« EdellinenJatka »
« posed, that the small arch of a circle and its “ chord are of the same declivity, and of the « fame length ; which, however if we regard “ the rigid truth, is not to be admitted. But « in physics, this hypothesis varies fo little from “ the truth, that the difference ought juftly "to be neglected, and the disagreement of the ". vibrations arising from that difference is al46together insensible, as is proved by experi« ence. So likewise that 'eminent philosopher " and Geometer Dr. Gregory, in his elements ¢ of catoptrics and dioptrics makes use of a « more lax Geometry, by assuming lines and « angles as equal, that in reality are unequal, « tho they accede nearly to an equality, and “ so he solves many beautiful physical pro« blems, which otherwise would prove very « intricate ? And also this method leenis to be « approved of sometimes, by Sir Isaac Newton « himself, as may be seen in Prop. 3.Lib, 2. of « his Phil. Nat. Prin. Math. But if there are « any who harden their minds against such « principles, and demonstrations, and will not « suffer themselves to be convinced by propo« fitions sufficiently manifeft; we leave such " to their supine ignorance ; nor do we think " them worthy to be admitted to the know« ledge of the true philosophy.. . : This caution is very prudent, and the final declaration extremely just, and in the same manner the preachers of divine knowledge; and almost in the same words, may address their hearers. · If there be any who harden their minds against the knowledge of divine matters, which are built
upon a high degree of probability, and the word of God; and will not suffer themselves to be convinced, by propoßtions fufficiently' manifest, they leave such to enjoy their supine ignorance, nor do they think them worthy to be admitted to the knowledge of the true God, and his revelation : Yet in charity they heartily pity all such, and pray for the divine grace to soften their hearts, and enlighten their minds. ,
Thus the Analogy between one part of knowledge and another, which are both attended with difficulties, humbles the human mind, and rendering it susceptive of truth upon reasonable evidence, forwards it in the journey through the sciences. The traveller who ftops at every ford, disputing with the demonstrator of the road about the depth of the wates, the nature of the channel, and the force of the current, against the honest experience of him who vouches for his security, will make but a short progress in his intended journey: And if importuned to try, he paffes over safe, yet turning again towards his demonstrator argues with him, whether it was not by swimming, or leaping, and not wading, that he made his passage ; he acts no more absurdly, than he, who having acquired excellent knowledge by revelation, attributes all to imperfect nature, the instruction of nurses, or any idle cause, `except the true obvious one. '".
But so much is said concerning the Analogy of human conduct in the different ways of acting, as well as the other analogies, that it may be imprudent to detain you any longer from perusing the subject matter of this book,
or or to anticipate the main design of it. Let it fuffice to remark that the subject of analogy is extremely copious, and men have gone but a little way in it as yet. When the laws of the material world are better known, and human, conduct better regulated in all ways of acting, by the Laws of God, and the books of divine wil. dom less muddied with disputes, and perverse interpretations, WISDOM will be found a glorious homogene thing; and the laws of spiritual and material beings, of God, Angels, Men, brutes: and insensible matter, more similar and akin, than has hitherto been explained, or perhaps conceived.
There is nothing more injurious to know. ledge, than an opinion, which prevails with some people ; that all parts of knowledge are fully cultivated, and that there is scarce any thing left for human industry. It is almost shameful even to mention such an opinion, much more fo, to go about to refute it. It can only be the very narrow minded, or extreme idle part of mankind, which can entertain fo ignorant a sentiment. The most know, ing man is commonly the most modest ; be. cause his acquaintance with some valuable things gives him opportunity of conviction, that an infinite number of valuable things are not yet known to him. Are there any avari. cious dealers in knowledge like thoće traders upon pecuniary motives, who burn the spices they can not bring home, thereby to inhance the price of their cargo? It seems there are. · But great and knowing men have honourably given us a sort of description of those clic
mates of knowledge, which' may be surveyed with some accuracy hereafter, but which at prefent are only known to us by their coasts and first prominent parts. Even religion although it be every man's business to endeavour to know it, is not yet known to the degree of perfection which the divine revealer means in time to discover : Mány fecrets of providence may be still concealed, as well in the book of nature, as in the written book of God; both which it is your business especially to study.
It is in some degree necessary for all people, but, to those who are to be teachers of mankind, it is indispensible'; and the neglect of natural talents, or the abusing of them in sophistry, which promotes heresy and error, will be severe. ly accounted for. The difficulties and discoutagements with which this study is attended, are not sufficient to excuse the neglect of them. For as to the want of wealth and honours, or the unequal distribution of them, which by some is called a discouragement, and must cera tainly be accounted for by those of high ftation, who have the power of dispenfing them ; this ought not to be mentioned by any one, who understands the true spirit of the Gofpel, which in nothing is so explicit, as in precepts, expressing a contempt for those things, or at least prohibiting all anxiety for them.
And as to the sophistry, which ingenious men have dressed up with the appearance of truth, on purpose to puzzle weak minds, os such as are in haste to form a system of opinions : Neither this, I fear, although the most important of the two, will excuse the neglect
of the study of divine knowledge. It is as absurd, for a man to decline the study of divinity, upon account of the difficulties which attend it; as it would be to refuse to walk abroad, or to visit diftant places, because the uneven surface of the earth consisting of mountains, water, rocks, sands, together with pyrates and banditti, which infest sea and land, render travelling exceedingly dangerous, to all such, who are not properly prepared, and are not observant of seafons. Is it not a sufficient reply to one poffefsed of so weak a fear, that God has given a sun, moon and stars, to enlighten the earth, a needle to denote the north, and eyes to make use of all these; together with many examples of persons that have already travelled?
In like manner, is it not a reasonable answer to a timorous disciple in religion, that although there are difficulties attending the study of diyine knowledge, yet it has pleased our gracious God to influence mankind, to appoint feminaries of learning, where very excellent helps may be had: The pious and judicious labours of those who have gone this way of knowledge before us are preserved; and the grace of God is of more certainty in this heavenly voyage than the compass in the terrestrial: Inasmuch as it never varies, where the heart is disposed to make a proper use of it. And if notwithstanding this, there are many miscarriages, they must certainly be attributed to a wrong use of those means, which a gracious God intended for the best purposes. An honest judgment in matters of religion is certainly in human pow