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to do: for the Spanish villager sees no reason to distrust his confessor in anything told him, so follows the faculty he has as steadily as the most enlightened free-thinker.

3. Therefore reason, to be made the subject of a dispute, must • import something that is not the sole principle of assent, but capable of being deserted for some other guidance, and we must seek for some more determinate idea of it than is ordinarily to be found among disputants. And if we attend to the language of mankind, I think it will be found, that reason denotes that set of principles or judgments stored in the mind from experience or other sources: for when we say a thing stands to reason, or is discordant from it, we mean thereby that it coincides or disagrees with the notions we have already entertained. Now were we masters of mathematical certainty, our present judgments would be an infallible test to try all other evidences by, according as we perceived them repugnant or reconcilable thereto: but this not being the case, it would be the most unreasonable thing in the world to resolve against ever departing from our present judgment upon any evidence whatever, or to do it unless the new evidence overbalance the old.

Thus far we may go without offence to either side: but submitting implies something more than barely balancing the evidences; it carries the idea of a voluntary act to take off weight from the scale of present opinion; and when we reflect how often prejudice and passion slip into the balance, we shall see the expedience of submitting our reason by sedulously lifting out the weights they have cast in. On the other hand, if another would throw bis prejudices and passions into the opposite scale, there is as much expedience in resisting, as there was in submitting in the former case.

I shall not enter into the contests concerning the side whereon the prejudice lies; each opponent constantly charging it upon the other : it is enough to warn both against the danger and unreasonableness of resolving either to exact or refuse submission at all hazards; let them use their best industry to find out the proper times for either.

But it is said there are some principles so strongly confirmed by constant experience, that though they have not mathematical certainty, they carry so full a degree of assurance, as no weight of testimony or other subsequent evidence can overbalance without aid of violent prejudice or passion, which is the circumstance making resistance expedient. Now I cannot easily admit that we may be so well assured of any principle as to render it absolutely impossible there should be any new evidence strong enough to overthrow it upon a dispassionate examination. We know for once this rule failed, when the Indian king discredited all the Dutchman had said before, upon hearing him assert, that in Holland, the cold was so intense as to make the water hard enough to walk upon : for we can scarce be better assured of anything than he was that if a greater degree of cold could make water hard, a less degree must proportionably stiffen and approach it towards hardness, which was contrary to constant experierce.

But then as in the present disputes there is no room to expect such extraordinary evidence as may deserve the preference to all our old stores, but they are carried on by reasonings of man with man, upon the foundations lying open in common to all ; I see no cause to admit exceptions against this rule, nor expedience even of listening to the proofs offered by a fellow-creature in support of a point directly counter to the clearest, best-established principles of reason, unless by an experimental application he can produce the testimony of our own senses. If a man told me he drank out a bottle yesterday after dinner, I might take him at his word, because I see nothing in my ideas to hinder that he might do it: but if he added, that as soon as he had drank out the wine, he crept into the bottle himself, this appears so discordant to my clearest conceptions, that I should deem it superfluous to let him call for witnesses to attest the fact, or enter into a long argumentation to prove the possibility of it. I should cut the matter short by desiring him to send for the bottle, and if he would let me see bim creep in again, I would engage to believe he had done it yesterday.

But the misfortune is, we are apt to mistake the extent of our rule by mistaking that of our reason: the strong glare of our clearest evidences makes them seem to cover more ground than they really do, by which means we are led sometimes to imagine them contradicted in matters whereof they are wholly silent. Hence comes the distinction between things contrary to reason, and things above reason, that is, beyond the limits of its reach. For sure none will be so hardy as to require assent against reason in points whereof the party stands in a situation to judge for himself : nor will any avow his resolution to refuse all other evidences, when he has no rational grounds from his own fund to determine either way. But the great difficulty lies in ascertaining what is above, and what contrary to, reason: there are perpetual disputes upon this article, some looking upon their non-comprehension as a certain mark of the contrariety, while others would impose the most palpable absurdities under the notion of their being above

The vulgar are generally too credulous, because their reason being narrow, there is little room to contradict it: and the



learned too indocible, because having extended theirs to a larger field, they think everything a contradiction that will not come within the sphere.

I have heard it remarked that parsons and lawyers are the most troublesome people in the world for one another to deal with, for being used to argumentation and rejoining, they will take nothing upon trust without having it explained to their satisfaction; one will receive none of your creeds upon the authority of the Church, unless you trace out to him


link of the connection between speculative points, and the happiness of mankind; the other expects you to show what foundation there is in justice, that if a man has ever so good a cause and sets out ever so clearly in his plea, yet if he happens to demur by averment, when he should have concluded to the contrary, judgment shall go against him. And if they acquiesce in these things for peace sake, yet they look upon them as empty forms of no real use, imposed only to amuse the vulgar, and give an importance to the persons skilled in them. But in all trades, professions, arts, and sciences whatsoever, there is something of mystery understood by the respective professor, and clearly discerned necessary for his practice, but extremely hard to be made out plain enough to satisfy the reason of a stranger.

I shall not attempt to describe the certain mark by which things above reason may be distinguished from things contrary to reason, as being more than I can undertake : this is best learned by that most useful knowledge I have recommended more than once before under the appellation of the science of ignorance. That there must be a difference, stands to reason itself, which can pass no judgment concerning things above it, therefore they can have no contrariety to it, for a witness cannot easily be contradicted in points whereon he deposes nothing : it belongs to reason to judge of the external evidence offered in support of them, but would be a contradiction in terms to suppose reason capable of pronouncing upon a previous contemplation of their nature. But how much soever men acknowledge in general the limited condition of their understanding, this is but a profession in form to gain the credit of modesty, or rather they think themselves sensible of the limitation when they really are not : for you seldom find them sensible of it in particular instances. They will readily enough admit an ignorance of external objects, because this may proceed from want of

necessary information, and casts no slur upon their capacity : but are wonderfully backward to acknowledge it in their ideas of reflection ; for fear this might lessen them in their own opinion by showing a want of strength in their faculties.


5. Nevertheless, whoever will take the pains to reflect, may find instances of events whose reality he cannot doubt of, though the manner of their production be beyond all possibility of conception. We know that if two bodies lie close together, by pushing one you may move both, yet it is not to be conceived how the hindmost can move before the other is gone away to leave a space for it to move into, nor how the foremost can move before there is any motion in the other to impel it. Therefore some who were unwilling to allow anything above their reason denied the reality of all motion whatever : so that one may successively see Paris, London, and Edinburgh, without stirring an inch from one's place. We move our limbs with perfect command and expertness, without knowing any circumstance concerning the little fibres whereby we move them, how many they be, where they lie, or which of them belongs to each particular member. This is so inconceivable, that Hartley denied we ever move them at all, but that they are worked for us by the vibratiuncles of ether. We continually experience perceptions excited in our minds by the action of bodies upon our senses, yet there is no conceiving any relation between impulse and thought, nor what connection the modifications of body can have with the perceptions of spirit. Therefore Berkley denied the existence of bodies, and that perception could be excited by anything less than an immediate act of Omnipotence. The pulsation of the heart, the working of the lungs, the tone of circulating vessels in plants and animals, the powers of elasticity and electricity, the action of fire, the prodigious explosion of gunpowder, are things inconceivable in their causes and manner of operation.

These then are all above reason, and if we become infidels to everything that is so, we shall lose the use of our senses, and strip ourselves of all knowledge and grounds of assurance of any kind whatever. We should attain a freedom of thought indeed with a witness, but such a freedom as a man would enjoy who should be carried up into the intermundane spaces beyond the reach of all attraction : he would have no force nor restraint upon him, it is true, but at the saine time he would have no power of motion, for he could neither walk, nor swim, nor fly. The divisibility of matter is above our reason, whether you suppose it endless or limit it by the doctrine of atoms : yet how confidently have many maintained the opposite sides of the question. Mr. Locke has shown us what one might wonder we should need showing, for one would think everybody should know his own ideas without being told, but he has shown us that we have no idea of anything infinite: therefore all infinities are incomprehensible ; but who



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would make this a reason for disbelieving their reality? The most extravagant zealots for reason hold the existence of infinite space. Epicurus and Lucretius, who cannot be suspected of vulgar credulity, maintained the infinitude of atoms, and that infinite combinations were formed of them: nay further, that there are innumerable Earths.wherein the very same transactions are passing as in this, champions of liberty railing in North-Britons, versifiers squirting out careless rhapsodies of harmonious Billingsgate, and Searches puzzling their brains upon old exploded questions which nobody cares a pin how decided, as being of no consequence either for raising a fortune, or making a figure in the House of Commons, or shining in polite company.

Thus we see how all are driven by the testimony of their senses and exercises of their reason, in whatever various manner performed, to admit the reality of some things inexplicable, and consequently above reason as lying beyond the reach of our conception. And if visible nature be so replete with mysteries, we mast expect to find them in contemplations on the supreme Being, in whom everything is infinite, everything incomprehensible : of whose acts we have no experience nor testimony of our senses, but can only catch an imperfect glimpse by their remote consequences in his works. We have no clear idea of creation, nor the passage from nonentity into existence and personality, because all productions we know of were made of pre-existent materials; yet most of us are convinced the Beings we see must have been created. We have no adequate notion of necessary existence, yet are all persuaded to a man it must belong somewhere, the sole question remaining, whether to one object, or multitudes. We cannot conceive a pure act determined originally by the agent without some foreign influence: for the acts of bodies proceed necessarily from external impulse, and our own determinately from previous lights and motives : yet we cannot fail of seeing, the First Cause must have acted before there was anything prior to give an influence, or stand as the object of intelligence; nor could he have had intelligence such in kind as ours within himself, for that would be making him consist of parts, one to be discerned, the other to discern, and this passively, because in all discernment we know of, the mind receives involuntarily the action of something else upon it. We can conceive Time and Space neither dependent nor independent on the Almighty Will and pleasure; for if we take the former, then, if it should so please God, there might be a time wherein there would be no time, and he himself might exist nowhere yet without ceasing to be, which seem to carry a contradiction in the terms: if the latter, then were

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