Imágenes de página

him the principles on which he bottoms his reasonings ; and by which he judgeth of truth and falsehood, right and wrong: which some, wanting skill and leisure, and others the inclination, and some beilig taught, that they ought not to examine; there are few to be found who are not exposed by their ignorance, laziness, education, or precipitancy, to take them upon trust.

$. 25. This is evidently the case of all children and young folk; and custom, a greater power than nature, seldom failing to make them worship for divine what she hath inured them to bow their minds, and submit their understandings to ; it is no wonder that grown men, either perplexed in the necessary affairs of life, or hot in the pursuit of pleasures, should not seriously sit down to examine their own tenets; especially when one of their principles is, that principles ought not to be questioned. And had men leisure, parts, and will, who is there almost that dare shake the foundations of all his past thoughts and actions, and endure to bring upon himself the shame of having been a long time wholly in mistake and error ? who is there hardy enough to contend with the reproach which is every where prepared for those who dare venture to dissent from the received opinions of their country or party? And where is the man to be found that can patiently prepare himself to bear the name of wliimsical, sceptical, or atheist, which he is sure to mcet with, who does in the least scruple any of the common opinions? And he will be much more afraid to question those principles, when he shall think them, as most men do, the standards set up by God in his mind, to be the rule and touchstone of all other opinions. And what can linder him from thinking them sacred, when he tinds them the earliest of all the his own thoughts, and the most reverenced by others?

$. 26. It is easy to imagine how by these means it comes to pass, that men worship the idols that have been set up in their minds ; grow fond of the notions they have been long acquainted with there; and stamp the characters of divinity upon absurdities and errors, be | come zealous votaries to bulls and nionkeys; and contendo too fight, and die in defence of their opinions : “ Dum



solos credit habendos esse deos, quos ipse colit.” For since the reasoning faculties of the soul, which are almost constantly, though not always warily nor wisely, employed, would not know how to move, for want of a foundation and footing, in most men; who through laziness or avocation do not, or for want of time, or true helps, or for other causes, cannot penetrate into the principles of knowledge, and trace truth to its fountain and original; it is natural for them, and almost unavoidable, to take up with some borrowed principles: which being reputed and presumed to be the evident proofs of other things, are thought not to need any other proof themselves. Whoever shall receive

any of these into his mind, and entertain them there, ta with the reverence usually paid to principles, never il venturing to examine them, but accustoming himself of als to believe them, because they are to be believed, may

take up from his education, and the fashions of his who country, any absurdity for innate principles; and by , to long poring on the same objects, so dim his sight, as projbe to take monsters lodged in his own brain, for the images Terapia of the Deity, and the workmanship of his hands.

$. 27. By this progress, how many there. is are who arrive at principles, which they


must be ist es believe innate, may be easily observed, in

examined. est the variety of opposite principles held and les contended for by all sorts and degrees of men. And obveze he that shall deny this to be the method, wherein most

men proceed to the assurance they have of the truth and evidence of their principles, will perhaps find it a hard matter any other way to account for the contrary tenets, which are firmly believed, confidently asserted, and which great numbers are ready at any time to seal with their blood. And, indeed, if it be the privilege of innate principles, to be received upon their own authority, without examination, I know not what may

not be believed, or how any one's principles can be error questioned. If they may, and ought to be examined,

and tried, I desire to know how first and innate principles can be tried; or at least it is reasonable to demand the marks and characters, whereby the genuine

E 3



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

innate inhate principles may be distinguished from others that so, an dst the great variety of pretenders, I may be kept from mistakes, in so material a point as this. When this is done, I shall be ready to embrace such welcome and useful propositions; and till then I may with modesty doubt, since I fear universal consent, which is the only one produced, will scarce prove a sufficient mark to direct my choice, and assure me of any innate principles. From what has been said, I think it past doubt, that there are no practical principles wherein all men agree; and therefore none innate.


Other Considerations concerning Innate Principles, both

Speculative and Practical.

Principles $. 1. L AD those, who would persuade no: innate,

11 us that there are innate princiunless their ides be in ples, not taken them together in gross, but nite.

considered separately the parts out of which those propositions are made; they would not, perhaps, have been so forward to believe they were innate: since, if the ideas which made up those truths were not, it was impossible that the propositions made up of them should be innate, or the knowledge of them be born wit us. For if the ideas be not innate, there was a time when the mind was without those principles; and then they will not be innate, but be derived from some other original. For, where the ideas themselves are not, there can be no knowledge, no assent, no mental or verbal propositions about them.

$. 2. If we will attentively consider new, Ideas, espe, cially those

ë born children, we shall have little reason to belonging to think, that they bring many ideas into the principles, world with them. For bating perhaps some not born with faint ideas of hunger and thirst, and warmth, children, and some pains which they may have felt in


[ocr errors][ocr errors]

the womb, there is not the least appearance of any settled ideas at all in them ; especially of ideas, answering the terms which make up those universal propositions, that are esteemed innate principles. One may perceive how, by degrees, afterwards, ideas come into their minds; and that they get no more, nor no other, than what experience, and the observation of things, that come in their way, furnish them with: which might be enough to satisfy us, that they are not original characters stamped on the mind.

$. 3." It is impossible for the same thing to be, and not to be,” is certainly (if there be any such) an innate principle. But can any one think, or will any one say, that impossibility and identity are two innate ideas? Are they such as all mankind have, and bring into the world with them? And are they those which are the first in children, and antecedent to all acquired ones ? If they are innate, they must needs be so. Hath a child an idea of impossibility and identity, before it has of white or black, sweet or bitter? And is it from the knowledge of this principle, that it concludes that wormwood rubbed on the nipple hath not the same taste that it used to receive from thence? Is it the actual knowledge of “impossibile est idem esse, & non esse,!' that makes a child distinguish between its mother and a stranger? or, that makes it fond of the one, and fly the other? Or does the inind regulate itself and its assent by ideas, that it never yet had? Or the understanding draw conclusions from principles, which it never yet knew or understood? The names impossibility and identity stand for two ideas, so far from being. jonate, or born with us, that I think it requires great care and attention to form them right in our understandings. Thiey are so far from being brought into the world with us, so remote from the thoughts of infanci and childhood ; that, I believe, upon examination it will be found, that many grown men want them. i n .

$. 4. If identity (to instance in that alone) Iderrtity: avi be a native impression, and consequently so idea' not sp. clear and obvious to us, that we must needs nate. know it even from our cradles; I would gladly be reE 4



solved by one of seven, or seventy years old, whether à man, being a creature consisting of soul and body,' be the same man when his body is changed? Whether Euphorbus and Pythagoras, having had the same soul, were the same men, though they lived several ages asunder? Nay, whether the cock too, which had the same soul, were not the same with both of them? Whereby, perhaps, it will appear, that our idea of sameness is not so settled and clear, as to deserve to be thought innate in us. For if those innate ideas are not clear and distinct, so as to be universally known, and naturally agreed on, they cannot be subjects of universal and undoubted trutlıs; but will be the unavoidable occasion of perpetual uncertainty. For, I suppose, every one's idea of identity will not be the same that Pythagoras, and others of his followers have : And which then shall be true? Which innate? Or are there two different ideas of identity, both innate?

$. 5. Nor let any one think, that the questions I have here proposed about the identity of man, are bare empty speculations; which if they were, would be enough to show, that there was in the understandings of men no innate idea of identity, He that shall, with a little

attention, reflect on the resurrection, and consider that · divine justice will bring to judgment, at the last day, the

very same persons, to be happy or miserable in the other, who did well or ill in this life; will find it perhaps not easy to resolve with himself, what makes the same man, er wherein identity consists; and will not be forward to think he, and every one, even children themselves, have naturally a clear idea of it. Whole and $. 6. Let us examine that principle of mapart not in thematicks, viz. “.that the whole is bigger nate ideas, than a part.” This, I take it, is reckoned amongst innate principles. I am sure it has as good a title as any to be thought so; which yet no-body can think it to be, when he considers the ideas it comprehends in it," whole and part," are perfectly relative; þut the positive ideas, to which they properly and immediately belong, are extension and number, of which alone whole and part are relations. So that if whole

[ocr errors]


« AnteriorContinuar »