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a ftate of wavering and fluctuation; fometimes indulging every loofe defire, as if we were not accountable beings; and fometimes yielding to fuperftitious fears, as if there were no god but the devil. To a well-difpofed mind, the existence of a fupreme benevolent Deity, appears highly probable: and if by the study of theology that probability be improved into a certainty, the conviction of a fupreme Deity who rules with equity and mildness, will be a fource of conftant enjoyment, which I boldly fet above the titillating pleafures of external fenfe. Poffibly there may be lefs present amusement in abstract ftudies, than in newspapers, in party-pamphlets, or in Hoyl upon Whift: but let us for a moment anticipate futurity, and imagine that we are reviewing paft tranfactions,-how pleafant the retrospect of those who have maintained the dignity of their nature, and employ'd their talents to the best purposes!
Contradictory opinions that have influence 'on practice, will be regretted by every perfon of a found heart; and as erroneous opinions are commonly the refult of imperfect education, I would gladly hope, that a remedy is not altogether out of reach. At the revival of arts and Sciences, the learned languages
were our fole ftudy, because in them were locked up all the treasures of useful knowledge. This fudy has long ago ceased to be the chief object of education; and yet the ori ginal plan is handed down to us with very little variation. Wishing to contribute to a more perfect fyftem of education, I present to the public the following Sketches. The books that have been published on morality, theology, and the art of reafoning, are not eminent either for Simplicity, or for perfpicuity. To introduce these into the fubjects mentioned, is my aim; with what fuccefs, is with deference fubmitted to the judgement of others. The hiftorical part, hitherto much neglected, is neceffary as a branch of my general plan; and I am hopeful, that, befide inftruction, it will contribute to recreation, which, in abAtract ftudies, is no less neceffary than pleafant.
Principles of Reafon.
Ffirmation is that fort of expreffion which the speaker ufes, when he defires to be believed. What he affirms is
termed a propofition.
Truth and error are qualities of propofitions. A propofition that fays a thing is what it is in reality, is termed a true propofition. A propofition that says a thing is what it is not in reality, is termed an erroneous propofition.
Truth is fo effential in conducting affairs, that man would be a disjointed being were it not agreeable to him. Truth accordingly is agreeable to every human being, and falsehood or error disagreeable.
The pursuit of truth is no less pleasant than the pursuit of any other good*.
Our knowledge of what is agreeable and disagreeable in objects is derived from the fense of beauty, handled in Elements of Criticism. Our knowledge of right and wrong in actions, is derived from the moral fenfe, to be handled in the sketch immediately following. Our knowledge of truth and error is derived from various fources.
Our external fenfes are one fource of knowledge: they lay open to us external fubjects, their qualities, their actions, with events produced by these actions. The internal fenfes are another fource of knowledge: they lay open to us things paffing in the mind; thinking, for example, deliberating, inclining, refolving, willing, confenting, and other acts; and they alfo lay open to us our emotions and paffions. There is a fenfe by which we perceive the truth of many propofitions; fuch as, That every thing which begins
* It has been wifely observed, that truth is the fame to the understanding that mufic is to the car, or beauty to the eye.
to exist must have a caufe; That every effect adapted to fome end or purpose, proceeds from a defigning caufe; and, That every effect adapted to a good end or purpofe, proceeds from a defigning and benevolent caufe. A multitude of axioms in every science, particularly in mathematics, are equally perceived to be true. By a peculiar fenfe, of which afterward, we know that there is a Deity. There is a fense by which we know, that the external figns of paffion are the fame in all men; that animals of the fame external appearance, are of the fame fpecies, and that animals of the fame fpecies, have the fame properties (a). There is a sense that dives into futurity: we know that the fun will rife to-morrow; that the earth will perform its wonted course round the fun; that winter and fummer will follow each other in fucceffion; that a ftone dropt from the hand will fall to the ground; and a thousand other fuch propofitions.
There are many propofitions, the truth of which is not so apparent: a process of
(a) Preliminary Difcourfe.