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P ART I. IT might reasonably be expected, in questions, which have I been canvassed and disputed with great eagerness since the first origin of science and philosophy, that the meaning of all the terms, at least, should have been agreed upon among the disputants; and our enquiries, in the course of two thousand years, been able to pass from words to the true and real subject of the controversy. For how easy may it seem to give exact definitions of the terms employed in reasoning, and make these definitions, not the mere found of words, the object of future scrutiny and examination ? But if we consider the matter more narrowly, we shall be apt to draw a quite opposite conclusion. From that circumstance alone, that a controversy has been long kept on foot, and remains still undecided, we may presume, that there is some ambiguity in the expression, and that the disputants affix different ideas to the terms employed in the controversy. For as the faculties of the soul are supposed to be naturally alike in every individual ; otherwise nothing could be more fruitless than to reason or dispute together; it were impossible, if men affix the same ideas to their terms, that they could so long form different opinions of the fame subject; especially when they communicate their

views, views, and each party turn themselves on all sides, in search of arguments, which may give them the victory over their antagonists. 'Tis true, if men attempt the discussion of quertions, which lie entirely beyond the reach of human capacity, such as those concerning the origin of worlds, or the ceconomy of the intellectual system or region of spirits, they may long beat the air in their fruitless contests, and never arrive at any determinate conclusion. But if the question regard any subject of common life and experience; nothing, one would think, could keep the dispute so long undecided, but some ambiguous expressions, which hold the antagonists still at a diftance, and hinder them from grappling with each other.

This has been the case in the long disputed question concerning liberty and necessity; and to so remarkable a degree, that, if I be not much mistaken, we shall find, that all mankind, both learned and ignorant, have been always of the fame opinion with regard to that subject, and that a few intelligible definitions would immediately have put an end to the whole controversy. I own, that this dispute has been fo much canvassed, on all hands, and has led Philosophers into such a labyrinth of obscure sophistry, that 'tis no wonder if a sensible reader indulge his ease so far as to turn a deaf ear to the proposal of such a question, from which he can expect neither instruction nor entertainment. But the state of the argument here proposed may, perhaps, serve to renew his attention; as it has more novelty, promises at least some decision of the controversy, and will not much disturb his ease, by any intricate or obscure reasoning

. I hope, therefore, to make it appear, that all men have ever agreed in the doctrines both of necessity and of liberty,

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according to any reasonable sense, which can be put on thefe terms; and that the whole controversy has hitherto turned merely upon words. We fhall begin with examining the doc trine of necessity.

'Tis universally allowed, that matter, in all its operations, is actuated by a necessary force, and that every natural effect is so precisely determined by the energy of its cause, that no s other effect, in such particular circumstances, could possibly have resulted from the operation of that cause. The degree and direction of every motion is, by the laws of nature, prefcribed with such exactness, that a living creature may as soon arise from the shock of two bodies, as motion in any other dem gree or direction, than what is actually produced by it. Would we, therefore, form a just and precise idea of necessity, we must consider, whence that idea arises, when we apply it to the operation of bodies.

It seems evident, that, if all the fcenes of nature were shifted continually in such a manner, that no two events bore any resemblance to each other, but every object was entirely new, with out any similitude to whatever had been seen before, we should never, in that case, have attained the least idea of necessity, or of a connection among these objects. We might say, upon such a supposition, that one object or event has followed an other ; not that one was produced by the other. The relation of cause and effect must be utterly unknown to mankind, Inference and reasoning concerning the operations of nature would, from that moment, be at an end; and the memory and fenfes remain the only canals, by which the knowlege of any real existence could possibly have access to the mind. Our idea, therefore, of neceffity and causation arises entir.'y VOL. II.

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from that tiniformity, observable in the operations of nature; where fimilar objects are constantly conjoined together, and the mind is determined by custom to infer the one from the appearance of the other. These two circumftancés form the whole of that necessity, which we afcribe to matter. Beyond the constant conjunction of similar obje&s, and the consequent : inference from one to the other, we have no notion of any ne-ceflity, or connection.

If it appear, therefore, that all mankind have ever allowed, . without any doubt or hesitation, that these two circumstances : take place in the voluntary actions of men, and in the opera-tions of the mind; it must follow, that all mankind have ever : agreed in the do&rine of necessity, and that they have hitherto disputed, merely for not understanding each other.

As to the first circumstance, the constant and regular con- . junction of fimilar events ; we may possibly satisfy ourselves by the following considerations. It is universally acknowleged, that there is a great uniformity among the actions of men, in all nations and ages, and that human nature remains still the fame, in its principles and operations. The same motives pro- . duce always the same actions : The fame events follow from: the same causes. Ambition, avarice, felf-love, vanity, friend-fhip, generosity, public-fpirit; these passions, mixed in various degrees, and distributed through society, have been, from the beginning of the world, and still are, the fource of all the actions and enterprizes, which have ever been observed among mankind. Would you know the sentiments, inclinations, and courfe of life of the Greeks and ROMANS? Study well the temper and actions of the FRENCH and ENGLISH. You cannot be much mistaken in transferring to the former

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most of the observations, which you have made with regard to the latter. Mankind are so much the fame, in all times and places, that history informs us of nothing new or ftrange in this particular. Its chief use is only to discover the constant and universal principles of human nature, by shewing men in all varieties of circumstances and situations, and furnishing us with materials, from which we may form our observations, and become acquainted with the regular 'springs of human action and behaviour. These records of wars, intrigues, factions, and revolutions, are so many collections of experiments, by which the politician or moral philofopher fixes the principles of his fcience; in the same manner as the physician or natural philofopher becomes acquainted with the nature of plants, minerals, and other external objects, by the experiments, which he forms concerning them. Nor are the earth, water, and other elements, examined by ARISTOTLE, and HIPPO CRATEs, more like to those, which at present lie under our observation, than the men, described by POLYBIUS and Tax CITUS, are to those who now govern the world.

Should a traveller, returning from a far country, bring us at account of men, entirely different from any, with whom we ever were acquainted; men, who were entirely divested of avarice, ambition, or revenge; who knew no pleasure but friendship, generosity, and public spirit; we should immediately, from these circumstances, detect the fallhood, and prove him a liar, with the same certainty as if he had stuffed his narration with stories of centaurs and dragons, miracles and prodigies. And if we would explode any forgery in history, we cannot make use of a more convincing argument, than to prove, that the actions, ascribed to any person, are directly

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