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a state of wavering and fluctuation ; Sometimes indulging every loose desire, as if we were not accountable beings; and sometimes yielding to superstitious fears, as if there were no god but the devil. To a well-disposed mind, the existence of a supreme benevolent Deity, appears highly probable : and if by the study of theology that probability be improved into a certainty, the conviction of a supreme Deity who rules with equity and mildness, will be a source of constant enjoyment, which I boldly set above the titillating pleasures of external Jense. Polibly there may be lefs present amusement in abstract studies, than in newspapers, in party-pamphlets, or in Hoyl upon Whist : but let us for a moment anticipate fururity, and imagine that we are reviewing past transactions,—how pleasant the retrospect of those who have maintained the dignity of their nature, and employ'd their talents to the besi purposes !
Contradictory opinions that have influence 'on practice, will be regretted by every person of a found heart; and as erroneous opinions are commonly the result 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 sole study, because in them were locked up all the treasures of useful knowledge. This study has long ago ceased to be the chief object of education; and yet the original plan is handed down to us with very little variation. Wishing to contribute to a more perfect system of education, I present to the public the following Sketches. The books that have been publised on morality, theology, and the art of reasoning, are not eminent either for fimplicity, or for perspicuity. To introduce these into the subjects mentioned, is my aim; with what fuccefs, is with deference fubmitted to the judgement of others. The' historical part, hitherto much neglected, is necessary as a branch of my general plan; and I am hopeful, that, beside instruction, it will contribute to recreation, which, in abpract studies, is no less necesary than pleafant,
Ffirmation is that sort of expression
which the speaker uses, when he defires to be believed. What be affirms is termed a proposition.
Truth and error are qualities of propofitions. A proposition that fays a thing is what it is in reality, is termed a true proposition. A proposition that says a thing is what it is not in reality, is termed an erroneous proposition.
Truth is so 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 sense of beauty, handled in Elements of Criticism. Our knowledge of right and wrong in actions, is derived from the moral sense, to be handled in the sketch immediately following. Our knowledge of truth and error is derived from various fources.
Our external senses are one fource of knowledge : they lay open to us external subjects, their qualities, their actions, with events produced by these actions. The internal senses are another source of knowledge: they lay open to us things passing in the mind; thinking, for example, deliberating, inclining, resolving, willing, consenting, and other acts; and they also lay open to us our emotions and passions. There is a sense by which we perceive the truth of many propositions ; such as, That every thing which begins
* It has been wisely observed, that truth is the fame to the understanding that music is to the car, or beauty to the eye.
to exist must have a cause; That every effect adapted to some end or purpose, proceeds from a designing cause; and, That every effect adapted to a good end or purpose, proceeds from a designing and benevolent cause. A multitude of axioms in every science, particularly in mathematics, are equally perceived to be true. By a peculiar fense, of which afterward, we know that there is a Deity. There is a sense by which we know, that the external signs of passion are the same in all men; that animals of the same external appearance, are of the same fpecies, and that animals of the same species, have the same properties (a). There is a sense that dives into futurity: we know that the sun will rise to-morrow; that the earth will perform its wonted course round the sun ; that winter and summer will follow each other in succession ; that a stone dropt from the hand will fall to the ground; and a thousand other such propositions.
There are many propositions, the truth of which is not so apparent: a process of
(a) Preliminary Discourse.