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This hypothefis many learned men are very tena. cious of, and I think fo bewildered in, that by force of habits arifing from tracks of thought confonant with their hypothefis, they perfuade themselves, and endeavour to persuade others, into a belief, that, what to the more unprejudiced are viewed as prejudices of infancy, of childhood, or favages, are actually firft principles of common fense and knowledge. One great end of the publication of this Effay is expofure of that hypothefis to examination, and to fhow, that it unlimitedly fails of anfwering thofe ends which its adherents fuppofe it to answer, yet which inspire them with courage and confidence in its promulgation and defence. Thefe philofophers fay, Liberty is power-that in a moral agent, it is power over the determinations of his own will. As the difcuffion of human liberty naturally belongs to the difquifition on human preference,

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Suffice it to fay at prefent, that, in my best judgment, there is no juft conception of liberty diverfe from its being, in all cafes whatsoever, a fpecies of opportunity: and that opportunity is not power.

Secondly, POSSIBILITY. Poffibility expreffes our conception of power under fome condition. Thus your watch will go on condition you wind it up, or power will then exift respecting its going.

Poffibility, poffible, and possibly, have always


immediate respect to our fpeculation or fpeculative knowledge; for though we fometimes fay a thing is poffible or impoffible in the nature of things; we always mean, according to our conception of the nature of things; that is to fay, our conception of the effentials and properties of this, that, and the other thing. Poffible, always requires for its exiftence fome mind in the estimation of which an affigned event is poffible. Were there no actually exifting mind, there would be no fuch thing as poffibility existing in the universe.

The object of poffibility or poffible, is always fome event, which event is conceived as paft, present, or future, or else in the abfolute, without regard to time. Thus it is poffible, Adam was fix feet high. It is poffible my friend in America is asleep. It is poffible that water will freeze next Christmas-day in London. And it is poffible the moon is inhabited.

When there appears no evidence for or against the existence of an event, we account it, and fay it is poffible, or merely poffible. All things which do not involve abfurdity, we admit poffible to exift, because God can mediately or immediately effect it, or has dominion adequate to effect it.

When there appears evidence for an event, we admit it either probable or certain. In this case we consider poffibility involved in probability and certainty, yet do not conceive it merely poffible.

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poffible. What is certain is probable: but what is probable may not be certain. What is probable is poffible; but what is poffible may not be probabie. A greater degree of affent alfo involves a leffer: but a leffer degree of affent does not involve a greater.

It might have been-it may be-it can be, are the common expreffions of poffibility.

Events, which are neither certain nor probable, muft be conceived either poffible or impoffible. Events, uncertain and improbable in view of the party, are the objects of mere poffibility and impoffibility. In this respect poffible or mere poffibility cannot be applied to God, for all events are to him certain, and there is no fuch thing as merely poffible or even probable unto God.

Poffibility feems to have been fometimes confounded with dominion. Thus we have faid, It is poffible for a man to cleave wood: or this, and that, is impoffible for a man to do but that all thiugs are poffible unto God. That it was poffible unto God to have made our bodies trianguJar: and poffible unto him to create a thoufand worlds he has not created and will never create. This representation does not difagree with the original of the word, for Etymologists fay, Poffible is of poffibilis Latin, of poffum, to be able to effect. There fhould not however be an undue attachment to the original meaning of words, for as difcoveries are carried forward in philo

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sophy, new terms must be invented, or old ones applied in a various sense, both which may sometimes be done consonant with wisdom and prudence.

Original choices of Deity, that is, choices of God which are not more or less former choices continued, are, I think, made from merely possibles as conceived. Choice of God terminates possibility, and thus seems the ultimate source of Power in respect of every thing, immediately or mediately effected of the Deity. Whatever God chuseth and willeth, he executeth. And so far as power agency may in a subordinate or qualified sense be attributed to intellectual creatures, the power and agency must be ultimately resolved into actual choices, made from merely possibles by the creature.


Possible, first respects what can be done or effected, and secondly, respects what may be. God certainly knows all possible to be done by himself, and all impossible. Respecting the second, God knows what may be and what must be, and that what but may be is dependent, either on his own future choice, or on the future choice of his chusing creatures. Merely possible in this view of it is near akin to chance, but not the same thing. What is possible to be, if a future choice or consequent of a future choice, may also chance to be: but possible differs from chance, as also expressing the dominion of some agent. I conceive it possible for God to create a man with the addition of wings

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for flying: 1 also judge it possible for man to construct a machine with wings to fly in the air, by an intersticial explosion of gunpowder, although it has not existed: but there is evidently absurdity in supposing, that a known past or present event can be conceived, and viewed as merely possible, even by Deity.


Again, Possibility and possible, seem to have been confounded with Power. To conceive, that possibility is power, I think is very erroneous. have said, that possibility expresses our conception of power suspended on some condition or hypothesis. The truth is, that without the actual existence of two things, one of which has ability, and the other, a related capacity, and in suitable circumstances, there cannot be power in an assigned respect. There may be two things really existing, one of which has active property, and the other a related passive property, add to them suitable circumstances, then power will exist: but if these circumstances be absent, there is no power in the assigned respect existing, and consequent operation, influence, and efficiency cannot exist. We can only say, efficiency was, is, or will be, supposing the suitable circumstances shall exist,do exist, or had existed.-Possibility respects our conception of the real existence of things so related, that in suitable circumstances, power, operation, influence, and efficiency would be the consequent but irrespective of whether these suitable

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