Theodicy - Essays on the Goodness of God, the Freedom of Man and the Origin of Evil
by G. W. Leibniz
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168. Metaphysical considerations also are brought up against my explanation of the moral cause of moral evil; but they will trouble me less since I have dismissed the objections derived from moral reasons, which were more impressive. These metaphysical considerations concern the nature of the possible and of the necessary; they go against my fundamental assumption that God has chosen the best of all possible worlds. There are philosophers who have maintained that there is nothing possible except that which actually happens. These are those same people who thought or could have thought that all is necessary unconditionally. Some were of this [229] opinion because they admitted a brute and blind necessity in the cause of the existence of things: and it is these I have most reason for opposing. But there are others who are mistaken only because they misuse terms. They confuse moral necessity with metaphysical necessity: they imagine that since God cannot help acting for the best he is thus deprived of freedom, and things are endued with that necessity which philosophers and theologians endeavour to avoid. With these writers my dispute is only one of words, provided they admit in very deed that God chooses and does the best. But there are others who go further, they think that God could have done better. This is an opinion which must be rejected: for although it does not altogether deprive God of wisdom and goodness, as do the advocates of blind necessity, it sets bounds thereto, thus derogating from God's supreme perfection.

169. The question of the possibility of things that do not happen has already been examined by the ancients. It appears that Epicurus, to preserve freedom and to avoid an absolute necessity, maintained, after Aristotle, that contingent futurities were not susceptible of determinate truth. For if it was true yesterday that I should write to-day, it could therefore not fail to happen, it was already necessary; and, for the same reason, it was from all eternity. Thus all that which happens is necessary, and it is impossible for anything different to come to pass. But since that is not so it would follow, according to him, that contingent futurities have no determinate truth. To uphold this opinion, Epicurus went so far as to deny the first and the greatest principle of the truths of reason, he denied that every assertion was either true or false. Here is the way they confounded him: 'You deny that it was true yesterday that I should write to-day; it was therefore false.' The good man, not being able to admit this conclusion, was obliged to say that it was neither true nor false. After that, he needs no refutation, and Chrysippus might have spared himself the trouble he took to prove the great principle of contradictories, following the account by Cicero in his book De Fato: 'Contendit omnes nervos Chrysippus ut persuadeat omne [Greek: Axioma] aut verum esse aut falsum. Ut enim Epicurus veretur ne si hoc concesserit, concedendum sit, fato fieri quaecunque fiant; si enim alterum ex aeternitate verum sit, esse id etiam certum; si certum, etiam necessarium; ita et necessitatem et fatum confirmari putat; sic Chrysippus metuit ne non, si non obtinuerit omne[230] quod enuncietur aut verum esse aut falsum, omnia fato fieri possint ex causis aeternis rerum futurarum.' M. Bayle observes (Dictionary, article 'Epicurus', let. T, p. 1141) 'that neither of these two great philosophers [Epicurus and Chrysippus] understood that the truth of this maxim, every proposition is true or false, is independent of what is called fatum: it could not therefore serve as proof of the existence of the fatum, as Chrysippus maintained and as Epicurus feared. Chrysippus could not have conceded, without damaging his own position, that there are propositions which are neither true nor false. But he gained nothing by asserting the contrary: for, whether there be free causes or not, it is equally true that this proposition, The Grand Mogul will go hunting to-morrow, is true or false. Men rightly regarded as ridiculous this speech of Tiresias: All that I shall say will happen or not, for great Apollo confers on me the faculty of prophesying. If, assuming the impossible, there were no God, it would yet be certain that everything the greatest fool in the world should predict would happen or would not happen. That is what neither Chrysippus nor Epicurus has taken into consideration.' Cicero, lib. I, De Nat. Deorum, with regard to the evasions of the Epicureans expressed the sound opinion (as M. Bayle observes towards the end of the same page) that it would be much less shameful to admit that one cannot answer one's opponent, than to have recourse to such answers. Yet we shall see that M. Bayle himself confused the certain with the necessary, when he maintained that the choice of the best rendered things necessary.

170. Let us come now to the possibility of things that do not happen, and I will give the very words of M. Bayle, albeit they are somewhat discursive. This is what he says on the matter in his Dictionary (article 'Chrysippus', let. S, p. 929): 'The celebrated dispute on things possible and things impossible owed its origin to the doctrine of the Stoics concerning fate. The question was to know whether, among the things which have never been and never will be, there are some possible; or whether all that is not, all that has never been, all that will never be, was impossible. A famous dialectician of the Megaric Sect, named Diodorus, gave a negative answer to the first of these two questions and an affirmative to the second; but Chrysippus vehemently opposed him. Here are two passages of Cicero (epist. 4, lib. 9, Ad Familiar.): "[Greek: peri dynaton] me scito [Greek: kata Diodoron krinein]. Quapropter si venturus es, scito [231] necesse esse te venire. Sin autem non es, [Greek: ton adynaton] est te venire. Nunc vide utra te [Greek: krisis] magis delectet, [Greek: Chrysippeia] ne, an haec; quam noster Diodorus [a Stoic who for a long time had lived in Cicero's house] non concoquebat." This is quoted from a letter that Cicero wrote to Varro. He sets forth more comprehensively the whole state of the question, in the little book De Fato. I am going to quote a few pieces (Cic., De Fato, p. m. 65): "Vigila, Chrysippe, ne tuam causam, in qua tibi cum Diodoro valente Dialectico magna luctatio est, deseras ... omne ergo quod falsum dicitur in futuro, id fieri non potest. At hoc, Chrysippe, minime vis, maximeque tibi de hoc ipso cum Diodoro certamen est. Ille enim id solum fieri posse dicit, quod aut sit verum, aut futurum sit verum; et quicquid futurum sit, id dicit fieri necesse esse; et quicquid non sit futurum, id negat fieri posse. Tu etiam quae non sint futura, posse fieri dicis, ut frangi hanc gemmam, etiamsi id nunquam futurum sit: neque necesse fuisse Cypselum regnare Corinthi, quamquam id millesimo ante anno Apollinis Oraculo editum esset.... Placet Diodoro, id solum fieri posse, quod aut verum sit, aut verum futurum sit: qui locus attingit hanc quaestionem, nihil fieri, quod non necesse fuerit; et quicquid fieri possit, id aut esse jam, aut futurum esse: nec magis commutari ex veris in falsa ea posse quae futura sunt, quam ea quae facta sunt: sed in factis immutabilitatem apparere; in futuris quibusdam, quia non apparent, ne inesse quidem videri: ut in eo qui mortifero morbo urgeatur, verum sit, hic morietur hoc morbo: at hoc idem si vere dicatur in eo, in quo tanta vis morbi non appareat, nihilominus futurum sit. Ita fit ut commutatio ex vero in falsum, ne in futuro quidem ulla fieri possit." Cicero makes it clear enough that Chrysippus often found himself in difficulties in this dispute, and that is no matter for astonishment: for the course he had chosen was not bound up with his dogma of fate, and, if he had known how, or had dared, to reason consistently, he would readily have adopted the whole hypothesis of Diodorus. We have seen already that the freedom he assigned to the soul, and his comparison of the cylinder, did not preclude the possibility that in reality all the acts of the human will were unavoidable consequences of fate. Hence it follows that everything which does not happen is impossible, and that there is nothing possible but that which actually comes to pass. Plutarch (De Stoicor. Repugn., pp. 1053, 1054) discomfits him completely, on that point as well as on the dispute [232] with Diodorus, and maintains that his opinion on possibility is altogether contrary to the doctrine of fatum. Observe that the most eminent Stoics had written on this matter without following the same path. Arrian (in Epict., lib. 2, c. 29, p. m. 166) named four of them, who are Chrysippus, Cleanthes, Archidemus and Antipater. He evinces great scorn for this dispute; and M. Menage need not have cited him as a writer who had spoken in commendation of the work of Chrysippus [Greek: peri dynaton] ("citatur honorifice apud Arrianum", Menag. in Laert., I, 7, 341) for assuredly these words, "[Greek: gegraphe de kai Chrysippos thaumastos], etc., de his rebus mira scripsit Chrysippus", etc., are not in that connexion a eulogy. That is shown by the passages immediately before and after it. Dionysius of Halicarnassus (De Collocat. Verbor., c. 17, p. m. 11) mentions two treatises by Chrysippus, wherein, under a title that promised something different, much of the logicians' territory had been explored. The work was entitled "[Greek: peri tes syntaxeos ton tou logou meron], de partium orationis collocatione", and treated only of propositions true and false, possible and impossible, contingent and equivocal, etc., matter that our Schoolmen have pounded down and reduced to its essence. Take note that Chrysippus recognized that past things were necessarily true, which Cleanthes had not been willing to admit. (Arrian, ubi supra, p. m. 165.) "[Greek: Ou pan de parelelythos alethes anankaion esti, kathaper hoi peri Kleanthen pheresthai dokousi]. Non omne praeteritum ex necessitate verum est, ut illi qui Cleanthem sequuntur sentiunt." We have already seen (p. 562, col. 2) that Abelard is alleged to have taught a doctrine which resembles that of Diodorus. I think that the Stoics pledged themselves to give a wider range to possible things than to future things, for the purpose of mitigating the odious and frightful conclusions which were drawn from their dogma of fatality.'

It is sufficiently evident that Cicero when writing to Varro the words that have just been quoted (lib. 9, Ep. 4, Ad Familiar.) had not enough comprehension of the effect of Diodorus's opinion, since he found it preferable. He presents tolerably well in his book De Fato the opinions of those writers, but it is a pity that he has not always added the reasons which they employed. Plutarch in his treatise on the contradictions of the Stoics and M. Bayle are both surprised that Chrysippus was not of the same opinion as Diodorus, since he favours fatality. But Chrysippus and even his master Cleanthes were on that point more reasonable than is supposed. [233] That will be seen as we proceed. It is open to question whether the past is more necessary than the future. Cleanthes held the opinion that it is. The objection is raised that it is necessary ex hypothesi for the future to happen, as it is necessary ex hypothesi for the past to have happened. But there is this difference, that it is not possible to act on the past state, that would be a contradiction; but it is possible to produce some effect on the future. Yet the hypothetical necessity of both is the same: the one cannot be changed, the other will not be; and once that is past, it will not be possible for it to be changed either.

171. The famous Pierre Abelard expressed an opinion resembling that of Diodorus in the statement that God can do only that which he does. It was the third of the fourteen propositions taken from his works which were censured at the Council of Sens. It had been taken from the third book of his Introduction to Theology, where he treats especially of the power of God. The reason he gave for his statement was that God can do only that which he wills. Now God cannot will to do anything other than that which he does, because, of necessity, he must will whatever is fitting. Hence it follows that all that which he does not, is not fitting, that he cannot will to do it, and consequently that he cannot do it. Abelard admits himself that this opinion is peculiar to him, that hardly anyone shares in it, that it seems contrary to the doctrine of the saints and to reason and derogatory to the greatness of God. It appears that this author was a little too much inclined to speak and to think differently from others: for in reality this was only a dispute about words: he was changing the use of terms. Power and will are different faculties, whose objects also are different; it is confusing them to say that God can do only that which he wills. On the contrary, among various possibles, he wills only that which he finds the best. For all possibles are regarded as objects of power, but actual and existing things are regarded as the objects of his decretory will. Abelard himself acknowledged it. He raises this objection for himself: a reprobate can be saved; but he can only be saved if God saves him. God can therefore save him, and consequently do something that he does not. Abelard answers that it may indeed be said that this man can be saved in respect of the possibility of human nature, which is capable of salvation: but that it may not be said that God can save him in respect of God himself, because it is impossible that God should do that which he[234] must not do. But Abelard admits that it may very well be said in a sense, speaking absolutely and setting aside the assumption of reprobation, that such an one who is reprobate can be saved, and that thus often that which God does not can be done. He could therefore have spoken like the rest, who mean nothing different when they say that God can save this man, and that he can do that which he does not.

172. The so-called necessity of Wyclif, which was condemned by the Council of Constance, seems to arise simply from this same misunderstanding. I think that men of talent do wrong to truth and to themselves when, without reason, they bring into use new and displeasing expressions. In our own time the celebrated Mr. Hobbes supported this same opinion, that what does not happen is impossible. He proves it by the statement that all the conditions requisite for a thing that shall not exist (omnia rei non futurae requisita) are never found together, and that the thing cannot exist otherwise. But who does not see that that only proves a hypothetical impossibility? It is true that a thing cannot exist when a requisite condition for it is lacking. But as we claim to be able to say that the thing can exist although it does not exist, we claim in the same way to be able to say that the requisite conditions can exist although they do not exist. Thus Mr. Hobbes's argument leaves the matter where it is. The opinion which was held concerning Mr. Hobbes, that he taught an absolute necessity of all things, brought upon him much discredit, and would have done him harm even had it been his only error.

173. Spinoza went further: he appears to have explicitly taught a blind necessity, having denied to the Author of Things understanding and will, and assuming that good and perfection relate to us only, and not to him. It is true that Spinoza's opinion on this subject is somewhat obscure: for he grants God thought, after having divested him of understanding, cogitationem, non intellectum concedit Deo. There are even passages where he relents on the question of necessity. Nevertheless, as far as one can understand him, he acknowledges no goodness in God, properly speaking, and he teaches that all things exist through the necessity of the divine nature, without any act of choice by God. We will not waste time here in refuting an opinion so bad, and indeed so inexplicable. My own opinion is founded on the nature of the possibles, that is, of things that imply [235] no contradiction. I do not think that a Spinozist will say that all the romances one can imagine exist actually now, or have existed, or will still exist in some place in the universe. Yet one cannot deny that romances such as those of Mademoiselle de Scudery, or as Octavia, are possible. Let us therefore bring up against him these words of M. Bayle, which please me well, on page 390, 'It is to-day', he says, 'a great embarrassment for the Spinozists to see that, according to their hypothesis, it was as impossible from all eternity that Spinoza, for instance, should not die at The Hague, as it is impossible for two and two to make six. They are well aware that it is a necessary conclusion from their doctrine, and a conclusion which disheartens, affrights, and stirs the mind to revolt, because of the absurdity it involves, diametrically opposed to common sense. They are not well pleased that one should know they are subverting a maxim so universal and so evident as this one: All that which implies contradiction is impossible, and all that which implies no contradiction is possible.'

174. One may say of M. Bayle, 'ubi bene, nemo melius', although one cannot say of him what was said of Origen, 'ubi male, nemo pejus'. I will only add that what has just been indicated as a maxim is in fact the definition of the possible and the impossible. M. Bayle, however, adds here towards the end a remark which somewhat spoils his eminently reasonable statement. 'Now what contradiction would there be if Spinoza had died in Leyden? Would Nature then have been less perfect, less wise, less powerful?' He confuses here what is impossible because it implies contradiction with what cannot happen because it is not meet to be chosen. It is true that there would have been no contradiction in the supposition that Spinoza died in Leyden and not at The Hague; there would have been nothing so possible: the matter was therefore indifferent in respect of the power of God. But one must not suppose that any event, however small it be, can be regarded as indifferent in respect of his wisdom and his goodness. Jesus Christ has said divinely well that everything is numbered, even to the hairs of our head. Thus the wisdom of God did not permit that this event whereof M. Bayle speaks should happen otherwise than it happened, not as if by itself it would have been more deserving of choice, but on account of its connexion with that entire sequence of the universe which deserved to be given preference. To say that what has already happened was of no interest to the wisdom of God, and[236] thence to infer that it is therefore not necessary, is to make a false assumption and argue incorrectly to a true conclusion. It is confusing what is necessary by moral necessity, that is, according to the principle of Wisdom and Goodness, with what is so by metaphysical and brute necessity, which occurs when the contrary implies contradiction. Spinoza, moreover, sought a metaphysical necessity in events. He did not think that God was determined by his goodness and by his perfection (which this author treated as chimeras in relation to the universe), but by the necessity of his nature; just as the semicircle is bound to enclose only right angles, without either knowing or willing this. For Euclid demonstrated that all angles enclosed between two straight lines drawn from the extremities of the diameter towards a point on the circumference of the circle are of necessity right angles, and that the contrary implies contradiction.

175. There are people who have gone to the other extreme: under the pretext of freeing the divine nature from the yoke of necessity they wished to regard it as altogether indifferent, with an indifference of equipoise. They did not take into account that just as metaphysical necessity is preposterous in relation to God's actions ad extra, so moral necessity is worthy of him. It is a happy necessity which obliges wisdom to do good, whereas indifference with regard to good and evil would indicate a lack of goodness or of wisdom. And besides, the indifference which would keep the will in a perfect equipoise would itself be a chimera, as has been already shown: it would offend against the great principle of the determinant reason.

176. Those who believe that God established good and evil by an arbitrary decree are adopting that strange idea of mere indifference, and other absurdities still stranger. They deprive God of the designation good: for what cause could one have to praise him for what he does, if in doing something quite different he would have done equally well? And I have very often been surprised that divers Supralapsarian theologians, as for instance Samuel Rutherford, a Professor of Theology in Scotland, who wrote when the controversies with the Remonstrants were at their height, could have been deluded by so strange an idea. Rutherford (in his Exercitationes Apologeticae pro Gratia) says positively that nothing is unjust or morally bad in God's eyes before he has forbidden it: thus without this prohibition it would be a matter of indifference whether one murdered or saved a [237] man, loved God or hated him, praised or blasphemed him. Nothing is so unreasonable as that. One may teach that God established good and evil by a positive law, or one may assert that there was something good and just before his decree, but that he is not required to conform to it, and that nothing prevents him from acting unjustly and from perhaps condemning innocence: but it all comes to the same thing, offering almost equal dishonour to God. For if justice was established arbitrarily and without any cause, if God came upon it by a kind of hazard, as when one draws lots, his goodness and his wisdom are not manifested in it, and there is nothing at all to attach him to it. If it is by a purely arbitrary decree, without any reason, that he has established or created what we call justice and goodness, then he can annul them or change their nature. Thus one would have no reason to assume that he will observe them always, as it would be possible to say he will observe them on the assumption that they are founded on reasons. The same would hold good more or less if his justice were different from ours, if (for example) it were written in his code that it is just to make the innocent eternally unhappy. According to these principles also, nothing would compel God to keep his word or would assure us of its fulfilment. For why should the law of justice, which states that reasonable promises must be kept, be more inviolable for him than any other laws?

177. All these three dogmas, albeit a little different from one another, namely, (1) that the nature of justice is arbitrary, (2) that it is fixed, but it is not certain that God will observe it, and finally (3) that the justice we know is not that which he observes, destroy the confidence in God that gives us tranquillity, and the love of God that makes our happiness. There is nothing to prevent such a God from behaving as a tyrant and an enemy of honest folk, and from taking pleasure in that which we call evil. Why should he not, then, just as well be the evil principle of the Manichaeans as the single good principle of the orthodox? At least he would be neutral and, as it were, suspended between the two, or even sometimes the one and sometimes the other. That would be as if someone were to say that Oromasdes and Arimanius reign in turns, according to which of the two is the stronger or the more adroit. It is like the saying of a certain Moghul woman. She, so it seems, having heard it said that formerly under Genghis Khan and his successors her nation had had dominion over most [238] of the North and East, told the Muscovites recently, when M. Isbrand went to China on behalf of the Czar, through the country of those Tartars, that the god of the Moghuls had been driven from Heaven, but that one day he would take his own place again. The true God is always the same: natural religion itself demands that he be essentially as good and wise as he is powerful. It is scarcely more contrary to reason and piety to say that God acts without cognition, than to maintain that he has cognition which does not find the eternal rules of goodness and of justice among its objects, or again to say that he has a will such as heeds not these rules.

178. Some theologians who have written of God's right over creatures appear to have conceded to him an unrestricted right, an arbitrary and despotic power. They thought that would be placing divinity on the most exalted level that may be imagined for it, and that it would abase the creature before the Creator to such an extent that the Creator is bound by no laws of any kind with respect to the creature. There are passages from Twiss, Rutherford and some other Supralapsarians which imply that God cannot sin whatever he may do, because he is subject to no law. M. Bayle himself considers that this doctrine is monstrous and contrary to the holiness of God (Dictionary, v. 'Paulicians', p. 2332 in initio); but I suppose that the intention of some of these writers was less bad than it seems to be. Apparently they meant by the term right, [Greek: anypeuthynian], a state wherein one is responsible to none for one's actions. But they will not have denied that God owes to himself what goodness and justice demand of him. On that matter one may see M. Amyraut's Apology for Calvin: it is true that Calvin appears orthodox on this subject, and that he is by no means one of the extreme Supralapsarians.

179. Thus, when M. Bayle says somewhere that St. Paul extricates himself from predestination only through the consideration of God's absolute right, and the incomprehensibility of his ways, it is implied that, if one understood them, one would find them consistent with justice, God not being able to use his power otherwise. St. Paul himself says that it is a depth, but a depth of wisdom (altitudo sapientiae), and justice is included in the goodness of the All-wise. I find that M. Bayle speaks very well elsewhere on the application of our notions of goodness to the actions of God (Reply to the Questions of a Provincial, ch. 81, p. 139): 'One must not assert here', he says, 'that the goodness of the [239] infinite Being is not subject to the same rules as the goodness of the creature. For if there is in God an attribute that can be called goodness, the marks of goodness in general must apply to him. Now when we reduce goodness to the most general abstraction, we find therein the will to do good. Divide and subdivide into as many kinds as you shall please this general goodness, into infinite goodness, finite goodness, kingly goodness, goodness of a father, goodness of a husband, goodness of a master, you will find in each, as an inseparable attribute, the will to do good.'

180. I find also that M. Bayle combats admirably the opinion of those who assert that goodness and justice depend solely upon the arbitrary choice of God; who suppose, moreover, that if God had been determined by the goodness of things themselves to act, he would be entirely subjected to necessity in his actions, a state incompatible with freedom. That is confusing metaphysical necessity with moral necessity. Here is what M. Bayle says in objection to this error (Reply, ch. 89, p. 203): 'The consequence of this doctrine will be, that before God resolved upon creating the world he saw nothing better in virtue than in vice, and that his ideas did not show him that virtue was more worthy of his love than vice. That leaves no distinction between natural right and positive right; there will no longer be anything unalterable or inevitable in morals; it will have been just as possible for God to command people to be vicious as to command them to be virtuous; and one will have no certainty that the moral laws will not one day be abrogated, as the ceremonial laws of the Jews were. This, in a word, leads us straight to the belief that God was the free author, not only of goodness and of virtue, but also of truth and of the essence of things. That is what certain of the Cartesians assert, and I confess that their opinion (see the Continuation of Divers Thoughts on the Comet, p. 554) might be of some avail in certain circumstances. Yet it is open to dispute for so many reasons, and subject to consequences so troublesome (see chapter 152 of the same Continuation) that there are scarcely any extremes it were not better to suffer rather than plunge into that one. It opens the door to the most exaggerated Pyrrhonism: for it leads to the assertion that this proposition, three and three make six, is only true where and during the time when it pleases God; that it is perhaps false in some parts of the universe; and that perhaps it will be so among men in the coming year.[240] All that depends on the free will of God could have been limited to certain places and certain times, like the Judaic ceremonies. This conclusion will be extended to all the laws of the Decalogue, if the actions they command are in their nature divested of all goodness to the same degree as the actions they forbid.'

181. To say that God, having resolved to create man just as he is, could not but have required of him piety, sobriety, justice and chastity, because it is impossible that the disorders capable of overthrowing or disturbing his work can please him, that is to revert in effect to the common opinion. Virtues are virtues only because they serve perfection or prevent the imperfection of those who are virtuous, or even of those who have to do with them. And they have that power by their nature and by the nature of rational creatures, before God decrees to create them. To hold a different opinion would be as if someone were to say that the rules of proportion and harmony are arbitrary with regard to musicians because they occur in music only when one has resolved to sing or to play some instrument. But that is exactly what is meant by being essential to good music: for those rules belong to it already in the ideal state, even when none yet thinks of singing, since it is known that they must of necessity belong to it as soon as one shall sing. In the same way virtues belong to the ideal state of the rational creature before God decrees to create it; and it is for that very reason we maintain that virtues are good by their nature.

182. M. Bayle has inserted a special chapter in his Continuation of Divers Thoughts on the Comet (it is chapter 152) where he shows 'that the Christian Doctors teach that there are things which are just antecedently to God's decrees'. Some theologians of the Augsburg Confession censured some of the Reformed who appeared to be of a different opinion; and this error was regarded as if it were a consequence of the absolute decree, which doctrine seems to exempt the will of God from any kind of reason, ubi stat pro ratione voluntas. But, as I have observed already on various occasions, Calvin himself acknowledged that the decrees of God are in conformity with justice and wisdom, although the reasons that might prove this conformity in detail are unknown to us. Thus, according to him, the rules of goodness and of justice are anterior to the decrees of God. M. Bayle, in the same place, quotes a passage from the celebrated M. Turretin which draws a distinction between natural divine laws and positive [241] divine laws. Moral laws are of the first kind and ceremonial of the second. Samuel Desmarests, a celebrated theologian formerly at Groningen, and Herr Strinesius, who is still at Frankfort on the Oder, advocated this same distinction; and I think that it is the opinion most widely accepted even among the Reformed. Thomas Aquinas and all the Thomists were of the same opinion, with the bulk of the Schoolmen and the theologians of the Roman Church. The Casuists also held to that idea: I count Grotius among the most eminent of them, and he was followed in this point by his commentators. Herr Pufendorf appeared to be of a different opinion, which he insisted on maintaining in the face of censure from some theologians; but he need not be taken into account, not having advanced far enough in subjects of this kind. He makes a vigorous protest against the absolute decree, in his Fecialis divinus, and yet he approves what is worst in the opinions of the champions of this decree, and without which this decree (as others of the Reformed explain) becomes endurable. Aristotle was very orthodox on this matter of justice, and the Schoolmen followed him: they distinguish, just as Cicero and the Jurists do, between perpetual right, which is binding on all and everywhere, and positive right, which is only for certain times and certain peoples. I once read with enjoyment the Euthyphro of Plato, who makes Socrates uphold the truth on that point, and M. Bayle has called attention to the same passage.

183. M. Bayle himself upholds this truth with considerable force in a certain passage, which it will be well to quote here in its entirety, long as it is (vol. II of the Continuation of Divers Thoughts on the Comet, ch. 152, p. 771 seqq.): 'According to the teaching of countless writers of importance', he says, 'there is in nature and in the essence of certain things a moral good or evil that precedes the divine decree. They prove this doctrine principally through the frightful consequences that attend the opposite dogma. Thus from the proposition that to do wrong to no man would be a good action, not in itself but by an arbitrary dispensation of God's will, it would follow that God could have given to man a law directly opposed at all points to the commandments of the Decalogue. That is horrifying. But here is a more direct proof, one derived from metaphysics. One thing is certain, that the existence of God is not an effect of his will. He exists not because he wills his existence, but through the [242] necessity of his infinite nature. His power and his knowledge exist through the same necessity. He is all-powerful, he knows all things, not because he wills it thus, but because these are attributes necessarily identified with him. The dominion of his will relates only to the exercise of his power, he gives effect outside himself only to that which he wills, and he leaves all the rest in the state of mere possibility. Thence it comes that this dominion extends only over the existence of creatures, and not over their essential being. God was able to create matter, a man, a circle, or leave them in nothingness, but he was not able to produce them without giving them their essential properties. He had of necessity to make man a rational animal and to give the round shape to a circle, since, according to his eternal ideas, independent of the free decrees of his will, the essence of man lay in the properties of being animal and rational, and since the essence of the circle lay in having a circumference equally distant from the centre as to all its parts. This is what has caused the Christian philosophers to acknowledge that the essences of things are eternal, and that there are propositions of eternal truth; consequently that the essences of things and the truth of the first principles are immutable. That is to be understood not only of theoretical but also of practical first principles, and of all the propositions that contain the true definition of creatures. These essences and these truths emanate from the same necessity of nature as the knowledge of God. Since therefore it is by the nature of things that God exists, that he is all-powerful, and that he has perfect knowledge of all things, it is also by the nature of things that matter, the triangle, man and certain actions of man, etc., have such and such properties essentially. God saw from all eternity and in all necessity the essential relations of numbers, and the identity of the subject and predicate in the propositions that contain the essence of each thing. He saw likewise that the term just is included in these propositions: to esteem what is estimable, be grateful to one's benefactor, fulfil the conditions of a contract, and so on, with many others relating to morals. One is therefore justified in saying that the precepts of natural law assume the reasonableness and justice of that which is enjoined, and that it would be man's duty to practise what they contain even though God should have been so indulgent as to ordain nothing in that respect. Pray observe that in going back with our visionary thoughts to that ideal moment when God has yet decreed nothing, we find in the [243] ideas of God the principles of morals under terms that imply an obligation. We understand these maxims as certain, and derived from the eternal and immutable order: it beseems the rational creature to conform to reason; a rational creature conforming to reason is to be commended, but not conforming thereto is blameworthy. You would not dare to deny that these truths impose upon man a duty in relation to all acts which are in conformity with strict reason, such as these: one must esteem all that is estimable; render good for good; do wrong to no man; honour one's father; render to every man that which is his due, etc. Now since by the very nature of things, and before the divine laws, the truths of morality impose upon man certain duties, Thomas Aquinas and Grotius were justified in saying that if there were no God we should nevertheless be obliged to conform to natural law. Others have said that even supposing all rational beings in existence were to perish, true propositions would remain true. Cajetan maintained that if he remained alone in the universe, all other things without any exception having been destroyed, the knowledge that he had of the nature of a rose would nevertheless subsist.'

184. The late Jacob Thomasius, a celebrated Professor at Leipzig, made the apt observation in his elucidations of the philosophic rules of Daniel Stahl, a Jena professor, that it is not advisable to go altogether beyond God, and that one must not say, with some Scotists, that the eternal verities would exist even though there were no understanding, not even that of God. For it is, in my judgement, the divine understanding which gives reality to the eternal verities, albeit God's will have no part therein. All reality must be founded on something existent. It is true that an atheist may be a geometrician: but if there were no God, geometry would have no object. And without God, not only would there be nothing existent, but there would be nothing possible. That, however, does not hinder those who do not see the connexion of all things one with another and with God from being able to understand certain sciences, without knowing their first source, which is in God. Aristotle, although he also scarcely knew that source, nevertheless said something of the same kind which was very apposite. He acknowledged that the principles of individual forms of knowledge depend on a superior knowledge which gives the reason for them; and this superior knowledge must have being, and consequently God, the[244] source of being, for its object. Herr Dreier of Koenigsberg has aptly observed that the true metaphysics which Aristotle sought, and which he called [Greek: ten zetoumenen], his desideratum, was theology.

185. Yet the same M. Bayle, who says so much that is admirable in order to prove that the rules of goodness and justice, and the eternal verities in general, exist by their nature, and not by an arbitrary choice of God, has spoken very hesitatingly about them in another passage (Continuation of Divers Thoughts on the Comet, vol. II, ch. 114, towards the end). After having given an account of the opinion of M. Descartes and a section of his followers, who maintain that God is the free cause of truths and of essences, he adds (p. 554): 'I have done all that I could to gain true understanding of this dogma and to find the solution of the difficulties surrounding it. I confess to you quite simply that I still cannot properly fathom it. That does not discourage me; I suppose, as other philosophers in other cases have supposed, that time will unfold the meaning of this noble paradox. I wish that Father Malebranche had thought fit to defend it, but he took other measures.' Is it possible that the enjoyment of doubt can have such influence upon a gifted man as to make him wish and hope for the power to believe that two contradictories never exist together for the sole reason that God forbade them to, and, moreover, that God could have issued them an order to ensure that they always walked together? There is indeed a noble paradox! Father Malebranche showed great wisdom in taking other measures.

186. I cannot even imagine that M. Descartes can have been quite seriously of this opinion, although he had adherents who found this easy to believe, and would in all simplicity follow him where he only made pretence to go. It was apparently one of his tricks, one of his philosophic feints: he prepared for himself some loophole, as when for instance he discovered a trick for denying the movement of the earth, while he was a Copernican in the strictest sense. I suspect that he had in mind here another extraordinary manner of speaking, of his own invention, which was to say that affirmations and negations, and acts of inner judgement in general, are operations of the will. Through this artifice the eternal verities, which until the time of Descartes had been named an object of the divine understanding, suddenly became an object of God's will. Now the acts of his will are free, therefore God is the free cause of the verities. That [245] is the outcome of the matter. Spectatum admissi. A slight change in the meaning of terms has caused all this commotion. But if the affirmations of necessary truths were actions of the will of the most perfect mind, these actions would be anything but free, for there is nothing to choose. It seems that M. Descartes did not declare himself sufficiently on the nature of freedom, and that his conception of it was somewhat unusual: for he extended it so far that he even held the affirmations of necessary truths to be free in God. That was preserving only the name of freedom.

187. M. Bayle, who with others conceives this to be a freedom of indifference, that God had had to establish (for instance) the truths of numbers, and to ordain that three times three made nine, whereas he could have commanded them to make ten, imagines in this strange opinion, supposing it were possible to defend it, some kind of advantage gained against the Stratonists. Strato was one of the leaders of the School of Aristotle, and the successor of Theophrastus; he maintained (according to Cicero's account) that this world had been formed such as it is by Nature or by a necessary cause devoid of cognition. I admit that that might be so, if God had so preformed matter as to cause such an effect by the laws of motion alone. But without God there would not even have been any reason for existence, and still less for any particular existence of things: thus Strato's system is not to be feared.

188. Nevertheless M. Bayle is in difficulties over this: he will not admit plastic natures devoid of cognition, which Mr. Cudworth and others had introduced, for fear that the modern Stratonists, that is, the Spinozists, take advantage of it. This has involved him in disputes with M. le Clerc. Under the influence of this error, that a non-intelligent cause can produce nothing where contrivance appears, he is far from conceding to me that preformation which produces naturally the organs of animals, and the system of a harmony pre-established by God in bodies, to make them respond in accordance with their own laws to the thoughts and the wills of souls. But it ought to have been taken into account that this non-intelligent cause, which produces such beautiful things in the grains and seeds of plants and animals, and effects the actions of bodies as the will ordains them, was formed by the hand of God: and God is infinitely more skilful than a watchmaker, who himself makes machines and automata that are [246] capable of producing as wonderful effects as if they possessed intelligence.

189. Now to come to M. Bayle's apprehensions concerning the Stratonists, in case one should admit truths that are not dependent upon the will of God: he seems to fear lest they may take advantage against us of the perfect regularity of the eternal verities. Since this regularity springs only from the nature and necessity of things, without being directed by any cognition, M. Bayle fears that one might with Strato thence infer that the world also could have become regular through a blind necessity. But it is easy to answer that. In the region of the eternal verities are found all the possibles, and consequently the regular as well as the irregular: there must be a reason accounting for the preference for order and regularity, and this reason can only be found in understanding. Moreover these very truths can have no existence without an understanding to take cognizance of them; for they would not exist if there were no divine understanding wherein they are realized, so to speak. Hence Strato does not attain his end, which is to exclude cognition from that which enters into the origin of things.

190. The difficulty that M. Bayle has imagined in connexion with Strato seems a little too subtle and far-fetched. That is termed: timere, ubi non est timor. He makes another difficulty, which has just as slight a foundation, namely, that God would be subjected to a kind of fatum. Here are his words (p. 555): 'If they are propositions of eternal truth, which are such by their nature and not by God's institution, if they are not true by a free decree of his will, but if on the contrary he has recognized them as true of necessity, because such was their nature, there is a kind of fatum to which he is subjected; there is an absolutely insurmountable natural necessity. Thence comes also the result that the divine understanding in the infinity of its ideas has always and at the outset hit upon their perfect conformity with their objects, without the guidance of any cognition; for it would be a contradiction to say that any exemplary cause had served as a plan for the acts of God's understanding. One would never that way find eternal ideas or any first intelligence. One must say, then, that a nature which exists of necessity always finds its way, without any need for it to be shown. How then shall we overcome the obstinacy of a Stratonist?'

191. But again it is easy to answer. This so-called fatum, which [247] binds even the Divinity, is nothing but God's own nature, his own understanding, which furnishes the rules for his wisdom and his goodness; it is a happy necessity, without which he would be neither good nor wise. Is it to be desired that God should not be bound to be perfect and happy? Is our condition, which renders us liable to fail, worth envying? And should we not be well pleased to exchange it for sinlessness, if that depended upon us? One must be indeed weary of life to desire the freedom to destroy oneself and to pity the Divinity for not having that freedom. M. Bayle himself reasons thus elsewhere against those who laud to the skies an extravagant freedom which they assume in the will, when they would make the will independent of reason.

192. Moreover, M. Bayle wonders 'that the divine understanding in the infinity of its ideas always and at the outset hits upon their perfect conformity with their objects, without the guidance of any cognition'. This objection is null and void. Every distinct idea is, through its distinctness, in conformity with its object, and in God there are distinct ideas only. At first, moreover, the object exists nowhere; but when it comes into existence, it will be formed according to this idea. Besides, M. Bayle knows very well that the divine understanding has no need of time for seeing the connexion of things. All trains of reasoning are in God in a transcendent form, and they preserve an order amongst them in his understanding, as well as in ours: but with him it is only an order and a priority of nature, whereas with us there is a priority of time. It is therefore not to be wondered at that he who penetrates all things at one stroke should always strike true at the outset; and it must not be said that he succeeds without the guidance of any cognition. On the contrary, it is because his knowledge is perfect that his voluntary actions are also perfect.

193. Up to now I have shown that the Will of God is not independent of the rules of Wisdom, although indeed it is a matter for surprise that one should have been constrained to argue about it, and to do battle for a truth so great and so well established. But it is hardly less surprising that there should be people who believe that God only half observes these rules, and does not choose the best, although his wisdom causes him to recognize it; and, in a word, that there should be writers who hold that God could have done better. That is more or less the error of the famous Alfonso, King of Castile, who was elected King of the Romans by [248] certain Electors, and originated the astronomical tables that bear his name. This prince is reported to have said that if God in making the world had consulted him he would have given God good advice. Apparently the Ptolemaic system, which prevailed at that time, was displeasing to him. He believed therefore that something better planned could have been made, and he was right. But if he had known the system of Copernicus, with the discoveries of Kepler, now extended by knowledge of the gravity of the planets, he would indeed have confessed that the contrivance of the true system is marvellous. We see, therefore, that here the question concerned the more or less only; Alfonso maintained that better could have been done, and his opinion was censured by everyone.

194. Yet philosophers and theologians dare to support dogmatically such a belief; and I have many times wondered that gifted and pious persons should have been capable of setting bounds to the goodness and the perfection of God. For to assert that he knows what is best, that he can do it and that he does it not, is to avow that it rested with his will only to make the world better than it is; but that is what one calls lacking goodness. It is acting against that axiom already quoted: Minus bonum habet rationem mali. If some adduce experience to prove that God could have done better, they set themselves up as ridiculous critics of his works. To such will be given the answer given to all those who criticize God's course of action, and who from this same assumption, that is, the alleged defects of the world, would infer that there is an evil God, or at least a God neutral between good and evil. And if we hold the same opinion as King Alfonso, we shall, I say, receive this answer: You have known the world only since the day before yesterday, you see scarce farther than your nose, and you carp at the world. Wait until you know more of the world and consider therein especially the parts which present a complete whole (as do organic bodies); and you will find there a contrivance and a beauty transcending all imagination. Let us thence draw conclusions as to the wisdom and the goodness of the author of things, even in things that we know not. We find in the universe some things which are not pleasing to us; but let us be aware that it is not made for us alone. It is nevertheless made for us if we are wise: it will serve us if we use it for our service; we shall be happy in it if we wish to be.

[249] 195. Someone will say that it is impossible to produce the best, because there is no perfect creature, and that it is always possible to produce one which would be more perfect. I answer that what can be said of a creature or of a particular substance, which can always be surpassed by another, is not to be applied to the universe, which, since it must extend through all future eternity, is an infinity. Moreover, there is an infinite number of creatures in the smallest particle of matter, because of the actual division of the continuum to infinity. And infinity, that is to say, the accumulation of an infinite number of substances, is, properly speaking, not a whole any more than the infinite number itself, whereof one cannot say whether it is even or uneven. That is just what serves to confute those who make of the world a God, or who think of God as the Soul of the world; for the world or the universe cannot be regarded as an animal or as a substance.

196. It is therefore not a question of a creature, but of the universe; and the adversary will be obliged to maintain that one possible universe may be better than the other, to infinity; but there he would be mistaken, and it is that which he cannot prove. If this opinion were true, it would follow that God had not produced any universe at all: for he is incapable of acting without reason, and that would be even acting against reason. It is as if one were to suppose that God had decreed to make a material sphere, with no reason for making it of any particular size. This decree would be useless, it would carry with it that which would prevent its effect. It would be quite another matter if God decreed to draw from a given point one straight line to another given straight line, without any determination of the angle, either in the decree or in its circumstances. For in this case the determination would spring from the nature of the thing, the line would be perpendicular, and the angle would be right, since that is all that is determined and distinguishable. It is thus one must think of the creation of the best of all possible universes, all the more since God not only decrees to create a universe, but decrees also to create the best of all. For God decrees nothing without knowledge, and he makes no separate decrees, which would be nothing but antecedent acts of will: and these we have sufficiently explained, distinguishing them from genuine decrees.

197. M. Diroys, whom I knew in Rome, theologian to Cardinal d'Estrees, wrote a book entitled Proofs and Assumptions in Favour of the [250] Christian Religion, published in Paris in the year 1683. M. Bayle (Reply to the Questions of a Provincial, vol. III, ch. 165, p. 1058) recounts this objection brought up by M. Diroys: 'There is one more difficulty', he says, 'which it is no less important to meet than those given earlier, since it causes more trouble to those who judge goods and evils by considerations founded on the purest and most lofty maxims. This is that God being the supreme wisdom and goodness, it seems to them that he ought to do all things as wise and virtuous persons would wish them to be done, following the rules of wisdom and of goodness which God has imprinted in them, and as they would be obliged themselves to do these things if they depended upon them. Thus, seeing that the affairs of the world do not go so well as, in their opinion, they might go, and as they would go if they interfered themselves, they conclude that God, who is infinitely better and wiser than they, or rather wisdom and goodness itself, does not concern himself with these affairs.'

198. M. Diroys makes some apt remarks concerning this, which I will not repeat, since I have sufficiently answered the objection in more than one passage, and that has been the chief end of all my discourse. But he makes one assertion with which I cannot agree. He claims that the objection proves too much. One must again quote his own words with M. Bayle, p. 1059: 'If it does not behove the supreme Wisdom and Goodness to fail to do what is best and most perfect, it follows that all Beings are eternally, immutably and essentially as perfect and as good as they can be, since nothing can change except by passing either from a state less good to a better, or from a better to a less good. Now that cannot happen if it does not behove God to fail to do that which is best and most perfect, when he can do it. It will therefore be necessary that all beings be eternally and essentially filled with a knowledge and a virtue as perfect as God can give them. Now all that which is eternally and essentially as perfect as God can make it proceeds essentially from him; in a word, is eternally and essentially good as he is, and consequently it is God, as he is. That is the bearing of this maxim, that it is repugnant to supreme justice and goodness not to make things as good and perfect as they can be. For it is essential to essential wisdom and goodness to banish all that is repugnant to it altogether. One must therefore assert as a primary truth concerning the conduct of God in relation to creatures that there is nothing repugnant to this goodness and this wisdom in making things less perfect than [251] they could be, or in permitting the goods that it has produced either completely to cease to be or to change and deteriorate. For it causes no offence to God that there should be other Beings than he, that is beings who can be not what they are, and do not what they do or do what they do not.'

199. M. Bayle calls this answer paltry, but I find his counter-objection involved. M. Bayle will have those who are for the two principles to take their stand chiefly on the assumption of the supreme freedom of God: for if he were compelled to produce all that which he can, he would produce also sins and sorrows. Thus the Dualists could from the existence of evil conclude nothing contrary to the oneness of the principle, if this principle were as much inclined to evil as to good. There M. Bayle carries the notion of freedom too far: for even though God be supremely free, it does not follow that he maintains an indifference of equipoise: and even though he be inclined to act, it does not follow that he is compelled by this inclination to produce all that which he can. He will produce only that which he wills, for his inclination prompts him to good. I admit the supreme freedom of God, but I do not confuse it with indifference of equipoise, as if he could act without reason. M. Diroys therefore imagines that the Dualists, in their insistence that the single good principle produce no evil, ask too much; for by the same reason, according to M. Diroys, they ought also to ask that he should produce the greatest good, the less good being a kind of evil. I hold that the Dualists are wrong in respect of the first point, and that they would be right in respect of the second, where M. Diroys blames them without cause; or rather that one can reconcile the evil, or the less good, in some parts with the best in the whole. If the Dualists demanded that God should do the best, they would not be demanding too much. They are mistaken rather in claiming that the best in the whole should be free from evil in the parts, and that therefore what God has made is not the best.

200. But M. Diroys maintains that if God always produces the best he will produce other Gods; otherwise each substance that he produced would not be the best nor the most perfect. But he is mistaken, through not taking into account the order and connexion of things. If each substance taken separately were perfect, all would be alike; which is neither fitting nor possible. If they were Gods, it would not have been possible to [252] produce them. The best system of things will therefore not contain Gods; it will always be a system of bodies (that is, things arranged according to time and place) and of souls which represent and are aware of bodies, and in accordance with which bodies are in great measure directed. So, as the design of a building may be the best of all in respect of its purpose, of expense and of circumstances; and as an arrangement of some figured representations of bodies which is given to you may be the best that one can find, it is easy to imagine likewise that a structure of the universe may be the best of all, without becoming a god. The connexion and order of things brings it about that the body of every animal and of every plant is composed of other animals and of other plants, or of other living and organic beings; consequently there is subordination, and one body, one substance serves the other: thus their perfection cannot be equal.

201. M. Bayle thinks (p. 1063) that M. Diroys has confused two different propositions. According to the one, God must do all things as wise and virtuous persons would wish that they should be done, by the rules of wisdom and of goodness that God has imprinted in them, and as they would be obliged themselves to do them if those things depended upon them. The other is that it is not consistent with supreme wisdom and goodness to fail to do what is best and most perfect. M. Diroys (in M. Bayle's opinion) sets up the first proposition as an objection for himself, and replies to the second. But therein he is justified, as it seems to me. For these two propositions are connected, the second is a result of the first: to do less good than one could is to be lacking in wisdom or in goodness. To be the best, and to be desired by those who are most virtuous and wise, comes to the same thing. And it may be said that, if we could understand the structure and the economy of the universe, we should find that it is made and directed as the wisest and most virtuous could wish it, since God cannot fail to do thus. This necessity nevertheless is only of a moral nature: and I admit that if God were forced by a metaphysical necessity to produce that which he makes, he would produce all the possibles, or nothing; and in this sense M. Bayle's conclusion would be fully correct. But as all the possibles are not compatible together in one and the same world-sequence, for that very reason all the possibles cannot be produced, and it must be said that God is not forced, metaphysically speaking, [253] into the creation of this world. One may say that as soon as God has decreed to create something there is a struggle between all the possibles, all of them laying claim to existence, and that those which, being united, produce most reality, most perfection, most significance carry the day. It is true that all this struggle can only be ideal, that is to say, it can only be a conflict of reasons in the most perfect understanding, which cannot fail to act in the most perfect way, and consequently to choose the best. Yet God is bound by a moral necessity, to make things in such a manner that there can be nothing better: otherwise not only would others have cause to criticize what he makes, but, more than that, he would not himself be satisfied with his work, he would blame himself for its imperfection; and that conflicts with the supreme felicity of the divine nature. This perpetual sense of his own fault or imperfection would be to him an inevitable source of grief, as M. Bayle says on another occasion (p.953).

202. M. Diroys' argument contains a false assumption, in his statement that nothing can change except by passing from a state less good to a better or from a better to a less good; and that thus, if God makes the best, what he has produced cannot be changed: it would be an eternal substance, a god. But I do not see why a thing cannot change its kind in relation to good or evil, without changing its degree. In the transition from enjoyment of music to enjoyment of painting, or vice versa from the pleasure of the eyes to that of the ears, the degree of enjoyment may remain the same, the latter gaining no advantage over the former save that of novelty. If the quadrature of the circle should come to pass or (what is the same thing) the circulature of the square, that is, if the circle were changed into a square of the same size, or the square into a circle, it would be difficult to say, on the whole, without having regard to some special use, whether one would have gained or lost. Thus the best may be changed into another which neither yields to it nor surpasses it: but there will always be an order among them, and that the best order possible. Taking the whole sequence of things, the best has no equal; but one part of the sequence may be equalled by another part of the same sequence. Besides it might be said that the whole sequence of things to infinity may be the best possible, although what exists all through the universe in each portion of time be not the best. It might be therefore that the universe became even [254] better and better, if the nature of things were such that it was not permitted to attain to the best all at once. But these are problems of which it is hard for us to judge.

203. M. Bayle says (p. 1064) that the question whether God could have made things more perfect than he made them is also very difficult, and that the reasons for and against are very strong. But it is, so it seems to me, as if one were to question whether God's actions are consistent with the most perfect wisdom and the greatest goodness. It is a very strange thing, that by changing the terms a little one throws doubt upon what is, if properly understood, as clear as anything can be. The reasons to the contrary have no force, being founded only on the semblance of defects; and M. Bayle's objection, which tends to prove that the law of the best would impose upon God a true metaphysical necessity, is only an illusion that springs from the misuse of terms. M. Bayle formerly held a different opinion, when he commended that of Father Malebranche, which was akin to mine on this subject. But M. Arnauld having written in opposition to Father Malebranche, M. Bayle altered his opinion; and I suppose that his tendency towards doubt, which increased in him with the years, was conducive to that result. M. Arnauld was doubtless a great man, and his authority has great weight: he made sundry good observations in his writings against Father Malebranche, but he was not justified in contesting those of his statements that were akin to mine on the rule of the best.

204. The excellent author of The Search for Truth, having passed from philosophy to theology, published finally an admirable treatise on Nature and Grace. Here he showed in his way (as M. Bayle explained in his Divers Thoughts on the Comet, ch. 234) that the events which spring from the enforcement of general laws are not the object of a particular will of God. It is true that when one wills a thing one wills also in a sense everything that is necessarily attached to it, and in consequence God cannot will general laws without also willing in a sense all the particular effects that must of necessity be derived from them. But it is always true that these particular events are not willed for their own sake, and that is what is meant by the expression that they are not willed by a particular and direct will. There is no doubt that when God resolved to act outside himself, he made choice of a manner of action which should be worthy [255] of the supremely perfect Being, that is, which should be infinitely simple and uniform, but yet of an infinite productivity. One may even suppose that this manner of action by general acts of will appeared to him preferable—although there must thence result some superfluous events (and even bad if they are taken separately, that is my own addition)—to another manner more composed and more regular; such is Father Malebranche's opinion. Nothing is more appropriate than this assumption (according to the opinion of M. Bayle, when he wrote his Divers Thoughts on the Comet) to solve a thousand difficulties which are brought up against divine providence: 'To ask God', he says, 'why he has made things which serve to render men more wicked, that would be to ask why God has carried out his plan (which can only be of infinite beauty) by the simplest and most uniform methods, and why, by a complexity of decrees that would unceasingly cut across one another, he has not prevented the wrong use of man's free will.' He adds 'that miracles being particular acts of will must have an end worthy of God'.

205. On these foundations he makes some good reflexions (ch. 231) concerning the injustice of those who complain of the prosperity of the wicked. 'I shall have no scruples', he says, 'about saying that all those who are surprised at the prosperity of the wicked have pondered very little upon the nature of God, and that they have reduced the obligations of a cause which directs all things, to the scope of a providence altogether subordinate; and that is small-minded. What then! Should God, after having made free causes and necessary causes, in a mixture infinitely well fitted to show forth the wonders of his infinite wisdom, have established laws consistent with the nature of free causes, but so lacking in firmness that the slightest trouble that came upon a man would overthrow them entirely, to the ruin of human freedom? A mere city governor will become an object of ridicule if he changes his regulations and orders as often as someone is pleased to murmur against him. And shall God, whose laws concern a good so universal that all of the world that is visible to us perchance enters into it as no more than a trifling accessary, be bound to depart from his laws, because they to-day displease the one and to-morrow the other? Or again because a superstitious person, deeming wrongly that a monstrosity presages something deadly, proceeds from his error to a criminal sacrifice? Or because a good soul, who yet does not value virtue highly enough to [256] believe that to have none is punishment enough in itself, is shocked that a wicked man should become rich and enjoy vigorous health? Can one form any falser notions of a universal providence? Everyone agrees that this law of nature, the strong prevails over the weak, has been very wisely laid down, and that it would be absurd to maintain that when a stone falls on a fragile vase which is the delight of its owner, God should depart from this law in order to spare that owner vexation. Should one then not confess that it is just as absurd to maintain that God must depart from the same law to prevent a wicked man from growing rich at the expense of a good man? The more the wicked man sets himself above the promptings of conscience and of honour, the more does he exceed the good man in strength, so that if he comes to grips with the good man he must, according to the course of nature, ruin him. If, moreover, they are both engaged in the business of finance, the wicked man must, according to the same course of nature, grow richer than the good man, just as a fierce fire consumes more wood than a fire of straw. Those who would wish sickness for a wicked man are sometimes as unfair as those who would wish that a stone falling on a glass should not break it: for his organs being arranged as they are, neither the food that he takes nor the air that he breathes can, according to natural laws, be detrimental to his health. Therefore those who complain about his health complain of God's failure to violate the laws which he has established. And in this they are all the more unfair because, through combinations and concatenations which were in the power of God alone, it happens often enough that the course of nature brings about the punishment of sin.'

206. It is a thousand pities that M. Bayle so soon quitted the way he had so auspiciously begun, of reasoning on behalf of providence: for his work would have been fruitful, and in saying fine things he would have said good things as well. I agree with Father Malebranche that God does things in the way most worthy of him. But I go a little further than he, with regard to 'general and particular acts of will'. As God can do nothing without reasons, even when he acts miraculously, it follows that he has no will about individual events but what results from some general truth or will. Thus I would say that God never has a particular will such as this Father implies, that is to say, a particular primitive will.

[257] 207. I think even that miracles have nothing to distinguish them from other events in this regard: for reasons of an order superior to that of Nature prompt God to perform them. Thus I would not say, with this Father, that God departs from general laws whenever order requires it: he departs from one law only for another law more applicable, and what order requires cannot fail to be in conformity with the rule of order, which is one of the general laws. The distinguishing mark of miracles (taken in the strictest sense) is that they cannot be accounted for by the natures of created things. That is why, should God make a general law causing bodies to be attracted the one to the other, he could only achieve its operation by perpetual miracles. And likewise, if God willed that the organs of human bodies should conform to the will of the soul, according to the system of occasional causes, this law also would come into operation only through perpetual miracles.

208. Thus one must suppose that, among the general rules which are not absolutely necessary, God chooses those which are the most natural, which it is easiest to explain, and which also are of greatest service for the explanation of other things. That is doubtless the conclusion most excellent and most pleasing; and even though the System of Pre-established Harmony were not necessary otherwise, because it banishes superfluous miracles, God would have chosen it as being the most harmonious. The ways of God are those most simple and uniform: for he chooses rules that least restrict one another. They are also the most productive in proportion to the simplicity of ways and means. It is as if one said that a certain house was the best that could have been constructed at a certain cost. One may, indeed, reduce these two conditions, simplicity and productivity, to a single advantage, which is to produce as much perfection as is possible: thus Father Malebranche's system in this point amounts to the same as mine. Even if the effect were assumed to be greater, but the process less simple, I think one might say that, when all is said and done, the effect itself would be less great, taking into account not only the final effect but also the mediate effect. For the wisest mind so acts, as far as it is possible, that the means are also in a sense ends, that is, they are desirable not only on account of what they do, but on account of what they are. The more intricate processes take up too much ground, too much space, too much place, too much time that might have been better employed.

[258] 209. Now since everything resolves itself into this greatest perfection, we return to my law of the best. For perfection includes not only the moral good and the physical good of intelligent creatures, but also the good which is purely metaphysical, and concerns also creatures devoid of reason. It follows that the evil that is in rational creatures happens only by concomitance, not by antecedent will but by a consequent will, as being involved in the best possible plan; and the metaphysical good which includes everything makes it necessary sometimes to admit physical evil and moral evil, as I have already explained more than once. It so happens that the ancient Stoics were not far removed from this system. M. Bayle remarked upon this himself in his Dictionary in the article on 'Chrysippus', rem. T. It is of importance to give his own words, in order sometimes to face him with his own objections and to bring him back to the fine sentiments that he had formerly pronounced: 'Chrysippus', he says (p. 930), 'in his work on Providence examined amongst other questions this one: Did the nature of things, or the providence that made the world and the human kind, make also the diseases to which men are subject? He answers that the chief design of Nature was not to make them sickly, that would not be in keeping with the cause of all good; but Nature, in preparing and producing many great things excellently ordered and of great usefulness, found that some drawbacks came as a result, and thus these were not in conformity with the original design and purpose; they came about as a sequel to the work, they existed only as consequences. For the formation of the human body, Chrysippus said, the finest idea as well as the very utility of the work demanded that the head should be composed of a tissue of thin, fine bones; but because of that it was bound to have the disadvantage of not being able to resist blows. Nature made health, and at the same time it was necessary by a kind of concomitance that the source of diseases should be opened up. The same thing applies with regard to virtue; the direct action of Nature, which brought it forth, produced by a counter stroke the brood of vices. I have not translated literally, for which reason I give here the actual Latin of Aulus Gellius, for the benefit of those who understand that language (Aul. Gellius, lib. 6, cap. 1): "Idem Chrysippus in eod. lib. (quarto, [Greek: peri pronoias]) tractat consideratque, dignumque esse id quaeri putat, [Greek: ei hai ton anthropon nosoi kata physin gignontai]. Id est, naturane ipsa rerum, vel providentia quae compagem hanc mundi et [259] genus hominum fecit, morbos quoque et debilitates et aegritudines corporum, quas patiuntur homines, fecerit. Existimat autem non fuisse hoc principale naturae consilium, ut faceret homines morbis obnoxios. Nunquam enim hoc convenisse naturae auctori parentique rerum omnium bonarum. Sed quum multa, inquit, atque magna gigneret, pareretque aptissima et utilissima, alia quoque simul agnata sunt incommoda iis ipsis, quae faciebat, cohaerentia: eaque non per naturam, sed per sequelas quasdam necessarias facta dicit, quod ipse appellat [Greek: kata parakolouthesin]. Sicut, inquit, quum corpora hominum natura fingeret, ratio subtilior et utilitas ipsa operis postulavit ut tenuissimis minutisque ossiculis caput compingeret. Sed hanc utilitatem rei majoris alia quaedam incommoditas extrinsecus consecuta est, ut fieret caput tenuiter munitum et ictibus offensionibusque parvis fragile. Proinde morbi quoque et aegritudines partae sunt, dum salus paritur. Sic Hercle, inquit, dum virtus hominibus per consilium naturae gignitur, vitia ibidem per affinitatem contrariam nata sunt." I do not think that a pagan could have said anything more reasonable, considering his ignorance of the first man's fall, the knowledge of which has only reached us through revelation, and which indeed is the true cause of our miseries. If we had sundry like extracts from the works of Chrysippus, or rather if we had his works, we should have a more favourable idea than we have of the beauty of his genius.'

210. Let us now see the reverse of the medal in the altered M. Bayle. After having quoted in his Reply to the Questions of a Provincial (vol. III, ch. 155, p. 962) these words of M. Jacquelot, which are much to my liking: 'To change the order of the universe is something of infinitely greater consequence than the prosperity of a good man,' he adds: 'This thought has something dazzling about it: Father Malebranche has placed it in the best possible light; and he has persuaded some of his readers that a system which is simple and very productive is more consistent with God's wisdom than a system more composite and less productive in proportion, but more capable of averting irregularities. M. Bayle was one of those who believed that Father Malebranche in that way gave a wonderful solution.' (It is M. Bayle himself speaking.) 'But it is almost impossible to be satisfied with it after having read M. Arnauld's books against this system, and after having contemplated the vast and boundless idea of the supremely [260] perfect Being. This idea shows us that nothing is easier for God than to follow a plan which is simple, productive, regular and opportune for all creatures simultaneously.'

211. While I was in France I showed to M. Arnauld a dialogue I had composed in Latin on the cause of evil and the justice of God; it was not only before his disputes with Father Malebranche, but even before the book on The Search for Truth appeared. That principle which I uphold here, namely that sin had been permitted because it had been involved in the best plan for the universe, was already applied there; and M. Arnauld did not seem to be startled by it. But the slight contentions which he has since had with Father Malebranche have given him cause to examine this subject with closer attention, and to be more severe in his judgement thereof. Yet I am not altogether pleased with M. Bayle's manner of expression here on this subject, and I am not of the opinion 'that a more composite and less productive plan might be more capable of averting irregularities'. Rules are the expression of general will: the more one observes rules, the more regularity there is; simplicity and productivity are the aim of rules. I shall be met with the objection that a uniform system will be free from irregularities. I answer that it would be an irregularity to be too uniform, that would offend against the rules of harmony. Et citharoedus Ridetur chorda qui semper oberrat eadem. I believe therefore that God can follow a simple, productive, regular plan; but I do not believe that the best and the most regular is always opportune for all creatures simultaneously; and I judge a posteriori, for the plan chosen by God is not so. I have, however, also shown this a priori in examples taken from mathematics, and I will presently give another here. An Origenist who maintains that all rational creatures become happy in the end will be still easier to satisfy. He will say, in imitation of St. Paul's saying about the sufferings of this life, that those which are finite are not worthy to be compared with eternal bliss.

212. What is deceptive in this subject, as I have already observed, is that one feels an inclination to believe that what is the best in the whole is also the best possible in each part. One reasons thus in geometry, when it is a question de maximis et minimis. If the road from A to B that one proposes to take is the shortest possible, and if this road passes by C, then the road from A to C, part of the first, must also be the shortest possible. But the inference from quantity to quality is not always[261] right, any more than that which is drawn from equals to similars. For equals are those whose quantity is the same, and similars are those not differing according to qualities. The late Herr Sturm, a famous mathematician in Altorf, while in Holland in his youth published there a small book under the title of Euclides Catholicus. Here he endeavoured to give exact and general rules in subjects not mathematical, being encouraged in the task by the late Herr Erhard Weigel, who had been his tutor. In this book he transfers to similars what Euclid had said of equals, and he formulates this axiom: Si similibus addas similia, tota sunt similia. But so many limitations were necessary to justify this new rule, that it would have been better, in my opinion, to enounce it at the outset with a reservation, by saying, Si similibus similia addas similiter, tota sunt similia. Moreover, geometricians often require non tantum similia, sed et similiter posita.

213. This difference between quantity and quality appears also in our case. The part of the shortest way between two extreme points is also the shortest way between the extreme points of this part; but the part of the best Whole is not of necessity the best that one could have made of this part. For the part of a beautiful thing is not always beautiful, since it can be extracted from the whole, or marked out within the whole, in an irregular manner. If goodness and beauty always lay in something absolute and uniform, such as extension, matter, gold, water, and other bodies assumed to be homogeneous or similar, one must say that the part of the good and the beautiful would be beautiful and good like the whole, since it would always have resemblance to the whole: but this is not the case in things that have mutual relations. An example taken from geometry will be appropriate to explain my idea.

214. There is a kind of geometry which Herr Jung of Hamburg, one of the most admirable men of his time, called 'empiric'. It makes use of conclusive experiments and proves various propositions of Euclid, but especially those which concern the equality of two figures, by cutting the one in pieces, and putting the pieces together again to make the other. In this manner, by cutting carefully in parts the squares on the two sides of the right-angled triangle, and arranging these parts carefully, one makes from them the square on the hypotenuse; that is demonstrating empirically the 47th proposition of the first book of Euclid. Now supposing that some of these pieces taken from the two smaller squares are lost, something[262] will be lacking in the large square that is to be formed from them; and this defective combination, far from pleasing, will be disagreeably ugly. If then the pieces that remained, composing the faulty combination, were taken separately without any regard to the large square to whose formation they ought to contribute, one would group them together quite differently to make a tolerably good combination. But as soon as the lost pieces are retrieved and the gap in the faulty combination is filled, there will ensue a beautiful and regular thing, the complete large square: this perfect combination will be far more beautiful than the tolerably good combination which had been made from the pieces one had not mislaid alone. The perfect combination corresponds to the universe in its entirety, and the faulty combination that is a part of the perfect one corresponds to some part of the universe, where we find defects which the Author of things has allowed, because otherwise, if he had wished to re-shape this faulty part and make thereof a tolerably good combination, the whole would not then have been so beautiful. For the parts of the faulty combination, grouped better to make a tolerably good combination, could not have been used properly to form the whole and perfect combination. Thomas Aquinas had an inkling of these things when he said: ad prudentem gubernatorem pertinet, negligere aliquem defectum bonitatis in parte, ut faciat augmentum bonitatis in toto (Thom., Contra Gentiles, lib. 2, c. 71). Thomas Gatacre, in his Notes on the book of Marcus Aurelius (lib. 5, cap. 8, with M. Bayle), cites also passages from authors who say that the evil of the parts is often the good of the whole.

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