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ceptation of that word, unless we fuppofe him free.
The reader, if difpofed to pursue these hints, and attend, in imagination, to the behaviour of the confiftent and practical Fatalift, in the more interefting scenes of private and public life, may entertain himself with a series of very ftrange and comical adventures. I prefume I have faid enough to fhow, that it is not without reafon I affirm, “That the real and general belief of neceffity would be attended with fatal confequences to fcience, and to human nat ture;" which is a repetition of the third remark we formerly made on the doctrine of the non-existence of body *.
And now we have proved, that if there was any reason for rejecting BERKELEY'S doctrine as abfurd, and contrary to common fenfe, before his arguments were fhown to arise from the abuse of words, there is at present the fame reafon for rejecting the doctrine of neceffity, even on the fuppofition that it hath not as yet been logically confuted, Both doctrines are repugnant to the general belief of mankind: both, notwithstanding all the efforts of the fubtleft fophiftry, are ftill incredible: both are fo contrary to nature, and to the condition of human beings, that they cannot be carried into practice;
* See the end of the preceding fection.
S f 2
and fo contrary to true philofophy, that they cannot be admitted into fcience, without bringing fcepticifm along with them, and rendering questionable the plaineft principles of moral truth. In a word, we have proved, that common fenfe, as it teacheth us to believe and be affured of the existence of matter, doth also teach us to believe and be affured, that man is a free agent.
It would lead us too far from our present purpose, to enter upon a logical examination of the argument for neceffity. Our design is only to explain, by what marks one may diftinguifh the principles of common fenfe, that is, intuitive or felf-evident notions, from thofe deceitful and inveterate opinions that have fometimes affumed the fame appearance. If I have fatisfied the reader, that the free agency of men is a felf-evident fact, I have alfo fatisfied him, that all reasoning on the fide of neceffity, though accounted unanfwerable, is, in its very nature, and previously to all confutation, abfurd and irrational, and contrary to the practice and principles of true philofophy.
Let not the friends of liberty be discouraged by the perplexing arguments of the Fatalist *. Arguments in oppofition to self-e
There is no fubject on which doubts and difficulties may not be started by ingenious and difputatious men: and therefore, from the number of their objections, and the length of the controverfy to which they give occa
vident truth, muft, if plausible, be perplexing. Think what method of argumentation à man must pursue, who sets himself to confute any axiom in geometry, or to argue against the existence of a fentiment, acknowledged and felt by all mankind. Indeed I cannot fee how fuch a perfon fhould ever impofe upon people of fenfe, except by availing himself of expreffions, which either are in themselves ambiguous, or become fo by his manner of applying them. If the ambiguity be difcernible, the argument can have no force; if there be no fufpicion of ambiguity, the dispute may be continued from generation to generation, without working any change in the fentiments of either party. When fact is difregarded, when intuition goes for nothing, when no ftandard of truth is acknowledged, and every unanswered argument is deemed unanswerable, true reafoning is at an end; and the difputant, having long ago loft fight of common fenfe, is fo far from regaining the path of truth, that, like Thomfon's peafant bewildered in the
fion, we cannot, in any cafe, conclude, that the original evidence is weak, or even that it is not obvious and stri king. Were we to prefume, that every principle is dubious against which fpecious objections may be contrived, we should be quickly led into univerfal fcepticifin. The two ways in which the ingenuity of fpeculative men has been most commonly employed, are dogmatical affertions of doubtful opinions, and fubtle cavils against certain truths. 'Gerard's Differtations, ii. 4.
fnow, he continues to wander on, ftill more and more aftray." If any person will give himself the trouble to examine the whole controverfy concerning liberty and neceffity, he will find, that the arguments on both fides come at last to appear unanswerable: there is no common principle acknowledged by both parties, to which an appeal can be made, and each party charges the other with begging the question. Is it not then better to reft fatisfied with the fimple feeling of the understanding? I feel that it is in my power to will or not to will: all you can fay about the influence of motives will never convince me of the contrary; or if I should say, that I am convinced by your arguments, my conduct must continually belie my profeffion. One thing is undeniable: your words are obfcure, my feeling is not;
this is univerfally attended to, acknowledged, and acted upon; those to the majority of mankind would be unintelligible, nay, perhaps they are in a great measure so even to yourselves.
* "It is evident (fays a great philofopher) that as it is "from internal confcioufnefs I know any thing of liber❝ty, fo no affertion contrary to what I am confcious of "concerning it can be admitted and it were better per"haps to treat of this abftrufe fubject after the manner
HE fubftance of the preceding illuftra
T tions, when applied to the principal
purpose of this difcourfe, is as follows.
Although it be certain, that all just reasoning does ultimately terminate in the principles of common sense; that is, in principles which must be admitted as certain, or as probable, upon their own authority, without evidence, or at least without proof; even as all mathematical reafoning does ultimately
Recapitulation, and Inference.
"of experimental philofophy, than to fill a thousand 66 pages with metaphyfical difcuffions concerning it." Maclaurin's account of Newton's difcoveries, book 1. chap. 4.
"The conftitution of the prefent world, (fays Bishop Butler), and the condition in which we are actually "placed, is as if we were free. And it may perhaps be "justly concluded, that fince the whole procefs of action "through every step of it is as if we were free, therefore we are fo." Analogy, part 1. chap. 6. § 6.
One who is a Fatalift, and one who keeps to his natural fenfe of things, and believes himself a free agent,these two are contrafted by the fame excellent author, part 1. ch. 6. 3.