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ciation, the sound of the voice, the motion of the face, or gestures of the body: so when an angry master says to bis servant, it is bravely done, or you are a fine gentleman, he means just the contrary; namely, it is very ill done; you are a sorry fellow. It is one way of giving a severe reproach, for the words are spoken by way of sarcasm or irony.
6. Words are applied to various senses, by new ideas appearing or rising faster than new words are framed. So when gunpowder was found out, the word powder, which before signified only dust, was made then to signify that mixture or composition of nitre, charcoal, &c. And the name canon, which before siguified a law or a rule, is now also given to a great gun, which gives laws to nations. So footboys, who had frequently the common name of Jack given them, were kept to turn the spit, or to pull off their master's boots; but when instruments were invented for both these purposes, they were both called jacks, though one was of iron, the other of wood, and very different in their form.
7. Words alter their significations according to the ideas of the various persons, sects, or parties, who use them, as we have hinted before; so when a papist uses the word heretics, he generally means the protestants; when a protestant uses the word, he means any persons who were wilfully (and perhaps contentiously) obstinate in fundamental errors. When a Jew speaks of the true religion, he means the insti. % tution of Moses; wben a Turk mentions it, he intends the doctrine of Mahomet: but when a Christian makes use of it, he designs to signify Christianity, or the truths and precepts of the gospel.
8. Words have different significations according to the book, writing, or discourse in which they stand. So in a treatise of anatomy, a foot signifies that member in the body of man. But in a book of geometry or mensuration, it signifies twelve inches.
If I had room to exemplify most of these particu. lars in one single word, I know not where to choose a fitter than the word sound, which seems (as it were) by chance, to signify three distinct ideas, (viz.)
healthy, (from sanus), as a sound body; noise, (from sonus), as a shrill sound; and to sound the sea, (perhaps from the French sonde, a probe, or an instru. ment to find the depth of water.) From these three, which I may call original senses, various derivative senses arise; as sound sleep, sound lungs, sound wind and limb, a sound heart, a sound mind, sound doctrine, a sound divine, sound reason, a sound cask, sound timber, a sound reproof, to beat one soundly, to sound one's meaning or inclination, and a sound or narrow sea; turn all these into Latin, and the variety will appear plain.
I confess, some few of these which I have mentioned as the different springs of equivocal words, may be reduced in some cases to the same original: but it must also be granted, that there may be other ways besides these whereby a word comes to extend its signification, to include various ideas, and become equivocal. And though it is the business of a grammarian to pursue these remarks with more variety and particularity, yet it is also the work of a logician to give notice of these things, lest darkness, confusion, and perplexity be brought into our conceptions by the means of words, and thence our judgments and reasonings become erroneous.
GENERAL DIRECTIONS RELATING TO OUR IDEAS.
Direction I. FURNISH yourselves with a rich variety of ideas; acquaiut yourselves with things ancient and modern; things natural, civil, and religious; things domestic and national; things of your native land, and of foreign countries; things present, past, and future; and above all, be well acquainted with God and yourselves; learn animal nature, and the workings of your own spirits.
Such a general acquaintance with things will be of very great advantage.
The first benefit of it is this; it will assist the use of reason in all its following operations; it will teach you to judge of things aright, to argue justly and mei hodive your thoughts with accuracy. When you sball find several things akin to each other, and several different from each other, agreeing in some part of their idea, and disagreeing in other parts, you will range your ideas in better order, you will be more easily led into a distinct knowledge of things, and will obtain a rich store of proper thoughts and arguments upou all occasions.
You will tell me, perhaps, that you design the study of the law or divinity; and what good can natural philosophy or mathematics do you, or any other science, not directly subordinate to your chief design? But let it be considered, that all sciences have a sort of mutual connexion; and knowledge of all kinds fit the mind to reason and judge better concerning any particular subject. I have known a judge upon the bench betray his ignorance, and appear a little confused in his sentiments about a case of suspected murder brought before him, for want of some acquaintance with animal nature and phi. losophy.
Another benefit of it is this: such a large and general acquaintance with things will secure you from perpetual admirations and surprizes, and guard you against that weakness of ignorant persons, who have never seen any thing beyond the confines of their own dwelling, and therefore they wonder at almost every thing they see; every thing beyond the smoke of their own chimney, and reach of their own wiudows, is new and strange to them.
A third benefit of such an universal acquaintance with things, is this; it will keep you from being too positive and dogmatical, from an access of credulity and unbelief, i. e. a readiness to believe, or to deny every thing at first hearing; when you shall bave often seen, that strange and uncommon things, which often seemed incredible, are found to be true; and things very commonly received have been found false,
The way of attaining such an extensive treasure of ideas, is, with diligence to apply yourself to read the best books, converse with the most knowing and the wisest of men, and endeavour to improve by every person in whose company you are; suffer no hour to pass away in a lazy idleness, and impertinent chattering, or useless trifles: visit other cities and countries when you have seen your own, under the care of one who can teach you to profit by travelling, and to make wise observations; indulge a little curiosity in seeing the wonders of art and nature; search into things yourselves, as well as learn them from others : be acquainted with men as well as books; learn all things as much as you can at first hand; and let as many of your ideas as possible be the representations of things, and not merely the representations of other men's ideas : thus your soul, like some noble building, shall be richly furnished with original paintings, and not with mere copies.
Direction II. Use the most proper methods to retain that trea. sure of ideas which you have acquired; for the mind is ready to let many of them slip, unless some pains and labour be taken to fix them upon the memory.
And more especially let those ideas be laid up and preserved with the greatest care, which are most di. rectly suited, either to your eternal welfare as a Christian, or to your particular station and profession in this life; for thongh the former rule recommends an universal acquaintance with things, yet it is but a more general and superficial knowledge that is required or expected of any man, in things which are utterly foreign to his own business; but it is nee cessary you should have a more particular and accurate acquaintance with those things that refer to your peculiar province and duty in this life, or your happiness in another.
There are some persons who never arrive at any deep, solid, or valuable knowledge in any science, or any business of life; because they are perpetually Huttering over the surface of things in a curious and
wandering search of infinite variety; ever hearing, reading, or asking after something new, but impatient of any labour to lay up and preserve the ideas they have gained: their souls may be compared to a looking-glaes, that wheresoever you turn it, it receives the images of all objects, but retaivs none.
In order to preserve your treasure of ideas and the knowledge you have gained, pursue these advices, especially in your younger years.
1. Recollect every day the things you liave seen, or heard, or read, wliich may have made any addition to your understanding: read the writings of God and meu with diligence and perpetual reviews: be not fond of hastening to a new book, or a new chapter, till you have well fixed and established in your minds what was useful in the last: make use of your memory in this manner, and you will sensibly expe. rience a gradual improvement of it, while you take care not to load it to excess.
2. Talk over the things which you have seen, heard, or learned, with some proper acquaintance; this will make a fresh impression upon your memory; and if you have no fellow-student at hand, none of equal rank with yourselves, tell it over to any of your acquaintance, where you can do it with propriety anri decency; and whether they learn any thing by it or po, your own repetition of it will be an improvement to yourself: and this practice also will furnish you with a variety of words and copious language, to express your thoughts upon all occasions.
3. Commit to writing some of the most considerare improvements which you daily make, at least such hints as may recal them again to your mind, when perhaps they are vanished and lost. And here I think Mr. Locke's method of adversaria or common places, which he describes in the end of the first volume of his posthumous works, is the best; using no learned method at all, setting down things as they occur, leaving a distinct page for each subject, aud making an iudex to the pages.
At the end of every week, or month, or year, you may review your remarks for these reasons: first, to