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famine—and famine peftilence: at every step is a negative cause, that includes bad operation and influence.

If power is effentially related to excellence, then every effect of this clafs of negative caufes is of the nature we call evil, and every kind of evil muft neceffarily be the effect of a negative cause. Hence, refpecting every known evil event, we rationally enquire for the essential abfence of power. Yet of numerous events that take place, fuch is our unavoidable ignorance that we are frequently unable to judge whether they are on the whole evil or good, hence cannot decide whether they owe their existence to a pofitive, or else to a negative caufe: but we may remark that these cases are, for the greater part, respecting objects concerning which the investigation is of fmall, or of no importance.

Power, being something of which we can form. no fenfible or spiritual idea; and can conceive of no otherwise then as certainly exifting, determinate objects and circumftances admitted; and requiring labour, much labour of mind, to make it the fubject of meditation; we need not wonder that mankind have confounded it with kindred notions in the past inftances; nor even that they have confounded its notion with others which are but its fhadow, in this, and the following inftances.


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GENCE, have been by the fuperftitious in all ages regarded as names of a kind of power, and even idols have been erected to Fortune, which I do not wonder at, confidering the circumftances of the heathen world: but am aftonifhed that a modern philofopher fhould tell us, which is a fact, however ridiculous, that "Power and neceffity are oppofites."

Contingence is a conception oppofed to that of neceffity. Some fuppofe fuch a thing actually to exift they think there are objects which may or may not exist notwithstanding all effentials, properties, and circumftances of things are taken into the account.

If direct neceffity is power: Power cannot have for its object a pofitive being and its negation, or its contrary, at the fame time and in the fame respect. To affirm it would be to affirm abfurdity, therefore contingence is excluded from all pofitive existence.-Again, If indirect neceffity is negation of power, then that negation cannot have for its object fome negation and its related pofitive, or contrary negation, at the fame time and in the same respect; therefore contingence is alfo abfolutely removed from all nega. tive existence. Again, If neceffity is that in the nature of objects actually exifting, which is the ground of certainty respecting their own exiftence, or the existence of some other thing; then I may argue from the infinite knowledge of God


to the impoffibility of contingence. If all things are known to God, then all actual abiding, enduring, and changes are truly necessary-if they depend on a pofitive cause are directly neceffaryif on a negative cause, are indirectly necessary : But God is infinite in knowledge: therefore the faid objects are necessary; and if necessary they cannot be contingent.

If neceffity is fully involved in the idea of eternal past existence of substance, it follows, that there is no eternal past existence of fubftance, or elfe that contingence, as opposed to neceffity, can exist no where, except as a chimera in the mind of a man, I mean, cannot actually exist at all. That there is actual exiftence of fubstance I think every man is intuitively certain; and that every man may demonftrate that subftantial exiftence has been from eternity, I confequently conclude, there can be no such thing as contingence actually exifting: And that fortune, luck, and chance, conceived as oppofing neceffity, are the trinity of the fool, who fays in his heart there is no God.

Since all finite exiftences depend on power to effect, and power to prevent; and fince power is in my judgment, direct neceffity, it follows, that in my judgment, there is no fuch thing conceivable as a fubftance or mode, whofe future exis tence is, in its own nature, contingent. Neither has there ever been, nor is there now, existence

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of an event which I can afcribe to contingency. The phrafes, contingent in the nature of things; and contingent in its own nature, I reprobate as an abuse of speech, a name to a non-entity, an eter

nal non-existence.

The doctrine of contingent existence feems to me the greatest violation of intelligence that ever infulted common sense.

Though I cannot admit, for a moment, the idea of contingence respecting the existence of matter or of mind, a thought, or modification of a thought; yet I can conceive that finite intelligent beings are often uncertain of what will exift at fome proposed time in the world, or in any affigned mind. If any by contingence, mean uncertain to them, I then grant, that in this fenfe, actions of mind and motions of matter, may be in their existence contingent. I fometimes wish to perfuade myself, that writers and speakers of penetration, never use it in any other fenfe. Uncertainty or contingence, thus used, is but a shade different, if I may fo express it, from poffibility. I may fay it is poffible an ifland may arife out of the atlantic ocean, fo large as England: or I may express nearly the fame conception by adding, the existence or non-existence of such an event in futurity is uncertain to me. Whether next Christmas-day fhall be fine or cloudy is to me uncertain, and either is poffible. What fide upward the die fhall fall, and what

ticket fhall be


drawn from the wheel, are alfo uncertain to finite intelligences. I could tolerate the fubftitution of contingent for uncertain in these inftances, for words are arbitrary figns, and fo the meaning is obvious we cannot lawfully complain.

Be this as it may respecting contingence, it feems fully evident that chance is sometimes used as fynonymous with uncertainty, or at least as


a term by which we exprefs our ignorance of the caufe of any thing, for when we fay any thing comes by chance, we do not mean, that it had no other cause, but only that we do not know the true cause which produced it, or interpofed in such a manner as to make that fall out which was not expected." "We attribute fome events to chance, because we know only the remote cause which muft produce fome one event of a number; but know not the more immediate cause which determines a particular event of that number in preference to the others."-Near akin to chance, according to this conception of it, is accident: which we use to express something that comes to pass in the course of things, not owing to our defign, and unforeseen by us.

Chance is also ufed rationally to exprefs the degrees of probability or improbability of uncertain existence, and is confidered greater or lefs according to the number of chances by which it may happen or fail. We may alfo call chance the measure of uncertainty, and conceive it some


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