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"nysius (in his seventh chapter of the divine names) ob"serves, that we cannot know God according to his proper 66 nature.
"But though that be so as I have here said, yet not"withstanding, after we have once demonstrated a poste"riori something concerning God, we may go on to de"monstrate a priori one attribute from another: as for "instance, when we infer unchangeableness of place from "the omnipresence before proved. I suppose all the while, "that a notional distinction of the Divine attributes (after "an human way of conception) is foundation sufficient "for reasoning a priori.
"Now, for the resolution of the question, I proceed "thus having demonstrated a posteriori, that God is a necessary and self-existent Being, we may be able to prove a priori from this attribute, [of necessary exist"ence,] that there cannot be another necessary and self"existent being besides that one; from whence it fol"lows, that that Being is God.
"You will object, that this is proving the existence of "God from the essence of God before known, (for it is "supposed that the essence of God is, that he is a neces"sary and self-existent Being,) which is plainly repug"nant; since the question what he is presupposes the "other question whether he exists; as St. Thomas [Aqui"nas] has justly observed on this head. Part i. qu. 2.
"I answer, that strictly and properly speaking, we in"fer not the existence of God from his essence, consider"ed as such, (which the objection justly excepts to,) but "from one certain attribute (which though really identi"fied with the essence, is yet conceived abstractedly by "us as a mode of the Being uncaused) we deduce another "attribute; and so we at length prove that that Being is "God. Wherefore in order to prove in this way that "there is a God, precisely considered as God, we suppose "it proved beforehand, that there is a certain Being ne"cessary in himself; proved namely from his effects, and
"from the absurdity of an infinite progression. So the "first thing we prove of this Being is, that he exists; the "next, that he is necessarily existing; then, that he is the "only one existing in such a way; and so of consequence "he is God. And thus, after some sort, we do first de"termine whether he exists, and next the other question, "what he is."
Thus far the acute and learned Suarez; of whom I have many things to observe, before I go on to other writers; 1. That he appears to have been ambitious to make out something that should be called an argument a priori, and was probably able to do as much in it as any one before or after him can justly be presumed to be. 2. That the method which he took for it, proving first something a posteriori, and then proceeding to argue a priori for the rest, is very like to that which others have taken since. 3. That he differs however from those later advocates for the argument a priori in the main thing of all, and determines expressly against their notion, that necessity can be conceived antecedent to existence. He looked upon that as flat absurdity and self-contradiction, utterly repugnant to the nature of a first Cause; and so he made no use of antecedent necessity, or internal cause, or formal reason, ground, or foundation, in proving his point: he was too knowing a logician and metaphysician, to offer any thing of that kind. 4. All that he admits is, that after the existence and one or more attributes have been proved a posteriori, we may then proceed to argue a priori for the rest: not from antecedent necessity, not from any thing conceived as prior, in order of nature, to the existence itself; but from the existence and one attribule or more considered as before proved, and as prior in conception to all the rest. 5. One thing Suarez was very singular in, and upon that the whole stress of his cause lies, so far as concerns the making out an argument a priori for the existence of God: he would have it supposed that God is not proved to be God, till the unity is prov
ed; and so he suspends, as it were, the proof of a Deity upon the proof of the unity. This was an ingenious thought, but too weak to bear. For in that way there could be no room for the question whether God be one, since the very name would imply it: besides, it is universally allowed, that the proof of the existence of a Deity is both clearer and stronger than any proof of the unity, and is sufficiently determined and settled in the first place, before the consideration of the unity comes in at all. When we have proved, for instance, that there is an intelligent, eternal, self-existent Being, (one or more,) which is most easily proved from our own existence; we have then competently proved that there is a God, though we have not yet proved or considered every attribute that belongs to him. Such has been the way of divines and metaphysicians, first to prove the existence of a Deity, under that confuse general conception; and next to proceed to the proof of the unity and other attributes in due place and order and it is not reasonable to suggest, that if a man should fail in the proof of the unity, or of some other Divine attribute, (for the reason is the same in all,) that he has therefore failed in his proof of a Deity. That would be going against rule, and risking the whole for a part; and, in short, resting the proof of a Deity (the plainest thing in the world) upon very obscure conditions, very unequal terms. But we shall have more of this matter in the sequel, as we take in other later writers, who have directly or indirectly passed their censures upon Suarez for his excesses on this head. 6. Upon the whole, one may observe, that this pretended proof of a Deity, as drawn a priori, is rather a fetch, or a subtilty of that great man, than any thing solid; a nominal proof, rather than a real one; or an affected manner of miscalling things by wrong names.
A. D. 1610. CHRISTOPH, GILLIUS.
Contemporary with Suarez lived Christopher Gillius, a
Spanish Divine and Jesuit, one of a subtle wit and penetrating genius. He has a pretty large chapters, spent entirely upon our present question. He takes notice, that there were not wanting some of that time who contended that the existence of a Deity might be proved a priorih. He had Suarez in his eye, as is plain enough, (though he does not name him,) because, a little after, he quotes the very words which Suarez had made use of in that argument. He mentions also Scotus, and some of his followers, as aiming at the like conclusion in a more far-fetched and roundabout wayi; allowing, that if God should extraordinarily or supernaturally infuse some higher degrees of knowledge, then some kind of proof a priori (however fruitless, and superseded by such illumination) might be made from it. See how solicitous and industrious some have been in searching for every appearance of a proof a priori, as much as others have been in searching for the philosopher's stone, or for the squaring of the circle, or the like, and with the like success.
Our judicious author first observes, that all pretences of any formal demonstration of that kind had been utterly exploded by the judicious; particularly by Albertus
8 Gillii Commentationes Theologica de Essentia et Unitate Dei, lib. i. tract. 8. c. 4. p. 391-396.
h Non desunt recentiores, qui affirmant esse demonstrabilem a priore, etiam respectu viatorum, si non per se primo, saltem posita cognitione Dei acquisita per discursum : quoniam, inquiunt, postquam ex creaturis convincitur Deum esse ens necessarium, et a se, et unum, necessario concluditur a priore hunc esse Deum, &c. Ibid. p. 391.
i Alio modo eandem conclusionem tuetur Scotus in I. dist. 2. qu. 2. Cum Scotistis interpretibus ibidem: Ochamus in I. dist. 3. qu. 4. lit. F. Gabriel. qu. 4. conclus. 3. Rubionius, dist. 2. qu. 1. art. 2. concl. 4. Nam quamvis existiment de lege ordinaria non haberi a nobis demonstrationem propter quid, hujus propositionis Deus est; censent tamen fieri posse ut demonstretur, si Deus infunderet alicui notitiam evidentem eorundem terminorum, vel saltem termini Dei, &c. p. 391.
* Propositio, Deus est, sub neutra acceptatione ex prædictis, est viatoribus de lege formaliter demonstrabilis a priore. Hæc est Alberti in Summa, tract. iii. qu. 17. Henrici in Summa, art. xxii. qu. 4. Richardi, in 1. dist. 3. art. 1. qu. 1. Scoti, in I. dist. 2. qu. 2. et quodlibeto 7. Lyrani in Sapient. xiii. Gaspa Casalii, lib. i. de Quadripart. justit. cap. xvi. conclus. 2. Et est
Magnus, and Henricus de Gandavo, and Richardus de Media Villa, and Scotus, and Lyra, and Gasp. Casalius, and many others referred to elsewhere: so that it might be justly looked upon as a ruled point, that no proper demonstration a priori could be made of the Divine existence; all such attempts at length resolving either into some petitio principii, or some equivocation of terms, or other the like fallacy, or foreign subtilty.
He proceeds to examine the question with the utmost strictness and nicety, traversing it through all its mazes, and unravelling every ambiguity and subtile intricacy, whereby some had endeavoured to support what they would call a demonstration a priori in that case; and showing that none of them sufficiently answered the purpose, or came up to the point m. From whence we may remark, that Suarez's attempts that way were not approved by the most judicious Divines of his own time, but were condemned by the generality, and even by those of his own order, (for Gillius was a Jesuit,) and that soon after: for as his Metaphysics had first appeared in 1600, so this censure of Gillius was finished and licensed in 1606, though not published before 1610.
de mente doctorum quos referam cap. seq. num. 7. Qui omnes non agnóscunt demonstrationem Dei nisi ex creaturis.—Notitia vero sumpta ex creaturis non potest esse a priore, ut patet. Gillius, ibid. p. 392. conf. p. 394. 1 Gillius, c. v. p. 400.
m Ex his constat firmum non esse fundamentum sententiæ asserentis demonstrari Deum esse a priore per rationem necessitatis, quoniam non est radix attributorum habentium ordinem ad creaturas: et quamvis esset, cum ipsa non cognoscatur a nobis a priore, vel ex terminis evidenter conjuncta cum Deo sub ratione illa attributalis fieri nequit ut eadem demonstratio sit formalis a priore.-Primum initium illius demonstrationis sumitur ex cognitione creaturarum,—resolvitur in principia cognita ex posteriore, et ideo demonstratio non constat formaliter ex primis.-Quodnam peto est ens, de quo primum probatur esse ? Ipsene est Deus, an vero ens necessarium? Si Deus, totus discursus sequens erit superfluus, quoniam procedit ad probandum id quod supponitur probatum: si ens necessarium, aut sumitur secundum absolutam et omnimodam necessitatem, et tunc hoc ipso supponitur esse necessarium ab intrinseco; aut, &c.—Ita patet ex illo principio, ens necessarium est, nullo modo demonstrari posse a priore hanc propos. Deus est. Gillius, p. 396.