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able consequences to which it leads, when under an improper regulation, only shew, what an important instrument of human improvement it might be rendered, in more kilful hands. If it be possible to interest the imagination and the heart in favor of error, it is, at least, no less possible to interest them in favor of truth. If it be possible to extinguilh all the most generous and heroic feelings of our
nature, by teaching us to connect the idea of them with those of guilt and impiety; it is surely equally possible to cherish and strengthen them, by establishing the na. tural alliance between our duty and our happiness. If it be possible for the influence of fashion to veil the native deformity of vice, and to give to low and criminal indulgences the appearance of spirit, of elegance, and of gaiety; can we doubt of the possibility of connecting, in the tender mind, these pleasing as. sociations, with pursuits that are truly worthy and honorable ? — There are few men to be found, among those who have received the advantages of a liberal education, who do not retain, through life, that ada miration of the heroic ages of Greece and Rome, with which the classical authors once inspired them. It is, in truth, a fortunate prepoffeffion, on the whole, and one, of which I should be forry to counteract the influence. But are there not others of equal importance to morality and to happiness, with which the mind might, at the same period of life, be inspired ? If the first conceptions, for example, which an infant formed of the Deity, and its first moral perceptions, were associated with the early impressions produced on the heart by the beauties of nature, or the charms of poetical description, those serious thoughts which are resorted to, by most men, merely as a source of consolation in adversity ; and which, on that very account, are frequently tinctured with some degree of gloom, would recur spontaneously to the mind, in its belt and happiest hours; and would insensibly
blend themselves with all its purest and most refined enjoyments.
In those parts of Europe, where the prevailing opinions involve the greatest variety of errors and cor. ruptions, it is, I believe, a common idea with many respectable and enlightened men, that, in every country, it is most prudent to conduct the religious in. struction of youth upon the plan which is prescribed by the national establishment ; in order that the pupil, according to the vigour or feebleness of 'his mind, may either shake off
, in future life, the preju. dices of the nursery, or die in the popular perfuafion. This idea, I own, appears to me to be equally ill-founded and dangerous. If religious opinions have, as will not be disputed, a powerful influence on the happiness, and on the conduct of mankind, does not hu. manity require of us, to rescue as many victims as pofsi le from the hands of bigotry; and to save them from the cruel alternative, of remaining under the gloom of a deprefsing fuperftition, or of being distracted by a perpetual conflict between the heart and the understanding ?-It is an enlightened education alone, that, in most countries of Europe, can save the young philosopher from that anxiety and despondence, which every man of sensibility, who, in his childhood, has imbibed the popular opinions, muft neceflarily experience, when he first begins to examine their foundation, and, what is of still greater in portance, which can save him, during lite, from that occafional scepticism, to which all men are liable, whose iystems fluctuate with the inequalities of their spirits, and the variations of the atmosphere,
I shall conclude this subject, with remarking, that, although in all moral and religious fyftems, there is a great mixture of important truth ; and although it is, in consequence of this alliance, that errors and absurdities are enabled to preserve their hold of the belief, yet it is commonly found, that, in proportion
as an established creed is complicated in its dogmas and in its ceremonies, and in proportion to the number of accessory ideas which it has grafted upon the truth, the more difficult is it, for those who have adopted it in childhood, to emancipate themselves completely from its influence; and, in those cases in which they at last succeed, the greater is their danger of abandoning, along with their errors, all the truths which they had been taught to connect with them. The Roman Catholic system is shaken off with much greater difficulty, than those which are taught in the reformed churches; but when it loses its hold of the mind, it much more frequently prepares the way for unlimited scepticism. The cau. ses of this I may per::aps have an opportunity of pointing out, in treating of the association of ideas.
I have now finished all that I think neceffary to offer, at present, on the application of the philofophy of mind to the subject of education. To some readers, I am afraid, that what I have advanced on the Tubject, will appear to border upon enthusiasm; and I will not attempt to justify myself against the charge. I am well aware of the tendency, which speculative men sometimes have, to magnify the effects of edu. cation, as well as to entertain too fanguine views of the improvement of the world; and I am ready to acknowledge, that there are instances of individuals, whole vigor of mind is sufficient to overcome every thing that is pernicious in their early habits: but I am fully persuaded, that these instances are rare; and that, by far the greater part of mankind continue, through life, to pursue the same track into which they have been thrown, by the accidental circumstances of situation, instruction, and example.
Continuation of the fame Subject.
THE remarks which have been hitherto made, on the utility of the philosophy of the human mind, are of a very general nature, and apply equally to all descriptions of men. Besides, however, these more obvious advantages of the study, there are others, which, though less striking, and less extensive in their application, are nevertheless, to some particular classes of individuals, of the highest importance. Without pretending to exhaust the subject, I shall offer a few detached observations upon it, in this section.
I already took notice, in general terms, of the common relation which all the different branches of our knowledge bear to the philosophy of the human mind. In consequence of this relation, it not only forms an interesting object of curiosity to literary men of every denomination ; but, if successfully profecuted, it cannot fail to furnish useful lights for directing their inquiries; whatever the nature of the subjects may be, which happen to engage their attention.
In order to be satisfied of the juftness of this observation, it is sufficient to recollect, that to the phi. lofophy of the mind are to be referred, all our inquiries concerning the divisions and the classifications of the objects of human knowledge; and also, all the various rules, both for the investigation, and the communication, of truth. These general views of science, and these general rules of method, ought to form the subjects of a rational and useful logic; a ftudy, undoubtedly, in itself of the greatest impor
tance and dignity, but in which less progress has hitherto been made than is commonly imagined.
I shall endeavor to illustrate, very briefly, a few of the advantages which might be expected to re. sult from such a system of logic, if properly executed.
I. And, in the first place, it is evident that it would be of the highest importance in all the sciences, (in fome of them, indeed, much more than in others) to exhibit a precise and steady idea of the objects which they present to our enquiry:- What was the principal circumstance which contributed to iniflead the ancients, in their physical researches ? Was it not their confused and wavering notions about the par. ticular class of truths, which it was their business to investigate? It was owing to this, that they were led to neglect the obvious phenomena and laws of moving bodies; and to indulge themselves it conjectures about the efficient causes of motion, and the nature of thofe minds, by which they conceived the particles of matter to be animated; and that they so often blended the history of facts, with their metaphysical speculations. In the present state of science, indeed, we are not liable to such mistakes in natural philofophy ; but it would be difficult to mention any other branch of knowledge, which is entirely exempted from them. In metaphysics, I might almost say, they are at the bottom of all our controversies. In the celebrated dispute, for example, which has been so long carried on, about the explanation given by the ideal theory of the phenomena of perception, the whole difficulty arose from this, that philosophers had no precise notion of he point they wilhed to ascertain ; and now that the controversy has been brought to a conclusion, (as I think all men of candour must confess it to have been by Dr. Reid) it will be found, that his doctrine on the subject throws no light whatever,