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of Reason and wisdom. Thus they submit to the Tyranny of Prepossession, as not having Strength of Judgment to stem and resist it: They abandon their own Sense, to follow other Mens Fancies: They pursue with Pallion what they have undertaken without Reason; and defend with the utmost Temerity what they first embraced by mere Chance and Prevention. And when they have once fixt, they make it a Point of Honour to maintain their Ground. Nay, it sometimes happens, that the Animosity and Contention of Parties, sharpens the dullelt Wits; and Vexation supplies the Place of Understanding. But thus rafhly and fortuitously to make our felves the Properties and Accessions
of other Mens Conceits, has so very ridiculous Nihil fen, an Air, that 'tis better to be any Thing than such rire melius a Tool of a Philosopher. Between these Oppotam prava fitions of Science, we ought to stand in our own lentire. Defence, and not tamely to yield upon the Cic. Qu. bare Summons of any Party. For such an unAcad,
grounded and precarious Philosophy, is a Diftemper of Mind, and a mere intellectual Debauch.
XXXII. Truth is so hardly beset, and brought under such a State of Persecution, by the false Colours of the Age, that few Men have Ingenuity enough to speak their Mind, or Resolution enough to be fincere. It requires a good Degree of Courage to be a Philosopher in good earnest. Nay, it Mews an uncommon Greatness of Soul, never to speak but what we think, and never to think but what we dare to speak. This was the Chara&ter given by Quintilian of the Roman Brutus; Scias eum sentire que dicit, Tou may perceive that he speaks from his Heart: The greater, therefore, the Loss of that excellent Treatise of Virtue, which he
compos'd: A moral Piece from so great an Hand, and from so noble and ingenuous a Temper, must needs have been adorn'd with all the Perfections of Beauty. No Man ever deliver'd himself with more Openness and Free. dom: And in this Excellence he propos’d Socrates for his Pattern, whose Principle it was never to disguize his Thoughts. Men cannot speak against their Conscience, without betraying their Weakness. Interest, Passion, Headiness, Prepossession, Custom, and worldly Dependencies, are the common Obstacles to the Purity and Sincerity of our Judgments. 'Tis by fome such foolish Biass that we are carried out of our own Sentiments, to fall in at a Venture, with those of others: And it always argues a Basenefs Mind and a slavish Complaisance, to govern our Opinion by the Impressions of those who are Mailers of our Fortune, and whom we are engaged in Policy to please. Indeed, the best Philosophy is the Art of Living; or the knowing how to accommodate ourselves to Times, Perfons and Things, as Reason fhall advise. But then, this Management must be free and unconstrain'd; unless we would imitate those mean Spirits, who maintain their Thoughts upon a borrow'd Fund; and who are so little, that they can stoop to an outward Compliance with such Opinions as they cannot inwardly approve ; only for Want of Force to assert the Privilege of their Reason. Such a servile Philosophy, tands at the utmost Distance from true Wisdom. We have a notorious Example of it, in those Senators under Tiberius and Nero, mention’d by Tacitus; who after having prostituted themselves to the most infamous Flatteries, put on the Mask of Philosophy, to shelter themselves from publick Justice; being too
much Cowards to thew à true philosophical Spirit, or even to give a free Vote in the House.
XXXIII. Disputation is an Art of the Schools, to awaken the Powers of younger Minds, and to exercise their growing Wit. It is highly useful in displaying Reason to those who could not otherwise apprehend its Force, and in stopping the Mouths of vain Cavillers : But then it may be abused to the feeding of Contention, to the difguizing and colouring over the worst of Pasfions, to the maintaining of an obstinate Temper in Spight of Truth and Sense. There is no Philosopher, but may acquire a Readiness and Facility by this Method. For every good Manager of an Argument, is in a Condition to defend his Thesis by Noise and Stratagem, when he is at a loss for Reason. In a Word, this, as all other Things, may be either good or bad, according as 'tis applied. And therefore, without presuming to condemn it, let us content our selves with imploying it in good Service. At the same time we should endeavour to open Men's Eyes, that it may not pass a Deception upon them, when perverted from its genuine Use. The Ground of most Disputes is, that the Parties don't understand one another. Thales declar'd against a Vacuum ; which Democritus ad. mitted without Scruple: Let both explain themfelyes on the Point, and both will be agreed. Epicurus relied upon the Testimony of Sense in all things; Empedocles would trust it in nothing: The Dispute would drop, if they could once come to a Resolution about the Nature of that Error of Sense, which sometimes defeats its Testimony. If we could explain to Descartes the true Nature of Sensation, he would make no Diffi
culty of allowing an Horse to be an Animal. There has been a Debate among learned Men, of about three hundred Years length, concerning Liberty ; only because they have not stated its Definition: If we can shew Philosophers and Divines in what it properly consists, they will speak but one Language about it. For all Disputes are brought to a speedy Issue, when Men are guided by Reason, and are agreed upon Principles. The wide Diversity of Opinions that reigns in the World, is entirely owing to the different Ways of Mens Speaking and Thinking. Which occasion'd that Remark of Aristotle, that when two Men of Sense and Learning are divided in Judgment, the usual Case is, that they express themselves after a various Manner, and the Contest lies rather in the Words, than in the Things.
XXXIV. Tho' the Philosophy and Method of Disputation, now follow'd in the Schools, has been yery severely censur'd by Peter Ramus, about the End of the last Century; by Gassendus at the Beginning of this, and in general, by all the modern Naturalists, of eminent Note and Diftinction; because the Masters of it have really alter'd the Purity of Aristotle's Doctrine, which they profess to maintain; yet I cannot but conceive it to be still most agreeable to the present Manner of Life, and most proper for the Institution of Youth, at that Age when it is commonly recommended to their Study. Because after all
, it imprints upon the Mind a Character of Order and Regularity, and a Justness of Thought; it teaches us to reduce the Subjects we treat of to certain Principles; and consequently to difcourse upon them by Rule and Method: It exercises younger Wits, by the Subtilties of Logick
and Metaphysicks, in the only way of Improvement of which they are capable: It presents them with but a Specimen and Abridgment of moral Doctrine, as not thinking them mature and firm enough to sustain a long Series of Conclusions; which seems too grave an Employe ment for the active Heat and Vigour of Youth: and lastly, because these early Years have too little Experience to take delight in a strict Contemplation of Nature, and too little Capacity to embrace the vast Extent of human Things. Yet it were indeed to be with'd, that this part of Philosophy were display'd more methodically in the Schools, and carried on thro' a Train of the most important Experiments and Obseryations. But so it often happens, that Masters affect to teach Things merely useless, that they may be thought not to forget such as are necessary. The Method now in use is certainly capable of greater Perfection; but this Perfection must arise from the Genius and Temper of its Professors, when they shall once lay aside the Consideration of Things indifferent, and ap: ply themselves only to such as are necessary and essential, according to the best Light that Experience holds out to them. But as Matters stand, we can expect no advantagious Change, nor any well concerted Measures of Reformation. Besides, it is highly probable, that civil Laws, which permit no Innovating in Things universally establish'd, would authorize no other Method but that which is follow'd in the Universities, for fear of giving too wide a Liberty to the Passion which Men naturally have for new Opinions, and which, if left to its Course, might prove of dangerous Consequence to a well regulated State: Especially if it be likewife consider'd, that Philosophy is one of those