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Further remarks on the confiftency of thefe principles with the Interefts of Science, and the Rights of Mankind:
T may poffibly be objected to this difcourfe, That "it tends to difcourage "freedom of inquiry, and to promote implicit faith."
But nothing is more contrary to my defign; as those who attend, without prejudice, to the full import of what I have advanced on the fubject of evidence, will undoubtedly perceive. Let me be permitted to repeat, that the truths in which man is most concerned do not lie exceedingly deep; nor are we to estimate either their importance, or their certainty, by the length of the line of our inveftigation. The evidences of the philofophy of human nature are found in our own breaft; we need not roam abroad in queft of them; the unlearned are judges of them as well
as the learned. Ambiguities have arifen, when the feelings of the heart and understanding were expreffed in words; but the feelings themfelves were not ambiguous. Let a man attentively examine himself, with a fincere purpofe of difcovering the truth, and without any bias in favour of particular theories, and he will feldom be at a lofs, in regard to thofe truths, at least, that are most essential to his happiness and duty. If men must needs amufe themfelves with metaphyfical investigation, let them apply it, where it can do no harm, to the diftinctions and logomachies of ontology. In the fcience of human nature it cannot poffibly do good, but must of neceffity do infinite mifchief. What avail the obfcure deductions of verbal argument, in illuftrating what we fufficiently know by experience? or in fhowing that to be fictitious and falfe, whofe energy we must feel and acknowledge every moment? When therefore I find a pretended principle of human nature evinced by a dark and intricate inveftigation, I am tempted to fufpect, not without reafon, that its evidence is no where to be found but in the arguments of the theorift; and
thefe, when disguised by quaint diftinctions, and ambiguous language, it is fometimes hard to confute, even when the heart recoils from the doctrine with contempt or deteftation. If the doctrine be true, it must alfo be agreeable to experience to experience, therefore, let the appeal be made; let the circumstances be pointed out, in which the controverted fentiment arifeth, or is fuppofed to arise. This is to act the philofopher, not the me taphyfician; the interpreter of nature, not the builder of fyftems. But let us confider the objection more particularly.
What then do you mean by that implicit faith, to which you fuppofe these principles too favourable? Do you mean an acquiefcence in the dictates of our own understanding, or in thofe of others? If the former, I must tell you, that fuch implicit faith is the only kind of belief which true philofophy recommends. I have already remarked, that, while man continues in his prefent ftate, our own intellectual feelings are, and must be, the ftandard of truth to us. All evidence productive of belief, is refolvible into the evidence of confcioufnefs; and comes at laft
laft to this point, I believe because I believe, or because the law of my nature determines me to believe. This belief may be called implicit; but it is the only rational belief of which we are capable: and to fay, that our minds ought not to fubmit to it, is as abfurd as to fay, that our bodies ought not to be nourished with food. Revelation itself must be attended with evidence to fatisfy consciousness or common fenfe; otherwife it can never be rationally believed. By the evidence of the gofpel, the rational Chriftian is perfuaded that it comes from God. He acquiefces in it as truth, not because it is recommended by others, but because it fatisfies his own understanding.
But if, by implicit faith, you mean, what I think is commonly meant by that term, an unwarrantable or unquestioned 'acquiefcence in the fentiments of other men, I deny that any part of this dif course hath a tendency to promote it. I never faid, that doctrines are to be taken for granted without examination; though I affirmed, that, in regard to moral doctrines, a long and intricate examination is neither neceffary nor expedient. With 3 F moral
moral truth, it is the bufinefs of every man to be acquainted; and therefore the Deity has made it level to every capacity.
Far be it from a lover of truth to difcourage freedom of inquiry! Man is poffeffed of reasoning powers; by means of which he may bring that within the sphere of common fenfe, which was originally beyond it. Of these powers he may, and ought to avail himself; for many important truths are not felf-evident, and our faculties were not defigned for a state of inactivity. But neither were they defigned to be employed in fruitlefs or dangerous investigation. Our knowledge and capacity are limited; it is fit and neceffary they should be fo: we need not wander into forbidden paths, or attempt to penetrate inacceffible regions, in queft of employment; the cultivation of useful and practical fcience, the improvement of arts, and the indispensable duties of life, will furnifh ample fcope to all the exertions of human genius. Surely that man is my friend, who diffuades me from attempting what I cannot perform, nor even attempt without danger. And is not he a friend to fcience and mankind, who endeavours