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Reverend Sir,”

“I do not very well understand your meaning, when you say that you think, in the order of my ideas I first conceive a being, (finite suppose,) to exist, and then conceive self-existence to be a property of that being. If you mean that I first suppose a finite being to exist, I know not why; affirming necessity of existence to be only a consequent of its existence; and that, when I have supposed it finite, I very safely conclude it is not infinite; I am utterly at a loss upon what expressions in my letter this conjecture can be founded. But if you mean that I first of all prove a being to exist from eternity, and then, from the reasons of things, prove that such a being must be eternally necessary, I freely own it. Neither do I conceive it to be irregular or absurd; for there is a great difference between the order in which things exist, and the order in which I prove to myself that they exist. Neither do I think my saying a necessary being exists somewhere, supposes it to be finite; it only supposes that this being exists in space, without determining whether here, or there, or everywhere.

“To my second objection, you say: That which exists necessarily, is needful to the existence of any other thing, as a sine qua non; in the sense space is necessary to every thing, which is proved (you say) by this consideration, that space is a property of the self-existent substance; and, being both necessary in itself, and needful to the existence of every thing else; consequently the substance of which it is a property must be so too. Space, I own, is in one sense a property of the self-existent substance; but, in the same sense, it is also a property of all other substances. The only difference is in respect to the quantity. And since every part of space, as well as the whole, is necessary; every substance consequently must be self-existent, because it hath this self-existent property; Which since you will not admit for true, if it directly follows from your arguments, they cannot be conclusive.


“What you say under the first head, proves (I think,) to a very great probability, though not to me with the evidence of demonstration: But your arguments under the second I am not able to see the force of.

“I am so far from being pleased that I can form objections to your arguments, that, besides the satisfaction it would have given me in my own mind, I should have thought it an honour to have entered into your reasonings, and seen the force of them. I cannot desire to trespass any more upon your better employed time; so shall only add my hearty thanks for your trouble on my account, and that I am, with the greatest respect,

“Reverend Sir,

Your most obliged humble Servant.”

Dec. 5. 1713.

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