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tudes of human affairs, and a certain degree of senfibility in early life, which has connected pleasing ideas with the scenes of infancy and youth. A very great proportion of mankind are, in a great measure, incapable either of the one or of the other; and, fuffering themselves to be carried quietly along with the stream of fashion, and finding their opinions and their feelings always in the same relative fitua. tion to the fleeting objects around them, are perfectly unconscious of any progress in their own ideas, or of any change in the manners of their

age. In vain the philosopher reminds them of the opinions they yesterday held ; and, forewarns them, from the spirit of the times, of those which they are to hold tomorrow. The opinions of the present moment seem to them to be inseparable from their conftitution, and when the prospects are realised, which they lately treated as chimerical, their minds are fo gradually prepared for the event, that they behold it without any emotions of wonder or curiofity; and to the philosopher alone, by whom it was predicted, that it appears to furnish a subject worthy of future reflection.

The prejudices to which the last observations relate, have their origin in that disposition of our nature, which accommodates the order of our ideas, and our various intellectual habits, to whatever appearances have been long and familiarly presented to the mind. But there are other prejudices, which, by being intimately affociated with the effential principles of our conftitution, or with the original and universal laws of our belief, are incomparably more inveterate in their nature, and have a far more extensive influence on human character and happiness.

III. The manner in which the association of ideas operates in producing this third class of our specy. lative errors, may be conceived, in part, from what was formerly said, concerning the superstitious obfervances, which are mixed with the practice of med. icine among rude nations.

rude nations. As all the different circumstances which accompanied the first administration of a remedy, come to be considered as effential to its future success, and are blended together in our conceptions, without any discrimination of their relative importance, so, whatever tenets and ceremonies we have been taught to connect with the religious creed of our infancy, become almost a part of our constitution, by being indissolubly united with truths which are essential to happiness, and which we are led to reverence and to love, by all the best dispositions of the heart. The astonishment which the peasant feels, when he sees the rites of a religion different from his own, is not less great than if he faw fome flagrant breach of the moral duties, or fome direct act of impiery to God; nor is it easy for him to conceive, that there can be any thing worthy in a mind which treats with indifference, what awakens in his own breast all its best and sublimeft emotions. “ Is it possible,” (says the old and expiring Bramin, in one of Marmontel's tales, to the young English officer who had saved the life of his daughter,) " is it possible, that he to whose compaf“ fion I owe the preservation of my child, and who “ now foothes my last moments with the consolations “ of piety, should not believe in the god Vistnou, and “ his nine metamorphoses !"

What has now been said on the nature of religious fuperftition, may be applied to many other subjects. In particular, it may be applied to those political prejudices which bias the judgment even of enlight. ened men in all countries of the world.

How deeply rooted in the human frame are those important principles, which interest the good man in the prosperity of the world, and more especially in the prosperity of that beloved community to which he belongs! How small, at the same time, is the number of individuals who, accustomed to contema plate one modification alone of the social order, are able to distinguish the circumstances which are efsential to human happiness, from those which are in. differeot or hurtful! In such a situation, how natu. ral is it for a man of benevolence, to acquire an indiscriminate and fuperftitious veneration for all the inftitutions under which he has been educated; as these institutions, however capricious and absurd in themselves, are not only familiarised by habit to all his thoughts and feelings, but are consecrated in his mind by an indissoluble association with duties which nature recommends to his affections, and which reason commands him to fulfil. It is on these accounts that a superstitious zeal against innovation both in religion and politics, where it is evidently grafted on piety to God, and good will to mankind, however it may excite the forrow of the more enlightened philosopher, is juftly entitled, not only to his indulgence, but to his esteem and affection.

The remarks which have been already made, are fufficient to shew, how necessary it is for us, in the formation of our philosophical principles, to exam. ine with care all those opinions which, in our early years, we have imbibed from our instructors ; or which are connected with our own local situation. Nor does the univerfality of an opinion among men who have received a similar education, afford any presumption in its favor; for however great the difference is, which a wise man will always pay to common belief, upon those subjects which have employed the unbiassed reason of mankind, he certainly owes it no respect, in so far as he suspects it to be influenced by fashion or authority. Nothing can be more just than the observation of Fontenelle, that “ the number of those who believe in a system al" ready established in the world, does not, in the

« leaft, add to its credibility ; but that the number -" of those who doubt of it, has a tendency to dimin

6 ish it.” 6 The same remarks lead, upon the other hand, to another conclusion of still greater importance ; that, notwithstanding the various false opinions which are current in the world, there are some truths, which are inseparable from the human understanding, and by means of which, the errors of education, in moft instances, are enabled to take hold of our belief.

A weak mind, unaccustomed to reflection, and which has passively derived its most important opinions from habit or from authority, when, in consequence of a more enlarged intercourse with the world, it finds, that ideas which it had been taught to regard as facred, are treated by enlightened and worthy men with ridicule, is apt to lose its rever. ence for the fundamental and eternal truths on which these acceffory ideas are grafted, and easily falls a prey to that sceptical philofophy which teaches, that all the opinions, and all the principles of action by which mankind are governed, may be traced to the influence of education and exmaple. Amidst the infinite variety of forms, however, which our versa. tile nature assumes, it cannot fail to strike an attentive observer, that there are certain indelible features common to them all. In one situation, we find good men attached to a republican form of gov. ernment ; in another, to a monarchy; but in all fituations, we find them devoted to the service of their country and of mankind, and disposed to regard, with reverence and love, the most absurd and capricious inftitutions which custom has led them to connect with the order of society. The different appearances, therefore, which the political opinions and the political conduct of men exhibit, while they demonstrate to what a wonderful degree human nature may be influenced by situation and by early

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instruction, evince the existence of some common and original principles, which fit it for the political union, and illustrate the uniform operation of those laws of afsociation, to which, in all the stages of fo. ciety, it is equally subject.

Similar observations are applicable, and, indeed, in a still more striking degree, to the opinions of mankind on the important questions of religion and morality. The variety of systems which they have formed to themselves concerning these subjects, has often excited the ridicule of the sceptic and the libertine ; but if, on the one hand, this variety fhews, the folly of bigotry, and the reasonableness of mutual indulgence; the curiosity which has led nien in every situation to such speculations, and the influ. ence which their conclusions, however absurd, have had on their character and their happiness, prove, no less clearly, on the other, that there must be fome prin. ciples from which they all derive their origin ; and invite the philosopher to ascertain what are these original and immutable laws of the human mind.

« Examine" (says Mr. Hume) “ the religious prin“ ciples which have prevailed in the world. You 56 will scarcely be persuaded, that they are any thing “ but fick men's dreams; or, perhaps, will regard “ them more as the playsome whimsies of monkeys “ in human shape, than the serious, positive, dogu matical affeverations of a being, who dignifies him66 self with the name of rational.”. “ To oppose " the torrent of fcholaftic religion by such feeble “ maxims as thefe, that it is impossible for the same “ thing to be and not to be; that the whole is great“ er than a part; that two and three make five ; is

pretending to stop the ocean with a bulrush." But what is the inference to which we are led by these observations ? Is it, (to use the words of this ingenious writer,) “ that the whole is a riddle, an “ ænigma, an inexplicable mystery ; and that doubt,

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