rational animal of such a shape; let a third man’s idea be of an animal of such a size and shape, leaving out rationality; let a fourth’s be an animal with a body of such a shape, and an immaterial substance, with a power of reasoning; let a fifth leave out of his idea an immaterial substance: it is plain every one of these will call his a man, as well as your lordship; and yet it is as plain that man, as standing for all these distinct, complex ideas, cannot be supposed to have the same internal constitution, i. e. the same real essence. The truth is, every distinct, abstract idea, with a name to it, makes a real, distinct kind, whatever the real essence (which we know not of any of them) be.

And therefore I grant it true, what your lordship says in the next words, “and let the nominal essences differ never so much, the real, common essence or nature of the several kinds, is not at all altered by them;” i. e. that our thoughts or ideas cannot alter the real constitutions that are in things that exist; there is nothing more certain. But yet it is true, that the change of ideas to which we annex them, can and does alter the signification of their names, and thereby alter the kinds, which by these names we rank and sort them into. Your lordship farther adds,

“And these real essences are unchangeable, i. e. the internal constitutions are unchangeable.” Of what, I beseech your lordship, are the internal constitutions Edition: current; Page: [91] unchangeable? Not of any thing that exists, but of God alone; for they may be changed all as easily by that hand that made them, as the internal frame of a watch? What then is it that is unchangeable? The internal constitution or real essence of a species: which, in plain English, is no more but this, whilst the same specific name, v. g. of man, horse, or tree, is annexed to, or made the sign of the same abstract, complex idea, under which I rank several individuals, it is impossible but the real constitution on which that unaltered complex idea, or nominal essence, depends, must be the same: i. e. in other words, where we find all the same properties, we have reason to conclude there is the same real, internal constitution, from which those properties flow.

But your lordship proves the real essences to be unchangeable, because God makes them, in these following words:

“For however there may happen some variety in individuals by particular accidents, yet the essences of men and horses, and trees, remain always the same; because they do not depend on the ideas of men, but on the will of the Creator, who hath made several sorts of beings.”

It is true, the real constitutions or essences of particular things existing, do not depend on the ideas of men, but on the will of the Creator; but their being ranked into sorts, under such and such names, does depend, and wholly depend upon the ideas of men.

Your lordship here ending your four inferences, and all your discourse about nature; you come, in the next place, to treat of person, concerning which your lordship discourseth thus:

“2. Let us now come to the idea of a person. For although the common nature in mankind be the same, yet we see a difference in the several individuals from one another: so that Peter, and James, and John, are all of the same kind; yet Peter is not James, and James is not John. But what is this distinction founded upon? They may be distinguished from each other by our senses as to difference of Edition: current; Page: [92] features, distance of place, &c. but that is not all; for supposing there were no such external difference, yet there is a difference between them, as several individuals of the same nature. And here lies the true common idea of a person, which arises from that manner of substance which is in one individual, and is not communicable to another. An individual, intelligent substance, is rather supposed to the making of a person, than the proper definition of it: for a person relates to something, which doth distinguish it from another intelligent substance in the same nature; and therefore the foundation of it lies in the peculiar manner of subsistence, which agrees to one, and to none else of the kind: and this is it which is called personality.”

But then your lordship asks, “but how do our simple ideas help us out in this matter? Can we learn from them the difference of nature and person?”

If nature and person are taken for two real beings, that do or can exist any where, without any relation to these two names, I must confess I do not see how simple ideas, or any thing else, can help us out in this matter; nor can we from simple ideas, or any thing else that I know, learn the difference between them, nor what they are.

The reason why I speak thus, is because your lordship, in your fore-cited words, says, “here lies the true idea of a person;” and in the foregoing discourse speaks of nature, as if it were some steady, established being, to which one certain precise idea necessarily belongs to make it a true idea: whereas, my lord, in the way of ideas, I begin at the other end, and think that the word person in itself signifies nothing; and so no idea belonging to it, nothing can be said to be the true idea of it. But as soon as the common use of any language has appropriated it to any idea, then that is the true idea of a person, and so of nature: but because the propriety of language, i. e. the precise idea that every word stands for, is not always exactly known, but is often disputed, there is no other way for him that uses a word that is in dispute, but to define what Edition: current; Page: [93] he signifies by it; and then the dispute can be no longer verbal, but must necessarily be about the idea which he tells us he puts it for.

Taking therefore nature and person for the signs of two ideas they are put to stand for, there is nothing, I think, that helps us so soon, nor so well to find the difference of nature and person, as simple ideas; for by enumerating all the simple ideas, that are contained in the complex idea that each of them is made to stand for, we shall immediately see the whole difference that is between them.

Far be it from me to say there is no other way but this: your lordship proposing to clear the distinction between nature and person, and having declared, “we can have no clear and distinct idea of it by sensation or reflection, and that the grounds of identity and distinction come not into our minds by the simple ideas of sensation and reflection:” gave me some hopes of getting farther insight into these matters, so as to have more clear and distinct apprehensions concerning nature and person, than was to be had by ideas. But after having, with attention, more than once read over what your lordship, with so much application, has writ thereupon; I must, with regret, confess, that the way is too delicate, and the matter too abstruse, for my capacity; and that I learned nothing out of your lordship’s elaborate discourse, but this, that I must content myself with the condemned way of ideas, and despair of ever attaining any knowledge by any other than that, or farther than that will lead me to it.

The remaining part of the chapter containing no remarks of your lordship upon any part of my book, I am glad I have no occasion to give your lordship any farther trouble, but only to beg your lordship’s pardon for this, and to assure your lordship that I am,

My Lord,
Your lordship’s most humble
and most obedient servant,
JOHN LOCKE.
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POSTCRIPT.

my lord,

Upon a review of these papers, I can hardly forbear wondering at myself what I have been doing in them; since I can scarce find upon what ground this controversy with me stands, or whence it rose, or whither it tends. And I should certainly repent my pains in it, but that I conclude that your lordship, who does not throw away your time upon slight matters, and things of small moment, having a quicker sight and larger views than I have, would not have troubled yourself so much with my book, as to bestow on it seven and twenty pages together of a very learned treatise, and that on a very weighty subject; and in those twenty-seven pages, bring seven and twenty quotations out of my book; unless there were someting in it wherein it is very material that the world should be set right; which is what I earnestly desire should be done: and, to that purpose alone, have taken the liberty to trouble your lordship with this letter.

If I have any where omitted any thing of moment in your lordship’s discourse concerning my notions, or any where mistaken your lordship’s sense in what I have taken notice of, I beg your lordship’s pardon; with this assurance, that it was not wilfully done. And if any where, in the warm pursuit of an argument, overattention to the matter should have made me let slip any form of expression, in the least circumstance not carrying with it the utmost marks of that respect that I acknowledge due, and shall always pay to your lordship’s person and known great learning, I disown it; and desire your lordship to look on it as not coming from my intention, but inadvertency.

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Nobody’s notions, I think, are the better or truer, for ill manners joined with them; and I conclude your lordship, who so well knows the different cast of men’s heads, and of the opinions that possess them, will not think it ill manners in any one, if his notions differ from your lordship’s, that he owns that difference, and explains the grounds of it as well as he can. I have always thought, that truth and knowledge, by the ill and over-eager management of controversies, lose a great deal of the advantages they might receive, from the variety of conceptions there is in men’s understandings. Could the heats, and passion, and ill language be left out of them, they would afford great improvements to those who could separate them from byeinterests and personal prejudices. These I look upon your lordship to be altogether above.

It is not for me, who have so mean a talent in it myself, to prescribe to any one how he should write; for when I have said all I can, he, it is like, will follow his own method, and perhaps cannot help it. Much less would it be good manners in me, to offer any thing that way to a person of your lordship’s high rank, above me, in parts and learning, as well as place and dignity. But yet your lordship will excuse it to my shortsightedness, if I wish sometimes that your lordship would have been pleased, in this debate, to have kept every one’s part separate to himself; that what I am concerned in, might not have been so mingled with the opinions of others, which are no tenets of mine, nor, as I think, does what I have written any way relate to; but that I and every one might have seen whom your lordship’s arguments bore upon, and what interest he had in the controversy, and how far. At least, my lord, give me leave to wish, that your lordship had shown what connexion any thing I have said-about ideas, and particularly about the idea of substance, about the possibility that God, if he pleased, might endue some systems of matter with a power of thinking; or what I have said to prove a God, &c. has with any objections, that are made by others, against the doctrine of the Trinity, or against mysteries: for many passages concerning ideas, Edition: current; Page: [96] substances, the possibility of God’s bestowing thoughts on some systems of matter, and the proof of a God, &c. your lordship has quoted out of my book, in a chapter wherein your lordship professes to answer “objections against the Trinity, in point of reason.” Had I been able to discover in these passages of my book, quoted by your lordship, what tendency your lordship had observed in them to any such objections, I should perhaps have troubled your lordship with less impertinent answers. But the uncertainty I was very often in, to what purpose your lordship brought them, may have made my explications of myself less apposite, than what your lordship might have expected. If your lordship had showed me any thing in my book, that contained or implied any opposition in it to any thing revealed in holy writ concerning the Trinity, or any other doctrine contained in the bible, I should have been thereby obliged to your lordship for freeing me from that mistake, and for affording me an opportunity to own to the world that obligation, by publicly retracting my errour. For I know not any thing more disingenuous, than not publicly to own a conviction one has received concerning any thing erroneous in what one has printed; nor can there, I think, be a greater offence against mankind, than to propagate a falsehood whereof one is convinced, especially in a matter wherein men are highly concerned not to be misled.

The holy scripture is to me, and always will be, the constant guide of my assent; and I shall always hearken to it, as containing infallible truth, relating to things of the highest concernment. And I wish I could say, there were no mysteries in it: I acknowledge there are to me, and I fear always will be. But where I want the evidence of things, there yet is ground enough for me to believe, because God has said it: and I shall presently condemn and quit any opinion of mine, as soon as I am shown that it is contrary to any revelation in the holy scripture. But I must confess to your lordship, that I do not perceive any such contrariety in any thing in my Essay of Human Understanding.

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MR. LOCKE’S REPLY TO THE RIGHT REVEREND THE LORD BISHOP OF WORCESTER’S ANSWER TO HIS LETTER, CONCERNING SOME PASSAGES RELATING TO MR. LOCKE’S ESSAY OF HUMAN UNDERSTANDING:
IN A LATE DISCOURSE OF HIS LORDSHIP’S, IN VINDICATION OF THE TRINITY.

Edition: current; Page: [98] Edition: current; Page: [99]
John Locke
Locke, John
London
1697-06-29
Edward
Edward
my lord,

Your lordship having done my letter the honour to think it worth your reply, I think myself bound in good manners publicly to acknowledge the favour, and to give your lordship an account of the effect it has had upon me, and the grounds upon which I yet differ from you in those points, wherein I am still under the mortification of not being able to bring my sentiments wholly to agree with your lordship’s. And this I the more readily do, because it seems to me, that that wherein the great difference now lies between us, is founded only on your fears; which, I conclude, upon a sedate review, your lordship will either part with, or else give me other reasons, besides your apprehensions, to convince me of mistakes in my book, which your lordship thinks may be of consequence even in matters of religion.

Your lordship makes my letter to consist of two parts; my complaint to your lordship, and my vindication of myself. You begin with my complaint; one part whereof was, that I was brought into a controversy, wherein I had never meddled, nor knew how I came to be concerned in. To this your lordship is pleased to promise me satisfaction.

Since your lordship has condescended so far, as to be at the pains to give me and others satisfaction in this matter, I crave leave to second your design herein, and to premise a remark or two for the clearer understanding the nature of my complaint, which is the only way to satisfaction in it.

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1. Then it is to be observed, that the proposition which you dispute against, as opposite to the doctrine of the Trinity, is this, that clear and distinct ideas are necessary to certainty. This is evident not only from what your lordship subjoins to the account of reason, given by the author of Christianity not mysterious; but also by what your lordship says here again in your answer to me, in these words: “to lay all foundation of certainty, as to matters of faith, upon clear and distinct ideas, was the opinion I opposed.”

2. It is to be observed, that this you call a new way of reasoning; and those that build upon it, gentlemen of this new way of reasoning.

3. It is to be observed, that a great part of my complaint was, that I was made one of the gentlemen of this new way of reasoning, without any reason at all.

To this complaint of mine, your lordship has had the goodness to make this answer:

“Now to give you, and others, satisfaction as to this matter, I shall first give an account of the occasion of it; and then show what care I took to prevent misunderstanding about it.”

The first part of the satisfaction your lordship is pleased to offer, is contained in these words:

“The occasion was this: being to answer the objections in point of reason, (which had not been answered before) the first I mentioned was: That it was above reason, and therefore not to be believed. In answer to this, I proposed two things to be considered: 1. What we understand by reason. 2. What ground in reason there is to reject any doctrine above it, when it is proposed as a matter of faith.”

“As to the former I observed, that the unitarians, in their late pamphlets, talked very much about clear and distinct ideas and perceptions, and that the mysteries of faith were repugnant to them; but never went about to state the nature and bounds of reason, in such a manner as they ought to have done, who make it the rule and standard of what they are to believe. But I added, that a late author, in a book called Christianity not mysterious, had taken upon Edition: current; Page: [101] him to clear this matter, whom for that cause I was bound to consider: the design of this discourse related wholly to matters of faith, and not to philosophical speculations; so that there can be no dispute about his application of these he calls principles of reason and certainty.”

“When the mind makes use of intermediate ideas to discover the agreement or disagreement of the ideas received into them; this method of knowledge, he saith, is properly called reason or demonstration.

“The mind, as he goes on, receives ideas two ways.

“1. By intromission of the senses.

“2. By considering its own operations.

“And these simple and distinct ideas are the sole matter and foundation of all our reasoning.”

And so all our certainty is resolved into two things, either “immediate perception, which is self-evidence; or the use of intermediate ideas, which discover the certainty of any thing dubious: which is what he calls reason.

“Now this, I said, did suppose, that we must have clear and distinct ideas of whatever we pretend to any certainty of in our minds (by reason) and that the only way to attain this certainty, is by comparing these ideas together; which excludes all certainty of faith or reason, where we cannot have such clear and distinct ideas.

“From hence I proceeded to show, that we could not have such clear and distinct ideas as were necessary in the present debate, either by sensation or reflection, and consequently we could not attain to any certainty about it; for which I instanced in the nature of substance and person, and the distinction between them.

“And by virtue of these principles, I said, that I did not wonder that the gentlemen of this new way of reasoning had almost discarded substance out of the reasonable part of the world.”

This is all your lordship says here, to give me, and others, satisfaction, as to the matters of my complaint. For what follows of your answer, is nothing but your Edition: current; Page: [102] lordship’s arguing against what I have said concerning substance.

In these words therefore, above quoted, I am to find the satisfaction your lordship has promised, as to the occasion why your lordship made me one of the gentlemen of the new way of reasoning, and in that joined me with the unitarians, and the author of Christianity not mysterious. But I crave leave to represent to your lordship, wherein the words above quoted come short of giving me satisfaction.

In the first place, it is plain they were intended for a short narrative of what was contained in the tenth chapter of your Vindication of the Doctrine of the Trinity, relating to this matter. But how could your lordship think, that the repeating the same things over again could give me or any body else satisfaction, as to my being made one of the gentlemen of this new way of reasoning?

Indeed I cannot say it is an exact repetition of what is to be found in the beginning of that tenth chapter; because your lordship said, in that tenth chapter, that “the author of Christianity not mysterious gives an account of reason, which supposes that we must have clear and distinct ideas of whatever we pretend to a certainty of in our minds.” But here, in the passage above set down, out of your answer to my letter, I find it is not to his account of reason, but to something taken out of that, and something borrowed by him out of my book, to which your lordship annexes this supposition. For your lordship says, “now this, I said, did suppose that we must have clear and distinct ideas of whatever we pretend to any certainty of in our minds (by reason.)”

If your lordship did say so in your Vindication of the Doctrine of the Trinity, your printer did your lordship two manifest injuries. The one is, that he omitted these words [by reason]: and the other, that he annexed your lordship’s words to the account of reason, there given by the author of Christianity not mysterious; and not to those words your lordship here says you annexed them to. For this here refers to other words, and not Edition: current; Page: [103] barely to that author’s account of reason; as any one may satisfy himself, who will but compare these two places together.

One thing more seems to me very remarkable in this matter, and that is, that “the laying all foundation of certainty, as to matters of faith, upon clear and distinct ideas, should be the opinion which you oppose,” as your lordship declares; and that this should be it for which the unitarian, the author of Christianity not mysterious, and I, are jointly brought on the stage, under the title of the gentlemen of this new way of reasoning: and yet no one quotation be brought out of the unitarians, to show it to be their opinion: nor any thing alleged out of the author of Christianity not mysterious, to show it to be his; but only some things quoted out of him, which are said to suppose all foundation of certainty to be laid upon clear and distinct ideas: which that they do suppose it, is not, I think, self-evident, nor yet proved. But this I am sure, as to myself, I do no where lay all foundation of certainty in clear and distinct ideas; and therefore am still at a loss, why I was made one of the gentlemen of this new way of reasoning.

Another thing wherein your lordship’s narrative, intended for my satisfaction, comes short of giving it me, is this; that at most it gives but an account of the occasion why the unitarians, and the author of Christianity not mysterious, were made by your lordship the gentlemen of this new way of reasoning. But it pretends not to say a word why I was made one of them; which was the thing wherein I needed satisfaction. For your lordship breaks off your report of the matter of fact, just when you were come to the matter of my complaint; which you pass over in silence, and turn your discourse to what I have said in my letter: for your lordship ends the account of the occasion, in these words: “the gentlemen of this new way of reasoning had almost discarded substance out of the reasonable part of the world.” And there your lordship stops. Whereas it is in the words that immediately Edition: current; Page: [104] follow, that I am brought in as one of those gentlemen, of which I would have been glad to have known the occasion; and it is in this that I needed satisfaction. For that which concerns the others, I meddle not with; I only desire to know upon what occasion, or why, I was brought into this dispute of the Trinity. But of that, in this account of the occasion, I do not see that your lordship says any thing.

I have been forced therefore to look again a little closer into this whole matter: and, upon a fresh examination of what your lordship has said, in your Vindication of the doctrine of the Trinity, and in your answer to my letter, I come now to see a little clearer, that the matter, in short, stands thus: The author of Christianity not mysterious was one of the gentlemen of this new way of reasoning, because he had laid down a doctrine concerning reason, which supposed clear and distinct ideas necessary to certainty. But that doctrine of his tied me not at all to him, as may be seen by comparing his account of reason with what I have said of reason in my essay, which your lordship accuses of no such supposition; and so I stood clear from his account of reason or any thing it supposes. But he having given an account of the original of our ideas, and having said something about them conformable to what is in my essay, that has tied him and me so close together, that by this sort of connexion I came to be one of the gentlemen of this new way of reasoning, which consists in making clear and distinct ideas necessary to certainty; though I no where say, or suppose, clear and distinct ideas necessary to certainty.

How your lordship came to join me with the author of Christianity not mysterious, I think is now evident. And he being the link whereby your lordship joins me to the unitarians, in Objections against the Trinity in point of Reason answered; give me leave, my lord, a little to examine the connexion of this link on that side also, i. e. what has made your lordship join him and the unitarians in this point, viz. making clear and distinct ideas necessary to certainty; that great battery, it Edition: current; Page: [105] seems, which they make use of against the doctrine of the Trinity in point of reason.

Now as to this, your lordship says, “that the unitarians having not explained the nature and bounds of reason as they ought; the author of Christianity not mysterious hath endeavoured to make amends for this, and takes upon him to make this matter clear.” And then your lordship sets down his account of reason at large.

I will not examine how it appears, that the author of Christianity not mysterious gave this account of reason, to supply the defect of the unitarians herein, or to make amends for their not having done it. Your lordship does not quote any thing out of him, to show that it was to make amends for what the unitarians had neglected. I only look to see how the unitarians and he come to be united, in this dangerous principle of the necessity of clear and distinct ideas to certainty: which is that which makes him a gentleman of this new and dangerous way of reasoning; and consequently me too, because he agrees in some particulars with my essay.

Now, my lord, having looked over his account of reason, as set down by your lordship; give me leave to say, that he that shall compare that account of reason with your lordship’s animadversion annexed to it, in these words, “this is offered to the world as an account of reason; but to show how very loose and unsatisfactory it is, I desire it may be considered, that this doctrine supposes that we must have clear and distinct ideas of whatever we pretend to any certainty of in our minds; and that the only way to attain this certainty, is by comparing these ideas together; which excludes all certainty of faith or reason, where we cannot have such clear and distinct ideas:” will, I fear, hardly defend himself from wondering at the way your lordship has taken to show, how loose and unsatisfactory an account of reason his is; but by imagining that your lordship had a great mind to say something against clear and distinct ideas, as necessary to certainty: or that your lordship had some reason for bringing them in, that does not appear in that account Edition: current; Page: [106] of reason; since in it, from one end to the other, there is not the least mention of clear and distinct ideas. Nor does he (that I see) say any thing that supposes that we must have clear and distinct ideas of whatever we pretend to any certainty of in our minds.

But whether he and the unitarians do, or do not, lay all foundation of certainty, as to matters of faith, upon clear and distinct ideas, I concern not myself; all my inquiry is, how he and I and the unitarians come to be joined together, as gentlemen of this new way of reasoning? Which, in short, as far as I can trace and observe the connexion, is only thus:

The unitarians are the men of this new way of reasoning, because they speak of clear and distinct perceptions, in their answer to your lordship’s sermon, as your lordship says. The author of Christianity not mysterious is joined to the unitarians, as a gentleman of this new way of reasoning, because his doctrine, concerning reason, supposes we must have clear and distinct ideas of whatever we pretend to any certainty of in our minds: and I am joined to that author, because he says, “that the using of intermediate ideas to discover the agreement or disagreement of the ideas received into our minds, is reason; and that the mind receives ideas by the intromission of the senses, and by considering its own operations. And these simple and distinct ideas are the sole matter and foundation of all our reasoning.” This, because it seems to be borrowed out of my book, is that which unites me to him, and by him consequently to the unitarians.

And thus I am come to the end of the thread of your lordship’s discourse, whereby I am brought into the company of the gentlemen of this new way of reasoning, and thereby bound up in the bundle and cause of the unitarians arguing against the doctrine of the Trinity, by objections in point of reason.

I have been longer upon this, than I thought I should be; but the thread that ties me to the unitarians being spun very fine and subtile, is, as it naturally falls out, the longer for it, and the harder to be followed, so as to discover the connexion every where. As for example; Edition: current; Page: [107] the thread that ties me to the author of Christianity not mysterious, is so fine and delicate, that without laying my eyes close to it, and poring a good while, I can hardly perceive how it hangs together; that because he says what your lordship charges him to say, in your Vindication, &c. and because I say what your lordship quotes out of my Essay, that therefore I am one of the gentlemen of this new way of reasoning, which your lordship opposes in the unitarians, as dangerous to the doctrine of the Trinity. This connexion of me with the author of Christianity not mysterious; and by him, with the unitarians; (being in a point wherein I agree with your lordship, and not with them, if they do lay all the foundation of knowledge in clear and distinct ideas) is, I say, pretty hard for me clearly to perceive now, though your lordship has given me, in your letter, that end of the clue which was to lead me to it, for my satisfaction; but was impossible for me, or (as I think) any body else to discover, while it stood as it does in your lordship’s Vindication, &c.

And now, my lord, it is time I ask your lordship’s pardon, for saying in my first letter, “that I hoped I might say, you had gone a little out of your way to do me a kindness;” which your lordship, by so often repeating of it, seems to be displeased with. For, besides that there is nothing out of the way to a willing mind, I have now the satisfaction to be joined to the author of Christianity not mysterious, for his agreeing with me in the original of our ideas and the materials of our knowledge (though I agree not with him, or any body else, in laying all foundation of certainty in matters of faith, in clear and distinct ideas); and his being joined with the unitarians, by giving an account of reason, which supposes clear and distinct ideas, as necessary to all knowledge and certainty: I have now, I say, the satisfaction to see how I lay directly in your lordship’s way, in opposing these gentlemen, who lay all foundation of certainty, as to matters of faith, upon clear and distinct ideas; i. e. the unitarians, the gentlemen of this new way of reasoning; so dangerous to the doctrine of the Trinity. For the author of Christianity Edition: current; Page: [108] not mysterious agreeing with them in some things, and with me in others; he being joined to them on one side by an account of reason, that supposes clear and distinct ideas necessary to certainty; and to me on the other side, by saying, “the mind has its ideas from sensation and reflection, and that those are the materials and foundations of all our knowledge, &c.” who can deny, but so ranged in a row, your lordship may place yourself so, that we may seem but one object, and so one shot be aimed at us altogether? Though, if your lordship would be at the pains to change your station a little, and view us on the other side, we should visibly appear to be very far asunder; and I, in particular, be found, in the matter controverted, to be nearer to your lordship, than to either of them, or any body else, who lay all foundation of certainty, as to matters of faith, upon clear and distinct ideas. For I perfectly assent to what your lordship saith, “that there are many things of which we may be certain, and yet can have no clear and distinct ideas of them.”

Besides this account of the occasion of bringing me into your lordship’s chapter, wherein objections against the Trinity in point of reason are answered, which we have considered; your lordship promises “to show what care you took to prevent being misunderstood about it, to give me and others satisfaction, as to this matter:” which I find about the end of the first quarter of your lordship’s answer to me. All the pages between, being taken up in a dispute against what I have said about substance, and our idea of it, that I think has now no more to do with the question, whether I ought to have been made one of the gentlemen of this new way of reasoning, or with my complaint about it; though there be many things in it that I ought to consider apart, to show the reason why I am not yet brought to your lordship’s sentiments, by what you have there said. To return therefore to the business in hand.

Your lordship says, “I come therefore now to show the care I took to prevent being misunderstood; Edition: current; Page: [109] which will best appear by my own words, viz. I 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 he makes the cases of spiritual and corporeal substances to be alike.”

These words, my lord, which you have quoted out of your Vindication, &c. I, with acknowledgment, own, will keep your lordship from being misunderstood, if any one should be in danger to be so foolishly mistaken, as to think your lordship could not treat me with great civility when you pleased; or that you did not here make me a great compliment, in the epithet which you here bestow upon me. These words also of your lordship, will certainly prevent your lordship’s being misunderstood, in allowing me to have made the case of spiritual and corporeal substances to be alike. But this was not what I complained of: my complaint was, that I was brought into a controversy, wherein what I had written had nothing more to do, than in any other controversy whatsoever; and that I was made a party on one side of a question, though what I said in my book made me not more on the one side of that question, than the other. And that your lordship had so mixed me, in many places, with those gentlemen, whose objections against the Trinity in point of reason your lordship was answering, that the reader could not but take me to be one of them that had objected against the Trinity in point of reason. As for example; where your lordship first introduces me, your lordship says, “That the gentlemen of this new way of reasoning have almost discarded substance out of the reasonable part of the world. For they not only tell us, that we can have no idea of it by sensation and reflection; but that nothing is signified by it, only an uncertain supposition of we know not what.” And for these words, B. i. ch. 4. § 18. of my Essay is quoted.

Now, my lord, what care is there taken? what provision is there made, in the words above alleged by your lordship, to prevent your being misunderstood, if Edition: current; Page: [110] you meant not that I was one of the gentlemen of this new way of reasoning? And if you did mean that I was, your lordship did me a manifest injury. For I no-where make clear and distinct ideas necessary to certainty; which is the new way of reasoning which your lordship opposes in the unitarians, as contrary to the doctrine of the Trinity. Your lordship says, you took care not to be misunderstood. And the words wherein you took that care, are these: “I 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 he makes the case of spiritual and corporeal substances to be alike.” But which of these words are they, my lord, I beseech you, which are to hinder people from taking me to be one of the gentlemen of that new way of reasoning, wherewith they overturn the doctrine of the Trinity? I confess, my lord, I cannot see any of them that do: and that I did not see any of them that could hinder men from that mistake, I showed your lordship, in my first letter to your lordship, where I take notice of that passage in your lordship’s book. My words are: “I return my acknowledgment to your lordship, for the good opinion you are here pleased to express of the author of the Essay of Human Understanding; and that you do not impute to him the ill use some may have made of his notions. But he craves leave to say, that he should have been better preserved from the hard and sinister thoughts which some men are always ready for; if, in what you have here published, your lordship had been pleased to have shown where you directed your discourse against him, and where against others. Nothing but my words and my book being quoted, the world will be apt to think that I am the person who argue against the Trinity and deny mysteries, against whom your lordship directs those pages. And indeed, my lord, though I have read them over with great attention, yet, in many places, I cannot discern whether it be against me, or any body else, that your lordship is arguing. That Edition: current; Page: [111] which often makes the difficulty, is, that I do not see how what I say does at all concern the controversy your lordship is engaged in, and yet I alone am quoted.” To which complaint of mine your lordship returns no other answer, but refers me to the same passage again for satisfaction; and tells me, that therein you took care not to be misunderstood. Your lordship might see that those words did not satisfy me in that point, when I did myself the honour to write to your lordship; and how your lordship should think the repetition of them in your answer should satisfy me better, I confess I cannot tell.

I make the like complaint in these words: “This paragraph, which continues to prove, that we may have certainty without clear and distinct ideas, I would flatter myself is not meant against me, because it opposes nothing that I have said, and so shall not say any thing to it; but only set it down to do your lordship right, that the reader may judge. Though I do not find how he will easily overlook me, and think I am not at all concerned in it, since my words alone are quoted in several pages immediately preceding and following: and in the very next paragraph it is said, how they come to know; which word, they, must signify somebody besides the author of Christianity not mysterious; and then, I think, by the whole tenour of your lordship’s discourse, nobody will be left but me, possible to be taken to be the other; for in the same paragraph your lordship says, the same persons say, that, notwithstanding their ideas, it is possible for matter to think.”

“I know not what other person says so but I; but if any one does, I am sure no person but I say so in my book, which your lordship has quoted for them, viz. Human Understanding, B. iv. ch. 3. This, which is a riddle to me, the more amazes me, because I find it in a treatise of your lordship’s, who so perfectly understands the rules and methods of writing, whether in controversy or any other way: but this, which seems wholly new to me, I shall better understand, when your lordship pleases to Edition: current; Page: [112] explain it. In the mean time, I mention it as an apology for myself, if sometimes I mistake your lordship’s aim, and so misapply my answer.”

To this also your lordship answers nothing, but for satisfaction refers me to the care you took to prevent being misunderstood; which, you say, appears by those words of yours above-recited. But what there is in those words that can prevent the mistake I complained I was exposed to; what there is in them, that can hinder any one from thinking that I am one of the they and them that oppose the doctrine of the Trinity, with arguments in point of reason; that I must confess, my lord, I cannot see, though I have read them over and over again to find it out.

The like might be said in respect of all those other passages, where I make the like complaint, which your lordship takes notice I was frequent in; nor could I avoid it, being almost every leaf perplexed to know whether I was concerned, and how far, in what your lordship said, since my words were quoted, and others argued against. And for satisfaction herein, I am sent to a compliment of your lordship’s. I say not this my lord, that I do not highly value the civility and good opinion your lordship has expressed of me therein; but to let your lordship see, that I was not so rude as to complain of want of civility in your lordship: but my complaint was of something else; and therefore it was something else wherein I wanted satisfaction.

Indeed your lordship says, in that passage; “from the author of the Essay of Human Understanding, these notions are borrowed, to serve other purposes than he intended them.” But, my lord, how this helps in the case to prevent my being mistaken to be one of those whom your lordship had to do with in this chapter, in answering objections in point of reason against the Trinity, I must own, I do not yet perceive: for these notions, which your lordship is there arguing against, are all taken out of my book, and made use of by nobody that I know, but your lordship, or myself: and which of us two it is, that hath borrowed them to serve other purposes than I intended them, I must leave Edition: current; Page: [113] to your lordship to determine. I, and I think every body else with me, will be at a loss to know who they are, till their words, and not mine, are produced to prove, that they do use those notions of mine, which your lordship there calls these notions, to purposes to which I intended them not.

But to those words in your lordship’s Vindication of the doctrine of the Trinity you, in your answer to my letter, for farther satisfaction, add as followeth: “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 your vindication, than that he turned them into other purposes than the author intended them?”

With submission, my lord, it is as plain as print can make it, that whatever notions and expressions that writer took from my book; those in question, which your lordship there calls these notions, my book is only quoted for; nor does it appear, that your lordship knew that that writer had any where made use of them: or, if your lordship knew them to be any where in his writings, the matter of astonishment and complaint is still the greater, that your lordship should know where they were in his writings used to serve other purposes than I intended them; and yet your lordship should quote only my book, where they were used to serve only those purposes I intended them.

How much this is for my vindication, we shall presently see: but what it can do to give satisfaction to me or others, as to the matters of my complaint, for which it is brought by your lordship, that I confess I do not see. For my complaint was not against those gentlemen, that they had cast any aspersions upon my book, against which I desired your lordship to vindicate me; but my complaint was of your lordship, that you had brought me into a controversy, and so joined me with those against whom you were disputing in defence of the Trinity, that those who read your lordship’s book, would be apt to mistake me for one of them.

But your lordship asks, “what could be said more for my vindication?” My lord, I shall always take Edition: current; Page: [114] it for a very great honour, to be vindicated by your lordship against others. But in the present case, I wanted no vindication against others: if my book or notions had need of any vindication, it was only against your lordship; for it was your lordship, and not others, who had in your book disputed against passages quoted out of mine, for several pages together.

Nevertheless, my lord, I gratefully acknowledge the favour you have done for me, for being guarantee for my intentions, which you have no reason to repent of. For as it was not in my intention to write any thing against truth, much less against any of the sacred truths contained in the scriptures; so I will be answerable for it, that there is nothing in my book, which can be made use of to other purposes, but what may be turned upon them, who so use it, to show their mistake and errour. Nobody can hinder but that syllogism, which was intended for the service of truth, will sometimes be made use of against it. But it is nevertheless of truth’s side, and always turns upon the adversaries of it.

Your lordship adds, “and the true reason why the plural number was so often used by me, was, because he [i. e. the author of Christianity not mysterious] built upon those, which he imagined had been your grounds.”

Whether it was your lordship, or he, that imagined those to be my grounds, which were not my grounds, I will not pretend to say. Be that as it will; it is plain from what your lordship here says, that all the foundation of your lordship’s so positively, and in so many places, making me one of the gentlemen of the new way of reasoning, was but an imagination of an imagination. Your lordship says, “he built upon those, which he imagined had been my grounds;” but it is but an imagination in your lordship, that he did so imagine; and with all due respect, give me leave to say, a very ill-grounded imagination too. For it appears to me no foundation to think, that because he or any body agrees with me in things that are in my book, and so appears to be of my opinion; therefore he imagines he agrees with me in other things, which are not Edition: current; Page: [115] in my book, and are not my opinion. As in the matter before us; what reason is there to imagine, that the author of Christianity not mysterious imagined, that he built on my grounds, in laying all foundation of certainty in clear and distinct ideas, (if he does so) which is no-where laid down in my book; because he builds on my grounds, concerning the original of our ideas, or any thing else he finds in my book, or quotes out of it? For this is all that the author of Christianity not mysterious has done in this case, or can be brought to support such an imagination.

But supposing it true, that he imagined he built upon my grounds; what reason, I beseech your lordship, is that for using the plural number, in quoting words which I alone spoke, and he no-where makes use of? To this your lordship says, “that he imagined he built upon my grounds; and your lordship’s business was to show those expressions of mine, which seemed most to countenance his method of proceeding, could not give any reasonable satisfaction:” which, as I humbly conceive, amounts to thus much: the author of Christianity not mysterious writes something which your lordship disapproves: your lordship imagines he builds upon my grounds; and then your lordship picks out some expressions of mine, which you imagine do most countenance his method of proceeding, and quote them, as belonging in common to us both; though it be certain he no-where used them. And this your lordship tells me (to give me satisfaction, what care you took not to be misunderstood) was the true reason, why you so often used the plural number: which with submission, my lord, seems to me to be no reason at all: unless it can be a reason to ascribe my words to another man, and me together, which he never said; because your lordship imagines he might, if he would, have said them. And ought not this, my lord, to satisfy me of the care you took, not to be misunderstood?

Your lordship goes on to show your care to prevent your being misunderstood: your words are, “but you [i. e. the author of the letter to your lordship] say, you do not place certainty only in clear and distinct Edition: current; Page: [116] ideas, but in the clear and visible connexion of any of our ideas. And certainty of knowledge, you tell us, is to perceive the agreement or disagreement of ideas, as expressed in any proposition. Whether this be a true account of the certainty of knowledge, or not, will be presently considered. But it is very possible he might mistake, or misapply your notions; but there is too much reason to believe he thought them the same; and we have no reason to be sorry, that he hath given you this occasion for explaining your meaning, and for the vindication of yourself, in the matters you apprehend I had charged you with.”

Your lordship herein says, it is very possible the author of Christianity not mysterious might mistake, or misapply my notions. I find it indeed very possible, that my notions may be mistaken and misapplied; if by misapplied, be meant drawing inferences from thence, which belong not to them. But if that possibility be reason enough to join me in the plural number with the author of Christianity not mysterious, or with the unitarians; it is as much a reason to join me in the plural number with the papists, when your lordship has an occasion to write against them next; or with the lutherans, or quakers, &c. for it is possible, that any of these may mistake, or in that sense misapply my notions. But if mistaking, or misapplying my notions, actually join me to any body, I know nobody that I am so strictly joined to, as your lordship: for, as I humbly conceive, nobody has so much mistaken and misapplied my notions, as your lordship. I should not take the liberty to say this, were not my thinking so, the very reason and excuse for my troubling your lordship with this second letter. For, my lord, I do not so well love controversy, especially with so great and so learned a man as your lordship, as to say a word more; had I not hopes to show, for my excuse, that it is my misfortune to have my notions to be mistaken or misapplied by your lordship.

Your lordship adds, “but there is too much reason to believe, that he thought them the same;” i. e. that Edition: current; Page: [117] the author of Christianity not mysterious thought that I had laid all foundation of certainty in clear and distinct ideas, as well as he did; for that is it, upon which all this dispute is raised. Whether he himself laid all foundation of certainty in clear and distinct ideas, is more than I know. But what that “too much reason to believe, that he thought” that I did, is, I am sure, hard for me to guess, till your lordship is pleased to name it. For that there is not any such thing in my book, to give him, or any body else, reason to think so, I suppose your lordship is now satisfied: and I would not willingly suppose the reason to be, that unless he, or somebody else thought so, my book could not be brought into the dispute; though it be not easy to find any other. It follows in your lordship’s letter:

“And we have no reason to be sorry, that he hath given you this occasion for the explaining your meaning, and for the vindication of yourself in the matter you apprehended I had charged you with.”

My lord, I know not any occasion he has given me of vindicating myself: your lordship was pleased to join me with the gentlemen of the new way of reasoning, who laid all foundation of certainty in clear and distinct ideas. All the vindication I make, or need to make in the case, is, that I lay not all foundation of certainty in clear and distinct ideas; and so there was no reason to join me with those that do. And for this vindication of myself, your lordship alone gives me occasion: but whether your lordship has reason to be sorry, or not sorry, your lordship best knows.

Your lordship goes on, in what is designed for my satisfaction, as followeth:

“And if your answer doth not come fully up in all things to what I could wish; yet I am glad to find that in general you own the mysteries of the christian faith, and the scriptures to be the rule and foundation of it.”

Which words, my lord, seem to me rather to show, that your lordship is not willing to be satisfied with my book, than to show any care your lordship took to prevent Edition: current; Page: [118] people’s being led by your lordship’s book into a mistake, that I was one of the gentlemen of that new way of reasoning, who argued against the doctrine of the Trinity.

The gentlemen of the new way of reasoning, whom your lordship sets yourself to answer in that 10th chapter of your Vindication of the doctrine of the Trinity, are those who lay all foundation of certainty in clear and distinct ideas; and from that foundation raise objections against the Trinity, in point of reason. Your lordship joins me with these gentlemen in that chapter, and calls me one of them. Of this I complain; and tell your lordship, in the place and words you have quoted out of my letter, “that I do not place certainty only in clear and distinct ideas.” I expected upon this, that your lordship would have assoiled me, and said, that then I was none of them; nor should have been joined with them. But instead of that your lordship tells me, “my answer doth not come fully up in all things, to what your lordship could wish.” The question is, whether I ought to be listed with these, and ranked on their side, who place certainty only in clear and distinct ideas? What more direct and categorical answer could your lordship wish for, to decide this question, than that which I give? To which nothing can be replied, but that it is not true: but that your lordship does not object to it; but says, “it does not come fully up in all things to what your lordship could wish.” What other things there can be wished for in an answer, which, if it be true, decides the matter, and which is not doubted to be true, comes not within my guess. But though my answer be an unexceptionable answer, as to the point in question, yet, it seems, my book is not an unexceptionable book, because, I own, that in it I say, “that certainty of knowledge is to perceive the agreement or disagreement of any ideas, as expressed in any proposition.” Whether it be true, that certainty of knowledge lies in such a perception, is nothing to the question here; that, perhaps, we may have an occasion to examine in another place. The question here is, whether I ought to Edition: current; Page: [119] have been ranked with those, who lay all foundation of certainty in clear and distinct ideas? And to that, I think, my answer is a full and decisive answer; and there is nothing wanting in it, which your lordship could wish for, to make it fuller.

But it is natural the book should be found fault with, when the author, it seems, has had the ill luck to be under your lordship’s ill opinion. This I could not but be surprised to find in a paragraph, which your lordship declares was designed to give me satisfaction. Your lordship says, “though my answer doth not come up in all things to what you could wish; yet you are glad to find, that in general I own the mysteries of the christian faith, and the scriptures to be the foundation and rule of it.”

My lord, I do not remember that ever I declared to your lordship, or any body else, that I did not own all the doctrines of the christian faith, and the scriptures to be the sole rule and foundation of it. And therefore I know no more reason your lordship had to say, that you are glad to find, that in general I own, &c. than I have reason to say, “that I am glad to find, that in general your lordship owns the mysteries of the christian faith, and the scriptures to be the foundation and rule of it.” Unless it be taken for granted, that those who do not write and appear in print, in controversies of religion, do not own the christian faith, and the scriptures as the rule of it.

I know, my lord, of what weight a commendation from your lordship’s pen is in the world: and I perceive your lordship knows the value of it, which has made your lordship temper yours of me with so large an alloy, for fear possibly lest it should work too strongly on my vanity. For whether I consider where these words stand, or how they are brought in, or what intimation they carry with them; which way soever I turn them, I do not find they were intended to puff me up, though they are in a paragraph purposely written to give me satisfaction; and grounded on words of mine, which seem to be approved by your lordship before any in my letter; but which yet have nothing to do in this Edition: current; Page: [120] place (whither your lordship has been at the pains to fetch them from my postscript) unless it be to give vent to so extraordinary a sort of compliment: for they are, I think, in their subject, as well as place, the remotest of any in my letter, from the argument your lordship was then upon; which was to show what care you had taken not to be misunderstood to my prejudice. For what, I beseech you, my lord, would you think of him, who from some words of your lordship’s, that seemed to express much of a christian spirit and temper (for so your lordship is pleased to say of these of mine) should seek occasion to tell your lordship, and the world, that he was glad to find that your lordship was a christian, and that you believe the Bible? For this, common humanity, as well as christian charity, obliges us to believe of every one, who calls himself a christian, till he manifests the contrary. Whereas the saying, I am glad to find such an one believes the scripture, is understood to intimate, that I knew the time when he did not; or, at least, when I suspected he did not. But perhaps your lordship had some other meaning in it, which I do not see. The largeness of your lordship’s mind, and the charity of a father of our church, makes me hope that I passed not in your lordship’s opinion for a heathen, till your lordship read that passage in the postscript of my late letter to you.

But to return to the satisfaction your lordship is giving me. To those words quoted out of my postscript, your lordship subjoins: “which words seem to express so much of a christian spirit and temper, that I cannot believe you intended to give any advantage to the enemies of the christian faith; but whether there hath not been too just occasion for them to apply them in that manner, is a thing very fit for you to consider.”

Your lordship here again expresses a favourable opinion of my intentions, which I gratefully acknowledge: but you add, “that it is fit for me to consider, whether there hath not been too just occasion for them to apply them in that manner.” My lord, I shall do what your lordship thinks is fit for me to do, when Edition: current; Page: [121] your lordship does me the favour to tell me, who those enemies of the faith are, who have applied those words of my postscript, (for to those alone, by any kind of construction, can I make your lordship’s word, “them,” refer) and the manner which they have applied them in, and the too just occasion they have had so to apply them. For I confess, my lord, I am at a loss as to all these; and thereby unable to obey your lordship’s commands, till your lordship does me the favour to make me understand all these particulars better.

But if by any new way of construction, unintelligible to me, the word, them, here shall be applied to any passages of my Essay of Human Understanding; I must humbly crave leave to observe this one thing, in the whole course of what your lordship has designed for my satisfaction, that though my complaint be of your lordship’s manner of applying what I had published in my Essay, so as to interest me in a controversy wherein I meddled not; your lordship all along tells me of others, that have misapplied I know not what words in my book, after I know not what manner. Now as to this matter, I beseech your lordship to believe, that when any one, in such a manner, applies my words contrary to what I intended them, so as to make them opposite to the doctrine of the Trinity, and me a party in that controversy against the Trinity, as your lordship knows I complain your lordship has done, I shall complain of them too; and consider, as well as I can, what satisfaction they give me and others in it.

Your lordship’s next words are: “for in an age, wherein the mysteries of faith are so much exposed, by the promoters of scepticism and infidelity; it is a thing of dangerous consequence to start such new methods of certainty, as are apt to leave men’s minds more doubtful than before; as will soon appear from your concessions.”

These words contain a further accusation of my book, which shall be considered in its due place. What I am now upon is the satisfaction your lordship is giving me, in reference to my complaint. And as to that, what follows is brought only to show that your lordship had Edition: current; Page: [122] reason to say, “that my notions were carried beyond my intentions;” for in these words your lordship winds up all the following eight or nine pages, viz. “thus far I have endeavoured, with all possible brevity and clearness, to lay down your sense about this matter; by which it is sufficiently proved, that I had reason to say, that your notions were carried beyond your intentions.”

I beg leave to remind your lordship, that my complaint was not that your lordship said, “that my notions were carried beyond my intentions.” I was not so absurd, as to turn what was matter of acknowledgement into matter of complaint. And therefore, in showing the care you had taken of me for my satisfaction, your lordship needed not to have been at so much pains, in so long a deduction, to prove to me, that you had reason for saying what was so manifestly in my favour, whether you had reason for saying it or no. But my complaint was, that the new way of reasoning, accused by your lordship, as opposite to the doctrine of the Trinity, being in laying all foundation of certainty in clear and distinct ideas, your lordship ranked me amongst the gentlemen of this new way of reasoning, though I laid not all foundation of certainty in clear and distinct ideas. And this being my complaint, it is for this that there needs a reason. Your lordship subjoins.

“But you still seem concerned that I quote your words; although I declare they were used to other purposes than you intended them. I do confess to you, that the reason of it was, that I found your notions, as to certainty by ideas, was the main foundation which the author of Christianity not mysterious went upon; and that he had nothing which looked like reason, if that principle were removed; which made me so much endeavour to show that it would not hold. And so, I suppose, the reason of my mentioning your words so often, is no longer a riddle to you.”

My lord, he that will give himself the trouble to look into that part of my former letter, where I speak of Edition: current; Page: [123] your lordship’s way of proceeding as a riddle to me; or to that, which your lordship here quoted, for my seeming concerned at it; will find my complaint, in both places, as well as several others, was, that I was so every-where joined with others under the comprehensive words of they and them, &c. though my book alone was every where quoted, “that the world would be apt to think I was the person who argued against the Trinity, and denied mysteries;” against whom your lordship directed these very pages. For so I express myself in that part, which your lordship here quotes. And as to this, your lordship’s way of writing (which is the subject of my complaint) is (for any thing your lordship has in your answer said to give me satisfaction) as much still a riddle to me as ever.

For that which your lordship here says, and is the only thing I can find your lordship has said to clear it, seems to me to do nothing towards it. Your lordship says, “the reason of it was, that you found my notions, as to certainty by ideas, was the main foundation which the author of Christianity not mysterious went upon,” &c.

With submission, I thought your lordship had found, that the foundation, which the author of Christianity not mysterious went upon, and for which he was made one of the gentlemen of the new way of reasoning, opposite to the doctrine of the Trinity, was, that he made, or supposed, clear and distinct ideas necessary to certainty; but that is not my notion, as to certainty by ideas. My notion of certainty by ideas is, that certainty consists in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas such as we have, whether they be in all their parts perfectly clear and distinct or no: nor have I any notions of certainty more than this one. And if your lordship had for this called me a gentleman of a new way of reasoning, or made me one of the opposers of the doctrine of the Trinity, I should perhaps have wondered; but should not at all have complained of your lordship, for directly questioning this or any of my opinions: I should only have examined what your lordship had said to support, or have Edition: current; Page: [124] desired you to make out, that charge against me; which is what I shall do by and by, when I come to examine what your lordship now charges this opinion with: but I shall not add any complaints to my defence.

That which I complained of, was, that I was made one of the gentlemen of the new way of reasoning, without being guilty of what made them so; and so was brought into a chapter, wherein I thought myself not concerned: which was managed so, that my book was all along quoted, and others argued against; others were entitled to what I had said, and I to what others said, without knowing why, or how. Nor am I yet, I must own, much enlightened in the reason of it: that was the cause why I then thought it a new way of writing; and that must be my apology for thinking so still, till I light upon, or am directed to, some author who has ever writ thus before.

And thus I come to the end of what your lordship has said, to that part of my letter which your lordship calls my complaint; wherein I think I have omitted nothing which your lordship has alleged for the satisfaction of others, or myself, under those two heads, of the occasion of your lordship’s way of writing as you did, and the care you took not to be misunderstood. And if, my lord, as to me, it has not possibly had all the success your lordship proposed, I beg your lordship to attribute it to my dulness, or any thing rather than an unwillingness to be satisfied.

My lord, I so little love controversy, that I never began a dispute with any body; nor shall ever continue it, where others begin with me, any longer than the appearance of truth, which first made me write, obliges me not to quit it. But least of all, would I have any controversy with your lordship, if I had any design in writing, but the defence of truth. I do not know my own weakness, or your lordship’s strength so little, as to enter the lists with your lordship only for a trial of skill, or the vain and ridiculous hopes of victory. Nothing, I know, but truth on my side, can support me against so great a man; whose very name in writing and authority, in the learned world, is of weight enough Edition: current; Page: [125] to crush and sink whatever opinion has not that solid basis to bear it up.

There are men that enter into disputes to get a name in controversy, or for some little by-ends of a party: your lordship has been so long in the first rank of the men of letters, and by common consent settled at the top of this learned age, that it must pass for the utmost folly, not to think, that if your lordship condescended so far, as to meddle with any of the opinions of so inconsiderable a man as I am, it was with a design to convince me of my errours, and not to gain reputation on one so infinitely below your match. It is upon this ground that I still continue to offer my doubts to your lordship, in those parts wherein I am not yet so happy as to be convinced; and it is with this satisfaction I return this answer to your lordship, that if I am in a mistake, your lordship will certainly detect it, and lead me into the truth; which I shall embrace, with the acknowledgment of the benefit I have received from your lordship’s instructions. And that your lordship, in the mean time, will have the goodness to allow me, as becomes a scholar, willing to profit by the favour you do me, to show your lordship where I stick, and in what points your lordship’s arguments have failed to work upon me. For, as on the one side it would not become one that would learn of your lordship to acknowledge himself convinced, before he is convinced; and I know your lordship would blame me for it, if I should do so: so on the other side, to continue to dissent from your lordship, where you have done me the honour to take pains with me, without giving you my reasons for it, would, I think, be an ungrateful and unmannerly sullenness.

Your lordship has had the goodness to write several leaves, to give me satisfaction as to the matter of my complaints. I return your lordship my most humble thanks for this great condescension; which I take as a pledge, that you will bear with the representation of my doubts, in other points, wherein I am so unlucky as not to be yet thoroughly enlightened by your lordship. And so I go on to the remaining parts of your Edition: current; Page: [126] letter, which, I think, may be comprehended under these two, viz. those things in my Essay, which your lordship now charges, as concerned in the controversy of the Trinity; and others, as faulty in themselves, whether we consider them with respect to any doctrines of religion or no.

In the close of your lordship’s letter, after some other expressions of civility to me, for which I return your lordship my thanks, I find these words: “I do assure you, that it is out of no disrespect, or the least ill-will to you, that I have again considered this matter; but because I am further convinced, that as you have stated your notion of ideas, it may be of dangerous consequence to that article of the christian faith, which I endeavour to defend.”

This now is a direct charge against my book; and I must own it a great satisfaction to me, that I shall now be no longer at a loss, who it is your lordship means: that I shall stand by myself, and myself answer for my own faults, and not be so placed in such an association with others, that will hinder me from knowing what is my particular guilt and share in the accusation. Had your lordship done me the favour to have treated me so before, you had heard nothing of all those complaints which have been so troublesome to your lordship.

To take now a right view of this matter, it is fit to consider the beginning and progress of it: your lordship had a controversy with the unitarians; they, in their answer to your lordship’s sermons, and elsewhere, talk of ideas; the author of Christianity not mysterious, whether an unitarian or no, your lordship says not, neither do I inquire, gives an account of reason, which, as your lordship says, supposes certainty to consist only in clear and distinct ideas; and because he expresses himself in some other things conformable to what I had said in my book, my book is brought into the controversy, though there be no such opinion in it, as your lordship opposed. For what that was, is plain both from what has been observed out of the beginning of the tenth chapter of your Vindication of the Trinity, and also in your letter, viz. this proposition, “that certainty, Edition: current; Page: [127] as to matters of faith, is founded upon clear and distinct ideas;” but my book not having that proposition in it, which your lordship then opposed, as overthrowing mysteries of faith, at that time, fell, by I know not what chance and misfortune, into the unitarian controversy.

Upon examination, my book being not found guilty of that proposition, which your lordship, in your Vindication of the doctrine of the Trinity, opposed, because it overthrows the mysteries of faith; I thought it acquitted, and clear from that controversy. No, it must not escape so: your lordship having again considered this matter, has found new matter of accusation, and a new charge is brought against my book; and what now is it? even this, “That as I have stated the notion of ideas, it may be of dangerous consequence to that article of the christian faith, which your lordship has endeavoured to defend.”

The accusation then, as it now stands, is, that my notion of ideas may be of dangerous consequence, &c.

Such an accusation as this brought in any court in England, would, no doubt, be thought to show a great inclination to have the accused be suspected, rather than any evidence of being guilty of any thing; and so would immediately be dismissed, without hearing any plea to it. But in controversies in print, wherein an appeal is made to the judgment of mankind, the strict rules of proceeding in justice are not always thought necessary to be observed; and the sentence of those who are appealed to being never formally pronounced, a cause can never be dismissed as long as the prosecutor is pleased to continue or renew his charge.

As to the matter in hand, though what your lordship says here against my book, be nothing but your apprehension of what may be; yet nobody will think it strange, or unsuitable to your lordship’s character and station, to be watchful over any article of the christian faith, especially one that you have endeavoured to defend; and to warn the world of any thing your lordship may suspect to be of dangerous consequence to it, as far as you can espy it. And to this give me leave, my lord, Edition: current; Page: [128] to attribute the trouble your lordship has been at, to write again in this matter.

Another thing I must take notice of, in this your lordship’s new charge against my book, that it is against my notion of ideas, as I have stated it. This containing all that I have said in my Essay concerning ideas, which, as your lordship takes notice, is not a little; your lordship, I know, would not be thought to leave so general an accusation upon my book, as you could receive no answer to: and therefore though your lordship has not been pleased plainly to specify here the particulars of my notion of ideas, which your lordship apprehends to be of dangerous consequence to that article which your lordship has defended; I shall endeavour to find them, in other parts of your letter.

Your lordship’s words, in the immediately preceding page, run thus: “I can easily bear the putting of philosophical notions into a modern and fashionable dress.”

“Let men express their minds by ideas, if they please; and take pleasure in sorting, and comparing, and connecting of them, I am not forward to condemn them: for every age must have its new modes; and it is very well, if truth and reason be received in any garb. I was therefore far enough from condemning your way of ideas, till I found it made the only ground of certainty, and made use of to overthrow the mysteries of our faith, as I told you in the beginning.”

These words, leading to your lordship’s accusation, I thought the likeliest to show me what it was in my book, that your lordship now declared against, as what might be of dangerous consequence to that article you have defended; and that seemed to me to lie in those two particulars, viz. the making so much use of the word ideas; and my placing, as I do, certainty in ideas, i. e. in the things signified by them. And these two seem here to be the particulars which your lordship comprehends under my way by ideas. But that I might not be led into mistake by this passage, which seemed a little more obscure and doubtful to me, than I could Edition: current; Page: [129] have wished; I consulted those other places, wherein your lordship seemed to express, what it was that your lordship now accused in my book, in reference to the unitarian controversy; and which your lordship apprehends may be of dangerous consequence to that article.

Your lordship, in the close of the words above quoted out of your answer, tells me: “you were far enough from condemning my way of ideas, till your lordship found it made the only ground of certainty, and made use of to overthrow the mysteries of our faith, as you told me in the beginning.”

My lord, the way of ideas which your lordship opposed at first, was the way of certainty only by clear and distinct ideas; as appears by your words above quoted: but that, your lordship now knows, was not my way of certainty by ideas, and therefore that, and all the use can be made of it to overthrow the mysteries of our faith, be that as it will, cannot any more be charged on my book, but is quite out of doors: and therefore what you said in the beginning, gave me no light into what was your lordship’s present accusation.

But a little farther on I found these words: “when new terms are made use of, by ill men, to promote scepticism and infidelity, and to overthrow the mysteries of our faith, we have then reason to inquire into them, and to examine the foundation and tendency of them. And this was the true and only reason of my looking into this way of certainty, by ideas, because I found it applied to such purposes.”

Here, my lord, your lordship seems to lay your accusation wholly against new terms and their tendency.

And in another place your lordship has these words:

“The world hath been strangely amused with ideas of late; and we have been told, that strange things might be done by the help of ideas; and yet these ideas, at last, come to be only common notions of things, which we must make use of in our reasoning. You [i. e. the author of the Essay concerning Human Understanding] say in that chapter, about the existence of God, you thought it most proper to express Edition: current; Page: [130] yourself, in the most usual and familiar way, by common words and expressions. I would you had done so quite through your book: for then you had never given that occasion to the enemies of our faith to take up your new way of ideas, as an effectual battery (as they imagined) against the mysteries of the christian faith. But you might have enjoyed the satisfaction of your ideas long enough, before I had taken notice of them, unless I had found them employed about doing mischief.”

By which places it is plain, that that which your lordship apprehends in my book, “may be of dangerous consequence to the article which your lordship has endeavoured to defend,” is my introducing new terms; and that which your lordship instances in, is that of ideas. And the reason your lordship gives, in every of these places, why your lordship has such an apprehension of ideas, as “that they may be of dangerous consequence to that article of faith, which your lordship has endeavoured to defend, is, because they have been applied to such purposes. And I might (your lordship says) have enjoyed the satisfaction of my ideas long enough, before you had taken notice of them, unless your lordship had found them employed in doing mischief.” Which, at last, as I humbly conceive, amounts to thus much, and no more, viz. that your lordship fears ideas, i. e. the term ideas, may, some time or other, prove of very dangerous consequence to what your lordship has endeavoured to defend, because they have been made use of in arguing against it. For I am sure your lordship does not mean, that you apprehend the things, signified by ideas, “may be of dangerous consequence to the article of faith your lordship endeavours to defend,” because they have been made use of against it: for (besides that your lordship mentions terms) that would be to expect that those who oppose that article, should oppose it without any thoughts; for the thing signified by ideas, is nothing but the immediate objects of our minds in thinking: so that unless any one can oppose the article your lordship defends, without thinking on something, Edition: current; Page: [131] he must use the things signified by ideas: for he that thinks, must have some immediate object of his mind in thinking, i. e. must have ideas.

But whether it be the name or the thing, ideas in sound, or ideas in signification, that your lordship apprehends may be of dangerous consequence to that article of faith, which your lordship endeavours to defend, it seems to me, I will not say a new way of reasoning (for that belongs to me) but were it not your lordship’s, I should think it a very extraordinary way of reasoning, to write against a book, wherein your lordship acknowledges they are not used to bad purposes, nor employed to do mischief: only because that you find that ideas are, by those who oppose your lordship, employed to do mischief; and so apprehend they may be of dangerous consequence to the article your lordship has engaged in the defence of. For whether ideas as terms, or ideas as the immediate objects of the mind signified by those terms, may be, in your lordship’s apprehension, of dangerous consequence to that article; I do not see how your lordship’s writing against the notion of ideas, as stated in my book, will at all hinder your opposers from employing them in doing mischief, as before.

However, be that as it will, so it is, that your lordship apprehends these “new terms, these ideas, with which the world hath, of late, been so strangely amused (though at last they come to be only common notions of things, as your lordship owns) may be of dangerous consequence to that article.”

My lord, if any in their answer to your lordship’s sermons, and in their other pamphlets, wherein your lordship complains they have talked so much of ideas, have been troublesome to your lordship with that term; it is not strange that your lordship should be tired with that sound: but how natural soever it be to our weak constitutions to be offended with any sound, wherewith an importunate din hath been made about our ears; yet, my lord, I know your lordship has a better opinion of the articles of our faith, than to think any of them can be overturned, or so much as shaken with a breath, formed into any sound or term whatsoever.

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Names are but the arbitrary marks of conceptions; and so they be sufficiently appropriated to them in their use, I know no other difference any of them have in particular, but as they are of easy or difficult pronunciation, and of a more or less pleasant sound: and what particular antipathies there may be in men, to some of them upon that account, is not easy to be foreseen. This I am sure, no term whatesoever in itself bears, one more than another, any opposition to truth of any kind; they are only propositions that do, or can oppose the truth of any article or doctrine: and thus no term is privileged from being set in opposition to truth.

There is no word to be found, which may not be brought into a proposition, wherein the most sacred and most evident truths may be opposed; but that is not a fault in the term, but him that uses it. And therefore I cannot easily persuade myself (whatever your lordship hath said in the heat of your concern) that you have bestowed so much pains upon my book, because the word idea is so much used there. For though upon my saying, in my chapter about the existence of God, “that I scarce used the word idea in that whole chapter; your lordship wishes, that I had done so quite through my book;” yet I must rather look upon that as a compliment to me, wherein your lordship wished, that my book had been all through suited to vulgar readers, not used to that and the like terms, than that your lordship has such an apprehension of the word idea; or that there is any such harm in the use of it, instead of the word notion (with which your lordship seems to take it to agree in signification) that your lordship would think it worth your while to spend any part of your valuable time and thoughts about my book, for having the word idea so often in it: for this would be to make your lordship to write only against an impropriety of speech. I own to your lordship, it is a great condescension in your lordship to have done it, if that word have such a share in what your lordship has writ against my book, as some expressions would persuade one; and I would, for the satisfaction of your lordship, change the term of idea for a better, if your lordship, or any one, could help me to Edition: current; Page: [133] it. For, that notion will not so well stand for every immediate object of the mind in thinking, as idea does, I have (as I guess) somewhere given a reason in my book; by showing that the term notion is more peculiarly appropriated to a certain sort of those objects, which I called mixed modes; and, I think, it would not sound altogether so well, to say the notion of red, and the notion of a horse; as the idea of red, and the idea of a horse. But if any one thinks it will, I contend not; for I have no fondness for, nor antipathy to, any particular articulate sounds: nor do I think there is any spell or fascination in any of them.

But be the word idea proper or improper, I do not see how it is the better or worse, because ill men have made use of it, or because it has been made use of to bad purposes; for if that be a reason to condemn, or lay it by, we must lay by the terms of scripture, reason, perception, distinct, clear, &c. nay, the name of God himself will not escape: for I do not think any one of these, or any other term, can be produced, which has not been made use of by such men, and to such purposes. And therefore, “if the unitarians, in their late pamphlets, have talked very much of, and strangely amused the world with ideas;” I cannot believe your lordship will think that word one jot the worse, or the more dangerous, because they use it; any more than, for their use of them, you will think reason or scripture terms ill or dangerous. And therefore what your lordship says; that “I might have enjoyed the satisfaction of my ideas long enough, before your lordship had taken notice of them, unless you had found them employed in doing mischief;” will, I presume, when your lordship has considered again of this matter, prevail with your lordship to let me enjoy still the satisfaction I take in my ideas, i. e. as much satisfaction as I can take in so small a matter, as is the using of a proper term, notwithstanding it should be employed by others in doing mischief.

For, my lord, if I should leave it wholly out of my book, and substitute the word notion every where in the room of it; and every body else do so too (though your Edition: current; Page: [134] lordship does not, I suppose, suspect that I have the vanity to think they would follow my example) my book would, it seems, be the more to your lordship’s liking: but I do not see how this would one jot abate the mischief your lordship complains of. For the unitarians might as much employ notions, as they do now ideas, to do mischief: unless they are such fools as to think they can conjure with this notable word idea; and that the force of what they say lies in the sound, and not in the signification of their terms.

This I am sure of, that the truths of the christian religion can be no more battered by one word than another; nor can they be beaten down or endangered, by any sound whatsoever. And I am apt to flatter myself, that your lordship is satisfied there is no harm in the word ideas, because you say you should not have taken any notice of my ideas, “if the enemies of our faith had not taken up my new way of ideas, as an effectual battery against the mysteries of the christian faith.” In which place, by new way of ideas, nothing, I think, can be construed to be meant, but my expressing myself by that of ideas; and not by other more common words, and of ancienter standing in the English language.

My new way by ideas, or my way by ideas, which often occurs in your lordship’s letter, is, I confess, a very large and doubtful expression: and may, in the full latitude, comprehend my whole Essay: because treating in it of the understanding, which is nothing but the faculty of thinking, I could not well treat of that faculty of the mind, which consists in thinking, without considering the immediate objects of the mind in thinking, which I call ideas: and therefore in treating of the understanding, I guess it will not be thought strange, that the greatest part of my book has been taken up, in considering what these objects of the mind, in thinking, are; whence they come; what use the mind makes of them, in its several ways of thinking; and what are the outward marks whereby it signifies them to others, or records them for its own use. And this, in short, is my way by ideas, that which your lordship calls my new ways by ideas: which, my lord, if it be new, it is Edition: current; Page: [135] but a new history of an old thing. For I think it will not be doubted, that men always performed the actions of thinking, reasoning, believing, and knowing, just after the same manner that they do now: though whether the same account has heretofore been given of the way how they performed these actions, or wherein they consisted, I do not know. Were I as well read as your lordship, I should have been safe from that gentle reprimand of your lordship’s, for “thinking my way of ideas new, for want of looking into other men’s thoughts, which appear in their books.”

Your lordship’s words, as an acknowledgment of your instructions in the case, and as a warning to others, who will be so bold adventurers as to spin any thing barely out of their own thoughts, I shall set down at large: and they run thus: “whether you took this way of ideas from the modern philosopher, mentioned by you, is not at all material; but I intended no reflection upon you in it (for that you mean by my commending you as a scholar of so great a master) I never meant to take from you the honour of your own inventions: and I do believe you, when you say, that you wrote from your own thoughts, and the ideas you had there. But many things may seem new to one, who converses only with his own thoughts, which really are not so; as he may find, when he looks into the thoughts of other men, which appear in their books. And therefore, although I have a just esteem for the invention of such, who can spin volumes barely out of their own thoughts; yet I am apt to think they would oblige the world more, if, after they have thought so much of themselves, they would examine what thoughts others have had before them, concerning the same things: that so those may not be thought their own inventions, which are common to themselves and others. If a man should try all the magnetical experiments himself, and publish them as his own thoughts, he might take himself to be the inventor of them: but he that examines and compares with them what Gilbert and others have done before him, will not diminish the praise of his Edition: current; Page: [136] diligence, but may wish he had compared his thoughts with other men’s; by which the world would receive greater advantage, although he lost the honour of being an original.”

To alleviate my fault herein, I agree with your lordship, “that many things may seem new to one that converses only with his own thoughts, which really are not so:” but I must crave leave to suggest to your lordship, that if, in the spinning them out of his own thoughts, they seem new to him, he is certainly the inventor of them; and they may as justly be thought his own invention, as any one’s; and he is as certainly the inventor of them, as any one who thought on them before him: the distinction of invention, or not invention, lying not in thinking first or not first, but in borrowing or not borrowing your thoughts from another: and he to whom spinning them out of his own thoughts, they seem new, could not certainly borrow them from another. So he truly invented printing in Europe, who, without any communication with the Chinese, spun it out of his own thoughts; though it were ever so true, that the Chinese had the use of printing, nay, of printing in the very same way, among them, many ages before him. So that he that spins any thing out of his own thoughts, that seems new to him, cannot cease to think it his own invention, should he examine ever so far what thoughts others have had before him, concerning the same thing; and should find, by examining, that they had the same thoughts too.

But what great obligation this would be to the world, or weighty cause of turning over and looking into books, I confess I do not see. The great end to me, in conversing with my own or other men’s thoughts in matters of speculation, is to find truth, without being much concerned whether my own spinning of it out of mine, or their spinning of it out of their own thoughts, helps me to it. And how little I affect the honour of an original, may be seen in that place of my book, where, if any where, that itch of vain-glory was likeliest to have shown itself, had I been so over-run with it, as to need a cure. It is where I speak of certainty, in these following Edition: current; Page: [137] words, taken notice of by your lordship in another place: “I think I have shown wherein it is that certainty, real certainty, consists; which, whatever it was to others, was, I confess, to me heretofore one of those desiderata, which I found great want of.”

Here, my lord, however new this seemed to me, and the more so because possibly I had in vain hunted for it in the books of others; yet I spoke of it as new, only to myself; leaving others in the undisturbed possession of what either by invention or reading was theirs before; without assuming to myself any other honour, but that of my own ignorance till that time, if others before had shown wherein certainty lay. And yet, my lord, if I had upon this occasion been forward to assume to myself the honour of an original, I think I had been pretty safe in it; since I should have had your lordship for my guarantee and vindicator in that point, who are pleased to call it new; and, as such, to write against it.

And truly, my lord, in this respect my book has had very unlucky stars, since it hath had the misfortune to displease your lordship, with many things in it, for their novelty; as “new way of reasoning; new hypothesis about reason; new sort of certainty; new terms; new way of ideas; new method of certainty,” &c. and yet in other places your lordship seems to think it worthy in me of your lordship’s reflection, for saying but what others have said before. As where I say, “in the different make of men’s tempers and application of their thoughts, some arguments prevail more on one, and some on another, for the confirmation of the same truth:” your lordship asks, “what is this different from what all men of understanding have said?” Again, I take it your lordship meant not these words for a commendation of my book, where you say; “but if no more be meant by the simple ideas that come in by sensation or reflection, and their being the foundation of our knowledge;” but that our notions of things come in, either from our senses, or the exercise of our minds: as there is nothing extraordinary in the discovery, so Edition: current; Page: [138] your lordship is far enough from opposing that, wherein you think all mankind are agreed.

And again, “but what need all this great noise about ideas and certainty, true and real certainty by ideas; if, after all, it comes only to this, that our ideas only represent to us such things, from whence we bring arguments to prove the truth of things?”

And “the world hath been strangely amused with ideas of late; and we have been told, that strange things might be done by the help of ideas; yet these ideas, at last, come to be only common notions of things, which we must make use of in our reasoning.” And to the like purpose in other places.

Whether therefore at last your lordship will resolve, that it is new or no, or more faulty by its being new, must be left to your lordship. This I find by it, that my book cannot avoid being condemned on the one side or the other; nor do I see a possibility to help it. If there be readers that like only new thoughts; or, on the other side, others that can bear nothing but what can be justified by received authorities in print; I must desire them to make themselves amends in that part which they like, for the displeasure they receive in the other: but if many should be so exact as to find fault with both, truly I know not well what to say to them. The case is a plain case, the book is all over naught, and there is not a sentence in it that is not, either for its antiquity or novelty, to be condemned; and so there is a short end of it. From your lordship indeed in particular, I can hope for something better; for your lordship thinks the general design of it is so good, that that, I flatter myself, would prevail on your lordship to preserve it from the fire.

But as to the way your lordship thinks I should have taken to prevent the having it thought my invention, when it was common to me with others; it unluckily so fell out, in the subject of my Essay of Human Understanding, that I could not look into the thoughts of other men to inform myself. For my design being, as well as I could, to copy nature, and to give an account Edition: current; Page: [139] of the operations of the mind in thinking, I could look into nobody’s understanding but my own, to see how it wrought; nor have a prospect into other men’s minds to view their thoughts there, and observe what steps and motions they took, and by what gradations they proceeded in their acquainting themselves with truth, and their advance to knowledge. What we find of their thoughts in books, is but the result of this, and not the progress and working of their minds, in coming to the opinions or conclusions they set down and published.

All therefore that I can say of my book is, that it is a copy of my own mind, in its several ways of operation. And all that I can say for the publishing of it, is, that I think the intellectual faculties are made, and operate alike in most men; and that some that I showed it to before I published it, liked it so well that I was confirmed in that opinion. And therefore if it should happen, that it should not be so, but that some men should have ways of thinking, reasoning, or arriving at certainty, different from others, and above those that I find my mind to use and acquiesce in, I do not see of what use my book can be to them. I can only make it my humble request, in my own name, and in the name of those that are of my size, who find their minds work, reason, and know, in the same low way that mine does, that those men of a more happy genius would show us the way of their nobler flights; and particularly would discover to us their shorter or surer way to certainty, than by ideas, and the observing their agreement or disagreement.

In the mean time, I must acknowledge, that, if I had been guilty of affecting to be thought an original, a correction could not have come from any body so disinterested in the case, as your lordship; since your lordship so much declines being thought an original, for writing in a way wherein it is hard to avoid thinking that you are the first, till some other can be produced that writ so before you.

But to return to your lordship’s present charge against my book: in your lordship’s answer, I find these Edition: current; Page: [140] words: “in an age, wherein the mysteries of faith are so much exposed, by the promoters of scepticism and infidelity; it is a thing of dangerous consequence, to start such new methods of certainty, as are apt to leave men’s minds more doubtful than before.”

By which passage, and some expressions that seem to look that way, in the places above-quoted, I take it for granted, that another particular in my book, which your lordship suspects may be of dangerous consequence to that article of faith which your lordship has endeavoured to defend, is my placing of certainty as I do, in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of our ideas.

Though I cannot conceive how any term, new or old, idea or not idea, can have any opposition or danger in it, to any article of faith, or any truth whatsoever; yet I easily grant, that propositions are capable of being opposite to propositions, and may be such as, if granted, may overthrow articles of faith, or any other truth they are opposite to. But your lordship not having, as I remember, shown, or gone about to show, how this proposition, viz. that certainty consists in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of two ideas, is opposite or inconsistent with that article of faith which your lordship has endeavoured to defend: it is plain, it is but your lordship’s fear, that it may be of dangerous consequence to it; which, as I humbly conceive, is no proof that it is any way inconsistent with that article.

Nobody, I think, can blame your lordship, or any one else, for being concerned for any article of the christian faith: but if that concern (as it may, and as we know it has done) makes any one apprehend danger, where no danger is; are we therefore to give up and condemn any proposition, because any one, though of the first rank and magnitude, fears it may be of dangerous consequence to any truth of religion, without saying that it is so? If such fears be the measures whereby to judge of truth and falsehood, the affirming that there are antipodes would be still a heresy; and the doctrine Edition: current; Page: [141] of the motion of the earth must be rejected, as overthrowing the truth of the scripture; for of that dangerous consequence it has been apprehended to be, by many learned and pious divines, out of their great concern for religion. And yet, notwithstanding those great apprehensions of what dangerous consequence it might be, it is now universally received by learned men, as an undoubted truth; and writ for by some, whose belief of the scriptures is not at all questioned; and particularly, very lately, by a divine of the church of England, with great strength of reason, in his wonderfully ingenious New Theory of the earth.

The reason your lordship gives of your fears, that it may be of such dangerous consequence to that article of faith which your lordship endeavours to defend, though it occurs in many more places than one, is only this, viz. that it is made use of by ill men to do mischief, i. e. to oppose that article of faith, which your lordship has endeavoured to defend. But, my lord, if it be a reason to lay by any thing as bad, because it is, or may be used to an ill purpose; I know not what will be innocent enough to be kept. Arms, which were made for our defence, are sometimes made use of to do mischief; and yet they are not thought of dangerous consequence for all that. Nobody lays by his sword and pistols, or thinks them of such dangerous consequence as to be neglected, or thrown away, because robbers and the worst of men sometimes make use of them to take away honest men’s lives or goods. And the reason is, because they were designed, and will serve to preserve them. And who knows but this may be the present case? If your lordship thinks that placing of certainty in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas be to be rejected as false, because you apprehend it may be of dangerous consequence to that article of faith; on the other side, perhaps others, with me, may think it a defence against errour, and so (as being of good use) to be received and adhered to.

I would not, my lord, be hereby thought to set up my own, or any one’s judgment against your lordship’s; Edition: current; Page: [142] but I have said this only to show, while the argument lies for or against the truth of any proposition, barely in an imagination, that it may be of consequence to the supporting or overthrowing of any remote truth; it will be impossible, that way, to determine of the truth or falsehood of that proposition. For imagination will be set up against imagination, and the stronger probably will be against your lordship; the strongest imaginations being usually in the weakest heads. The only way, in this case, to put it past doubt, is to show the inconsistency of the two propositions; and then it will be seen, that one overthrows the other; the true the false one.

Your lordship says indeed, this is a new method of certainty. I will not say so myself, for fear of deserving a second reproof from your lordship, for being too forward to assume to myself the honour of being an original. But this, I think, gives me occasion, and will excuse me from being thought impertinent, if I ask your lordship whether there be any other or older method of certainty? and what it is? For if there be no other, nor older than this, either this was always the method of certainty, and so mine is no new one; or else the world is obliged to me for this new one, after having been so long in the want of so necessary a thing, as a method of certainty. If there be an older, I am sure your lordship cannot but know it; your condemning mine as new, as well as your thorough insight into antiquity, cannot but satisfy every body that you do. And therefore to set the world right in a thing of that great concernment, and to overthrow mine, and thereby prevent the dangerous consequence there is in my having unseasonably started it, will not, I humbly conceive, misbecome your lordship’s care of that article you have endeavoured to defend, nor the good-will you bear to truth in general. For I will be answerable for myself, that I shall; and I think I may be for all others, that they all will give off the placing of certainty in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, if your lordship will be pleased to show that it lies in any thing else.

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But truly, and not to ascribe to myself an invention of what has been as old as knowledge is in the world, I must own, I am not guilty of what your lordship is pleased to call starting new methods of certainty. Knowledge, ever since there has been any in the world, has consisted in one particular action of the mind; and so, I conceive, will continue to do to the end of it: and to start new methods of knowledge and certainty, (for they are to me the same thing) i. e. to find out and propose new methods of attaining knowledge, either with more ease and quickness, or in things yet unknown, is what I think nobody could blame: but this is not that which your lordship here means by new methods of certainty. Your lordship, I think, means by it the placing of certainty in something, wherein either it does not consist, or else wherein it was not placed before now; if this be to be called a new method of certainty. As to the latter of these, I shall know whether I am guilty or no, when your lordship will do me the favour to tell me, wherein it was placed before: which your lordship knows I professed myself ignorant of, when I writ my book, and so am still. But if starting of new methods of certainty, be the placing of certainty in something wherein it does not consist; whether I have done that or no, I must appeal to the experience of mankind.

There are several actions of men’s minds that they are conscious to themselves of performing, as willing, believing, knowing, &c. which they have so particular a sense of, that they can distinguish them one from another; or else they could not say when they willed, when they believed, and when they knew any thing. But though these actions were different enough from one another, not to be confounded by those who spoke of them; yet nobody, that I had met with, had, in their writings, particularly set down wherein the act of knowing precisely consisted.

To this reflection upon the actions of my own mind, the subject of my Essay concerning Human Understanding naturally led me; wherein, if I have done any thing new, it has been to describe to others more particularly Edition: current; Page: [144] than had been done before, what it is their minds do, when they perform that action which they call knowing: and if, upon examination, they observe I have given a true account of that action of their minds in all the parts of it; I suppose it will be in vain to dispute against what they find and feel in themselves. And if I have not told them right, and exactly what they find and feel in themselves, when their minds perform the act of knowing, what I have said will be all in vain; men will not be persuaded against their senses. Knowledge is an internal perception of their minds; and if, when they reflect on it, they find it is not what I have said it is, my groundless conceit will not be hearkened to, but exploded by every body, and die of itself; and nobody need to be at any pains to drive it out of the world. So impossible is it to find out, or start new methods of certainty, or to have them received, if any one places it in any thing but in that wherein it really consists: much less can any one be in danger to be misled into errour, by any such new, and to every one visibly senseless project. Can it be supposed, that any one could start a new method of seeing, and persuade men thereby, that they do not see what they do see? Is it to be feared, that any one can cast such a mist over their eyes that they should not know when they see, and so be led out of their way by it?

Knowledge, I find, in myself; and, I conceive, in others; consists in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of the immediate objects of the mind in thinking, which I call ideas: but whether it does so in others or no, must be determined by their own experience, reflecting upon the action of their mind in knowing; for that I cannot alter, nor I think they themselves. But whether they will call those immediate objects of their mind in thinking ideas or no, is perfectly in their own choice. If they dislike that name, they may call them notions or conceptions, or how they please; it matters not, if they use them so as to avoid obscurity and confusion. If they are constantly used in the same and a known sense, every one has the liberty to please himself in his terms; there lies neither truth, Edition: current; Page: [145] nor errour, nor science, in that; though those that take them for things, and not for what they are, bare arbitrary signs of our ideas, make a great deal of ado often about them, as if some great matter lay in the use of this or that sound. All that I know or can imagine of difference about them, is, that those words are always best, whose significations are best known in the sense they are used; and so are least apt to breed confusion.

My lord, your lordship has been pleased to find fault with my use of the new term, ideas, without telling me a better name for the immediate objects of the mind in thinking. Your lordship has also been pleased to find fault with my definition of knowledge, without doing me the favour to give me a better. For it is only about my definition of knowledge, that all this stir, concerning certainty, is made. For with me, to know and be certain, is the same thing; what I know, that I am certain of; and what I am certain of, that I know. What reaches to knowledge, I think may be called certainty; and what comes short of certainty, I think cannot be called knowledge; as your lordship could not but observe in § 18. of ch. iv. of my fourth book, which you have quoted.

My definition of knowledge, in the beginning of the fourth book of my Essay, stands thus: “knowledge seems to me to be nothing but the perception of the connexion and agreement or disagreement and repugnancy of any of our ideas.” This definition your lordship dislikes, and apprehends, “it may be of dangerous consequence as to that article of christian faith which your lordship has endeavoured to defend.” For this there is a very easy remedy; it is but for your lordship to set aside this definition of knowledge by giving us a better, and this danger is over. But your lordship chooses rather to have a controversy with my book, for having it in it, and to put me upon the defence of it; for which I must acknowledge myself obliged to your lordship, for affording me so much of your time, and for allowing me the honour of conversing so much with one so far above me in all respects.

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Your lordship says, “it may be of dangerous consequence to that article of christian faith, which you have endeavoured to defend.” Though the laws of disputing allow bare denial 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.

That which your lordship is afraid it may be dangerous to, is an article of faith: that which your lordship labours and is concerned for, is the certainty of faith. Now, my lord, I humbly conceive 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.

Place knowledge in what you will, “start what new methods of certainty you please, that are apt to leave men’s minds more doubtful than before;” place certainty on such grounds as will leave little or no knowledge in the world; (for these are the arguments your lordship uses against my definition of knowledge) this shakes not at all, nor in the least concerns the assurance of faith; that is quite distinct from it, neither stands nor falls with knowledge.

Faith stands by itself, and upon grounds of its own; nor can be removed from them, and placed on those of knowledge. Their grounds are so far from being the same, or having any thing common, that when it is brought to certainty, faith is destroyed; it is knowledge then, and faith no longer.

With what assurance soever of believing, I assent to any article of faith, so that I steadfastly venture my all Edition: current; Page: [147] upon it, it is still but believing. Bring it to certainty, and it ceases to be faith. I believe, that Jesus Christ was crucified, dead and buried, rose again the third day from the dead, and ascended into heaven; let now such methods of knowledge or certainty be started, as leave men’s minds more doubtful than before: let the grounds of knowledge be resolved into what any one pleases, it touches not my faith: the foundation of that stands as sure as before, and cannot be at all shaken by it: and one may as well say, that any thing that weakens the sight, or casts a mist before the eyes, endangers the hearing; as that any thing which alters the nature of knowledge (if that could be done) should be of dangerous consequence to an article of faith.

Whether then I am or am not mistaken, in the placing certainty in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas; whether this account of knowledge be true or false, enlarges or straitens the bounds of it more than it should; faith still stands upon its own basis, which is not at all altered by it; and every article of that has just the same unmoved foundation, and the very same credibility that it had before. So that, my lord, whatever I have said about certainty, and how much soever I may be out in it; if I am mistaken, your lordship has no reason to apprehend any danger, to any article of faith, from thence; every one of them stands upon the same bottom it did before, out of the reach of what belongs to knowledge and certainty. And thus much out of my way of certainty by ideas; which, I hope, will satisfy your lordship, how far it is from being dangerous to any article of the christian faith whatsoever.

I find one thing more your lordship charges on me, in reference to the unitarian controversy; and that is, where your lordship says, that “if these [i. e. my notions of nature and person] hold, your lordship does not see how it is possible to defend the doctrine of the Trinity.”

My lord, since I have a great opinion that your lordship sees as far as any one, and I shall be justified to the world, in relying upon your lordship’s foresight more Edition: current; Page: [148] than on any one’s; these discomforting words of your lordship’s would dishearten me so, that I should be ready to give up what your lordship confesses so untenable; with this acknowledgment however to your lordship, as its great defender:

  • “——Si pergama dextrâ
  • Defendi possint, etiam hâc defensa fuissent.”

This, I say, after such a declaration of your lordship’s, I should think out of a due value for your lordship’s great penetration and judgment, I had reason to do, were it in any other cause but that of an article of the christian faith. For these, I am sure, shall all be defended and stand firm to the world’s end: though we are not always sure, what hand shall defend them. I know as much may be expected from your lordship’s in the case, as any body’s; and therefore I conclude, when you have taken a view of this matter again, out of the heat of dispute, you will have a better opinion of the articles of the christian faith, and of your own ability to defend them, than to pronounce, that “if my notions of nature and person hold, your lordship cannot see how it is possible to defend that article of the christian faith, which your lordship has endeavoured to defend.” For it is, methinks, to put that article upon a very ticklish issue, and to render it as suspected and as doubtful as is possible to men’s minds, that your lordship should declare it not possible to be defended, if my notions of nature and person hold; when all that I can find that your lordship excepts against, in my notions of nature and person, is nothing but this, viz. that these are two sounds, which in themselves signify nothing.

But before I come to examine how by nature and person your lordship, at present in your answer, engages me in the unitarian controversy; it will not be beside the matter to consider, how by them your lordship at first brought my book into it.

In your Vindication of the doctrine of the Trinity, your lordship says, “the next thing to be cleared in this dispute, is the distinction between nature and person. Edition: current; Page: [149] And of this we have no clear and distinct idea from sensation or reflection: and yet all our notions of the doctrine of the Trinity depend upon the right understanding of it. For we must talk unintelligibly, about this point, unless we have clear and distinct apprehensions concerning nature and person, and the grounds of identity and distinction: but these come not into our minds by these simple ideas of sensation and reflection.”

To this I replied, “if it be so, the inference, I should draw from thence, (if it were fit for me to draw any) would be this; that it concerns those, who write on that subject, to have themselves, and to lay down to others, clear and distinct apprehensions, or notions, or ideas (call them what you please) of what they mean by nature and person, and of the grounds of identity and distinction.

“This appears to me the natural conclusion flowing from your lordship’s words; which seem here to suppose clear and distinct apprehensions (something like clear and distinct ideas) necessary for the avoiding unintelligible talk in the doctrine of the Trinity. But I do not see how your lordship can, from the necessity of clear and distinct apprehensions of nature and person, &c. in the dispute of the Trinity, bring in one, who has perhaps mistaken the way to clear and distinct notions concerning nature and person, &c. as fit to be answered among those who bring objections against the Trinity in point of reason. I do not see why an unitarian may not as well bring him in, and argue against his Essay, in a chapter that he should write, to answer objections against the unity of God, in point of reason or revelation: for upon what ground soever any one writes, in this dispute or any other, it is not tolerable to talk unintelligibly on either side.

“If by the way of ideas, which is that of the author of the Essay of Human Understanding, a man cannot come to clear and distinct apprehensions concerning nature and person; if, as he proposes, from the simple ideas of sensation and reflection, such apprehensions cannot be got; it will follow from thence that Edition: current; Page: [150] he is a mistaken philosopher: but it will not follow from thence, that he is not an orthodox christian; for he might (as he did) write his Essay of Human Understanding, without any thought of the controversy between the trinitarians and the unitarians. Nay, a man might have writ all that is in his book, that never heard one word of any such dispute.

“There is in the world a great and fierce contest about nature and grace: it would be very hard for me, if I must be brought in as a party on either side, because a disputant in that controversy should think the clear and distinct apprehensions of nature and grace come not into our minds by these simple ideas of sensation and reflection. If this be so, I may be reckoned among the objectors against all sorts and points of orthodoxy, whenever any one pleases: I may be called to account as one heterodox, in the points of free-grace, free-will, predestination, original sin, justification by faith, transubstantiation, the pope’s supremacy, and what not? as well as in the doctrine of the Trinity; and all because they cannot be furnished with clear and distinct notions of grace, free-will, transubstantiation, &c. by sensation or reflection. For in all these, as in other points, I do not see but there may be a complaint made, that they have not always a right understanding and clear notions of those things, on which the doctrine they dispute of depends. And it is not altogether unusual for men to talk unintelligibly to themselves, and others, in these and other points of controversy, for want of clear and distinct apprehensions, or (as I would call them, did not your lordship dislike it) ideas: for all which unintelligible talking, I do not think myself accountable, though it should so fall out, that my way by ideas would not help them to what it seems is wanting, clear and distinct notions. If my way be ineffectual to that purpose, they may, for all me, make use of any other more successful; and leave me out of the controversy, as one useless to either party, for deciding of the question.

“Supposing, as your lordship says, and as you have Edition: current; Page: [151] undertaken to make appear, that the clear and distinct apprehensions concerning nature and person, and the grounds of identity and distinction, should not come into the mind by simple ideas of sensation and reflection; what, I beseech your lordship, is this to the dispute concerning the Trinity, on either side? And if, after your lordship has endeavoured to give clear and distinct apprehensions of nature and person, the disputants in this controversy should still talk unintelligibly about this point, for want of clear and distinct apprehensions concerning nature and person; ought your lordship to be brought in among the partisans on the other side, by any one who writ a Vindication of the Doctrine of the Trinity? In good earnest, my lord, I do not see how the clear and distinct notions of nature and person, not coming into the mind by the simple ideas of sensation and reflection, any more contains any objection against the doctrine of the Trinity, than the clear and distinct apprehensions of original sin, justification, or transubstantiation, not coming into the mind by the simple ideas of sensation and reflection, contains any objection against the doctrine of original sin, justification, or transubstantiation; and so of all the rest of the terms used in any controversy in religion.”

All that your lordship answers to this is in these words: “The next thing I undertook to show, was, that we can have no clear and distinct idea of nature and person, from sensation of reflection. Here you spend many pages to show, that this doth not concern you. Let it be so. But it concerns the matter I was upon; which was to show, that we must have ideas [I think, my lord, it should be clear and distinct ideas] of these things, which we cannot come to by sensation and reflection.”

But be that as it will; I have troubled your lordship here with this large repetition out of my former letter, because I think it clearly shows, that my book is no more concerned in the controversy about the Trinity, than any other controversy extant: nor any more opposite Edition: current; Page: [152] to that side of the question that your lordship has endeavoured to defend, than to the contrary: and also because, by your lordship’s answer to it in these words, “let it be so,” I thought you had not only agreed to all that I have said, but that by it I had been dismissed out of that controversy.

It is an observation I have somewhere met with, “That whoever is once got into the inquisition, guilty or not guilty, seldom ever gets clear out again.” I think your lordship is satisfied there is no heresy in my book. The suspicion it was brought into, upon the account of placing certainty only upon clear and distinct ideas, is found groundless, there being no such thing in my book; and yet it is not dismissed out of the controversy. It is alleged still, that “my notion of ideas, as I have stated it, may be of dangerous consequence as to that article of the christian faith, which your lordship has endeavoured to defend;” and so I am bound over to another trial. “Clear and distinct apprehensions concerning nature and person, and the grounds of identity and distinction, so necessary in the dispute of the Trinity, cannot be had from sensation and reflection;” was another accusation. To this, whether true or false, I pleaded, that it makes me no party in this dispute of the Trinity, more than in any dispute that can arise; nor of one side of the question more than another. My plea is allowed, “let it be so;” and yet nature and person are made use of again, to hook me into the heretical side of the dispute: and what is now the charge against me, in reference to the unitarian controversy, upon the account of nature and person? even this new one, viz. that “if my notions of nature and person hold, your lordship does not see how it is possible to defend the doctrine of the Trinity.” How is this new charge proved? even thus, in these words annexed to it: “For if these terms really signify nothing in themselves, but are only abstract and complex ideas, which the common use of language hath appropriated to be the signs of two ideas; then it is plain, that they are only notions of the mind, as all Edition: current; Page: [153] abstracted and complex ideas are; and so one nature and three persons can be no more.”

My lord, I am not so conceited of my notions, as to think that they deserve that your lordship should dwell long upon the consideration of them. But pardon me, my lord, if I say, that it seems to me that this representation which your lordship here makes to yourself, of my notions of nature and person, and the inference from it, were made a little in haste: and that if it had not been so, your lordship would not, from the preceding words, have drawn this conclusion; “and so one nature and three persons can be no more;” nor charged it upon me.

For as to that part of your lordship’s representation of my notions of nature and person, wherein it is said, “if these terms in themselves signify nothing;” though I grant that to be my notion of the terms nature and person, that they are two sounds that naturally signify not one thing more than another, nor in themselves signify any thing at all, but have the signification which they have, barely by imposition: yet, in this my notion of them, give me leave to presume, that upon more leisurely thoughts I shall have your lordship, as well as the rest of mankind that ever thought of this matter, concurring with me. So that if your lordship continues positive in it, “that you cannot see how it is possible to defend the doctrine of the Trinity, if this my notion of nature and person hold;” I, as far as my eyesight will reach in the case (which possibly is but a little way) cannot see, but it will be plain to all mankind, that your lordship gives up the doctrine of the Trinity; since this notion of nature and person that they are two words that signify by imposition, is what will hold in the common sense of all mankind. And then, my lord, all those who think well of your lordship’s ability to defend it, and believe that you see as far in that question as any body (which I take to be the common sentiment of all the learned world, especially of those of our country and church) will be in great danger to have an ill opinion of the evidence of that article: since, I imagine, there is scarce one of them, who does not think this Edition: current; Page: [154] notion will hold, viz. that these terms nature and person signify what they do signify by imposition, and not by nature.

Though, if the contrary were true, that these two words, nature and person, had this particular privilege, above other names of things, that they did naturally and in themselves signify what they do signify, and that they received not their significations from the arbitrary imposition of men, I do not see how the defence of the doctrine of the Trinity should depend hereon; unless your lordship concludes, that it is necessary to the defence of the doctrine of the Trinity, that these two articulate sounds should have natural significations; and that unless they are used in those significations, it were impossible to defend the doctrine of the Trinity. Which is in effect to say, that where these two words are not in use and in their natural signification, the doctrine of the Trinity cannot be defended. And if this be so, I grant your lordship had reason to say, that if it hold, that the terms nature and person signify by imposition, your lordship does not see how it is possible to defend the doctrine of the Trinity. But then, my lord, I beg your lordship to consider, whether this be not mightily to prejudice that doctrine, and to undermine the belief of that article of faith, to make so extraordinary a supposition necessary to the defence of it; and of more dangerous consequence to it, than any thing your lordship can imagine deducible from my book?

As to the remaining part of what your lordship has, in the foregoing passage, set down as some of my notions of nature and person, viz. that these terms are only abstract or complex ideas: I crave leave to plead, that I never said any such thing; and I should be ashamed if I ever had said, that these, or any other terms, were ideas; which is all one as to say, that the sign is the thing signified. Much less did I ever say, “That these terms are only abstract and complex ideas, which the common use of language hath appropriated to be the signs of two ideas.” For to say, “that the common use of language has appropriated abstract and complex ideas to be the signs of ideas,” seems to me so extraordinary Edition: current; Page: [155] a way of talking, that I can scarce persuade myself it would be of credit to your lordship, to think it worth your while to answer a man, whom you could suppose to vent such gross jargon.

This therefore containing none of my notions of nature and person, nor indeed any thing that I understand; whether your lordship rightly deduces from it this consequence, viz. “and so one nature and three persons can be no more;” is what I neither know nor am concerned to examine.

Your lordship has been pleased to take my Essay of Human Understanding to task, in your Vindication of the doctrine of the Trinity: because the doctrine of it will not furnish your lordship “with clear and distinct apprehensions concerning nature and person, and the grounds of identity and distinction. For, says your lordship, we must talk unintelliglbly about this point [of the Trinity] unless we have clear and distinct apprehensions of nature and person,” &c.

Whether, by my way of ideas, one can have clear and distinct apprehensions of nature and person, I shall not now dispute, how much soever I am of the mind one may. Nor shall I question the reasonableness of this principle your lordship goes upon, viz. that my book is to be disputed against, as opposite to the doctrine of the Trinity, because it fails to furnish your lordship “with clear and distinct apprehensions of nature and person, and the distinction between them;” though I promised no such clear and distinct apprehensions, nor have treated in my book any where of nature at all. But upon this occasion I cannot but observe, that your lordship yourself, in that place, makes “clear and distinct ideas necessary to that certainty of faith,” which your lordship thinks requisite, though it be that very thing for which you blame the men of the new way of reasoning, and is the very ground of your disputing against the unitarians, the author of Christianity not mysterious, and me, jointly under that title.

Your lordship, to supply that defect in my book of clear and distinct apprehensions of nature and person, for the vindication of the doctrine of the Trinity, without which it cannot be talked of intelligibly nor defended, Edition: current; Page: [156] undertook to clear the distinction between nature and person. This, I told your lordship, gave me hopes of getting farther insight into these matters, and more clear and distinct apprehensions concerning nature and person, than was to be had by ideas; but that after all the attention and application I could use, in reading what your lordship had writ of it, I found myself so little enlightened concerning nature and person, by what your lordship had said, that I found no other remedy, but that I must be content with the condemned way by ideas.

This, which I thought not only an innocent, but a respectful answer, to what your lordship had said about nature and person, has drawn upon me a more severe reflection than I thought it deserved. Scepticism is a pretty hard word, which I find dropt in more places than one; but I shall refer the consideration of that to another place. All that I shall do now, shall be to mark out (since your lordship forces me to it) more particularly than I did before, what I think very hard to be understood, in that which your lordship has said to clear the distinction between nature and person; which I shall do, for these two ends:

First, as an excuse for my saying, “that I had learnt nothing out of your lordship’s elaborate discourse of them, but this; that I must content myself with my condemned way by ideas.”

And next to show, why not only I, but several others, think that if my book deserved to be brought in, and taken notice of among the anti-trinitarian writers, for want of clear and distinct ideas of nature and person; what your lordship has said upon these subjects will more justly deserve, by him that writes next in defence of the doctrine of the Trinity, to be brought in among the opposers of the doctrine of the Trinity, as of dangerous consequence to it; for want of giving clear and distinct apprehensions of nature and person; unless the same thing ranks one man among the unitarians, and another amongst the trinitarians.

What your lordship had said, for clearing of the distinction of nature and person, having surpassed my understanding, as I told your lordship in my former letter; Edition: current; Page: [157] I was resolved not to incur your lordship’s displeasure a second time, by confessing I found not myself enlightened by it, till I had taken all the help I could imagine, to find out these clear and distinct apprehensions of nature and person, which your lordship had so much declared for. To this purpose, I consulted others upon what you had said; and desired to find somebody, who, understanding it himself, would help me out, where my own application and endeavours had been used to no purpose. But my misfortune has been, my lord, that among several whom I have desired to tell me their sense of what your lordship has said, for clearing the notions of nature and person, there has not been one who owned, that he understood your lordship’s meaning; but confessed, the farther he looked into what your lordship had there said about nature and person, the more he was at a loss about them.

One said, your lordship began with giving two significations of the word nature. One of them, as it stood for properties, he said he understood: but the other, wherein “nature was taken for the thing itself, wherein those properties were,” he said, he did not understand. But that, he added, I was not to wonder at, in a man that was not very well acquainted with Greek; and therefore might well be allowed not to have learning enough not to understand an English word, that Aristotle was brought to explain and settle the sense of. Besides, he added, that which puzzled him the more in it, was the very explication which was brought of it out of Aristotle, viz. that “nature was a corporeal substance, which had the principles of motion in itself;” because he could not conceive a corporeal substance, having the principles of motion in itself. And if nature were a corporeal substance, having the principles of motion in itself; it must be good sense to say, that a corporeal substance, or, which is the same thing, a body having the principles of motion in itself, is nature; which he confessed, if any body should say to him, he could not understand.

Another thing, he said, that perplexed him in this explication of nature, was, that if “nature was a corporeal Edition: current; Page: [158] substance, which had the principles of motion in itself,” he thought it might happen that there might be no nature at all. For corporeal substances having all equally principles, or no principles of motion in themselves; and all men who do not make matter and motion eternal, being positive in it, that a body, at rest, has no principle of motion in it; must conclude, that corporeal substance has no principle of motion in itself: from hence it will follow, that to all those who admit not matter and motion to be eternal, no nature, in that sense, will be left at all, since nature is said to be a corporeal substance, which hath the principles of motion in itself: but such a sort of corporeal substance those men have no notion of at all, and consequently none of nature, which is such a corporeal substance.

Now, said he, if this be that clear and distinct apprehension of nature, which is so necessary to the doctrine of the Trinity; they who have found it out for that purpose, and find it clear and distinct, have reason to be satisfied with it upon that account: but how they will reconcile it to the creation of matter, I cannot tell. I, for my part, said he, can make it consist neither with the creation of the world, nor with any other notions; and so, plainly, cannot understand it.

He farther said, in the following words, which are these, “but nature and substance are of an equal extent; and so that which is the subject of powers and properties is nature, whether it be meant of bodily or spiritual substances;” he neither understood the connexion nor sense. First, he understood not, he said, that “nature and substance were of the same extent.” Nature, he said, in his notion of it, extended to things that were not substances; as he thought it might properly be said, the nature of a rectangular triangle was, that the square of the hypothenuse was equal to the square of the two other sides; or, it is the nature of sin to offend God: though it be certain, that neither sin nor a rectangular triangle, to which nature is attributed in these propositions, are either of them substances.

Farther, he said, that he did not see how the particle “but” connects this to the preceding words. But Edition: current; Page: [159] least of all, could he comprehend the inference from hence: “and so that which is the subject of powers and properties is nature, whether it be meant of bodily or spiritual substances.” Which deduction, said he, stands thus: “Aristotle takes nature for a corporeal substance, which has the principle of motion in itself; therefore nature and substance are of an equal extent, and so both corporeal and incorporeal substances are nature.” This is the very connexion, said he, of the whole deduction in the foregoing words: which I understand not, if I understand the words: and if I understand not the words, I am yet farther from understanding any thing of this explication of nature, whereby we are to come to clear and distinct apprehensions of it.

Methinks, said he, going on, I understand how by making nature and substance one and the same thing, that may serve to bring substance into this dispute; but for all that, I cannot, for my life, understand nature to be substance, nor substance to be nature.

There is another inference, said he, in the close of this paragraph, which both for its connexion and expression seems, to me, very hard to be understood, it being set down in these words: “so that the nature of things properly belongs to our reason, and not to mere ideas.” For when a man knows what it is for the nature of things properly to belong to reason, and not to mere ideas, there will, I guess, some difficulty remain, in what sense soever he shall understand that expression, to deduce this proposition as an inference from the foregoing words, which are these: “I grant, that by sensation and reflection, we come to know the powers and properties of things; but our reason is satisfied that there must be something beyond those, because it is impossible that they should subsist by themselves: so that the nature of things properly belongs to our reason, and not to mere ideas.”

It is true, said I; but his lordship, upon my taking reason in that place for the power of reasoning, hath, in his answer, with a little kind of warmth, corrected my mistake, in these words: “still you are at it, that you can find no opposition between ideas and reason: but Edition: current; Page: [160] ideas are objects of the understanding, and the understanding is one of the faculties employed about them.” “No doubt of it. But you might easily see that by reason, I understood principles of reason, allowed by mankind; which, I think, are very different from ideas. But I perceive reason, in this sense, is a thing you have no idea of; or one as obscure as that of substance.”

I imagine, said the gentleman, that if his lordship should be asked, how he perceives you have no idea of reason in that sense, or one as obscure as that of substance? he would scarce have a reason ready to give for his saying so: and what we say which reason cannot account for, must be ascribed to some other cause.

Now truly, said I, my mistake was so innocent and so unaffected, that if I had had these very words said to me then, which his lordship sounds in my ears now, to awaken my understanding, viz. “that the principles of reason are very different from ideas;” I do not yet find how they would have helped me to see what, it seems, was no small fault, that I did not see before. Because, let reason, taken for principles of reason, be as different as it will from ideas; reason, taken as a faculty, is as different from them, in my apprehension: and in both senses of the word reason, either as taken for a faculty, or for the principles of reason allowed by mankind, reason and ideas may consist together.

Certainly, said the gentlemen, ideas have something in them, that you do not see; or else such a small mistake, as you made in endeavouring to make them consistent with reason as a faculty, would not have moved so great a man as my lord bishop of Worcester so as to make him tell you, “that reason, taken for the common principles of reason, is a thing whereof you have no ideas, or one as obscure as that of substance.” For, if I mistake not, you have in your book, in more places than one, spoke, and that pretty largely, of self-evident propositions and maxims: so that, if his lordship has ever read those parts of your Essay, he cannot doubt, but that you have ideas of those common principles of reason.

Edition: current; Page: [161]

It may be so, I replied, but such things are to be borne from great men, who often use them as marks of distinction: though I should less expect them from my lord bishop of Worcester than from almost any one; because he has the solid and interior greatness of learning, as well as that of outward title and dignity. But since he expects it from me, I will do what I can to see what, he says, is his meaning here by reason. I will repeat it just as his lordship says, “I might easily have seen what he understood by it.” My lord’s words immediately following those above taken notice of, are: “and so that which is the subject of powers and properties is the nature, whether it be meant of bodily or spiritual substances.” And then follow these, which to be rightly understood, his lordship says must be read thus: “I grant, that by sensation and reflection we come to know the properties of things; but our reason, i. e. the principles of reason allowed by mankind, are satisfied that there must be something beyond these, because it is impossible they should subsist by themselves; so that the nature of things properly belongs to our reason, i. e. to the principles of reason allowed by mankind; and not to mere ideas.” This explication of it, replied the gentleman, which my lord bishop has given of this passage, makes it more unintelligible to me than it was before; and I know him to be so great a master of sense, that I doubt whether he himself will be better satisfied with this sense of his words, than with that which you understood in it. But let us go on to the two next paragraphs, wherein his lordship is at farther pains to give us clear and distinct apprehensions of nature: and that we may not mistake let us first read his words, which run thus:

“But we must yet proceed farther; for nature may be considered two ways:”

1. “As it is in distinct individuals; as the nature of a man is equally in Peter, James, and John; and this is the common nature, with a particular subsistence, proper to each of them. For the nature of a man, as in Peter, is distinct from that same nature, as it is in Edition: current; Page: [162] James and John; otherwise they would be but one person, as well as have the same nature. And this distinction of persons in them is discerned both by our senses, as to their different accidents; and by our reason, because they have a separate existence; not coming into it at once, and in the same manner.”

2. “Nature may be considered abstractly, without respect to individual persons; and then it makes an entire notion of itself. For, however the same nature may be in different individuals, yet the nature in itself remains one and the same; which appears from this evident reason, that otherwise every individual must make a different kind.”

In these words, said he, having read them, I find the same difficulties you took notice of in your letter. As first, that it is not declared whether his lordship speaks here of nature, as standing for essential properties, or of nature, standing for substance; which dubiousness casts an obscurity on the whole place. And next, I can no more tell than you, whether it be his lordship’s opinion that I ought to think, that one and the same nature is in Peter and John; or, that a nature, distinct from that in John, is in Peter; and that for the same reason which left you at a loss, viz. because I cannot put together one and the same and distinct. But since his lordship, in his answer to you, has said nothing to give us light in these matters, we must be content to be in the dark; and if he has not thought fit to explain it, so as to make himself to be understood by us, we may be sure he has a reason for it. But pray tell me, did you understand the rest of these two paragraphs that you mentioned, only those two difficulties? For I must profess to you, that I understand so little of either of them, that they contribute nothing at all to give me those clear and distinct apprehensions of nature and person, which I find, by his lordship, it is necessary to have, before one can have a right understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity. Nay, I am so far from gaining by his lordship’s discourse those clear and distinct apprehensions of nature and person, that what he objects to your new method Edition: current; Page: [163] of certainty, I found verified in this his clearing the distinction between nature and person, that it left me in more doubt than I was in before.

Truly, sir, replied I, that was just my case; but minding then only what I thought immediately related to the objections to my book, which followed; I passed by what I might have retorted concerning the obscurity and difficulty in his lordship’s doctrine about nature and person, and contented myself to tell his lordship, in as respectful terms as I could find, that I could not understand him: which drew from him that severe reflection, that I obstinately stick to a way that leads to scepticism, which is the way of ideas. But now that, for the vindication of my book, I am showing that his lordship’s way, without ideas, does as little (I will not say less) furnish us with clear and distinct apprehensions concerning nature and person, as my Essay does; I do not see but that his lordship’s Vindication of the Trinity, is as much against the doctrine of the Trinity, as my Essay of Human Understanding; and may, with as much reason on that account, be animadverted on by another, who vindicates the doctrine of the Trinity, as my book is by his lordship.

Indeed, said he, if failing of clear and distinct apprehensions, concerning nature and person, render any book obnoxious to one that vindicates the doctrine of the Trinity, and gives him sufficient cause to write against it, as opposite to that doctrine; I know no book of more dangerous consequence to that article of faith, nor more necessary to be writ against by a defender of that article, than that part of his lordship’s Vindication, which we are now upon. For to my thinking, I never met with any thing more unintelligible about that subject, nor that is more remote from clear and distinct apprehensions of nature and person. For what more effectual method could there be to confound the notions of nature and person, instead of clearing their distinction, than to discourse of them without first defining them? Is this a way to give clear and distinct apprehensions of two words, upon a right understanding of which, all our notions of the doctrine of the Trinity Edition: current; Page: [164] depend; and without which, we must talk unintelligibly about that point?

His lordship tells us here, nature may be considered two ways. What is it the nearer to be told, nature may be considered two or twenty ways, till we know what that is which is to be considered two ways? i. e. till he defines the term nature, that we may know what precisely is the thing meant by it.

He tells us, “nature may be considered,

“1. As it is in individuals.

“2. Abstractly.”

1. His lordship says, “nature may be considered, as in distinct individuals.” It is true, by those that know what nature is. But his lordship having not yet told me what nature is, nor what he here means by it; it is impossible for me to consider nature in or out of individuals, unless I can consider I know not what: so that this consideration is, to me, as good as no consideration; neither does or can it help at all to any clear and distinct apprehensions of nature. Indeed he says, Aristotle by nature signified a corporeal substance; and from thence his lordship takes occasion to say, “that nature and substance are of an equal extent;” though Aristotle, taking nature for a corporeal substance, gave no ground for such a saying, because corporeal substance and substance are not of an equal extent. But to pass by that: if his lordship would have us understand here, that by nature he means substance, this is but substituting one name in the place of another; and, which is worse, a more doubtful and obscure term, in the place of one that is less so; which will, I fear, not give us very clear and distinct apprehensions of nature. His lordship goes on:

“As the nature of a man is equally in Peter, James, and John; and this is the common nature, with a particular subsistence proper to each of them.”

Here his lordship does not tell us what consideration of nature there may be, but actually affirms and teaches something. I wish I had the capacity to learn by it the clear and distinct apprehensions of nature and person, which is the lesson he is here upon. He says, “that Edition: current; Page: [165] the nature of a man is equally in Peter, James, and John.” That is more than I know: because I do not know what things Peter, James, and John are. They may be drills, or horses, for aught I know; as well as Weweena, Cuchipe, and Cousheda, may be drills, as his lordship says, for aught he knows. For I know no law of speech that more necessarily makes these three sounds, Peter, James, and John, stand for three men; than Weweena, Cuchipe, and Cousheda, stand for three men: for I knew a horse that was called Peter; and I do not know but the master of the same team might call other of his horses James and John. Indeed if Peter, James, and John, are supposed to be the names only of men, it cannot be questioned but the nature of man is equally in them; unless one can suppose each of them to be a man, without having the nature of a man in him: that is, suppose him to be a man, without being a man. But then this to me, I confess, gives no manner of clear or distinct apprehensions concerning nature in general, or the nature of man in particular; it seeming to me to say no more but this, that a man is a man, and a drill is a drill, and a horse is a horse: or, which is all one, what has the nature of a man, has the nature of a man, or is a man; and what has the nature of a drill, has the nature of a drill, or is a drill; and what has the nature of a horse, has the nature of a horse, or is a horse; whether it be called Peter, or not called Peter. But if any one should repeat this a thousand times to me, and go over all the species of creatures, with such an unquestionable assertion to every one of them; I do not find, that thereby I should get one jot clearer or distincter apprehensions either of nature in general, or of the nature of a man, a horse, or a drill, &c. in particular.

His lordship adds, “and this is the common nature, with a particular subsistence, proper to each of them.” I do not doubt but his lordship set down these words with a very good meaning; but such is my misfortune, that I, for my life, cannot find it out. I have repeated “and this” twenty times to myself; and my weak understanding always rejolts, and what? To which I am always ready to answer, the nature of a man in Peter, Edition: current; Page: [166] and the nature of a man in James, and the nature of a man in John, is the common nature; and there I stop, and can go no farther to make it coherent to myself, till I add of man; and then it must be read thus; “the nature of man in Peter is the common nature of man, with a particular subsistence proper to Peter.” That the nature of man in Peter, is the nature of a man, if Peter be supposed to be a man, I certainly know, let the nature of man be what it will, of which I yet know nothing; but if Peter be not supposed to be the name of a man, but be the name of a horse, all that knowledge vanishes, and I know nothing. But let Peter be ever so much a man, and let it be impossible to give that name to a horse, yet I cannot understand these words, that the common nature of man is in Peter; for whatsoever is in Peter, exists in Peter; and whatever exists in Peter, is particular: but the common nature of man, is the general nature of man, or else I understand not what is meant by common nature. And it confounds my understanding, to make a general a particular.

But to help me to conceive this matter, I am told, “it is the common nature with a particular subsistence proper to Peter.” But this helps not my understanding in the case: for first, I do not understand what subsistence is, if it signify any thing different from existence; and if it be the same with existence, then it is so far from loosening the knot, that it leaves it just as it was, only covered with the obscure and less known term, subsistence. For the difficulty to me, is, to conceive an universal nature, or universal any thing, to exist; which would be, in my mind, to make an universal a particular: which, to me, is impossible.

No, said another who was by, it is but using the word subsistence instead of existence, and there is nothing easier; if one will consider this common or universal nature, with a particular existence, under the name of subsistence, the business is done.

Just as easy, replied the former, I find it in myself, as to consider the nature of a circle with four angles; for to consider a circle with four angles, is no more impossible to me, than to consider an universal with a particular Edition: current; Page: [167] existence; which is to consider an universa really existing, and in effect a particular. But the words, “proper to each of them,” follow to help me out. I hoped so, till I considered them; and then I found I understood them as little as all the rest. For I know not what is a subsistence proper to Peter, more than to James or John, till I know Peter himself; and then indeed my senses will discern him from James or John, or any man living.

His lordship goes on: “for the nature of man, as in Peter, is distinct from that same nature as it is in James and John; otherwise they would be but one person, as well as have the same nature.” These words, by the casual particle for, which introduces them, should be a proof of something that goes before: but what they are meant for a proof of, I confess I understand not. For the proposition preceding, as far as I can make any thing of it, is this, that the general nature of a man has a particular existence in each of the three, Peter, James, and John. But then how the saying, that “the nature of man, as in Peter, is distinct from the same nature as it is in James and John,” does prove that the general nature of man does or can exist in either of them, I cannot see.

The words which follow, “otherwise they would be one person, as well as have the same nature,” I see the connexion of; for it is visible they were brought to prove, that the nature in Peter is distinct from the nature in James and John. But with all that, I do not see of what use or significancy they are here: because, to me, they are more obscure and doubtful, than the proposition they are brought to prove. For I scarce think there can be a clearer proposition than this, viz. that three natures, that have three distinct existences in three men, are, as his lordship says, three distinct natures, and so needs no proof. But to prove it by this, that “otherwise they could not be three persons,” is to prove it by a proposition unintelligible to me; because his lordship has not yet told me, what the clear and distinct apprehension of person is, which I ought to have. For his lordship supposing it, as he does, to be a term, Edition: current; Page: [168] which has in itself a certain signification; I, who have no such conception of it, should in vain look for it in the propriety of our language, which is established upon arbitrary imposition; and so can, by no means, imagine what person here signifies, till his lordship shall do me the favour to tell me.

To this I replied, that six pages farther on, your lordship explains the notion of person.

To which the gentleman answered, whether I can get clear and distinct apprehensions of person, by what his lordship says there of person, I shall see when I come to it. But this, in the mean time, must be confessed, that person comes in here six pages too soon, for those who want his lordship’s explication of it, to make them have clear and distinct apprehensions of what he means, when he uses it.

For we must certainly talk unintelligibly about nature and person, as well as about the doctrine of the Trinity, unless we have clear and distinct apprehensions concerning nature and person; as his lordship says, in the foregoing page.

It follows, “and this distinction of persons in them, is discerned both by our senses, as to their different accidents; and by our reason, because they have a separate existence; not coming into it at once and in the same manner.”

These words, said he, which conclude this paragraph, tell us how persons are distinguished; but, as far as I can see, serve not at all to give us any clear and distinct apprehensions of nature, by considering it in distinct individuals: which was the business of this paragraph.

His lordship says, we may consider nature as in distinct individuals: and so I do as much, when I consider it in three distinct physical atoms or particles of the air or æther, as when I consider it in Peter, James, and John. For three distinct physical atoms are three distinct individuals, and have three distinct natures in them, as certainly as three distinct men; though I cannot discern the distinction between them by my senses, as to their different accidents; nor is their separate existence discernible to my reason, by their not coming into it at Edition: current; Page: [169] once and in the same manner: for they did, for aught I know, or at least might, come into existence at once and in the same manner, which was by creation. I think it will be allowed, that God did, or might, create more than one physical atom of matter at once: so that here nature may be considered in distinct individuals, without any of those ways of distinction which his lordship here speaks of: and so I cannot see how these last words contribute aught, to give us clear and distinct apprehensions of nature, by considering nature in distinct individuals.

But to try what clear and distinct apprehensions concerning nature, his lordship’s way of considering nature in this paragraph carries in it; let me repeat his lordship’s discourse to you here, only changing one common nature for another, viz. putting the common nature of animal, for the common nature of man, which his lordship has chose to instance in; and then his lordship’s words would run thus: “nature may be considered two ways; first, as it is in distinct individuals; as the nature of an animal is equally in Alexander, Bucephalus, and Podargus; and this is the common nature, with a particular subsistence, proper to each of them. For the nature of animal, as in Bucephalus, is distinct from the same nature as in Podargus and Alexander; otherwise they would be but one person, as well as have the same nature. And this distinction of persons in them is discerned both by our senses, as to their different accidents; and by our reason, because they have a separate existence, not coming into it at once and in the same manner.”

To this I said, I thought he did violence to your lordship’s sense, in applying the word person, which signifies an intelligent individual, to Bucephalus and Podargus, which were two irrational animals.

To which the gentleman replied, that he fell into this mistake, by his thinking your lordship had somewhere spoken, as if an individual intelligent substance were not the proper definition of person. But, continued he, I lay no stress on the word person, in the instance wherein I have used his lordship’s words, and therefore, if you Edition: current; Page: [170] please, put individual for it; and then reading it so, let me ask you whether that way of considering it contributes any thing to the giving you clear and distinct apprehensions of nature? which it ought to do, if his lordship’s way of considering nature, in that paragraph, were of any use to that purpose: since the common nature of animal is as much the same; or, as his lordship says in the next paragraph, as much an entire notion of itself, as the common nature of man. And the common nature of animal is as equally in Alexander, Bucephalus, and Podargus, with a particular subsistence proper to each of them; as the common nature of man is equally in Peter, James, and John, with a particular subsistence to each of them, &c. But pray what does all this do towards the giving you clear and distinct apprehensions of nature?

I replied, truly neither the consideration of nature, as in his lordship’s distinct individuals, viz. in Peter, James, and John; nor the consideration of nature, as in your distinct individuals, viz. in Alexander, Bucephalus, and Podargus; did any thing towards the giving me clear and distinct apprehensions of nature. Nay, they were so far from it, that, after having gone over both the one and the other several times in my thoughts, I seem to have less clear and distinct apprehensions of nature than I had before. But whether it will be so with other people, as I perceive it is with you, and me, and some others, none of the dullest, whom I have talked with upon this subject, that must be left to experience; and if there be others that do hereby get such clear and distinct apprehensions concerning nature, which may help them in their notions of the Trinity, that cannot be denied them.

That is true, said he: but if that be so, I must necessarily conclude, that the notionists and the ideists have their apprehensive faculties very differently turned; since in their explaining themselves (which they on both sides think clear and intelligible) they cannot understand one another.

But let us go on to nature, considered abstractly, in the next words.

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Secondly, nature may be considered, says his lordship abstractly, without respect to individual persons.

I do not see, said he, what persons do here, more than any other individuals. For nature, considered abstractly, has no more respect to persons, than any other sort of individuals.

And then, says his lordship, it makes an entire notion of itself. To make an entire notion of itself, being an expression I never met with before, I shall not, I think, be much blamed if I be not confident, that I perfectly understand it. To guess therefore, as well as I can, what can be meant by it, I consider, that whatever the mind makes an object of its contemplation at any time, may be called one notion, or, as you perhaps will call it, one idea; which may be an entire notion or idea, though it be but the half of what is the object of the mind at another time. For methinks the number five is as much an entire notion of itself, when the mind contemplates the number five by itself: as the number ten is an entire notion by itself, when the mind contemplates that alone and its properties: and in this sense I can understand an entire notion by itself. But if it mean any thing else, I confess, I do not understand it. But then the difficulty remains; for I cannot see how in this sense, nature abstractly considered makes an entire notion, more than the nature of Peter makes an entire notion. For if the nature in Peter be considered by itself, or if the abstract nature of man be considered by itself, or if the nature of animal (which is yet more abstract) be considered by itself; every one of these being made the whole object, that the mind at any time contemplates, seems to me as much an entire notion, as either of the other.

But farther, what the calling nature, abstractly considered, an entire notion in itself, contributes to our having or not having clear and distinct apprehensions of nature, is yet more remote from my comprehension.

His lordship’s next words are; “for however the same nature may be in different individuals, yet the nature in itself remains one and the same; which appears Edition: current; Page: [172] from this evident reason, that otherwise every individual must make a different kind.”

The coherence of which discourse, continued he, tending, as it seems, to prove, that nature, considered abstractly, makes an entire notion of itself; stands, as far as I can comprehend it, thus: “because every individual must not make a different kind; therefore nature, however it be in different individuals, yet in itself it remains one and the same. And because nature, however it be in different individuals, yet in itself remains one and the same; therefore, considered abstractly, it makes an entire notion of itself.” This is the argument of this paragraph; and the connexion of it, if I understand the connecting words, “for, and from this evident reason.” But if they are used for any thing else but to tie those propositions together, as the proofs one of another, in that way I have mentioned; I confess, I understand them not, nor any thing that is meant by this whole paragraph. And in that sense I understand it in, what it does towards the giving us clear and distinct apprehensions of nature, I must confess, I do not see at all.

Thus far, said he, we have considered his lordship’s explication of nature; and my understanding what his lordship has discoursed upon it, under several heads, for the giving us clear and distinct apprehensions concerning it.

Let us now read what his lordship has said concerning person; that I may, since you desire it of me, let you see how far I have got any clear and distinct apprehension of person, from his lordship’s explication of that. His lordship’s words are; “let us now come to the idea of a person. For although the common nature of mankind be the same, yet we see a difference in the several individuals from one another: so that Peter, and James, and John, are all of the same kind; yet Peter is not James, and James is not John. But what is this distinction founded upon? they may be distinguished from each other by our senses, as to difference of features, distance of place, &c. but that is not all; for supposing there were no external difference, Edition: current; Page: [173] yet there is a difference between them, as several individuals in the same common nature. And here lies the true idea of a person, which arises from the manner of subsistence, which is in one individual, and is not communicable to another. An individual intelligent substance is rather supposed to the making of a person, than a proper definition of it; for a person relates to something which doth distinguish it from another intelligent substance in the same nature; and therefore the foundation of it lies in the peculiar manner of subsistence, which agrees to one, and to none else, of the same kind: and this it is which is called personality.”

In these words, this I understand very well, that supposing Peter, James, and John to be all three men; and man being a name for one kind of animals; they are all of the same kind. I understand too very well, that Peter is not James, and James is not John, but that there is a difference in these several individuals. I understand also, that they may be distinguished from each other by our senses, as to different features and distance of place, &c. But what follows, I do confess, I do not understand, where his lordship says, “but that is not all; “for supposing there were no such external difference, yet there is a difference between them, as several individuals in the same nature.” For first, whatever willingness I have to gratify his lordship in whatever he would have me suppose, yet I cannot, I find, suppose, that there is no such external difference between Peter and James, as difference of place; for I cannot suppose a contradiction; and it seems to me to imply a contradiction to say, Peter and James are not in different places. The next thing I do not understand, is what his lordship says in these words: “for supposing there were no such external difference, yet there is a difference between them, as several individuals in the same nature.” For these words being here to show what the distinction of Peter, James, and John, is founded upon, I do not understand how they at all do it.

His lordship says, “Peter is not James, and James is not John.” He then asks, “but what is this distinction Edition: current; Page: [174] founded upon?” And to resolve that, he answers, “not by difference of features, or distance of place,” with an &c. because, “supposing there were no such external difference, yet there is a difference between them.” In which passage, by these words, such external difference, must be meant all other difference but what his lordship, in the next words, is going to name; or else I do not see how his lordship shows what this distinction is founded upon. For, if, supposing such external differences away, there may be other differences on which to found their distinction, besides that other which his lordship subjoins, viz. “the difference that is between them, as several individuals in the same nature.” I cannot see that his lordship has said any thing to show what the distinction between those individuals is founded on; because if he has not, under the terms external difference, comprized all the differences besides that his chief and fundamental one, viz. “the difference between them as several individuals, in the same common nature;” it may be founded on what his lordship has not mentioned. I conclude then it is his lordship’s meaning, (or else I can see no meaning in his words) that supposing no difference between them, of features or distance of place, &c. i. e. no other difference between them, yet there would be still the true ground of distinction, in the difference between them, as several individuals in the same common nature.

Let us then understand, if we can, what is the difference between things, barely as several individuals in the same common nature, all other differences laid aside.

Truly, said I, that I cannot conceive.

Nor I neither, replied the gentleman: for considering them as several individuals, was what his lordship did, when he said, Peter was not James, and James was not John; and if that were enough to show on what the distinction between them was founded, his lordship need have gone no farther in his inquiry after that, for that he had found already: and yet methinks thither are we at last come again, as to the foundation of the distinction between them, viz. that they are several individuals Edition: current; Page: [175] in the same common nature. Nor can I here see any other ground of the distinction between those, that are several individuals in the same common nature, but this, that they are several individuals in the same common nature. Either this is all the meaning that his lordship’s words, when considered, carry in them; or else I do not understand what they mean: and either way, I must own, they do not much towards the giving me clear and distinct apprehensions of nature and person.

One thing more I must remark to you, in his lordship’s way of expressing himself here; and that is, in the former part of the words last read, he speaks, as he does all along, of the same common nature being in mankind, or in the several individuals: and, in the latter part of them, he speaks of several individuals being in the same common nature. I do by no means find fault with such figurative and common ways of speaking, in popular and ordinary discourses, where inaccurate thoughts allow inaccurate ways of speaking; but I think I may say, that metaphorical expressions (which seldom terminate in precise truth) should be as much as possible avoided, when men undertake to deliver clear and distinct apprehensions, and exact notions of things; because, being taken strictly and according to the letter, (as we find they are apt to be) they always puzzle and mislead, rather than enlighten and instruct.

I do not say this (continued he) with an intention to accuse his lordship of inaccurate notions; but yet, I think, his sticking so close all along to that vulgar way of speaking of the same common nature, being in several individuals, has made him less easy to be understood. For to speak truly and precisely of this matter, as in reality it is, there is no such thing as one and the same common nature in several individuals: for all, that in truth is in them, is particular, and can be nothing but particular. But the true meaning (when it has any) of that metaphorical and popular phrase, I take to be this, and no more, that every particular individual man or horse, &c. has such a nature or constitution, as agrees and is conformable to that idea, which that general name stands for.

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His lordship’s next words are: “and here lies the true idea of a person, which arises from that manner of subsistence which is in one individual, and is not communicable to another.” The reading of these words, said he, makes me wish, that we had some other way of communicating our thoughts, than by words; for, no doubt, it would have been as much a pleasure to have seen what his lordship’s thoughts were when he writ this, as it is now an uneasiness to pudder in words and expressions, whose meaning one does not comprehend. But let us do the best we can. “And here,” says his lordship, “lies the true idea of person.”

Person being a dis-syllable, that in itself signifies nothing; what is meant by the true idea of it (it having no idea, one more than another, that belongs to it, but the idea of the articulate sound, that those two syllables make in pronouncing) I do not understand. If by true idea be meant true signification, then these words will run thus; here lies the true signification of the word person: and then, to make it more intelligible, we must change here into herein, and then the whole comma will stand thus; herein lies the true signification of the word person: which reading, herein, must refer to the preceding words. And then the meaning of these words will be, the true signification of person lies in this, that “supposing there were no other difference in the several individuals of the same kind, yet there is a difference between them, as several individuals in the same common nature.” Now, if in this lies the true signification of the word person, he must find it here that can. For if he does find it in these words, he must find it to be such a signification as will make the word person agree as well to Bucephalus and Podargus, as to Alexander: for let the difference between Bucephalus and Podargus, as several individuals in the same common nature, be what it will; it is certain, it will always be as great, as the difference between Alexander and Hector, as several individuals in the same common nature. So that, if the true signification of person lies in that difference, it will belong to Bucephalus and Podargus, as well as to Alexander and Hector. But let any Edition: current; Page: [177] one reason ever so subtilly or profoundly about the true idea, or the signification of the term person, he will never be able to make me understand, that Bucephalus and Podargus are persons, in the true signification of the word person, as commonly used in the English tongue.

But that which more certainly and for ever will hinder me from finding the true signification of person, lying in the foregoing words, is, that they require me to do what I find is impossible for me to do, i. e. find a difference between two individuals, as several individuals in the same common nature, without any other difference. For if I never find any other difference, I should never find two individuals. For first, we find some difference, and by that we find they are two or several individuals; but in this way we are bid to find two individuals, without any difference: but that, I find, is too subtile and sublime for my weak capacity. But when by any difference of time, or place, or any thing else, I have once found them to be two, or several, I cannot for ever after consider them but as several. They being once, by some difference, found to be two, it is unavoidable for me, from thenceforth, to consider them as two. But to find several where I find no difference; or, as his lordship is pleased to call it, external difference at all; is, I confess, too hard for me.

This his lordship farther tells us, in these words which follow; “which arises from the manner of subsistence, which is in one individual, which is not communicable to another:” which is, I own, a learned way of speaking, and is supposed to contain some refined philosophic notion of it, which to me is either wholly incomprehensible, or else may be expressed in these plain and common words, viz. that every thing that exists has, in the time or place, or other perceivable differences of its existence, something incommunicable to all those of its own kind, whereby it will externally be kept several from all the rest. This, I think, is that which the learned have been pleased to term a peculiar manner of subsistence; but if this manner Edition: current; Page: [178] of subsistence be any thing else, it will need some farther explication to make me understand it.

His lordship’s next words which follow, I must acknowledge, are also wholly incomprehensible to me: they are, “an individual intelligent substance is rather supposed to the making of a person, than the proper definition of it.”

Person is a word; and the idea that word stands for, or the proper signification of that word, is what I take his lordship is here giving us. Now what is meant by saying, “an individual intelligent substance is rather supposed to the making the signification of the word person, than the proper definition of it,” is beyond my reach. And the reason his lordship adjoins, puts it in that, or any other sense, farther from my comprehension. “For a person relates to something, which does distinguish it from another intelligent substance in the same nature; and therefore the foundation of it lies in the peculiar manner of subsistence, which agrees to one, and none else of the kind: and this is that which is called personality.”

These words, if nothing else, convince me, that I am Davus, and not Oedipus; and so I must leave them.

His lordship, at last, gives us what, I think, he intends for a definition of person, in these words; “therefore a person is a complete intelligent substance, with a peculiar manner of subsistence.” Where I cannot but observe, that what was, as I think, denied or half denied to be the proper definition of person, in saying, “it was rather supposed to the making of a person, than the proper definition of it,” is yet here got into his lordship’s definition of person; which I cannot suppose but his lordship takes to be a proper definition. There is only one word changed in it; and, instead of “individual intelligent substance,” his lordship has put it “complete intelligent substance:” which, whether it makes his the more proper definition, I leave to others; since possibly some will be apt to think, that a proper definition of person cannot be well made, without the term individual, or an equivalent. Edition: current; Page: [179] But his lordship has, as appears by the place, put in complete, to exclude the soul from being a person; which, whether it does it or no, to me seems doubtful: because possibly many may think, that the soul is a complete intelligent substance by itself, whether in the body or out of the body; because every substance, that has a being, is a complete substance, whether joined or not joined to another. And as to the soul’s being intelligent, nobody, I guess, thinks, that the soul is completed in that, by its union with the body; for then it would follow, that it would not be equally intelligent out of the body; which, I think, nobody will say.

And thus I have, at your request, gone over all that his lordship has said, to give us clear and distinct apprehensions of nature and person, which are so necessary to the understanding the doctrine of the Trinity, and talking intelligibly about it. And if I should judge of others by my own dulness, I should fear that by his lordship’s discourse few would be helped to think or talk intelligibly about it. But I measure not others by my narrow capacity: I wish others may profit by his lordship’s explication of nature and person, more than I have done. And so the conversation ended.

My lord, I should not have troubled your lordship with a dialogue of this kind, had not your lordship forced me to it in my own defence. Your lordship, at the end of your above-mentioned explication of nature, has these words: “let us now see how far these things can come from our ideas, by sensation and reflection.” And to the like purpose, in the close of your explication of person, your lordship says; “but how do our simple ideas help us out in this matter? Can we learn from them the difference of nature and person?” Your lordship concludes we cannot. But you say, what makes a person must be understood some other way. And hereupon, my lord, my book is thought worthy by your lordship to be brought into the controversy, and argued against, in your Vindication of the doctrine of the Trinity; because, as your Edition: current; Page: [180] lordship conceives, clear and distinct apprehensions of nature and person cannot be had from it.

I humbly crave leave to represent to your lordship, that if want of affording clear and distinct apprehensions concerning nature and person, make any book anti-trinitarian, and, as such, fit to be writ against by your lordship; your lordship ought, in the opinion of a great many men, in the first place, to write against your own Vindication of the doctrine of the Trinity: since, among the many I have consulted concerning your lordship’s notions of nature and person, I do not find any one that understands them better, or has got from them any clearer or more distinct apprehensions concerning nature and person, than I myself, which indeed is none at all.

The owning of this to your lordship in my former letter, I find, displeased your lordship: I have therefore here laid before your lordship some part of those difficulties which appear to me, and others, in your lordship’s explication of nature and person, as my apology for saying, I had not learned any thing by it. And to make it evident, that if want of clear and distinct apprehensions of nature and person involve any treatise in the unitarian controversy; your lordship’s, upon that account, is, I humbly conceive, as guilty as mine; and may be reckoned one of the first that ought to be charged with that offence, against the doctrine of the Trinity.

This, my lord, I cannot help thinking, till I understand better. Whether the not being able to get clear and distinct apprehensions concerning nature and person, from what your lordship has said of them, be the want of capacity in my understanding, or want of clearness in that which I have endeavoured to understand, I shall not presume to say; of that the world must judge. If it be my dulness (as I cannot presume much upon my own quickness, having every day experienced how short-sighted I am) I have this yet to defend me from any very severe censure in the case, that I have as much endeavoured to understand your lordship, as I ever did to understand any body. And if Edition: current; Page: [181] your lordship’s notions, laid down about nature and person, are plain and intelligible, there are a great many others, whose parts lie under no blemish in the world, who find them neither plain nor intelligible.

Pardon me therefore, I beseech you, my lord, if I return your lordship’s question, “how do your lordship’s notions help us out in this matter? Can we learn from them clear and distinct apprehensions concerning nature and person, and the grounds of identity and distinction?” To which the answer will stand, no; till your lordship has explained your notions of them a little clearer, and shown what ultimately they are founded on and made up of, if they are not ultimately founded on and made up of our simple ideas, received from sensation and reflection; which is that for which, in this point, you except against my book: and yet, though your lordship sets yourself to prove, that they cannot be had from our simple ideas by sensation and reflection; though your lordship lays down several heads about them, yet you do not, that I see, offer any thing to instruct us from what other original they come, or whence they are to be had.

But perhaps this may be my want of understanding what your lordship has said about them: and, possibly from the same cause it is, that I do not see how the four passages your lordship subjoins, as out of my book (though there be no such passages in my book, as, I think, your lordship acknowledges, since your lordship answers nothing to what I said thereupon;) the two things your lordship says are granted, that tend to the clearing this matter, and the four inferences your lordship makes; are all, or any of them, applied by your lordship, to show that clear and distinct apprehensions concerning nature and person cannot be had upon my principles; at least as clear as can be had upon your lordship’s, when you please to let us know them.

Hitherto, my lord, I have considered only what is charged upon my book by your lordship, in reference to the unitarian controversy, viz. the manner and grounds on which my book has been, by your lordship, endeavoured to be brought into the controversy concerning Edition: current; Page: [182] the Trinity, with which it hath nothing to do: nor has your lordship, as I humbly conceive, yet showed that it has.

There remain to be considered several things, which your lordship thinks faulty in my book; which, whether they have any thing to do or no with the doctrine of the Trinity, I think myself obliged to give your lordship satisfaction in, either by acknowledging my errours, or giving your lordship an account wherein your lordship’s discourse comes short of convincing me of them. But these papers being already grown to a bulk that exceeds the ordinary size of a letter, I shall respite your lordship’s farther trouble in this matter for the present, with this promise, that I shall not fail to return my acknowledgments to your lordship, for those other parts of the letter you have honoured me with.

Before I conclude, it is fit, with due acknowledgment, I take notice of these words, in the close of your lordship’s letter: “I hope, that, in the managing this debate, I have not either transgressed the rules of civility, or mistaken your meaning; both which I have endeavoured to avoid. And I return you thanks for the civilities you have expressed to me, through your letter: and I do assure you, that it is out of no disrespect, or the least ill-will to you, that I have again considered this matter,” &c.

Your lordship hopes you have not mistaken my meaning: and I, my lord, hope that where you have (as I humbly conceive I shall make it appear you have) mistaken my meaning, I may, without offence, lay it before your lordship. And I the more confidently ground that hope upon this expression of your lordship here, which I take to be intended to that purpose; since, in those several instances I gave, in my former letter, of your lordship’s mistaking not only my meaning, but the very words of my book which you quoted, your lordship has had the goodness to bear with me, without any manner of reply.

Your lordship assures me, “that it is out of no disrespect or the least ill-will to me, that you have again considered this matter.”

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My lord, my never having, by any act of mine, deserved otherwise of your lordship, is a strong reason to keep me from questioning what your lordship says. And, I hope, my part in the controversy has been such, that I may be excused from making any such profession, in reference to what I write to your lordship. And I shall take care to continue to defend myself so, in this controversy, which your lordship is pleased to have with me, that I shall not come within the need of any apology, that what I say is out of no disrespect or the least ill-will to your lordship. But this must not hinder me any where, from laying the argument in its due light, for the advantage of truth.

This, my lord, I say not to your lordship, who proposing to yourself, as you say in this very page, nothing but truth, will not, I know, take it amiss, that I endeavour to make every thing as plain and as clear as I can: but this I say, upon occasion of some exceptions of this kind, which I have heard others have made against the former letter I did myself the honour to write to your lordship, as if I did therein bear too hard upon your lordship. Though your lordship, who knows very well the end of arguing, as well as rules of civility, finds nothing to blame in my way of writing; and I should be very sorry it should deserve any other character, than what your lordship has been pleased to give it in the beginning of your postscript. It is my misfortune to have any controversy with your lordship; but since the concern of truth alone engages me in it, as I know your lordship will expect that I should omit nothing that should make for truth, for that is the end we both profess to aim at; so I shall take care to avoid all foreign, passionate, and unmannerly mixtures, which do no way become a lover of truth in any debate, especially with one of your lordship’s character and dignity.

My lord, the imputation of a tendency to scepticism, and to the overthrowing any article of the christian faith, are no small charges; and all censures of that high nature, I humbly conceive, are with the more caution to be passed, the greater the authority is Edition: current; Page: [184] of the person they come from. But whether to pronounce so hardly of the book, merely upon surmises, be to be taken for a mark of good-will to the author, I must leave to your lordship. This I am sure, I find the world thinks me obliged to vindicate myself. I have taken leave to say, merely upon surmises, because I cannot see any argument your lordship has any where brought, to show its tendency to scepticism, beyond what your lordship has in these words in the same page, viz. that it is your lordship’s great prejudice against it that it leads to scepticism; or, that your lordship can find no way to attain to certainty in it, upon my grounds.

I confess, my lord, I think that there is a great part of the visible, and a great deal more of the yet much larger intellectual world, wherein our poor and weak understandings, in this state, are not capable of knowledge; and this, I think, a great part of mankind agrees with me in. But whether or no my way of certainty by ideas comes short of what it should, on your lordship’s way, with or without ideas, will carry us to clearer and larger degrees of certainty; we shall see, when your lordship pleases to let us know wherein your way of certainty consists. Till then, I think, to avoid scepticism, it is better to have some way of certainty (though it will not lead us to it in every thing) than no way at all.

The necessity your lordship has put upon me of vindicating myself, must be my apology for giving your lordship this second trouble; which, I assure myself, you will not take amiss, since your lordship was so much concerned for my vindication, as to declare, you had no reason to be sorry, that the author of Christianity not mysterious had given me occasion to vindicate myself. I return your lordship my humble thanks, for affording me this second opportunity to do it; and am, with the utmost respect,

London
,
My Lord,
Your lordship’s most humble
and most obedient servant,
JOHN LOCKE.
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POSTSCRIPT.

my lord,

Though I have so great a precedent, as your lordship has given me in the letter you have honoured me with; yet, I doubt, whether even your lordship’s example will be enough to justify me to the world, if, in a letter writ to one, I should put a postscript in answer to another man, to whom I do not speak in my letter: I shall therefore only beg, that your lordship will be pleased to excuse it, if you find a short answer to the paper of another man, not big enough to be published by itself, appear under the same cover with my answer to your lordship. The paper itself came to my hands, at the same time that your lordship’s letter did; and, containing some exceptions to my Essay concerning Human Understanding, is not wholly foreign in the matter of it.

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AN ANSWER TO REMARKS UPON AN ESSAY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING, &c.

Before any thing came out against my Essay concerning Human Understanding the last year, I was told, that I must prepare myself for a storm that was coming against it; it being resolved by some men, that it was necessary that book of mine should, as it is phrased, be run down. I do not say, that the author of these Remarks was one of those men: but I premise this as the reason of the answer I am about to give him. And though I do not say he was one of them, yet in this, I think, every indifferent reader will agree with me, that his letter does not very well suit with the character he takes upon himself, or the design he pretends in writing it.

He pretends, the business of his letter is to be informed: but if that were in earnest so, I suppose he would have done two things quite otherwise than he has. The first is, that he would not have thought it necessary for his particular information, that his letter (that pretends inquiry in the body of it, though it carries remarks in the title) should have been published in print: whereby I am apt to think, that however in it he puts on the person of a learner, yet he would miss his aim, if he were not taken notice of as a teacher; and particularly, that his remarks showed the world great faults in my book.

The other is, that he has not set his name to his letter of inquiries; whereby I might, by knowing the Edition: current; Page: [187] person that inquires, the better know how to suit my answer to him. I cannot much blame him in another respect, for concealing his name: for, I think, any one who appears among christians, may be well ashamed of his name, when he raises such a doubt as this, viz. whether an infinitely powerful and wise being be veracious or no; unless falsehood be in such reputation with this gentleman, that he concludes lying to be no mark of weakness and folly. Besides, this author might, if he had pleased, have taken notice, that, in more places than one, I speak of the goodness of God; another evidence, as I take it, of his veracity.

He seems concerned to know “upon what ground I will build the divine law, when I pursue morality to a demonstration?”

If he had not been very much in haste, he would have seen that his questions, in that paragraph, are a little too forward; unless he thinks it necessary I should write, when and upon what he thinks fit. When I know him better, I may perhaps think I owe him great observance; but so much as that very few men think due to themselves.

I have said indeed in my book, that I thought morality capable of demonstration, as well as the mathematics: but I do not remember where I promised this gentleman to demonstrate it to him.

He says, “if he knew upon what grounds I would build my demonstration of morality, he could make a better judgment of it.” His judgment who makes such demands as this, and is so much in haste to be a judge, that he cannot stay till what he has such a mind to be sitting upon, be born; does not seem of that consequence, that any one should be in haste to gratify his impatience.

And since “he thinks the illiterate part of mankind (which is the greatest) must have a more compendious way to know their duty, than by long deductions;” he may do well to consider, whether it were for their sakes he published this question, viz. “What is the reason and ground of the divine law?”

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Whoever sincerely acknowledges any law to be the law of God, cannot fail to acknowledge also, that it hath all that reason and ground that a just and wise law can or ought to have; and will easily persuade himself to forbear raising such questions and scruples about it.

A man that insinuates, as he does, as if I held, that “the distinction of virtue and vice was to be picked up by our eyes, or ears, or our nostrils;” shows so much ignorance, or so much malice, that he deserves no other answer but pity.

“The immortality of the soul is another thing, he says, he cannot clear to himself, upon my principles.” It may be so. The right reverend the lord bishop of Worcester, in the letter he has lately honoured me with in print, has undertaken to prove, upon my principles, the soul’s immateriality; which, I suppose, this author will not question to be a proof of its immortality. And to his lordship’s letter I refer him for it. But if that will not serve his turn, I will tell him a principle of mine that will clear it to him; and that is, the revelation of life and immortality of Jesus Christ, through the gospel.

He mentions other doubts he has, unresolved by my principles. If my principles do not teach them, the world, I think, will, I am sure I shall, be obliged to him to direct me to such as will supply that defect in mine. For I never had the vanity to hope to out-do all other men. Nor did I propose to myself, in publishing my Essay, to be an answerer of questions; or expect that all doubts should go out of the world, as soon as my book came into it.

The world has now my book, such as it is: if any one finds, that there be many questions that my principles will not resolve, he will do the world more service to lay down such principles as will resolve them, than to quarrel with my ignorance (which I readily acknowledge) and possibly for that which cannot be done. I shall never think the worse of mine, because they will not resolve every one’s doubts, till I see those principles laid down by any one, that will; and then I will quit mine.

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If any one finds any thing in my Essay to be corrected, he may, when he pleases, write against it; and when I think fit, I will answer him. For I do not intend my time shall be wasted at the pleasure of every one, who may have a mind to pick holes in my book, and show his skill in the art of confutation.

To conclude; were there nothing else in it, I should not think it fit to trouble myself about the questions of a man, which he himself does not think worth the owning.

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MR. LOCKE’S REPLY TO THE RIGHT REVEREND THE LORD BISHOP OF WORCESTER’S ANSWER TO HIS SECOND LETTER.

Wherein, besides other incident Matters, what his Lordship has said concerning Certainty by Reason, Certainty by Ideas, and Certainty by Faith; the Resurrection of the Body; the Immateriality of the Soul; the Inconsistency of Mr. Locke’s Notions with the Articles of the Christian Faith, and their Tendency to Scepticism; is examined.

Edition: current; Page: [192] Edition: current; Page: [193]
John Locke
Locke, John
Oates
May 4, 1698
Edward
Edward

Mr. LOCKE’S REPLY TO THE BISHOP OF WORCESTER’S ANSWER TO HIS SECOND LETTER.

my lord,

Your lordship, in the beginning of the last letter you honoured me with, seems so uneasy and displeased at my having said too much already in the question between us, that I think I may conclude, you would be well enough pleased if I should say no more; and you would dispense with me, for not keeping my promise I made you to answer the other parts of your first letter. If this proceeds from any tenderness in your lordship for my reputation, that you would not have me expose myself by an overflow of words, in many places void of clearness, coherence, and argument, and that therefore might have been spared; I must acknowledge it is a piece of great charity, and such wherein you will have a lasting advantage over me, since good manners will not permit me to return you the like. Or should I, in the ebullition of thoughts, which in me your lordship finds as impetuous as the springs of Modena mentioned by Ramazzini, be in danger to forget myself, and to think I had some right to return the general complaint of length and intricacy without force; yet you have secured yourself from the suspicion of any such trash on your side, by making cobwebs the easy product of those who write out of their own thoughts, which it might be a crime in me to impute to your lordship.

If this complaint of yours be not a charitable warning to me, I cannot well guess at the design of it; for I would not think that in a controversy, which you, my lord, have dragged me into, you would assume it as a privilege due to yourself to be as copious as you please, Edition: current; Page: [194] and say what you think fit, and expect I should reply only so, and so much, as would just suit your good liking, and serve to set the cause right on that side which your lordship contends for.

My lord, I shall always acknowledge the great distance that is between your lordship and myself, and pay that deference that is due to your dignity and person. But controversy, though it excludes not good manners, will not be managed with all that submission which one is ready to pay in other cases. Truth, which is inflexible, has here its interest, which must not be given up, in a compliment. Plato and Aristotle, and other great names, must give way, rather than make us renounce truth, or the friendship we have for her.

This possibly your lordship will allow, for it is not spun out of my own thoughts; I have the authority of others for it, I think it was in print before I was born. But you will say however, I am too long in my replies. It is not impossible but it may be so. But with all due respect to your lordship’s authority (the greatness whereof I shall always readily acknowledge) I must crave leave to say, that in this case you are by no means a proper judge. We are now, as well your lordship as myself, before a tribunal to which you have appealed, and before which you have brought me: it is the public must be judge, whether your lordship has enlarged too far in accusing me, or I in defending myself. Common justice makes great allowance to a man pleading in his own defence; and a little length (if he should be guilty of it) finds excuse in the compassion of by-standers, when they see a man causelessly attacked, after a new way, by a potent adversary; and, under various pretences, occasions sought, and words wrested to his disadvantage.

This, my lord, you must give me leave to think to be my case, whilst this strange way your lordship has brought me into this controversy; your gradual accusations of my book, and the different causes your lordship has assigned of them; together with quotations out of it, which I cannot find there; and other things I have complained of (to some of which your lordship has not Edition: current; Page: [195] vouchsafed any answer) shall remain unaccounted for, as I humbly conceive they do.

I confess my answers are long, and I wish they could have been shorter. But the difficulty I have to find out, and set before others your lordship’s meaning, that they may see what I am answering to, and so be able to judge of the pertinency of what I say, has unavoidably enlarged them. Whether this be wholly owing to my dulness, or whether a little perplexedness both as to grammar and coherence, caused by those numbers of thoughts, whether of your own or others, that crowd from all parts to be set down when you write, may not be allowed to have some share in it, I shall not presume to say. I am at the mercy of your lordship, and my other readers in the point, and know not how to avoid a fault that has no remedy.

Your lordship says, “the world soon grows weary of controversies, especially when they are about personal matters; which made your lordship wonder that one who understands the world so well, should spend above fifty pages in renewing and enlarging a complaint wholly concerning himself.”

To which give me leave to say, that if your lordship had so much considered the world, and what it is not much pleased with, when you published your discourse in vindication of the Trinity, perhaps your lordship had not so personally concerned me in that controversy, as it appears now you have, and continue still to do.

Your lordship wonders “that I spend above fifty pages in renewing and enlarging my complaint concerning myself.” Your wonder, I humbly conceive, will not be so great, when you recollect, that your answer to my complaint, and the satisfaction you proposed to give me and others in that personal matter, began the first letter you honoured me with, and ended where you said, “you suppose the reason of your mentioning my words so often was now no longer a riddle to me; and so you proceeded to other particulars of my vindication.” If therefore I have spent fifty pages of my answer, in showing that what you offered in forty-seven pages for my satisfaction was Edition: current; Page: [196] none, but that the riddle was a riddle still; the disproportion in the number of pages is not so great as to be the subject of much wonder: especially to those who consider, that, in what you call personal matter, I was showing that my Essay, having in it nothing contrary to the doctrine of the Trinity, was yet brought into that dispute; and that therefore I had reason to complain of it, and of the manner of its being brought in: and if you had pleased not to have moved other questions, nor brought other charges against my book till this, which was the occasion and subject of my first letter, had been cleared; by making out that the passages you had, in your Vindication of the doctrine of the Trinity, quoted out of my book, had something in them against the doctrine of the Trinity, and so were, with just reason, brought by you, as they were, into that dispute; there had been no other but that personal matter, as you call it, between us.

In the examination of those pages meant, as you said, for my satisfaction, and of other parts of your letter, I found (contrary to what I expected) matter of renewing and enlarging my complaint, and this I took notice of and set down in my reply, which it seems I should not have done: the knowledge of the world should have taught me better; and I should have taken that for satisfaction which you were pleased to give, in which I could not find any, nor, as I believe, any intelligent or impartial reader. So that your lordship’s care of the world, that it should not grow weary of this controversy, and the fault you find of my misemploying fifty pages of my letter, reduces itself at last in effect to no more but this, that your lordship should have a liberty to say what you please, pay me in what coin you think fit; my part should be to be satisfied with it, rest content, and say nothing. This indeed might be a way not to weary the world, and to save fifty pages of clean paper, and put such an end to the controversy, as your lordship would not dislike.

I learn from your lordship, that it is the first part of wisdom, in some men’s opinions, not to begin in such disputes. What the knowledge of the world (which is Edition: current; Page: [197] a sort of wisdom) should in your lordship’s opinion make a man do, when one of your lordship’s character begins with him, is very plain: he is not to reply, so far as he judges his defence and the matter requires, but as your lordship is pleased to allow; which some may think no better than if one might not reply at all.

After having thus rebuked me for having been too copious in my reply, in the next words your lordship instructs me what I should have answered; that “I should have cleared myself by declaring to the world, that I owned the doctrine of the Trinity, as it hath been received in the christian church.”

This, as I take it, is a mere personal matter, of the same woof with a Spanish san-benito, and, as it seems to me, designed to sit close to me. What must I do now, my lord? Must I silently put on and wear this badge of your lordship’s favour, and, as one well understanding the world, say not a word of it, because the world soon grows weary of personal matters? If in gratitude for this personal favour I ought to be silent, yet I am forced to tell you, that, in what you require of me here, you possibly have cut out too much work for a poor ordinary layman, for whom it is too hard to know how a doctrine so disputed has been received in the christian church, and who might have thought it enough to own it as delivered in the scriptures. Your lordship herein lays upon me what I cannot do, without owning to know what I am sure I do not know: for how the doctrine of the Trinity has been always received in the christian church, I confess myself ignorant. I have not had time to examine the history of it, and to read those controversies that have been writ about it: and to own a doctrine as received by others, when I do not know how these others received it, is perhaps a short way to orthodoxy, that may satisfy some men: but he that takes this way to give satisfaction, in my opinion makes a little bold with truth; and it may be questioned whether such a profession be pleasing to that God, who requires truth in the inward parts, however acceptable it may in any man be to his diocesan.

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I presume your lordship, in your discourse in vindication of the doctrine of the Trinity, intends to give it us as it has been received in the christian church. And I think your words, viz. “it is the sense of the christian church which you are bound to defend, and no particular opinions of your own,” authorize one “to think so. But if I am to own it as your lordship has there delivered it, I must own what I do not understand; for I confess your exposition of the sense of the church wholly transcends my capacity.

If you require me to own it with an implicit faith, I shall pay that deference as soon to your lordship’s exposition of the doctrine of the church, as any one’s. But if I must understand and know what I own, it is my misfortune, and I cannot deny, that I am as far from owning what you in that discourse deliver, as I can be from professing the most unintelligible thing that ever I read, to be the doctrine that I own.

Whether I make more use of my poor understanding in the case, than you are willing to allow every one of your readers, I cannot tell; but such an understanding as God has given me is the best I have, and that which I must use in the apprehending what others say, before I can own the truth of it: and for this there is no help that I know.

That which keeps me a little in countenance, is, that, if I mistake not, men of no mean parts, even divines of the church of England, and those of neither the lowest reputation nor rank, find their understandings fail them on this occasion; and stick not to own that they understand not your lordship in that discourse, and particularly that your sixth chapter is unintelligible to them as well as me; whether the fault be in their or my understanding, the world must be judge. But this is only by the by, for this is not the answer I here intend your lordship.

Your lordship tells me, that, “to clear myself, I should have owned to the world the doctrine of the Trinity, as it has been received,” &c. Answer. I know not whether in a dispute managed after a new way, wherein one man is urged against, and another man’s Edition: current; Page: [199] words all along quoted, it may not also be a good, as well as a new rule, for the answerer to reply to what was never objected, and clear himself from what was never laid to his charge. If this be not so, and that this new way of attacking requires not this new way of defence, your lordship’s prescription to me here what I should have done, will, amongst the most intelligent and impartial readers, pass for a strange rule in controversy, and such as the learnedest of them will not be able to find in all antiquity; and therefore must be imputed to something else than your lordship’s great learning.

Did your lordship in the discourse of the vindication of the Trinity, wherein you first fell upon my book, or in your letter (my answer to which you are here correcting) did your lordship, I say, any where object to me, that “I did not own the doctrine of the Trinity, as it has been received in the christian church,” &c.? If you did, the objection was so secret, so hidden, so artificial, that your words declared quite the contrary. In the Vindication of the doctrine of the Trinity, your lordship says, that my notions were borrowed to serve other purposes [whereby, if I understand you right, you meant against the doctrine of the Trinity] than I intended them; which you repeat again* for my satisfaction, and insist upon for my vindication.

You having so solemnly more than once professed to clear me and my intentions from all suspicion of having any part in that controversy, as appears farther in the close of your first letter, where all you charge on me, is the ill use that others had, or might make of my notions; how could I suppose such an objection made by your lordship, which you declare against, without accusing your lordship of manifest prevarication?

If your lordship had any thing upon your mind, any secret aims, which you did not think fit to own, but yet would have me divine and answer to, as if I knew them; this, I confess, is too much for me, who look no farther into men’s thoughts, than as they appear in their Edition: current; Page: [200] books. Where you have given your thoughts vent in your words, I have not, I think, omitted to take notice of them, not wholly passing by those insinuations, which have been dropped from your lordship’s pen; which from another, who had not professed so much personal respect, would have shown no exceeding good disposition of mind towards me.

When your lordship shall go on to accuse me of not believing the doctrine of the Trinity, as received in the christian church, or any other doctrine you shall think fit, I shall answer as I would to an inquisitor. For though your lordship tells me, “I need not be afraid of the inquisition, or that you intended to charge me with heresy in denying the Trinity;” yet he that shall consider your lordship’s proceeding with me from the beginning, as far as it is hitherto gone, may have reason to think, that the methods and management of that holy office are not wholly unknown to your lordship, nor have escaped your great reading. Your proceedings with me have had these steps:

1. Several passages of my Essay of Human Understanding, and some of them relating barely to the being of a God, and other matters wholly remote from any question about the Trinity, were brought into the Vindication of the doctrine of the Trinity, and there argued against as containing the errours of those and them; which those and them are not known to this day.

2. In your lordship’s answer to my first letter, when what was given as the great reason why my Essay was brought into that controversy, viz. because in it “certainty was founded upon clear and distinct ideas;” was found to fail, and was only a supposition of your own; other accusations were sought against it, in relation to the doctrine of the Trinity: viz. that “it might be of dangerous consequence to that doctrine, to introduce the new term of ideas, and to place certainty in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of our ideas.” What are become of these charges, we shall see in the progress of this letter, when we come to consider what your lordship has replied to my answer upon these points.

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3. These accusations not having, it seems, weight enough to effect what you intended, my book has been rummaged again to find new and more important faults in it; and now at last, at the third effort, “my notions of ideas are found inconsistent with the articles of the christian faith.” This indeed carries some sound in it, and may be thought worthy the name and pains of so great a man, and zealous a father of the church, as your lordship.

That I may not be too bold in affirming a thing I was not privy to, give me leave, my lord, to tell your lordship why I presume my book has upon this occasion been looked over again, to see what could be found in it capable to bear a deeper accusation, that might look like something in a title-page. Your lordship, by your station in the church, and the zeal you have shown in defending its articles, could not be supposed, when you first brought my book into this controversy, to have omitted these great enormities that it now stands accused of, and to have cited it for smaller mistakes, some whereof were not found, but only imagined to be in it; if you had then known these great faults, which you now charge it with, to have been in it. If your lordship had been apprized of its being guilty of such dangerous errours, you would not certainly have passed them by: and therefore I think one may reasonably conclude, that my Essay was new looked into on purpose.

Your lordship says, “that what you have done herein, you thought it your duty to do, not with respect to yourself, but to some of the mysteries of our faith, which you do not charge me with opposing, but by laying such foundations as do tend to the overthrow of them.” It cannot be doubted but your duty would have made you at the first warn the world, that “my notions were inconsistent with the articles of the christian faith,” if your lordship had then known it: though the excessive respect and tenderness you express towards me personally in the immediately preceding words, would be enough utterly to confound me, were I not a little acquainted with your lordship’s civilities in this kind. For you tell me, “that these things laid Edition: current; Page: [202] together made your lordship think it necessary to do that which you was unwilling to do, until I had driven you to it; which was to show the reasons you had, why you looked on my notion of ideas and of certainty by them, as inconsistent with itself, and with some important articles of the christian faith.”

What must I think now, my lord, of these words? Must I take them as a mere compliment, which is never to be interpreted rigorously, according to the precise meaning of the words? Or must I believe that your unwillingness to do so hard a thing to me restrained your duty, and you could not prevail on yourself (how much soever the mysteries of faith were in danger to be overthrown) to get out these harsh words, viz. that “my notions were inconsistent with the articles of the christian faith,” till your third onset, after I had forced you to your duty by two replies of mine?

It will not become me, my lord, to make myself a compliment from your words which you did not intend me in them. But, on the other side, I would not willingly neglect to acknowledge any civility from your lordship in the full extent of it. The business is a little nice, because what is contained in those passages cannot by a less skilful hand than yours be well put together, though they immediately follow one another. This, I am sure, falls out very untowardly, that your lordship should drive me (who had much rather have been otherwise employed) to drive your lordship to do that which you were unwilling to do. The world sees how much I was driven: for what censures, what imputations must my book have lain under, if I had not cleared it from those accusations your lordship brought against it; when I am charged now with evasions, for not clearing myself from an accusation which you never brought against me? But if it be an evasion not to answer to an objection that has not been made, what is it, I beseech you, my lord, to make no reply to objections that have been made? Of which I promise to give your lordship a list, whenever you shall please to call for it.

I forbear it now, for fear that if I should say all that I might upon this new accusation, it would be more Edition: current; Page: [203] than would suit with your lordship’s liking; and you should complain again that you have opened a passage which brings to your mind Ramazzini and his springs of Modena. But your lordship need not be afraid of being overwhelmed with the ebullition of my thoughts, nor much trouble yourself to find a way to give check to it: mere ebullition of thoughts never overwhelms or sinks any one but the author himself; but if it carries truth with it, that I confess has force, and it may be troublesome to those that stand in its way.

Your lordship says, “you see how dangerous it is, to give occasion to one of such a fruitful invention as I am, to write.”

I am obliged to your lordship, that you think my invention worth concerning yourself about, though it be so unlucky as to have your lordship and me always differ about the measure of its fertility. In your first answer you thought I too much extended the fertility of my invention, and ascribed to it what it had no title to; and here, I think, you make the fertility of my invention greater than it is. For in what I have answered to your lordship, there seems to me no need at all of a fertile invention. It is true, it has been hard for me to find out who you writ against, or what you meant in many places. As soon as that was found, the answer lay always so obvious and so easy, that there needed no labour of invention to discover what one should reply. The things themselves (where there were any) stripped of the ornaments of scholastic language, and the less obvious ways of learned writings, seemed to me to carry their answers visibly with them. This permit me, my lord, to say, that however fertile my invention is, it has not in all this controversy produced one fiction or wrong quotation.

But, before I leave the answer you dictate, permit me to observe that I am so unfortunate to be blamed for owning what I was not accused to disown; and here for not owning what I was never charged to disown. The like misfortune have my poor writings: they offend your lordship in some places, because they are new; and in others, because they are not new.

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Your next words, which are a new charge, I shall pass over till I come to your proof of them, and proceed to the next paragraph. Your lordship tells me, “you shall wave all unnecessary repetitions, and come immediately to the matter of my complaint, as it is renewed in my second letter.”

What your lordship means by unnecessary repetitions here, seems to be of a piece with your blaming me in the foregoing page, for having said too much in my own defence; and this taken all together, confirms my opinion, that in your thoughts it would have been better I should have replied nothing at all. For you having set down here near twenty lines as a necessary repetition out of your former letter, your lordship omits my answer to them as wholly unnecessary to be seen; and consequently you must think was at first unnecessary to have been said. For when the same words are necessary to be repeated again, if the same reply which was made to them be not thought fit to be repeated too, it is plainly judged to be nothing to the purpose, and should have been spared at first.

It is true, your lordship has set down some few expressions taken out of several parts of my reply; but in what manner, the reader cannot clearly see, without going back to the original of this matter. He must therefore pardon me the trouble of a deduction, which cannot be avoided where controversy is managed at this rate: which necessitates, and so excuses the length of the answer.

My book was brought into the trinitarian controversy by these steps. Your lordship says, that,

“1. The unitarians have not explained the nature and bounds of reason.

“2. The author of Christianity not mysterious, to make amends for this, has offered an account of reason.

“3. His doctrine concerning reason supposes that we must have clear and distinct ideas of whatever we pretend to any certainty of in our mind.

“4. Your lordship calls this a new way of reasoning.

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“5. This gentleman of this new way of reasoning,” in his first chapter, says something which has a conformity with some of the notions in my book. But it is to be observed he speaks them as his own thoughts, and not upon my authority, nor with taking any notice of me.

6. By virtue of this, he is presently entitled to I know not how much of my book; and divers passages of my Essay are quoted, and attributed to him under the title of “the gentlemen of the new way of reasoning,” (for he is by this time turned into a troop) and certain unknown (if they are not all contained in this one author’s doublet) they and these, are made by your lordship to lay about them shrewdly for several pages together in your lordship’s Vindication of the doctrine of the Trinity, &c. with passages taken out of my book, which your lordship was at the pains to quote as theirs, i. e. certain unknown anti-trinitarians.

Of this your lordship’s way, strange and new to me, of dealing with my book, I took notice.

To which your lordship tells me here you replied in these following words, which your lordship has set down as no unnecessary repetition. Your words are: “it was because the person who opposed the mysteries of christianity went upon my grounds, and made use of my words;” although your lordship declared withal, “that they were used to other purposes than I intended them:” and your lordship confessed, “that the reason why you quoted my words so much, was, because your lordship found my notions, as to certainty by ideas, was the main foundation on which the author of Christianity not mysterious went; and that he had nothing that looked like reason, if that principle were removed, which made your lordship so much endeavour to show, that it would not hold; and so you supposed the reason why your lordship so often mentioned my words, was no longer a riddle to me.” And to this repetition your lordship subjoins, that “I set down these passages in my second letter,” but with these words annexed, “that all this seems to me to do nothing to the clearing of this matter.”

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Answer. I say so indeed in the place quoted by your lordship, and if I had said no more, your lordship had done me justice in setting down barely these words as my reply, which being set down when your lordship was in the way of repeating your own words with no sparing hand, as we shall see by and by, these few of mine set down thus, without the least intimation that I had said any thing more, cannot but leave the reader under an opinion, that this was my whole reply.

But if your lordship will please to turn to that place of my second letter, out of which you take these words, I presume you will find that I not only said, but proved, “that what you had said in the words above repeated, to clear the riddle in your lordship’s way of writing, did nothing towards it.”

That which was the riddle to me, was, that your lordship writ against others, and yet quoted only my words; and that you pinned my words, which you argued against, upon a certain sort of these and them that no-where appeared, or were to be found; and by this way brought my book into the controversy.

To this your lordship says, “you told me it was because the person who opposed the mysteries of christianity, went upon my grounds, and made use of my words.”

Answer. He that will be at the pains to compare this, which you call a repetition here, with the place you quote for it, viz. Ans. 1, will, I humbly conceive, find it a new sort of repetition: unless the setting down of words and expressions not to be found in it be the repetition of any passage. But for a repetition, let us take it of what your lordship had said before.

The reason, and the only reason there given why you quoted my words after the manner you did, was, “because you found my notions as to certainty by ideas, was the main foundation which the author of Christianity not mysterious went upon.” These are the words in your lordship’s first letter, and this the only reason there given, though it hath grown a little by repetition. And to this my reply was, “that I thought your lordship had found, that that which the author Edition: current; Page: [207] of Christianity not mysterious went upon, and for which he was made one of the gentlemen of the new way of reasoning, opposite to the doctrine of the Trinity, was, that he made or supposed clear and distinct ideas necessary to certainty: but that was not my notion as to certainty by ideas,” &c. Which reply, my lord, did not barely say, but showed the reason why I said, that what your lordship had offered as the reason of your manner of proceeding, did nothing towards the clearing of it: unless it could clear the matter, to say you joined me with the author of Christianity not mysterious, who goes upon a different notion of certainty from mine, because he goes upon the same with me. For he (as your lordship supposes) making certainty to consist in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of clear and distinct ideas; and I, on the contrary, making it consist in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of such ideas as we have, whether they be perfectly in all their parts clear and distinct or no: it is impossible he should go upon my grounds, whilst they are so different, or that his going upon my grounds should be the reason of your lordship’s joining me with him. And now I leave your lordship to judge, how you had cleared this matter; and whether what I had answered, did not prove that what you said did nothing towards the clearing of it.

This one thing, methinks, your lordship has made very clear, that you thought it necessary to find some way to bring in my book, where you were arguing against that author, that he might be the person, and mine the words you would argue against together. But it is as clear that the particular matter which your lordship made use of to this purpose, happened to be somewhat unluckily chosen. For your lordship having accused him of supposing clear and distinct ideas necessary to certainty, which you declared to be the opinion you opposed, and for that opinion having made him a gentleman of the new way of reasoning, your lordship imagined that was the notion of certainty I went on. But it falling out otherwise, and I denying it to be mine, the imaginary tie between that author and me Edition: current; Page: [208] was unexpectedly dissolved; and there was no appearance of reason for bringing passages out of my book, and arguing against them as your lordship did, as if they were that author’s.

To justify this (since my notion of certainty could not be brought to agree with what he was charged with, as opposite to the doctrine of the Trinity) he at any rate must be brought to agree with me, and to go upon my notion of certainty. Pardon me, my lord, that I say at any rate. The reason I have to think so, is this: either that the author does make clear and distinct ideas necessary to certainty, and so does not go upon my notion of certainty; and then your assigning his going upon my notion of certainty, as the reason for your joining us as you did, shows no more but a willingness in your lordship to have us joined: or he does not lay all certainty only in clear and distinct ideas, and so possibly for aught I know may go upon my notion of certainty. But then, my lord, the reason of your first bringing him and me into this dispute, will appear to have been none. All your arguing against the gentlemen of this new way of reasoning will be found to be against nobody, since there is nobody to be found that lays all foundation of certainty only in clear and distinct ideas; nobody to be found that holds the opinion that your lordship opposes.

Having thus given you an account of some part of my reply (to what your lordship really answered in your first letter) to show that my reply contained something more than these words here set down by your lordship, viz. “that all this seems to me to do nothing to the clearing this matter:” I come now to those parts of your repetition, as your lordship is pleased to call it, wherein there is nothing repeated.

Your lordship says, “that you told me” the reason why I was brought into the controversy after the manner I had complained of, “was because the person who opposed the mysteries of christianity, went upon my grounds;” and for this you quote your first letter. But having turned to that place, and finding there these words, “that you found my notions as to certainty by Edition: current; Page: [209] ideas was the main foundation which that author went upon;” which are far from being repeated in the words set down here, unless grounds in general be the same with the notions as to certainty by ideas: I beg leave to consider what you here say as new to me, and not repeated.

Your lordship says, that you brought me into the controversy as you did, “because the author went upon my grounds.” It is possible he did, or did not: but it cannot appear that he did go upon my grounds, till those grounds are assigned, and the places both out of him and me produced to show, that we agree in the same grounds, and go both upon them; when this is done, there will be room to consider whether it be so or no.

In the mean time, you have brought me into the controversy, for his going upon this particular ground, supposed to be mine, “that clear and distinct ideas are necessary to certainty.” It can do nothing towards the clearing this, to say in general, as your lordship does, “that he went upon my grounds;” because though he should agree with me in several other things, but differ from me in this one notion of certainty, there could be no reason for your dealing with me as you have done: that notion of certainty being your very exception against his account of reason, and the sole occasion you took of bringing in passages out of my book, and the very foundation of arguing against them.

Your lordship farther says here, in this repetition, which you did not say before in the place referred to as repeated, “that he made use of my words.” I think he did of words something like mine. But as I humbly conceive also, he made use of them as his own, and not as my words; for I do not remember that he quoted me for them. This I am sure, that in the words quoted out of him by your lordship, upon which my book is brought in, there is not one syllable of certainty by ideas.

No doubt whatever he or I, or any one, have said, if your lordship disapproves of it, you have a right to question him that said it. But I do not see how this Edition: current; Page: [210] gives your lordship any right to entitle any body to what he does not say, whoever else says it.

The author of Christianity not mysterious says in his book something suitable to what I had said in mine; borrowed or not borrowed from mine, I leave your lordship to determine for him. But I do not see what ground that gives your lordship to concern me in the controversy you have with him, for things I say which he does not; and which I say to a different purpose from his. Let that author and me agree in this one notion of certainty as much as you please, what reason, I beseech your lordship, could this be, to quote my words as his, who never used them; and to purposes, as you say more than once, to which I never intended them? This was that which I complained was a riddle to me. And since your lordship can give no other reason for it, than those we have hitherto seen, I think it is sufficiently unriddled, and you are in the right when you say, “you think it no longer a riddle to me.”

I easily grant my little reading may not have instructed me, what has been, or what may be done, in the several ways of writing and managing of controversy, which like war always produces new stratagems: only I beg my ignorance may be my apology for saying, that this appears a new way of writing to me, and this is the first time I ever met with it.

But let the ten lines which your lordship has set down out of him be, if you please, supposed to be precisely my words, and that he quoted my book for them, I do not see how even this entitles him to any more of my book than he has quoted; or how any words of mine, in other parts of my book, can be ascribed to him, or argued against as his, or rather, as I know not whose, which was the thing I complained of; for the these and they, those passages of my book were ascribed to, could not be that author, for he used them not; nor the author of the Essay of Human Understanding, for he was not argued against, but was discharged from the controversy under debate. So that neither he nor I being the they and those, that so often occur, and deserved so much pains from your lordship; I could Edition: current; Page: [211] not but complain of this, to me, incomprehensible way of bringing my book into that controversy.

Another part of your lordship’s repetition, which I humbly conceive, is no repetition, because this also I find not in that passage quoted for it, is this, that your lordship confessed that the reason why you quoted my words so much.

My lord, I do not remember any need your lordship had to give a reason why you quoted my words so much, because I do not remember that I made that the matter of my complaint. That which I complained of, was not the quantity of what was quoted out of my book, but the manner of quoting it, viz. “that I was so every-where joined with others, under the comprehensive words they and them, though my book alone were every-where quoted, that the world would be apt to think, I was the person who argued against the Trinity.” And again, “that which I complained of was, that I was made one of the gentlemen of the new way of reasoning, without being guilty of what made them so, and was so brought into a chapter wherein I thought myself not concerned; which was managed so, that my book was all along quoted, and others argued against; others were entitled to what I said, and I to what others said, without knowing why or how.” Nay, I told your lordship in that very reply, “that if your lordship had directly questioned any of my opinions, I should not have complained.” Thus your lordship sees my complaint was not of the largeness, but of the manner of your quotations. But of that, in all these many pages employed by your lordship for my satisfaction, you, as I remember, have not been pleased to offer any reason, nor can I hitherto find it any way cleared: when I do, I shall readily acknowledge your great mastery in this, as in all other ways of writing.

I have in the foregoing pages, for the clearing this matter, been pleased to take notice of them and those, as directly signifying nobody. Whether your lordship will excuse me for so doing, I know not, since I perceive such slight words as them and those are not to be Edition: current; Page: [212] minded in your lordship’s writings: your lordship has a privilege to use such trifling particles, without taking any great care what or whom they refer to.

To show the reader that I do not talk without book in the case, I shall set down your lordship’s own words: “what a hard fate doth that man lie under, that falls into the hands of a severe critic! He must have care of his but, and for, and them, and it. For the least ambiguity in any of these will fill up pages in an answer, and make a book look considerable for the bulk of it. And what must a man do, who is to answer all such objections about the use of particles?” I humbly conceive it is not without reason, that your lordship here claims an exemption from having a care of your but, and your for, and your them, and other particles. The sequel of your letter will show, that it is a privilege your lordship makes great use of, and therefore have reason to be tender of it, and to cry out against those unmannerly critics, who question it. Upon this consideration, I cannot but look on it as a misfortune to me, that it should fall in my way to displease your lordship, by disturbing you in the quiet, and perhaps antient possession of so convenient a privilege. But how great soever the advantages of it may be to a writer, I, upon experience, find it is very troublesome and perplexing to a reader, who is concerned to understand what is written, that he may answer to it. But to return to the place we were upon.

Your lordship goes on and says, “whether it doth, or no,” i. e. whether what your lordship had said doth clear this matter or no, “you are content to leave it to any indifferent reader; and there it must rest at last, although I should write volumes upon it.”

Upon the reading of these last words of your lordship’s, I thought you had quite done with this personal matter, so apt, as you say, to weary the world. But whether it be that your lordship is not much satisfied in the handling of it, or in the letting it alone; whether your lordship meant by these last words, that what I write about it is volumes, i. e. too much, as your lordship has told me in the first page; but what your Edition: current; Page: [213] lordship says about it, is but necessary: whether these or any other be the cause of it, personal matter, as it seems, is very importunate and troublesome to your lordship, as it is to the world. You turn it going in the end of one paragraph, and personal matter thrusts itself in again in the beginning of the next, whether of itself, without your lordship’s notice or consent, I examine not. But thus stand the immediately following words, wherein your lordship asks me, “but for what cause do I continue so unsatisfied?” To which you make me give this answer, “that the cause why I continue so unsatisfied, is, that the author mentioned went upon this ground, that clear and distinct ideas are necessary to certainty, but that is not my notion as to certainty by ideas; which is, that certainty consists in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, such as we have, whether they be in all their parts perfectly clear and distinct or no; and that I have no notions of certainty more than this one.

These words, which your lordship has set down for mine, I have printed in a distinct character, that the reader may take particular notice of them; not that there is any thing very remarkable in this passage itself, but because it makes the business of the fourscore following passages. For the three several answers that your lordship says you have given to it, and that which you call your defence of them, reach, as I take it, to the 87th page. But another particular reason why this answer, which your lordship has made for me to a question of your own putting, is distinguished by a particular character, is to save frequent repetitions of it; that the reader, by having recourse to it, may see whether those things, which your lordship says of it, be so or no, and judge whether I am in the wrong, when I assure him, that I cannot find them to be as you say.

Only before I come to what your lordship positively says of this which you call my answer, I crave leave to observe that it supposes I continue unsatisfied: to which I reply, that I no where say that I continue unsatisfied. Edition: current; Page: [214] I may say, that what is offered for satisfaction, gives none to me or any body else; and yet I, as well as other people, may be satisfied concerning the matter.

I come now to what your lordship says positively of it.

1. You say that I tell you, that “the cause why I continued unsatisfied, is, that the author mentioned went upon this ground, that clear and distinct ideas are necessary to certainty; but that is not my notion of certainty by ideas,” &c.

To which I crave leave to reply, that neither in that part of my second letter, which your lordship quotes for it, nor any where else, did I tell your lordship any such thing. Neither could I assign that author’s going upon that ground, there mentioned, as any cause of dissatisfaction to me; because I know not “that he went upon this ground, that clear and distinct ideas are necessary to certainty:” for I have met with nothing produced by your lordship out of him, to prove that he did so. And if it be true, that he goes upon grounds of certainty that are not mine, I know nobody that ought to be dissatisfied with it but your lordship, who have taken so much pains to make his grounds mine, and my grounds his, and to intitle us both to what each has said apart.

2. Your lordship says, “this is no more than what I had said before in my former letter.” Answ. For this I appeal to the 57th, or rather (as I think you writ) 87th page, quoted for it by your lordship; where any one must have very good eyes, to find all that is set down here in this answer (as you a little lower call it) which you have been pleased to put into my mouth. For neither in the one nor the other of those pages, is there any such answer of mine. Indeed, in the 87th page there are these words; “that certainty, in my opinion, lies in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, such as they are, and not always in the having perfectly clear and distinct ideas.” But these words there are not given as an answer to this question, why do I continue so unsatisfied? And the remarkable answer set down is, as I take it, more than Edition: current; Page: [215] these words, as much more in proportion as your lordship’s whole letter is, more than the half of it.

3. Your lordship says of the remarkable answer above set down, that “you took particular notice of it.”

To which I crave leave to reply, that your lordship, no-where before took notice of this answer, as you call it; for it was no-where before extant, though it be true some part of the words of it were. But some part of the words of this answer (which too were never given as an answer to the question proposed) can never be this answer itself.

4. Your lordship farther says, that “you gave three several answers to it.”

To which I must crave leave further to reply, that never any one of the three answers, which you here say you gave to this my answer, were given to this answer; which, in the words above set down, you made me give to your question, why I continued so unsatisfied?

To justify this my reply, there needs no more but to set down these your lordship’s three answers, and to turn to the places where you say you gave them.

The first of your three answers is this, “that those who offer at clear and distinct ideas, bid much fairer for certainty than I do (according to this answer) and speak more agreeably to my original grounds of certainty.” The place you quote for this, is, Ans. 1. p. 80, but in that place it is not given as an answer to my saying, that “the cause why I continue unsatisfied, is, that the author mentioned went upon this ground, that clear and distinct ideas are necessary to certainty, but,” &c. And if it be given for answer to it here, it seems a very strange one. For I am supposed to say, that “the cause why I continue unsatisfied, is, that the author mentioned went upon a ground different from mine:” and to satisfy me, I am told his way is better than mine; which cannot but be thought an answer very likely to satisfy me.

Your second answer, which you say you gave to that remarkable passage above set down, is this; “that it is very possible the author of Christianity not mysterious, Edition: current; Page: [216] might mistake or misapply my notions; but there is too much reason to believe he thought them the same, and we have no reason to be sorry that he hath given me this occasion for the explaining my meaning, and for the vindication of myself in the matters I apprehend he had charged me with:” and for this you quote your first letter, p. 36. But neither are these words in that place an answer to my saying, “that the cause why I continued dissatisfied, is, that that author went upon this ground, that clear and distinct ideas are necessary to certainty, but,” &c.

Your third answer, which you say you gave to that passage above set down, is, that my own grounds of “certainty tend to scepticism, and that, in an age wherein the mysteries of faith are too much exposed by the promoters of scepticism and infidelity, it is a thing of dangerous consequence to start such new methods of certainty, as are apt to leave men’s minds more doubtful than before:” For this you refer your reader to your first letter. But I must crave leave also to observe, that these words are not all to be found in that place, and those of them which are there, are by no means an answer to my saying, “that the cause why I continue unsatisfied, is,” &c.

What the words which your lordship has here set down as your three answers, are brought in for in those three places quoted by your lordship, any one that will consult them may see; it would hold me too long in personal matter to explain that here, and therefore for your lordship’s satisfaction I pass by those particulars. But this I crave leave to be positive in, that in neither of them, they are given in reply to that which is above set down, as my answer to your lordship’s question, “for what cause do I continue so unsatisfied?” Though your lordship here says, that to this answer they were given as a reply, and it was it you had taken notice of, and given these three several replies to. As answers therefore to what you make me say here, viz. “that the cause of my continuing unsatisfied, is, that the author mentioned went upon a ground of certainty that is none of mine;” I cannot consider them. For Edition: current; Page: [217] to this neither of them is given as an answer: though this and it, in ordinary construction, make them have that reference. But these are some of your privileged particles, and may be applied how and to what you please.

But though neither of these passages be any manner of answer to what your lordship calls them answers to; yet you laying such stress on them, that well nigh half your letter, as I take it, is spent in the defence of them; it is fit I consider what you say under each of them.

I say, as I take it, near half your letter is in defence of these three passages.

One reason why I speak so doubtfully, is, that though you say here, “that you will lay them together, and defend them,” and that in effect all that is said to that part is ranged under these three heads; yet they being brought in as answers to what I am made to say, is “the cause why I continued unsatisfied,” I should scarce think your lordship should spend so many pages in this personal matter, after you had but two or three pages before so openly blamed me for spending a less number of pages in my answer, concerning personal matters, to what your lordship had in your letter concerning them.

Another reason why I speak so doubtfully, is, because I do not see how these three passages need so long, or any defences, where they are not attacked; or if they be attached, methinks the defences of them should have been applied to the answers I had made to them; or if I have made none, and they be of such moment that they require answers, your lordship’s minding me that they did so, would either, by my continued silence, have left to your lordship all that you can pretend to for my granting them, or else my answers to them have given your lordship an occasion to defend them, and perhaps to have defended them otherwise than you have done. This is certain, that these defences had come time enough when they had been attacked, and then it would have been seen, whether what was said did defend them or no. The truth is, my lord, if you will Edition: current; Page: [218] give me leave to speak my thoughts freely, when I consider these three, as I call them, answers, how they themselves are brought in, and what relation that which is brought under each of them has to them, and to the matter in question; methinks they look rather like texts chosen to be discoursed on, than as answers to be defended in a controversy. For the connexion of that which in train is tacked on to them, is such that makes me see I am wholly mistaken in what I thought the established rule of controversy. This was also another reason why I said you spent, as I take it, near half of your letter in defence of them. For when I consider how one thing hangs on another, under the third answer, where I think that which you call your defending it ends; it is a hard matter by the relation and dependency of the parts of that discourse, to tell where it ends.

But, to consider the passages themselves, and the defence of them.

That which you call your first answer, and which you say you will defend, is in these words; “those who offer at clear and distinct ideas, bid much fairer for certainty than I do (according to this answer) and speak more agreeably to my original grounds of certainty.” These words being brought in at first as a reply to what was called my answer, but was not my answer, as may be seen, Lett. 1. I took no notice of them in my second letter, as being nothing at all to the point in hand; and therefore what need they have of a farther defence, when nothing is objected to them, I do not see. To what purpose is it to spend seven or eight pages to show, that another’s notion about certainty is better than mine; when that tends not to show how your saying, “that the certainty of my proof of a God is not placed upon any clear and distinct ideas, but upon the force of reason distinct from it,” concerns me; which was the thing there to be shown, as is visible to any one who will vouchsafe to look into that part of my first letter. And indeed why should your lordship trouble yourself to prove, which of two different ways of certainty by ideas is best, when you have so ill an Edition: current; Page: [219] opinion of the whole way of certainty by ideas, that you accuse it of tendency to scepticism? But it seems your lordship is resolved to have all the faults in my book cleared or corrected, and so you go on to defend these words: “that those who offer at clear and distinct ideas, bid much fairer for certainty than I do.” I could have wished that your lordship had pleased a little to explain them, before you had defended them; for they are not, to me, without some obscurity. However, to guess as well as I can, I think the proposition that you intend here, is this, that those who place certainty in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of only clear and distinct ideas, are more in the right than I am, who place it in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, such as we have, though they be not in all their parts perfectly clear and distinct.

Whether your lordship has proved this, or no, will be seen when we come to consider what you have said in the defence of it. In the mean time, I have no reason to be sorry to hear your lordship say so; because this supposes, that certainty can be attained by the perception of the agreement or disagreement of clear and distinct ideas. For if certainty cannot be attained by the perception of the agreement or disagreement of clear and distinct ideas, how can they be more in the right, who place certainty in one sort of ideas, that it cannot be had in, than those who place it in another sort of ideas, that it cannot be had in?

I shall proceed now to examine what your lordship has said in defence of the proposition you have here set down to defend, which you may be sure I shall with all the favourableness that truth will allow; since if your lordship makes it out to be true, it puts an end to the dispute you have had with me. For it confutes that main proposition which you have so much contended for; “that to lay all foundation of certainty, as to matters of faith, upon clear and distinct ideas, does certainly overthrow all mysteries of faith:” unless you will say, that mysteries of faith cannot consist with what you have proved to be true.

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To prove that they are more in the right than I, who place certainty in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of clear and distinct ideas only, your lordship says, “that it is a wonderful thing, in point of reason, for me to pretend to certainty by ideas, and not allow these ideas to be clear and distinct.” This, my lord, looks as if I placed certainty only in obscure and confused ideas, and did not allow that it might be had by clear and distinct ones. But I have declared myself so clearly and so fully to the contrary, that I doubt not but your lordship would think I deserved to be asked, whether this were fair and ingenuous dealing, to represent this matter as this expression does? But the instances are so many, how apt my unlearned way of writing is to mislead your lordship, and that always on the side least favourable to my sense, that if I should cry out as often as I think I meet with occasion for it, your lordship would have reason to be uneasy at the ebullition and enlarging of my complaints.

Your lordship farther asks, “how can I clearly perceive the agreement or disagreement of ideas, if I have not clear and distinct ideas? For how is it possible for a man’s mind to know whether they agree or disagree, if there be some parts of those ideas we have only general and confused ideas of?” I would rather read these latter words, if your lordship please, “if there be some parts of those ideas that are only general and confused;” for “parts of ideas that we have only general and confused ideas of,” is not very clear and intelligible to me.

Taking then your lordship’s question as cleared of this obscurity, it will stand thus: “how is it possible for a man’s mind to know, whether ideas agree or disagree, if there be some parts of those ideas obscure and confused?” In answer to which, I crave leave to ask; “Is it possible for a man’s mind to perceive, whether ideas agree or disagree, if no parts of those ideas be obscure and confused,” and by that perception to attain certainty? If your lordship says no: how do you hereby prove, that they who place certainty in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of Edition: current; Page: [221] only clear and distinct ideas, are more in the right than I? For they who place certainty, where it is impossible to be had, can in that be no more in the right, than he who places it in any other impossibility. If you say yes, certainty may be attained by the perception of the agreement or disagreement of clear and distinct ideas, you give up the main question: you grant the proposition, which you declare you chiefly oppose; and so all this great dispute with me is at an end. Your lordship may take which of these two you please; if the former, the proposition here to be proved is given up; if the latter, the whole controversy is given up: one of them, it is plain, you must say.

This, and what your lordship says farther on this point, seems to me to prove nothing, but that you suppose, that either there are no such things as obscure and confused ideas; and then, with submission, the distinction between clear and obscure, distinct and confused, is useless; and it is in vain to talk of clear and obscure, distinct and confused ideas, in opposition to one another: or else your lordship supposes, that an obscure and confused idea is wholly undistinguishable from all other ideas, and so in effect are all other ideas. For if an obscure and confused idea be not one and the same with all other ideas, as it is impossible for it to be, then the obscure and confused idea may and will be so far different from some other ideas, that it may be perceived whether it agrees or disagrees with them or no. For every idea in the mind, clear and obscure, distinct or confused, is but that one idea that it is, and not another idea that it is not; and the mind perceives it to be the idea that it is, and not another idea that it is different from.

What therefore I mean by obscure and confused ideas, I have at large shown, and shall not trouble your lordship with a repetition of here. For that there are such obscure and confused ideas, I suppose the instances your lordship gives here evince: to which I shall add this one more: suppose you should in the twilight, or in a thick mist, see two things standing upright, near the size and shape of an ordinary man; but in so dim a Edition: current; Page: [222] light, or at such a distance, that they appeared very much alike, and you could not perceive them to be what they really were, the one a statue, the other a man; would not these two be obscure and confused ideas? And yet could not your lordship be certain of the truth of this proposition concerning either of them, that it was something, or did exist; and that by perceiving the agreement of that idea (as obscure and confused as it was) with that of existence, as expressed in that proposition.

This, my lord, is just the case of substance, upon which you raised this argument concerning obscure and confused ideas; which this instance shows may have propositions made about them, of whose truth we may be certain.

Hence I crave liberty to conclude, that I am nearer the truth than those who say that “certainty is founded only in clear and distinct ideas,” if any body does say so, For no such saying of any one of those, with whom your lordship joined me for so saying, is, that I remember, yet produced; though this be that for which “they” and “those” whoever they be, had from your lordship the title of the gentlemen of the new way of reasoning; and this be the opinion which your lordship declares “you oppose, as certainly overthrowing all mysteries of faith, and excluding the notion of substance out of rational discourse.” Which terrible termagant proposition, viz. “that certainty is founded only in clear and distinct ideas,” which has made such a noise, and been the cause of the spending above ten times fifty pages, and given occasion to very large ebullition of thoughts; appears not, by any thing that has been yet produced, to be any where in their writings, with whom upon this score you have had so warm a controversy, but only in your lordship’s imagination, and what you have, at least for this once, “writ out of your own thoughts.”

But if this paragraph contain so little in defence of the proposition which your lordship, in the beginning of it, set down on purpose to defend: what follows is visibly more remote from it. But since your lordship Edition: current; Page: [223] has been pleased to tack it on here, though without applying of it any way, that I see, to the defence of the proposition to be defended, which is already got clean out of sight; I am taught, that it is fit I consider it here in this, which your lordship has thought the proper place for it.

In the next paragraph, your lordship is pleased to take notice of this part of my complaint, viz. that I say more than twice or ten times, “that you blame those who place certainty in clear and distinct ideas, but I do not; and yet you bring me in amongst them.” And for this, your lordship quotes seventeen several pages of my second letter. Whoever will give himself the trouble to turn to those pages, will see how far I am in those places from barely saying, “that you blame those who place certainty,” &c. and what reason you had to point to so many places for my so saying, as a repetition of my complaint. And I believe they will find the proposition about placing certainty only in clear and distinct ideas, is mentioned in them upon several occasions, and to different purposes, as the argument required.

Be that as it will, this is a part of my complaint, and you do me a favour, that after having, as you say, met with it in so many places, you are pleased at last to take notice of it, and promise me a full answer to it. The first part of which full answer is in these words; “that you do not deny but the first occasion of your lordship’s charge, was in the supposition that clear and distinct ideas were necessary, in order to any certainty in our minds.” And that the only way to “attain this certainty, was by comparing these ideas together.”

My lord, though I have faithfully set down these words out of my second answer, yet I must own I have printed them in something of a different character from that which they stand in your letter. For your lordship has published this sentence so, as “if the supposition that clear and distinct ideas were necessary in order to any certainty in our minds,” were my supposition; whereas I must crave leave to let my reader Edition: current; Page: [224] know, that that supposition is purely your lordship’s: for you neither in your defence of the Trinity, nor in your first answer, produce any thing to prove, that that was either an assertion or supposition of mine; but your lordship was pleased to suppose it for me. As to the latter words, “and that the only way to attain this certainty, was by comparing these ideas together:” If your lordship means by these ideas, ideas in general: then I acknowledge these to be my words, or to be my sense: but then they are not any supposition in my book, though they are made part of the supposition here; but their sense is expressed in my Essay at large in more places than one. But if by these ideas your lordship means only clear and distinct ideas, I crave leave to deny that to be my sense, or any supposition of mine.

Your lordship goes on; “but to prove this;” Prove what, I beseech you, my lord? That certainty was to be attained by comparing ideas, was a supposition of mine. To prove that, there needed no words or principles of mine to be produced, unless your lordship would prove that which never was denied.

But if it were to prove this, viz. that “it was a supposition of mine, that clear and distinct ideas were necessary to certainty;” and that to prove this to be a supposition of mine, “my words were produced, and my principles of certainty laid down, and none else;” I answer, I do not remember any words or principles of mine produced to show any ground for such a supposition, that I placed certainty only in clear and distinct ideas; and if there had been any such produced, your lordship would have done me and the reader a favour to have marked the pages wherein one might have found them produced, unless your lordship thinks you make amends for quoting so many pages of my second letter, which might have been spared, by neglecting wholly to quote any of your own where it needed. When your lordship shall please to direct me to those places where such words and principles of mine were produced to prove such a supposition, I shall readily turn to them, to see how far they do really give ground for it. But my bad memory not suggesting to me any thing like it, Edition: current; Page: [225] your lordship, I hope, will pardon me if I do not turn over your defence of the Trinity and your first letter, to see whether you have any such proofs, which you yourself seem so much to doubt or think so meanly of, that you do not so much as point out the places where they are to be found; though we have in this very page so eminent an example, that you are not sparing of your pains in this kind, where you have the least thought that it might serve your lordship to the meanest purpose.

But though you produced no words or principles of mine to prove this a supposition of mine, yet in your next words here your lordship produces a reason why you yourself supposed it. For you say, “you could not imagine that I could place certainty in the agreement or disagreement of ideas, and not suppose those ideas to be clear and distinct:” so that at last the satisfaction you give me, why my book was brought into a controversy wherein it was not concerned, is, that your lordship imagined I supposed in it, what I did not suppose in it. And here I crave leave to ask, whether the reader may not well suppose that you had a great mind to bring my book into that controversy, when the only handle you could find for it, was an imagination of a supposition to be in it, which in truth was not there?

Your lordship adds, “that I finding myself joined in such company which I did not desire to be seen in, I rather chose to distinguish myself from them, by denying clear and distinct ideas to be necessary to certainty.”

If it might be permitted to another to guess at your thoughts, as well as you do at mine, he perhaps would turn it thus; that your lordship finding no readier way, as you thought, to set a mark upon my book, than by bringing several passages of it into a controversy concerning the Trinity, wherein they had nothing to do; and speaking of them under the name of “those” and “them,” as if your adversaries in that dispute had made use of those passages against the Trinity, when no one opposer of the doctrine of the Trinity, that I know, Edition: current; Page: [226] or that you have produced, ever made use of any one of them; you thought fit to jumble my book with other people’s opinions after a new way, never used by any other writer that I ever heard of. If any one will consider what your lordship has said for my satisfaction (wherein you have, as I humbly conceive I have shown, produced nothing but imaginations of imaginations, and suppositions of suppositions) he will, I conclude, without straining of his thoughts, be carried to this conjecture.

But conjectures apart, your lordship says, “that I finding myself joined in such company which I did not desire to be seen in, I rather chose to distinguish myself:” if keeping to my book be called distinguishing myself. You say, “I rather chose:” rather! than what, my lord, I beseech you? Your learned way of writing, I find, is every where beyond my capacity; and unless I will guess at your meaning (which is not very safe) beyond what I can certainly understand by your words, I often know not what to answer to. It is certain, you mean here, that I preferred “distinguishing myself from them I found myself joined with” to something; but to what, you do not say. If you mean to owning that for my notion of certainty, which is not my notion of certainty, this is true; I did and shall always rather choose to distinguish myself from any of them, than own that for my notion which is not my notion: if you mean that I preferred “my distinguishing myself from them, to my being joined with them;” you make me choose, where there neither is nor can be any choice. For what is wholly out of one’s power, leaves no room for choice; and I think I should be laughed at, if I should say, “I rather choose to distinguish myself from the papists, than that it should rain.” For it is no more in my choice not to be joined, as your lordship has been pleased to join me, with the unknown “they” and “them,” than it is in my power that it should not rain.

It is like you will say here again, this is a nice criticism; I grant, my lord, it is about words and expressions: but since I cannot know your meaning but by Edition: current; Page: [227] your words and expressions, if this defect in my understanding very frequently overtake me in your writings to and concerning me, it is troublesome, I confess; but what must I do? Must I play at blind-man’s-buff? Catch at what I do not see? Answer to I know not what; to no meaning, i. e. to nothing? Or must I presume to know your meaning, when I do not?

For example, suppose I should presume it to be your meaning here, that I found myself joined in company, by your lordship, with the author of Christianity not mysterious, by your lordship’s imputing the same notions of certainty to us both; that I did not desire to be seen in his company, i. e. to be thought to be of his opinion in other things; and therefore “I chose rather to distinguish myself from him, by denying clear and distinct ideas to be necessary to certainty, than to be so joined with him:” if I should presume this to be the sense of these your words here, and that by the doubtful signification of the expressions of being joined in company, and seen in company, used equivocally, your lordship should mean, that because I was said to be of his opinion in one thing, I was to be thought to be of his opinion in all things, and therefore disowned to be of his opinion in that, wherein I was of his opinion, because I would not be thought of his opinion all through: would not your lordship be displeased with me for supposing you to have such a meaning as this, and ask me again, “whether I could think you a man of so little sense to talk thus?” And yet, my lord, this is the best I can make of these words, which seem to me rather to discover a secret in your way of dealing with me, than any thing in me that I am ashamed of.

For I am not, nor ever shall be ashamed to own any opinion I have, because another man holds the same; and so far as that brings me into his company, I shall not be troubled to be seen in it. But I shall never think that that entitles me to any other of his opinions, or makes me of his company in any other sense, how much soever that be the design: for your lordship has used no small art and pains to make me of his and the unitarians company in all that they say, only because that author Edition: current; Page: [228] has ten lines in the beginning of his book, which agrees with something I have said in mine; from whence we become companions, so universally united in opinion, that they must be entitled to all that I say, and I to all that they say.

My lord, when I writ my book, I could not design “to distinguish myself from the gentlemen of the new way of reasoning,” who were not then in being, nor are, that I see, yet; since I find nothing produced out of the unitarians, nor the author of Christianity not mysterious, to show, that they make clear and distinct ideas necessary to certainty. And all that I have done since, has been to show, that you had no reason to join my book with men (let them be what “they” or “those” you please) who founded certainty only upon clear and distinct ideas, when my book did not found it only upon clear and distinct ideas. And I cannot tell why the appealing to my book now, should be called “a choosing rather to distinguish myself.”

My reader must pardon me here for this uncouth phrase of joining my book with men. For as your lordship ordered the matter (pardon me, if I say in your new way of writing) so it was, if your own word may be taken in the case: for, to give me satisfaction, you insist upon this, that you did not join me with those gentlemen in their opinions, but tell me “they used my notions to other purposes than I intended them;” and so there was no need for me “to distinguish myself from them,” when your lordship had done it for me as you plead all along: though you are pleased to tell me, that I was joined with them, and that “I found myself joined in such company, as I did not desire to be seen in.”

My lord, I could find myself joined in no company upon this occasion, but what you joined me in. And therefore I beg leave to ask your lordship, did you join me in company with those, in whose company, you here say, “I do not desire to be seen?” If you own that you did, how must I understand that passage where you say, that “you must do that right to the ingenious author of the Essay of Human Understanding, from whence Edition: current; Page: [229] these notions were borrowed, to serve other purposes than he intended them;” which you repeat again as matter of satisfaction to me, and as a proof of the care you took not to be misunderstood. If you did join me with them, what is become of all the satisfaction in the point, which your lordship has been at so much pains about? And if you did not join me with them, you could not think I found myself joined with them, or chose to distinguish myself from men I was never joined with: for my book was innocent of what made them gentlemen of the new way of reasoning.

There seems to me something very delicate in this matter. I should be supposed joined to them, and your lordship should not be supposed to have joined me to them, upon so slight or no occasion; and yet all this comes solely from your lordship. How to do this to your satisfaction, I confess myself to be too dull: and therefore I have been at the pains to examine how far I have this obligation to your lordship, and how far you would be pleased to own it, that the world might understand your lordship’s, to me, incomprehensible way of writing on this occasion.

For if you had a mind, by a new and dexterous way, becoming the learning and caution of a great man, to bring me into such company, which you think “I did not desire to be seen in;” I thought such a pattern, set by such a hand as your lordship’s, ought not to be lost by being passed over too slightly. Besides, I hope, that you will not take it amiss, that I was willing to see what obligation I had to your lordship in the favour you designed me. But I crave leave to assure your lordship, I shall never be ashamed to own any opinion I have, because another man (of whom perhaps your lordship or others have no very good thoughts) is of it, nor be unwilling to be so far seen in his company: though I shall always think I have a right to demand, and shall desire to be satisfied, why any one makes to himself, or takes an occasion from thence, in a manner that savours not too much of charity, to extend this society to those opinions of that man, with which I have nothing to do; that the world may see the justice and Edition: current; Page: [230] good will of such endeavours, and judge whether such arts savour not a little of the spirit of the inquisition.

For, if I mistake not, it is the method of that holy office, and the way of those revered guardians of what they call the christian faith, to raise reports or start occasions of suspicion concerning the orthodoxy of any one they have no very good-will towards, and require him to clear himself; gilding all this with the care of religion, and the profession of respect and tenderness to the person himself, even when they deliver him up to be burnt by the secular power.

I shall not, my lord, say, that you have had any ill-will to me; for I never deserved any from you. But I shall be better able to answer those, who are apt to think the method you have taken, has some conformity, so far as it has gone, with what protestants complain of in the inquisition; when you shall have cleared this matter a little otherwise, and assigned a more sufficient reason for bringing me into the party of those that oppose the doctrine of the Trinity, than only because the author of Christianity not mysterious has, in the beginning of his book, half a score lines which you guess he borrowed out of mine. For that, in truth, is all the matter of fact upon which all this dust is raised; and the matter so advanced by degrees, that now I am told, “I should have cleared myself, by owning the doctrine of the Trinity;” as if I had been ever accused of disowning it. But that which shows no small skill in this management, is, that I am called upon to clear myself, by the very same person who, raising the whole dispute, has himself over and over again cleared me; and upon that grounds the satisfaction he pretends to give me and others, in answer to my complaint of his having, without any reason at all, brought my book into the controversy concerning the Trinity. But to go on.

If the preceding part of this paragraph had nothing in it of defence of this proposition, “that those who offer at clear and distinct ideas, bid much fairer for certainty than I do, &c.” it is certain, that what follows is altogether as remote from any such defence.

Your lordship says, “that certainty by sense, certainty Edition: current; Page: [231] by reason, and certainty by remembrance, are to be distinguished from the certainty” under debate, and to be shut out from it: and upon this you spend three pages. Supposing it so, how does this at all tend to the defence of this proposition, that “those who offer at clear and distinct ideas, bid much fairer for certainty than I do?” For whether certainty by sense, by reason, and by remembrance, be or be not comprehended in the certainty under debate, this proposition, “that those who offer at clear and distinct ideas, bid much fairer for certainty than I do,” will not at all be confirmed or invalidated thereby.

The proving therefore, that “certainty by sense, by reason, and by remembrance,” is to be excluded from the certainty under debate, serving nothing to the defence of the proposition to be defended, and so having nothing to do here; let us now consider it as a proposition that your lordship has a mind to prove, as serving to some other great purpose of your own, or perhaps in some other view against my book: for you seem to lay no small stress upon it, by your way of introducing it. For you very solemnly set yourself to prove, “that the certainty under debate is the certainty of knowledge, and that a proposition whose ideas are to be compared as to their agreement or disagreement, is the proper object of this certainty.” From whence your lordship infers, that “therefore this certainty is to be distinguished from a certainty by sense, by reason, and by remembrance.” But by what logic this is inferred, is not easy to me to discover. For “if a proposition, whose ideas are to be compared as to their agreement or disagreement, be the proper object of the certainty” under debate; if propositions whose certainty we arrive at by sense, reason, or remembrance, be of ideas, which may be compared as to their agreement or disagreement; then they cannot be excluded from that certainty, which is to be had by so comparing those ideas: unless they must be shut out for the very same reason that others are taken in.

1. Then as to certainty by sense, or propositions of that kind:

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“The object of the certainty under debate, your lordship owns, as a proposition whose ideas are to be compared as to their agreement or disagreement.” The agreement or disagreement of the ideas of a proposition to be compared, may be examined and perceived by sense, and is certainty by sense: and therefore how this certainty is to be distinguished and shut out from that, which consists in the perceiving the agreement or disagreement of the ideas of any proposition, will not be easy to show; unless one certainty is distinguished from another, by having that which makes the other to be certainty, viz. the perception of the agreement or disagreement of two ideas, as expressed in that proposition: v. g. may I not be certain that a ball of ivory that lies before my eyes is not square? And is it not my sense of seeing, that makes me perceive the disagreement of that square figure to that round matter, which are the ideas expressed in that proposition? How then is certainty by sense excluded or distinguished from that knowledge, which consists in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas?

2. Your lordship distinguishes the certainty which consists in the perceiving the agreement or disagreement of ideas, as expressed in any proposition, from certainty by reason. To have made good this distinction, I humbly conceive, you would have done well to have showed that the agreement or disagreement of two ideas could not be perceived by the intervention of a third, which I, and as I guess other people, call reasoning, or knowing by reason. As for example, cannot the sides of a given triangle be known to be equal by the intervention of two circles, whereof one of these sides is a common radius?

To which, it is like, your lordship will answer, what I find you do here, about the knowledge of the existence of substance, by the intervention of the existence of modes, “that you grant one may come to certainty of knowledge in the case; but not a certainty by ideas, but by a consequence of reason deduced from the ideas we have by our senses.” This, my lord, you Edition: current; Page: [233] have said, and thus you have more than once opposed reason and ideas as inconsistent; which I should be very glad to see proved once, after these several occasions I have given your lordship, by excepting against that supposition. But since the word idea has the ill luck to be so constantly opposed by your lordship to reason, permit me if you please, instead of it, to put what I mean by it, viz. the immediate objects of the mind in thinking (for that is it which I would signify by the word ideas) and then let us see how your answer will run. You grant, that from the sensible modes of bodies, we may come to a certain knowledge, that there are bodily substances; but this you say is not a certainty by the immediate objects of the mind in thinking, “but by a consequence of reason deduced from the immediate objects of the mind in thinking, which we have by our senses.” When you can prove that we can have a certainty by a consequence of reason, which certainty shall not also be by the immediate objects of the mind in using its reason; you may say such certainty is not by ideas, but by consequence of reason. But that I believe will not be, till you can show, that the mind can think, or reason, or know, without immediate objects of thinking, reasoning, or knowing; all which objects, as your lordship knows, I call ideas.

You subjoin, “and this can never prove that we have certainty by ideas, where the ideas themselves are not clear and distinct.” The question is not “whether we can have certainty by ideas that are not clear and distinct,” or whether my words (if by this particle this you mean my words set down in the foregoing page) prove any such thing, which I humbly conceive they do not: but whether certainty by reason be excluded from the certainty under debate? which I humbly conceive you have not from my words, or any other way proved.

3. The third sort of propositions that your lordship excludes, are those whose certainty we know by remembrance: but in these two the agreement or disagreement of the ideas contained in them is perceived; not always Edition: current; Page: [234] indeed, as it was at first, by an actual view of the connexion of all the intermediate ideas, whereby the agreement or disagreement of those in the proposition was at first perceived; but by other intermediate ideas, that show the agreement or disagreement of the ideas contained in the proposition, whose certainty we remember.

As in the instance you here make use of, viz. that the three angles of a triangle are equal to two right ones: the certainty of which proposition we know by remembrance, “though the demonstration hath slipt out of our minds;” but we know it in a different way from what your lordship supposes. The agreement of the two ideas, as joined in that proposition, is perceived; but it is by the intervention of other ideas than those which at first produced that perception. I remember, i. e. I know (for remembrance is but the reviving of some past knowledge) that I was once certain of the truth of this proposition, that the three angles of a triangle are equal to two right ones. The immutability of the same relations between the same immutable things, is now the idea that shows me, that if the three angles of a triangle were once equal to two right ones, they will always be equal to two right ones; and hence I come to be certain, that what was once true in the case, is always true; what ideas once agreed, will always agree; and consequently what I once knew to be true, I shall always know to be true as long as I can remember that I once knew it.

Your lordship says, “that the debate between us is about certainty of knowledge, with regard to some proposition whose ideas are to be compared as to their agreement or disagreement:” out of this debate, you say, certainty by sense, by reason, and by remembrance, is to be excluded. I desire you then, my lord, to tell what sort of propositions will be within the debate, and to name me one of them; if propositions, whose certainty we know by sense, reason, or remembrance, are excluded.

However, from what you have said concerning them, your lordship in the next paragraph concludes them out Edition: current; Page: [235] of the question: your words are, “these things then being out of the question.”

Out of what question, I beseech you, my lord? The question here, and that of your own proposing to be defended in the affirmative, is this, “whether those who offer at clear and distinct ideas bid much fairer for certainty than I do?” And how certainty by sense, by reason, and by remembrance comes to have any particular exception in reference to this question, it is my misfortune not to be able to find.

But your lordship, leaving the examination of the question under debate, by a new state of the question, would pin upon me what I never said. Your words are, “these things then being put out of the question, which belong not to it; the question truly stated is, whether we can attain to any certainty of knowledge as to the truth of a proposition in the way of ideas, where the ideas themselves, by which we came to that certainty, be not clear and distinct.” With submission, my lord, that which I say in the point, is, that we may be certain of the truth of a proposition concerning an idea which is not in all its parts clear and distinct; and therefore if your lordship will have any question with me concerning this matter, “the question truly stated is, whether we can frame any proposition concerning a thing whereof we have but an obscure and confused idea, of whose truth we can be certain?”

That this is the question, you will easily agree, when you will give yourself the trouble to look back to the rise of it.

Your lordship having found out a strange sort of men, who had broached “a doctrine which supposed that we must have clear and distinct ideas of whatever we pretend to a certainty of in our minds,” was pleased for this to call them “the gentlemen of a new way of reasoning,” and to make me one of them. I answered, that I placed not certainty only in clear and distinct ideas, and so ought not to have been made one of them, being not guilty of what made “a gentleman of this new way of reasoning.” It is pretended still, that I am guilty; and endeavoured to be proved. To Edition: current; Page: [236] know now whether I am or no, it must be considered what you lay to their charge, as the consequence of that opinion; and that is, that upon this ground “we cannot come to any certainty that there is such a thing as substance.” This appears by more places than one. Your lordship asks, “how is it possible that we may be certain that there are both bodily and spiritual substances, if our reason depend upon clear and distinct ideas?” And again, “how come we to be certain that there are spiritual substances in the world, since we can have no clear and distinct ideas concerning them?” And your lordship having set down some words out of my book, as if they were inconsistent with my principle of certainty founded only in clear and distinct ideas, you say, “from whence it follows that we may be certain of the being of a spiritual substance, though we have no clear and distinct ideas of it.”

Other places might be produced, but these are enough to show, that those who held clear and distinct ideas necessary to certainty, were accused to extend it thus far, that where any idea was obscure and confused, there no proposition could be made concerning it, of whose truth we could be certain; v. g. we could not be certain that there was in the world such a thing as substance, because we had but an obscure and confused idea of it.

In this sense therefore I denied that clear and distinct ideas were necessary to certainty, v. g. I denied it to be my doctrine, that where an idea was obscure and confused, there no proposition could be made concerning it, of whose truth we could be certain. For I held we might be certain of the truth of this proposition, that there was substance in the world, though we have but an obscure and confused idea of substance: and your lordship endeavoured to prove we could not, as may be seen at large in that 10th chapter of your Vindication, &c.

From all which, it is evident, that the question between us truly stated is this, whether we can attain certainty of the truth of a proposition concerning any thing whereof we have but an obscure and confused idea?

This being the question, the first thing you say, is, Edition: current; Page: [237] that Des Cartes was of your opinion against me. Ans. If the question were to be decided by authority, I had rather it should be by your lordship’s than Des Cartes’s: and therefore I should excuse myself to you, as not having needed, that you should have added his authority to yours, to shame me into a submission; or that you should have been at the pains to have transcribed so much out of him, for my sake, were it fit for me to hinder the display of the riches of your lordship’s universal reading; wherein I doubt not but I should take pleasure myself, if I had it to show.

I come therefore to what I think your lordship principally aimed at; which, as I humbly conceive, was to show out of my book, that I founded certainty only on clear and distinct ideas. “And yet, as you say, I have complained of your lordship in near twenty places of my second letter, charging this upon me. By this the world will judge of the justice of my complaints, and the consistency of my notion of ideas.”

Ans. What “consistency of my notion of ideas” has to do here, I know not; for I do not remember that I made any complaint concerning that. But supposing my complaints were ill-grounded in this one case concerning certainty, yet they might be reasonable in other points; and therefore, with submission, I humbly conceive the inference was a little too large, to conclude from this particular against my complaint in general.

In the next place I answer, that supposing the places which your lordship brings out of my book did prove what they do not, viz. that I founded certainty only in clear and distinct ideas, yet my complaints in the case are very just. For your lordship at first brought me into the controversy, and made me one of “the gentlemen of the new way of reasoning,” for founding all certainty on clear and distinct ideas, only upon a bare supposition that I did so; which I think your lordship confesses in these words, where you say, “that you do not deny but the first occasion of your charge, Edition: current; Page: [238] was the supposition that clear and distinct ideas were necessary in order to any certainty in our minds; and that the only way to attain this certainty was the comparing these, i. e. clear and distinct ideas, together: but to prove this, my words, your lordship says, were produced, and my principles of certainty laid down, and none else.” Answ. It is strange, that when my principles of certainty were laid down, this (if I held it) was not found among them. Having looked therefore, I do not find in that place, that any words or principles of mine were produced to prove that I held, that the only way to attain certainty, was by comparing only clear and distinct ideas; so that all that then made me one of the gentlemen of the new way of reasoning, was only your supposing that I supposed that clear and distinct ideas are necessary to certainty. And therefore I had then, and have still, reason to complain, that your lordship brought me into this controversy upon so slight grounds, which I humbly conceive will always show it to have proceeded not so much from any thing you had then found in my book, as from a great willingness in your lordship at any rate to do it; and of this the passages which you have here now produced out of my Essay, are an evident proof.

For if your lordship had then known any thing that seemed so much to your purpose, “when you produced, as you say, my words and my principles to prove,” that I held clear and distinct ideas necessary to certainty; it cannot be believed that you would have omitted these passages, either then or in your answer to my first letter, and deferred them to this your answer to my second. These passages therefore now quoted here by your lordship, give me leave, my lord, to suppose have been by a new and diligent search found out, and are now at last brought, “post factum,” to give some colour to your way of proceeding with me; though these passages being, as I suppose, then unknown to you, they could not be the ground of making me one of those who place certainty only in clear and distinct ideas.

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Let us come to the passages themselves, and see what help they afford you.

The first words you set down out of my Essay are these;B. iv. c. 18.§. 8. “the mind not being certain of the truth of that it doth not evidently know.” From these words, that which I infer in that place is, “that therefore the mind is bound in such cases to give up its assent to an unerring testimony.” But your lordship from them infers here, “therefore I make clear ideas necessary to certainty;” or therefore, by considering the immediate objects of the mind in thinking, we cannot be certain that substance (whereof we have an obscure and confused idea) doth exist. I shall leave your lordship to make good this consequence when you think fit, and proceed to the next passage you allege, which you say proves it more plainly. I believe it will be thought it should be proved more plainly, or else it will not be proved at all.

This plainer proof is out of B. iv. c. 4. § 8. in these words, “that which is requisite to make our knowledge certain, is the clearness of our ideas.” Answ. The certainty here spoken of, is the certainty of general propositions in morality, and not of the particular existence of any thing; and therefore tends not at all to any such position as this, but we cannot be certain of the existence of any particular sort of being, though we have but an obscure and confused idea of it: though it doth affirm, that we cannot have any certain perception of the relations of general moral ideas (wherein consists the certainty of general moral propositions) any farther than those ideas are clear in our minds. And that this is so, I refer my reader to that chapter for satisfaction.

The third place produced by your lordship out of B. iv. c. 12. § 14. is, “for it being evident that our knowledge cannot exceed our ideas; where they are either imperfect, confused, or obscure, we cannot expect to have certain, perfect, or clear knowledge.” To understand these words aright, we must see in what place they stand, and that is in a chapter of the improvement Edition: current; Page: [240] of our knowledge, and therein are brought as a reason to show how necessary it is “for the enlarging of our knowledge, to get and settle in our minds, as far as we can, clear, distinct, and constant ideas of those things we would consider and know.” The reason whereof there given, is this; that as far as they are either imperfect, confused, or obscure, we cannot expect to have certain, perfect, or clear knowledge; i. e. that our knowledge will not be clear and certain so far as the idea is imperfect and obscure. Which will not at all reach your lordship’s purpose, who would argue, that because I say our idea of substance is obscure and confused, therefore upon my grounds, we cannot know that such a thing as substance exists; because I placed certainty only in clear and distinct ideas. Now to this I answered, that I did not place all certainty only on clear and distinct ideas, in such a sense as that; and therefore to avoid being mistaken, I said, “that my notion of certainty by ideas is, that certainty consists in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas; such as we have, whether they be in all their parts perfectly clear and distinct or no:” viz. if they are clear and distinct enough to be capable of having their agreement or disagreement with any other idea perceived, so far they are capable of affording us knowledge, though at the same time they are so obscure and confused, as that there are other ideas, with which we can by no means so compare them, as to perceive their agreement or disagreement with them. This was the clearness and distinctness which I denied to be necessary to certainty.

If your lordship would have done me the honour to have considered what I understood by obscure and confused ideas, and what every one must understand by them, who thinks clearly and distinctly concerning them, I am apt to imagine you would have spared yourself the trouble of raising this question, and omitted these quotations out of my book, as not serving to your lordship’s purpose.

The fourth passage, which you seem to lay most stress on, proves as little to your purpose as either of the Edition: current; Page: [241] former three: the words are these; “but obscure and confused ideas can never produce any clear and certain knowledge, because as far as any ideas are confused or obscure, the mind can never perceive clearly whether they agree or no.” The latter part of these words are a plain interpretation of the former, and show their meaning to be this, viz. our obscure and confused ideas, as they stand in contradistinction to clear and distinct, have all of them something in them, whereby they are kept from being wholly imperceptible and perfectly confounded with all other ideas, and so their agreement or disagreement, with at least some other ideas, may be perceived, and thereby produce certainty, though they are obscure and confused ideas. But so far as they are obscure and confused, so that their agreement or disagreement cannot be perceived, so far they cannot produce certainty; v. g. the idea of substance is clear and distinct enough to have its agreement with that of actual existence perceived: but yet it is so far obscure and confused, that there be a great many other ideas, with which, by reason of its obscurity and confusedness, we cannot compare it so, as to produce such a perception; and in all those cases we necessarily come short of certainty. And that this was so, and that I meant so, I humbly conceive you could not but have seen, if you had given yourself the trouble to reflect on that passage which you quoted, viz. “that certainty consists in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, such as we have, whether they be in all their parts perfectly clear and distinct or no.” To which, what your lordship has here brought out of the second book of my Essay, is no manner of contradiction; unless it be a contradiction to say, that an idea, which cannot be well compared with some ideas, from which it is not clearly and sufficiently distinguishable, is yet capable of having its agreement or disagreement perceived with some other idea, with which it is not so confounded, but that it may be compared: and therefore I had, and have still reason to complain of your lordship, Edition: current; Page: [242] for charging that upon me, which I never said nor meant.

To make this yet more visible, give me leave to make use of an instance in the object of the eyes in seeing, from whence the metaphor of obscure and confused is transferred to ideas, the objects of the mind in thinking. There is no object which the eye sees, that can be said to be perfectly obscure, for then it would not be seen at all; nor perfectly confused, for then it could not be distinguished from any other, no not from a clearer. For example, one sees in the dusk something of that shape and size, that a man in that degree of light and distance would appear. This is not so obscure, that he sees nothing; nor so confused, that he cannot distinguish it from a steeple or a star; but is so obscure, that he cannot, though it be a statue, distinguish it from a man; and therefore in regard of a man, it can produce no clear and distinct knowledge: but yet as obscure and confused an idea as it is, this hinders not but that there may many propositions be made concerning it, as particularly that it exists, of the truth of which we may be certain. And that without any contradiction to what I say in my Essay, viz. “that obscure and confused ideas can never produce any clear and certain knowledge; because as far as they are confused or obscure, the mind cannot perceive clearly whether they agree or no.” This reason that I there give plainly limiting it only to knowledge, where the obscurity and confusion is such, that it hinders the perception of agreement or disagreement, which is not so great in any obscure or confused idea, but that there are some other ideas, with which it may be perceived to agree or disagree, and there it is capable to produce certainty in us.

And thus I am come to the end of your defence of your first answer, as you call it, and desire the reader to consider how much, in the eight pages employed in it, is said to defend this proposition, “that those who offer at clear and distinct ideas, bid much fairer for certainty than I do?”

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But your lordship having, under this head, taken occasion to examine my making clear and distinct ideas necessary to certainty, I crave leave to consider here what you say of it in another place. I find one argument more to prove, that I place certainty only in clear and distinct ideas. Your lordship tells me, and bids me observe my own words, that I positively say, “that the mind not being certain of the truth of that it doth not evidently know: so that, says your lordship, it is plain here, that I place certainty in evident knowledge, or in clear and distinct ideas, and yet my great complaint of your lordship was, that you charged this upon me, and now you find it in my own words.” Answer. I do observe my own words, but do not find in them “or in clear and distinct ideas,” though your lordship has set these down as my words. I there indeed say, “the mind is not certain of what it does not evidently know.” Whereby I place certainty, as your lordship says, only in evident knowledge; but evident knowledge may be had in the clear and evident perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, though some of them should not be in all their parts perfectly clear and distinct, as is evident in this proposition, “that substance does exist.”

But you give not off this matter so: for these words of mine above quoted by your lordship, viz. “it being evident that our knowledge cannot exceed our ideas, where they are imperfect, confused, or obscure, we cannot expect to have certain, perfect, or clear knowledge;” your lordship has here up again: and thereupon charge it on me as a contradiction, that confessing our ideas to be imperfect, confused, and obscure, I say I do not yet place certainty in clear and distinct ideas. Answer. The reason is plain, for I do not say that all our ideas are imperfect, confused, and obscure; nor that obscure and confused ideas are in all their parts so obscure and confused, that no agreement or disagreement between them and any other idea can be perceived; and therefore my confession of imperfect, obscure, and confused ideas takes not away all knowledge, even concerning those very ideas.

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But, says your lordship, “can certainty be had with imperfect and obscure ideas, and yet no certainty be had by them?” Add if you please, my lord, [by those parts of them which are obscure and confused:] and then the question will be right put, and have this easy answer: Yes, my lord; and that without any contradiction, because an idea that is not in all its parts perfectly clear and distinct, and is therefore an obscure and confused idea, may yet with those ideas, with which, by any obscurity it has, it is not confounded, be capable to produce knowledge by the perception of its agreement or disagreement with them. And yet it will hold true, that in that part wherein it is imperfect, obscure, and confused, we cannot expect to have certain, perfect, or clear knowledge.

For example: he that has the idea of a leopard, as only of a spotted animal, must be confessed to have but a very imperfect, obscure, and confused idea of that species of animals; and yet this obscure and confused idea is capable by a perception of the agreement or disagreement of the clear part of it, viz. that of animal, with several other ideas, to produce certainty: though as far as the obscure part of it confounds it with the idea of a lynx, or other spotted animal, it can, joined with them, in many propositions, produce no knowledge.

This might easily be understood to be my meaning by these words, which your lordship quotes out of my Essay, viz. “that our knowledge consisting in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of any two ideas, its clearness or obscurity consists in the clearness or obscurity of that perception, and not in the clearness or obscurity of the ideas themselves.” Upon which your lordship asks, “how is it possible for the mind to have a clear perception of the agreement of ideas, if the ideas themselves be not clear and distinct?” Ans. Just as the eyes can have a clear perception of the agreement or disagreement of the clear and distinct parts of a writing, with the clear parts of another, though one, or both of them, be so obscure and blurred in other parts, that the eye cannot Edition: current; Page: [245] perceive any agreement or disagreement they have one with another. And I am sorry that these words of mine, “my notion of certainty by ideas, is, that certainty consists in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, such as we have, whether they be in all their parts perfectly clear and distinct or no;” were not plain enough to make your lordship understand my meaning, and save you all this new, and, as it seems to me, needless trouble.

In your 15th page, your lordship comes to your second of the three answers, which you say you had given, and would lay together and defend.

You say, (2.) you answered, “that it is very possible the author of Christianity not mysterious might mistake or misapply my notions, but there is too much reason to believe he thought them the same; and we have no reason to be sorry that he hath given me this occasion for the explaining my meaning, and for the vindication of myself in the matters I apprehend he had charged me with.” These words your lordship quotes out of your first letter. But as I have already observed, they are not there given as an answer to this that you make me here say; and therefore to what purpose you repeat them here is not easy to discern, unless it can be thought that an unsatisfactory answer in one place can become satisfactory by being repeated in another, where it is, as I humbly conceive, less to the purpose, and no answer at all. It was there indeed given as an answer to my saying, that I did not place certainty in clear and distinct ideas, which I said to show that you had no reason to bring me into the controversy, because the author of Christianity not mysterious placed certainty in clear and distinct ideas. To satisfy me for your doing so, your lordship answers, “that it was very possible that author might mistake or misapply my notions.” A reason indeed, that will equally justify your bringing my book into any controversy: for there is no author so infallible, write he in what controversy he pleases, but it is possible he may mistake and misapply my notions.

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That was the force of this your lordship’s answer in that place of your first letter, but what it serves for in this place of your second letter, I have not wit enough to see. The remainder of it I have answered in my second letter, and therefore cannot but wonder to see it repeated here again, without any notice taken of what I said in answer to it, though you set it down here again, as you say, on purpose to defend.

But all the defence made is only to that part of my reply, which you set down as a fresh complaint that I make in these words: “this can be no reason why I should be joined with a man that had misapplied my notions, and that no man hath so much mistaken and misapplied my notions as your lordship; and therefore I ought rather to be joined with your lordship.” And then you, with some warmth, subjoin: “but is this fair and ingenuous dealing to represent this matter so, as if your lordship had joined us together, because he had misunderstood and misapplied my notions? Can I think your lordship a man of so little sense to make that the reason of it?” No, sir, says your lordship, “it was because he assigned no other grounds but mine, and that in my own words; however, now I would divert the meaning of them another way.”

My lord, I did set down your words at large in my second letter, and therefore do not see how I could be liable to any charge of unfair or disingenuous dealing in representing the matter; which I am sure you will allow as a proof of my not misrepresenting, since I find you use it yourself as a sure fence against any such accusation; where you tell me, “that you have set down my words at large, that I may not complain that your lordship misrepresents my sense.” The same answer I must desire my reader to apply for me to those pages, where your lordship makes complaints of the like kind with this here.

The reasons you give for joining me with the author of Christianity not mysterious, are put down verbatim as you gave them; and if they did not give me that Edition: current; Page: [247] satisfaction they were designed for, am I to be blamed that I did not find them better than they were? You joined me with that author, because he placed certainty only in clear and distinct ideas. I told your lordship I did not do so, and therefore that could be no reason for your joining me with him. Your answer, “it was possible he might mistake or misapply my notions:” so that our agreeing in the notion of certainty (the pretended reason for which we were joined) failing, all the reason which is left, and which you offer in this answer for your joining of us, is the possibility of his mistaking my notions. And I think it a very natural inference, that if the mere possibility of any one’s mistaking me, be a reason for my being joined with him; any one’s actual mistaking me, is a stronger reason why I should be joined with him. But if such an inference shows (more than you would have it) the satisfactoriness and force of your answer, I hope you will not be angry with me, if I cannot change the nature of things.

Your lordship indeed adds in that place, that “there is too much reason to believe that the author thought his notions and mine the same.”

Answer. When your lordship shall produce that reason, it will be seen whether it were too much or too little. Till it is produced, there appears no reason at all; and such concealed reason, though it may be too much, can be supposed, I think, to give very little satisfaction to me or any body else in the case.

But to make good what you have said in your answer, your lordship here replies, that “you did not join us together, because he had misunderstood and misapplied my notions.” Answ. Neither did I say, that therefore you did join us. But this I crave leave to say, that all the reason you there gave for your joining us together, was the possibility of his mistaking and misapplying my notions.

But your lordship now tells me, “No, sir,” this was not the reason of your joining us; but “it was because he assigned no other grounds but mine, and in my own words.” Answ. My lord, I do not remember that in that place you give this as a reason Edition: current; Page: [248] for your joining of us; and I could not answer in that place to what you did not there say, but to what you there did say. Now your lordship does say it here, here I take the liberty to answer it.

The reason you now give for your joining me with that author, is, “because he assigned no other grounds but mine;” which, however tenderly expressed, is to be understood, I suppose, that he did assign my grounds. Of what, I beseech your lordship, did he assign my grounds, and in my words? If it were not my grounds of certainty, it could be no manner of reason for your joining me with him; because the only reason why at first you made him (and me with him) “a gentleman of the new way of reasoning, was his supposing clear and distinct ideas necessary to certainty,” which was the opinion that you declared you opposed. Now, my lord, if you can show where that author has in my words assigned my grounds of certainty, there will be some grounds for what you say. But till your lordship does that, it will be pretty hard to believe that to be the ground of your joining us together; which, being no where to be found, can scarce be thought the true reason of your doing it.

Your lordship adds, “however, now I would divert the meaning of them [i. e. those my words] another way.”

Answ. Whenever you are pleased to set down those words of mine, wherein that author assigns my grounds of certainty, it will be seen how I now divert their meaning another way: till then, they must remain with several other of your lordship’s invisible “them,” which are no where to be found.

But to your asking me, “whether I can think your lordship a man of that little sense?” I crave leave to reply, that I hope it must not be concluded, that as often as in your way of writing I meet with any thing that does not seem to me satisfactory, and I endeavour to show that it does not prove what it is made use of for, that I presently “think your lordship a man of little sense.” This would be a very hard rule in defending one’s self; especially for me, against so great Edition: current; Page: [249] and learned a man, whose reasons and meaning it is not, I find, always easy for so mean a capacity as mine to reach: and therefore I have taken great care to set down your words in most places, to secure myself from the imputation of misrepresenting your sense, and to leave it fairly before the reader to judge, whether I mistake it, and how far I am to be blamed if I do. And I would have set down your whole letter page by page as I answered it, would not that have made my book too big.

If I must write under this fear, that you apprehend I think meanly of you, as often as I think any reason you make use of is not satisfactory in the point it is brought for; the causes of uneasiness would return too often, and it would be better once for all to conclude your lordship infallible, and acquiesce in whatever you say, than in every page to be so rude as to tell your lordship, “I think you have little sense;” if that be the interpretation of my endeavouring to show, that your reasons come short any where.

My lord, when you did me the honour to answer my first letter (which I thought might have passed for a submissive complaint of what I did not well understand, rather than a dispute with your lordship) you were pleased to insert into it direct accusations against my book; which looked as if you had a mind to enter into a direct controversy with me. This condescension in your lordship has made me think myself under the protection of the laws of controversy, which allow a free examining and showing the weakness of the reasons brought by the other side, without any offence. If this be not permitted me, I must confess I have been mistaken, and have been guilty in answering you any thing at all: for how to answer without answering, I do not know.

I wish you had never writ any thing that I was particularly concerned to examine; and what I have been concerned to examine, I wish it had given me no occasion for any other answer, but an admiration of the manner and justness of your corrections, and an acknowledgment of an increase of that great opinion which I had of your lordship before. But I hope it is not expected Edition: current; Page: [250] from me in this debate, that I should admit as good and conclusive all that drops from your pen, for fear of causing so much displeasure as you seem here to have upon this occasion, or for fear you should object to me the presumption of thinking you had but little sense, as often as I endeavoured to show that what you say is of little force.

When those words and grounds of mine are produced, that the author of Christianity not mysterious assigned, which your lordship thinks a sufficient reason for your joining me with him, in opposing the doctrine of the Trinity; I shall consider them, and endeavour to give you satisfaction about them, as well as I have already concerning those ten lines, which you have more than once quoted out of him, as taken out of my book, and which is all that your lordship has produced out of him of that kind: in all which there is not one syllable of clear and distinct ideas, or of certainty founded in them. In the mean time, in answer to your other question, “but is this fair and ingenuous dealing?” I refer my reader to my second letter, where he may see at large all this whole matter, and all the unfairness and disingenuity of it, which I submit to him, to judge whether for any fault of that kind it ought to have drawn on me the marks of so much displeasure.

Your lordship goes on here, and tells me, that “although you were willing to allow me all reasonable occasions for my own vindication, as appears by your words; yet you were sensible enough that I had given too just an occasion to apply them in that manner, as appears by the next page.”

What was it, I beseech you, my lord, that I was to vindicate myself from, and what was those “them” I had given too just an occasion to apply in that manner; and what was that manner they were applied in, and what was the occasion they were so applied? For I can find none of all these in that next page to which your lordship refers me. When those are set down, the world will be better able to judge of the reason you had to join me after the manner you did. However, saying, my lord, without proving, I humbly conceive, is but Edition: current; Page: [251] saying; and in such personal matter so turned, shows more the disposition of the speaker, than any ground for what is said. Your lordship, as a proof of your great care of me, tells me at the top of that page, that you had said so much, that nothing could be said more for my vindication; and, before you come to the bottom of it, you labour to persuade the world, that I have need to vindicate myself. Another possibly, who could find in his heart to say two such things, would have taken care they should not have stood in the same page, where the juxta-position might enlighten them too much, and surprise the sight. But possibly your lordship is so well satisfied of the world’s readiness to believe your professions of good-will to me, as a mark whereof you tell me here of your willingness “to allow me all reasonable occasions to vindicate myself;” that nobody can see any thing but kindness in whatever you say, though it appears in so different shapes.

In the following words, your lordship accuses me of too nice a piece of criticism; and tells me it looks like chicaning. Answ. I did not expect, in a controversy begun and managed as this which your lordship has been pleased to have with me, to be accused of chicaning, without great provocation; because the mentioning that word, might perhaps raise in the reader’s mind some odd thoughts which were better spared. But this accusation made me look back into the places you quoted in the margent, and there find the matter to stand thus:

To a pretty large quotation set down out of the postscript to my first letter, you subjoin; “which words seem to express so much of a christian spirit and temper, that your lordship cannot believe I intended to give any advantage to the enemies of the christian faith; but whether there hath not been too just an occasion for them to apply “them” in that manner, is a thing very fit for me to consider.”

In my answer, I take notice that the term “them,” in this passage of your lordship’s, can in the ordinary construction of our language be applied to nothing but “which words” in the beginning of that passage, i. e. to my words immediately preceding. This your lordship Edition: current; Page: [252] calls chicaning, and gives this reason for it, viz. “because any one that reads without a design to cavil, would easily interpret “them” of my words and notions about which the debate was.” Answ. That any one that reads that passage with or without design to cavil, could hardly make it intelligible without interpreting “them” so, I readily grant; but that it is easy for me or any body to interpret any one’s meaning contrary to the necessary construction and plain import of the words, that I crave leave to deny. I am sure it is not chicaning to presume that so great an author as your lordship writes according to the rules of grammar, and as another man writes, who understands our language, and would be understood: to do the contrary, would be a presumption liable to blame, and might deserve the name of chicaning and cavil. And that in this case it was not easy to avoid the interpreting the term “them” as I did, the reason you give why I should have done it, is a farther proof. Your lordship, to show it was easy, says “the postscript comes in but as a parenthesis:” now I challenge any one living to show me where in that place the parenthesis must begin, and where end, which can make “them” applicable to any thing, but the words of my postscript. I have tried with more care and pains than is usually required of a reader in such cases, and cannot, I must own, find where to make a breach in the thread of your discourse, with the imaginary parenthesis, which your lordship mentions, and was not, I suppose, omitted by the printer for want of marks to print it. And if this, which you give as the key, that opens to the interpretation that I should have made, be so hard to be found, the interpretation itself could not be so very easy as you speak of.

But to avoid all blame for understanding that passage as I did, and to secure myself from being suspected to seek a subterfuge in the natural import of your words, against what might be conjectured to be your sense, I added, “but if by any new way of construction, unintelligible to me, the word “them” here shall be applied to any passages of my Essay of Human Understanding; I must humbly crave leave to observe this Edition: current; Page: [253] one thing, in the whole course of what your lordship has designed for my satisfaction, that though my complaint be of your lordship’s manner of applying what I had published in my Essay, so as to interest me in a controversy wherein I meddled not; yet your lordship all along tells me of others, that have misapplied I know not what words in my book, after I know not what manner. Now as to this matter, I beseech your lordship to believe, that when any one in such a manner applies my words contrary to what I intended them, so as to make them opposite to the doctrine of the Trinity, and me a party in that controversy against the Trinity, as your lordship knows I complain your lordship has done; I shall complain of them too, and consider, as well as I can, what satisfaction they give me and others in it.” This passage of mine your lordship here represents thus, viz. that I say, that if by an unintelligible new way of construction the word “them” be applied to any passages in my book, what then? Why then, whoever they are, I intend to complain of them too. But, says your lordship, the words just before tell me who they are, viz. the enemies of the christian faith. And then your lordship asks, whether this be all that I intend, viz. only to complain of them for making me a party in the controversy against the Trinity?

My lord, were I given to chicaning, as you call my being stopt by faults of grammar that disturb the sense, and make the discourse incoherent and unintelligible, if we are to take it from the words as they are, I should not want matter enough for such an excercise of my pen; as for example, here again, where your lordship makes me say, that if the word “them” be applied to any passages in my book, then whoever they are, I intend to complain, &c. These being set down for my words, I would be very glad to be able to put them into a grammatical construction, and make to myself an intelligible sense of them. But “they” being not a word that I have an absolute power over, to place where and for what I will, I confess I cannot do it. For the term “they” in the words here, as your lordship has set them Edition: current; Page: [254] down, having nothing that it can refer to, but passages, or “them,” which stand for words, it must be a very sudden metamorphosis that must change them into persons, for it is for persons that the word “they” stands here; and yet I crave leave to say, that as far as I understand English, “they” is a word cannot be used without reference to something mentioned before. Your lordship tells me, “the words just before tell me who they are.” The words just mentioned before, are these; “if by an unintelligible new way of construction, the word “them” be applied to any passage of my book:” for it is to some words before indeed, but before in the same contexture of discourse, that the word “they” must refer, to make it any where intelligible. But here are no persons mentioned in the words just before, though your lordship tells me the words just before show who they are; but this just before, where the persons are mentioned whom your lordship intends by “they” here, is so far off, that sixteen pages of your lordship’s letter, one hundred and seventy-four pages of my second letter, and above one hundred pages of your lordship’s first letter come between; so that one must read above two hundred and eighty pages from the enemies of the christian faith, in your first letter, before one can come to the “they” which refers to them here in your lordship’s second letter.

My lord, it is my misfortune that I cannot pretend to any figure amongst the men of learning; but I would not for that reason be rendered so despicable, that I could not write ordinary sense in my own language; I must beg leave therefore to inform my reader, that what your lordship has set down here as mine, is neither my words, nor my sense. For,

1. I say not, “if by any unintelligible new way of construction;” but I say, “if by any new way of construction unintelligible to me;” which are far different expressions. For that may be very intelligible to others, which may be unintelligible to me. And indeed, my lord, there are so many passages in your writings in this controversy with me, which for their construction, as well as otherwise, are so unintelligible to Edition: current; Page: [255] me, that if I should be so unmannerly as to measure your understanding by mine, I should not know what to think of them. In those cases therefore, I presume not to go beyond my own capacity: I tell your lordship often (which I hope modesty will permit) what my weak understanding will not reach; but I am far from saying it is therefore absolutely unintelligible. I leave to others the benefit of their better judgments, to be enlightened by your lordship where I am not.

2. The use your lordship here makes of these words, “but if by any new way of construction unintelligible to me, the word “them” be applied to any passages in my book,” is not the principal, nor the only (as your lordship makes it) use for which I said them: but this; that if your lordship by “them” in that place were to be understood to mean, that there were others that misapplied passages of my book; this was no satisfaction for what your lordship had done in that kind. Though this, I observed, was your way of defence; that when I complained of what your lordship had done, you told me, that others had done so too: as if that could be any manner of satisfaction. I added in the close, “that when any one in such a manner applies my words contrary to what I intended them, so as to make them opposite to the doctrine of the Trinity, and me a party in that controversy against the Trinity, as your lordship knows I complain your lordship has done; I shall complain of them too, and consider, as well as I can, what satisfaction they give me and others in it.” Of this “any one” of mine, your lordship makes your fore-mentioned “they,” whether with any advantage of sense or clearness to my words, the reader must judge. However, this latter part of that passage, with the particular turn your lordship gives to it, is what your words would persuade your reader is all that I say here: would not your lordship, upon such an occasion from me, cry out again, “is this fair and ingenuous dealing?” And would not you think you had reason to do so? But let us see what we must guess your lordship makes me say, and your exceptions to it.

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Your lordship makes me say, “whoever they are,” who misapply my words, as I complain your lordship has done (for these words must be supplied, to make the sentence to me intelligible) “I intend to complain of them too:” and then you find fault with me for using the indefinite word “whoever,” and as a reproof for the unreasonableness of it, you say, “but the words just before tell me who they are.” But my words are not, “whoever they are,” but my words are, “when any one in such a manner applies my words contrary to what I intended them,” &c. Your lordship would here have me understand, that there are those that have done it, and rebukes me that I speak as if I knew not any one that had done it; and that I may not plead ignorance, you say, “your words just before told me who they were, viz. the enemies of the christian faith.”

What must I do now to keep my word, and satisfy your lordship? Must I complain of the enemies of the christian faith in general, that they have applied my words as aforesaid, and then consider, as well as I can, what satisfaction they give me and others in it? For that was all I promised to do. But this would be strange, to complain of the enemies of the christian faith, for doing what it is very likely they never all did, and what I do not know that any one of them has done. Or must I, to content your lordship, read over all the writings of the enemies of the christian faith, to see whether any one of them has applied my words, i. e. in such a manner as I complained your lordship has done, that if they have, I may complain of them too? This truly, my lord, is more than I have time for; and if it were worth while, when it is done, I perceive I should not content your lordship in it. For you ask me here, “is this all I intend, only to complain of them for making me a party in the controversy against the Trinity?” No, my lord, this is not all. I promised too, “to consider as well as I can what satisfaction (if they offer any) they give me and others for so doing.” And why should not this content your lordship in reference to others, as well as it does in reference to yourself? I have but one measure for your lordship and others. When Edition: current; Page: [257] others treat me after the manner you have done, why should it not be enough to answer them after the same manner I have done your lordship? But perhaps your lordship has some dextrous meaning under this, which I am not quick-sighted enough to perceive, and so do not reply right, as you would have me.

I must beg my reader’s pardon, as well as your lordship’s, for using so many words about passages, that seem not of themselves of that importance. I confess, that in themselves they are not; but yet it is my misfortune, that, in this controversy, your way of writing and representing my sense forces me to it.

Your lordship’s name in writing is established above control, and therefore it will be ill-breeding in one, who barely reads what you write, not to take every thing for perfect in its kind, which your lordship says. Clearness, and force, and consistence, are to be presumed always, whatever your lordship’s words be: and there is no other remedy for an answerer, who finds it difficult any where to come at your meaning or argument, but to make his excuse for it, in laying the particulars before the reader, that he may be judge where the fault lies; especially where any matter of fact is contested, deductions from the rise are often necessary, which cannot be made in few words, nor without several repetitions: an inconvenience possibly fitter to be endured, than that your lordship, in the run of your learned notions, should be shackled with the ordinary and strict rules of language; and, in the delivery of your sublimer speculations, be tied down to the mean and contemptible rudiments of grammar: though your being above these, and freed from servile observance in the use of trivial particles, whereon the connexion of discourse chiefly depends, cannot but cause great difficulties to the reader. And however it may be an ease to any great man, to find himself above the ordinary rules of writing, he who is bound to follow the connexion, and find out his meaning, will have his task much increased by it.

I am very sensible how much this has swelled these papers already, and yet I do not see how any thing less than what I have said could clear those passages, which Edition: current; Page: [258] we have hitherto examined, and set them in their due light.

Your next words are these, “but whether I have not made myself too much a party in it [i. e. the controversy against the Trinity] will appear before we have done.” This is an item for me, which your lordship seems so very fond of, and so careful to inculcate, whereever you bring in any words it can be tacked to, that if one can avoid thinking it to be the main end of your writing, one cannot yet but see, that it could not be so much in the thoughts and words of a great man, who is above such personal matters, and which he knows the world soon grows weary of, unless it had some very particular business there. Whether it be the author that has prejudiced you against his book, or the book prejudiced you against the author, so it is, I perceive that both I and my Essay are fallen under your displeasure.

I am not unacquainted what great stress is often laid upon invidious names by skilful disputants, to supply the want of better arguments. But give me leave, my lord, to say, that it is too late for me now to begin to value those marks of good-will, or a good cause; and therefore I shall say nothing more to them, as fitter to be left to the examination of the thoughts within your own breast, from what source such reasonings spring, and whither they tend.

I am going, my lord, to a tribunal that has a right to judge of thoughts, and being secure that I there shall be found of no party but that of truth (for which there is required nothing but the receiving truth in the love of it) I matter not much of what party any one shall, as may best serve his turn, denominate me here. Your lordship’s is not the first pen from which I have received such strokes as these, without any great harm; I never found freedom of style did me any hurt with those who knew me, and if those who know me not will take up borrowed prejudices, it will be more to their own harm than mine; so that in this, I shall give your lordship little other trouble than my thanks sometimes, where I find you skilfully and industriously recommending me to the world, under the character you have chosen for Edition: current; Page: [259] me. Only give me leave to say, that if the Essay I shall leave behind me hath no other fault to sink it but heresy and inconsistency with the articles of the christian faith, I am apt to think it will last in the world, and do service to truth, even the truths of religion, notwithstanding that imputation laid on it by so mighty a hand as your lordship’s.

In your two next paragraphs your lordship accuses me of cavilling in my second letter, whither for shortness I refer my reader. I shall only add, that though in the debate about mysteries of faith, your adversaries, as you say, are not heathens; yet any one among us whom your lordship should speak of, as not owning the scripture to be the foundation and rule of faith, would, I presume, be thought to receive from you a character very little different from that of a heathen. Which being a part of your compliment to me, will, I humbly conceive, excuse what I there said, from being a cavilling exception.

Hitherto your lordship, notwithstanding that you understood the world so well, has employed your pen in personal matters, how unacceptable soever to the world you declare it to be: how must I behave myself in the case? If I answer nothing, my silence is so apt to be interpreted guilt or concession, that even the deferring my answer to some points, or not giving it in the proper place, is reflected on as no small transgression, whereof there are two examples in the two following pages. And if I do answer so at large, as your way of writing requires, and as the matter deserves, I recal to your memory “the springs of Modena, by the ebullition of my thoughts.” It is hard, my lord, between these two to manage one’s self to your good liking: however, I shall endeavour to collect the force of your reasonings, wherever I can find it, as short as I can, and apply my answers to that, though with the omission of a great many incidents deserving to be taken notice of: if my slowness, not able to keep peace every where with your uncommon flights, shall have missed any argument whereon you lay any stress; if you please to point it out Edition: current; Page: [260] to me, I shall not fail to endeavour to give you satisfaction therein.

In the next paragraph your lordship says, “those who are not sparing of writing about articles of faith, and among them take great care to avoid some which have been always esteemed fundamental,” &c. This seems also to contain something personal in it. But how far I am concerned in it I shall know, when you shall be pleased to tell me who those are, and then it will be time enough for me to answer.

This is what your lordship has brought in under your second answer, in these four pages, as a defence of it; and how much of it is a defence of that second answer, let the reader judge.

I am now come to the third of those answers, which you said, you would lay together and defend. And it is this:

“That my grounds of certainty tend to scepticism, and that in an age wherein the mysteries of faith are too much exposed by the promoter of scepticism and infidelity, it is a thing of dangerous consequence to start such new methods of certainty, as are apt to leave men’s minds more doubtful than before.”

This is what you set down here to be defended: the defence follows, wherein your lordship tells me that I say, “these words contain a farther accusation of my book, which shall be considered in its due place. But this is the proper place of considering it: for your lordship said, that hereby I have given too just occasion to the enemies of the christian faith, to make use of my words and notions, as was evidently proved from my own concessions. And if this be so, however you were willing to have had me explain myself to the general satisfaction; yet since I decline it, you do insist upon it, that I cannot clear myself from laying that foundation, which the author of Christianity not mysterious built upon.”

In which I crave leave to acquaint your lordship with what I do not understand.

First, I do not understand what is meant, by “this Edition: current; Page: [261] is the proper place;” for, in ordinary construction, these words seem to denote this 20th page of your lordship’s second letter, which you were then writing, though the sense would make me think the 46th page of my second letter, which you were then answering, should be meant. This perhaps your lordship may think a nice piece of criticism; but till it be cleared, I cannot tell what to say in my excuse. For it is likely your lordship would again ask me, whether I could think you a man of so little sense, if I should understand these words to mean the 20th page of your second letter, which nobody can conceive your lordship should think a proper place for me to consider and answer what you had writ in your first? It would be as hard to understand, “this is,” to mean a place in my former letter, which was past and done; but it is no wonder for me to be mistaken in your privilegeword “this.” Besides, there is this farther difficulty to understand “this is the proper place,” of the 46th page of my former letter; because I do not see why the 82d page of that letter, where I did consider and answer it, was not as proper a place of considering it as the 46th, where I give a reason why I deferred it. Farther, if I understood what you meant here by “this is the proper place,” I should possibly apprehend better the force of your argument subjoined to prove this, whatever it be, to be the proper place; the casual particle “for,” which introduces the following words, making them a reason of those preceding. But in the present obscurity of this matter, I confess I do not see how your having said “that I gave occasion to the enemies of the christian faith,” &c. proves any thing concerning the proper place at all.

Another thing that I do not understand in this defence, is your inference in the next period, where you tell me, “if this be so, you insist upon it that I should clear myself;” for I do not see how your having said what you there said (for that is it which “this” here, if it be not within privilege, must signify) can be a reason for your insisting on my clearing myself of any thing, though I allow this to be your lordship’s ordinary way of proceeding, to insist upon your suggestions and suppositions Edition: current; Page: [262] in one place, as if they were foundations to build what you pleased on in another.

Thus then stands your defence: “my grounds of certainty tend to scepticism, and to start new methods of certainty is of dangerous consequence.” Because I did not consider this your accusation in the proper place of considering it, this is the proper place of considering it: because your lordship said, “I had given too just occasion to the enemies of the christian faith to make use of my words and notions;” and because your lordship said so, therefore you insist upon it that I clear myself, &c. This appears, to me, to be the connexion and force of your defence hitherto: if I am mistaken in it, your lordship’s words are set down, the reader must judge whether the construction of the words do not make it so.

But before I leave them, there are some things that I crave permission to represent to your lordship more particularly.

1. That to the accusations of scepticism, I have answered in another, and, as I think, a proper place.

2. That the accusation of dangerous consequence, I have considered and answered in my former letter; but that being, it seems, not the proper place of considering it, you have not in this your defence thought fit to take any notice of it.

3. That your lordship has not any where proved, that my placing of certainty in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, is apt to leave men’s minds more doubtful than they were before; which is what your accusation supposes.

4. That you set down those words of mine, “these words contain a farther accusation of my book, which shall be considered in its due place;” as all the answer which I gave to that new accusation, except what you take notice of, out of my 95th page; and take no notice of what I say from page 82 to 95; where I considered it as I promised, and, as I thought, fully answered it.

5. That the too just occasion, you say, I have given to the enemies of the christian faith to make use of my “words and notions,” wants to be proved.

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6. That “what use the enemies of the christian faith have made of my words and notions,” is no where shown, though often talked of.

7. That “if the enemies of the christian faith have made use of my words and notions,” yet that, as I have shown, is no proof, that they are of dangerous consequence: much less is it a proof, that this proposition, “certainty consists in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas,” is of dangerous consequence. For some words or notions in a book, that are of dangerous consequence, do not make all the propositions of that book to be of dangerous consequence.

8. That your lordship tells me, “you were willing to have had me explain myself to the general satisfaction;” which is what, in the place from which the former words are taken, you expressed thus: that “my answer did not come fully up in all things to that which you could wish.” To which I have given an answer: and methinks your defence here should have been applied to that, and not the same thing (which has been answered) set down again as part of your defence. But pray, my lord, give me leave to ask, is not this meant for a personal matter? which though the world, as you say, is soon weary of, your lordship, it seems, is not.

9. That you say, “you insist upon it, that I cannot clear myself from laying that foundation which the author of Christianity not mysterious built upon.” Certainly this personal matter is of some very great consequence, that your lordship, who understands the world so well, insists so much upon it. But if it be true, that he built upon my foundation, and if it be of such moment to your lordship’s business in the present controversy; methinks, without so much intricacy, it should not be hard to show it: it is but proving what foundation of certainty (for it is of that, all this dispute is) he went upon, which, as I humbly conceive, your lordship has not done; and then showing that to be my foundation of certainty; and the business is ended. But instead of this your lordship says, that “his account of reason supposes clear and distinct ideas necessary to Edition: current; Page: [264] certainty, that he imagined he built upon my grounds; that he thought his and my notions of certainty to be the same; that there has been too just occasion given, for the enemies of the christian faith to apply my words in I know not what manner.” These and the like arguments, to prove that he goes upon my grounds, your lordship has used; but they are, I confess, too subtile and too fine for me to feel the force of them, in a matter of fact wherein it was so easy to produce both his and my grounds out of our books (without all this talk about suppositions and imaginations, and occasions so far remote from any direct proof) if it were a matter of that consequence to be so insisted upon, as your lordship professedly does.

Your lordship has spent a great many pages to tie me to that author; and “you still insist upon it, that I cannot clear myself from laying that foundation which the author of Christianity not mysterious built upon.” What this great concern in a matter of so little moment means, I leave the reader to guess: for, I beseech your lordship, of what great consequence is it to the world? What great interest has any truth of religion in this, that I and another man (be he who he will) make use of the same grounds to different purposes? This I am sure, it tends not to the clearing or confirming any one material truth in the world. If the foundation I have laid be true, I shall neither disown nor dislike it, whatever this or any other author shall build upon it; because, as your lordship knows, ill things may be built upon a good foundation, and yet the foundation never the worse for it. And therefore if that, or any other author hath built upon my foundation, I see nothing in it, that I ought to be concerned to clear myself from.

If you can show that my foundation is false, or show me a better foundation of certainty than mine, I promise you immediately to renounce and relinquish mine, with thanks to your lordship: but till you can prove, that he that first invented syllogism as a rule of right reasoning, or first laid down this principle, “that it is impossible for the same thing to be and not to be;” is answerable for all those opinions which have been endeavoured to be Edition: current; Page: [265] proved by mode and figure, or have been built upon that maxim; I shall not think myself concerned, whatever any one shall build upon this foundation of mine, that certainty consists in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of any two ideas, as they are expressed in any proposition: much less shall I think myself concerned, for what you shall please to suppose (for that, with submission, is all you have done hitherto) any one has built upon it, though he were ever so opposite to your lordship in any one of the opinions he should build on it.

In that case, if he should prove troublesome to your lordship with any argument pretended to be built upon my foundation, I humbly conceive you have no other remedy, but to show either the foundation false, and in that case I confess myself concerned; or his deduction from it wrong, and that I shall not be at all concerned in. But if, instead of this, your lordship shall find no other way to subvert this foundation of certainty, but by saying, “the enemies of the christian faith build on it,” because you suppose one author builds on it; this I fear, my lord, will very little advantage the cause you defend, whilst it so visibly strengthens and gives credit to your adversaries, rather than weakens any foundation they go upon. For the unitarians, I imagine, will be apt to smile at such a way of arguing, viz. that they go on this ground, because the author of Christianity not mysterious goes upon it, or is supposed by your lordship to go upon it: and by-standers will do little less than smile, to find my book brought into the socinian controversy, and the ground of certainty laid down in my Essay condemned, only because that author is supposed by your lordship to build upon it. For this in short is the case, and this the way your lordship has used in answering objections against the Trinity in point of reason. I know your lordship cannot be suspected of writing booty: but I fear such a way of arguing, in so great a man as your lordship, will, “in an age wherein the mysteries of faith are too much exposed, give too just an occasion to the enemies,” and also to the Edition: current; Page: [266] friends of the christian faith, to suspect that there is a great failure somewhere.

But to pass by that: this I am sure is personal matter, which the world perhaps will think it need not have been troubled with.

Your Defence of your third Answer goes on; and to prove that the author of Christianity not mysterious built upon my foundation, you tell me, that my ground of certainty is the agreement or disagreement of ideas, as expressed in any proposition: which are my own words. “From hence you urged, that let the proposition come to us any way, either by human or divine authority, if our certainty depend upon this, we can be no more certain, than we have clear perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas contained in it. And from hence the author of Christianity not mysterious thought he had reason to reject all mysteries of faith which are contained in propositions, upon my grounds of certainty.”

Since this personal matter appears of such weight to your lordship, that it needs to be farther prosecuted; and you think this your argument, to prove that author built upon my foundation, worth the repeating here again; I am obliged to enter so far again into this personal matter, as to examine this passage, which I formerly passed by as of no moment. For it is easy to show, that what you say visibly proves not, that he built upon my foundation; and next, it is evident, that if it were proved that he did so, yet this is no proof that my method of certainty is of dangerous consequence; which is what was to be defended.

As to the first of these, your lordship would prove, that the author of Christianity not mysterious built upon my grounds; and how do you prove it? viz. “because he thought he had reason to reject all mysteries of faith, which are contained in propositions, upon my grounds.” How does it appear, that he rejected them upon my grounds? Does he any where say so? No! that is not offered; there is no need of such an evidence of matter of fact, in a case which is only of matter of fact. But “he thought he had reason to reject them Edition: current; Page: [267] upon my grounds of certainty.” How does it appear that he thought so? Very plainly: because “let the proposition come to us by human or divine authority, if our certainty depend upon the perception of the agreement or disagreement of the ideas contained in it, we can be no more certain than we have clear perception of that agreement.” The consequence, I grant, is good, that if certainty, i. e. knowledge, consists in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, then we can certainly know the truth of no proposition further than we perceive that agreement or disagreement. But how does it follow from hence, that he thought he had reason upon my grounds to reject any proposition, that contained a mystery of faith; or, as your lordship expresses it, “all mysteries of faith which are contained in propositions?”

Whether your lordship by the word rejecting, accuses him of not knowing, or of not believing some proposition that contains an article of faith; or what he has done or not done; I concern not myself: that which I deny, is the consequence above-mentioned, which I submit to your lordship to be proved. And when you have proved it, and shown yourself to be so familiar with the thought of that author, as to be able to be positive what he thought, without his telling you; it will remain farther to be proved, that because he thought so, therefore he built right upon my foundation; for otherwise no prejudice will come to my foundation, by any ill use made of it; nor will it be made good, that my method or way of certainty is of dangerous consequence; which is what your lordship is here to defend. Methinks your lordship’s argument here is all one with this: Aristotle’s ground of certainty (except of first principles) lies in this, that those things which agree in a third, agree themselves: we can be certain of no proposition (excepting first principles) coming to us either by divine or human authority, if our certainty depend upon this, farther than there is such an agreement: therefore the author of Christianity not mysterious thought he had reason to reject all mysteries of faith, which are contained in propositions upon Aristotle’s Edition: current; Page: [268] grounds. This consequence, as strange as it is, is just the same with what is in your lordship’s repeated argument against me. For let Aristotle’s ground of certainty be this that I have named, or what it will, how does it follow, that because my ground of certainty is placed in the agreement or disagreement of ideas, therefore the author of Christianity not mysterious, rejected any proposition more upon my grounds than Aristotle’s? And will not Aristotle, by your lordship’s way of arguing here, from the use any one may make or think he makes of it, be guilty also of starting a new method of certainty of dangerous consequence, whether this method be true or false, if that or any other author whose writings you dislike, thought he built upon it, or be supposed by your lordship to think so? But, as I humbly conceive, propositions, speculative propositions such as mine are, about which all this stir is made, are to be judged of by their truth or falsehood, and not by the use any one shall make of them; much less by the persons who are supposed to build on them. And therefore it may be justly wondered, since you say it is dangerous, why you never proved or attempted to prove it to be false.

But you complain here again, that I answered not a word to this in the proper place. My lord, if I offended your lordship by passing it by, because I thought there was no argument in it; I hope I have now given you some sort of satisfaction, by showing there is no argument in it, and letting you see, that your consequence here could not be inferred from your antecedent. If you think it may, I desire you to try it in a syllogism. For, whatever you are pleased to say in another place, my way of certainty by ideas will admit of antecedents and consequents, and of syllogism, as the proper form to try whether the inference be right or no. I shall set down your following words, that the reader may see your lordship’s manner of reasoning concerning this matter in its full force and consistency, and try it in a syllogism if he pleases. Your words are:

“By this it evidently appears, that although your lordship was willing to allow me all fair ways of Edition: current; Page: [269] 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. And what answer do I give to this? Not a word in the proper place for it.”

You tell me, “you were willing to allow me all fair ways of interpreting my own sense.” If your lordship had been conscious to yourself, that you had herein meant me any kindness, I think I may presume, you would not have minded me here again of a favour, which you had told me of but in the preceding page, and, to make it an obligation, need not have been more than once talked of; unless your lordship thought the obligation was such, that it would hardly be seen, unless I were told of it in words at length, and in more places than one. For what favour, I beseech you, my lord, is it to allow me to do that which needed not your allowance to be done, and I could have done (if it had been necessary) of myself, without being blamed for taking that liberty? Whatsoever therefore your meaning was in these words, I cannot think you took this way to make me sensible of your kindness.

Your lordship says, “you were willing to allow me to interpret my own sense.” What you were willing to allow me to do, I have done. My sense is, that certainty consists in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas; and my sense therein I have interpreted to be the agreement or disagreement, not only of perfectly clear and distinct ideas, but such ideas as we have, whether they be in all their parts perfectly clear and distinct or no. Farther, in answer to your objection, that it might be of dangerous consequence; I so explained my sense, as to show, that certainty in that sense was not, nor could be of dangerous consequence. This, which was the point in question between us, your lordship might have found at large explained in my second letter, if you had been pleased to have taken notice of it.

But it seems you were more willing to tell me, “that though you were willing to allow me all ways of Edition: current; Page: [270] 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 Edition: current; Page: [271] have out-done what you suppose of that gentleman’s) has found and charged on that notion as dangerous, I 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 re-assumed 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 Edition: current; Page: [272] 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 Edition: current; Page: [273] 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?” Answ. 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.B. 4. c. 1. § 1. and c. 11. § 9. 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 the 18th sect. of chap. iv. of my fourth book, it being a Edition: current; Page: [274] 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 disagreement, 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 πληροϕορία 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?”

Heb. x. 22.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 your lordship in my writing. Edition: current; Page: [275] You say, I allow assurance of faith; God forbid I should do otherwise; but then you ask, “why not certainty as well as assurance?” My lord, I think it may be a reason not misbecoming a poor layman, and such as he might presume would satisfy a bishop of the church of England, that he found his Bible to speak so. I find my Bible speaks of the assurance of faith, but no where, that I can remember, of the certainty of faith, though in many places it speaks of the certainty of knowledge, and therefore I speak so too; and shall not, I think, be condemned for keeping close to the expressions of our Bible, though the scripture-language, as it is, does not so well serve your lordship’s turn in the present case. When I shall see, in an authentic translation of our Bible, the phrase changed, it will then be time enough for me to change it too, and call it not the assurance, but certainty of faith: but till then, I shall not be ashamed of it, notwithstanding you reproach me with it, by terming it, the assurance of faith, as I call it; when you might as well have termed it, the assurance of faith, as your Bible calls it.

It being plain, that by certainty I meant knowledge, and by faith the act of believing; that these words where you ask, “how comes the certainty of faith to become so hard a point with me?” and where you tell me, “I will allow no certainty of faith;” may make no wrong impression on men’s minds, who may be apt to understand them of the object, and not merely of the act of believing:C. vi. § 3. I crave leave to say with Mr. Chillingworth “that I do heartily acknowledge and believe the articles of our faith to be in themselves truths as certain and infallible, as the very common principles of geometry or metaphysics. But that there is not required of us a knowledge of them, and an adherence to them, as certain as that of sense or science:” and that for this reason (amongst others given both by Mr. Chillingworth and Mr. Hooker) viz. “that faith is not knowledge, no more than three is four, but eminently contained in it: so that he that knows, believes, and something more; but he that believes, many times does not know; nay, if Edition: current; Page: [276] he doth barely and merely believe,C. vi. § 2. he doth never know.” These are Mr. Chillingworth’s own words.

That this assurance of faith may approach very near to certainty, and not come short of it in a sure and steady influence on the mind, I have so plainly declared, that nobody, I think, can question it. In my chapter, of reason,Essay, b. iv. c. xvii. § 16. which has received the honour of your lordship’s animadversions, I say of some propositions wherein knowledge [i. e. in my sense, certainty] fails us, “that their probability is so clear and strong, that assent as necessarily follows, as knowledge does demonstration.” Does your lordship ascribe any greater certainty than this to an article of mere faith? If you do not, we are it seems agreed in the thing; and so all, that you have so emphatically said about it, is but to correct a mistake of mine in the English tongue, if it prove to be one: a weighty point, and well worth your lordships bestowing so many pages upon. I say mere faith, because though a man may be a christian, who merely believes that there is a God, yet that is not an article of mere faith, because it may be demonstrated that there is a God, and so may certainly be known.

Your lordship goes on to ask, “have not all mankind, who have talked of matters of faith, allowed a certainty of faith as well as a certainty of knowledge?” To answer a question concerning what all mankind, who have talked of faith, have done, may be within the reach of your great learning: as for me, my reading reaches not so far. The apostles and the evangelists, I can answer, have talked of matters of faith, but I do not find in my Bible that they have any where spoken (for it is of speaking here the question is) of the certainty of faith; and what they allow, which they do not speak of, I cannot tell. I say, in my Bible, meaning the English translation used in our church: though what all mankind, who speak not of faith in English, can do towards the deciding of this question, I do not see; it being about the signification of an English word. And whether in propriety of speech it can be applied to faith, Edition: current; Page: [277] can only be decided by those who understand English, which all mankind, who have talked of matters of faith, I humbly conceive, did not.

To prove that certainty in English may be applied to faith, you say, that among the Romans it was opposed to doubting; and for that you bring this Latin sentence, “Nil tam certum est quam quod de dubio certum.” Answ. Certum, among the Romans, might be opposed to doubting, and yet not to be applied to faith, because knowledge, as well as believing, is opposed to doubting: and therefore unless it had pleased your lordship to have quoted the author out of which this Latin sentence is taken, one cannot tell whether certum be not in it spoken of a thing known, and not of a thing believed: though if it were so, I humbly conceive, it would not prove what you say, viz. that “it,” i. e. the word certainty (for to that “it” must refer here, or to nothing that I understand) was among the Romans applied to faith; for, as I take it, they never used the English word certainty: and though it be true that the English word certainty be taken from the Latin word certus, yet that therefore certainty in English is used exactly in the same sense that certus is in Latin, that I think you will not say; for then certainty in English must signify purpose and resolution of mind, for to that certus is applied in Latin.

You are pleased here to tell me, “that in my former letter” I said, “that if we knew the original of words, we should be much helped to the ideas they were first applied to, and made to stand for.” I grant it true, nor shall I unsay it here. For I said not, that a word that had its original in one language, kept always exactly the same signification in another language, into which it was from thence transplanted. But if you will give me leave to remind you of it, I remember that you, my lord, say in the same place, “that little weight is to be laid upon a bare grammatical etymology, when a word is used in another sense by the best authors.” And I think you could not have brought a more proper instance to verify that saying, than that which you produce here.

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But pray, my lord, why so far about? Why are we sent to the ancient Romans? Why must we consult (which is no easy task) all mankind, who have talked of faith, to know whether certainty be properly used for faith or no; when to determine it between your lordship and me, there is so sure a remedy, and so near at hand? It is but for you to say wherein certainty consists. This, when I gently offered to your lordship in my first letter, you interpreted it to be a design to draw you out of your way.

I am sorry, my lord, you should think it out of your way to put an end, a short end to a controversy, which you think of such moment: methinks it should not be out of your way, with one blow finally to overthrow an assertion, which you think “to be of dangerous consequence to that article of faith, which your lordship has endeavoured to defend.” I proposed the same again, where I say, “for this there is a very easy remedy: it is but for your lordship to set aside this definition of knowledge, by giving us a better, and this danger is over. But you choose rather to have a controversy with my book, for having it in it, and to put me upon the defence of it.” This is so express, that your taking no notice of it, puts me at a loss what to think. To say that a man so great in letters does not know wherein certainty consists, is a greater presumption than I will be guilty of; and yet to think that you do know and will not tell, is yet harder. Who can think, or will dare to say, that your lordship, so much concerned for the articles of faith, and engaged in this dispute with me, by your duty, for the preservation of them, should choose to keep up a controversy with me, rather than remove that danger, which my wrong notion of certainty threatens to the articles of faith? For, my lord, since the question is moved, and it is brought by your lordship to a public dispute, wherein certainty consists, a great many knowing no better, may take up with what I have said; and rather than have no notion of certainty at all, will stick by mine, till a better be showed them. And if mine tends to scepticism, as you say, and you will not furnish them with one that does Edition: current; Page: [279] not, what is it but to give way to scepticism, and let it quietly prevail on men, as either having my notion of certainty, or none at all? Your lordship indeed says something in excuse, in your 75th page: which, that my answer may be in the proper place, shall be considered when we come there.

Your lordship declares, “that you are utterly against any private mints of words.” I know not what the public may do for your particular satisfaction in the case; but till public mints of words are erected, I know no remedy for it, but that you must patiently suffer this matter to go on in the same course, that I think it has gone in ever since language has been in use. Here in this island, as far as my knowledge reaches, I do not find, that ever since the Saxons time, in the alterations that have been made in our language, that any one word or phrase has had its authority from the great seal, or passed by act of parliament.

When the dazzling metaphor of the mint and new milled words, &c. (which mightily, as it seems, delighted your lordship when you were writing that paragraph) will give you leave to consider this matter plainly as it is, you will find, that the coining of money in publicly authorized mints affords no manner of argument against private men’s meddling in the introducing new, or changing the signification of old words; every one of which alterations always has its rise from some private mint. The case in short is this; money by virtue of the stamp received in the public mint, which vouches its intrinsic worth, has authority to pass. This use of the public stamp would be lost, if private men were suffered to offer money stamped by themselves. On the contrary, words are offered to the public by every man, coined in his private mint, as he pleases; but it is the receiving of them by others, their very passing that gives them their authority and currency, and not the mint they come out of.De Arte Poet. Horace, I think, has given a true account of this matter, in a country very jealous of any usurpation upon the public authority:

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  • “Multa renascentur, quæ jam cecidere, cadentque;
  • Quæ nunc sunt in honore vocabula, si volet usus,
  • Quem penes arbitrium est & jus, & norma loquendi.”

But yet whatever change is made in the signification or credit of any word by public use, this change has always its beginning in some private mint: so Horace tells us it was in the Roman language quite down to his time:

  • —“Ego cur acquirere pauca,
  • Si possum, invideor; quam lingua Catonis & Ennî
  • Sermonem patrium ditaverit, & nova rerum
  • Nomina protulerit? Licuit, semperque licebit
  • Signatum præsente nota procudere nomen.”

Here we see Horace expressly says, that private mints of words were always licenced; and, with Horace, I humbly conceive so they will always continue, how utterly soever your lordship may be against them. And therefore he that offers to the public new milled words from his own private mint, is not always in that so bold an invader of the public authority, as you would make him.

This I say not to excuse myself in the present case; for I deny, that I have at all changed the signification of the word certainty. And therefore, if you had pleased, you might, my lord, have spared your saying on this occasion, “that it seems our old words must not now pass in the current sense; and those persons assume too much authority to themselves, who will not suffer common words to pass in their general acceptation:” and other things to the same purpose in this paragraph, till you have proved that in strict propriety of speech it could be said, that a man was certain of that which he did not know, but only believed.

If you had had time, in the heat of dispute, to have made a little reflection on the use of the English word certainty in strict speaking, perhaps your lordship would not have been so forward to have made my using it, only for precise knowledge, so enormous an impropriety; at Edition: current; Page: [281] least you would not have accused it of weakening the credibility of any article of faith.

It is true indeed, people commonly say they are certain of what they barely believe, without doubting. But it is as true, that they as commonly say that they know it too. But nobody from thence concludes, that believing is knowing. As little can they conclude from the like vulgar way of speaking, that believing is certainty. All that is meant thereby is no more but this, that the full assurance of their faith as steadily determines their assent to the embracing of that truth, as if they actually knew it.

But however such phrases as these are used to show the steadiness and assurance of their faith, who thus speak; yet they alter not the propriety of our language, which I think appropriates certainty only to knowledge, when in strict and philosophical discourse it is, upon that account, contra-distinguished to faith; as in this case here your lordship knows it is: whereof there is an express evidence in my first letter, where I say, “that I speak of belief, and your lordship of certainty; and that I meant belief, and not certainty. And that I made not an improper, nor unjustifiable use of the word certainty, in contra-distinguishing it thus to faith, I think I have an unquestionable authority, in the learned and cautious Dr. Cudworth, who so uses it: What essence, says he, is to generation, the same is certainty of truth, or knowledge, to faith.” p. 134/399.

Your lordship says, “certainty is common to both knowledge and faith, unless I think it impossible to be certain upon any testimony whatsoever.” I think it is possible to be certain upon the testimony of God (for that, I suppose, you mean) where I know that it is the testimony of God; because in such a case, that testimony is capable not only to make me believe, but, if I consider it right, to make me know the thing to be so; and so I may be certain. For the veracity of God is as capable of making me know a proposition to be true, as any other way of proof can be; and therefore I do not in such a case barely believe, but know such a proposition to be true, and attain certainty.

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The sum of your accusation is drawn up thus: “that I have appropriated certainty to the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas in any proposition; and now I find this will not hold as to articles of faith; and therefore I will allow no certainty of faith; which you think is not for the advantage of my cause.” The truth of the matter of fact is in short this, that I have placed knowledge in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas. This definition of knowledge, your lordship said, “might be of dangerous consequence to that article of faith, which you have endeavoured to defend.” This I denied, and gave this reason for it, viz. that a definition of knowledge, whether a good or bad, true or false definition, could not be of ill or any consequence to an article of faith: because a definition of knowledge, which was one act of the mind, did not at all concern faith, which was another act of the mind quite distinct from it. To this then, which was the proposition in question between us, your lordship, I humbly conceive, should have answered. But instead of that, your lordship, by the use of the word certainty in a sense that I used it not, (for you knew I used it only for knowledge) would represent me as having strange notions of faith. Whether this be for the advantage of your cause, your lordship will do well to consider.

Upon such an use of the word certainty in a different sense from what I used it in, the force of all your lordship says under your first head, contained in the two or three next paragraphs, depends, as I think; for I must own (pardon my dulness) that I do not clearly comprehend the force of what your lordship there says: and it will take up too many pages to examine it period by period. In short, therefore, I take your lordship’s meaning to be this:

“That there are some articles of faith, viz. the fundamental principles of natural religion, which mankind may attain to a certainty in by reason, without revelation: which, because a man that proceeds upon my grounds cannot attain to a certainty in by reason, their credibility to him, when they are considered as, Edition: current; Page: [283] purely matters of faith, will be weakened.” Those which your lordship instances in, are the being of a God, providence, and the rewards and punishments of a future state.

This is the way, as I humbly conceive, your lordship takes here to prove my grounds of certainty (for so you call my definition of knowledge) to be of dangerous consequence to the articles of faith.

To avoid ambiguity and confusion in the examining this argument of your lordship’s, the best way, I humbly conceive, will be to lay by the term certainty; which your lordship and I using in different senses, is the less fit to make what we say to one another clearly understood; and instead thereof, to use the term knowledge, which with me, your lordship knows, is equivalent.

Your lordship’s proposition, then, as far as it has any opposition to me, is this, that if knowledge be supposed to consist in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, a man cannot attain to the knowledge that these propositions, viz. “that there is a God, providence, and rewards and punishments in a future state, are true; and therefore the credibility of these articles, considered purely as matters of faith, will be weakened to him.” Wherein there are these things to be proved by your lordship.

1. That upon my grounds of knowledge, i. e. upon a supposition that knowledge consists in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, we cannot attain to the knowledge of the truth of either of those propositions, viz. “that there is a God, providence, and rewards and punishments in a future state.”

2. Your lordship is to prove, that the not knowing the truth of any proposition lessens the credibility of it; which, in short, amounts to this, that want of knowledge lessens faith in any proposition proposed. This is the proposition to be proved, if your lordship uses certainty in the sense I use it, i. e. for knowledge; in which only use of it, will it here bear upon me.

But since I find your lordship, in these two or three paragraphs, to use the word certainty in so uncertain a sense, as sometimes to signify knowledge by it, and Edition: current; Page: [284] sometimes believing in general, i. e. any degree of believing; give me leave to add, that if your lordship means by these words, “let us suppose a person by natural reason to attain to a certainty as to the being of a God, i. e. attain to a belief that there is a God, &c. or the soul’s immortality:” I say, if you take certainty in such a sense, then it will be incumbent upon your lordship to prove, that if a man finds the natural reason whereupon he entertained the belief of a God, or of the immortality of the soul, uncertain, that will weaken the credibility of those fundamental articles, as matters of faith: or, which is in effect the same, that the weakness of the credibility of any article of faith from reason, weakens the credibility of it from revelation. For it is this which these following words of yours import: “for before, there was a natural credibility in them on the account of reason; but by going on wrong grounds of certainty, all that is lost.”

To prove the first of these propositions, viz. that upon the supposition that knowledge consists in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, we cannot attain to the knowledge of the truth of this proposition, that there is a God; your lordship argues, that I have said, “that no idea proves the existence of the thing without itself:” which argument reduced to form, will stand thus; if it be true, as I say, that no idea proves the existence of the thing without itself, then upon the supposition that knowledge consists in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, we cannot attain to the knowledge of the truth of this proposition, “that there is a God:” which argument so manifestly proves not, that there needs no more to be said to it, than to desire that consequence to be proved.

Again, as to the immortality of the soul, your lordship urges, that I have said, that I cannot know but that matter may think; therefore upon my ground of knowledge, i. e. upon a supposition that knowledge consists in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, there is an end of the soul’s immortality. This consequence I must also desire your lordship to prove. Only I crave leave by the by to point out some things Edition: current; Page: [285] in these paragraphs, too remarkable to be passed over without any notice.

One is, that you “suppose a man is made certain upon my grounds of certainty,” i. e. knows by the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, that there is a God; and yet, “upon a farther examination of my method, he finds that the way of ideas will not do.” Here, my lord, if by my grounds of certainty, my methods, and my way of ideas, you mean one and the same thing; then your words will have a consistency, and tend to the same point. But then I must beg your lordship to consider, that your supposition carries a contradiction in it, viz. that your lordship supposes, that by my grounds, my method, and my way of certainty, a man is made certain, and not made certain, that there is a God. If your lordship means here by my grounds of certainty, my method, and my way of ideas, different things, (as it seems to me you do) then, whatever your lordship may suppose here, it makes nothing to the point in hand; which is to show that by this my ground of certainty, viz. that knowledge consists in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, a man first attains to a knowledge that there is a God, and afterwards by the same grounds of certainty he comes to lose the knowledge that there is a God; which to me seems little less than a contradiction.

It is likely your lordship will say you mean no such thing; for you allege this proposition, “that no idea proves the existence of any thing without itself;” and give that as an instance, that my way of ideas will not do, i. e. will not prove the being of a God. It is true, your lordship does so. But withal, my lord, it is as true, that this proposition, supposing it to be mine, (for it is not here set down in my words) contains not my method, or way, or notion of certainty; though it is in that sense alone, that it can here be useful to your lordship to call it my method, or the way by ideas.

Your lordship undertakes to show, that my defining knowledge to consist in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, “weakens the credibility of this fundamental article of faith,” that there is a God Edition: current; Page: [286] what is your lordship’s proof of it? Just this, the saying that no idea proves the existence of the thing without itself will not do; ergo, the saying that knowledge consists in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, weakens the credibility of this fundamental article. This, my lord, seems to me no proof; and all that I can find, that is offered to make it a proof, is only your calling these propositions “my general grounds of certainty, my method of proceeding, the way of ideas, and my own principles in point of reason;” as if that made these two propositions the same thing, and whatsoever were a consequence of one may be charged as a consequence of the other; though it be visible that though the latter of these be ever so false, or ever so far from being a proof of a God, yet it will by no means thence follow, that the former of them, viz. that knowledge consists in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, weakens the credibility of that fundamental article. But it is but for your lordship to call them both “the way of ideas,” and that is enough.

That I may not be accused by your lordship “for unfair and disingenuous dealing, for representing this matter so;” I shall here set down your lordship’s words at large: “let us now suppose a person by natural reason to attain to a certainty, as to the being of a God, and immortality of the soul; and he proceeds upon J. L.’s general grounds of certainty, from the agreement or disagreement of ideas: and so from the ideas of God and the soul, he is made certain of these two points before-mentioned. But let us again suppose that such a person, upon a farther examination of J. L.’s method of proceeding, finds that the way of ideas in these cases will not do: for no idea proves the existence of the thing without itself, no more than the picture of a man proves his being, or the visions of a dream make a true history; (which are J. L.’s own expressions). And for the soul he cannot be certain, but that matter may think, (as J. L. affirms) and then what becomes of the soul’s immateriality (and consequently immortality) from its operations? But for all this, says J. L., his assurance of Edition: current; Page: [287] faith remains firm on its basis. Now you appeal to any man of sense, whether the finding the uncertainty of his own principles, which he went upon in point of reason, doth not weaken the credibility of these fundamental articles, when they are considered purely as matters of faith? For, before, there was a natural credibility in them on the account of reason; but by going on wrong grounds of certainty, all that is lost; and instead of being certain, he is more doubtful than ever.” These are your lordship’s own words; and now I appeal to any man of sense, whether they contain any other argument against my placing of certainty as I do, but this, viz. a man mistakes and thinks that this proposition, no idea proves the existence of the thing without itself, shows that in the way of ideas one cannot prove a God: ergo, this proposition, “certainty consists in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, weakens the credibility of this fundamental article, that there is a God.” And so of the immortality of the soul; because I say, I know not but matter may think; your lordship would infer, ergo, my definition of certainty weakens the credibility of the revelation of the soul’s immortality.

Your lordship is pleased here to call this proposition, “that knowledge or certainty consists in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas,” my general grounds of certainty; as if I had some more particular grounds of certainty. Whereas I have no other ground or notion of certainty, but this one alone; all my notion of certainty is contained in that one particular proposition: but perhaps your lordship did it, that you might make the proposition above quoted, viz. “no idea proves the existence of the thing without itself,” under the title you give it, of “the way of ideas,” pass for one of my particular grounds of certainty; whereas it is no more any ground of certainty of mine, or definition of knowledge, than any other proposition in my book.

Another thing very remarkable in what your lordship here says, is, that you make the failing to attain knowledge by any way of certainty in some particular instances, Edition: current; Page: [288] to be the finding the uncertainty of the way itself; which is all one as to say, that if a man misses by algebra the certain knowledge of some propositions in mathematics, therefore he finds the way or principles of algebra to be uncertain or false. This is your lordship’s way of reasoning here: your lordship quotes out of me, “that I say no idea proves the existence of the thing without itself;” and that I say, “that one cannot be certain that matter cannot think:” from whence your lordship argues, that he who says so, cannot attain to certainty that there is a God, or that the soul is immortal; and thereupon your lordship concludes, “he finds the uncertainty of the principles he went upon, in point of reason,” i. e. that he finds this principle or ground of certainty he went upon in reasoning, viz. that certainty or knowledge consists in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, to be uncertain. For if your lordship means here, by “principles he went upon in point of reason,” any thing else but that definition of knowledge, which your lordship calls my way, method, grounds, &c. of certainty, which I and others, to the endangering some articles of faith, go upon; I crave leave to say, it concerns nothing at all the argument your lordship is upon, which is to prove, that the placing of certainty in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas may be of dangerous consequence to any article of faith.

Your lordship, in the next place, says, “before we can believe any thing, upon the account of revelation, we must suppose there is a God.” What use does your lordship make of this? Your lordship thus argues; but by my way of certainty, a man is made uncertain, whether there be a God or no; for that to me is the meaning of those words, “how can his faith stand firm as to divine revelation, when he is made uncertain by his own way, whether there be a God or no?” or they can to me mean nothing to the question in hand. What is the conclusion from hence? This it must be, or nothing to the purpose; ergo, my definition of knowledge, or, which is the same thing, my placing of certainty in the perception of the agreement or disagreement Edition: current; Page: [289] of ideas, leaves not the articles of faith the same credibility they had before.

To excuse my dulness in not being able to comprehend this consequence, pray, my lord, consider, that your lordship says; “before we can believe any thing upon the account of revelation, it must be supposed that there is a God.” But cannot he, who places certainty in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, suppose there is a God?

But your lordship means by “suppose,” that one must be certain that there is a God. Let it be so, and let it be your lordship’s privilege in controversy to use one word for another, though of a different signification, as I think to “suppose” and “be certain” are. Cannot one that places certainty in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, be certain there is a God? I can assure you, my lord, I am certain there is a God; and yet I own, that I place certainty in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas: nay, I dare venture to say to your lordship, that I have proved there is a God, and see no inconsistency at all between these two propositions, that certainty consists in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, and that it is certain there is a God. So that this my notion of certainty, this definition of knowledge, for any thing your lordship has said to the contrary, leaves to this fundamental article the same credibility, and the same certainty it had before.

Your lordship says farther, “to suppose divine revelation, we must be certain that there is a principle above matter and motion in the world.” Here, again, my lord, your way of writing makes work for my ignorance; and before I can either admit or deny this proposition, or judge what force it has to prove the proposition in question, I must distinguish it into these different senses, which I think your lordship’s way of speaking may comprehend. For your lordship may mean it thus, “to suppose divine revelation, we must be certain, i. e. we must believe that there is a principle above matter and motion in the world.” Or your lordship may mean thus, “we must be certain, i. e. we must Edition: current; Page: [290] know that there is something above matter and motion in the world.” In the next place your lordship may mean by something above matter and motion, either simply an intelligent being; for knowledge, without determining what being it is in, is a principle above matter and motion: or your lordship may mean an immaterial intelligent being. So that this undetermined way of expressing includes at least four distinct propositions, whereof some are true, and others not so. For,

1. My lord, if your lordship means, that to suppose a divine revelation, a man must be certain, i. e. must certainly know, that there is an intelligent being in the world, and that that intelligent being is immaterial from whence that revelation comes; I deny it. For a man may suppose revelation upon the belief of an intelligent being, from whence it comes, without being able to make out to himself, by a scientifical reasoning, that there is such a being. A proof whereof, I humbly conceive, are the anthropomorphites among the christians heretofore, who nevertheless rejected not the revelation of the New Testament: and he that will talk with illiterate people in this age, will, I doubt not, find many, who believe the Bible to be the word of God, though they imagine God himself in the shape of an old man sitting in heaven; which they could not do, if they knew, i. e. had examined and understood any demonstration whereby he is preved to be immaterial, without which they cannot know it.

2. If your lordship means, that to suppose a divine revelation, it is necessary to know, that there is simply an intelligent being; this also I deny. For to suppose a divine revelation, it is not necessary that a man should know that there is such an intelligent being in the world: I say, know, i. e. from things that he does know, demonstratively deduce the proof of such a being: it is enough for the receiving divine revelation, to believe, that there is such a being, without having by demonstration attained to the knowledge that there is a God. Every one that believes right, does not always reason exactly, especially in abstract metaphysical speculations: and if nobody can believe the Bible to be of divine revelation, Edition: current; Page: [291] but he that clearly comprehends the whole deduction, and sees the evidence of the demonstration, wherein the existence of an intelligent being, on whose will all other beings depend, is scientifically proved; there are, I fear, but few christians among illiterate people, to look no farther. He that believes there is a God, though he does no more than believe it, and has not attained to the certainty of knowledge, i. e. does not see the evident demonstration of it, has ground enough to admit of divine revelation. The apostle tells us, “that he that will come to God, must believe that he is;” but I do not remember the scripture any where says, that he must know that he is.

3. In the next place, if your lordship means, that “to suppose divine revelation, a man must be certain,” i. e. explicitly believe, that there is a perfectly immaterial being: I shall leave it to your lordship’s consideration, whether it may not be ground enough for the supposition of a revelation, to believe that there is an all-knowing unerring being, who can neither deceive nor be deceived, without a man’s precisely determining in his thoughts, whether that unerring omniscient being be immaterial or no. It is past all doubt, that every one that examines and reasons right, may come to a certainty, that God is perfectly immaterial. But it may be a question, whether every one, who believes a revelation to be from God, may have entered into the disquisition of the immateriality of his being? Whether, I say, every ignorant day-labourer, who believes the Bible to be the word of God, has in his mind considered materiality and immateriality, and does explicitly believe God to be immaterial, I shall leave to your lordship to determine, if you think fit, more expressly than your words do here.

4. If your lordship means, “that to suppose a divine revelation, a man must be certain, i. e. believe that there is a supreme intelligent being,” from whence it comes, who can neither deceive nor be deceived; I grant it to be true.

These being the several propositions, either of which may be meant in your lordship’s so general, and to me Edition: current; Page: [292] doubtful way of expressing yourself; to avoid the length, which a particular answer to each of them would run me into, I will venture (and it is a venture to answer to an ambiguous proposition in one sense, when the author has the liberty of saying he meant it in another; a great convenience of general, loose, and doubtful expressions) I will, I say, venture to answer it, in the sense I guess most suited to your lordship’s purpose; and see what your lordship proves by it. I will therefore suppose your lordship’s reasoning to be this; that,

“To suppose divine revelation, a man must be certain, i. e. believe that there is a principle above matter and motion, i. e. an immaterial intelligent being in the world.” Let it be so; what does your lordship infer? “Therefore upon the principle of certainty by ideas, he [i. e. he that places certainty in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas] cannot be certain of [i. e. believe] this.” This consequence seems a little strange; but your lordship proves it thus; “because he does not know but matter may think;” which argument, put into form, will stand thus:

If one who places certainty in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, does not know but matter may think; then whoever places certainty so, cannot believe there is an immaterial intelligent being in the world.

But there is one who, placing certainty in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, does not know but matter may think:

Ergo, whoever places certainty in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, cannot think that there is an intelligent immaterial being.

This argumentation is so defective in every part of it, that for fear I should be thought to make an argument for your lordship in requital for the answer your lordship made for me, I must desire the reader to consider, your lordship says, “we must be certain; he cannot be certain, because he doth not know:” which in short is, he cannot because he cannot; and he cannot because he doth not, This considered will justify the syllogism Edition: current; Page: [293] I have made to contain your lordship’s argument in its full force.

I come therefore to the syllogism itself, and there first I deny the minor, which is this:

“There is one who, placing certainty in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, doth not know but matter may think.”

I begin with this, because this is the foundation of all your lordship’s argument; and therefore I desire your lordship would produce any one, who placing certainty in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, does not know but matter may think.

The reason why I press this, is, because, I suppose, your lordship means me here, and would have it thought that I say, I do not know but that matter may think: but that I do not say so; nor any thing else from whence may be inferred what your lordship adds in the annexed words, if they can be inferred from it; “and consequently all revelation may be nothing but the effects of an exalted fancy, or the heats of a disordered imagination, as Spinosa affirmed.” On the contrary,B. iv. c. 10.§ 10. I do say, “it is impossible to conceive that matter, either with or without motion, could have originally in and from itself, perception and knowledge.” And having in that chapter established this truth, that there is an eternal, immaterial, knowing being, I think nobody but your lordship could have imputed to me the doubting, that there was such a being, because I say in another place,B. iv. c. 3.§ 6. and to another purpose, “it is impossible for us, by the contemplation of our own ideas, without revelation, to discover whether omnipotency has not given to some systems of matter, fitly disposed, a power to perceive and think, or else joined and fixed to matter so disposed a thinking immaterial substance: it being in respect of our notions not much more remote from our comprehensions to conceive, that God can, if he pleases, superadd to our idea of matter a faculty of thinking, than that he should superadd to it another substance, with a faculty of thinking.” From my saying thus, Edition: current; Page: [294] that God (whom I have proved to be an immaterial being) by his omnipotency, may, for aught we know, superadd to some parts of matter a faculty of thinking, it requires some skill for any one to represent me, as your lordship does here, as one ignorant or doubtful whether matter may not think; to that degree, “that I am not certain, or I do not believe that there is a principle above matter and motion in the world, and consequently all revelation may be nothing but the effects of an exalted fancy, or the heats of a disordered imagination, as Spinosa affirmed.” For thus I, or somebody else (whom I desire your lordship to produce) stands painted in this your lordship’s argument from the supposition of a divine revelation; which your lordship brings here to prove, that the defining of knowledge, as I do, to consist in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, weakens the credibility of the articles of the christian faith.

But if your lordship thinks it so dangerous a position to say, “it is not much harder for us to conceive, that God can, if he pleases, superadd to matter a faculty of thinking, than that he should superadd to it another substance with a faculty of thinking;” (which is the utmost I have said concerning the faculty of thinking in matter:) I humbly conceive it would be more to your purpose to prove, that the infinite omnipotent Creator of all things out of nothing, cannot, if he pleases, superadd to some parcels of matter, disposed as he sees fit, a faculty of thinking, which the rest of matter has not; rather than to represent me, with that candour your lordship does, as one, who so far makes matter a thinking thing, as thereby to question the being of a principle above matter and motion in the world, and consequently to take away all revelation: which how natural and genuine a representation it is of my sense, expressed in the passages of my Essay, which I have above set down, I humbly submit to the reader’s judgment, and your lordship’s zeal for truth to determine; and shall not stay to examine whether man may not have an exalted fancy, and the heats of a disordered imagination, equally overthrowing divine revelation, Edition: current; Page: [295] though the power of thinking be placed only in an immaterial substance.

I come now to the sequel of your major, which is this:

“If any one who places certainty in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, does not know but matter may think; then whoever places certainty so, cannot believe there is an immaterial intelligent being in the world.”

The consequence here is from does not to cannot, which I cannot but wonder to find in an argument of your lordship’s. For he that does not to-day believe or know, that matter cannot be so ordered by God’s omnipotency, as to think (if that subverts the belief of an immaterial intelligent being in the world) may know or believe it to-morrow; or if he should never know or believe it, yet others who define knowledge as he does, may know or believe it. Unless your lordship can prove, that it is impossible for any one, who defines knowledge to consist in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, to know or believe that matter cannot think. But this, as I remember, your lordship has not attempted any where to prove. And yet without this, your lordship’s way of reasoning is no more than to argue, one cannot do a thing because another does not do it. And yet upon this strange consequence is built all that your lordship brings here to prove, that my definition of knowledge weakens the credibility of articles of faith, v. g.

It weakens the credibility of this fundamental article of faith, that there is a God? How so? Because I who have so defined knowledge, say in my Essay,B. iv. c. 11.§ 1. “That the knowledge of the existence of any other thing [but of God] we can have only by sensation; for there being no necessary connexion of real existence with any idea a man hath in his memory, nor of any other existence but that of God, with the existence of any particular man; no particular man can know the existence of any other being, but only when, by actual operating upon him, it makes itself perceived by him: for the having the idea of any thing in our mind, no more proves the Edition: current; Page: [296] existence of that thing, than the picture of a man evidences his being in the world, or the visions of a dream make thereby a true history.” For so are the words of my book, and not as your lordship has been pleased to set them down here: and they were well chosen by your lordship, to show that the way of ideas would not do; i. e. in my way of ideas, I cannot prove there is a God.

But supposing I had said in that place, or any other, that which would hinder the proof of a God, as I have not, might I not see my errour, and alter or renounce that opinion, without changing my definition of knowledge? Or could not another man, who defined knowledge as I do, avoid thinking, as your lordship says I say, “that no idea proves the existence of the thing without itself;” and so be able, notwithstanding my saying so, to prove that there is a God?

Again, your lordship argues, that my definition of knowledge weakens the credibility of the articles of faith, because it takes away revelation; and your proof of that is, “because I do not know, whether matter may not think.”

The same sort of argumentation your lordship goes on with in the next page, where you say; “again, before there can be any such thing as assurance of faith upon divine revelation, there must be a certainty as to sense and tradition; for there can be no revelation pretended now, without immediate inspiration: and the basis of our faith is a revelation contained in an ancient book, whereof the parts were delivered at distant times, but conveyed down to us by an universal tradition. But now, what if my grounds of certainty can give us no assurance as to these things? Your lordship says you do not mean, that they cannot demonstrate matters of fact, which it were most unreasonable to expect, but that these grounds of certainty make all things uncertain; for your lordship thinks you have proved, that this way of ideas cannot give a satisfactory account, as to the existence of the plainest objects of sense; because reason cannot perceive the connexion between the objects and the ideas: how Edition: current; Page: [297] then can we arrive to any certainty in perceiving those objects by their ideas?”

All the force of which argument lies in this, that I have said (or am supposed to have said, or to hold; for that I ever said so, I do not remember) that “reason cannot perceive the connexion between the objects and the ideas:” Ergo, whoever holds that knowledge consists in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, cannot have any assurance of faith upon divine revelation.

My lord, let that proposition, viz. “that reason cannot perceive the connexion between the objects and the ideas,” be mine as much as your lordship pleases, and let it be as inconsistent as you please, with the assurance of faith upon divine revelation: how will it follow from thence, that the placing of certainty in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas is the cause that there “cannot be any such thing as the assurance of faith upon divine revelation” to any body? Though I who hold knowledge to consist in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, have the misfortune to run into this errour, viz. “that reason cannot perceive the connexion between the objects and the ideas,” which is inconsistent with the assurance of faith upon divine revelation; yet it is not necessary that all others who with me hold, that certainty consists in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, should also hold, “that reason cannot perceive the connexion between the objects and the ideas,” or that I myself should always hold it; unless your lordship will say, that whoever places certainty, as I do, in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, must necessarily hold all the errours that I do, which are inconsistent with, or weaken the belief of any article of faith, and hold them incorrigibly. Which has as much consequence, as if I should argue, that because your lordship, who lives at Worcester, does sometimes mistake in quoting me; therefore nobody who lives at Worcester can quote my words right, or your lordship can never mend your wrong quotations. For, my lord, the holding certainty to Edition: current; Page: [298] consist in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, is no more a necessary cause of holding those erroneous propositions, which your lordship imputes to me, as weakening the credibility of the mentioned articles of faith, than the place of your lordship’s dwelling is a necessary cause of wrong quoting.

I shall not here go about to trouble your lordship, with divining again what may be your lordship’s precise meaning in several of the propositions contained in the passages above set down; especially that remarkable ambiguous, and to me obscure one, viz. “there must be a certainty as to sense and tradition.” I fear I have wasted too much of your lordship’s, and my reader’s time in that employment already; and there would be no end, if I should endeavour to explain whatever I am at a loss about the determined sense of, in any of your lordship’s expressions.

Only I will crave leave to beg my readers to observe, that in this first head, which we are upon, your lordship has used the terms certain and certainty near twenty times, but without determining in any of them, whether you mean knowledge, or the full assurance of faith, to any degree of believing; though it be evident, that in these pages your lordship uses certainty for all these three: which ambiguous use of the main word in that discourse, cannot but render your lordship’s sense clear and perspicuous, and your argument very cogent; and no doubt will do so to any one, who will be but at the pains to reduce that one word to a clear determined sense all through these few paragraphs.

Your lordship says, “have not all mankind, who have talked of matters of faith, allowed a certainty of faith, as well as a certainty of knowledge?” Ans. But did ever any one of all that mankind allow it as a tolerable way of speaking, that believing in general (for which your lordship has used it) which contains in it the lowest degree of faith, should be called certainty? Could he, who said, “I believe, Lord, help my unbelief!” or any one who is weak in faith, or of little faith, be properly said to be certain, or “de dubio certus,” of what he believes but with a weak degree of assent? I shall not Edition: current; Page: [299] question what your lordship’s great learning may authorize; but I imagine every one hath not skill, or will not assume the liberty to speak so.

If a witness before a judge, asked upon his oath whether he were certain of such a thing, should answer, Yes, he was certain; and, upon farther demand, should give this account of his certainty, that he believed it; would he not make the court and auditors believe strangely of him? For to say that a man is certain, when he barely believes, and that perhaps with no great assurance of faith, is to say that he is certain, where he owns an uncertainty. For he that says he barely believes, acknowledges that he assents to a proposition as true, upon bare probability. And where any one assents thus to any proposition, his assent excludes not a possibility that it may be otherwise; and where, in any one’s judgment, there is a possibility to be otherwise, there one cannot deny but there is some uncertainty; and the less cogent the probabilities appear, upon which he assents, the greater the uncertainty. So that all barely probable proofs, which procure assent, always containing some visible possibility that it may be otherwise (or else it would be demonstration) and consequently the weaker the probability appears, the weaker the assent, and the more the uncertainty; it thence follows, that where there is such a mixture of uncertainty, there a man is so far uncertain: and therefore to say, that a man is certain where he barely believes or assents but weakly, though he does believe, seems to me to say, that he is certain and uncertain together. But though bare belief always includes some degrees of uncertainty, yet it does not therefore necessarily include any degree of wavering; the evidently strong probability may as steadily determine the man to assent to the truth, or make him take the proposition for true, and act accordingly, as knowledge makes them see or be certain that it is true. And he that doth so, as to truths revealed in the scripture, will show his faith by his works; and has, for aught I can see, all the faith necessary to a christian, and required to salvation.

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My lord, when I consider the length of my answer here, to these few pages of your lordship’s, I cannot but bemoan my own dulness, and my own unfitness to deal with so learned an adversary, as your lordship, in controversy: for I know not how to answer but a proposition of a determined sense. Whilst it is vague and uncertain in a general or equivocal use of any of the terms, I cannot tell what to say to it. I know not but such comprehensive ways of expressing one’s self, may do well enough in declamation; but in reasoning there can be no judgment made, till one can get to some positive determined sense of the speaker. If your lordship had pleased to have condescended so far to my low capacity, as to have delivered your meaning here determined to any one of the senses above set down, or any other that you may have in these words I gathered them from; it would have saved me a great deal of writing, and your lordship loss of time in reading. I should not say this here to your lordship, were it only in this one place that I find this inconvenience. It is every where in all your lordship’s reasonings, that my want of understanding causes me this difficulty, and against my will multiplies the words of my answer: for notwithstanding all that great deal that I have already said to these few pages of your lordship’s; yet my defence is not clear, and set in its due light, unless I show in particular of every one of those propositions (some whereof I admit as true, others I deny as not so) that it will not prove what is to be proved, viz. that my placing of knowledge in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, lessens the credibility of any article of faith, which it had before.

Your lordship having done with the fundamental articles of natural religion, you come in the next place to those of revelation; to inquire, as your lordship says, “whether those who embrace the articles of faith, in the way of ideas, can retain their certainty of those articles, when these ideas are quitted.” What this inquiry is, I know not very well, because I neither understand what it is to embrace articles of faith in the Edition: current; Page: [301] way of ideas, nor know what your lordship means by retaining their certainty of those articles, when these ideas are quitted. But it is no strange thing for my short sight, not always distinctly to discern your lordship’s meaning; yet here I presume to know that this is the thing to be proved, viz. “that my definition of knowledge does not leave to the articles of the christian faith the same credibility they had before.” The articles your lordship instances in, are,

1. The resurrection of the dead. And here your lordship proceeds just in the same method of arguing, as you did in the former: your lordship brings several passages concerning identity out of my Essay, which you suppose inconsistent with the belief of the resurrection of the same body; and this is your argument to prove, that my defining of knowledge to consist in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, “alters the foundation of this article of faith, and leaves it not the same credibility it had before. Now, my lord, granting all that your lordship has here quoted out of my chapter of identity and diversity, to be as false as your lordship pleases, and as inconsistent as your lordship would have it, with the article of the resurrection from the dead: nay, granting all the rest of my whole Essay to be false; how will it follow from thence, that the placing certainty in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, weakens the credibility of this article of faith, that “the dead shall rise?” Let it be, that I who place certainty in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas am guilty of errours, that weaken the credibility of this article of faith; others who place certainty in the same perception, may not run into those errours, and so not have their belief of this article at all shaken.

Your lordship therefore, by all the long discourse you have made here against my notion of personal identity, to prove that it weakens the credibility of the resurrection of the dead, should you have proved it ever so clearly, has not, I humbly conceive, said therein any one word towards the proving, that my definition of knowledge weakens the credibility of this article of faith. Edition: current; Page: [302] For this, my lord, is the proposition to be proved, as your lordship cannot but remember, if you please to recollect what is said to your 21st and following pages, and what, in the 95th page of my second letter, quoted by your lordship, it was designed as an answer to. And so I proceed to the next articles of faith your lordship instances in. Your lordship says,

2. “The next articles of faith which my notion of ideas is inconsistent with, are no less than those of the Trinity, and the incarnation of our Saviour.” Where I must humbly crave leave to observe to your lordship, that in this second head here, your lordship has changed the question from my notions of certainty to my notion of ideas. For the question, as I have often had occasion to observe to your lordship, is, whether my notion of certainty, i. e. my placing of certainty in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, alters the foundation, and lessens the credibility of any article of faith? This being the question between your lordship and me, ought, I humbly conceive, most especially to have been kept close to in this article of the Trinity; because it was upon the account of my notion of certainty, as prejudicial to the doctrine of the Trinity, that my book was first brought into this dispute. But your lordship offers nothing, that I can find, to prove that my definition of knowledge or certainty does any way lessen the credibility of either of the articles here mentioned, unless your insisting upon some supposed errours of mine about nature and person, must be taken for proofs of this proposition, that my definition of certainty lessens the credibility of the articles of the Trinity, and our Saviour’s incarnation. And then the answer I have already given to the same way of argumentation used by your lordship, concerning the articles of a God, revelation, and the resurrection, I think may suffice.

Having, as I beg leave to think, shown that your lordship has not in the least proved this proposition, that the placing of certainty in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, weakens the credibility of any one article of faith, which was your former accusation against this (as your lordship is pleased to call it) Edition: current; Page: [303] “new method of certainty, of so dangerous consequence to that article of faith which your lordship has endeavoured to defend;” and all that your terrible representation of it being, as I humbly conceive, come to just nothing: I come now to vindicate my book from your new accusation in your last letter, and to show that you no more prove the passages you allege out of my Essay to have any inconsistency with the articles of the christian faith you oppose them to, than you have proved by them, that my definition of knowledge weakens the credibility, of any of those articles.

1. The article of the christian faith your lordship begins with, is that of the resurrection of the dead; and concerning that, you say, “the reason of believing the resurrection of the same body, upon my grounds, is from the idea of identity.” Answ. Give me leave, my lord, to say that the reason of believing any article of the christian faith (such as your lordship is here speaking of) to me and upon my grounds, is its being a part of divine revelation. Upon this ground I believed it, before I either writ that chapter of identity and diversity, and before I ever thought of those propositions which your lordship quotes out of that chapter, and upon the same ground I believe it still; and not from my idea of identity. This saying of your lordship’s therefore, being a proposition neither self-evident, nor allowed by me to be true, remains to be proved. So that your foundation failing, all your large superstructure built thereupon comes to nothing.

But, my lord, before we go any farther, I crave leave humbly to represent to your lordship, that I thought you undertook to make out that my notion of ideas was inconsistent with the articles of the christian faith. But that which your lordship instances in here, is not, that I yet know, any article of the christian faith. The resurrection of the dead, I acknowledge to be an article of the christian faith: but that the resurrection of the same body, in your lordship’s sense of the same body, is an article of the christian faith, is what, I confess, I do not yet know.

In the New Testament (wherein, I think, are contained all the articles of the christian faith) I find our Edition: current; Page: [304] Saviour and the apostles to preach the resurrection of the dead, and the resurrection from the dead, in many places: but I do not remember any place, where the resurrection of the same body is so much as mentioned. Nay, which is very remarkable in the case, I do not remember in any place of the New Testament (where the general resurrection at the last day is spoken of) any such expression as the resurrection of the body, much less of the same body. And it may seem to be, not without some special reason, that where St. Paul’s discourse was particularly concerning the body, and so led him to name it; yet when he speaks of the resurrection, he says, you, and not your bodies.1 Cor. vi. 14.

I say, the general resurrection at the last day; because where the resurrection of some particular persons, presently upon our Saviour’s resurrection, is mentioned,Matt. xxvii. 52, 53. the words are, “The graves were opened, and many bodies of saints, which slept, arose and came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared to many.” Of which peculiar way of speaking of this resurrection, the passage itself gives a reason in these words, “appeared to many;” i. e. those who slept, appeared, so as to be known to be risen. But this could not be known, unless they brought with them the evidence, that they were those who had been dead, whereof there were these two proofs; their graves were opened, and their bodies not only gone out of them, but appeared to be the same to those who had known them formerly alive, and knew them to be dead and buried. For if they had been those who had been dead so long, that all who knew them once alive were now gone, those to whom they appeared might have known them to be men, but could not have known they were risen from the dead, because they never knew they had been dead. All that by their appearing they could have known, was, that they were so many living strangers, of whose resurrection they knew nothing. It was necessary therefore, that they should come in such bodies, as might in make and size, &c. appear to be the same they had before, that they might be known to those of their acquaintance Edition: current; Page: [305] whom they appeared to. And it is probable they were such as were newly dead, whose bodies were not dissolved and dissipated; and therefore it is particularly said here (differently from what is said of the general resurrection) that their bodies arose: because they were the same that were then lying in their graves, the moment before they rose.

But your lordship endeavours to prove it must be the same body; and let us grant, that your lordship, nay, and others too, think you have proved it must be the same body: will you therefore say, that he holds what is inconsistent with an article of faith, who having never seen this your lordship’s interpretation of the scripture, nor your reasons for the same body, in your sense of the same body; or, if he has seen them, yet not understanding them, or not perceiving the force of them; believes what the scripture proposes to him, viz. that at the last day “the dead shall be raised,” without determining whether it should be with the very same bodies or no?

I know your lordship pretends not to erect your particular interpretations of scripture into articles of faith; and if you do not, he that believes “the dead shall be raised,” believes that article of faith which the scripture proposes; and cannot be accused of holding any thing inconsistent with it, if it should happen, that what he holds is inconsistent with another proposition, viz. “that the dead shall be raised with the same bodies,” in your lordship’s sense; which I do not find proposed in holy writ as an article of faith.

But your lordship argues, “it must be the same body;” which, as you explain same body, “is not the same individual particles of matter, which were united at the point of death; nor the same particles of matter, that the sinner had at the time of the commission of his sins. But that it must be the same material substance, which was vitally united to the soul here;” i. e. as I understand it, the same individual particles of matter, which were, some time during his life here, vitally united to the soul.

Your first argument, to prove that it must be the same body in this sense of the same body, is taken from Edition: current; Page: [306] these words of our Saviour:John v. 28, 29. “All that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth.” From whence your lordship argues, that these words, “all that are in the graves,” relate to no other substance, than what was united to the soul in life; because “a different substance cannot be said to be in the graves, and to come out of them.” Which words of your lordship’s, if they prove any thing, prove that the soul too is lodged in the grave, and raised out of it at the last day. For your lordship says, “can a different substance be said to be in their graves, and come out of them?” So that according to this interpretation of these words of our Saviour, no other substance being raised, but what hears his voice; and no other substance hearing his voice, but what being called comes out of the grave; and no other substance coming out of the grave, but what was in the grave, any one must conclude, that the soul, unless it be in the grave, will make no part of the person that is raised, unless, as your lordship argues against me, “you can make it out, that a substance which never was in the grave may come out of it,” or that the soul is no substance.

But setting aside the substance of the soul, another thing that will make any one doubt, whether this your interpretation of our Saviour’s words be necessarily to be received as their true sense, is, that it will not be very easily reconciled to your saying, you do not mean by the same body “the same individual particles which were united at the point of death.” And yet by this interpretation of our Saviour’s words, you can mean no other particles but such as were united at the point of death: because you mean no other substance, but what comes out of the grave; and no substance, no particles come out, you say, but what were in the grave: and I think your lordship will not say, that the particles that were separate from the body by perspiration, before the point of death, were laid up in the grave.

But your lordship, I find, has an answer to this; viz. “that by comparing this with other places, you find that the words [of our Saviour above quoted] are to Edition: current; Page: [307] be understood of the substance of the body, to which the soul was united; and not to (I suppose your lordship writ of) those individual particles,” i. e. those individual particles that are in the grave at the resurrection; for so they must be read, to make your lordship’s sense entire, and to have the purpose of your answer here. And then methinks this last sense of our Saviour’s words given by your lordship, wholly overturns the sense which you have given of them above; where from those words you press the belief of the resurrection of the same body, by this strong argument, that a substance could not, upon hearing the voice of Christ, “come out of the grave, which was never in the grave.” There (as far as I can understand your words) your lordship argues, that our Saviour’s words must be understood of the particles in the grave, “unless, as your lordship says, one can make it out that a substance which was never in the grave, may come out of it.” And here your lordship expressly says, “that our Saviour’s words are to be understood of the substance of that body, to which the soul was [at any time] united, and not to those individual particles that are in the grave.” Which put together, seems to me to say, that our Saviour’s words are to be understood of those particles only that are in the grave, and not of those particles only which are in the grave, but of others also which have at any time been vitally united to the soul, but never were in the grave.

The next text your lordship brings, to make the resurrection of the same body, in your sense, an article of faith, are these words of St. Paul:2 Cor. v. 10. “For we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” To which your lordship subjoins this question: “Can these words be understood of any other material substance, but that body in which these things were done?” Answ. A man may suspend his determining the meaning of the apostle to be, that a sinner shall suffer for his sins in the very same body wherein he committed them; because St. Paul does not Edition: current; Page: [308] say he shall have the very same body when he suffers, that he had when he sinned. The apostle says indeed, “done in his body.” The body he had, and did things in at five or fifteen, was no doubt his body, as much as that which he did things in at fifty was his body, though his body were not the very same body at those different ages: and so will the body, which he shall have after the resurrection, be his body, though it be not the very same with that which he had at five, or fifteen, or fifty. He that at threescore is broke on the wheel, for a murder he committed at twenty, is punished for what he did in his body; though the body he has, i. e. his body at threescore, be not the same, i. e. made up of the same individual particles of matter, that that body was, which he had forty years before. When your lordship has resolved with yourself, what that same immutable he is, which at the last judgment shall receive the things done in his body; your lordship will easily see, that the body he had, when an embryo in the womb, when a child playing in coats, when a man marrying a wife, and when bed-rid dying of a consumption, and at last, which he shall have after his resurrection; are each of them his body, though neither of them be the same body, the one with the other.

But farther to your lordship’s question, “can these words be understood of any other material substance, but that body in which these things were done?” I answer, these words of St. Paul may be understood of another material substance, than that body in which these things were done; because your lordship teaches me, and gives me a strong reason so to understand them. Your lordship says, that “you do not say the same particles of matter, which the sinner had at the very time of the commission of his sins, shall be raised at the last day.” And your lordship gives this reason for it: “for then a long sinner must have a vast body, considering the continual spending of particles by perspiration.” Now, my lord, if the apostle’s words, as your lordship would argue, cannot be understood of any other material substance, but that body in which these things were done; and no body, upon the removal Edition: current; Page: [309] or change of some of the particles that at any time make it up, is the same material substance, or the same body; it will, I think, thence follow, that either the sinner must have all the same individual particles vitally united to his soul, when he is raised, that he had vitally united to his soul, when he sinned: or else St. Paul’s words here cannot be understood to mean the same body in which “the things were done.” For if there were other particles of matter in the body, wherein the thing was done, than in that which is raised, that which is raised cannot be the same body in which they were done: unless that alone, which has just all the same individual particles when any action is done, being the same body wherein it was done, that also, which has not the same individual particles wherein that action was done, can be the same body wherein it was done; which is in effect to make the same body sometimes to be the same, and sometimes not the same.

Your lordship think it suffices to make the same body to have not all, but no other particles of matter, but such as were sometime or other vitally united to the soul before; but such a body, made up of part of the particles sometime or other vitally united to the soul, is no more the same body wherein the actions were done in the distant parts of the long sinner’s life, than that is the same body in which a quarter, or half, or three quarters, of the same particles, that made it up, are wanting. For example; a sinner has acted here in his body an hundred years; he is raised at the last day, but with what body? The same, says your lordship, that he acted in; because St. Paul says “he must receive the things done in his body.” What therefore must his body at the resurrection consist of? Must it consist of all the particles of matter that have ever been vitally united to his soul? for they, in succession, have all of them made up his body, wherein he did these things. No, says your lordship, that would make his body too vast; it suffices to make the same body in which the things were done, that it consists of some of the particles, and no other but such as were sometime, during his life, vitally united to his soul. But according to Edition: current; Page: [310] this account, his body at the resurrection being, as your lordship seems to limit it, near the same size it was in some part of his life; it will be no more the same body, in which the things were done in the distant parts of his life, than that is the same body, in which half, or three quarters, or more of the individual matter, that then made it up, is now wanting. For example, let his body, at fifty years old, consist of a million of parts; five hundred thousand at least of those parts will be different from those which made up his body at ten years, and at an hundred. So that to take the numerical particles that made up his body at fifty, or any other season of his life; or to gather them promiscuously out of those which at different times have successively been vitally united to his soul; they will no more make the same body, which was his, wherein some of his actions were done, than that is the same body, which has but half the same particles: and yet all your lordship’s argument here for the same body, is, because St. Paul says it must be his body, in which these things were done; which it could not be, “if any other substance were joined to it,” i. e. if any other particles of matter made up the body, which were not vitally united to the soul, when the action was done.

Again, your lordship says, “that you do not say the same individual particles [shall make up the body at the resurrection] which were united at the point of death; for there must be a great alteration in them, in a lingering disease, as, if a fat man falls into a consumption.” Because it is likely your lordship thinks these particles of a decrepit, wasted, withered body would be too few, or unfit to make such a plump, strong, vigorous, well-sized body, as it has pleased your lordship to proportion out in your thoughts to men at the resurrection; and therefore some small portion of the particles formerly united vitally to that man’s soul, shall be re-assumed to make up his body to the bulk your lordship judges convenient: but the greatest part of them shall be left out, to avoid the making his body more vast than your lordship thinks will be fit, as appears by these your lordship’s words immediately following, Edition: current; Page: [311] viz. “that you do not say the same particles the sinner had at the very time of commission of his sins, for then a long sinner must have a vast body.”

But then pray, my lord, what must an embryo do, who, dying within a few hours after his body was vitally united to his soul, has no particles of matter, which were formerly vitally united to it, to make up his body of that size and proportion which your lordship seems to require in bodies at the resurrection? or must we believe he shall remain content with that small pittance of matter, and that yet imperfect body to eternity; because it is an article of faith to believe the resurrection of the very same body? i. e. made up of only such particles as have been vitally united to the soul. For if it be so, as your lordship says, “that life is the result of the union of soul and body,” it will follow, that the body of an embryo, dying in the womb, may be very little, not the thousandth part of an ordinary man. For since from the first conception and beginning of formation, it has life, and “life is the result of the union of the soul with the body;” an embryo, that shall die either by the untimely death of the mother, or by any other accident presently after it has life, must, according to your lordship’s doctrine, remain a man not an inch long to eternity; because there are not particles of matter, formerly united to his soul, to make him bigger; and no other can be made use of to that purpose: though what greater congruity the soul hath with any particles of matter, which were once vitally united to it, but are now so no longer, than it hath with particles of matter, which it was never united to; would be hard to determine, if that should be demanded.

By these, and not a few other the like consequences, one may see what service they do to religion and the christian doctrine, who raise questions, and make articles of faith about the resurrection of the same body, where the scripture says nothing of the same body; or if it does, it is with no small reprimand to those who make such an inquiry.1 Cor. xv. 35, &c. “But some man will say, how are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Thou Edition: current; Page: [312] fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened except it die. And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain; it may chance of wheat or some other grain: but God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him.” Words, I should think, sufficient to deter us from determining any thing for or against the same body being raised at the last day. It suffices, that all the dead shall be raised, and every one appear and answer for the things done in this life, and receive according to the things he hath done in his body, whether good or bad. He that believes this, and has said nothing inconsistent herewith, I presume may, and must be acquitted from being guilty of any thing inconsistent with the article of the resurrection of the dead.

But your lordship, to prove the resurrection of the same body to be an article of faith, farther asks, “how could it be said, if any other substance be joined to the soul at the resurrection, as its body, that they were the things done in or by the body?” Answ. Just as it may be said of a man at an hundred years old, that hath then another substance joined to his soul, than he had at twenty, that the murder or drunkenness he was guilty of at twenty, were things done in the body; how, “by the body” comes in here, I do not see.

Your lordship adds, “and St. Paul’s dispute about the manner of raising the body might soon have ended, if there was no necessity of the same body.” Answ. When I understand what argument there is in these words to prove the resurrection of the same body, without the mixture of one new atom of matter, I shall know what to say to it. In the mean time this I understand, that St. Paul would have put as short an end to all disputes about this matter, if he had said, that there was a necessity of the same body, or that it should be the same body.

2 Cor. xv. 16. The next text of scripture you bring for the same body, is, “if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is not Christ raised.” From which your lordship argues, “it seems then other bodies are to be raised as his was.” I grant other dead, as certainly raised as Christ was; for else Edition: current; Page: [313] his resurrection would be of no use to mankind. But I do not see how it follows that they shall be raised with the same body, as your lordship infers in these words annexed; “and can there be any doubt, whether his body was the same material substance which was united to his soul before?” I answer, none at all; nor that it had just the same distinguishable lineaments and marks, yea, and the same wounds that it had at the time of his death. If therefore your lordship will argue from other bodies being raised as his was, that they must keep proportion with his in sameness; then we must believe, that every man shall be raised with the same lineaments and other notes of distinction he had at the time of his death, even with his wounds yet open, if he had any, because our Saviour was so raised; which seems to me scarce reconcileable with what your lordship says of a fat man falling into a consumption, and dying.

But whether it will consist or no with your lordship’s meaning in that place, this to me seems a consequence that will need to be better proved, viz. that our bodies must be raised the same, just as our Saviour’s was? because St. Paul says, “if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is not Christ risen.” For it may be a good consequence, Christ is risen, and therefore there shall be a resurrection of the dead; and yet this may not be a good consequence, Christ was raised with the same body he had at his death, therefore all men shall be raised with the same body they had at their death, contrary to what your lordship says concerning a fat man dying of a consumption. But the case I think far different betwixt our Saviour, and those to be raised at the last day.

1. His body saw not corruption, and therefore to give him another body, new moulded, mixed with other particles, which were not contained in it as it lay in the grave, whole and entire as it was laid there, had been to destroy his body to frame him a new one without any need. But why with the remaining particles of a man’s body long since dissolved and mouldered into dust and atoms (whereof possibly a great part may have undergone Edition: current; Page: [314] variety of changes, and entered into other concretions even in the bodies of other men) other new particles of matter mixed with them, may not serve to make his body again, as well as the mixture of new and different particles of matter with the old, did in the compass of his life make his body; I think no reason can be given.

This may serve to show, why, though the materials of our Saviour’s body were not changed at his resurrection; yet it does not follow, but that the body of a man, dead and rotten in his grave, or burnt, may at the last day have several new particles in it, and that without any inconvenience. Since whatever matter is vitally united to his soul, is his body, as much as is that, which was united to it when he was born, or in any other part of his life.

2. In the next place, the size, shape, figure, and lineaments of our Saviour’s body, even to his wounds, into which doubting Thomas put his fingers and hand, were to be kept in the raised body of our Saviour, the same they were at his death, to be a conviction to his disciples, to whom he showed himself, and who were to be witnesses of his resurrection, that their master, the very same man, was crucified, dead and buried, and raised again; and therefore he was handled by them, and eat before them after he was risen, to give them in all points full satisfaction that it was really he, the same, and not another, nor a spectre or apparition of him: though I do not think your lordship will thence argue, that because others are to be raised as he was, therefore it is necessary to believe, that because he eat after his resurrection, others at the last day shall eat and drink after they are raised from the dead; which seems to me as good an argument, as because his undissolved body was raised out of the grave, just as it there lay entire, without the mixture of any new particles, therefore the corrupted and consumed bodies of the dead at the resurrection shall be new-framed only out of those scattered particles, which were once vitally united to their souls, without the least mixture of any one single atom of new matter. But at the last day, when all men are raised, Edition: current; Page: [315] there will be no need to be assured of any one particular man’s resurrection. It is enough that every one shall appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, to receive according to what he had done in his former life; but in what sort of body he shall appear, or of what particles made up, the scripture having said nothing, but that it shall be a spiritual body raised in incorruption, it is not for me to determine.

Your lordship asks, “were they [who saw our Saviour after his resurrection] witnesses only of some material substance then united to his soul?” In answer, I beg your lordship to consider, whether you suppose our Saviour was to be known to be the same man (to the witnesses that were to see him, and testify his resurrection) by his soul, that could neither be seen, nor known to be the same; or by his body, that could be seen, and, by the discernible structure and marks of it, be known to be the same? When your lordship has resolved that, all that you say in that page will answer itself. But because one man cannot know another to be the same, but by the outward visible lineaments, and sensible marks he has been wont to be known and distinguished by; will your lordship therefore argue, that the great judge at the last day, who gives to each man, whom he raises, his new body, shall not be able to know who is who, unless he give to every one of them a body, just of the same figure, size, and features, and made up of the very same individual particles he had in his former life? Whether such a way of arguing for the resurrection of the same body to be an article of faith, contributes much to the strengthening the credibility of the article of the resurrection of the dead, I shall leave to the judgment of others.

Farther, for the proving the resurrection of the same body to be an article of faith, your lordship says: “but the apostle insists upon the resurrection of Christ, not merely as an argument of the possibility of ours, but of the certainty of it; because he rose,1 Cor. xv. 20, 23. as the first-fruits; Christ the first-fruits, afterwards they that are Christ’s at his coming.” Answ. No doubt the resurrection of Christ Edition: current; Page: [316] is a proof of the certainty of our resurrection. But is it therefore a proof of the resurrection of the same body, consisting of the same individual particles which concurred to the making up of our body here, without the mixture of any one other particle of matter? I confess I see no such consequence.

But your lordship goes on: “St. Paul was aware of the objections in men’s minds, about the resurrection of the same body; and it is of great consequence, as to this article, to show upon what grounds he proceeds. But some men will say, how are the dead raised up, and with what body do they come? First, he shows, that the seminal parts of plants are wonderfully improved by the ordinary providence of God, in the manner of their vegetation.” Answ. I do not perfectly understand what it is “for the seminal parts of plants to be wonderfully improved by the ordinary providence of God, in the manner of their vegetation;” or else perhaps I should better see how this here tends to the proof of the resurrection of the same body, in your lordship’s sense.

It continues, “they sow bare grain of wheat, or of some other grain, but God giveth it a body, as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. Here, says your lordship, is an identity of the material substance supposed.” It may be so. But to me a diversity of the material substance, i. e. of the component particles, is here supposed, or in direct words said. For the words of St. Paul,Ver. 37. taken all together, run thus, “that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body which shall be, but bare grain:” and so on, as your lordship has set down the remainder of them. From which words of St. Paul, the natural argument seems to me to stand thus: if the body that is put in the earth in sowing, is not that body which shall be, then the body that is put in the grave, is not that, i. e. the same, body that shall be.

But your lordship proves it to be the same body, by these three Greek words of the text, τὸ ἴδιον σῶμα, which your lordship interprets thus, “that proper body which belongs to it.” Answ. Indeed by those Greek words, Edition: current; Page: [317] τὸ ἴδιον σῶμα, whether our translators have rightly rendered them “his own body,” or your lordship more rightly “that proper body which belongs to it,” I formerly understood no more but this, that in the production of wheat and other grain from seed, God continued every species distinct; so that from grains of wheat sown, root, stalk, blade, ear, and grains, of wheat, were produced, and not those of barley; and so of the rest: which I took to be the meaning of “to every seed his own body.” No, says your lordship, these words prove, that to every plant of wheat, and to every grain of wheat produced in it, is given the proper body that belongs to it, which is the same body with the grain that was sown. Answ. This I confess I do not understand; because I do not understand how one individual grain can be the same with twenty, fifty, or an hundred individual grains, for such sometimes is the increase.

But your lordship proves it. For, says your lordship, “every seed having that body in little, which is afterwards so much enlarged, and in grain the seed is corrupted before its germination; but it hath its proper original parts, which makes it the same body with that which it grows up to. For although grain be not divided into lobes as other seeds are, yet it hath been found, by the most accurate observations, that upon separating the membranes these seminal parts are discerned in them, which afterwards grow up to that body which we call corn.” In which words I crave leave to observe, that your lordship supposes, that a body may be enlarged by the addition of a hundred or a thousand times as much in bulk as its own matter, and yet continue the same body; which, I confess, I cannot understand.

But in the next place, if that could be so, and that the plant in its full growth at harvest, increased by a thousand or a million of times as much new matter added to it as it had, when it lay in little concealed in the grain that was sown, was the very same body; yet I do not think that your lordship will say, that every minute, insensible, and inconceivably small grain of the hundred grains, contained in that little organized seminal Edition: current; Page: [318] plant, is every one of them the very same with that grain which contains that whole little seminal plant, and all those invisible grains in it: for then it will follow, that one grain is the same with an hundred, and an hundred distinct grains the same with one; which I shall be able to assent to, when I can conceive that all the wheat in the world is but one grain.

For, I beseech you, my lord, consider what it is St. Paul here speaks of! It is plain he speaks of that which is sown and dies; i. e. the grain that the husbandman takes out of his barn to sow in his field. And of this grain St. Paul says, “that it is not that body that shall be.” These two, viz. “that which is sown, and that body that shall be,” are all the bodies that St. Paul here speaks of, to represent the agreement or difference of men’s bodies after the resurrection, with those they had before they died. Now I crave leave to ask your lordship, which of these two is that little invisible seminal plant, which your lordship here speaks of? Does your lordship mean by it the grain that is sown? But that is not what St. Paul speaks of, he could not mean this embryonated little plant; for he could not denote it by these words, “that which thou sowest,” for that he says must die; but this little embryonated plant contained in the seed that is sown, dies not: or does your lordship mean by it “the body that shall be?” But neither by these words, “the body that shall be,” can St. Paul be supposed to denote this insensible little embryonated plant: for that is already in being, contained in the seed that is sown, and therefore could not be spoken of under the name of the body that shall be. And therefore, I confess, I cannot see of what use it is to your lordship to introduce here this third body, which St. Paul mentions not; and to make that the same or not the same with any other, when those which St. Paul speaks of, are, as I humbly conceive, these two visible sensible bodies, the grain sown, and the corn grown up to ear; with neither of which this insensible embryonated plant can be the same body, unless an insensible body can be the same body with a sensible body, and a little body can be the same body with one ten thousand, or an Edition: current; Page: [319] hundred thousand times as big as itself. So that yet, I confess, I see not the resurrection of the same body proved from these words of St. Paul to be an article of faith.

Your lordship goes on: “St. Paul indeed saith, that we sow not that body that shall be; but he speaks not of the identity but the perfection of it.” Here my understanding fails me again: for I cannot understand St. Paul to say, that the same identical sensible grain of wheat, which was sown at seed-time, is the very same with every grain of wheat in the ear at harvest, that sprang from it: yet so I must understand it, to make it prove that the same sensible body, that is laid in the grave, shall be the very same with that which shall be raised at the resurrection. For I do not know of any seminal body in little, contained in the dead carcase of any man or woman; which, as your lordship says, in seeds, having its proper organical parts, shall afterwards be enlarged, and at the resurrection grow up into the same man. For I never thought of any seed or seminal parts, either of plant or animal, “so wonderfully improved by the providence of God,” whereby the same plant or animal should beget itself; nor ever heard, that it was by divine providence designed to produce the same individual, but for the producing of future and distinct individuals, for the continuation of the same species.

Your lordship’s next words are, “and although there be such a difference from the grain itself, when it comes up to be perfect corn, with root, stalk, blade, and ear, that it may be said to outward appearance not to be the same body; yet, with regard to the seminal and organical parts, it is as much the same, as the man grown up is the same with the embryo in the womb.” Answ. It does not appear, by any thing I can find in the text, that St. Paul here compared the body produced with the seminal and organical parts contained in the grain it sprang from, but with the whole sensible grain that was sown. Microscopes had not then discovered the little embryo plant in the seed: and supposing it should have been revealed to St. Paul Edition: current; Page: [320] (though in the scripture we find little revelation of natural philosophy) yet an argument taken from a thing perfectly unknown to the Corinthians, whom he writ to, could be of no manner of use to them, nor serve at all either to instruct or convince them. But granting that those St. Paul writ to, knew as well as Mr. Lewenhocke; yet your lordship thereby proves not the raising of the same body: your lordship says it is as much the same [I crave leave to add body] “as a man grown up is the same” (same what, I beseech your lordship?) “with the embryo in the womb.” For that the body of the embryo in the womb, and the body of the man grown up, is the same body, I think no one will say; unless he can persuade himself that a body, that is not a hundredth part of another, is the same with that other; which I think no one will do, till, having renounced this dangerous way by ideas of thinking and reasoning, he has learnt to say that a part and the whole are the same.

Your lordship goes on: “and although many arguments may be used to prove, that a man is not the same, because life, which depends upon the course of the blood, and the manner of respiration and nutrition, is so different in both states; yet that man would be thought ridiculous, that should seriously affirm that it was not the same man. And your lordship says, I grant, that the variation of great parcels of matter in plants alters not the identity; and that the organization of the parts in one coherent body, partaking of one common life, makes the identity of a plant.” Answ. My lord, I think the question is not about the same man, but the same body: for though I do say, (somewhat differently from what your lordship sets down as my words here) “that which has such an organization,Essay, b. ii. c. 27. § 4. as is fit to receive and distribute nourishment, so as to continue and frame the wood, bark, and leaves, &c. of a plant, in which consists the vegetable life; continues to be the same plant, as long as it partakes of the same life, though that life be communicated to new particles of matter, vitally united to the living plant;” Edition: current; Page: [321] yet I do not remember that I any where say, that a plant which was once no bigger than an oaten straw, and afterwards grows to be above a fathom about, is the same body, though it be still the same plant.

The well-known tree in Epping-forest, called the king’s oak, which, from not weighing an ounce at first, grew to have many tons of timber in it, was all along the same oak, the very same plant; but nobody, I think, will say it was the same body when it weighed a ton, as it was when it weighed but an ounce; unless he has a mind to signalize himself by saying, that that is the same body, which has a thousand particles of different matter in it, for one particle that is the same: which is no better than to say, that a thousand different particles are but one and the same particle, and one and the same particle is a thousand different particles; a thousand times greater absurdity, than to say half is the whole, or the whole is the same with the half. Which will be improved ten times yet farther, if a man shall say (as your lordship seems to me to argue here) that that great oak is the very same body with the acorn it sprang from, because there was in that acorn an oak in little, which was afterwards (as your lordship expresses it) so much enlarged as to make that mighty tree: for this embryo, if I may so call it, or oak in little, being not the hundredth, or perhaps the thousandth part of the acorn, and the acorn being not the thousandth part of the grown oak; it will be very extraordinary to prove the acorn and the grown oak to be the same body, by a way wherein it cannot be pretended, that above one particle of an hundred thousand or a million, is the same in the one body that it was in the other. From which way of reasoning, it will follow, that a nurse and her sucking child have the same body; and be past doubt, that a mother and her infant have the same body. But this is a way of certainty found out to establish the articles of faith, and to overturn the new method of certainty that your lordship says “I have started, which is apt to leave men’s minds more doubtful than before.”

And now I desire your lordship to consider of what use it is to you in the present case to quote out of my Edition: current; Page: [322] Essay these words, “that partaking of one common life makes the identity of the plant;” since the question is not about the identity of a plant, but about the identity of a body; it being a very different thing to be the same plant, and to be the same body: for that which makes the same plant, does not make the same body; the one being the partaking in the same continued vegetable life, the other the consisting of the same numerical particles of matter. And therefore your lordship’s inference from my words above quoted, in these which you subjoin, seems to me a very strange one, viz. “so that in things capable of any sort of life, the identity is consistent with a continued succession of parts; and so the wheat grown up is the same body with the grain that was sown:” for, I believe, if my words, from which you infer, “and so the wheat grown up is the same body with the grain that was sown,” were put into a syllogism, this would hardly be brought to be the conclusion.

But your lordship goes on with consequence upon consequence, though I have not eyes acute enough every where to see the connexion, till you bring it to the resurrection of the same body. The connexion of your lordship’s words is as followeth: “and thus the alteration of the parts of the body, at the resurrection, is consistent with its identity, if its organization and life be the same; and this is a real identity of the body, which depends not upon consciousness. From whence it follows, that to make the same body, no more is required, but restoring life to the organized parts of it.” If the question were about raising the same plant, I do not say but there might be some appearance for making such inference from my words as this; “whence it follows, that to make the same plant, no more is required, but to restore life to the organized parts of it.” But this deduction, wherein from those words of mine, that speak only of the identity of a plant, your lordship infers there is no more required to make the same body, than to make the same plant, being too subtile for me, I leave to my reader to find out.

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Your lordship goes on and says, that I grant likewise, “that the identity of the same man consists in a participation of the same continued life, by constantly fleeting particles of matter in succession, vitally united to the same organized body.” Answ. I speak in these words of the identity of the same man; and your lordship thence roundly concludes, “so that there is no difficulty of the sameness of the body.” But your lordship knows, that I do not take these two sounds, man and body, to stand for the same thing; nor the identity of the man to be the same with the identity of the body.

But let us read out your lordship’s words: “so that there is no difficulty as to the sameness of the body, if life were continued; and if by divine power life be restored to that material substance, which was before united, by a re-union of the soul to it, there is no reason to deny the identity of the body: not from the consciousness of the soul, but from that life, which is the result of the union of the soul and body.”

If I understand your lordship right, you in these words, from the passages above quoted out of my book, argue, that from those words of mine it will follow, that it is or may be the same body, that is raised at the resurrection. If so, my lord, your lordship has then proved, that my book is not inconsistent with, but conformable to this article of the resurrection of the same body, which your lordship contends for, and will have to be an article of faith: for though I do by no means deny that the same bodies shall be raised at the last day, yet I see nothing your lordship has said to prove it to be an article of faith.

But your lordship goes on with your proofs, and says: “but St. Paul still supposes that it must be that material substance to which the soul was before united. For, saith he, “it is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” “Can such a material substance, which was never united to the body, be said to be sown in corruption, and Edition: current; Page: [324] weakness, and dishonour? Either therefore he must speak of the same body, or his meaning cannot be comprehended.” I answer, “can such a material substance which was never laid in the grave, be said to be sown,” &c.? For your lordship says, “you do not say the same individual particles, which were united at the point of death, shall be raised at the last day;” and no other particles are laid in the grave, but such as are united at the point of death; either therefore your lordship must speak of another body different from that which was sown, which shall be raised; or else your meaning, I think, cannot be comprehended.

But whatever be your meaning, your lordship proves it to be St. Paul’s meaning, that the same body shall be raised which was sown, in these following words: “for what does all this relate to a conscious principle?” Answ. The scripture being express, that the same persons should be raised and appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, that every one may receive according to what he had done in his body; it was very well suited to common apprehensions (which refined not about “particles that had been vitally united to the soul”) to speak of the body which each one was to have after the resurrection, as he would be apt to speak of it himself. For it being his body both before and after the resurrection, every one ordinarily speaks of his body as the same, though in a strict and philosophical sense, as your lordship speaks, it be not the very same. Thus it is no impropriety of speech to say, “this body of mine, which was formerly strong and plump, is now weak and wasted;” though, in such a sense as you are speaking here, it be not the same body. Revelation declares nothing any where concerning the same body, in your lordship’s sense of the same body, which appears not to have been then thought of. The apostle directly proposes nothing for or against the same body, as necessary to be believed: that which he is plain and direct in, is his opposing and condemning such curious questions about the body, which could serve only to perplex, not to confirm what was material and necessary for them to Edition: current; Page: [325] believe, viz. a day of judgment and retribution to men in a future state; and therefore it is no wonder that mentioning their bodies, he should use a way of speaking suited to vulgar notions, from which it would be hard positively to conclude any thing for the determining of this question (especially against expressions in the same discourse that plainly incline to the other side) in a matter which, as it appears, the apostle thought not necessary, to determine, and the Spirit of God thought not fit to gratify any one’s curiosity in.

But your lordship says, “the apostle speaks plainly of that body which was once quickened, and afterwards falls to corruption, and is to be restored with more noble qualities.” I wish your lordship had quoted the words of St. Paul, wherein he speaks plainly of that numerical body that was once quickened; they would presently decide this question. But your lordship proves it by these following words of St. Paul: “for this corruption must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality:” to which your lordship adds, “that you do not see how he could more expressly affirm the identity of this corruptible body with that after the resurrection.” How expressly it is affirmed by the apostle, shall be considered by and by. In the mean time it is past doubt that your lordship best knows what you do or do not see. But this I will be bold to say, that if St. Paul had any where in this chapter (where there are so many occasions for it, if it had been necessary to have been believed) but said in express words, that the same bodies should be raised; every one else who thinks of it, will see he had more expressly affirmed the identity of the bodies which men now have, with those they shall have after the resurrection.

The remainder of your lordship’s period, is: “and that without any respect to the principle of self-consciousness.” Answ. These words, I doubt not, have some meaning, but I must own, I know not what; either towards the proof of the resurrection of the same body, or to show that any thing I have said concerning self-consciousness is inconsistent: for I do not remember Edition: current; Page: [326] that I have any where said, that the identity of body consisted in self-consciousness.

From your preceding words, your lordship concludes thus: “and so if the scripture be the sole foundation of our faith, this is an article of it.” My lord, to make the conclusion unquestionable, I humbly conceive, the words must run thus: “and so if the scripture, and your lordship’s interpretation of it, be the sole foundation of our faith; the resurrection of the same body is an article of it.” For, with submission, your lordship has neither produced express words of scripture for it, nor so proved that to be the meaning of any of those words of scripture which you have produced for it, that a man who reads and sincerely endeavours to understand the scripture, cannot but find himself obliged to believe, as expressly, “that the same bodies of the dead,” in your lordship’s sense, shall be raised, as “that the dead shall be raised.” And I crave leave to give your lordship this one reason for it:1 Cor. xv. He who reads with attention this discourse of St. Paul, where he discourses of the resurrection, will see that he plainly distinguishes between the dead that shall be raised, and the bodies of the dead.Ver. 15, 22, 23, 29, 32, 35, 52. For it is νεϰροὶ, πάντες, ὁὶ, are the nominative cases to ἐγείρονται, ξωοποιηθήσονται, ἐγερδήσονται, all along, and not σώματα, bodies, which one may with reason think would somewhere or other have been expressed, if all this had been said, to propose it as an article of faith, that the very same bodies should be raised. The same manner of speaking the Spirit of God observes all through the New Testament, where it is said, “raise* the dead, quicken or make alive the dead, the resurrection of the dead.” Nay, these very words of our Saviour, urged by your lordship for the resurrection of the same body, run thus: Πάντες οἱ ἐν τοῖς μνημείοις ἀϰȣ́σονται τῆς φωνης ἀυτȣ͂, ϰαὶ εϰπορεύσονται, οἱ τὰ ἀγαθὰ ποιήσαντες εἰς ἀναϛασιν ξωῆς, οἱ Edition: current; Page: [327] δὲ τὰ φαῦλα πράξάντες εἰς ἀνάϛασιν ϰρίσεως. Would not a well-meaning searcher of the scriptures be apt to think, that if the thing here intended by our Saviour were to teach and propose it as an article of faith, necessary to be believed by every one, that the very same bodies of the dead should be raised; would not, I say, any one be apt to think, that if our Saviour meant so, the words should rather have been, πάντα τὰ σώματα ἁ ἐν τοῖς μνημείοις. i. e. “all the bodies that are in the graves,” rather than all who are in the “graves;” which must denote persons, and not precisely bodies?

Another evidence, that St. Paul makes a distinction between the dead and the bodies of the dead, so that the dead cannot be taken in this 1 Cor. xv. to stand precisely for the bodies of the dead, are these words of the apostle:Ver. 35. “but some man will say, how are the dead raised, and with what bodies do they come?” Which words “dead” and “they,” if supposed to stand precisely for the bodies of the dead, the question will run thus: “how are the dead bodies raised, and with what bodies do the dead bodies come?” which seems to have no very agreeable sense.

This therefore being so, that the spirit of God keeps so expressly to this phrase or form of speaking in the New Testament, “of raising, quickening, rising, resurrection, &c. of the dead,” where the resurrection at the last day is spoken of; and that the body is not mentioned, but in answer to this question, “with what bodies shall those dead, who are raised, come?” So that by the dead cannot precisely be meant the dead bodies: I do not see but a good christian, who reads the scripture with an intention to believe all that is there revealed to him concerning the resurrection, may acquit himself of his duty therein, without entering into the inquiry whether the dead shall have the very same bodies or no; which sort of inquiry the apostle, by the appellation he bestows here on him that makes it, seems not much to encourage. Nor, if he shall think himself bound to determine concerning the identity of the bodies of the dead raised at the last day, will he, by the remainder of St. Paul’s answer, find the determination Edition: current; Page: [328] of the apostle to be much in favour of the very same body; unless the being told, that the body sown is not that body that shall be; that the body raised is as different from that which was laid down, as the flesh of man is from the flesh of beasts, fishes, and birds, or as the sun, moon, and stars are different one from another; or as different as a corruptible, weak, natural, mortal body, is from an incorruptible, powerful, spiritual, immortal body; and lastly, as different as a body that is flesh and blood, is from a body that is not flesh and blood;1 Cor. xv. 50. “for flesh and blood cannot, says St. Paul in this very place, inherit the kingdom of God;” unless, I say, all this, which is contained in St. Paul’s words, can be supposed to be the way to deliver this as an article of faith, which is required to be believed by every one, viz. “that the dead should be raised with the very same bodies that they had before in this life;” which article, proposed in these or the like plain and express words, could have left no room for doubt in the meanest capacities, nor for contest in the most perverse minds.

Your lordship adds, in the next words; “and so it hath been always understood by the christian church, viz. that the resurrection of the same body, in your lordship’s sense of same body, is an article of faith.” Answ. What the christian church has always understood, is beyond my knowledge. But for those who coming short of your lordship’s great learning, cannot gather their articles of faith from the understanding of all the whole christian church, ever since the preaching of the gospel (who make far the greater part of christians, I think I may say, nine hundred and ninety-nine of a thousand) but are forced to have recourse to the scripture to find them there; I do not see, that they will easily find there this proposed as an article of faith, that there shall be a resurrection of the same body; but that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, without explicitly determining, that they shall be raised with bodies made up wholly of the same particles which were once vitally united to their souls, in their former life; without the mixture of any one other particle of matter, Edition: current; Page: [329] which is that which your lordship means by the same body.

But supposing your lordship to have demonstrated this to be an article of faith, though I crave leave to own, that I do not see that all your lordship has said here makes it so much as probable; what is all this to me? Yes, says your lordship in the following words, “my idea of personal identity is inconsistent with it, for it makes the same body which was here united to the soul, not to be necessary to the doctrine of the resurrection. But any material substance united to the same principle of consciousness, makes the same body.”

This is an argument of your lordship’s which I am obliged to answer to. But is it not fit I should first understand it, before I answer it? Now here I do not well know, what it is “to make a thing not to be necessary to the doctrine of the resurrection.” But to help myself out the best way I can with a guess, I will conjecture (which, in disputing with learned men, is not very safe) your lordship’s meaning is, that “my idea of personal identity makes it not necessary,” that, for the raising the same person, the body should be the same.

Your lordship’s next word is, “but;” to which I am ready to reply, but what? What does my idea of personal identity do? For something of that kind the adversative particle “but” should, in the ordinary construction of our language, introduce, to make the proposition clear and intelligible: but here is no such thing; “but” is one of your lordship’s privileged particles, which I must not meddle with, for fear your lordship complain of me again, “as so severe a critic, that for the least ambiguity in any particle, fill up pages in my answer, to make my book look considerable for the bulk of it. But since this proposition here, my idea of personal identity makes the same body, which was here united to the soul, not necessary to the doctrine of the resurrection; but any material substance being united to the same principle of consciousness, makes the same body; is brought to prove my idea of personal identity inconsistent with the article of the resurrection:” Edition: current; Page: [330] I must make it out in some direct sense or other, that I may see whether it be both true and conclusive. I therefore venture to read it thus, “my idea of personal identity makes the same body which was here united to the soul, not to be necessary at the resurrection; but allows that any material substance being united to the same principle of consciousness, makes the same body: Ergo, my idea of personal identity is inconsistent with the article of the resurrection of the same body.”

If this be your lordship’s sense in this passage, as I here have guessed it to be; or else I know not what it is: I answer,

1. “That my idea of personal identity does not allow that any material substance being united to the same principle of consciousness, makes the same body.” I say no such thing in my book, nor any thing from whence it may be inferred; and your lordship would have done me a favour, to have set down the words where I say so, or those from which you infer so, and showed how it follows from any thing I have said.

2. Granting that it were a consequence from my idea of personal identity, that “any material substance being united to the same principle of consciousness, makes the same body;” this would not prove that my idea of personal identity was inconsistent with this proposition, “that the same body shall be raised;” but, on the contrary, affirms it: since if I affirm, as I do, that the same persons shall be raised, and it be a consequence of my idea of personal identity, that “any material substance being united to the same principle of consciousness, makes the same body;” it follows, that if the same person be raised, the same body must be: and so I have herein not only said nothing inconsistent with the resurrection of the same body, but have said more for it than your lordship. For there can be nothing plainer, than that in the scripture it is revealed, that the same persons shall be raised, and appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, to answer for what they have done in their bodies. If therefore whatever matter be joined to the same principle of consciousness, makes the Edition: current; Page: [331] same body; it is demonstration, that if the same persons are raised, they have the same bodies.

How then your lordship makes this an inconsistency with the resurrection, is beyond my conception. “Yes, says your lordship, it is inconsistent with it, for it makes the same body which was here united to the soul not to be necessary.”

3. I answer therefore, thirdly, that this is the first time I ever learnt, that “not necessary” was the same with “inconsistent.” I say, that a body made up of the same numerical parts of matter, is not necessary to the making of the same person: from whence it will indeed follow, that to the resurrection of the same person, the same numerical particles of matter are not required. What does your lordship infer from hence? to wit, this: therefore he who thinks that the same particles of matter are not necessary to the making of the same person, cannot believe that the same persons shall be raised with bodies, made of the very same particles of matter, if God should reveal that it shall be so, viz. that the same persons shall be raised with the same bodies they had before. Which is all one as to say, that he who thought the blowing of rams-horns was not necessary in itself to the falling down of the walls of Jericho, could not believe that they would fall upon the blowing of rams-horns, when God had declared it should be so.

Your lordship says, “my idea of personal identity is inconsistent with the article of the resurrection;” the reason you ground it on, is this, because it makes not the same body necessary to the making the same person. Let us grant your lordship’s consequence to be good, what will follow from it? No less than this, that your lordship’s notion (for I dare not say your lordship has any so dangerous things as ideas) of personal identity, is inconsistent with the article of the resurrection. The demonstration of it is thus: your lordship says, it is not necessary that the body, to be raised at the last day, “should consist of the same particles of matter, which were united at the point of death; for there must be a great alteration in them in a lingering disease, as if a fat man falls into a consumption: you do not say Edition: current; Page: [332] the same particles which the sinner had at the very time of commission of his sins; for then a long sinner must have a vast body, considering the continual spending of particles by perspiration.” And again, here your lordship says, “you allow the notion of personal identity to belong to the same man under several changes of matter.” From which words it is evident, that your lordship supposes a person in this world may be continued and preserved the same, in a body not consisting of the same individual particles of matter; and hence it demonstratively follows, that let your lordship’s notion of personal identity be what it will, it makes “the same body not to be necessary to the same person;” and therefore it is, by your lordship’s rule, inconsistent with the article of the resurrection. When your lordship shall think fit to clear your own notion of personal identity from this inconsistency with the article of the resurrection, I do not doubt but my idea of personal identity will be thereby cleared too. Till then, all inconsistency with that article which your lordship has here charged on mine, will unavoidably fall upon your lordship’s too.

But for the clearing of both, give me leave to say, my lord, that whatsoever is not necessary, does not thereby become inconsistent. It is not necessary to the same person, that his body should always consist of the same numerical particles; this is demonstration, because the particles of the bodies of the same persons in this life change every moment, and your lordship cannot deny it; and yet this makes it not inconsistent with God’s preserving, if he thinks fit, to the same persons, bodies consisting of the same numerical particles, always from the resurrection to eternity. And so likewise, though I say any thing that supposes it not necessary, that the same numerical particles, which were vitally united to the soul in this life, should be re-united to it at the resurrection, and constitute the body it shall then have; yet it is not inconsistent with this, that God may, if he pleases, give to every one a body consisting only of such particles as were before vitally united to his soul. And thus, I think, I have cleared my book from all Edition: current; Page: [333] that inconsistency which your lordship charges on it, and would persuade the world it has with the article of the resurrection of the dead.

Only before I leave it, I will set down the remainder of what your lordship says upon this head, that though I see not the coherence or tendency of it, nor the force of any argument in it against me; yet that nothing may be omitted, that your lordship has thought fit to entertain your reader with on this new point, nor any one have reason to suspect, that I have passed by any word of your lordship’s (on this now first introduced subject) wherein he might find your lordship had proved what you had promised in your title-page. Your remaining words are these: “the dispute is not how far personal identity in itself may consist in the very same material substance; for we allow the notion of personal identity to belong to the same man under several changes of matter; but whether it doth not depend upon a vital union between the soul and body, and the life which is consequent upon it; and therefore in the resurrection, the same material substance must be reunited, or else it cannot be called a resurrection, but a renovation; i. e. it may be a new life, but not raising the body from the dead.” I confess, I do not see how what is here ushered in, by the words “and therefore,” is a consequence from the preceding words; but as to the propriety of the name, I think it will not be much questioned, that if the same man rise who was dead, it may very properly be called the resurrection of the dead; which is the language of the scripture.

I must not part with this article of the resurrection, without returning my thanks to your lordship for making me take notice of a fault in my Essay. When I writ that book, I took it for granted, as I doubt not but many others have done, that the scripture had mentioned in express terms, “the resurrection of the body:” but upon the occasion your lordship has given me in your last letter to look a little more narrowly into what revelation has declared concerning the resurrection, and finding no such express words in the scripture, as that Edition: current; Page: [334] “the body shall rise or be raised, or the resurrection of the body;”Essay, b. iv. c. 18. § 7. I shall in the next edition of it change these words of my book, “the dead bodies of men shall rise,” into these of the scripture, “the dead shall rise.” Not that I question, that the dead shall be raised with bodies: but in matters of revelation, I think it not only safest, but our duty, as far as any one delivers it for revelation, to keep close to the words of the scripture; unless he will assume to himself the authority of one inspired, or make himself wiser than the Holy Spirit himself: if I had spoken of the resurrection in precisely scripture-terms, I had avoided giving your lordship the occasion of making here such a verbal reflection on my words; “What, not if there be an idea of identity as to the body?”

I come now to your lordship’s second head of accusation: your lordship says,

2. “The next articles of faith, which my notion of ideas is inconsistent with, are no less than those of the Trinity and the incarnation of our Saviour.” But all the proof of inconsistency your lordship here brings, being drawn from my notions of nature and person, whereof so much has been said already, the swelling my answer into too great a volume, will excuse me from setting down at large all that you have said thereupon, so particularly, as I have done in the precedent article of the resurrection, which is wholly new.

Your lordship’s way of proving, “that my ideas of nature and person cannot consist with the articles of the Trinity and incarnation,” is, as far as I can understand it, this, that, I say, we have no simple ideas, but by sensation and reflection. “But, says your lordship, we cannot have any simple ideas of nature and person by sensation and reflection; ergo, we can come to no certainty about the distinction of nature and person in my way of ideas.” Answ. If your lordship had concluded from thence, that therefore in my way of ideas, we can have no ideas at all of nature and person, it would have had some appearance of a consequence; but as it is, it seems to me such an argument as this: No simple colours, in sir Godfrey Kneller’s Edition: current; Page: [335] way of painting, come into his exact and lively pictures, but by his pencil; but no simple colours of a ship and a man come into his pictures by his pencil; ergo, “we can come to no certainty about the distinction of a ship and a man, in sir Godfrey Kneller’s way of painting.”

Your lordship says, “it is not possible for us to have any simple ideas of nature and person by sensation and reflection,” and I say so too; as impossible as it is to have a true picture of a rainbow in one simple colour, which consists in the arrangement of many colours. The ideas signified by the sounds nature and person, are each of them complex ideas; and therefore it is as impossible to have a simple idea of either of them as to have a multitude in one, or a composition in a simple. But if your lordship means, that by sensation and reflection we cannot have the simple ideas, of which the complex ones of nature and person are compounded; that I must crave leave to dissent from, till your lordship can produce a definition (in intelligible words) either of nature or person, in which all that is contained cannot ultimately be resolved into simple ideas of sensation and reflection.

Your lordship’s definition of person, is, “that it is a complete intelligent substance with a peculiar manner of subsistence.” And my definition of person, which your lordship quotes out of my Essay, is, that “person stands for a thinking intelligent being, that has reason and reflection, and can consider itself as itself, the same thinking thing in different times and places.” When your lordship shall show any repugnancy in this my idea (which I denote by the sound person) to the incarnation of our Saviour, with which your lordship’s notion of person may not be equally charged; I shall give your lordship an answer to it. This I say in answer to these words, “which is repugnant to the article of the incarnation of our Saviour:” for the preceding reason, to which they refer, I must own I do not understand.

The word person naturally signifies nothing, that you allow; your lordship, in your definition of it, makes it Edition: current; Page: [336] stand for a general abstract idea. Person then, in your lordship, is liable to the same default which you lay on it in me, viz. that “it is no more than a notion in the mind.” The same will be so of the word nature, whenever your lordship pleases to define it; without which you can have no notion of it. And then the consequence, which you there draw from their being no more than notions of the mind, will hold as much in respect of your lordship’s notion of nature and person as of mine, viz. “that one nature and three persons can be no more.” This I crave leave to say in answer to all that your lordship has been pleased to urge from p. 46, to these words of your lordship’s, p. 52.

General terms (as nature and person are in their ordinary use in our language) are the signs of general ideas, and general ideas exist only in the mind; but particular things (which are the foundations of these general ideas, if they are abstracted as they should be) do, or may exist conformable to those general ideas, and so fall under those general names; as he that writes this paper is a person to him, i. e. may be denominated a person by him to whose abstract idea of person he bears a conformity; just as what I here write, is to him a book or a letter, to whose abstract idea of a book or a letter it agrees. This is what I have said concerning this matter all along, and what, I humbly conceive, will serve for an answer to those words of your lordship, where you say, “you affirm that those who make nature and person to be only abstract and complex ideas, can neither defend nor reasonably believe the doctrine of the Trinity;” and to all that you say, p. 52—58. Only give me leave to wish, that what your lordship, out of a mistake of what I say concerning the ideas of nature and person, has urged, as you pretend, against them, do not furnish your adversaries in that dispute, with such arguments against you as your lordship will not easily answer.

Your lordship sets down these words of mine, “person in itself signifies nothing; but as soon as the common use of any language has appropriated it to any idea, then that is the true idea of a person;” Edition: current; Page: [337] which words your lordship interprets thus: i. e. “men may call a person what they please, for there is nothing but common use required to it: they may call a horse, or a tree, or a stone, a person, if they think fit.” Answ. Men, before common use had appropriated this name to that complex idea which they now signify by the sound person, might have denoted it by the sound stone, and vice versa: but can your lordship thence argue, as you do here, men are at the same liberty in a country where those words are already in common use? There he that will speak properly, and so as to be understood, must appropriate each sound used in that language to an idea in his mind (which to himself is defining the word) which is in some degree conformable to the idea that others apply to it.

Your lordship, in the next paragraph, sets down my definition of the word person, viz. “that person stands for a thinking intelligent being that hath reason and reflection, and can consider itself as itself, the same thinking being in different times and places;” and then ask many questions upon it. I shall set down your lordship’s definition of person, which is this; “a person is a complete intelligent substance with a peculiar manner of subsistence:” and then crave leave to ask your lordship the same questions concerning it, which your lordship here asks me concerning mine: “how comes person to stand for this and nothing else? from whence comes complete substance, or peculiar manner of subsistence, to make up the idea of a person? Whether it be true or false, I am not now to inquire; but how it comes into this idea of a person? Has common use of our language appropriated it to this sense? If not, this seems to me a mere arbitrary idea, and may as well be denied as affirmed. And what a fine pass are we come to, in your lordship’s way, if a mere arbitrary idea must be taken into the only true method of certainty?—But if this be the true idea of a person, then there can be no union of two natures in one person. For if a complete intelligent substance be the idea of a person, and the divine and human natures be complete intelligent substances: Edition: current; Page: [338] then the doctrine of the union of two natures and one person is quite sunk, for here must be two persons in this way of your lordship’s. Again, if this be the idea of a person, then where there are three persons, there must be three distinct complete intelligent substances; and so there cannot be three persons in the same individual essence. And thus both these doctrines of the Trinity and incarnation are past recovery gone, if this way of your lordship’s, hold.” These, my lord, are your lordship’s very words: what force there is in them, I will not inquire: but I must beseech your lordship to take them as objections I make against your notion of person, to show the danger of it, and the inconsistency it has with the doctrine of the Trinity and incarnation of our Saviour; and when your lordship has removed the objections that are in them, against your own definition of person, mine also, by the very same answers, will be cleared.

Your lordship’s argument, in the following words, to page 65, seems to me (as far as I can collect) to lie thus: your lordship tells me, that I say, “that in propositions, whose certainty is built on clear and perfect ideas, and evident deductions of reason, there no proposition can be received for divine revelation which contradicts them.” This proposition, not serving your lordship’s turn so well, for the conclusion you designed to draw from it, your lordship is pleased to enlarge it. For you ask, “But suppose I have ideas sufficient for certainty, what is to be done then?” From which words and your following discourse, if I can understand it, it seems to me, that your lordship supposes it reasonable for me to hold, that wherever we are any how certain of any propositions, whether their certainty be built on clear and perfect ideas or no, there no proposition can be received for divine revelation, which contradicts them. And thence your lordship concludes, that because I say we may make some propositions, of whose truth we may be certain concerning things, whereof we have not ideas in all their parts perfectly clear and distinct; “therefore my notion of certainty by ideas, must overthrow the credibility of a Edition: current; Page: [339] matter of faith in all such propositions, which are offered to be believed on the account of divine revelation:” a conclusion which I am so unfortunate as not to find how it follows from your lordship’s premises, because. I cannot any way bring them into mode and figure with such a conclusion. But this being no strange thing to me in my want of skill in your lordship’s way of writing, I, in the mean time, crave leave to ask, Whether there be any propositions your lordship can be certain of, that are not divinely revealed? And here I will presume that your lordship is not so sceptical, but that you can allow certainty attainable in many things, by your natural faculties. Give me leave then to ask your lordship, Whether where there be propositions, of whose truth you have certain knowledge, you can receive any proposition for divine revelation, which contradicts that certainty? Whether that certainty be built upon the agreement of ideas, such as we have, or on whatever else your lordship builds it. If you cannot, as I presume your lordship will say you cannot, I make bold to return you your lordship’s questions here to me, in your own words: “let us now suppose that you are to judge of a proposition delivered as a matter of faith, where you have a certainty by reason from your grounds, such as they are? Can you, my lord, assent to this as a matter of faith, when you are already certain of the contrary by your way? How is this possible? Can you believe that to be true, which you are certain is not true? Suppose it to be, that there are two natures in one person, the question is, whether you can assent to this as a matter of faith? If you should say, where there are only probabilities on the other side, I grant that you then allow revelation is to prevail. But when you say you have certainty by ideas, or without ideas to the contrary, I do not see how it is possible for you to assent to a matter of faith as true, when you are certain, from your method, that it is not true. For how can you believe against certainty—because the mind is actually determined by certainty. And so your lordship’s notion of certainty by ideas, or without ideas, be it what it will, Edition: current; Page: [340] must overthrow the credibility of a matter of faith in all such propositions, which are offered to be believed on the account of divine revelation.” This argumentation and conclusion is good against your lordship, if it be good against me: for certainty is certainty, and he that is certain is certain, and cannot assent to “that as true, which he is certain is not true,” whether he supposes certainty to consist in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, such as a man has, or in any thing else. For whether those who have attained certainty, not by the way of ideas can believe against certainty, any more than those who have attained certainty by ideas, we shall then see, when your lordship shall be pleased to show the world your way to certainty without ideas.

Indeed if what your lordship insinuates in the beginning of this passage, which we are now upon, be true, your lordship is safer (in your way without ideas, i. e. without immediate objects of the mind in thinking, if there be any such way) as to the understanding divine revelation right, than those who make use of ideas: but yet you are still as far as they from assenting to that as true, which you are certain is not true. Your lordship’s words are: “so great a difference is there between forming ideas first, and then judging of revelation by them, and the believing of revelation on its proper grounds, and the interpreting the sense of it by due measures of reason.” If it be the privilege of those alone who renounce ideas, i. e. the immediate objects of the mind in thinking, to believe revelation on its proper grounds, and the interpreting the sense of it, by the due measures of reason; I shall not think it strange, that any one who undertakes to interpret the sense of revelation, should renounce ideas, i. e. that he who would think right of the meaning of any text of scripture, should renounce and lay by all immediate objects of the mind in thinking.

But perhaps your lordship does not here extend this difference of believing revelation on its proper grounds, and not on its proper grounds, to all those who are not, and all those who are for ideas. But your lordship Edition: current; Page: [341] makes this comparison here, only between your lordship and me, who you think am guilty of forming ideas first, and then judging of revelation by them. Answ. If so, then this lays the blame not on my doctrine of ideas, but on my particular ill use of them. That then which your lordship would insinuate of me here, as a dangerous way to mistaking the sense of the scripture, is, “that I form ideas first, and then judge of revelation by them;” i. e. in plain English, that I get to myself, the best I can, the signification of the words, wherein the revelation is delivered, and so endeavour to understand the sense of the revelation delivered in them. And pray, my lord, does your lordship do otherwise? Does the believing of revelation upon its proper grounds, and the due measures of reason, teach you to judge of revelation, before you understand the words it is delivered in; i. e. before you have formed the ideas in your mind, as well as you can, which those words stand for? If the due measures of reason teach your lordship this, I beg the favour of your lordship to tell me those due measures of reason, that I may leave those undue measures of reason, which I have hitherto followed in the interpreting the sense of the scripture; whose sense it seems I should have interpreted first, and understood the signification of the words afterwards.

My lord, I read the revelation of the holy scripture with a full assurance, that all it delivers is true: and though this be a submission to the writings of those inspired authors, which I neither have, nor can have, for those of any other men; yet I use (and know not how to help it, till your lordship show me a better method in those due measures of reason, which you mention) the same way to interpret to myself the sense of that book, that I do of any other. First, I endeavour to understand the words and phrases of the language I read it in, i. e. to form ideas they stand for. If your lordship means any thing else by forming ideas first, I confess I understand it not. And if there be any word or expression, which in that author, or in that place of that author, seems to have a peculiar meaning, i. e. to stand for an idea, which is different from that, which the Edition: current; Page: [342] common use of that language has made it a sign of, that idea also I endeavour to form in my mind, by comparing this author with himself, and observing the design of his discourse, so that, as far as I can, by a sincere endeavour, I may have the same ideas in every place when I read the words, which the author had when he writ them. But here, my lord, I take care not to take those for words of divine revelation, which are not the words of inspired writers: nor think myself concerned with that submission to receive the expressions of fallible men, and to labour to find out their meaning, or, as your lordship phrases it, interpret their sense; as if they were the expressions of the spirit of God, by the mouths or pens of men inspired and guided by that infallible spirit. This, my lord, is the method I use in interpreting the sense of the revelation of the scriptures: if your lordship knows that I do otherwise, I desire you to convince me of it; and if your lordship does otherwise, I desire you to show me wherein your method differs from mine, that I may reform upon so good a pattern: for as for what you accuse me of in the following words, it is that which either has no fault in it, or if it has, your lordship, I humbly conceive, is as guilty as I. Your words are,

“I may pretend what I please, that I hold the assurance of faith, and the certainty by ideas, to go upon very different grounds; but when a proposition is offered to me out of scripture to be believed, and I doubt about the sense of it, is not recourse to be made to my ideas?” Give me leave, my lord, with all submission, to return your lordship the same words: “Your lordship may pretend what you please, that you hold the assurance of faith, and the certainty of knowledge to stand upon different grounds,” (for I presume your lordship will not say, that believing and knowing stand upon the same grounds, for that would, I think, be to say, that probability and demonstration are the same thing) “but when a proposition is offered you out of scripture to be believed, and you doubt about the sense of it, is not recourse to be made to your notions?” What, my lord, is the difference here between your Edition: current; Page: [343] lordship’s and my way in the case? I must have recourse to my ideas, and your lordship must have recourse to your notions. For I think you cannot believe a proposition contrary to your own notions; for then you would have the same, and different notions, at the same time. So that all the difference between your lordship and me, is, that we do both the same thing; only your lordship shows a great dislike to my using the term idea.

But the instance your lordship here gives, is beyond my comprehension. You say, “a proposition is offered me out of scripture to be believed, and I doubt about the sense of it.—As in the present case, whether there can be three persons in one nature, or, two natures and one person.” My lord, my Bible is faulty again; for I do not remember that I ever read in it either of these propositions, in these precise words, “there are three persons in one nature, or, there are two natures and one person.” When your lordship shall show me a Bible wherein they are so set down, I shall then think them a good instance of propositions offered me out of scripture; till then, whoever shall say that they are propositions in the scripture, when there are no such words, so put together, to be found in holy writ, seems to me to make a new scripture in words and propositions, that the Holy Ghost dictated not. I do not here question their truth, nor deny that they may be drawn from the scripture: but I deny that these very propositions are in express words in my Bible. For that is the only thing I deny here; if your lordship can show them me in yours, I beg you to do it.

In the mean time, taking them to be as true as if they were the very words of divine revelation; the question then is, how must we interpret the sense of them? For supposing them to be divine revelation, to ask, as your lordship here does, what resolution I, or any one, can come to, about their possibility, seems to me to involve a contradiction in it. For whoever admits a proposition to be of divine revelation, supposes it not only to be possible, but true. Your lordship’s question then can mean only this, what sense can I, upon my principles, come to, of either of these propositions, but in the Edition: current; Page: [344] way of ideas? And I crave leave to ask your lordship, what sense of them can your lordship upon your principles come to, but in the way of notions? Which, in plain English, amounts to no more than this, that your lordship must understand them according to the sense you have of those terms they are made up of, and I according to the sense I have of those terms. Nor can it be otherwise, unless your lordship can take a term in any proposition to have one sense, and yet understand it in another: and thus we see, that in effect men have differently understood and interpreted the sense of these propositions; whether they used the way of ideas or not, i. e. whether they called what any word stood for, notion, or sense, or meaning, or idea.

I think myself obliged to return your lordship my thanks, for the news you write me here, of one who has found a secret way how the same body may be in distant places at once. It making no part, that I can see, of the reasoning your lordship was then upon, I can take it only for a piece of news: and the favour was the greater, that your lordship was pleased to stop yourself in the midst of so serious an argument as the articles of the Trinity and incarnation, to tell it me. And methinks it is pity that author had not used some of the words of my book, which might have served to have tied him and me together. For his secret about a body in two places at once, which he does keep up; and “my secret about certainty, which your lordship thinks has been better kept up too,” being all your words; bring me into his company but very untowardly. If your lordship would be pleased to show, that my secret about certainty (as you think fit to call it) is false or erroneous, the world would see a good reason why you should think it better kept up; till then perhaps they may be apt to suspect, that the fault is not so much in my published secret about certainty, as somewhere else. But since your lordship thinks it had been better kept up, I promise that, as soon as you shall do me the favour to make public a better notion of certainty than mine, I will by a public retraction call in mine: which I hope your lordship will do, for I dare say nobody will think Edition: current; Page: [345] it good or friendly advice to your lordship, if you have such a secret, that you should keep it up.

Your lordship, with some emphasis, bids me observe my own words, that I here positively say, “that the mind not being certain of the truth of that it doth not evidently know.” So that it is plain here, that “I place certainty only in evident knowledge, or in clear and distinct ideas; and yet my great complaint of your lordship was, that you charged this upon me, and now your lordship finds it in my own words.” Ans. My own words, in that place, are, “the mind is not certain of what it doth not evidently know;” but in them, or that passage, as set down by your lordship, there is not the least mention of clear and distinct ideas; and therefore I should wonder to hear your lordship so solemnly call them my own words, when they are but what your lordship would have to be a consequence of my words; were it not, as I humbly conceive, a way not unfrequent with your lordship to speak of that, which you think a consequence from any thing said, as if it were the very thing said. It rests therefore upon your lordship to prove that evident knowledge can be only where the ideas concerning which it is, are perfectly clear and distinct. I am certain, that I have evident knowledge, that the substance of my body and soul exists, though I am as certain that I have but a very obscure and confused idea of any substance at all: so that my complaint of your lordship, upon that account, remains very well founded, notwithstanding any thing you allege here.

Your lordship, summing up the force of what you have said, adds, “that you have pleaded, (1.) That my method of certainty shakes the belief of revelation in general. (2.) That it shakes the belief of particular propositions or articles of faith, which depend upon the sense of words contained in scripture.”

That your lordship has pleaded, I grant; but, with submission, I deny that you have proved.

(1.) That my definition of knowledge, which is that which your lordship calls my method of certainty, shakes the belief of revelation in general. For all that your Edition: current; Page: [346] lordship offers for proof of it, is only the alleging some other passages out of my book, quite different from that my definition of knowledge, which, you endeavour to show, do shake the belief of revelation in general: but indeed have not, nor, I humbly conceive, cannot show, that they do any ways shake the belief of revelation in general. But if they did, it does not at all follow from thence, that my definition of knowledge; i. e. my method of certainty, at all shakes the belief of revelation in general, which was what your lordship undertook to prove.

(2.) As to the shaking the belief of particular propositions or articles of faith, which depend, as you here say, upon the sense of words; I think I have sufficiently cleared myself from that charge, as will yet be more evident from what your lordship here farther urges.

Your lordship says, “my placing certainty in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, shakes the foundations of the articles of faith [above-mentioned] which depend upon the sense of words contained in the scripture:” and the reason your lordship gives for it, is this, “because I do not say we are to believe all that we find there expressed.” My lord, upon reading these words, I consulted the errata, to see whether the printer had injured you: for I could not easily believe that your lordship should reason after a fashion, that would justify such a conclusion as this, viz. your lordship, in your letter to me, “does not say that we are to believe all that we find expressed in scripture;” therefore your notion of certainty shakes the belief of this article of faith, that Jesus Christ descended into hell. This, I think, will scarce hold for a good consequence, till not saying any truth be the denying of it; and then if my not saying in my book, that we are to believe all there expressed, be to deny, that we are to believe all that we find there expressed, I fear many of your lordship’s books will be found to shake the belief of several or all the articles of our faith. But supposing this consequence to be good, viz. I do not say, therefore I deny, and thereby I shake the belief of some articles of faith; how does this prove, that my Edition: current; Page: [347] placing of certainty in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, shakes any article of faith? unless my saying, that certainty consists in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, B. iv. chap. 12. § 6. of my Essay, be a proof, that I do not say, in any other part of that book, “that we are to believe all that we find expressed in scripture.”

But perhaps the remaining words of the period will help us out in your lordship’s argument, which all together stands thus: “because I do not say we are to believe all that we find there expressed; but [I do say] in case we have any clear and distinct ideas, which limit the sense another way, than the words seem to carry it, we are to judge that to be the true sense.” My lord, I do not remember where I say what in the latter part of this period your lordship makes me say; and your lordship would have done me a favour to have quoted the place. Indeed I do say, in the chapter your lordship seems to be upon, “that no proposition can be received for divine revelation, or obtain the assent due to all such, if it be contradictory to our clear intuitive knowledge.” This is what I there say, and all that I there say: which in effect is this, that no proposition can be received for divine revelation, which is contradictory to a self-evident proposition; and if that be it which your lordship makes me say here in the foregoing words, I agree to it, and would be glad to know whether your lordship differs in opinion from me in it. But this not answering your purpose, your lordship would, in the following words of this paragraph, change self-evident proposition into a proposition we have attained certainty of, though by imperfect ideas: in which sense the proposition your lordship argues from as mine, will stand thus: that no proposition can be received for divine revelation, or obtain the assent due to all such, if it be contradictory to any proposition, of whose truth we are by any way certain. And then I desire your lordship to name the two contradictory propositions, the one of divine revelation, I do not assent to; the other, that I have attained to a certainty of by my imperfect ideas, which makes me reject, or not assent to that of Edition: current; Page: [348] divine revelation. The very setting down of these two contradictory propositions will be demonstration against me, and if your lordship cannot (as I humbly conceive you cannot) name any two such propositions, it is an evidence, that all this dust, that is raised, is only a great deal of talk about what your lordship cannot prove: for that your lordship has not yet proved any such thing, I am humbly of opinion I have already shown.

Your lordship’s discourse of Des Cartes, in the following pages, is, I think, as far as I am concerned in it, to show, that certainty cannot be had by ideas; because Des Cartes using the term ideas, missed of it. Answ. The question between your lordship and me not being about Des Cartes’s, but my notion of certainty, your lordship will put an end to my notion of certainty by ideas, whenever your lordship shall prove, that certainty cannot be attained any way by the immediate objects of the mind in thinking, i. e. by ideas; or that certainty does not consist in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas; or lastly, when your lordship shall show us what else certainty does consist in. When your lordship shall do either of these three, I promise your lordship to renounce my notion, or way, or method, or grounds (or whatever else your lordship has been pleased to call it) of certainty by ideas.

The next paragraph is to show the inclination your lordship has to favour me in the words “it may be.” I shall be always sorry to have mistaken any one’s, especially your lordship’s inclination to favour me: but since the press has published this to the world, the world must now be judge of your lordship’s inclination to favour me.

The three or four following pages are to show, that your lordship’s exception against ideas was not against the term ideas, and that I mistook you in it. Answ. My lord, I must own that there are very few pages of your letters, when I come to examine what is the precise meaning of your words, either as making distinct propositions, or a continued discourse, wherein I do not think myself in danger to be mistaken; but whether in the present case, one much more learned than I would Edition: current; Page: [349] not have understood your lordship as I did, must be left to those who will be at the pains to consider your words, and my reply to them. Your lordship saying, “as I have stated my notion of ideas, it may be of dangerous consequence.” This seeming too general an accusation, I endeavoured to find what it was more particularly in it, which your lordship thought might be of dangerous consequence. And the first thing I thought you excepted against, was the use of the term idea: but your lordship tells me here, I was mistaken, it was not the term idea you excepted against, but the way of certainty by ideas. To excuse my mistake, I have this to say for myself, that reading in your first letter these express words: “When new terms are made use of by ill men to promote scepticism and infidelity, and to overthrow the mysteries of our faith, we then have reason to inquire into them, and to examine the foundation and tendency of them;” it could not be very strange, if I understood them to refer to terms: but it seems I was mistaken, and should have understood by them “my way of certainty by ideas,” and should have read your lordship’s words thus: “When new terms are made use of by ill men, to promote scepticism and infidelity, and to overthrow the mysteries of faith, we have then reason to enquire into them,” i. e. Mr. L.’s definition of knowledge, (for that is my way of certainty by ideas) “and then to examine the foundation and tendency of them,” i. e. this proposition, viz. that knowledge or certainty consists in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas. “Then,” in your lordship’s words, as I thought, (for I am scarce ever sure what your lordship means by “them”) necessarily referring to what ill men made use of for the promoting of scepticism and infidelity, I thought it had referred to terms. Why so? says your lordship: Your quarrel, you say, was not with the term ideas. “But that which you insisted upon was the way of certainty by ideas, and the new terms as employed to that purpose;” and therefore it is that which your lordship must be understood to mean, by what “ill men make use of,” &c. Now I appeal to my reader, whether I may not be excused, Edition: current; Page: [350] if I took them rather to refer to terms, a word in the plural number preceding in the same period, than to “way of certainty by ideas,” which is the singular number, and neither preceding, no nor so much as expressed in the same sentence? And if by my ignorance in the use of the pronoun them, it is my misfortune to be often at a loss in the understanding of your lordship’s writings, I hope I shall be excused.

Another excuse for my understanding that one of the things in my book which your lordship thought might be of dangerous consequence, was the term idea, may be found in these words of your lordship. “But what need all this great noise about ideas and certainty, true and real certainty by ideas; if after all it comes only to this, that our ideas only present to us such things from whence we bring arguments to prove the truth of things? But the world hath been strangely amused with ideas of late; and we have been told, that strange things might be done by the help of ideas, and yet these ideas at last come to be common notions of things, which we must make use of in our reasoning.” I shall offer one passage more for my excuse, out of the same page. I had said in my chapter about the existence of God, I thought it most proper to express myself in the most usual and familiar way, by common words and expressions: “Your lordship wishes I had done so quite through my book; for then I had never given that occasion for the enemies of our faith to take up my new way of ideas, as an effectual battery (as they imagined) against the mysteries of the christian faith. But I might have enjoyed the satisfaction of my ideas long enough, before your lordship had taken notice of them, unless you had found them employed in doing mischief.” Thus this passage stands in your lordship’s former letter, though here your lordship gives us but a part of it; and that part your lordship breaks off into two, and gives us inverted and in other words. Perhaps those who observe this, and better understand the arts of controversy than I do, may find some skill in it. But your lordship breaks off the former passage at these words, “strange things might Edition: current; Page: [351] be done by the help of ideas:” and then adding these new ones, i. e. “as to matter of certainty,” leaves out those which contain your wish, “that I had expressed myself in the most usual way by common words and expressions quite through my book,” as I had done in my chapter of the existence of a God; for then, says your lordship, “I had not given that occasion to the enemies of our faith to take up my new way of ideas, as an effectual battery, &c.” which wish of your lordship’s is, that I had all along left out the term idea, as it is plain from my words which you refer to in your wish, as they stand in my first letter; viz. “I thought it most proper to express myself in the most usual and familiar way—by common words and known ways of expression; and therefore, as I think, I have scarce used the word idea in that whole chapter.” Now I must again appeal to my reader, whether your lordship having so plainly wished that I had used common words and expressions in opposition to the term idea, I am not excusable if I took you to mean that term? though your lordship leaves out the wish, and instead of it puts in, i. e. “as to matter of certainty,” words which were not in your former letter; though it be for mistaking you in my answer to that letter, that you here blame me. I must own, my lord, my dulness will be very apt to mistake you in expressions seemingly so plain as these, till I can presume myself quick-sighted enough to understand men’s meaning in their writings, not by their expressions; which I confess I am not, and is an art I find myself too old now to learn.

But bare mistake is not all; your lordship accuses me also of unfairness and disingenuity in understanding these words of yours, “the world has been strangely amused with ideas, and yet these ideas at last come to be only common notions of things, as if in them your lordship owned ideas to be only common notions of things.” To this, my lord, I must humbly crave leave to answer, that there was no unfairness or disingenuity in my saying your lordship owned ideas for such, because I understood you to speak in that place in your own sense; and thereby to show that the new term idea Edition: current; Page: [352] need not be introduced when it signified only the common notions of things, i. e. signified no more than notion doth, which is a more usual word. This I took to be your meaning in that place; and whether I or any one might not so understand it, without deserving to be told, that “this is a way of turning things upon your lordship, which you did not expect from me,” or such a solemn appeal as this, “judge now, how fair and ingenious this answer is;” I leave to any one, who will but do me the favour to cast his eye on the first passage above-quoted, as it stands in your lordship’s own words in your first letter. For I humbly beg leave to say, that I cannot but wonder to find, that when your lordship is charging me with want of fairness and ingenuity, you should leave out, in quoting of your own words, those which served most to justify the sense I had taken them in, and put others in the stead of them. In your first letter they stand thus: “But the world hath been strangely amused with ideas of late, and we have been told that strange things might be done by the help of ideas; and yet these ideas at last come to be only common notions of things, which we must make use of in our reasoning;” and so on, to the end of what is above set down: all which I quoted, to secure myself from being suspected to turn things upon your lordship, in a sense which your words (that the reader had before him) would not bear: and in your second letter, in the place now under consideration, they stand thus: “but the world hath been strangely amused with ideas of late, and we have been told that strange things may be done with ideas, i. e. as to matter of certainty:” and there your lordship ends. Will your lordship give me leave now to use your own words, “judge now how fair and ingenious this is?” words which I should not use, but that I find them used by your lordship in this very passage, and upon this very occasion.

I grant myself a mortal man very liable to mistakes, especially in your writings: but that in my mistakes, I am guilty of any unfairness or disingenuity, your lordship will, I humbly conceive, pardon me, if I think it will pass for want of fairness and ingenuity in any one, Edition: current; Page: [353] without clear evidence to accuse me. To avoid any such suspicion, in my first letter I set down every word contained in those pages of your book which I was concerned in; and in my second, I set down most of the passages of your lordship’s first answer that I replied to. But because the doing it all along in this, would, I find, too much increase the bulk of my book; I earnestly beg every one, who will think this my reply worth his perusal, to lay your lordship’s letter before him, that he may see whether in these pages I direct my answer to, without setting them down at large, there be any thing material unanswered, or unfairly or disingenuously represented.

Your lordship, in the next words, gives a reason why I ought to have understood your words, as a consequence of my assertion, and not as your own sense, viz. “Because you all along distinguish the way of reason by deducing one thing from another, from my way of certainty in the agreement or disagreement of ideas.” Ans. I know your lordship does all along talk of reason and my way of ideas, as distinct or opposite; but this is the thing I have and do complain of, that your lordship does speak of them as distinct, without showing wherein they are different, since the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, which is my way of certainty, is also the way of reason. For the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, is either by an immediate comparison of two ideas, as in self-evident propositions; which way of knowledge of truth, is the way of reason; or by the intervention of intermediate ideas, i. e. by the deduction of one thing from another, which is also the way of reason, as I have shown; where I answer to your speaking of certainty placed in good and sound reason, and not in ideas: in which place, as in several others, your lordship opposes ideas and reason, which your lordship calls here distinguishing them. But to continue to speak frequently of two things as different, or of two ways as opposite without ever showing any difference or opposition in them, after it has been pressed for, is a way of ingenuity which your lordship will pardon to my ignorance, if I have not formerly Edition: current; Page: [354] been acquainted with: and therefore, when you shall have shown, that reasoning about ideas, or by ideas, is not the same way of reasoning, as that about or by notions or conceptions, and that what I mean by ideas is not the same that your lordship means by notions; you will have some reason to blame me for mistaking you in the passages above-quoted.

For if your lordship, in those words, does not except against the term ideas, but allows it to have the same signification with notions, or conceptions, or apprehensions; then your lordship’s words will run thus: “But what need all this great noise about notions, or conceptions, or apprehensions? and the world has been strangely amused with notions, or conceptions, or apprehensions of late:” which, whether it be that which your lordship will own to be your meaning, I must leave to your consideration.

Your lordship proceeds to examine my new method of certainty, as you are pleased to call it.

To my asking, “whether there be any other or older method of certainty?” your lordship answers, “that is not the point; but whether mine be any at all: which your lordship denies.” Answ. I grant, to him that barely denies it to be any at all, it is not the point, whether there be any older; but to him, that calls it a new method, I humbly conceive it will not be thought wholly besides the point to show an older; at least, that it ought to have prevented these following words of your lordship’s, viz. “that your lordship did never pretend to inform the world of new methods:” which being in answer to my desire, that you would be pleased to show me an older, or another method, plainly imply, that your lordship supposes, that whoever will inform the world of another method of certainty than mine, can do it only by informing them of a new one. But since this is the answer your lordship pleases to make to my request, I crave leave to consider it a little.

Your lordship having pronounced concerning my definition of knowledge, which you call my method of certainty, that it might be of dangerous consequence to an article of the christian faith; I desired you to show Edition: current; Page: [355] in what certainty lies: and desired it of your lordship by these pressing considerations, that it would secure that article of faith against any dangerous consequence from my way, and be a great service to truth in general. To which your lordship replies here, that you did never pretend to inform the world of new methods; and therefore are not bound to go any farther than what you found fault with, which was my new method.

Answ. My lord, I did not desire any new method of you. I observed your lordship, in more places than one, reflected on me for writing out of my own thoughts: and therefore I could not expect from your lordship what you so much condemn in another. Besides, one of the faults you found with my method, was, that it was new: and therefore if your lordship will look again into that passage, where I desire you to set the world right in a thing of that great consequence, as it is to know wherein certainty consists; you will not find, that I mention any thing of a new method of certainty: my words were “another,” whether old or new was indifferent. In truth, all that I requested, was only such a method of certainty, as your lordship approved of, and was secure in; and therefore I do not see how your not pretending to inform the world in any new methods, can be any way alleged as a reason, for refusing so useful and so charitable a thing.

Your lordship farther adds, “that you are not bound to go any farther, than what you found fault with.” Answ. I suppose your lordship means, that “you are not bound by the law of disputation;” nor are you, as I humbly conceive, by this law forbid: or if you were, the law of the schools could not dispense with the eternal divine law of charity. The law of disputing, whence had it its so mighty a sanction? It is at best but the law of wrangling, if it shut out the great ends of information and instruction; and serves only to flatter a little guilty vanity, in a victory over an adversary less skilful in the art of fencing. Who can believe, that upon so slight an account your lordship should neglect your design of writing against me? The great motives of your concern for an article of the christian faith, and Edition: current; Page: [356] of that duty which you profess has made you do what you have done, will be believed to work more uniformly in your lordship, than to let a father of the church and a teacher in Israel, not tell one who asks him, which is the right and safe way, if he knows it. No, no, my lord, a character so much to the prejudice of your charity, nobody will receive of your lordship, no, not from yourself: whatever your lordship may say, the world will believe, that you would have given a better method of certainty, if you had had one; when thereby you would have secured men from the danger of running into errours in articles of faith; and effectually have recalled them from my way of certainty, which leads, as your lordship says, to scepticism and infidelity. For to turn men from the way they are in, the bare telling them it is dangerous, puts but a short stop to their going on in it: there is nothing effectual to set them a going right, but to show them which is the safe and sure way; a piece of humanity, which when asked, nobody, as far as he knows, refuses another; and that I have earnestly asked of your lordship.

Your lordship represents to me the unsatisfactoriness and inconsistency of my way of certainty, by telling me, “that it seems still a strange thing to you, that I should talk so much of a new method of certainty by ideas; and yet allow, as I do, such a want of ideas, so much imperfection in them, and such a want of connexion between our ideas and the things themselves.” Answ. This objection being so visibly against the extent of our knowledge, and not the certainty of it by ideas, would need no other answer but this, that it proved nothing to the point; which was to show, that my way by ideas, was no way to certainty at all; not to true certainty, which is a term your lordship uses here, which I shall be able to conceive what you mean by, when you shall be pleased to tell me what false certainty is.

But because what you say here, is in short what you ground your charge of scepticism on, in your former letter; I shall here, according to my promise, consider what your lordship says there, and hope you will allow this to be no unfit place.

Edition: current; Page: [357]

Your charge of scepticism, in your former letter, is as followeth.

Your lordship’s first argument consists in these propositions, viz.

1. That I say, Book IV. Chap 1, that knowledge is the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas.

2. That I go about to prove, that there are very many more beings, of which we have no ideas, than those of which we have; from whence your lordship draws this conclusion, “that we are excluded from attaining any knowledge, as to the far greatest part of the universe:” which I agree to. But with submission, this is not the proposition to be proved, but this, viz. that my way by ideas, or my way of certainty by ideas, for to that your lordship reduces it: i. e. my placing of certainty in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas: leads to scepticism.

Farther, from my saying, that the intellectual world is greater and more beautiful certainly than the material, your lordship argues, that if certainty may be had by general reasons without particular ideas in one, it may also in other cases. Answ. It may, no doubt; but this is nothing against any thing I have said, for I have neither said, nor suppose, that certainty by general reasons, or any reasons, can be had without ideas; no more than I say, or suppose, that we can reason without thinking, or think without immediate objects in our minds in thinking, i. e. think without ideas. But your lordship asks, “whence comes this certainty (for I say certainty) where there be no particular ideas,” if knowledge consists in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas? I answer, we have ideas as far as we are certain; and beyond that, we have neither certainty, no nor probability. Every thing which we either know or believe, is some proposition: now no proposition can be framed as the object of our knowledge or assent, wherein two ideas are not joined to, or separated from one another. As for example, when I affirm that “something exists in the world, whereof I have no idea,” existence is affirmed of something, some being: and I have as clear an idea of existence and something, the two things joined Edition: current; Page: [358] in that proposition, as I have of them in this proposition, “something exists in the world, whereof I have an idea.” When therefore I affirm, that the intellectual world is greater and more beautiful than the material; whether I should know the truth of this proposition, either by divine revelation, or should assert it as highly probable (which is all I do in that chapter,Essay, b. iv. ch. 3. out of which this instance is brought) it means no more but this, viz. that there are more, and more beautiful beings, whereof we have no ideas, than there are of which we have ideas; of which beings, whereof we have no ideas, we can, for want of ideas, have no farther knowledge, but that such beings do exist.

If your lordship shall now ask me, how I know there are such beings: I answer, that, in that chapter of the extent of our knowledge, I do not say I know, but I endeavour to show, that it is most highly probable: but yet a man is capable of knowing it to be true, because he is capable of having it revealed to him by God, that this proposition is true, viz. that in the works of God there are more and more beautiful beings, whereof we have no ideas, than there are whereof we have ideas. If God, instead of showing the very things to St. Paul, had only revealed to him, that this proposition was true, viz. that there were things in heaven, “which neither eye had seen, nor ear had heard, nor had entered into the heart of man to conceive;” would he not have known the truth of that proposition of whose terms he had ideas, viz. of beings, whereof he had no other ideas, but barely as something, and of existence; though in the want of other ideas of them, he could attain no other knowledge of them but barely that they existed? So that in what I have there said, there is no contradiction, nor shadow of a contradiction, to my placing knowledge in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas.

But if I should any where mistake, and say any thing inconsistent with that way of certainty of mine; how, I beseech your lordship, could you conclude from thence, that the placing knowledge in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas tends to scepticism? Edition: current; Page: [359] That which is the proposition here to be proved, would remain still unproved: for I might say things inconsistent with this proposition, that “knowledge consists in the perception of the connexion and agreement or disagreement and repugnancy of our ideas;” and yet that proposition be true, and very far from tending to scepticism, unless your lordship will argue that every proposition that is inconsistent with what a man any where says, tends to scepticism; and then I should be tempted to infer, that many propositions in the letters your lordship has honoured me with, will tend to scepticism.

Your lordship’s second argument is from my saying, “we have no ideas of the mechanical affections of the minute particles of bodies, which hinders our certain knowledge of universal truths concerning natural bodies:” from whence your lordship concludes, “that since we can attain to no science, as to bodies or spirits, our knowledge must be confined to a very narrow compass.” I grant it; but I crave leave to mind your lordship again, that this is not the proposition to be proved: a little knowledge is still knowledge, and not scepticism. But let me have affirmed our knowledge to be comparatively very little; how, I beseech your lordship, does that any way prove, that this proposition, “knowledge consists in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of our ideas,” any way tends to scepticism? which was the proposition to be proved. But the inference your lordship shuts up this head with, in these words: “so that all certainty is given up in the way of knowledge, as to the visible and invisible world, or at least the greatest part of them;” showing in the first part of it what your lordship should have inferred, and was willing to infer; does at last by these words in the close, or at least the “greatest part of them,” I guess, come just to nothing: I say, I guess; for what “them,” by grammatical construction, is to be referred to, seems not clear to me.

Your third argument being just of the same kind with the former, only to show, that I reduce our knowledge Edition: current; Page: [360] to a very narrow compass, in respect of the whole extent of beings; is already answered.

In the fourth place, your lordship sets down some words of mine concerning reasoning and demonstration; and then concludes, “but if there be no way of coming to demonstration but this, I doubt we must be content without it.” Which being nothing but a declaration of your doubt, is, I grant, a very short way of proving any proposition; and I shall leave to your lordship the satisfaction you have in such a proof, since I think it will scarce convince others.

In the last place, your lordship argues, that because I say, that the idea in the mind proves not the existence of that thing whereof it is an idea, therefore we cannot know the actual existence of any thing by our senses: because we know nothing, but by the perceived agreement of ideas. But if you had been pleased to have considered my answer there to the sceptics, whose cause you here seem, with no small vigour, to manage; you would, I humbly conceive, have found that you mistake one thing for another, viz. the idea that has by a former sensation been lodged in the mind, for actually receiving any idea, i. e. actual sensation; which, I think, I need not go about to prove are two distinct things, after what you have here quoted out of my book. Now the two ideas, that in this case are perceived to agree, and do thereby produce knowledge, are the idea of actual sensation (which is an action whereof I have a clear and distinct idea) and the idea of actual existence of something without me that causes that sensation. And what other certainty your lordship has by your senses of the existing of any thing without you, but the perceived connexion of those two ideas, I would gladly know. When you have destroyed this certainty, which I conceive is the utmost, as to this matter, which our infinitely wise and bountiful Maker has made us capable of in this state; your lordship will have well assisted the sceptics in carrying their arguments against certainty by sense, beyond what they could have expected.

I cannot but fear, my lord, that what you have said here in favour of scepticism, against certainty by sense Edition: current; Page: [361] (for it is not at all against me, till you show we can have no idea of actual sensation) without the proper antidote annexed, in showing wherein that certainty consists (if the account I give be not true) after you have so strenuously endeavoured to destroy what I have said for it, will, by your authority, have laid no small foundation of scepticism: which they will not fail to lay hold of, with advantage to their cause, who have any disposition that way. For I desire any one to read this your fifth argument, and then judge which of us two is a promoter of scepticism; I, who have endeavoured, and, as I think, proved certainty by our senses; or your lordship, who has (in your thoughts at least) destroyed these proofs, without giving us any other to supply their place. All your other arguments amount to no more but this, that I have given instances to show, that the extent of our knowledge, in comparison of the whole extent of being, is very little and narrow; which, when “your lordship writ your Vindication of the doctrine of the Trinity, were very fair and ingenuous confessions of the shortness of human understanding with respect to the nature and manner of such things, which we are most certain of the being of, by constant and undoubted experience:” though since you have showed your dislike of them in more places than one, particularly p. 33, and again more at large p. 43, and at last you have thought fit to represent them as arguments for scepticism. And thus I have acquitted myself, I hope to your lordship’s satisfaction, of my promise to answer your accusation of a tendency to scepticism.

But to return to your second letter, where I left off. In the following pages you have another argument “to prove my way of certainty to be none, but to lead to scepticism:” which, after a serious perusal of it, seems to me to amount to no more but this, that Des Cartes and I go both in the way of ideas, and we differ; ergo, the placing of certainty in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, is no way of certainty, but leads to scepticism; which is a consequence I cannot admit, and I think is no better than this: your lordship and I differ, and yet we both go in the way of ideas: Edition: current; Page: [362] ergo, the placing of knowledge in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas is no way of certainty at all, but leads to scepticism.

Your lordship will perhaps think I say more than I can justify, when I say your lordship goes in the way of ideas; for you will tell me, you do not place certainty in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas. Answ. No more does Des Cartes; and therefore, in that respect, he and I went no more in the same way of ideas, than your lordship and I do. From whence it follows, that how much soever he and I may differ in other points, our difference is no more an argument against this proposition, that knowledge or certainty consists in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, than your lordship’s and my difference in any other point, is an argument against the truth of that my definition of knowledge, or that it tends to scepticism.

But you will say, that Des Cartes built his system of philosophy upon ideas; and so I say does your lordship too, and every one else as much as he, that has any system of that or any other part of knowledge. For ideas are nothing but the immediate objects of our minds in thinking; and your lordship, I conclude, in building your system of any part of knowledge thinks on something; and therefore you can no more build, or have any system of knowledge without ideas, than you can think without some immediate objects of thinking. Indeed, you do not so often use the word ideas as Des Cartes or I have done; but using the things signified by that term as much as either of us (unless you can think without an immediate object of thinking) yours also is the way of ideas, as much as his or mine. Your condemning the way of ideas, in those general terms, which one meets with so often in your writings on this occasion, amounts at last to no more but an exception against a poor sound of three syllables, though your lordship thinks fit not to own, that you have any exception to it.

If, besides this, these ten or twelve pages have any other argument in them, which I have not seen, I humbly desire you would be pleased to put it into a syllogism, to convince my reader, that I have silently passed by an Edition: current; Page: [363] argument of importance; and then I promise an answer to it: and the same request and promise I make to your lordship, in reference to all other passages in your letter, wherein you think there is any thing of moment unanswered.

Your lordship comes to answer what was in my former letter, to show, that what you had said concerning nature and person, was to me and several others, whom I had talked with about it, hardly to be understood. To this purpose the sixteen next pages are chiefly employed to show what Aristotle and others have said about φύσις and natura, a Greek and a Latin word; neither of which is the English word nature, nor can it concern it at all, till it be proved that nature in English has, in the propriety of our tongue, precisely the same signification that φύσις had among the Greeks, and natura among the Romans. For would it not be pretty harsh to an English ear, to say with Aristotle, “that nature is a corporeal substance, or a corporeal substance is nature?” to instance but in this one, among those many various senses which your lordship proves he used the term φύσις in: or with Anaximander, “that nature is matter, or matter nature?” or with Sextus Empiricus, “that nature is a principle of life, or a principle of life is nature?” So that though the philosophers of old of all kinds did understand the sense of the terms φύσις and natura, in the language of their countries; yet it does not follow, what you would here conclude from thence, that they understood the proper signification of the term nature in English. Nor has an Englishman any more need to consult those Grecians in their use of the sound φύσις, to know what nature signifies in English, than those Grecians had need to consult our writings, or bring instances of the use of the word nature in English authors, to justify their using of the term φύσις in any sense they had used it in Greek. The like may be said of what is brought out of the Greek christian writers; for I think an Englishman could scarce be justified in saying in English, “that the angels were natures,” because Theodoret and St. Basil call them φύσις. To these, I think, there might be added other senses, wherein the Edition: current; Page: [364] word φύσις may be found, made use of by the Greeks, which are not taken notice of by your lordship: as particularly Aristotle, if I mistake not, uses it for a plastic power, or a kind of “anima mundi,” presiding over the material world, and producing the order and regularity of motions, formations, and generation in it.

Indeed your lordship brings a proof from an authority that is proper in the case, and would go a great way in it; for it is of an Englishman, who, writing of nature, gives an account of the signification of the word nature in English. But the mischief is, that among eight significations of the word nature, which he gives, that is not to be found, which you quote him for, and had need of. For he says not that nature in English is used for substance; which is the sense your lordship has used it in, and would justify by the authority of that ingenious and honourable person: and to make it out, you tell us, “Mr. Boyle says the word essence is of great affinity to nature, if not of an adequate import;” to which your lordship adds, “but the real essence of a thing is a substance.” So that, in fine, the authority of this excellent person and philosopher amounts to thus much, that he says that nature and essence are two terms that have a great affinity; and you say, that nature and substance are two terms that have a great affinity. For the learned Mr. Boyle says no such thing, nor can it appear that he ever thought so, till it can be shown, that he has said that essence and substance have the same signification.

I humbly conceive, it would have been a strange way in any body, but your lordship, to have quoted an author for saying that nature and substance had the same signification, when one of those terms, viz. substance, he does not, upon that occasion, so much as name. But your lordship has this privilege, it seems, to speak of your inferences as if they were other men’s words, whereof I think I have given several instances; I am sure I have given one, where you seem to speak of clear and distinct ideas as my words, when they are only your words, there inferred from my words “evident knowledge:” Edition: current; Page: [365] and other the like instances might be produced, were there any need.

Had your lordship produced Mr. Boyle’s testimony, that nature, in our tongue, had the same signification with substance, I should presently have submitted to so great an authority, and taken it for proper English, and a clear way of expressing one’s self, to use nature and substance promiscuously one for another. But since, I think, there is no instance of any one who ever did so, and therefore it must be a new, and consequently no very clear way of speaking; give me leave, my lord, to wonder, why in all this dispute about the term nature, upon the clear and right understanding whereof, you lay so much stress, you have not been pleased to define it: which would put an end to all disputes about the meaning of it, and leave no doubtfulness, no obscurity in your use of it, nor any room for any dispute what you mean by it. This would have saved many pages of paper, though perhaps it would have made us lose your learned account of what the ancients have said concerning φύσις, and the several acceptations they used it in.

All the other authors, Greek and Latin, your lordship has quoted, may, for aught I know, have used the term φύσις, and natura, properly in their languages; and have discoursed very clearly and intelligibly about what those terms in their countries signified. But how that proves there were no difficulties in the sense or construction in that discourse of yours, concerning nature, which I, and those I consulted upon it, did not understand; is hard to see. Your lordship’s discourse was obscure, and too difficult then for me, and so I must own it is still. Whether my friend be any better enlightened by what you have said to him here, out of so many antient authors, I am too remote from him at the writing of this to know, and so shall not trouble your lordship with any conversation, which perhaps, when we meet again, we may have upon it.

The next passage of your vindication, which was complained of to be very hard to be understood, was this, where you say, “that you grant that by sensation and reflection we come to know the powers and properties Edition: current; Page: [366] of things; but our reason is satisfied that there must be something beyond these, because it is impossible they should subsist by themselves. So that the nature of things properly belongs to our reason, and not to mere ideas.” To rectify the mistake that had been made in my first letter, p. 157, in taking reason here to mean the faculty of reason, you tell me, “I might easily have seen, that by reason your lordship understood principles of reason allowed by mankind.” To which it was replied, that then this passage of yours must be read thus, viz. “that your lordship grants that by sensation and reflexion we come to know the properties of things; but our reason, i. e. the principles of reason allowed by mankind, are satisfied that there must be something beyond these; because it is impossible they should subsist by themselves. So that the nature of things properly belongs to our reason,” i. e. to the principles of reason allowed by mankind, and not to mere ideas; “which made it seem more unintelligible than it was before.”

To the complaint was made of the unintelligibleness of this passage in this last sense given by your lordship, you answer nothing. So that we [i. e. my friends whom I consulted and I] are still excusable, if not understanding what is signified by these expressions: “the principles of reason allowed by mankind are satisfied, and the nature of things properly belongs to the principles of reason allowed by mankind;” we see not the connexion of the propositions here tied together by the words “so that,” which was the thing complained of in these words, viz. “the inference here, both for its connexion and expression seemed hard to be understood;” and more to the same purpose, which your lordship takes no notice of.

Indeed your lordship repeats these words of mine, “that in both senses of the word reason, either taken for a faculty, or for the principles of reason allowed by mankind, reason and ideas may consist together:” and then subjoins, “that this leads your lordship to the examination of that which may be of some use, viz. to show the difference of my method of certainty Edition: current; Page: [367] by ideas, and the method of certainty by reason.” Which how it any way justifies your opposing ideas and reason, as you here, and elsewhere often do; or shows, that ideas are inconsistent with the principles of reason allowed by mankind; I leave to the reader to judge. Your lordship, for the clearing of what you had said in your Vindication, &c. from obscurity and unintelligibleness, which were complained of in it, is to prove, that ideas are inconsistent with the principles of reason allowed by mankind; and in answer to this, you say, “you will show the difference of my method of certainty by ideas, and the method of certainty by reason.”

My lord, as I remember, the expression in question was not, “that the nature of things properly belongs to our reason, and not to my method of certainty by ideas; but this, that the nature of things belongs to our reason, and not to mere ideas. So that the thing you were here to show, was, that reason, i. e. the principles of reason allowed by mankind, and ideas; and not the principles of reason, and my method of certainty by ideas, cannot consist together:” for the principles of reason allowed by mankind, and ideas, may consist together; though, perhaps, my method of certainty by ideas should prove inconsistent with those principles. So that if all that you say, from this to the 153d page, i. e. forty-eight pages, were as clear demonstration, as I humbly conceive it is the contrary; yet it does nothing to clear the passage in hand, but leaves that part of your discourse, concerning nature, lying still under the objection was made against it, as much as if you had not said one word.

But since I am not unwilling that my method of certainty should be examined, and I should be glad (if there be any faults in it) to learn the defects of that my definition of knowledge, from so great a master as your lordship; I will consider what you here say, “to show the difference of my method of certainty by ideas, and the method of certainty by reason.”

Your lordship says, “that the way of certainty by reason lies in two things:

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  • “1. The certainty of principles.
  • 2. The certainty of deductions.”

I grant, that a part of that which is called certainty by reason, lies in the certainty of principles; which principles, I presume, your lordship and I are agreed, are several propositions.

If then these principles are propositions, to show the difference between your lordship’s way of certainty by reason, and my way of certainty by ideas; I think it is visible, that you ought to show wherein the certainty of those propositions consists in your way by reason, different from that wherein I make it consist in my way by ideas. As for example, your lordship and I are agreed, that this proposition, whatsoever is, is; is a principle of reason, or a maxim. Now my way of certainty by ideas, is, that the certainty of this proposition consists in this, that there is a perceivable connexion or agreement between the idea of being and the idea of being, or between the idea of existence and the idea of existence, as is expressed in that proposition. But now, in your way of reason, pray wherein does the certainty of this proposition consist? If it be in any thing different from that perceivable agreement of the ideas, affirmed of one another in it, I beseech your lordship to tell me; if not, I beg leave to conclude, that your way of certainty by reason, and my way of certainty by ideas, in this case are just the same.

But instead of saying any thing, to show wherein the certainty of principles is different in the way of reason, from the certainty of principles in the way of ideas, upon my friend’s showing, that you had no ground to say as you did, that I had no idea of reason, as it stands for principles of reason; your lordship takes occasion (as, what will not, in a skilful hand, serve to introduce any thing one has a mind to?) to tell me, “what ideas I have of them must appear from my book, and you do there find a chapter of self-evident propositions and maxims,B. iv. c. 7.§ 20. which you cannot but think extraordinary for the design of it, which is thus summed in the conclusion, viz. that it was to show, that these maxims, as they Edition: current; Page: [369] are of little use, where we have clear and distinct ideas, so they are of dangerous use, where our ideas are not clear and distinct. And is not this a fair way to convince your lordship, that my way of ideas is very consistent with the certainty of reason, when the way of reason hath been always supposed to proceed upon general principles, and I assert them to be useless and dangerous?”

In which words I crave leave to observe,

1. That the pronoun “them” here seems to have reference to self-evident propositions, to maxims, and to principles, as terms used by your lordship and me; though it be certain, that you and I use them in a far different sense; for, if I mistake not, you use them all three promiscuously one for another; whereas it is plain,Essay, b. iv. c. 7. that in that chapter, out of which you bring your quotations here, I distinguish self-evident propositions from those, which I there mention under the name of maxims, which are principally these two, “whatsoever is, is; and it is impossible for the same thing to be, and not to be.” Farther it is plain, out of the same place, that by maxims I there mean general propositions, which are so universally received under the name of maxims or axioms, that they are looked upon as innate; the two chief whereof, principally there meant, are those above-mentioned: but what the propositions are which you comprehend under maxims, or principles of reason, cannot be determined, since your lordship neither defines nor enumerates them; and so it is impossible, precisely, to know what you mean by “them” here: and that which makes me more at a loss, is, that in this argument, you set down for principles or maxims, propositions that are not self-evident, viz. this, “that the essential properties of a man are to reason and discourse,” &c.

2. I crave leave to observe, that you tell me, that in my book “you find a chapter of self-evident propositions and maxims,” whereas I find no such chapter in my book: I have in it indeed a chapter of maxims, but never an one intitled, “of self-evident propositions, Edition: current; Page: [370] and maxims.” This, it is possible, your lordship will call a nice criticism; but yet it is such an one, as is very necessary in the case; for in that chapter I, as is before observed, expressly distinguish self-evident propositions from the received maxims or axioms, which I there speak of: whereas it seems to me to be your design (in joining them in a title of a chapter, contrary to what I had done) to have it thought, that I treated of them as one and the same thing; and so all that I said there, of the uselessness of some few general propositions under the title of received maxims, might be applied to all self-evident propositions; the quite contrary whereof was the design of that chapter. For that which I endeavour to show there, is, that all our knowledge is not built on those few received general propositions, which are ordinarily called maxims or axioms; but that there are a great many truths may be known without them: but that there is any knowledge, without self-evident propositions, I am so far from denying, that I am accused by your lordship for requiring, in demonstration, more such than you think are necessary. This seems, I say, to be your design; and I wish your lordship, by entitling my chapter, as I myself did, and not as it would best serve your turn, had not made it necessary for me to make this nice criticism. This is certain, that without thus confounding maxims and self-evident propositions, what you here say would not so much, as in appearance, concern me: for,

3. I crave leave to observe, that all the argument your lordship uses here against me to prove, that my way of certainty by ideas is inconsistent with “the way of certainty by reason, which lies in the certainty of principles, is this, that the way of reason hath been always supposed to proceed upon general principles, and I assert them to be useless and dangerous.” Be pleased, my lord, to define or enumerate your general principles, and then we shall see whether I assert them to be useless and dangerous, and whether they, who supposed the way of reason was to proceed upon general principles, differed from me; and if they did differ, whether theirs was more the way of reason than mine: Edition: current; Page: [371] but to talk thus of general principles, which have always been supposed the way of reason, without telling so much as which, or what they are, is not so much as by authority to show, that my way of certainty by ideas is inconsistent with the way of certainty by reason: much less is it in reality to prove it. Because admitting I had said any thing contrary to what, as you say, has been always supposed, its being supposed, proves it not to be true; because we know that several things have been for many ages generally supposed, which at last, upon examination, have been found not to be true.

What hath been always supposed, is fit only for your lordship’s great reading to declare: but such arguments, I confess, are wholly lost upon me, who have not time or occasion to examine what has always been supposed; especially in those questions which concern truths, that are to be known from the nature of things: because, I think, they cannot be established by majority of votes, not easy to be collected; nor if they were collected, can convey certainty till it can be supposed, that the greater part of mankind are always in the right. In matters of fact, I own we must govern ourselves by the testimonies of others; but in matters of speculation, to suppose on, as others have supposed before us, is supposed by many to be only a way to learned ignorance, which enables to talk much, and know but little. The truths, which the penetration and labours of others before us have discovered and made out, I own we are infinitely indebted to them for; and some of them are of that consequence, that we cannot acknowledge too much the advantages we receive from those great masters in knowledge: but where they only supposed, they left it to us to search, and advance farther. And in those things, I think, it becomes our industry to employ itself, for the improvement of the knowledge, and adding to the stock of discoveries left us by our inquisitive and thinking predecessors.

4. One thing more I crave leave to observe, viz. that to these words, “these maxims, as they are of little use where we have clear and distinct ideas, so they are of dangerous use where our ideas are not clear and Edition: current; Page: [372] distinct,” quoted out of my Essay; you subjoin, “and is not this a fair way to convince your lordship, that my way of ideas is very consistent with the certainty of reason?” Answ. My lord, my Essay, and those words in it, were writ many years before I dreamt that you or any body else would ever question the consistency of my way of certainty by ideas, with the way of certainty by reason; and so could not be intended to convince your lordship in this point: and since you first said, that these two ways are inconsistent, I never brought those words to convince you, “that my way is consistent with the certainty of reason;” and therefore why you ask, whether that be a fair way to convince you, which was never made use of as any way to convince you of any such thing, is hard to imagine.

But your lordship goes on in the following words with the like kind of argument,Essay, b. iv. c. 7. § 4. where you tell me that I say, “that my first design is to prove, that the consideration of those general maxims adds nothing to the evidence or certainty of knowledge; which, says your lordship, overthrows all that which hath been accounted science and demonstration, and must lay the foundation of scepticism; because our true grounds of certainty depend upon some general principles of reason. To make this plain, you say, you will put a case grounded upon my words; which are, that I have discoursed with very rational men, who have actually denied that they are men. These words J. S. understands as spoken of themselves, and charges them with very ill consequences; but you think they are capable of another meaning: however, says your lordship, let us put the case, that men did in earnest question, whether they were men or not; and then you do not see, if I set aside general maxims, how I can convince them that they are men. For the way your lordship looks on as most apt to prevail upon such extraordinary sceptical men, is by general maxims and principles of reason.”

Answ. I can neither in that paragraph nor chapter find that I say, “that my first design is to prove, that Edition: current; Page: [373] these general maxims” [i. e. those which your lordship calls general principles of reason] add nothing to the evidence and certainty of knowledge in general: for so these words must be understood, to make good the consequence which your lordship charges on them, viz. “that they overthrow all that has been accounted science and demonstration, and lay the foundation of scepticism.”

What my design in that place is, is evident from these words in the foregoing paragraph:Essay, b. iv. c. 7. § 3. “let us consider whether this self-evidence be peculiar only to those propositions, which are received for maxims, and have the dignity of axioms allowed: and here it is plain, that several other truths, not allowed to be axioms, partake equally with them in this self-evidence.” Which shows that my design there, was to evince that there were truths that are not called maxims, that are as self-evident as those received maxims.§ 4. Pursuant to this design, I say, “that the consideration of these axioms” [i. e. whatsoever is, is; and it is impossible for the same thing to be, and not to be] “can add nothing to the evidence and certainty of its [i. e. the mind’s] knowledge;” [i. e. of the truth of more particular propositions concerning identity.] These are my words in that place, and that the sense of them is according to the limitation annexed to them between those crotchets. I refer my reader to that fourth section; where he will find that all that I say amounts to no more but what is expressed in these words, in the close of it: “I appeal to every one’s own mind, whether this proposition, a circle is a circle, be not as self-evident a proposition, as that consisting of more general terms, whatsoever is, is: and again, whether this proposition, blue is not red, be not a proposition that the mind can no more doubt of, as soon as it understands the words, than it does of that axiom, it is impossible for the same thing to be, and not to be: and so of all the like.” And now I ask your lordship, whether you do affirm of this, “that it overthrows all that which hath been counted science and demonstration, Edition: current; Page: [374] and must lay the foundation of scepticism?” If you do, I shall desire you to prove it: if you do not, I must desire you to consider how fairly my sense has been represented.

But supposing you had represented my sense right, and that the little or dangerous use which I there limit to certain maxims, had been meant of all principles of reason in general, in your sense; what had this been, my lord, to the question under debate? Your lordship undertakes to show, that your way of certainty by reason is different from my way of certainty by ideas. To do this, you say in the preceding page, “that certainty by reason lies, 1. in certainty of principles; 2. in certainty of deductions.” The first of these you are upon here; and if in order to what you had undertaken, your lordship had shown, that in your way by reason, those principles were certain; but in my way by ideas, we could not attain to any certainty concerning them: this indeed had been to show a difference between my way of certainty, which you call the way by ideas; and yours, which you call the way by reason; in this part of certainty, that lies in the certainty of principles. I have said in the words quoted by your lordship, that the consideration of those two maxims, “what is, is; and it is impossible for the same thing to be, and not to be;” are not of use to add any thing to the evidence or certainty of our knowledge of the truth of identical predications; but I never said those maxims were in the least uncertain: I may perhaps think otherwise of their use than your lordship does, but I think no otherwise of their truth and certainty than you do; they are left in their full force and certainty for your use, if you can make any better use of them, than what I think can be made. So that in respect of the allowed certainty of those principles, my way differs not at all from your lordship’s.

Pray, my lord, look over that chapter again, and see whether I bring their truth and certainty any more into question, than you yourself do; and it is about their certainty, and not use, that the question here is between your lordship and me: we both agree, that they are both Edition: current; Page: [375] undoubtedly certain; all then that you bring in the following pages about their uuse, is nothing to the present question about the certainty of principles, which your lordship is upon in this place: and you will prove, that your way of certainty by reason is different from my way of certainty by ideas; when you can show, that you are certain of the truth of those, or any other maxims, any otherwise than by the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas as expressed in them.

But your lordship passing by that wholly, endeavours to prove, that my saying, that the consideration of those two general maxims can add nothing to the evidence and certainty of knowledge in identical predications, (for that is all that I there say) “overthrows all that has been accounted science and demonstration, and must lay the foundation of scepticism;” and it is by a very remarkable proof, viz. “because our true grounds of certainty depend upon some general principles of reason;” which is the very thing I there not only deny, but have disproved; and therefore should not, I humbly conceive, have been rested on as a proof of any thing else, till my arguments against it had been answered.

But instead of that, your lordship says, you will put a case that shall make it plain: which is the business of the six following pages, which are spent in this case.

The case is founded upon a supposition, which you seem willing to have thought that you borrowed either from J. S. or from me: whereas truly that supposition is neither that gentleman’s nor mine, but purely your lordship’s own. For however grossly Mr. J. S. has mistaken (which he has since acknowledged in print) the obvious sense of those words of my Essay,B. iv. c. 7.§ 17. on which you say you ground your case; yet I must do him right herein, that he himself supposed not, that any man in his wits ever in earnest questioned whether he himself were a man or no: though by a mistake (which I cannot but wonder at, in one so much exercised in controversy as Mr. J. S.) he charged me with saying it.

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Your lordship indeed says, “that you think my words there may have another meaning.” Would you thereby insinuate, that you think it possible they should have that meaning which J. S. once gave them? If you do not, my lord, Mr. J. S. and his understanding them so, is in vain brought in here to countenance your making such a supposition. If you do think those words of my Essay capable of such a meaning as J. S. gave them, there will appear a strange harmony between your lordship’s and M. J. S.’s understanding, when he mistakes what is said in my book; whether it will continue, now Mr. J. S. takes me right, I know not: but let us come to the case as you put it. Your words are,

“Let us put the case, that men did in earnest question whether they were men or not. Your lordship says, you do not then see, if I set aside general maxims, how I can convince them that they are men.” Answ. And do you, my lord, see that with maxims you can convince them of that or any thing else? I confess, whatever you should do, I should think it scarce worth while to reason with them about any thing. I believe you are the first that ever supposed a man so much beside himself, as to question whether he were a man or no, and yet so rational as to be thought capable of being convinced of that or any thing by discourse of reason. This, methinks, is little different from supposing a man in and out of his wits at the same time.

But let us suppose your lordship so lucky with your maxims, that you do convince a man (that doubts of it) that he is a man; what proof, I beseech you, my lord, is that of this proposition, “that our true grounds of certainty depend upon some general principles of reason?”

On the contrary, suppose it should happen, as is the more likely, that your setting upon him with your maxims cannot convince him; are we not by this your case to take this for a proof, “that general principles of reason are not the grounds of certainty?” For it is upon the success, or not success of your endeavours to convince such a man with maxims, that your lordship puts the proof of this proposition, “that our true Edition: current; Page: [377] grounds of certainty depend upon general principles of reason;” the issue whereof must remain in suspense, till you have found such a man to bring it to trial: and so the proof is far enough off, unless you think the case so plain, that every one sees such a man will be presently convinced by your maxims, though I should think it probable that most people may think he will not.

Your lordship adds, “for the way you look on, as most apt to prevail upon such extraordinary sceptical men, is by general maxims and principles of reason.” Answ. This indeed is a reason why your lordship should use maxims, when you have to do with such extraordinary sceptical men; because you look on it as the likeliest way to prevail. But pray, my lord, is your looking on it as the best way to prevail on such extraordinary sceptical men, any proof, “that our true grounds of certainty depend upon some general principles of reason?” for it was to make this plain, that this case was put.

Farther, my lord, give me leave to ask, what we have here to do with the ways of convincing others of what they do not know or assent to? Your lordship and I are not, as I think, disputing of the methods of persuading others of what they are ignorant of, and do not yet assent to; but our debate here is about the ground of certainty, in what they do know and assent to.

However, you go on to set down several maxims, which you look on as most apt to prevail upon your extraordinary sceptical man, to convince him that he exists, and that he is a man. The maxims are,

“That nothing can have no operation.

“That all different sorts of being are distinguished by essential properties.

“That the essential properties of a man are, to reason, discourse, &c.

“That these properties cannot subsist by themselves, without a real substance.”

I will not question whether a man cannot know that he exists, or be certain (for it is of knowledge and certainty the question here is) that he is a man without the help of these maxims. I will only crave leave to ask, Edition: current; Page: [378] how you know that these are maxims? For methinks this, “that the essential properties of a man are to reason, discourse,” &c. an imperfect proposition, “and so forth” at the end of it, is a pretty sort of maxim. That therefore which I desire to be informed here, is, how your lordship knows these, or any other propositions to be maxims; and how propositions, that are maxims, are to be distinguished from propositions that are not maxims? and the reason why I insist upon it, is this: because this, and this only, would show, whether what I have said in my chapter about maxims, “overthrows all that has been accounted science and demonstration, and lays the foundation of scepticism.” But I fear my request, that you would be pleased to tell me what you mean by maxims, that I may know what propositions, according to your lordship, are, and what are not maxims, will not be easily granted me: because it would presently put an end to all that you impute to me, as said in that chapter against maxims, in a sense that I use not the word there.

Your lordship makes me, out of my book, answer to the use you make of the four above-mentioned propositions, which you call maxims, as if I were declared of an opinion, that maxims could not be of any use in arguing with others: which methinks you should not have done, if you had considered my chapter of maxims, which you so often quote.Essay, b. iv. c. 7. § 11. For I there say, “maxims are useful to stop the mouths of wranglers—to show, that wrong opinions lead to absurdities,” &c.

Your lordship nevertheless goes on to prove, “that without the help of these principles or maxims, I cannot prove to any that doubt it, that they are men, in my way of ideas.” Answ. I beseech you, my lord, to give me leave to mind you again, that the question is not what I can prove; but whether, in my way by ideas, I cannot without the help of these principles know that I am a man; and be certain of the truth of that, and several other propositions: I say, of several other propositions; for I do not think you, in your way of certainty by reason, pretend to be certain of all truths; Edition: current; Page: [379] or to be able to prove (to those who doubt) all propositions, or so much as be able to convince every one of every proposition, that you yourself are certain of. There be many propositions in Mr. Newton’s excellent book, which there are thousands of people, and those a little more rational than such as should deny themselves to be men, whom Mr. Newton himself would not be able, with or without the use of maxims used in mathematics, to convince of the truth of: and yet this would be no argument against his method of certainty, whereby he came to the knowledge that they are true. What therefore you can conclude, as to my way of certainty, from a supposition of my not being able, in my way by ideas, to convince those who doubt of it, that they are men, I do not see. But your lordship is resolved to prove that I cannot, and so you go on.

Your lordship says, that “I suppose that we must have a clear and distinct idea of that we are certain of;” and this you prove out of my chapter of maxims, where I say, “that every one knows the ideas that he has, and that distinctly and unconfusedly one from another.” Answ. I suspected all along, that you mistook what I meant by confused ideas.Essay, b. ii. c. 29. § 4, 5, 6. If your lordship pleases to turn to my chapter of distinct and confused ideas, you will there find, that an idea, which is distinguished in the mind from all others, may yet be confused: the confusion being made by a careless application of distinct names to ideas, that are not sufficiently distinct. Which having explained at large, in that chapter, I shall not need here again to repeat. Only permit me to set down an instance: he that has the idea of the liquor that circulating through the heart of a sheep, keeps that animal alive, and he that has the idea of the liquor that circulates through the heart of a lobster, has two different ideas; as distinct as an idea of an aqueous, pellucid, cold liquor, is from the idea of a red, opaque, hot liquor: but yet these two may be confounded, by giving the name blood to this vital circulating liquor of a lobster.

This being considered, will show how what I have said there may consist with my saying, that to certainty Edition: current; Page: [380] ideas are not required, that are in all their parts perfectly clear and distinct: because certainty being spoken there of the knowledge of the truth of any proposition, and propositions being made in words, it may be true, that notwithstanding all the ideas we have in our minds, are, as far as we have them there, clear and distinct; yet those which we would suppose the terms in the proposition to stand for, may not be clear and distinct: either,

1. By making the term stand for an uncertain idea, which we have not yet precisely determined in our minds, whereby it comes to stand sometimes for one idea, sometimes for another. Which though, when we reflect on them, they are distinct in our minds, yet by this use of a name undetermined in its signification, come to be confounded. Or,

2. By supposing the name to stand for something more than really is in the idea in our minds, which we make it a sign of, v. g. let us suppose, that a man many years since, when he was young, eat a fruit, whose shape, size, consistency, and colour, he has a perfect remembrance of; but the particular taste he has forgot, and only remembers, that it very much delighted him. This complex idea, as far as it is in his mind, it is evident, is there; and as far as he perceives it, when he reflects on it, is in all parts clear and distinct: but when he calls it a pine-apple, and will suppose, that name stands for the same precise complex idea, for which another man (who newly eat of that fruit, and has the idea of the taste of it also fresh in his mind) uses it, or for which he himself used it, when he had the taste fresh in his memory; it is plain his complex idea in that part, which consists in the taste, is very obscure.

To apply this to what your lordship here makes me suppose, I answer,

1. I do not suppose, that to certainty it is requisite, that an idea should be in all its parts clear and distinct. I can be certain, that a pine-apple is not an artichoke, though my idea, which I suppose that name to stand for, be in me obscure and confused, in regard of its taste.

2. I do not deny, but on the contrary I affirm, that I can have a clear and distinct idea of a man (i. e. the Edition: current; Page: [381] idea I give the name man to, may be clear and distinct) though it should be true, that men are not yet agreed on the determined idea, that the name man shall stand for. Whatever confusion there may be in the idea, to which that name is indeterminately applied; I do allow and affirm, that every one, if he pleases, may have a clear and distinct idea of a man to himself, i. e. which he makes the word man stand for: which, if he makes known to others in his discourse with them about man, all verbal dispute will cease, and he cannot be mistaken when he uses the term man. And if this were but done with most of the glittering terms brandished in disputes, it would often be seen how little some men have to say, who with equivocal words and expressions make no small noise in controversy.

Your lordship concludes this part by saying, “thus you have showed how inconsistent my way of ideas is with true certainty, and of what use and necessity these general principles of reason are.” Answ. By the laws of disputation, which in another place you express such a regard to, one is bound not to change the terms of the question. This I crave leave humbly to offer to your lordship, because, as far as I have looked into controversy, I do not remember to have met with any one so apt, shall I say, to forget or change the question as your lordship. This, my lord, I should not venture to say, but upon very good grounds, which I shall be ready to give you an account of, whenever you shall demand it of me. One example of it we have here: you say, “you have showed how inconsistent my way of ideas is with true certainty, and of what use and necessity these general principles of reason are.” My lord, if you please to look back to the 105th page, you will see what you there promised was “to show the difference of my method of certainty by ideas, and the method of certainty by reason:” and particularly in the pages between that and this, the certainty of principles, which you say is one of those two things, wherein the way of certainty by reason lies. Instead of that, your lordship concludes here, that you have showed two things:

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“1. How inconsistent my way of ideas is with true certainty.” Whereas it should be “to show the inconsistency or difference of my method of certainty by ideas, and the method of certainty by reason;” which are two very different propositions. And before you undertake to show, that my method of certainty is inconsistent with true certainty, it will be necessary for you to define, and tell us wherein true certainty consists, which your lordship has shown no great forwardness to do.

2. Another thing which you say you have done, is, “that you have shown of what use and necessity these general principles of reason are.” Ans. Whether by these general principles you mean those propositions which you set down, page 108, and call there maxims, or any other propositions which you have not any where set down, I cannot tell. But whatsoever they are, that you mean here by “these,” I know not how the usefulness of these your general principles, be they what they will, came to be a question between your lordship and me here. If you have a mind to show any mistakes of mine in my chapter of maxims, which, you say, you think extraordinary for the design of it, I shall not be unwilling to be rectified; but that the usefulness of principles is not what is here under debate between us, I, with submission, affirm. That which your lordship is here to prove, is, that the certainty of principles, which is the way of certainty by reason, is different from my way of certainty by ideas. Upon the whole, I crave leave to say in your words, that, “thus I have, I humbly conceive, made it appear, that you have not showed any difference, much less any inconsistency of my method of certainty by ideas, and the method of certainty by reason,” in that first part, which you assign of certainty by reason, viz. certainty of principles.

I come now to the second part, which you assign of certainty by reason, viz. certainty of deductions. I only crave leave first to set down these words in the latter end of your discourse, which we have been considering, where your lordship says, “you begin to think J. S. was in the right, when he made me say, That I had Edition: current; Page: [383] discoursed with very rational men who denied themselves to be men.” Answ. I do not know what may be done by those who have such a command over the pronouns “they” and “them,” as to put “they themselves” for “they.” I shall therefore desire my reader to turn to that passage of my book, and see whether he too can be so lucky as your lordship,Essay, b. iv. c. 7. § 17. and can with you begin to think, that by these words, “who have actually denied, that they, i. e. infants and changelings, are men;” I meant, who actually denied that they themselves were men.

Your lordship, to prove my method of certainty by ideas to be different from, and inconsistent with, your second part of the certainty by reason, which, you say, lies in the certainty of deductions, begins thus: “that you come now to the certainty of reason, in making deductions; and here you shall briefly lay down the grounds of certainty, which the ancient philosophers went upon, and then compare my way of ideas with them.” To which give me leave, my lord, to reply:

(1.) That I humbly conceive, it should have been grounds of certainty [in making deductions] which the ancient philosophers went upon; or else they will be nothing to the proposition, which your lordship has undertaken here to prove. Now of the certainty in making deductions, I see none of the ancients produced by your lordship, who say any thing to show, wherein it consists, but Aristotle; who, as you say, “in his method of inferring one thing from another, went upon this common principle of reason, that what things agree in a third, agree among themselves.” And it so falls out, that so far as he goes towards the showing wherein the certainty of deductions consists,B. iv. c. 2. § 2. & c. 17. § 15. he and I agree, as is evident by what I say in my Essay. And if Aristotle had gone any farther to show, how we are certain, that those two things agree with a third, he would have placed that certainty in the perception of that agreement, as I have done, and then he and I should have perfectly agreed. I presume to say, if Aristotle had gone farther in this matter, he would have placed our knowledge or Edition: current; Page: [384] certainty of the agreement of any two things in the perception of their agreement. And let not any one from hence think I attribute too much to myself in saying, that that acute and judicious philosopher, if he had gone farther in that matter, would have done as I have done. For if he omitted it, I imagine it was not that he did not see it, but that it was so obvious and evident, that it appeared superfluous to name it. For who can doubt that the knowledge, or being certain, that any two things agree, consists in the perception of their agreement? What else can it possibly consist in? It is so obvious, that it would be a little extraordinary to think, that he that went so far could miss it. And I should wonder, if any one should allow the certainty of deduction to consist in the agreement of two things in a third, and yet should deny that the knowledge or certainty of that agreement consisted in the perception of it.

(2.) In the next place, my lord, supposing my method of certainty, in making deductions, were different from those of the ancients;Essay, b. iv. c. 17. § 19. this, at best, would be only that which I call “argumentum ad verecundiam;” which proves not on which side reason is, though I, in modesty, should answer nothing to their authorities.

(3.) The ancients, as it seems by your lordship, not agreeing one among another about the grounds of certainty; what can their authorities signify in the case? or, how will it appear, that I differ from reason, in differing from any of them, more than that they differ from reason, in differing one from another? And therefore, after all the different authorities produced by you out of your great measure of reading, the matter will at last reduce itself to this point, that your lordship should tell us wherein the certainty of reason, in making deductions, consists; and then show wherein my method of making deductions differs from it: which, whether you have done or no, we shall see in what follows.

Your lordship closes your very learned, and to other purposes very useful, account of the opinions of the ancients, concerning certainty, with these words: “that thus you have, in as few words as you could, laid Edition: current; Page: [385] together those old methods of certainty, which have obtained greatest reputation in the world.” Whereupon I must crave leave to mind you again, that the proposition you are here upon, and have undertaken to prove in this place, is concerning the certainty of deductions, and not concerning certainty in general. I say not this, that I am willing to decline the examination of my method of certainty in general, any way, or in any place: but I say it to observe, that in discourses of this nature, the laws of disputation have wisely ordered the proposition under debate to be kept to, and that in the same terms, to avoid wandering, obscurity, and confusion.

I therefore proceed now to consider what use your lordship makes of the ancients, against my way of certainty in general; since you think fit to make no use of them, as to the certainty of reason in making deductions: though it is under this your second branch of certainty by reason, that you bring them in.

Your first objection here, is that old one again, that my way of certainty by ideas is new. Answ. Your calling of it new, does not prove it to be different from that of reason; but your lordship proves it to be new,

“1. Because here [i. e. in my way] we have no general principles.” Answ. I do, as your lordship knows, own the truth and certainty of the received general maxims; and I contend for the usefulness and necessity of self-evident propositions in all certainty, whether of institution or demonstration. What therefore those general principles are, which you have not in my way of certainty by ideas, which your lordship has in your way of certainty by reason, I beseech you to tell me, and thereby to make good this assertion against me.

2. Your lordship says, “that here [i. e. in my way] we have no antecedents and consequents, no syllogistical methods of demonstration.” Answ. If your lordship here means, that there be no antecedents and consequents in my book, or that I speak not, or allow not of syllogism as a form of argumentation, that has its use, I humbly conceive the contrary is plain. But Edition: current; Page: [386] if by “here we have no antecedents and consequents, no syllogistical methods of demonstration,” you mean, that I do not place certainty, in having antecedents and consequents, or in making of syllogisms, I grant I do not; I have said syllogisms, instead of your words, syllogistical methods of demonstration; which examined, amount here to no more than syllogisms; for syllogistical methods are nothing but mode and figure, i. e. syllogisms; and the rules of syllogisms are the same, whether the syllogisms be used in demonstration or in probability. But it was convenient for you to say “syllogistical methods of demonstration,” if you would have it thought, that certainty is placed in it: for to have named bare syllogism, without annexing demonstration to it, would have spoiled all, since every one, who knows what syllogism is, knows it may as well be used in topical or fallacious arguments, as in demonstration.

Your lordship charges me then, that in my way of ideas I do not place certainty in having antecedents and consequents. And pray, my lord, do you in your way by reason do so? If you do, this is certain that every body has, or may have certainty in every thing he discourses about: for every one, in any discourse he makes, has, or may, if he pleases, have antecedents and consequents.

Again, your lordship charges me, that I do not place certainty in syllogism; I crave leave to ask again, and does your lordship? And is this the difference between your way of certainty by reason, and my way of certainty by ideas? Why else is it objected to me, that I do not, if your lordship does not place certainty in syllogism? And if you do, I know nothing so requisite, as that you should advise all people, women and all, to betake themselves immediately to the universities, and to the learning of logic, to put themselves out of the dangerous state of scepticism: for there young lads, by being taught syllogism, arrive at certainty; whereas, without mode and figure, the world is in perfect ignorance and uncertainty, and is sure of nothing. The merchant cannot be certain that his account is right cast up, nor the lady Edition: current; Page: [387] that her coach is not a wheel-barrow, nor her dairy-maid that one and one pound of butter, are two pounds of butter, and two and two four; and all for want of mode and figure; nay, according to this rule, whoever lived before Aristotle, or him, whoever it was, that first introduced syllogism, could not be certain of any thing; no, not that there was a God, which will be the present state of the far greatest part of mankind (to pass by whole nations of the east, as China and Indostan, &c.) even in the christian world, who to this day have not the syllogistical methods of demonstration, and so cannot be certain of any thing.

3. Your lordship farther says, that “in my way of certainty by ideas we have no criterion.” Answ. To perceive the agreement or disagreement of two ideas, and not to perceive the agreement or disagreement of two ideas, is, I think, a criterion to distinguish what a man is certain of, from what he is not certain of. Has your lordship any other or better criterion to distinguish certainty from uncertainty? If you have, I repeat again my earnest request, that you would be pleased to do that right to your way of certainty by reason, as not to conceal it. If your lordship has not, why is the want of a criterion, when I have so plain a one, objected to my way of certainty, and my way so often accused of a tendency to scepticism and infidelity, when you yourself have not a better? And I think I may take the liberty to say, if yours be not the same, you have not so good.

Perhaps your lordship will censure me here, and think it is more than becomes me, to press you so hard concerning your own way; and to ask, whether your way of certainty lies in having antecedents and consequents, and syllogisms; and whether it has any other or better criterion, than what I have given: your lordship will possibly think it enough, that “you have laid down the grounds of certainty which the ancient Grecians went upon.” My lord, if you think so, I must be satisfied with it: though perhaps others will think it strange, that in a dispute about a method of certainty, which, for its supposed coming short of certainty, you charge with a tendency to scepticism and infidelity, you should Edition: current; Page: [388] produce only the different opinions of other men concerning certainty, to make good this charge, without declaring any of those different opinions or grounds of certainty to be true or false; and some may be apt to suspect that you yourself are not yet resolved wherein to place it.

But, my lord, I know too well what your distance above me requires of me, to say any such thing to your lordship. Your own opinions are to yourself, and your not discovering them must pass for a sufficient reason for your not discovering them: and if you think fit to overlay a poor infant modern notion with the great and weighty names of Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, Plutarch, and the like; and heaps of quotations out of the ancients; who is not presently to think it dead, and that there is an end of it? Especially when it will have too much envy for any one to open his mouth in defence of a notion, which is declared by your lordship to be different from what those great men said, whose words are to be taken without any more ado, and who are not to be thought ignorant or mistaken in any thing. Though I crave leave to say, that however infallible oracles they were, to take things barely upon their, or any man’s authority, is barely to believe, but not to know or be certain.

Thus your lordship has sufficiently proved my way of certainty by ideas to be inconsistent with the way of certainty by reason, by proving it new; which you prove only by saying, that “it is so wholly new, that here we have no general principles; no criterion; no antecedents and consequents; no syllogistical methods of demonstration: and yet we are told of a better way of certainty to be attained merely by the help of ideas;” add, if your lordship pleases, signified by words: which put into propositions, whereof some are general principles, some are or may be antecedents, and some consequents, and some put together in mode and figure, syllogistical methods of demonstration. For, pray, my lord, may not words, that stand for ideas, be put into propositions, as well as any other? And may not those propositions, wherein the terms stand for ideas, Edition: current; Page: [389] be as well put into antecedents and consequents, or syllogisms, and make maxims, as well as any other propositions, whose terms stand not for ideas, if your lordship can find any such? And if thus ideas can be brought into maxims, antecedents, and consequents, and syllogistical methods of demonstration, what inconsistency has the way of certainty by ideas, with those ways of certainty by reason, if at last your lordship will say, that certainty consists in propositions put together as antecedents and consequents, and in mode and figure? For as for principles or maxims, we shall know whether your principles and maxims are a way to certainty, when you shall please to tell us what it is, that to your lordship makes a maxim or principle, and distinguishes it from other propositions; and whether it be any thing but an immediate perception of the agreement or disagreement of the ideas, as expressed in that proposition. To conclude, by all that your lordship has alleged out of the ancients, you have not, as I humbly conceive, proved that my way of certainty is new, or that they had any way of certainty different from mine; much less have you proved that my way of certainty by ideas is inconsistent with the way of certainty by reason, which was the proposition to be proved.

Your lordship having thought it enough against my way of certainty by ideas, thus to prove its newness, you betake yourself presently to your old topic of obscure and confused ideas; and ask, “but how comes there to be such a way of certainty by ideas, and yet the ideas themselves are so uncertain and obscure?” Answ. No idea, as it is in the mind, is uncertain; though to those who use names uncertainly, it may be uncertain what idea that name stands for. And as to obscure and confused ideas, no idea is so obscure in all its parts, or so confounded with all other ideas, but that one, who, in a proposition, joins it with another in that part which is clear and distinct, may perceive its agreement or disagreement, as expressed in that proposition: though when names are used for ideas, which are in some part obscure or confounded with other ideas, there can be no propositions made which can produce certainty Edition: current; Page: [390] concerning that, wherein the idea is obscure and confused. And therefore to your lordship’s question, “how is it possible for us to have a clear perception of the agreement of ideas, if the ideas themselves be not clear and distinct?” I answer, very well; because an obscure or confused idea, i. e. that is not perfectly clear and distinct in all its parts, may be compared with another in that part of it, which is clear and distinct: which will, I humbly conceive, remove all those difficulties, inconsistencies, and contradictions, which your lordship seems to be troubled with, from my words quoted in those pages.

Your lordship having, as it seems, quite forgot that you were to show wherein the certainty of deductions, in the way of ideas, was inconsistent with the certainty of deductions, in the way of reason, brings here a new charge upon my way of certainty, viz. “that I have no criterion to distinguish false and doubtful ideas from true and certain.” Your lordship says, the academics went upon ideas, or representations of things to their minds; and pray, my lord, does not your lordship do so too? Or has Mr. J. S. so won upon your lordship, by his solid philosophy against the fancies of the ideists, that you begin to think him in the right in this too;Solid philosophy, p. 24, and 27. where he says, “that notions are the materials of our knowledge; and that a notion is the very thing itself existing in the understanding?” For since I make no doubt but that, in all your lordship’s knowledge, you will allow, that you have some immediate objects of your thoughts, which are the materials of that knowledge, about which it is employed, those immediate objects, if they are not, as Mr. J. S. says, the very things themselves, must be ideas. Not thinking your lordship therefore yet so perfect a convert of Mr. J. S.’s, that you are persuaded, that as often as you think of your cathedral church, or of Des Cartes’s vortices, that the very cathedral church at Worcester, or the motion of those vortices, itself exists in your understanding; when one of them never existed but in that one place at Worcester, and the other never existed any where in “rerum Edition: current; Page: [391] natura.” I conclude, your lordship has immediate objects of your mind, which are not the very things themselves existing in your understanding: which if, with the academics, you will please to call representations, as I suppose you will, rather than with me ideas, it will make no difference.

This being so, I must then make the same objection against your way of certainty by reason, that your lordship does against my way of certainty by ideas (for upon the comparison of these two we now are) and then I return your words here again, viz. “that you have no criterion to distinguish false and doubtful representations from true and certain; how then can any man be secure, that he is not imposed upon in your lordship’s way of representations?”

Your lordship says, “I tell you of a way of certainty by ideas, and never offer any such method for examining them, as the academics required for their probability.” Answ. I was not, I confess, so well acquainted with what the academics went upon for the criterion of a greater probability, as your lordship is; or if I had, I writing, as your lordship knows, out of my own thoughts, could not well transcribe out of them. But that you should tell me, I never offer any criterion to distinguish false from true ideas, I cannot but wonder; and therefore crave leave to beg your lordship to look again into b. ii. c. 32. of my Essay; and there, I persuade myself, you will find a criterion, whereby true and false ideas may be distinguished.

Your lordship brings for instance the idea of solidity; but what it is an instance of, I confess I do not see; “Your lordship charges on my way of certainty, that I have no criterion to distinguish false and doubtful ideas from true and certain; which is followed by an account you give, how the academics examined their ideas or representations, before they allowed them to prevail on them to give an assent, as to a greater probability.” And then you tell me, that “I never offer any such method for examining them, as the academics required for their probability;” to which your lordship subjoins these words; “as for Edition: current; Page: [392] instance, my first idea, which I go upon, of solidity.” Would not one now expect, that this should be an instance to make good your lordship’s charge, that I have no criterion to distinguish, whether my idea of solidity were false and doubtful, or true and certain?

To show that I have no such criterion, your lordship asks me two questions; the first is, “how my idea of solidity comes to be clear and distinct?” I will suppose for once, that I know not how it comes to be clear and distinct: how will this prove, that I have no criterion to know whether it be true or false? For the question here is not about knowing how an idea comes to be clear and distinct; but how I shall know whether it be true or false. But your lordship’s following words seem to aim at a farther objection; your words altogether are, “how this idea” [i. e. my idea of solidity, which consists in repletion of space, with an exclusion of all other solid substances] “comes to be clear and distinct to me, when others who go on in the same way of ideas, have quite another idea of it?” My lord, I desire your lordship to name who those “others” are who go in the same way of ideas with me, who have quite another idea of this my idea than I have; for to this idea I could be sure that “it,” in any other writer but your lordship, must here refer: but, my lord, it is one of your priviledged particles, and I have nothing to say to it. But let it be so, that others have quite another idea of it than I; how does that prove, that I have no criterion to distinguish whether my idea of solidity be true or no?

Your lordship farther adds, “that those others think that they have as plain and distinct an idea, that extension and body are the same:” and then your lordship asks, “now what criterion is there to come to a certainty in this matter?” Answ. In what matter, I beseech your lordship? If it be whether my idea of solidity be a true idea, which is the matter here in question, in this matter I have given a criterion to know,B. ii. c. 32. in my Essay: if it be to decide the question, whether the word “body” more properly stands for the simple idea of space, or for the complex idea of Edition: current; Page: [393] space and solidity together, that is not the question here; nor can there be any other criterion to decide it by, but the propriety of our language.

But your lordship adds, “ideas can have no way of certainty in themselves, if it be possible for even philosophical and rational men to fall into such contrary ideas about the same thing; and both sides think their ideas to be clear and distinct.” If this were so, I do not see how this would any way prove, that I had no criterion whereby it might be discerned, whether my ideas of solidity were true or no; which was to be proved.

But at last, this which your lordship calls “contrary ideas about the same thing,” is nothing but a difference about a name. For I think nobody will say, that the idea of extension and the idea of solidity are the same ideas; all the difference then between those philosophical and rational men, which your lordship mentions here, is no more but this, whether the simple idea of pure extension shall be called body, or whether the complex ideas of extension and solidity joined together, shall be called body; which will be no more than a bare verbal dispute to any one, who does not take sounds for things, and make the word body something more than a sign of what the speaker would signify by it. But what the speaker makes the term body stand for, cannot be precisely known, till he has determined it in his own mind, and made it known to another; and then there can between them be no longer a dispute about the signification of the word: v. g. if one of those philosophical rational men tells your lordship, that he makes the term body to stand precisely for the simple idea of pure extension, your lordship or he can be in no doubt or uncertainty concerning this thing; but whenever he uses the word body, your lordship must suppose in his mind the simple idea of extension, as the thing he means by body. If, on the other side, another of those philosophical rational men shall tell your lordship, that he makes the term body to stand precisely for a complex idea made up of the simple ideas of extension and solidity joined together; your lordship or he can be in no Edition: current; Page: [394] doubt or uncertainty concerning this thing; but whenever he uses the word body, your lordship must think on, and allow the idea belonging to it, to be that complex one.

As your lordship can allow this different use of the term body in these different men, without changing any idea, or any thing in your own mind, but the application of the same term to different ideas, which changes neither the truth nor certainty of any of your lordship’s ideas, from what it was before: so those two philosophical rational men may, in discourse one with another, agree to use that term body, for either of those two ideas, which they please, without at all making their ideas, on either side, false or uncertain. But if they will contest which of these ideas the sound body ought to stand for, it is visible their difference is not about any reality of things, but the propriety of speech; and their dispute and doubt is only about the signification of a word.

Your lordship’s second question is, “whether by this idea of solidity we may come to know what it is.” Answ. I must ask you here again, what you mean by it? If your lordship by it means solidity, then your question runs thus: whether by this [i. e. my] “idea of solidity, we may come to know what solidity is?” Answ. Without doubt, if your lordship means by the term solidity what I mean by the term solidity; for then I have told you what it is,B. ii. c. 4. in the chapter above-cited by your lordship: if you mean any thing else by the term solidity, when your lordship will please to tell me what you mean by it, I will tell your lordship what solidity is. This, I humbly conceive, you will find yourself obliged to do, if what I have said of solidity does not satisfy you what it is. For you will not think it reasonable I should tell your lordship what a thing is when expressed by you in a term, which I do not know what your lordship means by, nor what you make it stand for.

But your lordship asks, “wherein it consists;” if you mean wherein the idea of it consists, that I have already told your lordship, in the chapter of my Essay above-mentioned. Edition: current; Page: [395] If your lordship means what is the real internal constitution, that physically makes solidity in things; if I answer I do not know, that will no more make my idea of solidity not to be true or certain (if your lordship thinks certainty may be attributed to single ideas) than the not knowing the physical constitution, whereby the parts of bodies are so framed as to cohere, makes my idea of cohesion not true or certain.

B. ii. c. 4. § 6. To my saying in my Essay, “that if any one asks me what this solidity is, I send him to his senses to inform him;” your lordship replies, “you thought the design of my book would have sent him to his ideas for certainty: and are we, says your lordship, sent back again from our ideas to our senses?” Answ. I cannot help it, if your lordship mistakes the design of my book: for what concerns certainty, i. e. the knowledge of the truth of propositions, my book sends every one to his ideas; but for the getting of simple ideas of sensation, my book sends him only to his senses. But your lordship uses certainty here, in a sense I never used it, nor do understand it in; for what the certainty of any simple ideas is, I confess I do not know, and shall be glad you would tell me what you mean by it.

However, in this sense you ask me, and that as if your question carried a demonstration of my contradicting myself: “and are we sent back again, from our ideas to our senses?” Answ. My lord, every one is sent to his senses to get the simple ideas of sensation, because they are no other way to be got.

Your lordship presses on with this farther question, “what do these ideas signify then?” i. e. if a man be sent to his senses for the idea of solidity. I answer, to show him the certainty of propositions, wherein the agreement or disagreement of ideas is perceived; which is the certainty I speak of, and no other: but what the certainty is which your lordship speaks of in this and the following page, I confess I do not understand. For Your lordship adds, that I say farther, “that if this be not a sufficient explication of solidity, I promise to tell any one what it is, when he tells me what Edition: current; Page: [396] thinking is; or explains to me, what extension and motion are.” “Are we not now in the true way to certainty, when such things as these are given over, of which we have the clearest evidence by sensation and reflection? For here I make it as impossible to come to certain, clear and distinct notions of these things, as to discourse into a blind man the ideas of light and colours. Is not this a rare way of certainty?” Answ. What things, my lord, I beseech you, are those which you here tell me are given over, of which we have the clearest evidence by sensation or reflection? It is likely you will tell me, they are extension and motion. But, my lord, I crave the liberty to say, that when you have considered again, you will be satisfied, there are no things given over in the case, but only the names extension and motion; and concerning them too, nothing is given over, but a power of defining them. When you will be pleased to lay by a little the warmth of those questions of triumph, which I meet with in this passage, and tell me what things your lordship makes these names extension and motion to stand for; you perhaps will not find, that I make it impossible for those, who have their senses, to get the simple ideas, signified by these names, very clear and distinct by their senses: though I do say, that these, as well as all other names of simple ideas, cannot be defined; nor any simple ideas be brought into our minds by words, any more than the ideas of light and colours can be discoursed into a blind man: which is all I do say in those words of mine, which your lordship quotes, as such wherein I have given over things, whereof we have the clearest evidence. And so from my being of opinion, that the names of simple ideas cannot be defined, nor those ideas got by any words whatsoever, which is all that I there say; your lordship very pathetically expresses yourself, as if in my way all were gone, certainty were lost; and if my method should be allowed there is an end of all knowledge in the world.

The reason your lordship gives against my way of certainty, is, “that I here make it as impossible to come to certain, clear, and distinct notions of these things, [i. e. extension and motion] as to discourse Edition: current; Page: [397] into a blind man the idea of light and colours.” Answ. What clear and distinct notions or ideas are, I do not understand: but what your lordship means by certain notions, speaking here, as you do, of simple ideas, I must own I do not understand. That for the attaining those simple ideas I send men to their senses, I shall think I am in the right, till I hear from your lordship better arguments to convince me of my mistake, than these; “Are we not now in the true way to certainty? Is not this a rare way of certainty?” And if your lordship has a better way to get clear and distinct simple ideas, than by the senses, you will oblige me, and I think the world too, by a discovery of it. Till then, I shall continue in the same mind I was of, when I writ that passage,Essay, b. ii. c. 4. § 5, 6. viz. That words can do nothing towards it, and that for the reason which I there promised, and is to be found, Essay, b. iii. c. 4. § 7, &c. And therefore to your lordship’s saying, “that thus you have showed, that I have no security against false and uncertain ideas, no criterion to judge them by;” I think I may securely reply, that with submission thus showing it, is not showing it all; nor will ever show, that I have no such criterion, even when we shall add your lordship’s farther inference, “now here again our ideas deceive us.” Which supposing it a good inference from these words of mine, “that most of our simple ideas are not the likenesses of things without us;” yet it seems to me to come in here, a little out of season: because the proposition to be proved, is, as I humbly conceive, not that our ideas deceive us, but that “I have not a criterion to distinguish true from false ideas.”

If it be brought to prove that I have no criterion, I have this to say, that I neither well understand what it is for our ideas to deceive us in the way of certainty; nor, in the best sense that I can give it, do I see how it proves that I have no criterion; nor lastly, how it follows from my saying that most of our simple ideas are not resemblances.

Your lordship seems by the following words to mean, that in this way by ideas which are confessed not to be Edition: current; Page: [398] resemblances, men are hindered, and cannot go far in the knowledge of what they desire to know of the nature of those objects, of which we have the ideas in our minds. If this should be so, what is this, I beseech your lordship, to your showing that I have no criterion? but that this is a fault in the way by ideas, I shall be convinced, when your lordship shall be pleased to show me, how in your way of certainty by reason we can know more of the nature of things without us, or of that which causes these ideas or perceptions in us. But, I humbly conceive, it is no objection to the way of ideas, if any one will deceive himself, and expect certainty by ideas, in things where certainty is not to be had; because he is told how knowledge or certainty is got by ideas, as far as men attain to it. And since your lordship is here comparing the ways of certainty by ideas and by reason as two different and inconsistent ways, I humbly crave leave to add, that when you can show me any one proposition, which you have attained to a certainty of, in your way of certainty by reason, which I cannot attain to a certainty of in my way of certainty by ideas: I will acknowledge my essay to be guilty of whatever your lordship pleases.

Your lordship concludes, “so that these ideas are really nothing but names, if they be not representations.” Answ. This does not yet show, that I have no criterion to distinguish true from false ideas; the thing that your lordship is thus showing. For I may have a criterion to distinguish true from false ideas, though that criterion concern not names at all. For your lordship, in this proposition, allowing none to be ideas, but what are representations: the other, which you say are nothing but names, are not concerned in the criterion, that is to distinguish true from false ideas: because it relates to nothing but ideas, and the distinguishing of them one from another; unless true and false ideas can be any thing but ideas, i. e. ideas and not ideas at the same time.

But farther, I crave leave to answer, that your lordship’s proposition, viz. “that these ideas are really nothing but names, if they be not the representations Edition: current; Page: [399] of things;” seems to me no consequence from my words, to which it is subjoined, though it is introduced with “so that:” for, methinks, it carries something like a contradiction in it. I say, “most of our simple ideas of sensation are not the likeness of something without us:” your lordship infers, “if so, these ideas are really nothing but names;” which, as it seems to me, is as much as to say, these ideas, that are ideas, are not ideas, but names only. Methinks they might be allowed to be ideas, and that is all they pretend to be, though they do not resemble that which produces them. I cannot help thinking a son something really more than a bare name, though he has not the luck to resemble his father, who begot him: and the black and blue which I see I cannot conclude but to be something besides the words black and blue (wherever your lordship shall place that something, either in my perception only, or in my skin) though it resemble not at all the stone, that with a knock produced it.

Should your lordship put your two hands, whereof one is hot and the other cold, into lukewarm water; it would be hard to think that the idea of heat produced in you by one of your hands, and the idea of cold by the other, were the likenesses and very resemblances of something in the same water, since the same water could not be capable of having at the same time such real contrarieties. Wherefore since, as it is evident, they cannot be representations of any thing in the water, it follows by your lordship’s doctrine here, that if you should declare what you feel, viz. that you feel heat and cold in that water, viz. heat by one hand, and cold by the other; you mean nothing by heat and cold: heat and cold in the case are nothing but names; and your lordship, in truth, feels nothing but these two names.

Your lordship, in the next place, proceeds to examine my way of demonstration. Whether you do this to show that I have no criterion, whereby to distinguish true from false ideas; or to show, “that my way of certainty by ideas is inconsistent with the certainty of deductions by reason:” (for these were the things you seemed to me to have undertaken to show, and Edition: current; Page: [400] therefore to be upon in this place) does not appear; but this appears by the words wherewith you introduce this examen, that it is to avoid doing me wrong.

Your lordship, as if you had been sensible that your former discourse had led you towards doing me wrong, breaks it off of a sudden, and begins this new one of demonstration, by telling me, “you will do me no wrong.” Can it be thought now, that you forget this promise, before you get half though your examen? or is a misciting my words, and misrepresenting my sense, no wrong? Your lordship, in this very examen, sets down a long quotation out of my Essay, and in the close you tell me: “these are my own words which your lordship has set down at large, that I may not complain that you misrepresent my sense:” this one would think guaranty enough in a less man than your lordship: and yet, my lord, I must crave leave to complain, that not only my sense, but my very words, are in that quotation misrepresented.

Essay, b. iv. c. 7. § 10. To show that my complaint is not groundless, give me leave, my lord, to set down my words, as I read them in that place of my book which your lordship quotes for them, and as I find them here in your second letter.

‘If we add all the self-evident propositions may be made about all our distinct ideas, principles will be almost infinite, at least innumerable, which men arrive to the knowledge of at different ages; and a great many of these innate principles they never come to know all their lives. But whether they come in view of the mind earlier or later, this is true of them, that they are all known by their native evidence, are wholly independent, receive no light, nor are capable of any proof, one from another,’ &c.

‘That it is true of our particular distinct ideas, that they are all known by their native evidence, are wholely independent, receive no light, nor are capable of any proof, one from another,’ &c.

Edition: current; Page: [401]

By their standing thus together, the reader will without any pains see whether those your lordship has set down in your letter are my own words; and whether in that place, which speaks only of self-evident propositions or principles, I have any thing in words or in sense like this, “that our particular distinct ideas are known by their native evidence, &c.” Though your lordship closes the quotation with that solemn declaration above-mentioned, “that they are my own words, which you have set down at large, that I may not complain you misrepresent my sense.” And yet nothing can more misrepresent my sense than they do, applying all that to particular ideas, which I speak there only of self-evident propositions or principles; and that so plainly, that I think I may venture any one’s mistaking it in my own words; and upon this misrepresentation of my sense your lordship raises a discourse, and manages a dispute for, I think, a dozen pages following, against my placing demonstration on self-evident ideas; though self-evident ideas are things wholly unknown to me; and are no where in my book, nor were in my thoughts.

But let us come to your exceptions against my way of demonstration, which your lordship is pleased to call demonstration without principles. Answ. If you mean by principles self-evident propositions, then you know my demonstration is not without principles, in that sense of the term principles: for your lordship in the next page blames my way, because I suppose every intermediate idea in demonstration to have a self-evident connexion with the other idea; for two such ideas as have a self-evident connexion, joined together in a proposition, make a self-evident proposition. If your lordship means by principles those which in the place there quoted by your lordship I mean, viz. “whatever is, is; and it is impossible for the same thing to be, and not to be;”Essay, b. iv. c. 2. § 8. and such other general propositions as are received under the name of maxims; I grant, that I do say, that they are not absolutely requisite in every demonstration; and I think I have shown, that there be demonstrations Edition: current; Page: [402] which may be made without them: though I do not, that I remember, say, that they are excluded, and cannot be made use of in demonstration.

Your lordship’s first argument against my way of demonstration, is, “that it must suppose self-evidence must be in the ideas of my mind; and that every intermediate idea, which I take to demonstrate any thing by, must have a self-evident connexion with the others.” Answ. Taking self-evidence in the ideas of the mind to mean in the perceived agreement or disagreement of ideas in the mind; I grant, I do not only suppose, but say so.

To prove it not to be so in demonstration, your lordship says, “that it is such a way of demonstration, as the old philosophers never thought of.” Answ. Nobody, I think, will question, that your lordship is very well read in the old philosophers: but he that will answer for what the old philosophers ever did, or did not think of, must not only understand their extant writings better than any man ever did; but must have ways to know their thoughts, that other men have not. For all of them thought more than they writ; some of them writ not at all, and others writ a great deal more than ever came to us. But if it should happen, that any of them placed the proof of any proposition in the agreement of two things in a third, as I think some of them did; then it will, I humbly conceive, appear, that they did think of my demonstration; unless your lordship can show, that they could see that two things agreed in a third, without perceiving their agreement with that third: and if they did in every syllogism of a demonstration perceive that agreement, then there was a self-evident connexion; which is that which your lordship says they never thought of.

But supposing they never thought of it, must we put out our eyes, and not see whatever they overlooked? Are all the discoveries made by Galileo, my lord Bacon, Mr. Boyle, and Mr. Newton, &c. to be rejected as false, because they teach us what the old philosophers never thought of? Mistake me not, my lord, in thinking that I have the vanity here to rank myself, on this occasion, Edition: current; Page: [403] with these great discoverers of truth, and advancers of knowledge. On the contrary, I contend, that my way of certainty, my way of demonstration, which your lordship so often condemns for its newness, is not new; but is the very same that has always been used, both by ancients and moderns. I am only considering here your lordship’s argument, of never having been thought of by the old philosophers; which is an argument that will make nothing for or against the truth of any proposition advanced by a modern writer, till your lordship has proved, that those old philosophers (let the happy age of old philosophers determine where your lordship pleases) did discover all truth, or that they had the sole privilege to search after it, and besides them nobody was to study nature, nobody was to think or reason for himself; but every one was to be barely a reading philosopher, with an implicit faith.

Your objection in the next words, that then every demonstration carries its own light with it, shows that your way by reason is what I do not understand. For this I thought heretofore was the property of demonstration, and not a proof that it was not a demonstration, that it carried its own light with it: but yet though in every demonstration there is a self-evident connexion of the ideas, by which it is made; yet that it does not follow from thence, as your lordship here objects, that then every demonstration would be as clear and unquestionable as that two and two make four,Essay, b. iv. c. 2. § 4, 5, 6. your lordship may see in the same chapter, and the reason of it.

You seem in the following words to allow, that there is such a connexion of the intermediate ideas in mathematical demonstration: but say, “you should be glad to see any demonstration (not about figures and numbers) of this kind.” And if that be a good argument against it, I crave leave to use it too on my side; and to say, “that I would be glad to see any demonstration (not about figures and numbers) not of this kind;” i. e. wherein there is not a self-evident connexion of all the intermediate ideas. If you have any such, I earnestly beg your lordship to favour me with Edition: current; Page: [404] it; for I crave liberty to say, that the reason, and form, and way of evidence in demonstration, wherever there is demonstration, is always the same.

But you say, this is a quite different case from “mine:” I suppose your lordship means by this, mathematical demonstration, the thing mentioned in the preceding period; and then your sense will run thus: mathematical demonstrations, wherein certainty is to be had by the intuition of the self-evident connexion of all the intermediate ideas, are different from that demonstration which I am there treating of. If you mean not so, I must own, I know not what you mean by saying, “this is a quite different case from mine.” And if your lordship does mean so, I do not see how it can be so as you say: your words taken all together run thus: “my principal ground is from mathematical demonstrations, and my examples are brought from them. But this is quite a different case from mine:” i. e. I am speaking in that chapter of my Essay concerning demonstration in general, and the certainty we have by it. The examples I use are brought from mathematics, and yet you say, “mathematical demonstrations are quite a different case from mine.” If I here misunderstand your lordship’s this, I must beg your pardon for it; it is one of your privileged particles, and I am not master of it. Misrepresent your sense I cannot; for your very words are set down, and let the reader judge.

But your lordship gives a reason for what you had said in these words subjoined, where you say, “I grant that those ideas, on which mathematical demonstrations proceed, are wholly in the mind, and do not relate to the existence of things; but our debate goes upon a certainty of knowledge of things as really existing.” In which words there are these things remarkable:

1. That your lordship’s exception here, is against what I have said concerning demonstration in my Essay, and not against any thing I have said in either of my letters to your lordship. If therefore your lordship and I have since, in our letters, had any debate about the Edition: current; Page: [405] certainty of the knowledge of things as really existing; that which was writ before that debate, could have no relation to it, nor be limited by it. If therefore your lordship makes any exception (as you do) to my way of demonstration, as proposed in my Essay, you must, as I humbly conceive, take it as delivered there, comprehending mathematical demonstrations; which cannot be excluded, because your lordship says, “our debate now goes upon a certainty of the knowledge of things as really existing, supposing mathematical demonstrations did not afford a certainty of knowledge of things as really existing.”

2. But in the next place, mathematical demonstrations do afford a certainty of the knowledge of things as really existing, as much as any other demonstrations whatsoever; and therefore they afford your lordship no ground upon that account to separate them, as you do here, from demonstrations in other subjects.

Your lordship indeed thinks I have given you sufficient grounds to charge me with the contrary: for you say, “I grant that those ideas, on which mathematical demonstrations proceed, are wholly in the mind;” this indeed I grant: “and do not relate to the existence of things;” but these latter words I do not remember that I any where say. And I wish you had quoted the place where I grant any such thing; I am sure it is not in that place, where it is likeliest to be found: I mean, where I examine, whether the knowledge we have of mathematical truths,Essay, b. iv. c. iv. § 6. be the knowledge of things as really existing: there I say (and I think I have proved) that it is, though it consists in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, that are only in the mind; because it takes in all those things, really existing, which answer those ideas.Essay, b. iv. c. iv. § 7. Upon which grounds it was, that I there affirmed moral knowledge also capable of certainty. And pray, my lord, what other way can your lordship proceed, in any demonstration you would make, about any other thing but figures and numbers, but the same that you do in demonstrations about figures and numbers? If Edition: current; Page: [406] you would demonstrate any thing concerning man or murder, must you not first settle in your mind the idea or notion you have of that animal or that action, and then show what you would demonstrate necessarily to belong to that idea in your mind, and to those things existing only as they correspond with, and answer that idea in your mind? How else you can make any general proposition, that shall contain the knowledge of things as really existing, I that am ignorant should be glad to learn, when your lordship shall do me the favour to show me any such.

In the mean time, there is no reason why you should except demonstrations about figures and numbers, from demonstrations about other subjects, upon the account that I grant, “that those ideas, on which mathematical demonstrations proceed, are wholly in the mind,” when I say the same of all other demonstrations. For the ideas that other demonstrations proceed on, are wholly in the mind. And no demonstration whatsoever concerns things as really existing, any farther than as they correspond with, and answer those ideas in the mind, which the demonstration proceeds on. This distinction therefore here of your lordship’s, between mathematical and other demonstrations, having no foundation, your inference founded on it falls with it; viz. “So that although we should grant all that I say about the intuition of ideas in mathematical demonstrations, yet it comes not at all to my business, unless I can prove, that we have as clear and distinct ideas of beings, as we have of numbers and figures.” Though how beings here and numbers and figures come to be opposed against one another, I shall not be able to conceive, till I am better instructed, than hitherto I am, that numbers and figures are no beings; and that the mathematicians and philosophers, old ones and all, have, in all the pains taken about them, employed their thoughts about nothing. And I would be glad to know what those things are, which your lordship says “our debate goes upon here as really existing, that are beings more than numbers and figures.”

Your lordship’s next exception against my way of Edition: current; Page: [407] demonstration, is, that “in it I am inconsistent with myself.” For proof of it, you say, “I design to prove demonstrations without general principles; and yet every one knows that general principles are supposed in mathematics.” Answ. Every one may know that general principles are supposed in mathematics, without knowing, or ever being able to know, that I, who say also that mathematicians do often make use of them, am inconsistent with myself; though I also say, that a demonstration about numbers and figures may be made without them.

To prove me inconsistent with myself, you add: “and that person would be thought ridiculous, who should go about to prove, that general principles are of little use, or of dangerous use in mathematical demonstrations.” A man may make other ridiculous faults in writing, besides inconsistency, and there are instances enough of it: but by good luck I am in this place clear of what would be thought ridiculous, which yet is no proof of inconsistency. For I never “went about to prove, that general principles are of little or dangerous use in mathematical demonstrations.”

To prove me inconsistent with myself, your lordship uses one argument more, and that is, “that I confess that the way of demonstration in morality, is from principles, as those of mathematics by necessary consequences.” Answ: With submission, my lord, I do not say,B. iv. c. 3. § 18. in the place quoted by your lordship, “that the way of demonstration in morality is from principles, as those of the mathematics, by necessary consequences.” But this is that which I say, “that I doubt not but in morality from principles, as incontestable as those of the mathematics, by necessary consequences, the measures of right and wrong might be made out.” Which words, I humbly conceive, have no inconsistency with my saying, there may be demonstrations without the help of maxims; whatever inconsistency the words which you here set down for mine, may have with it.

My lord, the words you bring out of my book are so Edition: current; Page: [408] often different from those I read in the places which you refer to, that I am sometimes ready to think, you have got some strange copy of it, whereof I know nothing, since it so seldom agrees with mine. Pardon me, my lord, if with some care I examine the objection of inconsistency with myself; that if I find any I may retract the one part or the other of it. Human frailty, I grant, and variety of thought in long discourses, may make a man unwittingly advance inconsistencies. This may consist with ingenuity, and deserve to be excused: but for any one to persist in it, when it is showed him, is to give himself the lye; which cannot but stick closer to him in the sense of all rational men, than if he received it from another.

I own, I have said, in my Essay, that there be demonstrations, which may be made without those general maxims, that I there treated of. But I cannot recollect, that I ever said, that those general maxims could not be made use of in demonstration: for they are no more shut out of my way of demonstration, than any other self-evident propositions. And therefore there is no inconsistency in those two propositions, which are mine, viz. “Some demonstrations may be made without the help of those general maxims,” and “morality, I doubt not, may be demonstrated from principles;” whatever inconsistency may be in these two following propositions, which are your lordship’s, and not mine, viz. “the way of demonstration in morality is from principles, and general maxims are not the way to proceed on in demonstration, as to other parts of knowledge.” For to admit self-evident propositions,B. iv. c. 3. § 18. which is what I mean by principles, in the place of my Essay, which your lordship quotes for the first of my inconsistent propositions,B. iv. c. 7. § 10. and to say (as I do in the other place quoted by your lordship) “that those magnified maxims are not the principles and foundations of all our other knowledge;” has no manner of inconsistency. For though I think them not necessary to every demonstration, so Edition: current; Page: [409] neither do I exclude them any more than other self-evident propositions out of any demonstration, wherein any one should make use of them.

The next objection against my way of demonstration, from my placing demonstration on the self-evidence of ideas, having been already answered, I shall need to say nothing in defence of it; or in answer to any thing raised against it, in your twelve or thirteen following pages upon that topic. But that your lordship may not think I do not pay a due respect to all that you say, I shall not wholly pass those pages over in silence.

1. Your lordship says, that “I confess that some of the most obvious ideas are far from being self-evident.” Answ. Supposing I did say so, how, I beseech your lordship, does it prove, that “it is impossible to come to a demonstration about real beings, in this way of intuition by ideas?” Which is the proposition you promise to make appear, and you bring this as the first reason to make it appear. For should I confess a thousand times over, “that some of the most obvious ideas are far from being self-evident;” and should I, which I do not, make self-evident ideas necessary to demonstration: how will it thence follow, that it is impossible to come to a demonstration, &c.? since though I should confess some of the most obvious ideas not to be self-evident; yet my confession being but of some, it will not follow from my confession, but that there may be also some self-evident: and so still it might be possible to come to demonstration by intuition, because “some” in my use of the word never signifies “all.”

In the next place, give me leave to ask, where it is that I confess, that “some ideas are not self-evident?” Nay, where it is, that I once mention any such thing as a self-evident idea? For self-evident is an epithet, that I do not remember I ever gave to any idea, or thought belonged at all to ideas. In all the places you have produced out of my Essay, concerning matter, motion, time, duration, and light; which are those ideas your lordship is pleased to instance in, to prove, that “I have confessed it of some;” I crave leave humbly to offer it Edition: current; Page: [410] to your lordship, that there is not any such confession. However, you go on to prove it. The proposition then to be proved, is that “I confess that these are far from being self-evident ideas.” It is necessary to set it down, and carry it in our minds; for the proposition to be proved, is, I find, a very slippery thing, and apt to slide out of the way.

Your lordship’s proof is, that according to me, “we can have no intuition of these things which are so obvious to us, and consequently we can have no self-evident ideas of them.” The force of which proof, I confess, I do not understand. “We have no intuition of the obvious thing matter, and the obvious thing motion; ergo, we have no self-evident ideas of them.” Granting that they are obvious things, and that obvious as they are, we have, as you express it, no intuition of them; it will not follow from thence, that we have no intuition of the ideas we signify by the names matter and motion, and so have no self-evident ideas of them. For whoever has in his mind an idea, which he makes the name matter or motion stand for, has no doubt that idea there, and sees, or has, in your phrase, an intuition of it there; and so has a self-evident idea of it, if intuition, according to your lordship, makes a self-evident idea (for of self-evident ideas, as I have before remarked, I have said nothing, nor made any such distinction, as self-evident and not self-evident ideas), and if intuition of an idea does not make a self-evident idea, the want of it is in vain brought here to prove the idea of matter or motion not self-evident.

But your lordship proceeds to instances, and your first instance is in matter: and here, for fear of mistaking, let us remember what the proposition to be proved is, viz. that “according to me, we have no intuition, as you call it, of the idea of matter.” Your lordship begins and tells me, that I give this account of the idea of matter, that “it consists in a solid substance, everywhere the same.” Whereupon you tell me, “you would be glad to come to a certain knowledge of these two things; first, the manner of the cohesion of the parts of matter, and the demonstration of the Edition: current; Page: [411] divisibility of it in the way of ideas.” Answ. It happened just as I feared, the proposition to be proved is slipt already quite out of sight: you own that I say matter is a solid substance, every-where the same. This idea, which is the idea signified by the word matter, I have in my mind, and have an intuition of it there: how then does this prove, that according to me, “there can be no intuition of the idea of matter?” Leaving therefore this proposition, which was to be proved, you bring places out of my book to show, that we do not know wherein the union and cohesion of the parts of matter consist; and that the divisibility of matter involves us in difficulties: neither of which either is, or proves, that “according to me, we cannot have an intuition of the idea of matter;” which was the proposition to be proved, and seems quite forgotten during the three following pages, wholly employed upon this instance of matter. You ask indeed, “whether I can imagine, that we have intuition into the idea of matter?” But those words seem to me to signify quite another thing, than having an intuition of the idea of matter, as appears by your explication of them in these words subjoined: “or that it is possible to come to a demonstration about it, by the help of any intervening ideas?” whereby it seems to me plain, that by intuition into it, your lordship means “demonstration about it,” i. e. some knowledge concerning matter, and not a bare view or intuition of the idea you have of it. And that your lordship speaks of knowledge concerning some affection of matter, in this and the following question, and not of the bare intuition of the idea of matter, is farther evident from the introduction of your two questions, wherein you say, “there are two things concerning matter, that you would be glad to come to a certain knowledge of.” So that all that can follow, or in your sense of them does follow, from my words quoted by you, is, that I own, that the cohesion of its parts is an affection of matter that is hard to be explained; but from them it can neither be inferred, nor does your lordship attempt to infer, that any one cannot view or have an intuition of the idea he has in his own mind, Edition: current; Page: [412] which he signifies to others by the word matter: and that you did not make any such inference from them, is farther plain, by your asking, in the place above quoted, not only “whether I can imagine, that it is possible to come to a demonstration about it;” but your lordship also adds, “by the help of any intervening ideas.” For I do not think you demand a demonstration by the help of intervening ideas, to make you see, i. e. have an intuition of your own idea of matter. It would misbecome me to understand your lordship in so strange a sense; for then you might have just occasion to ask me again, “whether I could think you a man of so little sense?” I therefore suppose, as your words import, that you demand a demonstration by the help of intervening ideas to show you, how the parts of that thing, which you represent to yourself by that idea, to which you give the name matter, cohere together; which is nothing to the question of the intuition of the idea: though to cover the change of the question, as dextrously as might be, “intuition of the idea” is changed into “intuition into the idea;” as if there were no difference between looking upon a watch, and looking into a watch, i. e. between the idea that, taken from an obvious view, I signify by the name watch, and have in my mind when I use the word watch; and the being able to resolve any question that may be proposed to me, concerning the inward make and contrivance of a watch. The idea which taken from the outward visible parts I give the name watch to, I perceive or have an intuition of, in my mind equally, whether or no I know any thing more of a watch, than what is represented in that idea.

Upon this change of the question, all that follows to the bottom of the next page, being to show, that from what I say it follows, that there be many difficulties concerning matter which I cannot resolve; many questions concerning it, which I think cannot be demonstratively decided; and not to show, that any one cannot perceive, or have an intuition, as you call it, of his own idea of matter: I think I need not trouble your lordship with an answer to it.

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In this one instance of matter, you have been pleased to ask me two hard questions. To shorten your trouble concerning this business of intuition of ideas, will you, my lord, give me leave to ask you this one easy question concerning all your four instances, matter, motion, duration, and light, viz. what you mean by these four words? That your lordship may not suspect it to be either captious or impertinent, I will tell you the use I shall make of it: if your lordship tells me what you mean by these names, I shall presently reply, that there then are the ideas that you have of them in your mind; and it is plain you see or have an intuition of them, as they are in your mind, or, as I should have expressed it, perceive them as they are there, because you can tell them to another. And so it is with every one who can tell what he means by those words; and therefore to all such (amongst which I crave leave to be one) there can be no doubt of the intuition of those ideas. But if your lordship will not tell me what you mean by these terms, I fear you will be thought to use very hard measure in disputing, by demanding to be satisfied concerning questions put in terms, which you yourself cannot tell the meaning of.

This considered, will perhaps serve to show, that all that you say in the following paragraphs, to n. 2. p. 141. contains nothing against intuition of ideas, which is what you are upon, though it be no notion of mine; much less does it contain any thing against my way of demonstration by ideas, which is the point under proof. For,

1. What your lordship has said about the idea of matter, hath been considered already.

2. From motion, which is your second instance, your argument stands thus: that because I say, the definitions I meet with of motion are insignificant, therefore the idea fails us. This seems to me a strange consequence; and all one as to say, that a deaf and dumb man, because he could not understand the words used in the definitions that are given of motion, therefore he could not have the idea of motion, or the idea of motion failed him. And yet this consequence, as foreign as it is to Edition: current; Page: [414] that antecedent, is forced from it to no purpose: the proposition to be inferred being this, that then “we can have no intuition of the idea of motion.”

3. As to time, though the intuition of the idea of time be not my way of speaking, yet what your lordship here infers from my words, granting it to be a right inference, with submission, proves nothing against the intuition of that idea. The proposition to be proved, is “that we can have no intuition of the idea of time;” and the proposition which from my words you infer, is, “that we have not the knowledge of the idea of time by intuition, but by rational deduction.” What can be more remote than these two propositions? The one of them signifying (if it signifies any thing) the view the mind has of it; the other, as I guess, the original and rise of it. For “what it is to have the knowledge of an idea, not by intuition, but by deduction of reason,” I confess I do not well understand; only I am sure, in terms it is not the same with having the intuition of an idea; but if changing of terms were not some men’s privilege, perhaps so much controversy would not be written. The meaning of either of these propositions I concern not myself about, for neither of them is mine. I only here show, that you do not prove the proposition that you yourself framed, and undertook to prove.

Since, my lord, you are so favourable to me, as to seem willing to correct whatever you can find any way amiss in my Essay; therefore I shall endeavour to satisfy you concerning the rise of our idea of duration, from the succession of ideas in our minds. Against this, though it be nothing to the matter in hand, you object, “that some people reckoned succession of time right by knots and notches, and figures, without ever thinking of ideas.” Answ. It is certain that men, who wanted better ways, might, by knots or notches, keep accounts of the numbers of certain stated lengths of times, as well as of the numbers of men in their country, or of any other numbers; and that too without ever considering the immediate objects of their thoughts under the name of ideas: but that they should Edition: current; Page: [415] count time, without ever thinking of something, is very hard to me to conceive; and the things they thought on, or were present in their minds, when they thought, are what I call ideas: thus much in answer in what your lordship says. But to any one that shall put the objection stronger, and say, Many have had the idea of time, who never reflected on the constant train of ideas, succeeding one another in their minds, whilst waking, I grant it; but add, that want of reflection makes not any thing cease to be: if it did, many men’s actions would have no cause, nor rise, nor manner; because many men never reflect so far on their own actions, as to consider what they are bottomed on, or how they are performed. A man may measure duration by motion, of which he has no other idea, but of a constant succession of ideas in train; and yet never reflect on that succession of ideas in his mind. A man may guess at the length of his stay by himself in the dark; here is no succession to measure by, but that of his own thoughts: and without some succession, I think there is no measure of duration. But though in this case he measures the length of the duration by the train of his ideas, yet he may never reflect on that, but conclude he does it he knows not how.

You add, “but besides such arbitrary measures of time, what need any recourse to ideas, when the returns of days, and months, and years, by the planetary motions, are so easy and so universal?” Such, here, as I suppose, refers to the knots, and notches, and figures before mentioned: if it does not, I know not what it refers to; and if it does, it makes those knots and notches measures of time, which I humbly conceive they were not, but only arbitrary ways of recording (as all other ways of recording are) certain numbers of known lengths of time: for though any one sets down by arbitrary marks, as notches on a stick, or strokes of chalk on a trenchard, or figures on paper, the number of yards of cloth, or pints of milk that are delivered to a customer; yet I suppose nobody thinks, that the cloth or milk were measured by those notches, strokes of chalk, or figures, which therefore are by no means the Edition: current; Page: [416] arbitrary measures of those things. But what this is against, I confess I do not see: this, I am sure, it is not against any thing I have said. For, as I remember, I have said (though not the planetary motions, yet) that the motions of the sun and the moon are the best measures of time. But if you mean, that the idea of duration is rather taken from the planetary motions, than from the succession of ideas in our minds, I crave leave to doubt of that; because motion no other way discovers itself to us, but by a succession of ideas.

Your next argument against my thinking the idea of time to be derived from the train of ideas, succeeding one another in our minds, is, that your lordship thinks the contrary. This, I must own, is an argument by way of authority, and I humbly submit to it; though I think such arguments produce no certainty either in my way of certainty by ideas, or in your way of certainty by reason.

4. As to your fourth instance, you having set down my exceptions to the peripatetic and Cartesian definitions of light, you subjoin this question: “And is this a self-evident idea of light?” I beg leave to answer in the same way by a question, and whoever said or thought that it was, or meant that it should be? He must have a strange notion of self-evident ideas, let them be what they will (for I know them not) who can think, that the showing others definitions of light to be unintelligible, is a self-evident idea of light. But farther, my lord, what, I beseech you, has a self-evident idea of light to do here? I thought in this your instance of light, you were making good what you undertook to prove from myself, that we have no intuition of light. But because that perhaps would have sounded pretty oddly, you thought fit (which I with all submission crave leave sometimes to take notice of) to change the question: but the misfortune is, that put as it is, not concerning our intuition, but the self-evidence of the idea of light, the one is no better proved than the other: and yet your lordship concludes this your first head according to your usual form: “thus we have seen what account the author of the Essay himself has given of Edition: current; Page: [417] these self-evident ideas, which are the ground-work of demonstration.” With submission, my lord, he must have good eyes, who has seen an account I have given in my Essay of self-evident ideas, when neither in all that your lordship has quoted out of it, no nor in my whole Essay, self-evident ideas are so much as once mentioned. And where the account I have given of a thing, which I never thought upon, is to be seen, I cannot imagine. What your lordship farther tells me concerning them, viz. “that self-evident ideas are the ground-work of demonstration,” I also assure you is perfect news to me, which I never met with any where but in your lordship: though if I had made them the ground-work of demonstration, as you say, I think they might remain so, notwithstanding any thing your lordship has produced to the contrary.

We are now come to your second head, where I expected to have found this consequence made good, “that there may be contradictory opinions about ideas which I account most clear and distinct; ergo, it is impossible to come to a demonstration about real beings in the way of intuition of ideas.” For this you told me was your second reason to prove this proposition. This consequence your lordship, it seems, looks upon as so clear, that it needs no proof; I can find none here where you take it up again. To prove something, you say, “suppose an idea happen to be thought by some to be clear and distinct, and others should think the contrary to be so:” in obedience to your lordship, I do suppose it. But, when it is supposed, will that make good the above-mentioned consequence? You, yourself, my lord, do not so much as pretend it; but in this question subjoined, “What hopes of demonstration by clear and distinct ideas then?” infer a quite different proposition. For “it is impossible to come to a demonstration about real things in the way of intuition of ideas;” and there is “no hopes of demonstration by clear and distinct ideas;” appear to me two very different propositions.

There appears something to me yet more incomprehensible Edition: current; Page: [418] in your way of managing this argument here. Your reason is, as we have seen, in these words, “there may be contradictory opinions about some ideas, that I account most clear and distinct:” and your instance of it in these words, “suppose an idea happen to be thought by some to be clear and distinct, and others should think the contrary to be so.” Answ. So they may, without having any contradictory opinions about any idea, that I account most clear and distinct. A man may think his idea of heat to be clear and distinct, and another may think his idea of cold (which I take to be the contrary idea to that of heat) to be clear and distinct, and be both in the right, without the least appearance of any contradictory opinion. All therefore that your lordship says, in the remaining part of this paragraph, having nothing in it of contradictory opinions about ideas that I think most clear, serves not at all to make good your second reason. The truth is, all that you say here concerning Des Cartes’s idea of space, and another man’s idea of space, amounts to no more but this, that different men may signify different ideas by the same name, and will never fix on me what your lordship would persuade the world I say, “that both parts of a contradiction may be true.” Though I do say, that in such a loose use of the terms body and vacuum, it may be demonstrated, both that there is, and is not a vacuum: which is a contradiction in words, and is apt to impose, as if it were so in sense, on those who mistake words for things; who are a kind of reasoners, whereof I perceive there is a greater number than I thought there had been.Essay, b. iv. c. 7. § 12. All that I have said in that place quoted by your lordship, is nothing but to show the danger of relying upon maxims, without a careful guard upon the use of words, without which they will serve to make demonstrations on both sides. That this is so, I dare appeal to any reader, should your lordship press me again, as you do here, with all the force of these words, “Say you so? What! demonstrations on both sides? And in the way of ideas too? This is extraordinary indeed!”

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That all the opposition between Des Cartes and those others, is only about the naming of ideas, I think may be made appear from these words of your lordship in the next paragraph: “in the ideas of space and body, the question supposed, is, whether they be the same or no.” That this is a question only about names, and not about ideas themselves, is evident from hence, that nobody can doubt whether the single idea of pure distance, and the two ideas of distance and solidity, are one and the same idea or different ideas, any more than he can doubt whether one and two are different. The question then in the case, is not whether extension considered separately by itself, or extension and solidity together, be the same idea or no; but whether the simple idea of extension alone, shall be called body, or the complex idea of solidity and extension together, shall be called body. For that these ideas themselves are different, I think I need not go about to prove to any one, who ever thought of emptiness or fulness: for whether in fact the bottle in a man’s hand be empty or no, or can by him be emptied or no: this, I think, is plain, that his idea of fulness, and his idea of emptiness, are not the same. This the very dispute concerning a vacuum supposes: for if men’s idea of pure space were not different from their idea of solidity and space together, they could never so far separate them in their thoughts, as to make a question, whether they did always exist together, any more than they could question, whether the same thing existed with itself. Motion cannot be separated in existence from space; and yet nobody ever took the idea of space and the idea of motion to be the same. Solidity likewise cannot exist without space; but will any one from thence say, the idea of solidity and the idea of space are one and the same?

Your lordship’s third reason, to prove that “it is impossible to come to a demonstration about real beings in this way of intuition of ideas, is, that granting the ideas to be true, there is no self-evidence of the connexion of them, which is necessary to make a demonstration.” This, I must own, is to me as incomprehensible a consequence as the former; as also is that Edition: current; Page: [420] which your lordship says to make it out, which I shall set down in your own words, that its force may be left entire to the reader: “But granting the ideas to be true, yet when their connexion is not self-evident, then an intermediate idea must complete the demonstration. But how doth it appear, that this middle idea is self-evidently connected with them? For it is said, if that intermediate idea be not known by intuition, that must need a proof; and so there can be no demonstration: which your lordship is very apt to believe in this way of ideas; unless these ideas get more light by being put between two others.” Whatever there be in these words to prove the proposition in question, I leave the reader to find out; but that he may not be led into mistake, that there is any thing in my words that may be serviceable to it, I must crave leave to acquaint him, that these words set down by your lordship, as out of my Essay, are not to be found in that place, nor any where in my book, or any thing to this purpose,B. iv. c. ii.§ 7. “that the intermediate idea is to be known by intuition;” but this, that there must be an intuitive knowledge or perception of the agreement or disagreement of the intermediate idea with those, whose agreement or disagreement by its intervention it demonstrates.

Leaving therefore all that your lordship brings out of Gassendus, the Cartesians, Morinus, and Bernier, in their argument from motion, for or against a vacuum, as not being at all concerned in it; I shall only crave leave to observe, that you seem to make use here of the same way of argumentation, which I think I may call your main, if not only one, it occurs so often, viz. that when I have said any thing to show wherein certainty or demonstration, &c. consists, you think it sufficiently overthrown, if you can produce any instance out of my book, of any thing advanced by me, which comes short of certainty or demonstration: whereas, my lord, I humbly conceive, it is no proof against my notion of certainty, or my way of demonstration, that I cannot attain to them in all cases. I only tell wherein they consist, wherever they are; but if I miss of either of them, either by reason of Edition: current; Page: [421] the nature of the subject, or by inadvertency in my way of proof, that is no objection to the truth of my notions of them: for I never undertook that my way of certainty or demonstration, if it ought to be called my way, should make me or any one omniscient or infallible.

That which makes it necessary for me here again to take notice of this your way of reasoning, is the question wherewith you wind up the account you have given of the dispute of the parties above-named about a vacuum: “and is it possible to imagine, that there should be a self-evident connexion in the case?” Answ. It concerns not me to examine, whether, or on which side, in that dispute, such a self-evident connexion is, or is not possible. But this I take the liberty to say, that wherever it is not, there is no demonstration, whether it be the Cartesians or the Gassendists that failed in this point. And I humbly conceive, that to conclude from any one’s failing in this, or any other case, of a self-evident connexion in each step of his proof, that therefore it is not necessary in demonstration; is a conclusion without grounds, and a way of arguing that proves nothing.

In the next paragraph you come to wind up the argument, which you have been so long upon, viz. to make good what you undertook; i. e. “to show the difference of my method of certainty by ideas, and the method of certainty by reason;” in answer to my saying, I can find no opposition between them: which opposition, according to the account you give of it, after forty pages spent in it, amounts at last to this:

(1.) That I affirm, that general principles and maxims of reason are of little or no use; and your lordship says, “they are of very great use, and the only proper foundation of certainty.” To which I crave leave to say, that if by principles and maxims your lordship means all self-evident propositions, our ways are even in this part the same; for as you know, my lord, I make self-evident propositions necessary to certainty, and found all certainty only in them. If by principles and maxims you mean a select number of self-evident propositions, distinguished from the rest by the name Edition: current; Page: [422] maxims, which is the sense in which I use the term maxims in my Essay; then to bring it to a decision, which of us two, in this point, is in the right, it will be necessary for your lordship to give a list of those maxims; and then to show, that a man can be certain of no truth, without the help of those maxims. For to affirm maxims to be the only foundations of certainty, and yet not to tell which are those maxims, or how they may be known; is, I humbly conceive, so far from laying any sure grounds of certainty, that it leaves even the very foundations of it uncertain. When your lordship has thus settled the grounds of your way of certainty by reason, one may be able to examine, whether it be truly the way of reason, and how far my way of certainty by ideas differs from it.

(2.) The second difference that you assign, between my way of certainty by ideas, and yours by reason, is, that “I say, that demonstration is by way of intuition of ideas, and that reason is only the faculty employed in discovering and comparing ideas with themselves, or with others intervening; and that this is the only way of certainty.” Whereas your lordship “affirms, and, as you say, have proved that there can be no demonstration by intuition of ideas; but that all the certainty we can attain to, is from general principles of reason, and necessary deductions made from them.” Answ. I have said, that demonstration consists in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of the intermediate idea, with those whose agreement or disagreement it is to show, in each step of the demonstration: and if you will say this is different from the way of demonstration by reason, it will then be to the point above-mentioned, which you have been so long upon. If this be your meaning here, it seems pretty strangely expressed, and remains to be proved: but if any thing else be your meaning, that meaning not being the proposition to be proved, it matters not whether you have proved it or no.

Your lordship farther says here, “that all the certainty we can attain to, is from general principles of reason, and necessary deductions made from them.” Edition: current; Page: [423] This, you say, “you have proved.” What has been proved, is to be seen in what has been already considered. But if your proof, “that all the certainty we can attain to, is from general principles of reason, and necessary deductions made from them,” were as clear and cogent, as it seems to me the contrary; this will not reach to the point in debate, till your lordship has proved that this is opposite to my way of certainty by ideas. It is strange (and perhaps to some may be matter of thought) that in an argument wherein you lay so much stress on maxims, general principles of reason, and necessary deductions from them, you should never once tell us, what, in your account, a maxim or general principle of reason is, nor the marks it is to be known by; nor offer to show what a necessary deduction is, nor how it is to be made, or may be known. For I have seen men please themselves with deductions upon deductions, and spin consequences, it mattered not whether out of their own or other men’s thoughts; which, when looked into, were visibly nothing but mere ropes of sand.

It is true, your lordship says, “you now come to certainty of reason by deductions.” But when all that truly learned discourse, which follows, is read over and over again, I would be glad to be told, what it is your lordship calls a necessary deduction; and by what criterion you distinguish it from such deductions as come short of certainty, or even of truth itself. I confess I have read over those pages more than once, and can find no such criterion laid down in them by your lordship though a criterion be there much talked of. But whether it be my want of capacity for your way of writing, that makes me not find any light given by your lordship into this matter; or whether in truth you have not showed, wherein what you call a necessary deduction consists, and how it may be known from what is not so; the reader must judge. This I crave leave to say, that when you have shown what general principles of reason and necessary deductions are, the world will then see, and not till then, whether this your way of certainty by reason, from general principles and necessary deductions Edition: current; Page: [424] made from them, be opposite to, or so much as different from, my way of certainty by ideas; which was the thing to be shown.

In the paragraph under consideration, you blame me, that in my chapter concerning reason I have treated it only as a faculty, and not in the other senses which I there give of that word. This exception to my book, is, I suppose, only from your lordship’s general care of letting nothing pass in my Essay, which you think needs an amendment. For any particular reason, that brings it in here, or ties it on to this part of your discourse, I confess I do not see. However, to this I answer,

1. The understanding as a faculty, being the subject of my Essay, it carried me to treat directly of reason no otherwise than as a faculty. But yet reason as standing for true and clear principles, and also as standing for clear and fair deductions from those principles, I have not wholly omitted; as is manifest from what I have said of self-evident propositions, intuitive knowledge, and demonstration, in other parts of my Essay. So that your question, “why in a chapter of reason are the two other senses of the word neglected?” blaming me for no other fault that I am really guilty of, but want of order, and not putting every thing in its proper place; does not appear to be of so mighty weight, but that I should have thought it might have been left to the little nibblers in controversy, without being made use of by so great a man as your lordship. But the putting things out of their proper place, being that which your lordship thinks fit to except against in my writings, it so falls out, that to this too I plead not guilty. For in that very chapter of reason, I have not omitted to treat of principles and deductions;§ 2, 3, 4, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18. and what I have said there, I presume is enough to let others see, that I have not neglected to declare my poor sense about self-evident propositions, and the cogency and evidence of demonstrative or probable deductions of reason: though what I have said there, not being backed with authorities, nor warranted by the names of ancient philosophers, was not worth your lordship’s taking notice of.

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I have, I confess, been so unwary to write out of my own thoughts, which your lordship has, more than once, with some sort of reprimand taken notice of. I own it, your lordship is much in the right; the safer way is, never to declare one’s own sense in any material point. If I had filled my book with quotations and collections of other men’s opinions, it had shown much more learning, and had much more security in it; and I myself had been safe from the attacks of the men of arms, in the commonwealth of letters: but in writing my book, I had no thoughts of war, my eye was fixed only on truth, and that with so sincere and unbiassed an endeavour, that I thought I should not have incurred much blame, even where I had missed it. This I perceive, too late, was the wrong way: I should have kept myself still safe upon the reserve. Had I learnt this wisdom of Thraso in Terence, and resolved with myself, “Hic ergo ero post principia;” perhaps I might have preserved the commendation was given him, “illuc est sapere ut hos instruxit ipsus sibi cavit loco.” But I deserved to be soundly corrected, for not having profited by reading so much as this comes to.

But to return to your accusation here, which all together stands thus: “why in a chapter of reason are the other two senses neglected? We might have expected here full satisfaction as to the principles of reason, as distinct from the faculty, but the author of the Essay wholly avoids it.” What I guess these words accuse me to have avoided, I think I have shown already that I did not avoid.

“Before you conclude, you say you must observe that I prove, that demonstration must be by intuition, in an extraordinary manner from the sense of the word.” He that will be at the pains to read that paragraph which you quote for it,Essay, b. iv. c. 2. § 3. will see that I do not prove that it must be by intuition, because it is called demonstration; but that it is called demonstration, because it is by intuition. And as to the propriety of it, what your lordship says in the following words, “it would be most proper for ocular demonstration or by the finger,” will not Edition: current; Page: [426] hinder it from being proper also in mental demonstration, as long as the perception of the mind is properly expressed by seeing.

Against my observing, that the notation of the word imported showing or making to see, your lordship farther says, “demonstration among some philosophers signified only the conclusion of an argument, whereby we are brought from something we did perceive to something we did not;” which seems to me to agree with what I say in the case, viz. that by the agreement of ideas which we do perceive, we are brought to perceive the agreement of ideas which before we did not perceive. To which no doubt will be answered, as in a like case, “not by a way of intuition, but by a deduction of reason,” i. e. we perceive not in a way that affords us intuition or a sight, but by deductions of reason, wherein we see nothing. Whereas, my lord, I humbly conceive, that the force of a deduction of reason consists in this, that in each step of it we see what a connexion it has, i. e. have an intuition of the certain agreement or disagreement of the ideas, as in demonstration; or an intuition or perception, that they have a probable, or not so much as a probable connexion, as in other deductions of reason.

You farther overthrow the necessity of intuitive knowledge, in every step of a demonstration,B. iv. c. 7.§ 10, 19, and elsewhere. by the authority of Aristotle; who says, “things that are self-evident cannot be demonstrated.” And so say I too, in several places of my Essay. When your lordship can show any inconsistency between these two propositions, viz.B. iv. c. 2. “that intuitive knowledge is necessary in each step of a demonstration, and things that are self-evident cannot be demonstrated;” then I shall own, you have overthrown the necessity of intuition in every step of a demonstration by reason, as well as by Aristotle’s authority.

In the remainder of this paragraph, I meet with nothing but your lordship finding fault with some, who, in this age, have made use of mathematical demonstrations in natural philosophy. Your lordship’s two reasons Edition: current; Page: [427] against this way of advancing knowledge upon the sure grounds of mathematical demonstration, are these:

(1.) “That Des Cartes, a mathematical man, has been guilty of mistakes in his system.” Answ. When mathematical men will build systems upon fancy, and not upon demonstration, they are as liable to mistakes as others. And that Des Cartes was not led into his mistakes by mathematical demonstrations, but for want of them, I think has been demonstrated by* some of those mathematicians who seem to be meant here.

(2.) Your second argument against accommodating mathematics to the nature of material things, is, “that mathematicians cannot be certain of the manner and degrees of force given to bodies, so far distant as the fixed stars; nor of the laws of motion in other systems.” A very good argument why they should not proceed demonstratively in this our system upon laws of motion, observed to be established here: a reason that may persuade us to put out our eyes, for fear they should mislead us in what we do see, because there be things out of our sight.

It is great pity Aristotle had not understood mathematics as well as Mr. Newton, and made use of it in natural philosophy with as good success: his example had then authorized the accommodating of it to material things. But it is not to be ventured, by a man of this age, to go out of the method which Aristotle has prescribed, and which your lordship out of him, has set down in the following pages, as that which should be kept to; for it is a dangerous presumption to go out of a track chalked out by that supposed dictator in the commonwealth of letters, though it led him to the eternity of the world. I say not this, that I do not think him a very great man; he made himself so, by not keeping precisely to beaten tracks: which servile subjection of the mind, if we may take my lord Bacon’s word for it, kept the little knowledge the world had, from growing greater, for more than a few ages. That Edition: current; Page: [428] the breaking loose from it in this age, is a fault, is not directly said; but there is enough said, to show there is no great approbation of such a liberty. Mathematics in gross, it is plain, are a grievance in natural philosophy, and with reason: for mathematical proofs, like diamonds, are hard as well as clear, and will be touched with nothing but strict reasoning. Mathematical proofs are out of the reach of topical arguments, and are not to be attacked by the equivocal use of words or declamation, that make so great a part of other discourses; nay, even of controversies. How well you have proved my way of ideas guilty of any tendency to scepticism, the reader will see; but this I will crave leave to say, that the secluding mathematical reasoning from philosophy, and instead thereof reducing it to Aristotelian rules and sayings, will not be thought to be much in favour of knowledge against scepticism.

Your lordship indeed says, “you did not by any means take off from the laudable endeavours of those, who have gone about to reduce natural speculations to mathematical certainty.” What can we understand by this, but your lordship’s great complaisance and moderation? who, notwithstanding you spend four pages to “show that the endeavours of mathematical men, to accommodate the principles of that science to the nature of material things, has been the occasion of great mistakes in the philosophy of this age;” and that therefore Aristotle’s method is to be followed: yet you make this compliment to the mathematicians, that you leave them to their liberty to go on, if they please, “in their laudable endeavours to reduce natural speculations to mathematical certainty.”

And thus we are come to the end of your lordship’s clearing this passage: “that you grant that by sensation and reflection we come to know the powers and properties of things: but our reason [i. e. the principles of reason agreed on by mankind] is satisfied, that there must be something beyond these; because it is impossible they should subsist by themselves: so that the nature of things properly belongs to reason [i. e. the principles of reason agreed on by mankind] Edition: current; Page: [429] and not to mere ideas.” Which if any one be so lucky as to understand by these your lordship’s fifty pages spent upon it, better than my friend did, when he confessed himself gravelled by it, as it stands here recited, he ought to enjoy the advantage of his happy genius, whilst I miss that satisfaction by the dulness of mine; which hinders me also from seeing how the opposition of the way of certainty by ideas, and the way of certainty by reason, comes in, in the explication of this passage: or at least, if it does belong to it, yet I must own, what is a greater misfortune, that I do not see what the opposition or difference is, which your lordship has so much talked of, between the way of certainty by ideas, and the method of certainty by reason. For my excuse, I think others will be as much in the dark as I, since you no-where tell wherein yourself, my lord, place certainty. So that to talk of a difference between certainty by ideas, and certainty that is not by ideas, without declaring in what that other certainty consists; is like to have no better success, than might be expected from one who would compare two things together, the one whereof is not known.

You now return to your discourse of nature and person, and tell me, that to what you said about the general nature in distinct individuals, I object these three things;

(1.) “That I cannot put together one and the same and distinct.” This I own to be my objection; “and consequently there is no foundation for the distinction of nature and person.” This, with submission, I deny to be any objection of mine, either in the place quoted by your lordship, or any where else. There may be foundation enough for distinction, as there is of these two, and yet they may be treated of in a way so obscure, so confused, or perhaps so sublime, that an ordinary capacity may not from thence get, as your lordship expresses it, “clear and distinct apprehensions of them.” This was that which my friend and I complained of in that place, want of clearness in your lordship’s discourse, not of want of distinction in the things themselves.

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(2.) “That what your lordship said about common nature, and particular substance in individuals, was wholly unintelligible to me and my friends.” To which, my lord, you may add if you please, that it is still so to me.

(3.) That I said, “that to speak truly and precisely of this matter as in reality it is, there is no such thing as one and the same common nature in several individuals; for all that in truth is in them, is particular, and nothing but particular,” &c. Answ. This was said, to show how unapt these expressions, “the same common nature in several individuals, and several individuals being in the same common nature; were to give true and clear notions of nature.” To this your lordship answers, that other, and those very rational men, have spoken so: to which I shall say no more, but that it is an argument, with which any thing may be defended, and all the jargon of the schools be justified; but, I presume, not strong enough to bring it back again, let men ever so rational make use of it.

Your lordship adds, “but now, it seems, nothing is intelligible but what suits with the new way of ideas.” My lord, the new way of ideas, and the old way of speaking intelligibly, was always, and ever will be the same. And if I may take the liberty to declare my sense of it, herein it consists: (1.) That a man use no words but such as he makes the signs of certain determined objects of his mind in thinking, which he can make known to another. (2.) Next that he use the same word steadily for the sign of the same immediate object of his mind in thinking. (3.) That he join those words together in propositions, according to the grammatical rules of that language he speaks in. (4.) That he unite those sentences in a coherent discourse. Thus, and thus only, I humbly conceive, any one may preserve himself from the confines and suspicion of jargon, whether he pleases to call those immediate objects of his mind, which his words do or should stand for, ideas or no.

You again accuse the way of ideas, to make a common nature no more than a common name. That, my Edition: current; Page: [431] lord, is not my way by ideas. When your lordship shows me where I have said so, I promise your lordship to strike it out: and the like I promise, when you show me where “I presume that we are not to judge of things by the general principles of reason,” which you call my fundamental mistake. “These principles of reason, you say, must be the standard to mankind.” If they are of such consequence, would it not have been convenient we should have been instructed something more particularly about them, than by barely being told their name; that we might be able to know what are, and what are not principles of reason?

But be they what they will, because they must be the standard to mankind, your lordship says, “you shall in this debate proceed upon the following principles, to make it appear that the difference between nature and person is not imaginary and fictitious, but grounded upon the real nature of things.” With submission, my lord, you need not be at the pains to draw up your great artillery of so many maxims, where you meet with no opposition. The thing in debate, whether in this debate or no, I know not, but what led into this debate, was about the expressions, “one common nature in several individuals, and several individuals in one common nature:” and the question, I thought, was, whether a general or common nature could be in particulars, i. e. exist in individuals? But since your lordship turns your artillery against those who deny that there is any foundation of distinction between nature and person, I am out of gun-shot: for I am none of those, who ever said or thought there was no foundation of distinction between nature and person.

The maxims you lay down in the following paragraph, are to make me understand how one and the same and distinct may consist; I confess, I do not see how your lordship’s words there at all make it out. This, indeed, I do understand, that several particular beings may have a conformity in them to one general abstract idea, which may, if you please, be called their general or common nature: but how that idea or general nature can be the same and distinct, is still past my comprehension.

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To my saying, that your lordship had not told me what nature is, I am told, that “if I had a mind to understand you, I could not but see, that by nature you meant the subject of essential properties.” A lady asking a learned physician what the spleen was, received this answer, that it was the receptacle of the melancholy humour. She had a mind to understand what the spleen was, but by this definition of it found herself not much enlightened; and therefore went on to ask, what the melancholy humour was: and by the doctor’s answer found that the spleen and the melancholy humour had a relation one to the other; but what the spleen was, she knew not one jot better than she did before he told her any thing about it. My lord, relative definitions of terms that are not relative, usually do no more than lead us in a circuit to the same place from whence we set out, and there leave us in the same ignorance we were in at first. So I fear it would fall out with me here, if I, willing as I am to understand what your lordship means by nature, should go to ask what you mean by essential properties.

The three or four next pages, I hope, your lordship does not think contain any serious answer to what my friend said concerning Peter, James, and John; and as for the pleasantry of your countryman, I shall not pretend to meddle with that, since your lordship, who knows better than any body his way of chopping of logic, was fain to give it off, because it was growing too rough. What work such a dangerous chopper of logic would make with an argument that supposed the names Peter, James, and John, to stand for men; and then without scruple affirmed, that the nature of man was in them; if he were let loose upon it: who can tell? Especially if he might have the liberty strenuously to use the phrase “for his life,” and to observe what a turn the chiming of words, without determined ideas annexed to them, gives to the understanding, when they are gone deep into a man’s head, and pass there for things.

To show that the common or general nature of man could not be in Peter or James, I alleged, that what Edition: current; Page: [433] ever existed (as whatever was in Peter or James did was particular; and that it confounded my understanding to make a general a particular. In answer, your lordship tells me, that, to make me understand this, you had told me in your answer to my first letter, “that we are to consider beings as God had ordered them in their several sorts and ranks,” &c. And thereupon you ask me, “why it was not answered in the proper place for it?” Answ. I own I was not always so fortunate, as to say things in that, which your lordship thinks the proper place; but having been rebuked for repetitions, I thought your lordship could not be ignorant, that “I had considered beings as God had ordered them in their several sorts and ranks,” &c. since you could not but have read these words of mine:Essay, b. iii. c. 3. § 13. “I would not here be thought to forget, much less to deny, that nature in the production of things makes several of them alike. There is nothing more obvious, especially in the race of animals, and all things propagated by seed,” &c. And I have expressed my sense in this point so fully here, and in other places, particularly b. iii. c. 6. that I dare leave it to my reader, without any farther explication.

Your lordship farther asks, “Is not that a real nature, which is the subject of real properties? And is not the nature really in those who have the essential properties?” I answer to both those questions, Yes; such as is the reality of the subject, such is the reality of its properties: the abstract general idea is really in the mind of him that has it, and the properties that it has are really and inseparably annexed to it; let this reality be whatever your lordship pleases: but this will never prove, that this general nature exists in Peter or James. Those properties, with submission, do not, as your lordship supposes, exist in Peter and James: those qualities indeed may exist in them, which your lordship calls properties; but they are not properties in either of them, but are properties only of that specific abstract nature, which Peter and James, for their supposed conformity to it, are ranked under. For example, retionality, Edition: current; Page: [434] as much a property as it is of a man, is no property of Peter. He was rational a good part of his life, could write and read, and was a sharp fellow at a bargain; but about thirty, a knock so altered him, that for these twenty years past he has been able to do none of these things: there is to this day not so much appearance of reason in him, as in his h