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HISTORY OF MA N.
Progrefs of SCIENCES.
Morality, theology, and the art of reafoning, are three great branches of a learned education; and justly held to be fo, being our only fure guides in paffing through the intricate paths of life. They are indeed not effential to thofe termed men of the world: the most profound philofopher makes but an infipid figure in fashionable company; would be fomewhat ridiculous at a court-ball; and an abfolute abfurdity among the gamefters at Arthur's
thur's, or jockeys at Newmarket. But, thefe cogent objections notwithflanding, I venture to pronounce fuch studies to be not altogether unfuitable to a gentleman. Man is a creature full of curiofity; and to gratify that appetite, many roam through the world, fubmitting to heat and cold, nay to hunger and thirst, without a figh. Could indeed that troublesome guest be expelled, we might hug ourfelves in ignorance; and, like true men of the world, undervalue knowledge that cannot procure money, nor a new fenfual pleasure. But, alas! the expulfion is not in the power of every one; and those who must give vent to their curiofity, will naturally employ it upon ftudies that make them good members of fociety, and endear them to every person of
And were we even men of the world in fuch perfection, as to regard nothing but our own intereft; yet does not ignorance lay us open to the crafty and defigning? and does not the art of reafoning guard many an honest man from being mifled by fubtile fophifms? With refpect to right and wrong, not even paffion is more dangerous than error. as to religion, better it were to fettle in a conviction that there is no God, than to be in
a ftate of wavering and fluctuation; fometimes indulging every loofe defire, as if we were not accountable beings; and fometimes yielding to fuperftitious fears, as if there were no god but the devil. To a well-difpofed mind, the existence of a fupreme benevolent Deity, appears highly probable: and if by the study of theology that probability be improved into a certainty, the conviction of a fupreme Deity who rules with equity and mildness, will be a fource of conftant enjoyment, which I boldly fet above the titillating pleafures of external fenfe. Poffibly there may be less prefent amusement in abstract ftudies, than in newspapers, in party-pamphlets, or in Hoyl upon Whift: but let us for a moment anticipate futurity, and imagine that we are reviewing paft tranfactions, how pleafant the retroSpect of those who have maintained the dignity of their nature, and employ'd their talents to the best purposes!
Contradictory opinions that have influence on practice, will be regretted by every person of a found heart; and as erroneous opinions are commonly the refult of imperfect education, I would gladly hope, that a remedy is not altogether out of reach. At the revival of arts and Sciences, the learned languages
were our fole ftudy, because in them were locked up all the treasures of useful knowledge. This ftudy has long ago ceased to be the chief object of education; and yet the original plan is handed down to us with very little variation. Wishing to contribute to a more perfect fyftem of education, I present to the public the following sketches. The books that have been published on morality, theology, and the art of reasoning, are not eminent either for fimplicity, or for perfpicuity. To introduce thefe into the subjects mentioned, is my aim; with what fuccefs, is with deference fubmitted to the judgement of others. The hiftorical part, hitherto much neglected, is neceffary as a branch of my general plan ; and I am hopeful, that, befide inftruction, it will contribute to recreation, which, in abftract ftudies, is no less neceffary than plea fant.
Principles and Progress of Reafon.
Principles of Reafon.
Very affirmation, whatever be the fubject, is termed a propofition.
Truth and error are qualities of propofitions. A propofition that fays a thing is what it is in reality, is termed a true propofition. A propofition that says a thing is what it is not in reality, is termed an erroneous propofition.
Truth is fo effential in conducting affairs, that man would be a disjointed being were it not agreeable to him. Truth accordingly is agreeable to every human being, and falfehood or error difagreeable.