Page images


[ocr errors]






[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]







T OGIC is the art of using REASON* well in our

L inquiries after truth, and the communication of it to others.

REASON * is the glory of human nature, and one of the chief eminencies whereby we are raised above our fellow-creatures, the brutes, in this lower world.

Reason, as to the power and principle of it, is the common gift of God to all men, though all are not favoured with it by nature in an equal degree; but the acquired improvements of it in different men, make a much greater distinction between them than nature had made. I could even venture to say, that the improvement of reason hath raised the learned and the prudent in the European world, almost as much above the Hottentots, and other savages of Africa, as those savages are by nature superior to the birds, the beafts, and the fishes.

Now the design of Logic is to teach us the right use of our reason, or intellectual powers, and the improvement of them in ourselves and others? This is not only necessary in order to attain any competent knowledge in the sciences, or the affairs of learning but to govern both the greater and the meaner actions of life. It is the cultivation of our reason by which we are better enabled to distinguish good from evil, as well

* The word Reason in this place is not confined to the mere fa.. culty of reasoning, or inferring onc thing from another, but includes all the intellectual powers of man.

[ocr errors]

as truth from falsehood; and both these are matters of the highest importance, whether we regard this life, or the life to come.

The pursuit and acquisition of truth is of infinite concernment to mankind. Hereby we become acquainted with the name of things both in heaven and earth, and their various relations to each other. It is by this means we discover our duty to God and our fellow-creatures ; by this we arrive at the knowledge of natural religion, and learn to confirm our faith in divine revelation, as well as to understand what is re. vealed. Our wisdom, prudence, and piety, our present conduct and our future hope, are all influenced by the use of our rational powers in the search after truth...

There are several things that make it very necessary that our reason should have some assistance in the exercise or use of it.

The first is, the depth and difficulty of many truths and the weakness of our reason to see far into things at once, and penetrate to the bottom of them. It was a faying among the ancients, Veritas in puteo, truth lies in a well ; and, to carry on this metaphor, we may very justly say, that logic does, as it were, supply us with steps whereby we may go down to reach the water : or it frames the links of a chain, whereby we may draw the water up from the bottom. Thus, by the means of many reasonings well connected together, philosophers in our age have drawn a thousand truths out of the depths of darkness, which our fathers were utterly unacquainted with.

Another thing that makes it neceffary for our reason to have some assistance given it, is the disguise and false colours in which many things appear to us in this present imperfect state. There are a thousand things which are not in reality what they appear to be, and that both in the natural and moral world ; so that the sun appears to be flat as a plate of silver, and to be less than twelve inches in diameter; the moon appears to be as big as the sun ; and the rainbow appears to be a large fubftantial arch in the sky; all which are in reality gross falsehoods. So knavery puts on the face of justice; hypocrisy and superstition wear the vizard of piety,

« PreviousContinue »