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An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. (1748)

Sect. XI. Of a particular Providence and of a future State

David Hume.

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An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.

David Hume.

Sect. XI. Of a particular Providence and of a future State


  102. I was lately engaged in conversation with a friend who loves
sceptical paradoxes; where, though he advanced many principles, of
which I can by no means approve, yet as they seem to be curious, and
to bear some relation to the chain of reasoning carried on
throughout this enquiry, I shall here copy them from my memory as
accurately as I can, in order to submit them to the judgement of the

  Our conversation began with my admiring the singular good fortune of
philosophy, which, as it requires entire liberty above all other
privileges, and chiefly flourishes from the free opposition of
sentiments and argumentation, received its first birth in an age and
country of freedom and toleration, and was never cramped, even in
its most extravagant principles, by any creeds, concessions, or
penal statutes. For, except the banishment of Protagoras, and the
death of Socrates, which last event proceeded partly from other
motives, there are scarcely any instances to be met with, in ancient
history, of this bigotted jealousy, with which the present age is so
much infested. Epicurus lived at Athens to an advanced age, in peace
and tranquillity: Epicureans* were even admitted to receive the
sacerdotal character, and to officiate at the altar, in the most
sacred rites of the established religion: And the public
encouragement*(2) of pensions and salaries was afforded equally, by
the wisest of all the Roman emperors,*(3) to the professors of every
sect of philosophy. How requisite such kind of treatment was to
philosophy, in her early youth, will easily be conceived, if we
reflect, that, even at present, when she may be supposed more hardy
and robust, she bears with much difficulty the inclemency of the
seasons, and those harsh winds of calumny and persecution, which
blow upon her.

  * Lucian, sump. e Lapithai [The Banquet, or the Lapiths].

  *(2) Lucian, eunouchos [The Eunuch].

  *(3) Lucian and Dio.

  You admire, says my friend, as the singular good fortune of
philosophy, what seems to result from the natural course of things,
and to be unavoidable in every age and nation. This pertinacious
bigotry, of which you complain, as so fatal to philosophy, is really
her offspring, who, after allying with superstition, separates himself
entirely from the interest of his parent, and becomes her most
inveterate enemy and persecutor. Speculative dogmas of religion, the
present occasions of such furious dispute, could not possibly be
conceived or admitted in the early ages of the world; when mankind,
being wholly illiterate, formed an idea of religion more suitable to
their weak apprehension, and composed their sacred tenets of such
tales chiefly as were the objects of traditional belief, more than
of argument or disputation. After the first alarm, therefore, was
over, which arose from the new paradoxes and principles of the
philosophers; these teachers seem ever after, during the ages of
antiquity, to have lived in great harmony with the established
superstition, and to have made a fair partition of mankind between
them; the former claiming all the learned and wise, the latter
possessing all the vulgar and illiterate.

  103. It seems then, say I, that you leave politics entirely out of
the question, and never suppose, that a wise magistrate can justly
be jealous of certain tenets of philosophy, such as those of Epicurus,
which, denying a divine existence, and consequently a providence and a
future state, seem to loosen, in a great measure, the ties of
morality, and may be supposed, for that reason, pernicious to the
peace of civil society.

  I know, replied he, that in fact these persecutions never, in any
age, proceeded from calm reason, or from experience of the
pernicious consequences of philosophy; but arose entirely from passion
and prejudice. But what if I should advance farther, and assert,
that if Epicurus had been accused before the people, by any of the
sycophants or informers of those days, he could easily have defended
his cause, and proved his principles of philosophy to be as salutary
as those of his adversaries, who endeavoured, with such zeal, to
expose him to the public hatred and jealousy?

  I wish, said I, you would try your eloquence upon so extraordinary a
topic, and make a speech for Epicurus, which might satisfy, not the
mob of Athens, if you will allow that ancient and polite city to
have contained any mob, but the more philosophical part of his
audience, such as might be supposed capable of comprehending his

  The matter would not be difficult, upon such conditions, replied he:
And if you please, I shall suppose myself Epicurus for a moment, and
make you stand for the Athenian people, and shall deliver you such
an harangue as will fill all the urn with white beans, and leave not a
black one to gratify the malice of my adversaries.

  Very well: Pray proceed upon these suppositions.

  104. I come hither, O ye Athenians, to justify in your assembly what
I maintained in my school, and I find myself impeached by furious
antagonists, instead of reasoning with calm and dispassionate
enquirers. Your deliberations, which of right should be directed to
questions of public good, and the interest of the commonwealth, are
diverted to the disquisitions of speculative philosophy; and these
magnificent, but perhaps fruitless enquiries, take place of your
more familiar but more useful occupations. But so far as in me lies, I
will prevent this abuse. We shall not here dispute concerning the
origin and government of worlds. We shall only enquire how far such
questions concern the public interest. And if I can persuade you, that
they are entirely indifferent to the peace of society and security
of government, I hope that you will presently send us back to our
schools, there to examine, at leisure, the question the most
sublime, but at the same time, the most speculative of all philosophy.

  The religious philosophers, not satisfied with the tradition of your
forefathers, and doctrine of your priests (in which I willingly
acquiesce), indulge a rash curiosity, in trying how far they can
establish religion upon the principles of reason; and they thereby
excite, instead of satisfying, the doubts, which naturally arise
from a diligent and scrutinous enquiry. They paint, in the most
magnificent colours, the order, beauty, and wise arrangement of the
universe; and then ask, if such a glorious display of intelligence
could proceed from the fortuitous concourse of atoms, or if chance
could produce what the greatest genius can never sufficiently
admire. I shall not examine the justness of this argument. I shall
allow it to be as solid as my antagonists and accusers can desire.
It is sufficient, if I can prove, from this very reasoning, that the
question is entirely speculative, and that, when, in my
philosophical disquisitions, I deny a providence and a future state, I
undermine not the foundations of society, but advance principles,
which they themselves, upon their own topics, if they argue
consistently, must allow to be solid and satisfactory.

  105. You then, who are my accusers, have acknowledged, that the
chief or sole argument for a divine existence (which I never
questioned) is derived from the order of nature; where there appear
such marks of intelligence and design, that you think it extravagant
to assign for its cause, either chance, or the blind and unguided
force of matter. You allow, that this is an argument drawn from
effects to causes. From the order of the work, you infer, that there
must have been project and forethought in the workman. If you cannot
make out this point, you allow, that your conclusion fails; and you
pretend not to establish the conclusion in a greater latitude than the
phenomena of nature will justify. These are your concessions. I desire
you to mark the consequences.

  When we infer any particular cause from an effect, we must
proportion the one to the other, and can never be allowed to ascribe
to the cause any qualities, but what are exactly sufficient to produce
the effect. A body of ten ounces raised in any scale may serve as a
proof, that the counterbalancing weight exceeds ten ounces; but can
never afford a reason that it exceeds a hundred, If the cause,
assigned for any effect, be not sufficient to produce it, we must
either reject that cause, or add to it such qualities as will give
it a just proportion to the effect. But if we ascribe to it farther
qualities, or affirm it capable of producing other effects, we can
only indulge the licence of conjecture, and arbitrarily suppose the
existence of qualities and energies, without reason or authority.

  The same rule holds, whether the cause assigned be brute unconscious
matter, or a rational intelligent being. If the cause be known only by
the effect, we never ought to ascribe to it any qualities, beyond what
are precisely requisite to produce the effect: Nor can we, by any
rules of just reasoning, return back from the cause, and infer other
effects from it, beyond those by which alone it is known to us. No
one, merely from the sight of one of Zeuxis's pictures, could know,
that he was also a statuary or architect, and was an artist no less
skilful in stone and marble than in colours. The talents and taste,
displayed in the particular work before us; these we may safely
conclude the workman to be possessed of. The cause must be
proportioned to the effect; and if we exactly and precisely proportion
it, we shall never find in it any qualities, that point farther, or
afford an inference concerning any other design or performance. Such
qualities must be somewhat beyond what is merely requisite for
producing the effect, which we examine.

  106. Allowing, therefore, the gods to be the authors of the
existence or order of the universe; it follows, that they possess that
precise degree of power, intelligence, and benevolence, which
appears in their workmanship; but nothing farther can ever be
proved, except we call in the assistance of exaggeration and
flattery to supply the defects of argument and reasoning. So far as
the traces of any attributes, at present, appear, so far may we
conclude these attributes to exist. The supposition of farther
attributes is mere hypothesis; much more the supposition, that, in
distant regions of space or periods of time, there has been, or will
be, a more magnificent display of these attributes, and a scheme of
administration more suitable to such imaginary virtues. We can never
be allowed to mount up from the universe, the effect, to Jupiter,
the cause; and then descend downwards, to infer any new effect from
that cause; as if the present effects alone were not entirely worthy
of the glorious attributes, which we ascribe to that deity. The
knowledge of the cause being derived solely from the effect, they must
be exactly adjusted to each other; and the one can never refer to
anything further, or be the foundation of any new inference and

  You find certain phenomena in nature. You seek a cause or author.
You imagine that you have found him. You afterwards become so
enamoured of this offspring of your brain, that you imagine it
impossible, but he must produce something greater and more perfect
than the present scene of things, which is so full of ill and
disorder. You forget, that this superlative intelligence and
benevolence are entirely imaginary, or at least, without any
foundation in reason; and that you have no ground to ascribe to him
any qualities, but what you see he has actually exerted and
displayed in his productions. Let your gods, therefore, O
philosophers, be suited to the present appearances of nature: and
presume not to alter these appearances by arbitrary suppositions, in
order to suit them to the attributes, which you so fondly ascribe to
your deities.

  107. When priests and poets, supported by your authority, O
Athenians, talk of a golden or silver age, which preceded the
present state of vice and miscry, I hear them with attention and
with reverence. But when philosophers, who pretend to neglect
authority, and to cultivate reason, hold the same discourse, I pay
them not, I own, the same obsequious submission and pious deference. I
ask; who carried them into the celestial regions, who admitted them
into the councils of the gods, who opened to them the book of fate,
that they thus rashly affirm, that their deities have executed, or
will execute, any purpose beyond what has actually appeared? If they
tell me, that they have mounted on the steps or by the gradual
ascent of reason, and by drawing inferences from effects to causes,
I still insist, that they have aided the ascent of reason by the wings
of imagination; otherwise they could not thus change their manner of
inference, and argue from causes to effects; presuming, that a more
perfect production than the present world would be more suitable to
such perfect beings as the gods, and forgetting that they have no
reason to ascribe to these celestial beings any perfection or any
attribute, but what can be found in the present world.

  Hence all the fruitless industry to account for the ill
appearances of nature, and save the honour of the gods; while we
must acknowledge the reality of that evil and disorder, with which the
world so much abounds. The obstinate and intractable qualities of
matter, we are told, or the observance of general laws, or some such
reason, is the sole cause, which controlled the power and
benevolence of Jupiter, and obliged him to create mankind and every
sensible creature so imperfect and so unhappy. These attributes
then, are, it seems, beforehand, taken for granted, in their
greatest latitude. And upon that supposition, I own that such
conjectures may, perhaps, be admitted as plausible solutions of the
ill phenomena. But still I ask; Why take these attributes for granted,
or why ascribe to the cause any qualities but what actually appear
in the effect? Why torture your brain to justify the course of
nature upon suppositions, which, for aught you know, may be entirely
imaginary, and of which there are to be found no traces in the
course of nature?

  The religious hypothesis, therefore, must be considered only as a
particular method of accounting for the visible phenomena of the
universe: but no just reasoner will ever presume to infer from it
any single fact, and alter or add to the phenomena, in any single
particular. If you think, that the appearances of things prove such
causes, it is allowable for you to draw an inference concerning the
existence of these causes. In such complicated and sublime subjects,
every one should be indulged in the liberty of conjecture and
argument. But here you ought to rest. If you come backward, and
arguing from your inferred causes, conclude, that any other fact has
existed, or will exist, in the course of nature, which may serve as
a fuller display of particular attributes; I must admonish you, that
you have departed from the method of reasoning, attached to the
present subject, and have certainly added something to the
attributes of the cause, beyond what appears in the effect;
otherwise you could never, with tolerable sense or propriety, add
anything to the effect, in order to render it more worthy of the

  108. Where, then, is the odiousness of that doctrine, which I
teach in my school, or rather, which I examine in my gardens? Or
what do you find in this whole question, wherein the security of
good morals, or the peace and order of society, is in the least

  I deny a providence, you say, and supreme governor of the world, who
guides the course of events, and punishes the vicious with infamy
and disappointment, and rewards the virtuous with honour and
success, in all their undertakings. But surely, I deny not the
course itself of events, which lies open to every one's inquiry and
examination. I acknowledge, that, in the present order of things,
virtue is attended with more peace of mind than vice, and meets with a
more favourable reception from the world. I am sensible, that,
according to the past experience of mankind, friendship is the chief
joy of human life, and moderation the only source of tranquillity
and happiness. I never balance between the virtuous and the vicious
course of life; but am sensible, that, to a well-disposed mind,
every advantage is on the side of the former. And what can you say
more, allowing all your suppositions and reasonings? You tell me,
indeed, that this disposition of things proceeds from intelligence and
design. But whatever it proceeds from, the disposition itself, on
which depends our happiness or misery, and consequently our conduct
and deportment in life is still the same. It is still open for me,
as well as you, to regulate my behaviour, by my experience of past
events. And if you affirm, that, while a divine providence is allowed,
and a supreme distributive justice in the universe, I ought to
expect some more particular reward of the good, and punishment of
the bad, beyond the ordinary course of events; I here find the same
fallacy, which I have before endeavoured to detect. You persist in
imagining, that, if we grant that divine existence, for which you so
earnestly contend, you may safely infer consequences from it, and
add something to the experienced order of nature, by arguing from
the attributes which you ascribe to your gods. You seem not to
remember, that all your reasonings on this subject can only be drawn
from effects to causes; and that every argument, deducted from
causes to effects, must of necessity be a gross sophism; since it is
impossible for you to know anything of the cause, but what you have
antecedently, not inferred, but discovered to the full, in the effect.

  109. But what must a philosopher think of those vain reasoners, who,
instead of regarding the present scene of things as the sole object of
their contemplation, so far reverse the whole course of nature, as
to render this life merely a passage to something farther; a porch,
which leads to a greater, and vastly different building; a prologue,
which serves only to introduce the piece, and give it more grace and
propriety? Whence, do you think, can such philosophers derive their
idea of the gods? From their own conceit and imagination surely. For
if they derived it from the present phenomena, it would never point to
anything farther, but must be exactly adjusted to them. That the
divinity may possibly be endowed with attributes, which we have
never seen exerted; may be governed by principles of action, which
we cannot discover to be satisfied: all this will freely be allowed.
But still this is mere possibility and hypothesis. We never can have
reason to in infer any attributes, or any principles of action in him,
but so far as we know them to have been exerted and satisfied.

  Are there any marks of a distributive justice in the world? If you
answer in the affirmative, I conclude, that, since justice here exerts
itself, it is satisfied. If you reply in the negative, I conclude that
you have then no reason to ascribe justice, in our sense of it, to the
gods. If you hold a medium between affirmation and negation, by
saying, that the justice of the gods, at present, exerts itself in
part, but not in its full extent; I answer, that you have no reason to
give it any particular extent, but only so far as you see it, at
present, exert itself.

  110. Thus I bring the dispute, O Athenians, to a short issue with my
antagonists. The course of nature lies open to my contemplation as
well as to theirs. The experienced train of events is the great
standard, by which we all regulate our conduct. Nothing else can be
appealed to in the field, or in the senate. Nothing else ought ever to
be heard of in the school, or in the closet. In vain would our limited
understanding break through those boundaries, which are too narrow for
our fond imagination. While we argue from the course of nature, and
infer a particular intelligent cause, which first bestowed, and
still preserves order in the universe, we embrace a principle, which
is both uncertain and useless. It is uncertain; because the subject
lies entirely beyond the reach of human experience. It is useless;
because our knowledge of this cause being derived entirely from the
course of nature, we can never, according to the rules of just
reasoning, return back from the cause with any new inference, or
making additions to the common and experienced course of nature,
establish any new principles of conduct and behaviour.

  111. I observe (said I, finding he had finished his harangue) that
you neglect not the artifice of the demagogues of old; and as you were
pleased to make me stand for the people, you insinuate yourself into
my favour by embracing those principles, to which, you know, I have
always expressed a particular attachment. But allowing you to make
experience (as indeed I think you ought) the only standard of our
judgement concerning this, and all other questions of fact; I doubt
not but, from the very same experience, to which you appeal, it may be
possible to refute this reasoning, which you have put into the mouth
of Epicurus. If you saw, for instance, a half-finished building,
surrounded with heaps of brick and stone and mortar, and all the
instruments of masonry; could you not infer from the effect that it
was a work of design and contrivance? And could you not return
again, from this inferred cause, to infer new additions to the effect,
and conclude, that the building would soon be finished, and receive
all the further improvements, which art could bestow upon it? If you
saw upon the sea-shore the print of one human foot, you would
conclude, that a man had passed that way, and that he had also left
the traces of the other foot, though effaced by the rolling of the
sands or inundation of the waters. Why then do you refuse to admit the
same method of reasoning with regard to the order of nature?
Consider the world and the present life only as an imperfect building,
from which you can infer a superior intelligence; and arguing from
that superior intelligence, which can leave nothing imperfect; why may
you not infer a more finished scheme or plan, which will receive its
completion in some distant point of space or time? Are not these
methods of reasoning exactly similar? And under what pretence can
you embrace the one, while you reject the other?

  112. The infinite difference of the subjects, replied he, is a
sufficient foundation for this difference in my conclusions. In
works of human art and contrivance, it is allowable to advance from
the effect to the cause, and returning back from the cause, to form
new inferences concerning the effect, and examine the alterations,
which it has probably undergone, or may still undergo. But what is the
foundation of this method of reasoning? Plainly this; that man is a
being, whom we know by experience, whose motives and designs we are
acquainted with, and whose projects and inclinations have a certain
connexion and coherence, according to the laws which nature has
established for the government of such a creature. When, therefore, we
find, that any work has proceeded from the skill and industry of
man; as we are otherwise acquainted with the nature of the animal,
we can draw a hundred inferences concerning what may be expected
from him; and these inferences will all be founded in experience and
observation. But did we know man only from the single work or
production which we examine, it were impossible for us to argue in
this manner; because our knowledge of all the qualities, which we
ascribe to him, being in that case derived from the production, it
is impossible they could point to anything farther, or be the
foundation of any new inference. The print of a foot in the sand can
only prove, when considered alone, that there was some figure
adapted to it, by which it was produced: but the print of a human foot
proves likewise, from our other experience, that there was probably
another foot, which also left its impression, though effaced by time
or other accidents. Here we mount from the effect to the cause; and
descending again from the cause, infer alterations in the effect;
but this is not a continuation of the same simple chain of
reasoning. We comprehend in this case a hundred other experiences
and observations, concerning the usual figure and members of that
species of animal, without which this method of argument must be
considered as fallacious and sophistical.

  113. The case is not the same with our reasonings from the works
of nature. The Deity is known to us only by his productions, and is
a single being in the universe, not comprehended under any species
or genus, from whose experienced attributes or qualities, we can, by
analogy, infer any attribute or quality in him. As the universe
shews wisdom and goodness, we infer wisdom and goodness. As it shews a
particular degree of these perfections, we infer a particular degree
of them, precisely adapted to the effect which we examine. But farther
attributes or farther degrees of the same attributes, we can never
be authorised to infer or suppose, by any rules of just reasoning.
Now, without some such licence of supposition, it is impossible for us
to argue from the cause, or infer any alteration in the effect, beyond
what has immediately fallen under our observation. Greater good
produced by this Being must still prove a greater degree of
goodness: a more impartial distribution of rewards and punishments
must proceed from a greater regard to justice and equity. Every
supposed addition to the works of nature makes an addition to the
attributes of the Author of nature; and consequently, being entirely
unsupported by any reason or argument, can never be admitted but as
mere conjecture and hypothesis.*

  * In general, it may, I think, be established as a maxim, that where
any cause is known only by its particular effects, it must be
impossible to infer any new effects from that cause; since the
qualities, which are requisite to produce these new effects along with
the former, must either be different, or superior, or of more
extensive operation, than those which simply produced the effect,
whence alone the cause is supposed to be known to us. We can never,
therefore, have any reason to suppose the existence of these
qualities. To say, that the new effects proceed only from a
continuation of the same energy, which is already known from the first
effects, will not remove the difficulty. For even granting this to
be the case (which can seldom be supposed), the very continuation
and exertion of a like energy (for it is impossible it can be
absolutely the same), I say, this exertion of a like energy, in a
different period of space and time, is a very arbitrary supposition,
and what there cannot possibly be any traces of in the effects, from
which all our knowledge of the cause is originally derived. Let the
inferred cause be exactly proportioned (as it should be) to the
known effect; and it is impossible that it can possess any
qualities, from which new or different effects can be inferred.

  The great source of our mistake in this subject, and of the
unbounded licence of conjecture, which we indulge, is, that we tacitly
consider ourselves, as in the place of the Supreme Being, and
conclude, that he will, on every occasion, observe the same conduct,
which we ourselves, in his situation, would have embraced as
reasonable and eligible. But, besides that the ordinary course of
nature may convince us, that almost everything is regulated by
principles and maxims very different from ours; besides this, I say,
it must evidently appear contrary to all rules of analogy to reason,
from the intentions and projects of men, to those of a Being so
different, and so much superior. In human nature, there is a certain
experienced coherence of designs and inclinations; so that when,
from any fact, we have discovered one intention of any man, it may
often be reasonable, from experience, to infer another, and draw a
long chain of conclusions concerning his past or future conduct. But
this method of reasoning can never have place with regard to a
Being, so remote and incomprehensible, who bears much less analogy
to any other being in the universe than the sun to a waxen taper,
and who discovers himself only by some faint traces or outlines,
beyond which we have no authority to ascribe to him any attribute or
perfection. What we imagine to be a superior perfection, may really be
a defect. Or were it ever so much a perfection, the ascribing of it to
the Supreme Being, where it appears not to have been really exerted,
to the full, in his works, savours more of flattery and panegyric,
than of just reasoning and sound philosophy. All the philosophy,
therefore, in the world, and all the religion, which is nothing but
a species of philosophy, will never be able to carry us beyond the
usual course of experience, or give us measures of conduct and
behaviour different from those which are furnished by reflections on
common life. No new fact can ever be inferred from the religious
hypothesis; no event foreseen or foretold; no reward or punishment
expected or dreaded, beyond what is already known by practice and
observation. So that my apology for Epicurus will still appear solid
and satisfactory; nor have the political interests of society any
connexion with the philosophical disputes concerning metaphysics and

  114. There is still one circumstance, replied I, which you seem to
have overlooked. Though I should allow your premises, I must deny your
conclusion. You conclude, that religious doctrines and reasonings
can have no influence on life, because they ought to have no
influence; never considering, that men reason not in the same manner
you do, but draw many consequences from the belief of a divine
Existence, and suppose that the Deity will inflict punishments on
vice, and bestow rewards on virtue, beyond what appear in the ordinary
course of nature. Whether this reasoning of theirs be just or not,
is no matter. Its influence on their life and conduct must still be
the same. And, those, who attempt to disabuse them of such prejudices,
may, for aught I know, be good reasoners, but I cannot allow them to
be good citizens and politicians; since they free men from one
restraint upon their passions, and make the infringement of the laws
of society, in one respect, more easy and secure.

  After all, I may, perhaps, agree to your general conclusion in
favour of liberty, though upon different premises from those, on which
you endeavour to found it. I think, that the state ought to tolerate
every principle of philosophy; nor is there an instance, that any
government has suffered in its political interests by such indulgence.
There is no enthusiasm among philosophers; their doctrines are not
very alluring to the people; and no restraint can be put upon their
reasonings, but what must be of dangerous consequence to the sciences,
and even to the state, by paving the way for persecution and
oppression in points, where the generality of mankind are more
deeply interested and concerned.

  115. But there occurs to me (continued I) with regard to your main
topic, a difficulty, which I shall just propose to you without
insisting on it; lest it lead into reasonings of too nice and delicate
a nature. In a word, I much doubt whether it be possible for a cause
to be known only by its effect (as you have all along supposed) or
to be of so singular and particular a nature as to have no parallel
and no similarity with any other cause or object, that has ever fallen
under our observation. It is only when two species of objects are
found to be constantly conjoined, that we can infer the one from the
other; and were an effect presented, which was entirely singular,
and could not be comprehended under any known species, I do not see
that we could form any conjecture or inference at all concerning its
cause. If experience and observation and analogy be, indeed, the
only guides which we can reasonably follow in inferences of this
nature; both the effect and cause must bear a similarity and
resemblance to other effects and causes, which we know, and which we
have found, in many instances, to be conjoined with each other. I
leave it to your own reflection to pursue the consequences of this
principle. I shall just observe, that, as the antagonists of
Epicurus always suppose the universe, an effect quite singular and
unparalleled, to be the proof of a Deity, a cause no less singular and
unparalleled; your reasonings, upon that supposition, seem, at
least, to merit our attention. There is, I own, some difficulty, how
we can ever return from the cause to the effect, and, reasoning from
our ideas of the former, infer any alteration on the latter, or any
addition to it.

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Renascence Editions