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offering it to the public, will be better qualified to judge of it, and perhaps be better disposed to give it his attention.'
The author then giving a short explanation of the nature of the two sorts of argument, viz. à priori and à pofteriori, in the words of bishop Law and Dr. S. Clarke, enters into detail on this subject, making, by the way, some pertinent itrictures on the fallacious methods of reasoning adopted by the atheists, particularly Spinoza, and adds,
Common sense, and, I may say, experience, will always be able to prevent men in general from falling into the absurdities of downright atheism, or from being persuaded by any
metaphysical subtilties, that all things are lo carried on by a blind and fatal necessity that no one event could poflibly have happened otherwise than it has done. Atheistical writers, there. fore, not being like to bring over many profelytes to their way of thinking, are not so dangerous to the cause of religion and morality as those that are called Icepticks. These are such as admit that this world must indeed have been the work of some superior being, who is to be called God, and who had power and intelligence enough to do just what we see he has done; but at the Tame tiine afiert, that none of our arguments are suficient to produce a rational and firm belief of the perfections of his natural and moral attributes, whereon we' may found a system of religious duties due to him as the moral governor of the world, who concerns himielf in the happiness of his crea. tures, and from whole goodneís and power we might hope for protection in this life, or for happineis in a better life hereaf. ter. These writers would have us believe the existence of a God, or superior Being, merely as a speculative truth, not as one from which we might, with a reatonable certainty, draw any inferences that should influence our conduct, or give us either hopes or fears; and thus they propose a syitein which, for any usetul purpose, is no better than aiheism.'
Before going into a minute confideration of the method of reasoning on this subject synthetically, or à priori, Dr. Hamil. ton thinks proper to take notice of the objections made by sceptical writers to those arguments that are drawn à pofleriori, for proving the being and perfections of God. Mr. Hume, in his Essays, or Enquiry concerning the Human Underfanding, and in his pofthumous work, entitled, Dialogues concerning natural Religion, having infilled much on the insufficiency of analogical reafoning, has induced our author to examine his three objections; all, he says, that he has seriously urged in the latter of these works. For a refutation of the false and groundless cavils proposed in the Essays,' the reader is referred by the dean to Leland's View of the Deiftical Writers, and to Beattie's Elay on the Nature and Immutability of Truth. On the subject of Mr. Hune, he concludes as followe.
• As it was proper on this occasion to Mew how little weight there is in the objections that have been made to the argument a pofteriori, which is applied to prove the existence, unity, and absolute perfection of the supreme Being, I thought I could not do better than to consider these objections as they have been Aated by Mr. Hume, who certainly did not want either inclia nation or ability to fer them off to the best advantage. He is a celebrated writer, and has been thought one of our most formidable opponents: it may, therefore, be fashionable to read, and perhaps to admire, this work of his; especially as he is known to have fet a particular value upon it, by the provision he made in his will for having it published after his decease. And though he has written molt part of this work in a manner between jest and earnest, no doubt he expected it would have a serious effect in promoting the cause of infidelity and scepticism in which he had laboured so long. For he has here openly inveighed against revealed religion, under the title of vulgar and popular fuperftition, and endeavoured to remove the very foundation of natural religion by denying the probability of God's moral attributes. I know not how his admirers will be able to reconcile that wisdom and gravity of character they ascribe to him, with his having employed his talents, even to the laft stage of life, in triling fo egregiously and fo profeffedly on, what he acknowledges to be, the most important of all subjects, natural theology and religion. In the character of Philo, he intended to exhibit to us a learned and acute sceptical philosopher ; but his harangues are so inconsistent with each other, that he gives us only the idea of a careless young student, with a lively imagination, and an elegant flow of language declaiming in a college-hall on the wrong side of a question.'
He immediately subjoins,
• Many pious and ingenious persons, though perfectly fatiffied with the proofs for the existence and absolute perfection of the supreme Being, drawn from the works of the creation, have thought them. Ives well employed in devising arguments, drawn from other topics and confiderations, which might lead to the fame.conclufion, and might prove it perhaps in a ftill more forcible manner. Hence arose another way of reasoning on this subject, usually called the argument a priori. The scholastic terms a pofteriori and a priori are used to denote the two me.
thods of arguing, one from the nature of effects to the nature i' of their cause, che other from the nature of a cause to the na.
țure of its effects. The argument a priori, taken in this sense, cannot be applied to the present subject ; for we cannot argue from any thing considered as a cause when we mean to prove the existence or the attributes of that Being who is the first cause of all things. Therefore when we speak of proving the being and attributes of God a priori, we must understand that term in a more comprehensive sense, as it denotes the common
fynthetic method of arguing, which is applicable to this'as well as to moft other subjects. In this method we lay down fome evident principles or axioms, and from thence deduce other truths that are more complex.'
The learned dean now proceeds to give an account of the arguments of the principal and latest writers who have used the synthetic mode of reasoning on the existence and attributes of the supreme Being. The most celebrated of them are the productions of Mr. Locke, Dr. S. Clarke, Dr. Fiddes, and Mr. Wollaston. These, Says Dr. Hamilton, were very learned men, and no doubt were well acquainted with what preceding authors had written on the fame subject, and would not fail to adopt from them such arguments as they thought moft for their purpose. The reader will therefore be fufficiently informed of the nature of this method of reasoning, and the progress that has been made in it, if I give him an account of the arguments that each of these eminent writers has advanced on this subject.'
The exhibition of these arguments is managed with perspicvity, and, we believe, with candour, and conveys some va, luable metaphysical history; but it would be unsatisfactory, if not absurd, were we here to attempt an abridgement of what is already abridged., We must, therefore, refer our readers to the performance itself, for more adequate informa. tion. We all only observe that, though the ingenious author is not altogether satisfied with what these celebrated men have advanced on this subject, and fhews, that they were not equally confident of their ftrength in every part of their reasonings, it is his opinion, that their failure is most visible in the proofs they have undertaken of the unity of God.
The dean concludes his Introduction with an account of his own argument ; for foine idea of which, our readers will begin to grow impatient. The passage not being "ng, we shall tranfcribe it.
As our argument is built chiefly on one principle, which have laid down as an axiom, it is proper to say somewhat of it here, that the reader may more fully perceive its meaning. The axiom is this: “ Whatever is contingent, or might possibly have been otherwise than it is, had some efficient cause which determined it to be what it is." Or in other words : 66 if two diferent or contrary things were equally poffible, whichever of them took place, or came to pass, it mutt have done so in consequence of some efficient cause which determined that it, and not the other, should take place." The truth of this is so evi. dent, that we cannot find any principle more evident by which we may prove, it. It runs through our reasonings on many subjects, in which we fhould make little or no progress if we did
not assume this as a self-evident axiom. Whenever we perceive that a thing might have been otherwise than it is, we naturally enquire for the
cause which made it to be what it is. But when we are sensible that a thing is necessarily such as it is, we never enquire for the cause that made it to be what it is, for we reckon it absurd to ak why a thing is so, when we see there was no possibility of its being otherwise. This shews that contingency implies, and that neceffity excludes, caufality. If it be said that some things are determined to be what they are by chance, I answer, that in this cafe chance is as real and efficient a cause as any other : for it means a cause which, in its operation, is not directed by design to produce the particular effect it does, rather than fome other effect. Thus most effects or events, brought about by human operations, are attended with fome unforeseen and undesigned circumstances, and these we afcribe to chance; meaning that they were produced, not without a cause, but without a desiga. So that chance is always opposed to design : and this feems to be the only sense in which the word chance can be used with any meaning ; except when it is used instead of the word probability; as when we say, there is a great chance, or there is but little chance, that fuch an event will happen.
• Moft of the following propositions are demonstrated indirectly, that is, they are proved to be true, by shewing that an absurdity or contradiction would follow from fuppofing them to be false. From the nature of the subject they will admit only of a proof of this kind, which, though it is not so pleasing to the mind, is, however, just as valid as a direct demonftration.'
The treatise confifts of nine propositions, with their demonAtrations, corollaries, observations, or illustrations. The de. monstrations are simple, clear, and some of them mathematically close and concise, all founded either on the above axiom, or on the proof of preceding propositions. The author has given us a contracted view of his propofitions under the article of contents, as follows.
• There must be some one being, at leaft, who is unorigiHated, and has existed without a cause, without a beginning, and cannot ceafe to exist. There is nothing in the nature of this Being that could poffibly have been otherwise than it is. He is impaslive.-Truths relating to his nature are as capable of Arict demonftration as any other truths. All the attributes he possesses are unlimited or perfect.-He exifts every where in the fame manner he does any where. He is an individual subftance, without parts, every where identically the fame. He is poffefsed of power and knowledge unlimited, and all other natural attributes that can be called absolute perfections. He is a maximum of exiftence --But one unoriginated Being in the universe. All things owe their existence to his power ope. tating according to his will. The unoriginated Being is
the God and father of all.-And is possessed of goodness, mercy, justice, and all other moral perfections, such as become the fupreme author and governor of the universe.'
Dr. Hamilton having laid a good deal of stress on the failure of his metaphysical predecessors, in their endeavours to prove the unity, we have paid particular attention to his seventh proposition, and shall present it, with its demonstration, to our readers.
6. There is in the universe but one unoriginated Being, who must therefore be the original fountain of all existence, and the first cause of all things.
• The first proposition demonstrates that there muft necessarily be one unoriginated Being ; but neither the argument there used, nor any other argument, can prove there must ne.ceffarily be more than one. Because, when we have admitted one such Being, it is possible that all others may be derived from that one. This, however, does not prove that all others must be derived from that one, or that there may not be many unoriginated Beings in the universe of whose existence we have no knowledge or apprehenfion. The only way, therefore, by which we can determine whether it be poslible there thould be more than one, is by trying whether we can conceive, or confiftently suppose, a second unoriginated Being. Now I say that such a lupposition is inconsistent and untenable, and must come to nothing.
• For let us suppose there is a second Being, such as the first, unoriginated or felf-existent and uncaused, having its nonexistence impoflible, or having necellity as the mode of its existence, Now from what has been demonstrated it appears that both these Beings must be eternal, immutable, impallive, omnipresent, indivisible, and unlimitedly pofieiled of all natural perfections or attributes ; insomuch that it is impossible one of these beings should want any attribute the other has. Thus we find our idea of the second supposed Being (turn it as we will in our thoughts) is no other than the very idea we had of the first. For atl the attribụtes of the second are as much the same with those of the first, as the properties of one circle (abstractedly considered) are the same with those of another. And Gnce these Beings are both eternal, and both every where alike pre. fent, they cannot differ from each other even in any circum, itance of time or place. Consequently there can be no possible difference, nor any ground of distinction between them; and therefore they cannot be distinct beings, but must be one and the same.
. This way of arguing, I apprehend, may be admitted as conclusive, being exactly of the same kind and equivalent with that which geometricians have allowedly used. For instance, two right lines, say they, cannot have a common segm
t: far in that cale, these lines muft evidently have all their other feg