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nishment of the learned world fhown; and how much farther it would guide us in other things, if rightly purfued, is not yet known. Our Saviour's great rule, that "we should love our neighbour as ourselves," is fuch a fundamental truth for the regulating human fociety, that, I think, by that alone, one might without diffi-. culty determine all the cafes and doubts in social morality. These and such as these are the truths we should endeavour to find out, and store our minds with. Which leads me to another thing in the conduct of the understanding that is no lefs neceffary, viz.

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§. 44. To accuftom ourselves, in any Bottoming question propofed, to examine and find out

upon what it bottoms. Most of the difficulties that come in our way, when well confidered and traced, lead us to some proposition, which, known to be true, clears the doubt, and gives an easy solution of the question; whilst topical and fuperficial arguments, of which there is ftore to be found on both fides, filling the head with variety of thoughts, and the mouth with copious difcourse, serve only to amufe the understanding, and entertain company without coming to the bottom of the queftion, the only place of reft and ftability for an inquifitive mind, whofe tendency is only to truth and knowledge.

For example, if it be demanded, whether the grand feignior can lawfully take what he will from any of his people? This question cannot be refolved without coming to a certainty, whether all men are naturally equal; for upon that it turns; and that truth well fettled in the understanding, and carried in the mind through the various debates concerning the various rights of men in fociety, will go a great way in putting an end to them, and showing on which fide the truth is.

Transferring of thoughts,

§. 45. There is fcarce any thing more for the improvement of knowledge, for the ease of life, and the dispatch of business, than for a man to be able to difpofe of his own thoughts and there is scarce any thing harder in the whole con-. duct of the understanding than to get a full maftery over it. The mind, in a waking man, has always fome


object that it applies itself to; which, when we are lazy or unconcerned, we can easily change, and at pleasure transfer our thoughts to another, and from thence to a third, which has no relation to either of the former. Hence men forwardly conclude, and frequently fay, nothing is fo free as thought, and it were well it were fo; but the contrary will be found true in several instances; and there are many cafes wherein there is nothing more refty and ungovernable than our thoughts: They will not be directed what objects to purfue, nor be taken off from those they have once fixed on; but run away with a man in pursuit of thofe ideas they have in view, let him do what he can.

I will not here mention again what I have above taken notice of, how hard it is to get the mind, narrowed by a custom of thirty or forty years ftanding to a fcanty collection of obvious and common ideas, to enlarge itself to a more copious ftock, and grow into an acquaintance with those that would afford more abundant matter of useful contemplation; it is not of this I am here speaking. The inconveniency I would here reprefent, and find a remedy for, is the difficulty there is fometimes to transfer our minds from one fubject to another, in cases where the ideas are equally familiar

Matters, that are recommended to our thoughts by any of our paffions, take poffeffion of our minds with a kind of authority, and will not be kept out or diflodged; but, as if the paffion that rules were, for the time, the fheriff of the place, and came with all the poffe, the understanding is feized and taken with the object it introduces, as if it had a legal right to be alone confidered there, There is fcarce any body, I think, of fo calm a temper who hath not fome time found this tyranny on his understanding, and fuffered under the inconvenience of it. Who is there almost, whose mind, at some time or other, love or anger, fear or grief, has not so fastened to fome clog, that it could not turn itfelf to any other object? I call it a clog, for it hangs upon the mind fo as to hinder its vigour and activity in the purfuit of other contemplations; and advances itself little or not at all in the knowledge of the thing which it so closely hugs


and conftantly pores on. Men thus poffeffed, are fometimes as if they were fo in the worst fenfe, and lay under the power of an inchantment. They fee not what paffes before their eyes; hear not the audible difcourfe of the company; and when by any ftrong application to them they are roufed a little, they are like men brought to themselves from fome remote region; whereas in truth they come no farther than their fecret cabinet within, where they have been wholly taken up with the puppet, which is for that time appointed for their entertainment. The shame that fuch dumps caufe to well-bred people, when it carries them away from the company, where they thould bear a part in the converfation, is a sufficient argument, that it is a fault in the conduct of our understanding, not to have that power over it as to make ufe of it to those purposes, and on thofe occafions wherein we have need of its affiftance. The mind should be always free and ready to turn itself to the variety of objects that occur, and allow them as much confideration as fhall for that time be thought fit. To be engroffed so by one object, as not to be prevailed on to leave it for another that we judge fitter for our contemplation, is to make it of no ufe to us. Did this state of mind remain always fo, every one would, without fcruple, give it the name of perfect madness; and whilst it does laft, at whatever intervals it returns, fuch a rotation of thoughts about the fame object no more carries us forward towards the attainment of knowledge, than getting upon a mill-horse whilst he jogs on in his circular track would carry a man a journey.

I grant fomething must be allowed to legitimate paffions, and to natural inclinations. Every man, befides occafional affections, has beloved ftudies, and those the mind will more closely ftick to; but yet it is best that it should be always at liberty, and under the free disposal of the man, and to act how and upon what he directs. This we should endeavour to obtain, unless we would be content with fuch a flaw in our understanding, that fometimes we should be as it were without it; for it is very little better than fo in cafes where we cannot make


use of it to those purposes we would, and which stand in present need of it.

But before fit remedies can be thought on for this disease, we must know the feveral caufes of it, and thereby regulate the cure, if we will hope to labour with fuccefs.

One we have already inftanced in, whereof all men that reflect have fo general a knowledge, and so often an experience in themselves, that nobody doubts of it. A prevailing paffion fo pins down our thoughts to the object and concern of it, that a man paffionately in love cannot bring himself to think of his ordinary affairs, or a kind mother, drooping under the lofs of a child, is not able to bear a part as fhe was wont in the discourse of the company or converfation of her friends.

But though paffion be the most obvious and general, yet it is not the only caufe that binds up the understanding, and confines it for the time to one object, from which it will not be taken off.

Befides this, we may often find that the understanding, when it has a while employed itself upon a subject which either chance, or fome flight accident, offered to it, without the intereft or recommendation of any paffion; works itself into a warmth, and by degrees gets into a career, wherein, like a bowl down a hill, it increases its motion by going, and will not be ftopped or diverted; though, when the heat is over, it fees all this earneft application was about a trifle not worth a thought, and all the pains employed about it loft labour.

There is a third fort, if I mistake not, yet lower than this; it is a fort of childishness, if I may fo fay, of the understanding, wherein, during the fit, it plays with and dandles fome infignificant puppet to no end, nor with any defign at all, and yet cannot eafily be got off from it. Thus fome trivial fentence, or a fcrap of poetry, will fometimes get into men's heads, and make fuch a chiming there, that there is no ftilling of it; no peace to be obtained, nor attention to any thing else, but this impertinent gueft will take up the mind and poffefs the thoughts in fpite of all endeavours to get rid of it. Whether every one hath experimented in


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themselves this troublesome intrufion of fome frisking ideas which thus importune the understanding, and hinder it from being better employed, I know not. But

perfons of very good parts, and those more than one, I have heard speak and complain of it themselves. The reafon I have to make this doubt, is from what I have known in a cafe something of kin to this, though much odder, and that is of a fort of vifions that fome people have lying quiet, but perfectly awake, in the dark, or with their eyes fhut. It is a great variety of faces, most commonly very odd ones, that appear to them in a train one after another; fo that having had just the sight of the one, it immediately paffes away to give place to another, that the fame inftant fucceeds, and has as quick an exit as its leader; and fo they march on in a conftant fucceffion; nor can any one of them by any endeavour be stopped or retained beyond the inftant of its appearance, but is thruft out by its follower, which will have its turn. Concerning this fantastical phænomenon I have talked with several people, whereof some have been perfectly acquainted with it, and others have been fo wholly ftrangers to it, that they could hardly be brought to conceive or believe it. I knew a lady of excellent parts, who had got past thirty without having ever had the leaft notice of any fuch thing; fhe was so great a ftranger to it, that when she heard me and another talking of it, could scarce forbear thinking we bantered her ; but fome time after drinking a large dofe of dilute tea, (as she was ordered by a phyfician) going to bed, the told us at next meeting, that fhe had now experimented what our difcourfe had much ado to perfuade her of. She had seen a great variety of faces in a long train, succeeding one another, as we had described; they were all strangers and intruders, such as she had no acquaintance with before, nor fought after then; and as they came of themselves they went too; none of them stayed a moment, nor could be detained by all the endeavours fhe could use, but went on in their folemn proceffion, juft appeared and then vanifhed. This odd phænomenon feems to have a mechanical caufe, and to depend


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