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and authority, are no sure evidences of truth, so neither are they certain marks of falsehood : for reason and scripture may join to dictate the same things which our parents, our purses, our tutors, our friends, and our country, believe and profess. Yet there appears sometimes in our age, a pride and petulancy in youth, zealous to cast off the sentiments of their faihers and teachers, on purpose to shew that they carry none of the prejudices of education and authority about them. They indulge :ll manner of licentious opinions and practices, from a vain pretence of asserting their liberty. But alas ! this is but changing one prejudice for another ; and sometimes it happens by this means, that they make a sacrifice both of truth and virtue to the vile prejudices of their pride and sensuality.
IV. There is another kind of prejudices which are near a-kin to those of authority, and that is, when we receive a doctrine because of the manner in which it is proposed to us by others. I have already mentioned the powerful influence that oratory and fine words have to insinuate a false opinion, and sometimes truth is refused, and suffers contempt in the lips of a wise man, for want of the charms of language : but there are several other manners of proposals, whereby mistaken sentiments are powerfully conveyed into the mind.
Some persons are easily persuaded to believe what another dictates with a positive air, and a great degree of assurance ; they feel the overbearing force of a confident dictator, cspecially if he be of a superior rank or character to theinselves.
Some are quickly convinced of the truth of any doctrine, when he that proposes it puts on all the airs of piety, and makes solemn appeals to heaven, and protestations of the truth of it: the pious mind of a weaker christian, is ready to receive any thing that is pronounced with such an awful solemnity.
It is a prejudice near a-kin to this, when a humble soul is frighted into any particular sentiments of religion, because a man of great name or character pronounces heresy upon the contrary sentiments, casts the disbeliever out of the church, and forbids him the gates of beaven.
Others are allured into particular opinions by gentler practices on the understanding : not only the soft tempers of mankind, but even hardy and rugged souls, are sometimes led away captives to error by the soft air of address, and the sweet and engaging methods of persuasion and kindness.
I grant, where natural or revealed religion plainly dictate to us the infinite and everlasting importance of any secret doctrine, it cannot be improper to use any of these methods, to persuade men to receive and obey the truth, after we have given sufficient reason and argument to convince their understandings. Yet all these methods, considered in themselves, have been often
used to convey falsehood into the soul as well as truth; and if we build our faith merely upon these foundations, without regard to the evidence of truth, and the strength of argument, our belief is but the effect of prejudice : for neither the positive, the awful or solemn, the terrible or the gentle methods of address, carry any certain evidence with them that truth lies on that side.
There is another manner of proposing our own opinion, or rather opposing the opinions of others, which demands a mention here, and that is when persons make a jest serve instead of an argument; when they refute what they call error by a turn of wit, and answer every objection against their own sentiments, by casting a sneer upon the objector. These scoffers practise with . success upon weak and cowardly spirits ; such as have not been well established in religion or morality, have been laughed out of the best principles by a confident buffoon ; they have yielded up their opinions to a witty banter, and sold their faith and religion for a jest.
There is no way to cure these evils in such a degenerate world as we live in, but by learning to distinguish well between the substance of any doctrine, and the manner of address, either in proposing, attacking, or defending it; and then by setting a just and severe guard of reason and conscience over all the exercises of our judgment, resolving to yield to nothing but the convincing evidence of truth, religiously obeying the light of reason in matters of pure reason, and the dictates of revelation in things that relate to our faith.
Thus we have taken a brief survey of some of the infinite varieties of prejudice that attend mankind on every side in the present state, and the dangers of crror or of rash judgment, we are perpetually exposed to in this life: this chapter shall conclude with one remark, and one piece of advice.
The remark is this. The same opinion, whether false or true, may be dictated by many prejudices at the same time; for, as I hinted before, prejudice may happen to dictate truth sometimes as well as error. But where two or more prejudices oppose one another, as it often happens, the stronger prevails and gains the assent; yet how seldom does reason interpose with sufficient power to get the ascendent of them all, as it ought to do!
The advice follows, namely, Since we find such a swarm of prejudices attending us both within and without; since we feelthe weakness of our reason, the frailty of our natures, and our insufficiency to guard ourselves from'error upon this account, it is not at all unbecoming the character of a logician or a philosopher, together with the advice already given, to direct every person in his search after truth to make his daily addresses to heaven, and implore the God of truth to lead him into all truth, and
to ask wisdom of him who giveth liberally to them that ask it, and upbraideth us not with our own follies.
Such a devout practice will be an excellent preparative for the best improvement of all the directions and rules proposed in the two following chapters.
CHAP. IV.-General Directions to assist us in judging
aright. THE chief design of the art of Logic is to assist us in forming a true judgment of things ; a few proper observations for this end have been dropt occasionally in some of the foregoing chapters : yet it is necessary to mention them again in this place, that we may have a more complete and simultaneous view of the general directions, which are necessary in order to judge aright. A multitude of advices may be framed for this purpose; the chief of them may, for order sake, be reduced to the following heads.
I. Direction. When we consider ourselves as philosophers, or searchers after truth, we should examine all our old opinions afresh, and enquire what was the ground of them, and whether our assent were built on just evidence; and then we should cast off all those judgments which were formed heretofore without due eramination. A man in pursuit of knowledge, should throw off all those prejudices which he had imbibed in times past, and guard against all the springs of error, inentioned in the proceding chapter, with the utmost watchfulness for time to come.
Observe here. That this rule of casting away all our former prejudicate opinions and sentiments, is not proposed to any of us to be practised at once, considered as men of business or religion, as friends or neighbours, as fathers or sons, as magistrates, subjects, or christians, but merely as philosophers and searchers after truth; and though it may be well presuined that many of our judgments, both true and false, together with the practices built thereon in the natural, the civil and the religious life, were formed without sufficient evidence; yet an universal rejection of all these might destroy at once our present sense and practice of duty with regard to God, ourselves, and our fellowcreatures. Mankind would be hereby thrown into such a state of doubting and indifference, that it would be too long ere they recovered any principles of virtue or religion by a train of reasonings.
Besides, the common affairs of human life often demand a much speedier determination, and we must many times act upon present probabilities: the bulk of mankind have not time and seisure, and advantages sufficient to begin all their knowledge anew, and to build up every single opinion and practice afresh, upon the justest grounds of evidence.
Yet let it be observed also, that so far as any person is capable of forming and correcting bis notions, and his rules of conduct in the natural, civil and religious life, by the strict rules of Logic; and so far as he hath time and capacity to review his old opinions, to re-examine all those which are any ways doubtful, and to determine nothing without just evidence, he is likely to become so much the wiser and the happier man, and if divine grace assist him, so much the better christian. And though this cannot be done all at once, yet it may be done by prudent steps and degrees till our whole set of opinions and principles be in timc corrected and reformed, or at least established upon juster foundations.
II. Direct. “ Endeavour that all your ideas of those objects, concerning which you pass any judgment, be clear and distinct, complete, comprehensive, extensive and orderly, as far as you have occasion to judge concerning them.” This is the substance of the last chapter of the first part of Logic. The rules which direct our conceptions must be rešiewed, if we would forin our judgments aright. But if we will make haste to judge at all adventures, while our ideas are dark and confused, and very imperfect, we shall be in danger of running into many mistakes. This is like a person who would pretend to give the sum total of a large account in arithmetic, without surveying all the particulars ; or as a painter, who professes to draw a fair and distinct landscape in the twilight, when he can hardly distinguish a house from a tree.
Observe here, That this direction does not require us to gain clear, distinct, complete ideas of things in all their parts, powers and qualities, in an absolute sense : for this beloogs to God alone, and is impossible for us to attain : but it is expressed in a relative or limited sense ; that is, our ideas should be cleer, distinct, and comprehensive, &c. at least so far as we bave occasion at that time to judge concerning them. We may form many true and certain judginents concerning God, angels, animals, men, heaven, heli, &c. by those partial and very imperfect conceptions of them to which we have attained, if we judge no far ther concerning them than our conceptions reach.
We may have a clear and distinct idea of the existence of many things in nature, and affirm that they do exist, though our ideas of their intimale essences and causes, their relations and manners of actions, are very confused and obscure. We may judge welí concerning several properties of any being, though other properties are unknown ; for perhaps we know not all the properties of any being whatsoever.
Sometimes we liave clear ideas of the absolute properties of an object : and we may judge of them with certainty, while the telutive properties are very obscure apd unknown to us.
may have a clear and just idea of the area of a parallelogram, without koowing what relation it bears to the area of a tria angle or a polygon; I may know the length of a diameter of a circle ; without knowing what proportion it has to the circumference.
There are other things, whose external relative properties, with respect to each other, or whose relation to us, we know better than their own inward and absolute properties, or their essential distinguishing attributes. We perceive clearly, that fire will warm or burn us, and will evaporate water; and that water will allay our thirst, or quench the fire, though we know not the inward distinguishing particles, or prime essential properties of fire or water. We may know the King and Lord Chancellor, and affirm many things of them in their legal characters, though we can have but a confused idea of their
persons or natural features, if we have never seen their faces. So the scripture has revealed God himself to us, as our Creator, Preserver, Redeemer, and Sanctifier, and as the object of our worship, in clearer ideas than it has revealed many other abstruse questions which may be raised about his own divine essence or substance, his immensity or omnipresence.
This therefore is the general observation in order to guide our judgments, that we should not allow ourselves to form a judgment concerning things farther than our clear and distinct ideas reach," and then we are not in danger
of error. But there is one considerable objection against this rule, which is necessary to be answered, and there is one just and reasonable exception, which is as needful to be mentioned.
The objection is this : May we not judge safely concerning some total or complete ideas, when we have a clear perception only of some parts or properties of them ? May we not affirm that all that is in God is eternal, or that all his unknown attributes are infinile, though we have so very imperfect an idea of God, eternity and infinity? Again, may we not safely judge of particular objects, whose idea is obscure, by a clear idea of the general? May I not affirm, that every unknown species of aniinals has incard springs of motion, because I bave a clear idea that these inward springs belong to an animal in general.
Answer. All those supposed unknown parts, properties or species, are clearly and distinctly perceived to be connected with, or contained in the knowo parts, properties, or general ideas, which we suppose to be clear and distinct as far as we judge of them : and as we have no particular idea of those unknown divipe attributes, or unknown species of animals; so there is nothing particular affirmed concerning them beyond what belongs VOL. VII.