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A Discourse Concerning The Being And Attributes Of God by Samuel Clarke

THE ANSWER TO THE SECOND LETTER.

|Sir,|

|It seems to me, that the reason why you do not apprehend ubiquity to be necessarily connected with self-existence, is, because, in the order of your ideas, you first conceive a being, (a finite being, suppose;) and then conceive self-existence to be a property of that being; as the angles are properties of a triangle, when a triangle exists: Whereas, on the contrary, necessity of existence, not being a property consequent upon the supposition of the things existing, but antecedently the cause or ground of that existence; it is evident this necessity being not limited to any antecedent subject, as angles are to a triangle; but being itself original, absolute, and (in order of nature) antecedent to all existence, cannot but be everywhere, for the same reason that it is anywhere. By applying this reasoning to the instance of space, you will find, that by consequence it belongs truly to that substance whereof space is a property, as duration also is. What you say about a necessary being existing somewhere, supposes it to be finite; and being finite, supposes some cause which determined that such a certain quantity of that being should exist, neither more or less: And that cause must either be a voluntary cause, or else such a necessary cause, the quantity of whose power must be determined and limited by some other cause. But in original absolute necessity, antecedent (in order of nature) to the existence of any thing, nothing of all this can have place; but the necessity is necessarily everywhere alike.

|Concerning the second difficulty, I answer, that which exists necessarily is needful to the existence of any other thing; not considered now as a cause, (for that indeed is begging the question) but as a sine qua non; in the sense as space is necessary to every thing, and nothing can possibly be conceived to exist without thereby presupposing space: Which, therefore, I apprehend to be a property or mode of the self-existent substance; and that, by being evidently necessary itself, it proves that the substance, of which it is a mode, must also be necessary; necessary both in itself, and needful to the existence of any thing else whatsoever. Extension indeed does not belong to thought, because thought is not a being; but there is need of extension to the existence of every being, to a being which has or has not thought, or any other quality whatsoever.

|I am, Sir,

|Your real Friend and Servant.|

London, Nov.28.1713.

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