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as the mind, every day, affords us ideas of an active power of moving of bodies; and therefore it is worth our consideration, whether active power be not the proper attribute of spirits, and passive power of matter. Hence may be conjectured, that created spirits are not totally separate from matter, because they are both active and passive.Pure spirit, viz. God, is only active; pure matter is only passive; those beings that are both active and passive, we may judge to partake of both. But be that as it will, I think, we have as many, and as clear ideas belonging to spirit, as we have belonging to body, the substance of each being equally unknown to us, and the idea of thinking in spirit as clear as of extension in body; and the communication of motion by thought, which we attribute to spirit, is as evident as that by impulse, which we ascribe to body. Constant experience makes us sensible of both these, though our narrow understandings can comprehend neither. For when the mind would look beyond those original ideas we have from sensation, or reflection, and penetrate into their causes, and manner of production, we find still it discovers nothing but its own short-sighted
To conclude; sensation convinces us, that there are solid extended substances; and reflection, that there are thinking ones: experience assures us of the existence of such beings; and that the one hath a power to move body by impulse, the other by thought; this we cannot doubt of. Experience, I say, every moment furnishes us with the clear ideas, both of the one and the other. But be yond these ideas, as received from their proper sources, our faculties will not reach. If we would inquire farther into their nature, causes, and manner, we perceive not the nature of extension clearer than we do of thinking. If we would explain them any farther, one is as easy as the other; and there is no more difficulty to conceive how a substance we know not should by thought set body into motion, than how a substance we know not should by impulse set body into motion. So that we are no more able to discover wherein the ideas belonging to body consist, than those belonging to spirit. From whence it seems probable to me, that the simple ideas we receive from sensation and reflection are the boundaries of our thoughts; beyond which the mind, whatever efforts it would make,
is not able to advance one jot; nor can it make any discoveries, when it would pry into the nature and hidden causes of those ideas.
§. 30. Idea of body and spirit compared.
So that, in short, the idea we have of spirit compared with the idea we have of body, stands thus: the substance of s.irit is unknown to us; and so is the substance of body equally unknown to us. Two primary qualities or properties of body, viz. solid coherent parts and impulse, we have distinct clear ideas of: so likewise we know, and have distinct clear ideas of two primary qualities or properties of spirit, viz. thinking and a power of action; i. e. a power of beginning or stopping several thoughts or motions.— We have also the ideas of several qualities inherent in bodies, and have the clear distinct ideas of them; which qualities are but the various modifications of the extension of cohering solid parts, and their motion. We have likewise the ideas of the several modes of thinking, viz. believing, doubting, intending, fearing, hoping; all which are but the several modes of thinking. We have also the ideas of willing, and moving the body consequent to it, and with the body itself too; for, as has been shown, spirit is capable of motion.
§. 31. The notion of spirit involves no more difficulty in it than that of body.
Lastly, if this notion of immaterial spirit may have perhaps some difficulties in it not easy to be explained, we have therefore no more reason to deny or doubt the existence of such spirits than we have to deny or doubt the existence of body; because the notion of body is cumbered with some difficulties very hard, and perhaps impossible to be explained or understood by us. For I would fain have instanced any thing in our notion of spirit more perplexed, or nearer a contradiction, than the very notion of body includes in it: the divisibility in infinitum of any finite extension involving us, whether we grant or deny it, in consequences impossible to be explicated or made in our apprehensions consistent; consequences that carry greater difficulty, and more apparent absurdity, than any thing can follow from the notion of an immaterial knowing sub
§. 32. We know nothing beyond our simple ideas. Which we are not at all to wonder at, since we having
but some few superficial ideas of things, discovered to us only by the senses from without, or by the mind, reflecting on what it experiments in itself within, have no knowledge beyond that, much less of the internal constitution, and true nature of things, being destitute of faculties to attain it. And therefore experimenting and discovering in ourselves knowledge, and the power of voluntary motion, as certainly as we experiment, or discover in things without us, the cohesion and separation of solid parts, which is the extension and motion of bodies; we have as much reason to be satisfied with our notion of immaterial spirit, as with our notion of body, and the existence of the one as well as the other. For it being no more a contradiction that thinking should exist, separate and independent from solidity, than it is a contradiction that solidity should exist, separate and independent from thinking, they being both but simple ideas, independent one from another; and hav ing as clear and distinct ideas in us of thinking, as of solidity I know not why we may not as well allow a thinking thing without solidity, i. e. inmaterial, to exist, as a solid thing without thinking, i. e. matter, to exist; especially since it is not harder to conceive how thinking should exist without matter, than how matter should think. whensoever we would proceed beyond these simple ideas we have from sensation and reflection, and dive farther into the nature of things, we fall presently into darkness and obscurity, perplexedness and difficulties; and can discover nothing farther but our own blindness and ignorance. But whichever of these complex ideas be clearest, that of body, or immaterial spirit, this is evident, that the simple ideas that make them up are no other than what we have received from sensation or reflection: and so is it of all our other ideas of substances, even of God himself.
§. 33. Idea of God.
For if we examine the idea we have of the incomprehensible supreme being, we shall find, that we come by it the same way; and that the complex ideas we have both of God and separate spirits are made up of the simple ideas we receive from reflection: v. g. having, from what we experiment in ourselves, got the ideas of existence and duration; of knowledge and power; of pleasure and happiness; and of several other qualities and powers, which it is better to have than to be without: when we would frame an idea the most suitable we can to the supreme
being, we enlarge every one of these with our idea of infinity; and so putting them together, make our complex idea of God. For that the mind has such a power of enlarging some of its ideas, received from sensation and reflection, has been already shown.
If I find that I know some few things, and some of them, or all, perhaps imperfectly, I can frame an idea of knowing twice as many; which I can double again, as often as I can add to number; and thus enlarge my idea of knowledge, by extending its comprehension to all things existing, or possible. The same also I can do of knowing them more perfectly; i. e. all their qualities, powers, causes, consequences, and relations, &c. till all be perfectly known that is in them, or can any way relate to them; and thus frame the idea of infinite or boundless knowledge. The same may also be done of power, till we come to that we call infinite; and also of the duration of existence without beginning or end; and so frame the idea of an eternal being. The degrees or extent wherein we ascribe existence, power, wisdom, and all other perfections (which we can have any ideas of) to that sovereign being which we call God, being all boundless and infinite, we frame the best idea of him our minds are capable of: all which is done, I say, by enlarging those simple ideas we have taken from the operations of our own minds, by reflection; or by our senses, from exterior things; to that vastness to which infinity can extend them.
§. 35. Idea of God.
For it is infinity, which joined to our ideas of existence, power, knowledge, &c. makes that complex idea, whereby we represent to ourselves, the best we can, the supreme being. For though in his own essence (which certainly we do not know, not knowing the real essence of a pebble, or a fly, or of our own selves) God be simple and uncompounded; yet, I think, I may say we have no other idea of him but a complex one of existence, knowledge, power, happiness, &c. infinite and eternal: which are all distinct ideas, and some of them, being relative, are again compounded of others; all which being, as has been shown, originally got from sensation and reflection, go to make up the idea or notion we have of God.
§. 36. No idea in our complex one of spirits, but those got from sensation or reflection.
This farther is to be observed, that there is no idea we attribute to God, bating infinity, which is not also a part of our complex idea of other spirits. Because being capable of no other simple ideas, belonging to any thing but body, but those which by reflection we receive from the operation of our own minds, we can attribute to spirits no other but what we receive from thence: and all the difference we can put between them in our contemplation of spirits, is only in the several extents and degrees of their knowledge, power, duration, happiness, &c. For that in our ideas, as well of spirits, as of other things, we are restrained to those we receive from sensation and reflection, is evident from hence, that in our ideas of spirits, how much soever advanced in perfection beyond those of bodies, even to that of infinite, we cannot yet have any idea of the manner wherein they discover their thoughts one to another: though we must necessarily conclude, that separate spirits, which are beings that have perfecter knowledge and greater happiness than we, must needs have also a perfecter way of communicating their thoughts than we have, who are fain to make use of corporeal signs and particular sounds; which are therefore of most general use, as being the best and quickest we are capable of. But of immediate communication, having no experiment in ourselves, and consequently no notion of it at all, we have no idea how spirits, which use not words, can with quickness, or much less how spirits, that have no bodies, can be masters of their own thoughts, and communicate or conceal them at pleasure, though we cannot but necessarily suppose they have such a power.
§. 37. Recapitulation.
And thus we have seen, what kind of ideas we have of substances of all kinds, wherein they consist, and how we came by them. From whence, I think it is very evident,
First, That all our ideas of the several sorts of substances are nothing but collections of simple ideas, with a supposition of something to which they belong, and in which they subsist; though of this supposed something we have no clear distinct idea at all.
Secondly, That all the simple ideas, that thus united in one common substratum make up our complex ideas of several sorts of substances, are no other but such as we