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probity and mu zentiments; and so thence betwixt vice and vine

CORAL philosophy, or the science of human nature, may be treated

after two different manners; each of which has its peculiar merit, and

may contribute to the entertainment, instruction, and reformation of mankind. T'he one considers man chiefly as born for action, and as influenced in his actions by taste and sentiment; pursuing one object and avoiding anocher, ac- cording to the value, which these objects seem to possess, and according to the light, in which they present themselves. Virtue, of all objects, is the most valuable and lovely; and accordingly this species of philosophers paint her in the most amiable colors ; borrowing all helps from poetry and eloquence, and treating their subject in an easy and obvious manner, such as is best fitted to please the imagination, and engage the affections. They select the most striking observations and instances from common life ; place opposite characters in a proper contrast; and alluring us into the paths of virtue, by the views of glory and happiness, direct our steps in these paths, by the foundest precepts and most illustrious examples. They make us feel the difference betwixt vice and virtue ; they excite and regulate our sentiments, and so they can but bend our hearts to the love of probity and true honor, they think, that they have fully attained the end of all their labors.

The other species of philosophers treat man rather as a reasonable than an active being, and endeavor to form his understanding more than cultivate his manners.

They regard mankind as a subject of speculation ; and with a narrow scrutiny examine human nature, in order to find those principles, which regulate our understanding, excite our sentiments, and make us approve or blame any particular object, action, or behavior. They think it a reproach to all literature, that philosophy should not yet have fixed, beyond controversy, the foundation of morals, reasoning, and criticism ; and should for ever talk of truth and falsehood, vice and virtue, beauty and deformity, without being able to determine the source of these distinctions. While they attempt this arduous task, they are deterred by no difficulties; but proceeding from particular instances to general principles, they still push on their enquiries to principles more general, and rest not satisfied till they arrive at those original principles, by which, in every science, all human curiosity must be bounded. Tho' their speculations seem abstract and even unintelligible to common readers, they please themselves with the approbation of the learned and the wife ; and think themselves fufficiently compensated for the labors of their whole lives, if they can discover some hidden truths, which may contribute to the instruction of pofterity. .

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'Tis certain, that the easy and obvious philosophy will always, with the generality of mankind, have the preference to the accurate and abstruse; and by many will be recommended, not only as more, agreeable, but more useful than the other. It enters more into common life; moulds the heart and affections; and by touching those principles, which actuate men, reforms their conduct, and brings them nearer that model of perfe&tion, which is defcribes. On the contrary, the abftrufe philosophy, being founded on a turn of mind, which cannot enter into business and action, vanishes when the philosopher leaves the shade and comes into open day ; nor can its principles easily retain any influence over our conduct and beha. vior. The feelings of our sentiments, the agitations of our passions, the vehe. mence of our affections, diffipate all its conclusions, and reduce the profound philosopher to a mere plebeian.

This also must be confessed, that the most durable, as well as justest fame has been acquired by the easy philosophy, and that abstract reasoners seem hitherto to have enjoyed only a momentary reputation, from the caprice or ignorance of their own age, but have not been able to support their renown with more equitable poIterity. 'Tis easy for a profound philosopher to commit a mistake in his subtile reasonings ; and one mistake is the necessary parent of another, while he pushes on his consequences, and is cot deterred from embracing any conclusion, by its unusual appearance, or its contradiction to popular opinion. But a philosopher, who proposes only to represent the common sense of mankind in more beautiful and more engaging colors, if by accident he commits a mistake, goes no farther ; but renewing his appeal to common sense, and the natural sentiments of the mind, returns into the right path, and secures himself from any dangerous illusions. The fame of Cicero forishes at present; but that of ARISTOTLE is utterly decayed. La BRUYERE passes the seas, and still maintains his reputation : But the glory of MALEBRANCHE is confined to his own nation and to his own age. And ADDISON, perhaps, will be red with pleasure, when Locke shall be entirely forgotten.

The mere philosopher is a character which is commonly but little acceptable in the world, as being supposed to contribute nothing either to the advantage or pleasure of society, while he lives remote from communication with mankind, and is wrapped up in principles and notions equally remote from their comprehension. On the other hand, the mere ignorant is still more despised ; nor is any thing deemed a surer sign of an illiberal genius in an age and nation where the sciences florish, than to be entirely void of all relish for those noble entertainments. The most perfect character is supposed to lie between those extremes ; retaining an equal ability and taste for books, company, and business ; preserving in conversa. tion that discernment and delicacy which arise from polite letters, and in business, that probity and accuracy which are the natural result of a just philosophy. In order to diffuse and cultivate lo accomplished a character, nothing can be more useful than compositions of the easy style and manner, which draw not too much from life, require no deep application or retreat to be comprehended, and send back the student among mankind full of noble sentiments and wise precepts, applicable to every exigence of human life. By means of such compositions, virtue becomes amiable, science agreeable, company instructive, and retirement entertaining.


Man is a reasonable being; and as such, receives from science his proper food and nourishment : But fo narrow are the bounds of human understanding, that little satisfaction can be hoped for in this particular, either from the extent or security of his acquisitions. Man is a sociable, no less than a reasonable being : But neither can he always enjoy company agreeable and amusing, or preserve the proper relish of them. Man is also an active being; and from that disposition, as well as from the various necessities of human life, must submit to business and oc- . cupation : But the mind requires some relaxation, and cannot always support its bent to care and industry. It seems, then, that nature has pointed out a mixed kind of life as most suitable to human race, and secretly admonished them to allow none of these biasses to draw too much, so as to incapacitate them for other occupations and entertainments. Indulge your passion for science, says she, but let your science be human, and such as may have a direct reference to action and society. Abstruse thought and profound researches I prohibit, and will severely punish, by the pensive melancholy which they introduce, by the endless uncertainty in which they involve you, and by the cold reception which your pretended discoveries will meet with, when communicated. Be a philosopher ; but, amidst : all your philosophy, be still a man,

Were the generality of mankind contented to prefer the easy philosophy to the abstract and profound, without throwing any blame or contempt on the might not be improper, perhaps, to comply wich this general opinion, and allow every man to enjoy, without opposition, his own taste and sentiment. But as the matter is often carried farther, even to the absolute rejecting all profound reasonings or what is commonly called metapbyfics, we shall now proceed to consider what can reasonably be pleaded in their behalf.

We may begin with observing, that one considerable advantage which results from the accurate and abstract philosophy, is, its subferviency to the easy and humane ; which, without the former, can never attain a sufficient degree of exactness in its sentiments, precepts, or reasonings. All polite letters are nothing but pictures of human life in various attitudes and situations, and inspire us with different sentiments, of praise or blame, admiration or ridicule, according to the qualities of the object which they set before us. · An artist must be better qualified to succeed in this undertaking, who, besides a delicate taste and a quick apprehension,

possesses an accurate knowlege of the internal fabric, the operations of the under, Itanding, the workings of the passions, and the various species of sentiment, which

discriminate vice and virtue. However painful this inward search or enquiry may appear, it becomes, in some measure, requisite to those, who would describe with success the obvious and outward appearances of life and manners. The anatomist presents to the eye the most hideous and disagreeable objects; but his science is highly useful to the painter in delineating even a Venus or an Helen. While the latter employs all the richest colours of his art, and gives his figures the most graceful and engaging airs; he must still carry his attention to the inward structure of the human body, the position of the muscles, the fabric of the bones, and the use and figure of every part or organ. Accuracy is, in every case, advantageous to beauty, and just reasoning to delicate sentiments. In vain would we exalt the one by depreciating the other. ·


ent sentiments, of be in various attitudes anges. All polite letter degree of exact

geouse and figure of dy, the position

...y Luluvated by several, must gradually diffraksis

BESIDES, we may observe, in every art or profession, even those which most concern life or action, that a spirit of accuracy, however acquired, carries all of them nearer their perfection, and renders them more subservient to the interests of fociety. And thoa philosopher may live remote from business, the genius of philosophy, if carefully cultivated by several, muft gradually diffuse itself thro’the whole fociety, and bestow a siinilar correctness on every art and calling. The politician will acquire greater foresight and subtilty, in the subdividing and ballancing of power; the lawyer more method and finer principles in his reasonings ; and the general more regularity in his discipline, and more caution in his plans and operation. The stability of modern governments above the antient, and the accuracy of modern philosophy, have improved, and probably will still improve, by similar gradations. .

Were there no advantage to be reaped from these studies, beyond the gratification of an innocent curiosity, yet ought not even this to be despised; as being one accession to those few safe and harmless pleasures which are bestowed on human race. The sweetest and most inoffensive path of life leads thro' the avenues of science and learning; and whoever can either remove any obstructions in this way, or open up any new prospect, ought so far to be esteemed a benefactor to mankind. And tho' these researches may appear painful and fatiguing, 'tis with some minds as with some bodies, which being endowed with vigorous and Aorid health, require severe exercise, and reap a pleasure from what, to the generality of mankind, may seem burthensome and laborious. Obscurity, indeed, is painful to the mind as well as to the eye ; but to bring light from obfcurity, by what. ever labor, must needs be delightful and rejoicing.

But this obscurity, in the profound and abstract philosophy, is objected to, not only as painful and fatiguing, but as the inevitable source of uncertainty and error. Here indeed lies the justest and most plausible objection against a considerable part of metaphysics, that they are not properly a science, but arise either from the fruitless efforts of human vanity, which would penetrate into subjects utterly inaccessible to the understanding, or from the craft of popular superstition, which, being unable to defend themfelves on fair ground, raise these intangling brambles to cover and protect their weakness. Chaced from the open country, these robbers fly into the forest, and lie in wait to break in upon every unguarded avenue of the mind, and overwhelm it with religious fears and prejudices. The stoutest antagonist, if he remits his watch a moment, 'is oppressed : And many, thro' cowardice and folly, open the gates to the enemies, and willingly receive them with reverence and submission, as their legal sovereigns.

But is this a just cause why philosophers should defist from such researches, and leave superstition still in poffeffion of her retreat ? Is it not reasonable to draw a direct contrary conclusion, and perceive the necessity of carrying the war into the most fecret recesses of the enemy? In vain do we hope, that men, from fre. quent disappointments, will at last abandon such airy sciences, and discover the proper province of human reason. For besides, that many persons find too sensible an intereft in perpetually recalling such topics ; besides this, I say, the motive of blind despair can never reasonably have place in the sciences; since, however unsuccessful former attempts may have proved, there is still room to hope, that the industry, good fortune, or improved fagacity of succeeding generations


may reach discoveries unknown to former ages. Each adventurous genius will ftill leap at the arduous prize, and find himself stimulated, rather than discouraged, by the failures of his predecessors; while he hopes, that the glory of atchieving so hard an adventure is reserved for him alone. The only method of freeing learn. ing, at once, from these abstruse questions, is to enquire seriousy into the nature of human understanding, and shew, from an exact analysis of its powers and capacity, that it is, by no means, fitted for such remote and abstruse subjects. We must submit to this fatigue, in order to live at ease for ever after : And must cultivate true metaphysics with some care, in order to destroy the false and adulterate. Indolence, which, to some persons, affords a safeguard against this deceitful philosophy, is, with others, over-ballanced by curiosity; and despair, which, at some moments, prevails, may give place afterwards to sanguine hopes and expectations. Accurate and just reasoning is the only catholic remedy, fitted for all persons and all dispositions, and is alone able to subvert that abstruse philosophy and metaphysical jargon, which, being mixed up with popular superstition, renders it, in a manner, impenetrable to careless reasoners, and gives it the air of science and wisdom.

Besides this advantage of rejecting, after deliberate enquiry, the most uncertain and disagreeable part of learning, there are many positive advantages, which result from an accurate scrutiny into the powers and faculties of human nature. 'Tis remarkable concerning the operations of the mind, that tho' most intiinately present to us, yet whenever they become the object of reflection, they seem involved in obscurity, nor can the eye readily find those lines and boundaries, which discriminate and distinguish them. The objects are too fine to remain long in the {ame aspect or situation, and must be apprehended, in an instant, by a superior penetration, derived from nature, and improved by habit and reflection. It becomes, therefore, no inconsiderable part of science barely to know the different operations of the mind, to separate them from each other, to class them under their proper divisions, and to correct all that seeming disorder, in which they lie involved, when made the object of reflection and enquiry. This task of ordering and distinguishing, which has no merit, when performed with regard to external bodies, the objects of our senses, rises in its value, when directed towards the operations of the mind, in proportion to the difficulty and labor, which we meet with in performing it. And if we can go no farther than this mental geography, or delineation of the distinct parts and powers of the mind, 'tis at least a satisfaction to go so far; and the more obvious this science may appear (and it is by no means obvious) the more contemptible still must the ignorance of it be esteemed, in all pretenders to learning and philosophy.

Nor can there remain any suspicion, that this science is uncertain and chimerical ; unless we should entertain such a scepticism as is entirely subversive of all speculation, and even action. It cannot be doubted, that the mind is endowed with several powers and faculties, that these powers are totally distinct from each other, that what is really distinct to the immediate perception may be distinguished by reflection; and consequently, that there is a truth and fallhood in all propositions on this subject, and a truth and fallhood, which sie not beyond the compass. of human understanding. There are many obvious distinctions of this kind, such as those betwixt the will and understanding, the imagination and passions, which


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