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SECT. VII. Principles and Rules of Judging concerning Things pati
present, and to come, by the mere Use of Reafon. T HOUGH we attain the greatest assurance of
I things past and future by divine faith, and learning many matters of fact, both pait and present, by human faith, yet reason also mäy, in a good degree, ailut us to judge of matters of fact both past, preient, and to come, by the following principles.
1. There is a system of beings round about us, of which we ourselves are a part, which we call the world; and in this world there is a course of nature, or a settied. order of causes, effects, antecedents, concomitants, cori. fequences, &c. from which the author of nature doch not vary but upon very important occasions.
Where antecedents, concomitants and coníequences €auses and effects, signs and things fignified, subjects. and adjuncts are necessarily connected with each other, we may infer the causes from the effects, and the effects from causes, the antecedents from the consequences, as well as confequences from antecedents, &c. and there, by be pretty certain of many things both past, present, and to come. It is by this principle, that astronomers, can tell what day and hour the sun and moon. were e. clipsed five hundred years ago, and predict all future eclipses as long as the world shall stand. They can tell precisely at what minute the sun rises or sets this day at Pequin in China, or what attitude the dog-star had at midnight or midnoon in Rome, on the day when Julius Cæsar was slain. Gardeners, upon the same principle, can foretel the months, when every plant will be in bloom, and the ploughman knows the weeks of harvest: we are sure, if there be a chicken, there was an egg: if there be a rainbow, we are certain it raing. not far off: if we behold. a tree growing on the earth, we know it has naturally a root under ground..
-3. Where there is a neceffary connection between
causes and effects, antecedents and consequences, signs and things fignified, we know also, that like causes will have like effects, and proportionable causes will have proportionable effects, contrary causes will have contrary effects; and observing men may form many judgments by the rules of fimilitude and proportion, where the causes, effects, &c. are not entirely the same.
4. Where there is but a probable and uncertain con. nection between antecedents, concomitants and conse. quences, we can give but a conjecture, or a probable determination. If the clouds gather, or the weather-glass links, we suppose it will rain : if a man spit blood frequently with coughing, we suppose his lungs are hurt: if very dangerous symptoms appear, we expect. his death.
5. Where causes operate freely, with a liberty of indifference to this or the contrary, there we cannot certainly know what the effects. will be : for it seems to be contingent; and the certain knowledge of it belongs only to God. This is the cafe:in the greatest part of human actions.
6. Yet wise men by a just obfervation of human nature, will give very probable conjectures in this mat. ter, also concerning things paft, or things future, because human nature in all ages and nations has such a conforinity. to itself. By a knowledge of the tempers of men and their present circumstances, we may be able to give a happy guess what their conduct will be, and what will be the event; by an observation of the like cases in former times. This made the emperor Mars cus Antoninus to say, “By looking back into history, and confidering the fate and revolutions of governa ments, you will be able to form a guess, and almost prophecy, upon the future.. For things past, present; and to come, are strangely uniform, and of a colour; and are commonly cast in the same mould. So that upon the matter, forty years of human life may serve for a sample of ten thousand.”. Collier's - Antoninus, Book.VII. Sect. 50
7. There are also some other principles of judging concerning the past actions ef men in former ages, bos fides, books, histories and traditions, which are mediums
of conveying human testimony; as we may infer the
skill and magnificence of the ancients, by some fragments of their statues, and ruins of their buildings. We know what Roman legions came into Great Britain by numbers of bricks dug out of the earth in some parts of the island, with the marks of some particular legion upon them, which must have been employed there in brick-making. We rectify some mistakes in history by ftatues, coins, old altars, utensils of war, &c. We confirm or disprove some pretended traditions and historical writings, by medals, images, pictures, urns, &c.
Thus I have gone through all those particular objects of our judgment which I first propofed, and have laid down principles and rules by which we may safely conduct ourselves therein. There is a variety of other objects concerning which weare occasionally called to pass a judgment, viz. The characters of persons, the value and worth of things, the sense and meaning of particular writers, matters of wit, oratory, poesy, matters of equity in judicial courts, matters of traffic and commerce between man and man, which would be endless to enumerate. But if the general and special rules of judgment which have been mentioned in these two last chapters are treasured up in the mind, and wrought into the very temper of our souls in our younger years, they will lay a foundation for just and regular judgment concerning a thousand special occurrences in the religious, civil and learned life.
LOG I C.
· OF REASON AND SYLLOGISM.
A S the first work of the mind-is-perception, whereA by our ideas are framed, and the second is judg: ment, which joins or disjoins our ideas, and forms a proposition, so the third operation of the mind is reasoning, which joins several propositions together; and makes a syllogism, that is, an argument whereby, we are wont to infer somethings that is less known, from truths which are more evident.
In treating of this subject, let us confider more partie cularly.
1. The nature of a fyllogifin, and the parts of which it is composed.
2. The several kinds of syllogisms, with particular rules relating to them.
3. The doctrine of syllogisms, of false reasonings, together with the means of avoiding them, and the manner of folving or answering them.
4. Some general rules to direct our reasoning.
OF THE NATURE OF A SYLLOGISM, AND THE PARTS
OF WHICH IT IS COMPOSED.
TF the mere perception and comparison of two ideas
I would shew us whether they agree or disagree; then all rational propositions would be matters of intelligencé, or first principles, and there would be no use of reasoning, or drawing any consequences. It is the narrowness of the human mind which introduces the necellity of reasoning. When we are unable to judge of the truth or falsehood of a proposition in an immediate manner, by the mere contemplation of its subject and predicate, we are thus constrained to use a medium, and to compare each of them with some third idea, that by feeing how far they agree or disagree with it, we nay be able to judge how far they agree or disagree among themselves: as, if there are two lines A and B, and I know not whether they are equal or no, I take a third line C, or an inch, and apply it to each of thern ; if it agree with them both, then I infer that A and B are equal; but if it agree with one and not with the other, then I include A and B are unequal : if it agree with neither of them, there can be no comparison.
So if the question be, wheter God must be wor. shipped, we seek a third idea, suppose the idea of a Creator, and say.
Our Créator must be worshipped.
The comparison of this third idea, with the two difa tinct parts of the question, usually requires two propofitions, which are called the premissez : the third proposition, which is drawn from thein, is the conclusion, wherein the question itself is answered, and the subject and predicate joined either in the negative or the affirmative.
The foundation of all affirmative conclusions is laid in this general truth, that so far as two propoied ideas agree to any third idea, they agree also among them