Page images
PDF
EPUB

kind according to their civil characters into the rulers and the ruled: and a physician divides them into the fick or the healthy ; but a divine distributes them into Turks, Heathens, Jews, or Christians.

Here note, that it is a very useless thing to distribute any idea into such kinds or members as have no different properties to be spoken of; as it is mere trifling to divide right angles into such whose legs are equal, and whose legs are unequal, for as to the mere right angle they have no different properties.

VI. Rule. In all your distributions observe the nature of things with great exactness, and do not affect any particular form of diftribution, as some persons have done, by dividing every genus into two species, or into three fpecies; whereas riature is infinitely various, and human affairs and human sciences have as great a variety, nor is there any one form of distribution that will exactly suit with all subjects.

Note, it is to this doctrine of distribution of a genus into its several species, we must also refer the distribution of a cause according to its several effects, as some medicines are heating, some are cooling; or an effect, when it is distinguished by its causes, as faith is either built upon divine testimony or human. It is to this head we refer particular artificial bodies, when they are distinguished according to the matter they are made of, as a statue is either of brass, of marble, or wood, &c. and any other beings, when they are distinguished according to their end and design, as the furniture of body or mind is either for ornament or use. To this head also we refer subjects when they are divided according to their modes or accidents; as men are either merry or grave, or sad; and modes, when they are divided by their subjects, as distempers belong to the fluids, or to the solid parts of the animal.

It is also to this place we reduce the proposals of a dfficulty under its various cases, whether it be in fpeculation or practice; as to shew the reason of sun-beams burning wood, whether it be done by a convex glass or a concave, or to shew the construction and mensura. tion of triangles, whether you have two angles and a fide given, or two sides and an angle, or only three

. 117 fides. Here it is necessary to distribute or divide a diffaculty into all its cases, in order to gain a perfect knowledge of the subject you contemplate.

It might be observed here, that logicians have sometimes given a mark or sign to distinguish when it is an integral whole, that is divided into its parts or members, or when it is a genus, an universal whole, that is dirtributed into its species and individuals. The rule they give is this : whensoever the whole idea can be directly and properly affirmed of each part, as a bird is an animal, á fish is an animal; Bucephalus is a horses Peter is a man; then it is a distribution of a genus into its species, or a species into its individuals : but when the whole cannot be thus directly affirmed concerning every part, then it is a division of an integral into its several species or members; as we cannot say the head, the breast, the hand, or the foot is an animal, but we say, the head is a part of the animal, and the foot is another part.

This rule may hold true generally in corporeal beings, or perhaps in all substances : but when we say the fear of God is wisdom, and so is human civility : criticism is true learning, and so is philosophy: to execute a murderer is justice, and to fave and defend the innocent is justice too: in there cases it is not so easily determined, whether an integral whole be divided into its parts, or an universal into its species : for the fear of God may be called either one part, or one kind of wifdom : criticism is one part, or one kind of learning; and the execution of a murderer may be called a fpecies of justice as well as part of it. Nor indeed is it a matter of great importance to determine this controversy.

. . . . SECT. XI.

. Of an orderly Conception of Things. THE last rule to direct our conceptions is that we

i should rank and place them in a proper method ani juit order. This is of necessary use to prevent

L

confusion ; for as a trader who never places his goods in his thop or warehouse in a regular order, nor keeps the accounts of his buying and selling, paying and receiving in a just method, is in utmost danger of plunging all his affairs into confusion and ruin; so a student who is in the search of truth, or an author or teacher who communicates knowledge to others, will very much obitruct his design, and confound his own mind or the mind of his hearers, unless he range his ideas in just order

If we would therefore become successful learners or teachers, we must not conceive of things in a confused heap, but dispose our ideas in some certain method, which may be most easy and useful both for the understanding and memory ; and be sure as much as may be to follow the nature of things, for which many rules might be given, viz.

1. Conceive as much as you can of the essentials of any subject, before you consider its accidentals. . . 2. Survey first the general parts and properties of any subject, before you extend your thoughts to discourse of the particular kind or species of it.

3. Contemplate things first in their own fimple natures, and afterwards view them in composition with other things ; unless it be your prefent purpose to take a compound being to pieces, in order to find out or to thew the nature of it by searching and discovering of what simples it is composed.

4. Consider the absolute modes or affections of any being as it is in itself, before you proceed to consider it relatively, or to furvey the various relations in which it stands to other beings, G'c.

Note, These rules chiefly belong to the method of inftruction which the learned call iynthetic.

But in the regulation of our ideas their is seldom an absolute necessity that we should place them in this or the other particular method : it is possible in some cases that many methods may be equally goad, that is, may equally atiist the understanding and the memory : to frame a method exquisitely accurate, according to the strict nature of things, and to maintain this accuracy from the beginning to the end of a treatise, is a most rare and difficult thing, if not impossible. But a larger account of method would be very improper in this, place, left we anticipate what belongs to the fourth: part of logic.

SECT. XII.
The five Rules of Conception examplified.
TT may be useful here to give a specimen of the five

special rules to direct our conceptions, which have been the subject of this long chapter, and represent them practically in one view.

Suppose the theme of our discourse were the passions of the inind.

It To gain a clear and distinct idea of passion, we muit define both the name and the thing - To begin with the definition of the name we are not here to understand the word passion in its vulgar and most limited fenfe, as it signifies merely anger or fury; nor do we take it in its most extensive philosophical sense, for the sustaining the action of an agent; but in the more limited philofophical fense, passions fignify the various affections of the mind, such as admira.. tion, love or hatred; this is the definition of the name.

We proceed to the definition of the thing, pallion is defined a sensation of fome special commotion in ani. mal nature, occasioned by the mind's perception of fome object suited, to excite that commotion.* Here

[ocr errors]

* Since this was written, I have published a short treatise of the : passions, wherein I have so far varied from this definition as to call them sensible commotions of our whole nature, both soul and body, occasioned by the mind's perception of the objects, &c. I made this alteration in the description of the passions in that book, chiefly to in. clude in a more explicite manner the passions of desire and averfion which are acts of volition rather than sensations. Yet fince fome commotions of animal nature attend all the passions, and since there is always a sensation of these commotions, I shall not change the defi- . nition I have written here : for this will agree to all the passions : whether they include any act of volition or not; nør indeed is the. matter of any great importance. Nov, 17, 1728.

the genus or general nature of passion is a fensation of some special commotion in animal nature; and here. in it agrees with hunger, thirst, pain, &C. The effential difference of it is, that this commotion arises from a taought or perception of the mind, and hereby it is. distinguished from hunger, thirst, or pain. .

2dly, We must conceive of it completely, or survey the several parts that compose it. Thefe are (1.) The mind's perception of some objekt.. (2.) The consequent ruffle or special commotions of the nerves, and blood, and animal spirits. And (3.) The sensation of this inward commotion.

3dly, We must consider it comprehenfively in its various properties. The most effential attributes that make up its nature has been already mentioned under the foregoing heads. Some of the most considerable properties that remain are these, viz. That passion belongs to all mankind in greater or lesser degrees: it is not constanily present with us, but upon some certain occasions : it is appointed by our Creator for varie ous useful ends and purposes, viz. to give us vigour in the pursuit of what is good and agreeable to us, or in the avoidance of what is hurtful : it is very proper for our state of trial in this world : It is not utterly to be rooted out of our nature, but to be moderated and governed according to rules of virtue and religion, c.

4thly, We must take cognizance of the various kinds of it, which is called an extensive conception of it. If the object which the mind perceives be very uncommon, it excites the passion of admiration : if the vbject appear agreeable it raises love : if the agreeable object be abfent and attainable it is desirable : if likely to be obtained, it excites hope : if unattainable despair : if it be present and pofleffed, it is the passion of joy: if loit, it excites sorrow; if the object be disagreeable it causes in general hatred or aversion ; if it be absent and yet we are in danger of it, it raises our fear: if it be present, it is sorrow and sadness, e ci

Sthly, All these things and many more which go to compose a treatise on this subject must be placed in their proper order : a flight specimen of which is.exhi. bited in this short account of passion, and which thu

« PreviousContinue »