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THE ANSWER TO THE THIRD LETTER.

Sir,”

“Though, when I turn my thoughts every way, I fully persuade myself there is no defect in the argument itself, yet, in my manner of expression, I am satisfied there must be some want of clearness when there remains any difficulty to a person of your abilities and sagacity. I did not mean that your saying a necessary being exists somewhere, does necessarily suppose it to be finite, but that the manner of expression is apt to excite in the mind an idea of a finite being, at the same time that you are thinking of a necessary being, without accurately attending to the nature of that necessity by which it exists. Necessity absolute, and antecedent (in order of nature) to the existence of any subject, has nothing to limit it; but, if it operates at all, (as it must needs do,) it must operate (if I may so speak,) everywhere and at all times alike: Determination of a particular quantity, or particular time or place of existence of any thing, cannot arise but from somewhat external to the thing itself. For example; why there should exist just such a small determinate quantity of matter, neither more nor less, interspersed in the immense vacuities of space, no reason can be given; nor can there be any thing in nature which could have determined a thing so indifferent in itself, as is the measure of that quantity, but only the will of an intelligent and free agent. To suppose matter, or any other substance, necessarily-existing in a finite determinate quantity, in an inch-cube for instance, or in any certain number of cube-inches and no more, is exactly the same absurdity as supposing it to exist necessarily, and yet for a finite duration only; which every 427one sees to be a plain contradiction. The argument is likewise the same in the question about the original of motion: Motion cannot be necessarily-existing, because, it being evident that all determinations of motion are equally possible in themselves, the original determination of the motion of any particular body this way rather than the contrary way, could not be necessary in itself, but was either caused by the will of an intelligent and free agent, or else was an effect produced and determined without any cause at all, which is an express contradiction; as I have shown in my Demonstration of the Being and Attributes of God.

“To the second head of argument I answer: Space is a property (or mode) of the self-existent substance, but not of any other substances. All other substances are in space, and are penetrated by it, but the self-existent substance is not in space, nor penetrated by it, but is itself (if I may so speak) the substratum of space, the ground of the existence of space and duration itself. Which (space and duration) being evidently necessary, and yet themselves not substances, but properties or modes, show evidently that the substance, without which these modes could not subsist, is itself much more (if that were possible) necessary. And as space and duration are needful, (i. e. sine qua non,) to the existence of every thing else; so, consequently, is the substance to which these modes belong in that peculiar manner which I before mentioned.

“I am, Sir,

“Your affectionate Friend and Servant.”

Dec. 10, 1713.

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