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operation within itself. By reflection, then, I would be understood to mean, that notice which the mind takes of its own operations and the manner of them, by reason whereof there come to be ideas of these operations in the understanding. These two, I say, viz. external material things, as the objects of sensation, and the operations of our own minds within, as the objects of reflection, are to me the only originals from whence all our ideas take their beginnings.' The term operations here I use in a large sense, as comprehending not merely the actions of the mind about its ideas, but some sort of passions arising sometimes from them, such as is the satisfaction or uneasiness arising from any thought.
The understanding seems to me not to have the least glimmering of any ideas, which it doth not receive from one of these two. External objects furnish the mind with ideas of sensible qualities, which are all those different perceptions they produce in us; and the mind furnishes the understanding with ideas of its own operations.
The knowing precisely what our words stand for, would, I imagine, in this as well as a great many other cases, quickly end the dispute. For I am apt to think that men, when they come to examine them, find their simple ideas all generally to agree, though in discourse with one another they perhaps confound one another with different names. I imagine, that men who abstract their thoughts, and do well examine the ideas of their minds, cannot much differ in thinking, however they may perplex themselves with words, according to the way of speaking of the different schools or sects they have been bred up in; though amongst unthinking men, who examine not scrupulously and carefully their own ideas, and strip them not from the marks men use for them, but confound them with words, there must be endless dispute, wrangling, and jargon; especially if they be learned, bookish men, devoted to some sect, and accustomed to the language of it, and have learned to talk after others. But if it should happen, that any two thinking men should really have different ideas, I do not see how they could discourse or argue one with another. Here I must not be mistaken, to think that every floating imagination in men's brains is presently of that sort of ideas I speak of. It is not easy for the mind to put off those confused no
tions and prejudices it has imbibed from custom, inadvertency, and common conversation. It requires pains and assiduity to examine its ideas, till it resolves them into those clear and distinct simple out of which they are compounded; and to see which, among its simple ones, have or have not a necessary connection and dependance one upon another. Till a man doth this, in the primary and original notion of things, he builds upon floating and uncertain principles, and will often find himself at a loss.
I hate vain thoughts; but thy law do I love.
The thoughts of the righteous are right; but the thoughts of the wicked are an abomination unto the Lord.
As the thoughts are the prime movers of the conduct; as in the sight of the Divine Being they bear the character of good or evil; and as they are therefore cognizable at his tribunal, the moral regu lation of them is of the greatest importance.
When weary of this busy buzz of life,
I seek repose in solitude with thee;
For what avails the world to me?
In converse sweet, how I delight to stray
Through groves with thee, my sweet companion, thought.
A man's thoughts must be going: whilst he is awake, the workings of his mind are as constant as the beating of his pulse. He can no more stop the one than the other. Hence, if our thoughts have nothing to act upon, they act upon themselves. They acquire a corrosive quality. They become in the last degree irksome and tormenting. Wherefore, that sort of equitable engagement, which takes up the thoughts sufficiently, yet so as not to leave them incapable of turning to any thing more important, as occasions offer or require, is a most invaluable blessing: and if the industrious be not sensible of the blessing, it is for no other reasou, than because they bave never experienced, or rather suffered the want of it.
Thought-that spiritual portion of ourselves, which can take in the past, dart into futurity, and intimately associate itself with the destiny of men of all countries and all ages. Man is a thinking being, whether he will or not;
to turn his thoughts the best way.
How oft the moon, how oft the midnight bell,
That iron tongue of death! with solemn knell,
Neckar. all he can do is,
Sir W. Temple.
Knocks at our hearts, and finds our thoughts from home.
LOVE OF FAME.
A man would do well to carry a pencil in his pocket, and write down the thoughts of the moment. Those that come unsought for are commonly the most valuable, and should be secured, because they seldom return. Lord Bacon.
Thoughts are the very image of the soul, representations to show you what the soul is; and those things concerning which your thoughts do most abound, that carries the frame of the soul. Let a man profess what he will, if his thoughts are generally conversant about worldly things, he has an earthly and worldly mind; and if his thoughts are conversant about sensual things, he has a sensual and carnal mind; for, whatever he may outwardly say, as he thinks, so is he; there is the image and likeness of the soul.
Unchaste thoughts and loose desires are the beginning of lewd and impure actions; and if they are generated and conceived in the heart—that fruitful womb of iniquity, they will soon be born into the world, and grow up to the full stature of sin.
I have been studying how I may compare
And these same thoughts people this little world,
By day her thoughts in never-ceasing streams
Through subterranean vaults with ease they sweep,
So soon as ever any new thought begins to bubble in my soul, I am resolved to examine what stamp it is of, whether it spring from the pure fountain of living waters, or the polluted streams of my own affections; as also which way it tends, or takes its course, to wards the ocean of happiness, or the pit of destruction. I find that there is no sin I am betrayed into, but what takes its rise from my inward thoughts. These are the tempters, that first present some pleasing object to my view, and then bias my understanding, and pervert my will to comply with the suggestion.
My soul being by nature swift and nimble, and by corruption inordinate and irregular in its operations, I can never set myself to think upon one thing, but presently another presses in, and another after that, and so on, till, by thinking of so many things at once, I can think upon nothing to any purpose. And hence it is, that 1 throw away thousands of thoughts each day for nothing, which, if well managed, might prove very profitable and advantageous to me; to prevent, therefore, this tumultuous, desultory, and useless working of my thoughts, as I have already resolved to fix heart upon necessary and useful and good objects; so, to prevent my thoughts
rolling from one thing to another, or leaping from the top of one to the height of another object, I must now endeavour to rank and digest them in order and method, that they may for the future be more steady and regular in their pursuits. I know the devil and my corrupt nature will labour to break the ranks, and confound the order of them. What stratagem, therefore, shall I use to prevent this confusion? I shall endeavour, by the grace of God, whensoever I find any idle thoughts frisk and rove out of the way, to call them in again, and set them to work upon one or other of those objects before mentioned, and to keep them for some time fixed and intent upon it; and considering the relations and dependencies of one thing upon another, not to suffer any foreign ideas, such I mean as are impertinent to the chain of thoughts I am upon, to justle them out, or divert my mind another way; no, not though they be otherwise good thoughts; for thoughts, in themselves good, when they crowd in unseasonably, are sometimes attended with very ill effects, by interrupting and preventing some good purposes and resolutions, which might prove effectual for promoting God's glory, the good of others, and the comfort of my own soul.
Twins tied by nature, if they part they die.
Good sense will stagnate. Thoughts shut up want air,
Had thought been all, sweet speech had been denied ;