Dudgeon, David

Dudgeon, David a Scotch sceptic, was born in 1706. Little is known of his early history. In 1732 he published a treatise entitled The Moral World, which teaches that "there is no evil in the moral world but what naturally ariseth from the nature of imperfect creatures, who always pursue their good, but cannot but be liable to error or mistake, and that evil or sin is inseparable in some degree from all created beings, and most consistent with the designs of a perfect Creator." He was called to answer for it before the Presbytery, Synod, and General Assembly, but no decision appears to have been reached. His most important work is Philosophical Letters concerning the Being and Attributes of God (1737). "These letters were written in the midst of pressing agricultural cares, to the Reverend Mr. Jackson, author of a work written in the spirit of Clarke, The Existence and Unity of God. In these letters Dudgeon reaches a species of refined Spinozism, mingled with Berkeleyanism. He denies the distinction of substances into spiritual and material, maintains that there is no substance distinct from God, and that all our knowledge but of God is about ideas; they exist only in the mind, and their essence and modes consist only in their being perceived." In 1739 he published A Catechism founded upon Experience and Reason, collected by a Father for the Use of his Children; and in an 'Introductory Letter' he wishes that natural religion alone was embraced by all men, and states that though he believes there was an extraordinary man sent into our world seventeen hundred years ago to instruct mankind, yet he doubts whether he ever commanded any of those things to be written concerning him which we have. The same year he published A View of the Necessitarian or Best Scheme, freed from the Objections of M. Crousaz, in his Examination of Pope's Essay on Man. Dudgeon died at Upsettlington, on the borders, January 1743. His works were published in a combined form in 1765, in a volume without a printer's name attached, showing that there was not as yet thorough freedom of thought in Scotland. His writings had for a time a name in the district (the Catechism reached a third edition), but afterwards passed away completely from public notice." McCosh, in Brit. and For. Ev. Review, July 1865, page 552.

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