poreal Matter whatsoever, as I have ** Antidote, Book 3. chap. 12. sect. 2, 3, 4. already intimated in the place we now defend.
4. The fourth Objection is against our asserting, That it is an incongruous and self-contradicting position to hold, ** See Antidote, Book 3. chap. 15. sect. 5. That there never was any man but was born of a woman, though we should admit the successions of mankind infinite. For, say they, the contradiction is onely if you can finde out a First: But in infinite succession there can be no first in any sense at all; for if a First, then a Second, and so on to our own times, and thus the Series would be numerable, and consequently finite; which is a contradiction, for then the succession would be both finite and infinite.
But I answer, First, that I can demonstrate, That there is a First in infinite succesion out of such principles as the Atheist does or is necessarily to grant, and that is, that Matter is ab Æterno, and that some part thereof at least moved ab Æterno. Now it is plain that this Matter that moved ab Æterno either moved of it self, or was moved by another. If the latter, then we have a First in an infinite succesion of motions: for that which moved this Matter moved ab Æterno, is first in order of causality, as is undeniably plain to any one that understands sense.
But you'l say that this Matter that moved ab Æterno was moved of it self. Be it so, yet no part of it can move in this full Ocean of Matter that is excluded out of no space, but it must hit some other part of Matter so soon as it moves, and that another, and so on. And thus there might be a Succession of Motions ab Æterno or infinite, and yet a first in order of causality. For that primordial Motion of the Matter is plainly first and the cause of all the rest: And our Understanding can never be quiet till it has penetrated to some such first in the order of Causes.
And then Secondly, to that subtile Argumentation that would prove that this infinite succesion would be both finite and infinite, I answer, That it is a mere Sophisme from the ambiguity of the term first, which signifies either Priority of Succession or Priority of Causality. In the first sense if we admit a first, the succession will be finite according to our own Faculties, for we cannot but run beyond, we finding the succession bounded in that first. But in the other sense, first sets no bounds to succession, but leaves it free and infinite.
Or we may answer thus. That beginning from this moment and going on to the first primordial Motion, and calling this present moment first, and the next before it the second, that it will amount to a number truly infinite, and that our Understanding can never goe through it: but, though God's Understanding can, that it does not follow that the number is therefore finite; for an infinite mind may well comprehend an infinite number. But for us whose capacities are finite, if we would venture to name a first in infinite succession, we should call it πρῶτον ἀπειροςὸν, the first infinitessimal, and acknowledge our selves unable to go through, our Understandings being finite.5. The fifth and last Objection is against that Story out of Gerard of the Tree-geese in the Island of the Pile of Foulders. For it is objected by one that inquired of some that lived near the place, that it was not confirmed to him, but that they told him only that at the time of the year it