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The reafon whereof is, because the teftimony is of fuch an one, as cannot deceive, nor be deceived, and that is of God himself. This carries with it an affurance beyond doubt, evidence beyond exception. This is called by a peculiar name, revelation; and our affent to it, faith which as abfolutely determines our minds, and as perfectly excludes all wavering, as our knowledge itself, and we may as well doubt of our own being, as we can, whether any revelation from God be true. So that faith is a fettled and fure principle of affent and affurance, and leaves no manner of room for doubt or hesitation. Only we must be fure, that it be a divine revelation, and that we understand it right: elfe we fhall expose ourselves to all the extravagancy of enthufiafm, and all the errour of wrong principles, if we have faith and affurance in what is not divine revelation. And therefore in those cafes, our affent can be rationally no higher than the evidence of its being a revelation, and that this is the meaning of the expreffions it is delivered in. If the evidence of its being a revelation, or that this is its true fenfe, be only on probable proofs; our affent can reach no higher than an affurance or diffidence, arifing from the more or lefs apparent probability of the proofs. But of faith, and the precedency it ought to have before other arguments of perfuafion, I fhall fpeak more hereafter, where I treat of it, as it is ordinarily placed, in contradiftinction to reason; though in truth it be nothing else but an affent founded on the highest reason.
Various fig§. 1.
word reafon in the E language has different fignificafometimes it is taken for true and clear principles; fometimes for clear and
the word rea- tions:
fair deductions from thofe principles; and fometimes
for the caufe, and particularly the final caufe. But the confideration I fhall have of it here, is in a fignification different from all thefe; and that is, as it stands for a faculty in man, that faculty whereby man is fuppofed to be diftinguished from beafts, and wherein it is evident he much furpaffes them.
Where in rea
§. 2. If general knowledge, as has been fhown, confifts in a perception of the agreement or difagreement of our own ideas; and the knowledge of the existence of all things without us (except only of a God, whofe exiftence every man may certainly know and demonftrate to himself from his own existence) be had only by our fenfes: what room is there for the exercise of any other faculty, but outward fenfe and inward perception? What need is there of reafon? Very much; both for the enlargement of our knowledge, and regulating our affent: for it hath to do both in knowledge and opinion, and is neceffary and affifting to all our other intellectual faculties, and indeed contains two of them, viz. fagacity and illation. By the one, it finds out; and by the other, it fo orders the intermediate ideas, as to discover what connexion there is in each link of the chain, whereby the extremes are held together; and thereby, as it were, to draw into view the truth fought for, which is that which we call illation or inference, and confifts in nothing but the perception of the connexion there is between the ideas, in each step of the deduction, whereby the mind comes to fee either the certain agreement or difagreement of any two ideas, as in demonftration, in which it arrives. at knowledge; or their probable connexion, on which it gives or withholds its affent, as in opinion. Sense and intuition reach but a very little way. The greatest part of our knowledge depends upon deductions and intermediate ideas and in thofe cafes, where we are fain to substitute affent inftead of knowledge, and take propofitions for true, without being certain they are fo, we have need to find out, examine, and compare the grounds of their probability. In both these cafes, the faculty which finds out the means, and rightly applies them to difcover certainty in the one, and probability in the VOL. II.
other, is that which we call reafon. For as reafon perceives the neceffary and indubitable connexion of all the ideas or proofs one to another, in each step of any demonstration that produces knowledge; fo it likewise perceives the probable connexion of all the ideas or proofs one to another, in every step of a discourse, to which it will think affent due. This is the lowest degree of that which can be truly called reason. For where the mind does not perceive this probable connexion, where it does not discern whether there be any fuch connexion or no; there men's opinions are not the product of judgment, or the confequence of reason, but the effects of chance and hazard, of a mind floating at all adventures, without choice and without direction/
Its four parts. S. 3. So that we may in reafon confider thefe four degrees; the firft and highest is the discovering and finding out of truths; the fecond, the regular and methodical difpofition of them, and laying them in a clear and fit order, to make their connexion and force be plainly and easily perceived; the third is the perceiving their connexion; and the fourth, a making a right conclufion. These feveral degrees may be obferved in any mathematical demonstration; it being one thing to perceive the connexion of cach part, as the demonftration is made by another; another, to perceive the dependence of the conclufion on all the parts; a third, to make out a demonftration clearly and neatly one's felf; and fomething different from all these, to have first found out these intermediate ideas or proofs by which it is made.
§. 4. There is one thing more, which I fhall defire to be confidered concerning reafon; and that is, whether fyllogifm, as is generally thought, be the proper inftrument of it, and the ufefulleft way of exercising this faculty. The caufes I have to doubt are thefe,
First, becaufe fyllogifm ferves our reafon but in one only of the forementioned parts of it; and that is, to fhow the connexion of the proofs in any one instance, and no more: but in this it is of no great ufe, fince the
mind can conceive fuch connexion where it really is, as cafily, nay perhaps better, without it.
If we will obferve the actings of our own minds, we fhall find that we reason best and cleareft, when we only obferve the connexion of the proof, without reducing our thoughts to any rule of fyllogifm. And therefore we may take notice, that there are many men that reafon exceeding clear and rightly, who know not how to make a fyllogifm. He that will look into many parts of Afia and America, will find men reafon there perhaps as acutely as himself, who yet never heard of a fyllogifm, nor can reduce any one argument to those forms: and I believe scarce any one makes fyllogifms in reafoning within himself. Indeed fyllogifm is made use of on occafion, to discover a fallacy hid in a rhetorical flourish, or cunningly wrapt up in a smooth period; and, stripping an abfurdity of the cover of wit and good language, fhow it in its naked deformity. But the weakness or fallacy of such a loose discourse it shows, by the artificial form it is put into, only to those who have thoroughly ftudied mode and figure, and have fo examined the many ways that three propofitions may be put together, as to know which of them does certainly conclude right, and which not, and upon what grounds it is that they do fo. All who have fo far confidered fyllogifm, as to fee the reason why in three propofitions laid together in one form, the conclufion will be certainly right, but in another, not certainly fo; I grant are certain of the conclufion they draw from the premifes in the allowed modes and figures. But they who have not fo far looked into thofe forms, are not sure by virtue of fyllogifm, that the conclufion certainly follows from the premises; they only take it to be fo by an implicit faith in their teachers, and a confidence in those forms of argumentation; but this is still but believing, not being certain. Now if, of all mankind, those who can make fyllogifms are extremely few in comparison of those who cannot; and if, of thofe few who have been taught logic, there is but a very fmall number, who do any more than believe that fyllogifms in the allowed modes and figures do conclude right, without knowing cer
tainly that they do fo; if fyllogifms must be taken for the only proper inftrument of reafon and means of knowledge; it will follow, that before Aristotle there was not one man that did or could know any thing by reason; and that fince the invention of fyllogifms, there is not one of ten thousand that doth.
But God has not been so sparing to men to make them barely two-legged creatures, and left it to Aristotle to make them rational, i. e. thofe few of them that he could get fo to examine the grounds of fyllogifms, as to fee, that in above threefcore ways, that three propofitions may be laid together, there are but about fourteen, wherein one may be fure that the conclufion is right; and upon what grounds it is, that in these few the conclufion is certain, and in the other not. God has been more bountiful to mankind than fo. He has given them a mind that can reafon, without being inftructed in methods of fyllogizing: the understanding is not taught to reafon by these rules; it has a native faculty to perceive the coherence or incoherence of its ideas, and can range them right, without any fuch perplexing repetitions. I fay not this any way to leffen Ariftotle, whom I look on as one of the greatest men amongst the antients; whofe large views, acutenefs, and penetration of thought, and trength of judgment, few have equalled: and who in this very invention of forms of argumentation, wherein the conclufion may be fhown to be rightly inferred, did great fervice against those who were not ashamed to deny any thing. And I readily own, that all right reafoning may be reduced to his forms of fyllogifm. But yet I think, without any diminution to him, I may truly fay, that they are not the only, nor the best way of reafoning, for the leading of thofe into truth who are willing to find it, and defire to make the best use they may of their reafon, for the attainment of knowledge. And he himself, it is plain, found out fome forms to be conclufive, and others not, not by the forms themselves, but by the original way of knowledge, i. e. by the vifible agreement of ideas. Tell a country gentlewoman that the wind is fouth-weft, and the weather louring, and like to rain, and she will eafily understand it is not