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THE ANSWER TO THE FIFTH LETTER.

Sir,”

“In a multitude of business, I mislaid your last letter; and could not answer it till it came again to my hands by chance. We seem to have pushed the matter in question between 432us, as far as it will go; and, upon the whole, I cannot but take notice, I have very seldom met with persons so reasonable and unprejudiced as yourself, in such debates as these.

“I think all I need say in answer to the reasoning in your letter is; that your granting the absurdity of the supposition you were endeavouring to make, is consequently granting the necessary truth of my argument. If space and duration remain,406406   Ut partium temporis ordo est immutabilis, sic etiam ordo partium spatii. Moveantur hæ de locis suis, et movebuntur (ut ita dicam) de seipsis.Newton Princip. Mathemat. Schol. ad Definit. 8. even after they are supposed to be taken away; and be not (as it is plain they are not) themselves substances, then the substance,407407   Deus non est æternitas vel infinitas, sed æternus et infinitus; non est duratio vel spatium, sed durat et adest. Durat semper, et adest ubique; et, existendo semper et ubique, durationem et spatium, æternitatem et infinitatem, constituit. Cum unaquæque spatii particula sit semper, et unumquodque durationis indivisibile momentum, ubique; certè rerum omnium fabricator ac Dominus, non erit nunquam nusquam omnipræsens est, non per virtutem solam, sed etiam per substantiam; nam virtus sine substantia subsistere non potest. In ipso continentur et moventur universa, &c.Newton. Princip. Mathemat. Schol. General. sub finem. on whose existence they depend will necessarily remain likewise, even after it is supposed to be taken away; which shows that supposition to be impossible and contradictory.

“As to your observation at the end of your letter, that the argument I have insisted on, if it were obvious to every capacity, should have more frequently been used as a fundamental argument for a proof of the being of God, the true cause why it has been seldom urged, is, I think, this; that the universal prevalency of Cartes’s absurd notions, (teaching that matter408408   Puto implicare contradictionem, ut mundus [meaning the material world] sit finitus.Cartes. Epist. 69. partis primæ. is necessarily infinite and necessarily eternal, and ascribing all things to mere mechanic laws of motion, exclusive of final causes, and of all will, and intelligence, and divine providence from the government of the world;) hath incredibly blinded the eyes of common reason, and prevented men from discerning him in whom they live, and move, and have their being. The like has happened in some other instances. How universally have men, for many ages, believed that eternity has no duration at all, and infinity no amplitude? Something of the like kind has happened in the matter of transubstantiation and (I think) in the scholastic notion of the trinity, &c.

“I am, Sir,

“Your affectionate Friend and Servant.”

April 8. 1713.

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