« הקודםהמשך »
great Philosophy; or that glorious System of Knowledge, which gives him his chief pre-eminence over the brutes, and exalts him to the supreme perfection and highest enjoyment of his nature!
Other Sciences may have their use, as matters of ornament or amusement. But whenever they interfere with this grand Science of Life and Manners, they are to be disregarded as empty trifless subjects, at best, but of vain curiosity, or unavailing speculation.
I shall, therefore, endeavour to distinguish the True from the False, the spurious parts of Knowledge from those of genuine growth; by pointing out to you the essential branches of this great Master-science. In doing this, let us never lose sight of the fundamental principle already laid down, namely; that every part of Knowledge, (human knowledge I speak of) derives its value from its tendency to inform usWhat* we are, and whither destined; what our constitution and connexions; and what our duties in consequence thereof.
. Whoever sets out on this inquiry will, in the first instance, be struck with the vastness of the under. taking, and the insufficiency of his own abilities. Human nature, and the various natures around it, are a copious subject. Life is short, and each man's own experience too scanty to trace for himself the relations and fitness of things; to examine into all Moral and Physical Qualities; and, from thence, to deduce the Rules of Conduct, and ascertain the true
Quid sumus, et quidnam victuri gignimur.
Path of Happiness. Like a traveller in a strange country, he will, therefore, be glad to inquire his way of others; and make all possible use of the Experience of those who, with honour and success, have travelled the path of life before him. He will endeavour to avail himself equally of the good and bad fortune of those whose course is finished, and strive to bring all Antiquity under Contribution to him for wisdom.
But how could this be done, if there were not some method of preserving, and possessing ourselves of, the experience of others? And here we see the use of Languages and Writing. Nevertheless, an acquaintance with all sorts of languages would be almost as difficult an acquisition, as the particular examination of all sorts of things. Hence then, it became necessary for the learned to fix on some Universal Language or Languages, as the grand channel or instrument of conveying their experiences, observations and conclusions, concerning the Conduct of Life and the Truth of Things.
Now Greek and Latin have been chosen for these purposes, on several substantial accounts. For, not to mention that many of the noblest productions of ancient genius were originally written in these languages, it is to be observed that dead languages are more durable, and less fluctuating, than living ones; and, besides this, living nations, jealous of each other, would think it too great a mark of distinction to chuse the language of any particular nation among them, as the grand channel of knowledge and expe. rience.
We see, then, that an acquaintance with what is called the Learned Languages, is still justly considered as a part of liberal education, and a necessary introduction to the Sciences. For though words, abstractly considered, cannot in themselves add to our knowledge, yet as the means of conveying and acquiring knowledge, they will be studied by all those who, to their own experience, would add the experience of those who have lived in former ages; or, living in the present, can no otherwise render the fruits of their inquiries useful to mankind, than by Language and Writing. *
Nevertheless, a person, who knows himself endued with reason and understanding, will not be content to take his knowledge entirely at second hand. On subjects so important as the nature and fitness of things, and the Summum Bonum of man, he will pot rely wholly on a historical knowledge, founded on the Experience and Testimony of others; however much his labours may be shortened thereby. He will think it his duty to examine for himself, and to acquire a Moral and Physical knowledge; founded on his own Experience and Observation.
This is what we call Philosophy in general; comprehending in it the knowledge of all things Human and Divine, so far as they can be made the objects
• The author found it necessary to be thus particular in explaining the use of the Learned Languages; some regarding them as a needless part of education, and others considering them as all the education necessary to a scholar-Opinions equally prejudicial to the advancement of Sound Kuowledge. Under this head, it is obvious that he means to include History, both natural and civil; i. e. whatever can be obtained from the Experience of others.
of our present inquiries. Now, the genuine branches of this Philosophy, or great system of practical Wisdom, together with the necessary instrumental parts thereof, may be included under the following general heads; it appearing to me that the nature of things admits of no more.
1. Languages, &c. which have been already mentioned, rather as an Instrument or Means of Science, than a Branch thereof.
2. Logic and Metaphysics, or the Science of the Human mind; unfolding its powers and directing its operations and reasonings.
3. Natural Philosophy, Mathematics, and the rest of her beautiful train of subservient arts; investi. gating the Physical properties of Body, explaining the various phænomena of Nature; and teaching us to render her subservient to the ease and ornament of Life.
4. Moral Philosophy; applying all the above to the business and bosoms of men; deducing the laws of our conduct from our situation in life and connections with the Beings around us; settling the whole Oeconomy of the Will and affections; establishing the predominancy of Reason and Conscience; and guiding us to Happiness, through the practice of Virtue.
5. Rhetoric, or the art of masterly Composition, just Elocution, and sound Criticism; teaching us how to cloath our wisdom in the most amiable and inviting garb; how to give life and spirit to our ideas; and to make our knowledge of the greatest bea nefit to ourselves and others.
This last mentioned part of literary accomplishment, like the first, I grant, is to be considered rather as an Instrument, than a Branch of Science. But, if the above definition be just, you will not wonder that we separate it from Languages, as being of a much higher nature than they; and even place the study of it after all the other Sciences, seeing they are necessary and subservient to its perfection.
These are the capital branches of Human Science, as taught in every liberal institution; and were there no connection between them and the knowledge of Christ's religion, or did we stop short at the former without bringing them home to the latter; we should then indeed be building up to ourselves structures of emptiness, on foundations of rottenness. But it is impossible that ever Sciences, so liberal as those mentioned above, tending so directly to elevate and enlarge the mind, should be at enmity with the divine Science of Christianity, and the great mystery of Godliness; that sublimest system of Philosophy, into which even the Angels themselves desire to be further initiated! A little learning, may possibly have the Effects which a great * genius ascribes to it. But such an acquaintance with the sciences, as is described above, will be so far from damping the ardour of religious knowledge, that it will be more and more inflamed thereby; which is a most convincing argument of the strong and immediate connection between them,
Were it necessary to be particular on this head, I might mention the example of the greatest and best
Bacon. To this may be added what Pope beautifully says
“ A little learning is a dangerous thing;