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may I not be permitted to add, that every one of those who have perufed this essay, has advised the author to publish it; and that many of them have encouraged him by this infinuation, to him the most flattering of all others, That by fa doing, he would probably be of fome fervice to the caufe of truth, virtue, and mankind? In this hope he submits it to the public. And it is this hope only that could have induced him to attempt polemical difquifition: a fpecies of writing, which, in his own judgement, is not the moft creditable; which he knows, to his coft, is not the moft pleafing; and of which he is well aware, that it can hardly fail to draw upon him the refentment of a numerous, powerful, and fafhionable party. But,
Welcome for thee, fair Virtue! all the past ; For thee, fair Virtue! welcome even the last.
If these pages, which he hopes none will condemn who have not read, fhall throw any light on the firft principles of moral fcience; if they fhall fuggeft, to the young and unwary, any cautions against that fophistry, and licentioufness of principle, which too much infect the converfations
and compofitions of the age; if they fhall, in any measure, contribute to the fatisfaction of any of the friends of truth and virtue; his purpose will be completely anfwered: and he will, to the end of his life, rejoice in the recollection of those painful hours which he paffed in the examination of this moft important controverfy.
E S S SAY
NATURE and IMMUTABILITY
IN OPPOSITION то
SOPHISTRY and SCEPTICISM,
PROPOSE to treat this fubject in the following manner.
FIRST, I fhall endeavour to trace the feveral kinds of Evidence and Reafoning up to their first principles; with a view to ascertain the Standard of Truth, and explain its immutability.
SECONDLY, I fhall fhow, that my fentiments on this head, however inconsistent with the genius of fcepticism, and with the practice and principles of fcep
tical writers, are yet perfectly confiftent with the genius of true philofophy, and with the practice and principles of thofe who are univerfally acknowledged to have been the most fuccefsful in the investigation of truth: concluding with fome inferences or rules, by which the more important fallacies of the fceptical philofophy may be detected by every person of common fenfe, even though he fliould not poffefs acutenefs or metaphyfical knowledge fufficient to qualify him for a logical confutation of them.
THIRDLY, I fhall anfwer fome objections; and make fome remarks, by way of Eftimate of fcepticifin and fceptical writers.
I divide my difcourfe in this manner, chiefly with a view to the reader's accommodation. An exact arrangement of parts is neceffary to confer elegance on a whole; but I am more ftudious of utility than of elegance. And though my fentiments might have been exhibited in a more fyftematic order, I am apt to think, that the order in which they firft occurred to me is the most natural, and may be the most effectual for accomplishing my purpose.
THE STANDARD OF TRUTH.
HE love of truth has ever been accounted a good principle. Where it is known to prevail, we expect to find integrity and steadiness; a temper of mind favourable to every virtue, and tending in an eminent degree to the advancement of public utility. To have no concern for the truth, to be falfe and fallacious, is a character which no perfon who is not utterly abandoned would chufe to bear; it is a character from which we expect nothing but levity and inconfiftence. Truth feems to be confidered by all mankind as fomething fixed, untherefore changeable, and eternal; it may be thought, that to vindicate the permanency of truth is really to dispute without an adverfary. And indeed, if these queftions were propofed in general terms,— Is there fuch a thing as truth? Are truth D