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The subject and predicate of a proposition, which affirm existence of something, may have a full, fixed, and certain connexion several ways. (1.) They may have a full and perfect connexion in and of themselves; because it may imply a contradiction, or gross absurdity, to suppose them not connected. Thus many things are necessary in their own nature. So the eternal existence of being generally considered, is necessary in itself: Because it would be in itself the greatest absurdity, to deny the existence of being in general, or to say there was absolute and universal nothing; and is as it were the sum of all contradictions; as might be shewn, if this were a proper place for it. So God's infinity, and other attributes are necessary. So it is necessary in its own nature, that two and two should be four; and it is necessary, that all right lines drawn from the centre of a circle to the circumference should be equal. It is necessary, fit and suitable, that men should do to others, as they would that they should do to them. So innumerable metaphysical and mathematical truths are necessary in themselves; the subject and predicate of the proposition which af. firms them, are perfectly connected of themselves. (2.) The connexion of the subject and predicate of a proposition, which affirms the existence of something, may be fixed and made certain, because the existence of that thing is. already come to pass; and either now is, or has been ; and so has as it were made sure of existence. And therefore, the proposition which affirms present and past existence of it, may by this means be made certain, and necessarily and unalterably true. The past event has fixed and decided the matter, as to its existence; and has made it impossible but that existence should be truly predicated of it. Thus the existence ef whatever is already come to pass, is now become necessary; it is become impossible it should be otherwise than true, that such a thing has been. (3.) The subject and predicate of a proposition which asfirms something to be, may have a real and certain connexipn consequentially; and so the existence of the thing may be consequentially necessary; as it may be surely and firmly con
nected with something clse, that is necessary in one of the former respects. As it is cither fully and thoroughly connected with that which is absolutely necessary in its own nature, or with something which has already received and made sure of existence. This Necessity lies in, or may be explained by the connexion of two or more propositions one with another. Things which are perfectly connected with other things that are necessary, are necessary themselves, by a Necessity of consequence. And here it may be observed, that all things which are future, or which will hereafter begin to be, which can be said to be necessary, are necessary only in this last way. Their existence is not necessary in itself; for if so, they always would have existed. Nor is their existence become nesessary by being made sure, by being already come to pass. Therefore, the only way that any thing that is to come to pass hereafter, is or can be necessary, is by a connexion with something that is necessary in its own nature, or something that already is, or has been ; so that the one being supposed, the other certainly follows. And this also is the only way that all things past, excepting those which were from eternity, could be necessary before they came to pass, or could come to pass necessarily; and therefore the only way in which any effect 'or event, or any thing whatsoever that ever has had, or will have a beginning, has come into being necessarily, or will hereafter necessarily exist. And therefore this is the Necessity which copecially belongs to controversies about the acts of the Will. It may be of some use in these controversies, further to observe concerning metaphysical Necessity, that (agreeable to the distinction before observed of Necessity, as vulgarly understood) things that crist may be said to be necessary, either with a general or particular Necessity. The existence of a thing may be said to be necessary with a general Necessity, when all things whatsoever being considered, there is a foundation for certainty of its existence; or when in the most general and universal view of things, the subject and predicate of the proposition, which affirms its existence, would appear with an infallible connexion. An event, or the existence of a thing, may be said to be necessary with a particular necessity, or with regard to a par- . ticular person, thing, or time, when nothing that can be taken into consideration, in or about that person, thing, or time, alters the case at all, as to the certainty of that event, or the existence of that thing; or can be of any account at all, in , determining the infallibility of the connexion of the subject and predicate in the proposition which affirms the existence of the thing; so that it is all one, as to that person, or thing, at least at that time, as if the existence were necessary with a Necessity that is most universal and absolute. Thus there are many things that happen to particular persons, which they have no hand in, and in the existence of which no will of theirs has any concern, at least at that time; which, whether they are necessary or not, with regard to things in general, yet are necessary to them, and with regard to any volition of theirs at that time ; as they prevent all acts of the will about the affair. I shall have occasion to apply this observation to particular instances in the following discourse. Whether the same things that are necessary with a particular Necessity, be not also necessary with a general Necessity, may' be a matter of future consideration. Let that be as it will, it alters not the case, as to the use of this distinction of the kinds of Necessity. These things may be sufficient for the explaining of the terms necessary and necessity, as terms of art, and as often used by metaphysicians, and controversial writers in divinity, in a sense diverse from, and more extensive than their original meaning in common language, which was before explained. What has been said to shew the meaning of the terms necessary and necessity, may be sufficient for the explaining of the opposite terms impossible and impossibility. For there is no difference, but only the latter are negative, and the former positive. Impossibility is the same as negative Necessity, or a Necessity that a thing should not be. And it is
used as a term of art in a like diversity from the original and vulgar meaning with Necessity. The same may be observed concerning the words unable and inability. It has been observed, that these terms, in their original and common use, have relation to will and endeavor, as supposable in the case, and as insufficient for the bringing to pass the thing willed and endeayored. But as these terms are often used by philosophers and divines, especially writers on controversies about free will, they are used in a quite different, and far more extensive sense, and are applied to many cases wherein no will or endeavor for the bringing of the thing to pass, is or can be supposed, but is actually denied and excluded in the nature of the case. As the words necessary, infossible, unable, &c. are used by polemic writers, in a sense diverse from their common signification, the like has happened to the term contingent, Any thing is said to be contingent, or to come to pass by chance or accident, in the original meaning of such words, when its connexion with its causes or antecedents, according to the established course of things, is not discerned ; and so is what we have no means of the foresight of And especially is any thing said to be contingent or accidental with regard to us, when any thing comes to pass that we are concerned in, as occasions or subjects, without our foreknowledge, and beside our design and scope. - - - - - But the word contingent is abundantly used in a very different sense; not for that whose connexion with the series of things we cannot discern, so as to foresee the event, but for something which has absolutely no previous ground or reason, with which its existence has any fixed and certain
of the Distinction of Natural and Moral Necessity, and Inability.
THAT Necessity which has been explained, consisting in an infallible connexion of the things signified by the subject and predicate of a proposition, as intelligent beings are the subjects of it, is distinguished into moral and natural Necessity.
I shall not now stand to inquire whether this distinction be a proper and perfect distinction; but shall only explain how these two sorts of Necessity are understood, as the terms are sometimes used, and as they are used in the following discourse."
The phrase, moral Necessity, is used variously ; sometimes it is used for a Necessity of moral obligation. So we say, a man is under Necessity, when he is under bonds of duty and conscience, which he cannot be discharged from. So the word Necessity is often used for great obligation in point of interest. Sometimes by moral Necessity is meant that apparent connexion of things, which is the ground of moral evidence; and so is distinguished from absolute Necessity, or that sure connexion of things, that is a foundation for infallible certainty. In this sense, moral Necessity signifies much the same as that high degree of probability, which is ordinarily sufficient to satisfy, and be relied upon by mankind, in their conduct and behavior in the world, as they would consult their own safety and interest, and treat others properly as members of society. And sometimes by moral Necessity is meant that Necessity of connexion and consequence, which arises from such moral causes, as the strength of inclination, or motives, and the connexion which there is in many cases between these, and such certain volitions and actions. And it is in this sense, that I use the phrase, moral .Necessity, in the following discourse.