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reason as the former, viz. That our minds are narrow
and scanty in their capacities, and as they are not able · to consider all the parts of a complex idea at once, so
neither can they at once contemplate all the different attributes and circumstances of it: we rnult therefore consider things successively and gradually in their various appearances and circumstances : as our natural eye cannot at once behold the Gx fides of a dye or cube, nor take cognizance of all the points that are marked on them, and therefore we turn up the sides succes. fively, and thus survey and number the points that are marked on each side, that we may know the whole., • In order to a comprehenfive view of any idea we must first confider, whether the object of it has an existence as well as an essence; whether it be a simple or complex idea ; whether it be a substance or a mnode : if it be a substance, then we must enquire what are the eflential modes of it, which are necessary to its nature, and what are those properties or accidents of it, which belong to it occasionally, or as it is placed in some particular circumstances : we must view it in its internal and absolute modes, and observe it in those various external relations in which it stands to other beings : we must consider it in its powers and capacities either to do or suffer: we must trace it up to its various causes, whether supreme or subordinate. We must defcend to the variety of its effects, and take notice of its several ends and designs which are to be attained by it. We must conceive of it as it is either an object or a subject ; what are the things that are a-kin to it, and what are the opposites or contraries of it; for many things are to be known both by their contrary and their kindred ideas.
If the thing we discourse of be a mere mode, we must inquire whether it belongs to spirits or bodies; whether it be a physical or moral mode : if moral, then we must consider its relation to God, to ourselves, to our neighbours; its reference to this life, or the life to come. If it be a virtue, we must feek what are the principles of it, what are the rules of it, what are the tendencies of it, and what are the false virtues that counterfeit it, and what are the real vices that oppole
it, what are the evils which attend the neglect of it, what are the rewards of the practice of it both here and hereafter.
If the subject be historical or a matter of fact, we may then inquire whether the action was done at all; whether it was done in such a manner, or by such persons as is reported ; at what time it was done ; in what place ; by what motive, and for what design ; what is the evidence of the fact ; who are the witnefles; what is their character and credibility ; what signs there are of such a fact; what concurrent teftimonies which may either support the truth of it, or render it doubtful. :In order to make due inquiries into all these and many other particulars which go towards the complete and comprehensive idea of any being, the science of ontology is exceeding necessary. This is what was wont to be called the first part of metaphysics in the peri. patetic schools. It treats of being in its most general nature, and of all its affections and relations. I confess the old popish schoolmen have mingled a number of useless subtilties with this science; they have exhaufted their own spirits, and the spirits of their readers in many laborious and intricate trifles, and some of their writings have been fruitful of names without ideas, which hath done much injury to the facred study of divinity. Upon this account many of the moderns have most unjustly abandoned the whole science at once, and thrown abundance of contempt and raillery upon the very name of metaphysics; but this contempt and censure is very unreasonable, for this science separated from some Aristotelian fooleries and scholastic subtilties, is so neceffary to a distinct conception, solid judgment, and just reasoning on many subjects, that sometimes it is introduced as a part of logic, and not without reason. And those who utterly despise and ridicule it, either betray their own ignorance, or will be supposed to make their wit and banter a refuge and excuse for their own laziness. Yet thus much I would add, that the late writers of ontology are generally the best on this account, because they have left out much of the ancient jargon. See the brief scheme ofontology in the philosophical essays by I. W.
Here let it be noted that it is neither useful, necefsary, or possible to run through all the modes, circurr-' Itances, and relations of every subject we take in hana; but in ontology we enumerate a great variety of them, that fo a judicious mind may choose what are those circumstances, relations and properties of any subject, which are most necessary to the present design of him that speaks or writes, either to explain, to illustrate, or to prove the point. ^
As we arrive at the complete knowledge of an idea in all its parts, by that act of the mind which is called division, so we come to a comprehensive conception of a thing in its several properties and relations, by that act of the mind which is called abstraction, that is, we consider each fingle-relation or property of the subject alone, and thus we do as it were withdraw and separate it in our minds both from the subject itself, as well as from other properties and relations, in order to make a fuller observation of it.
This act of abstraction is said to be two-fold, either precifive or negative. .
Precifive abstraction is when we consider those things apart which cannot really exist apart : as when we conlider a mode, without considering its substance and subject, or one effential mode without another. Negative abstraction is when we consider one thing feparate from another, which may also exist without it; as when we conceive of a subject without conceiving of its accidental modes or relations ; or when we conceive of one accident without thinking of another. If I think of reading or writing, without the express idea of some man, this is precisive abstraction; or if I think of the attraction of iron, without the express idea of forne particular magnetic body. But when I think of a needle, without an idea of its sharpness, this is negative abstraction; and it is the same when I think of its sharpnefs without considering its length.
SECT. X. Of the extensive Conception of Things, and of Distribution. AS the completeness of an idea, refers to the several A parts that compose it, and the comprehension of an idea includes various properties, so the extension of an idea denotes the various sorts or kinds of beings to which the same idea belongs ; and if we would be fully acquainted with a subject we must obferve:
This fourth rule to direct our conceptions, viz. Conceive of things in all their extension, that is, we must fearch out the various species or special natures which are contained under it az a genus or general nature. If we would know the nature of an animal perfectly, we must take cognizance of beasts, birds, fishes and insects, as well as `men, all which are contained under the general nature and name of animal.
As an integral whole is distinguished into its several parts by division, so the word distribution is most properly used when we distinguish an universal whole into its several kinds of species; and perhaps it had been better if this word had been always confined to this sig. nification, though it must be confeffed, that we frequently speak of the division of an idea into its several kinds, as well as into several parts. · The rules of a good distribution are much the same with those which we have before applied to division, which may be just repeated again in the briefeft manner, in order to give examples to them.
I. Rule. Each part singly taken must contain lefs than the whole, but all the parts taken colle Etively or together, mult contain neither more nor less than the whole; or as logicians sometimes express it, the parts of the division ought to exhaust the whole thing which is divided. So medicine is justly distributed into prophylactic, or the art of perserving health; and therapeutic, or the art of restoring health : for there is no other sort of medicine
besides these two. But men are not well distributed into tall or short, for there are some of a middle stature.
II. Rule. In all distributions we should first consider the larger and more immediate kinds of species, or ranks , of being, and not divide a thing at once into the more minute and remote. A genus should not at once be divided into individuals, or even into the lowest species, if there be a species superior. Thus it would be very improper to divide animal into trout, lobster, eel, dog, bear, eagle, dove, worm and butterfly, for these are in ferior kinds; whereas animal ought first to be distribute ed into man, beast, bird, fish, insect; and then bealt, should be distributed into dog, bear, &c. bird into eagle, dove, &c. fish, into trout, eel, lobster, &c.
It is irregular also to join any inferior fpecies in the farne rank or order with the superior; as if we would diftinguish animals into birds, bears and oysters, EC, It would be a ridiculous distribution : III. Rule. The several parts of a distribution ought to be opposite ; that is, one species or class of beings in the same rank of dirison ought not to contain or include another ; so men ought not to be divided into the rich, the poor, the learned, and the tall, for poor men may be both learned and tall, and so may the rich.
But it will be objected, are not animated bodiez rightly distributed into vegetative and animal, or (as they are usually called) sensitive ? now the sensitive contains the vegetative nature in it, for animals grow as well as plants. I answer, that in this and all such distributions, the word vegetative signifies merely vegeta-' tive : and in this sense vegetative will be sufficiently opposite to animal, for it cannot be said of an animal that it contains mere vegetation in the idea of it.
IV. Rule. Let not subdivisions be too numerous without necessity; therefore I think quantity is better distinguished at once into a line, a surface, and a solid, than to say as Ramus does, that quantity is either a line, or a thing lined ; and a thing lined is either a surface or a folid.
V. Rule. Distribute every subject according to the special design you have in view, so far as is necesary or useful to Juur present inquiry. Thus a politician distributes mans