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Proposition VII. That the self-existent being can be but one.

VII. Proposition VII. That the self-existent being can be but one. The self-existent being must of necessity be but one. This evidently follows from his being necessarily-existent: for necessity absolute, in itself, is simple and uniform and universal, without any possible difference, difformity, or variety whatsoever: and all variety or difference of existence must needs arise from some external cause, and be dependent upon it, and proportionable to the efficiency of that cause, whatsoever it be. Absolute necessity, in which there can be no variation in any kind or degree, cannot be the ground of existence of a number of beings, however similar and agreeing: because, without any other difference, even number is itself a manifest difformity or inequality (if I may so speak) of efficiency or causality.

Again: To suppose two (or more) distinct beings existing of themselves, necessarily, and independent from each other, implies this plain contradiction; that each of them being independent from the other, they may either of them be supposed to exist alone, so that it will be no contradiction to imagine the other not to exist; and consequently neither of them4343   See this farther explained, in the Answer to the First Letter at the end of this book. will be necessarily-existing. Whatsoever therefore exists necessarily, is the one simple essence of the self-existent being; and whatsoever differs from that, is not necessarily-existing; because in absolute necessity there can be no difference or diversity of existence. Other beings there may be innumerable, besides the one infinite self-existent: but no other being can be self-existent, because so it would be individually the same, at the same time that it is supposed to be different.


From hence it follows,

1st. Of the Trinity. That the unity of God is a true and real, not figurative unity. With which prime foundation of natural religion, how the scripture-doctrine of the Trinity perfectly agrees I have elsewhere endeavoured to show particularly, in its proper place.

2dly. The impossibility of two independent principles. From hence it follows, that it is impossible there should be two different self-existent independent principles, as some philosophers have imagined; such as God and matter. For, since self-existence is necessary-existence, and since it is an express contradiction, (as has already been shown,) that two different beings should each be necessarily-existing; it evidently follows, that it is absolutely impossible there should be two independent self-existent principles, such as God and matter.

3dly. The error of Spinoza. From hence we may observe the vanity, folly, and weakness of Spinoza; who, because the self-existent being must necessarily be but one, concludes from thence,4444    Una substantia non potest produci ab alia. Ethic. par. 1. prop. 6. Ad naturam substantiæ pertinet existere. Prop. 7.
   Præter Deum nulla dari, neque concipi potest substantia. Prop. 14.
that the whole world, and every thing contained therein, is one uniform substance, eternal, uncreated, and necessary: whereas, just on the contrary, he ought to have concluded, that, because all things in the world are very different one from another, and have all manner of variety, and all the marks of will and arbitrariness and changeableness, (and none of necessity) in them, being plainly fitted with very different powers to very different ends, and distinguished one from another by a diversity, not only of modes, but also of essential attributes, and consequently (so far as it is possible for us, by the use of our present faculties, to attain any knowledge at all of them) of their substances themselves also; therefore none of these things are necessary or self-existent, but must needs depend all upon some external cause, that is, on the one supreme, unchangeable, self-existent being. That 45which led Spinoza into his foolish and destructive opinion, and on which alone all his argumentation is entirely built, is that absurd definition of substance,4545   Per substantiam intelligo id quod in se est et per se concipitur; hoc est, id cujus conceptus non indiget conceptu alterius rei a quo formari debeat.Definitio 3. which, presently after, he thus explains:—Ad naturam substantiæ pertinet existere; hoc est, ipsius essentia involvit necessario existentiam. Ethic. Par. 1. prop. 7. that it is something, the idea of which does not depend on, or presuppose the idea of any other thing, from which it might proceed; but includes in itself necessary-existence. Which definition is either false, and signifies nothing; and then his whole doctrine built upon it falls at once to the ground: Or, if it be true, then neither matter nor spirit, nor any finite being whatsoever, (as has been before shown,) is in that sense properly a substance, but (the ὁ ὢν) the self-existent being alone: and so it will prove nothing (notwithstanding all his show and form of demonstration,) to his main purpose, which was to make us believe that there is no such thing as power or liberty in the universe, but that every particular thing4646   Res nullo alio modo, neque alio ordine, a Deo produci potuerunt quam productæ sunt.Prop. 33. in the world is by an absolute necessity just what it is, and could not possibly have been in any respect otherwise. Supposing, I say, his definition of substance to be true, yet even that would really conclude nothing to his main purpose concerning the necessity of all things. For since, according to that definition, neither matter nor spirit, nor any finite beings whatsoever, are substances, but only modes; how will it follow, that, because substance is self-existent, therefore all these modes are so too? Why, because,4747   Ex necessitate divinæ naturæ, infinita infinitis modis (hoc est, omnia quæ sub intellectum infinitum cadere possunt,) seque debent.Prop. 16. from an infinite cause infinite effects must needs follow. Very true, supposing that infinite self-existent cause not to be a voluntary, 46but a mere necessary agent, that is, no agent at all: and supposing also, that in mere necessity there could and must be all or any variety. Both which suppositions (in the present argument) are the question begged: and what he afterwards attempts to allege in proof of them, shall afterwards be considered in its proper place.

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