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other respects than those wherein there is a difference. If they are perfectly equal and alike in themselves, then they can be distinguished, or be distinct, only in those things which are called circumstances ; as place, time, rest, motion, or some other present or past circumstances or relations. For it is difference only that constitutes distinction. If God makes two bodies, in themselves every way equal and alike, and agreeing perfectly in all other circumstances and relations, but only their place ; then in this only is there any distinction or duplicity. The figure is the same, the measure is the same, the solidity and resistance are the same, and every thing the same, but only the place. Therefore what the Will of God determines is this, that there should be the same figure, the same extension, the same resistance, &c. in two different places. And for this determination he has some reason. There is some end, for which such a determination and act has a peculiar fitness, above all other acts. Here is no one thing determined without an end, and no one thing without a fitness for that end, superior to any thing else. If it be the pleasure of God to cause the same resistance, and the same figure, to be in two different places and situations, we can no more justly argue from it, that here must be some determination or act of God's will that is wholly without motive or end, than we can argue, than whenever in any case it is a man's will to speak the same words or make the same sounds at two different times ; there must be some determination or act of his will, without any motive or end. The difference of place, in the former case, proves no more than the difference of time does in the other. If any one should say, with regard to the former case, that there must be something determined without an end, viz. that of those two similar bodies, this in particular should be made in this place, and the other in the other, and should enquire, why the Creator did not make them in a transposition, when both are alike, and each would equally have suited either place ? The enquiry supposes something that is not true ; namely, that the two bodies differ and are distinct in other respects besides their place. So that with this distinction inherent in them, they might, in their first creation, have been transposed, and each might have begun its existence in the place of the other.
Let us, for clearness sake, suppose, that God had, at the beginning, made two globes, each of an inch diameter, both perfect spheres, and perfectly solid, without pores, and perfectly alike in every respect, and placed them near one to another, one towards the right hand, and the other towards the left, without any difference as to time, motion or rest, past or present, or any circumstance, but only their place; and the qeustion should be asked, why God in their creation placed
them so? Why that which is made on the right hand, was not made on the left, and vice versa? Let it be well considered, whether there be any sense in such a question; and whether the enquiry does not suppose something false and absurd. Let it be considered, what the Creator must have done otherwise than he did, what different act of will or power he must have exerted, in order to the thing proposed. All that could have been done, would have been to have made two spheres, perfectly alike, in the same places where he has made them, without any difference of the things made, either in themselves or in any circumstance; so that the whole effect would have been without any difference, and, therefore, just the same. By the supposition, the two spheres are different in no other respect but their place; and therefore in other respects, they are the same. Each has the same roundness; it is not a distinct rotundity, in any other respect but its situation. There are, also, the same dimensions, differing in nothing but their place. And so of their resistance, and every thing else that belongs to them.
Here, if any chooses to say, " that there is a difference in another respect viz. that they are not NUMERICALLY the same: that it is thus with all the qualities that belong to them: that it is confessed they are in some respects the same; that is, they are both exactly alike; but yet numerically they differ. Thus the roundness of one is not the same numerical, individual roundness with that of the other." Let this be supposed; then the question about the determination of the Divine Will in the affair, is, why did God will, that this individual roundness should be at the right hand, and the other individual roundness at the left? why did not he make them in a contrary position ? Let any rational person consider, whether such questions be not words without a meaning; as much as if God should see fit for some ends, to cause the same sounds to be repeated, or made at two different times: the sounds being perfectly the same in every other respect, but only one was a minute after the other; and it should be asked upon it, why God caused these sounds, numerically different, to succeed one the other in such a manner? Why he did not make that individual sound, wbich was in the first minute, to be in the second ? And the individual sound of the last minute to be in the first : which enquiries would be even ri. diculous; as I think every person must see, in the case proposed of two sounds, being only the same repeated, absolutely without any difference, but that one circumstance of time. If the Most High sees it will answer some good end, that the same sound be made thunder at two distinct times, and therefore wills that it should be so, must it needs therefore be, that herein there is some act of God's will without any mo
tive or end? God saw fit often, at distant times, and on different occasions, to say the very same words to Moses; namely, those, I am Jehovah. And would it not be unreasonable to infer as a certain consequence from this, that here must be some act or acts of the Divine Will, in determining and disposing the words exactly alike, at different times, wholly without aim or inducement ? But it would be no more unrea. sonable than 10 say, that there must be an act of God without any inducement, if he sees it best, and, for soine reasons, determines that there shall be the same resistance, the same dimensions, and the same figure, in several distinct places.
If in the instance of the two spheres, perfectly alike, it be supposed possible that God might have made them in a contrary position; that which is made at the right hand, being made at the left; then I ask, Whether it is not evidently equally possible, if God had made but one of them, and that in the place of the right hand globe, that he might have made that numerically different from what it is and numerically different from what he did make it; though perfectly alike, and in the same place; and at the same time, and in every respect, in the same circumstances and relations ? Namely, Whether he might not have made it numerically the same with that which he has now made at the left hand ; and so have left that which is now created at the right hand, in a state of non-existence ? And, if so, whether it would not have been possible to have made one in that place, perfectly like these, and yet numerically differing from both ? And let it be considered, whether, from this notion of a numerical differ. ence in bodies perfectly equal and alike, which numerical difference is something inherent in the bodies themselves, and diverse from the difference of place or time, or any circumstance whatsoever ; it will not follow, that there is an infinite number of numerically different possible bodies, perfectly alike, among which God chooses, by a self-determining power, when he goes about to create bodies.
Therefore let us put the case thus : Supposing that God, in the beginning, had created but one perfectly solid sphere, in a certain place, and it should be enquired, Why God created that individual sphere, in that place, at that time?And why he did not create another sphere perfectly like it, but numerically different, in the same place, at the same time ?Or why he chose to bring into being there, that very body, rather than any of the infinite number of other bodies, perfectly like it; either of which he could have made there as well, and would have answered his end as well? Why he caused to exist at that place and time, that individual roundness, rather than any other of the infinite number of individual rotundities just like it? Why that individual resistance, rather
than any other of the infinite number of possible resistances just like it? And it might as reasonably be asked, Why, when God first caused it to thunder, he caused that individual sound then to be made, and not another just like it? Why did he make choice of this very sound, and reject all the infinite number of other possible sounds just like it, but numerically differing from it, and all differing one from another? I think every body must be sensible of the absurdity and nonsense of what is supposed in such enquiries. And, if we calmly attend to the matter, we shall be convinced that all such kind of objections as I am answering, are founded on nothing but the imperfection of our manner of conceiving things, and the obscureness of language, and great want of clearness and precision in the signification of terms.
If any should find fault with this reasoning, that it is going a great length into metaphysical niceties and subtilties;
answer, the objection to which they are a reply is a metaphysical subtilty, and must be treated according to the nature of it.*
II. Another thing alledged is, that innumerable things which are determined by the Divine Will, and chosen and done by God rather than others, differ from those that are not chosen in so inconsiderable a manner, that it would be unreasonable to suppose
the difference to be of any consequence, or that there is any superior fitness or goodness, that God can have respect to in the determination.
To which I answer, it is impossible for us to determine, with any certainty or evidence, that because the difference is very small, and appears to us of no consideration, therefore there is absolutely no superior goodness, and no valuable end, which can be proposed by the Creator and Governor of the world, in ordering such a difference. The forementioned author mentions many instances. One is, there being one atom in the whole universe, more or less. But I think it would be unreasonable to suppose that God made one atom in vain, or without any end or motive. He made not one atom but what was a work of his Almighty Power, as much as the whole globe of the earth, and requires as much of a constant exertion of Almighty Power to uphold it; and was made and is upheld with understanding and design, as much as if no other had been made but that. And it would be as unreasonable to suppose, that he made it without any thing really aimed at in so doing, as much as to suppose, that he made the planet Jupiter without aim or design.
*"For men to have recourse to subtilities in raising difficulties, and then complain, that they should be taken off by minutely examining these subtilities, is a strange kind of procedure." Nature of the Human Soul, Vol. II, p. 331.
It is possible that the most minute effects of the Creator's power, the smallest assignable difference between the things which God has made, Inay be attended, in the whole series of events, and the whole compass and extent of their influence, with very great and important consequences. If the laws of motion and gravitation, laid down by Sir Isaac NewTON, hold universally, there is not one atom, nor the least assignable part of an atom, but what has influence every moment throughout the whole material universe, to cause every part to be otherwise than it would be if it were not for that particular corporeal existence. And however the effect is insensible for the present, yet it may, in length of time, become great and important.
To illustrate this, let us suppose two bodies moving the same way, in straight lines, perfectly parallel one to another ; but to be diverted from this parallel course, and drawn one from another, as much as might be by the attraction of an atom, at the distance of one of the furthest of the fixed stars from the earth; these bodies being turned out of the lines of their parallel motion, will, by degrees, get further and further distant, one from the other; and though the distance may be imperceptible for a long time, yet at length it may become very great. So the revolution of a planet round the sun being retarded or accelerated, and the orbit of its revolution made greater or less, and more or less elliptical, and so its periodical time longer or shorter, no more than may be by the influence of the least atom, might, in length of time, perform a whole revolution sooner or later than otherwise it would have done ; which might make a vast alteration with regard to millions of important events. So the influence of the least particle may, for ought we know, have such effect on something in the constitution of some human body, as to cause another thought to arise in the mind at a certain time, than otherwise would have been ; which, in length of time, (yea, and that not very great might occasion a vast alteration through the whole world of mankind. And so innumerable other ways might be mentioned, wherein the least assignable alteration may possibly be attended with great consequences.*
Another argument, which the fore-mentioned author brings against a necessary determination of the Divine Will by a superior fitness, is, that such doctrine derogates from the freeness of God's grace and goodness, in choosing the objects of his favour and bounty, and from the obligation upon men to thankfulness for special benefits. (p. 89, &c.) In answer to this objection, I would observe,
* On this subject sce Doppridge's Works, Vol. iv. p. 391, and the note there by the Editor. VOL. II.