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thefe impulfes of nature in which reason has no part. Far be it from me to speak with difrefpect of any of the gifts of God; every work of his is good; but the best things, when abused, may become pernicious. Reason is a noble faculty, and, when kept within its proper fphere, and applied to useful purposes, proves a mean of exalting human creatures almost to the rank of fuperior beings. But this faculty has been much perverted, often to vile, and often to infignificant purposes; fometimes chained like a flave or malefactor, and fometimes foaring in forbidden and unknown regions. No wonder, then, if it hath been frequently made the inftrument of feducing and bewildering mankind, and of rendering philosophy contemptible.

In the fcience of body, glorious discoveries have been made by a right use of reafon. When men are once fatisfied to take things as they find them; when they believe Nature upon her bare declaration, without fufpecting her of any defign to impofe upon them; when their utmost ambition is to be her fervants and humble interpreters; then, and not till then, will philofophy


philofophy profper. But of those who have applied themselves to the fcience of Human Nature, it may truly be said, (of many of them at leaft), that too much reafoning, hath made them mad. Nature fpeaks to us by our external, as well as by our internal, fenfes, it is ftrange, that we fhould believe her in the one cafe, and not in the other; it is moft ftrange, that fuppofing her fallacious; we should think ourfelves capable of detecting the cheat. Common Senfe tells me, that the ground on which I ftand is hard, material, and folid, and has a real, feparate, independent existence, BERKELEY and HUME tell me, that I am imposed upon in this matter: for that the ground under my feet is really an idea in my mind; that its veгу effence confifts in being perceived; and that the fame inftant it ceases to be perceived, it must alfo ceafe to exift; in a word, that to be, and to be perceived, when predicated of the ground, the fun, the ftarry heavens, or any corporeal object, fignify precifely the fame thing. Now if my common fenfe be mistaken, who fhall afcertain and correct the mistake? Our reafon, it is faid. Are then the inferences of reafon in this inftance clearer, and more G


decifive, than the dictates of common fenfe? By no means: I still trust to my common fenfe as before, and I feel that I muft do fo. But fuppofing the inferences of the one faculty as clear and decisive, as the dictates of the other, yet who will af fure me, that my reason is lefs liable to mistake than my common fenfe? And if reason be mistaken, what fhall we say? Is this mistake to be rectified by a second reafoning, as liable to mistake as the firft? In a word, we must deny the distinction between truth and falfehood, adopt univerfal fcepticism, and wander without end from one maze of error and uncertainty to another; a ftate of mind fo miferable, that Milton makes it one of the torments of the damned; -or elfe we must fuppofe, that one of these faculties is naturally of higher authority than the other; and that either reafon ought to fubmit to common fenfe, or common fenfe to reafon, whenever a variance happens between them. It has been faid, that every inquiry in philofophy ought to begin with doubt; that nothing is to be taken for granted, and nothing believed, without proof. If this be admitted, it must also be admitted, that reafon is the ultimate judge


judge of truth, to which common fenfe must continually act in fubordination. But this I cannot admit ; because I am able to prove the contrary by the most incontestable evidence. I am able to prove, that except we believe many things without proof, we never can believe any thing at all; for that all found reasoning muft ultimately rest on the principles of common sense, that is, on principles intuitively certain, or intuitively probable; and, confequently, that common fenfe is “the ultimate judge of truth, to which “ reason must continually act in fubordi"nation."-This I fhall prove by a fair induction of particulars.

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All reasoning terminates in first principles. All evidence ultimately intuitive. Common Senfe

the Standard of Truth.


N this induction, we cannot propofe to comprehend every fort of evidence, and every mode of reafoning; but we shall G 2


endeavour to inveftigate the origin of thofe kinds of evidence * which are the moft important, and of the most exten

That the induction here given is fufficiently comprehenfive, will appear from the following analyfis.

All the objects of the human understanding have been reduced to two claffes, viz. bftract Ideas, and Things really exifting.

Of Abstract Ideas, and their Relations, all our knowledge is certain, being founded on MATHEMATICAL EVIDENCE (a); which comprehends, 1. Intuitive Evidence, and, 2. The Evidence of ftrict demonftration.

We judge of Things really exifting, either, 1. from our own experience; or, 2. from the experience of other men.

1. Judging of Real Exiftences from our own experience, we attain either Certainty or Probability. Our knowledge is certain when fupported by the evidence, 1. Of SENSE EXTERNAL (b) and INTERNAL (c); 2. Of MEMORY (d); and, 3. Of LEGITIMATE INFERENCES OF THE CAUSE FROM THE EFFECT (e).· -Our knowledge is probable, when, from facts already experienced, we argue, 1. to facts OF THE SAME KIND (f) not experienced; and, 2. to facts OF A SIMILAR KIND (g) not experienced. This knowledge, though called probable, often rifes to moral certainty.



2. Judging of Real Exiftences from the experience of other men, we have the EVIDENCE OF THEIR TESTIMONY (). The mode of underflanding produced by that evidence is properly called Faith; and, this faith fometimes amounts to probable opinion, and fometimes rifes even to abfolute certainty.

(a) Section 1. (e) Sect. 5.

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(b) Sect. 2. (ƒ) Sect. 6.

(c) Sect. 3.

(g) Sect. 7.


(d) Sect. 4.

(b) Sect. 8.

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