First Paper.


Mr. Leibnitz's First Paper.
An Extract of a Letter Written in November, 1715.

1. NAtural Religion it self, seems to decay [in England] very much. Many will have Human Souls to be material: Others make God himself a corporeal Being.

2. Mr. Locke, and his Followers, are uncertain at least, whether the Soul be not Material, and naturally perishable.

3. Sir Isaac Newton says, that Space is an Organ, which God makes use of to perceive Things by. But if God stands in need of any Organ to perceive Things by, it will follow, that they do not depend altogether upon him, nor were produced by him.

4. Sir Isaac Newton, and his Followers, have also a very odd Opinion concerning <5> the Work of God. According to their Doctrine, God Almighty [1] wants to wind up his Watch from Time to Time: Otherwise it would cease to move. He had not, it seems, sufficient Foresight to make it a perpetual Motion. Nay, the Machine of God's making, is so imperfect, according to these Gentlemen; that he is obliged to clean it now and then by an extraordinary Concourse, and even to mend it, as a Clockmaker mends his Work; Who must consequently be so much the more unskilful a Workman, as he is oftner obliged to mend his Work and to set it Right. According <7> to My Opinion, the [2] same Force [3] and Vigour remains always in the World, and only passes from one part of Matter to another, agreeably to the Laws of Nature, and the beautiful pre-established Order. And I hold, that when God works Miracles, he does not do it in order to supply the Wants of Nature, but those of Grace. Whoever thinks otherwise, must needs have a very mean Notion of the Wisdom and Power of God.

[1] The Place Mr. Leibnitz here seems to allude to is as follows. Dum Cometæ moventur in Orbibus valdè eccentricis, undique & quoquoversum in omnes Cœli Partes; utiq, nullo modo fieri potuit, ut cæco fato tribuendum sit, quod Planetæ in Orbibus concentricis motu consimili ferantur eodem omnes; exceptis nimirum irregularitatibus quibusdam vix notatu dignis, quæ ex mutuis Cometarum & Planetarum in se invicem actionibus oriri potuerint, quæque verisimile est fore ut longinquitate temporis majores usque evadant, donec hæc Naturæ Compages manum emendatricem tandem sit desideratura. i. e. Whilst the Comets move in Orbs very eccentrical with all variety of Directions towards every Part of the Heavens; 'tis not possible it should have been caused by Blind Fate, that the Planets All move with one similar Direction in concentrick Orbs; excepting only some very small irregularities which may have arisen from the mutual Actions of the Planets and Comets one upon another; and which 'tis probable will in length of time increase more and more, till the present System of Nature shall want to be anew put in Order by its Author. Newtoni Optice, Quæst. ult. pag. 346.

[2] See the Note on Dr. Clarke's Fifth Reply, § 93,—95.

[3] See Appendix, No 2. Also Mr. Leibnitz's Fifth Paper, § 87, and 91.

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