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ideal system of Berkeley was written to expose the soplistry of materialism, but it is defective and erroneous. He attempts to prove that extension and figure, hardness and softness, and all other sepsible qualities are mere ideas of the mind, which cannot possibly exist in an insentient substance—a theory which, it has been justly remarked, tends to unbinge the whole frame of the human understanding, by shaking our confidence in those principles of belief which form an essential part of its constitution. Our ideas he “evidently considered not as states of the individual mind, but as separate things existing in it, and capable of existing in other minds, but in them alone; and it is' in consequence of these assumptions that his system, if it were to be considered as a system of scepticism, is chiefly defective. But having, as he supposed, these ideas, and conceiving that they did not perish when they ceased to exist in his mind, since the same ideas recurred at intervals, be deduced, from the necessity wbich there seemed for some omnipresent mind, in which they might exist during the intervals of recurrence, the necessary existence of the Deity; and if, indeed, as be supposed, ideas be something different from the mind itself, recurring only at intervals to created minds, and incapable of existing but in mind, the demonstration of some infinite omnipresent mind, in which they exist during these intervals of recurrence to finite minds, must be allowed to be perfect. The whole force of the pious demonstration, therefore, which Berkeley flattered himself with having urged irresistibly, is completely obviated by the simple denial, that ideas are anything more than the mind itself affected in a certain manner; since, in this case, our ideas exist no longer than our mind is affected in that particular manner which constitutes each particular idea ; and to say that oor jdeas exist in the divine miud, would thus be to say, only, that our mind itself exists in tbe diviné mind. There is not the sensation of colour in addition to the mind, nor the sensation of fragrance in addition to the mind; but the sensation of colour is the mind existing in a certain state, and the sensation of fragrance is the mind existing in a different state."* The style of Berkeley has been generally admired: it is clear and unaffected, with the easy grace of the polished philosopher. A love of description and of external nature is evinced at times, and possesses something of the freshness of Izaak Walton.
Industry.- From "An Essay towards preventing the Ruin of Great
Britnin, written soon after the affair of the Soull-sea Scheme.' Industry is the natural sure way to wealth; this is so true, that it is impossible an industrious free people should want the necessaries and comforts of life, or an idle enjoy them under any form of gov-rument. Money is so far useful:0,the pubfic as it promoteth industry, and credit having the same effect, is of the same value with money; but money or credit circulating through a nation from hand to hund, withont producing labour and industry in the inhabitants, is direct gaming.
It is not impossible for cunning men to make such plausible schemes, as may draw those who are less skilful into their own and the public ruin. But surely there is no man of sense and honesty but must see and own, whether he understands the game or not, that it is an evident folly for any people, instead of prosccnting the old honest methods of industry and frugality, to sit down to a public gaming-iable and play off their money one to another.
* Dr. Thomas Brown,
The more methods there are in a state for acquiring riches without industry or merit, the less there will be of either in that state: this is as evident as the ruin that attends it. Besides, when money is shifted from hand to hand in such a blind fortuitous manner, that some men shall from nothing acquire in an instant vast estates, without the least desert; while others are as suddenly stripped of plentiful fortunes, and left on the parish by their own avarice and credulity, what can be hoped for on the one hand but abandoned luxury and wantonness, or on the other but extreine madness and despair ?
In short, all projects for growing rich by sudden and extraordinary methods, as they operate violently on the passious of men, and encourage them to despise the slow moderate gains that are to be made by an honest industry, must be ruinous to the public, and even the winners themselves will at length be involved in the public ruin.
God grant the time be not near when men shall say: 'This island was once inhabiied by a religious, brave, sincere people, of plain uncorrupt manners, respecting inbred worth rather than titles and appearances, assertors of liberty, lovers of their country, jealous of their own rights, and unwilling to infringe the rights of others; improvers of learning and useful arts, enemies to luxury tender of other men's lives, and prodigal of their own ; inferior in nothing to the old Greeks or Romans, and superior to each of those people in the perfections of the other. Such were our ancestors during their rise and greatness; but they degenerated, grew servile fatterers of men in power, adopted Epicurean notions, became venal, corrupt, injarious, which drew upon them the hatred of God and man, and occasioned their tinal ruin,'
Prejudices and Opinions. Prejudices are notions or opinions which the mind entertains withont knowing the grounds and reasons of them, and which are assented to without examination. The first notions which take possession of the minds of men, with regard to duties social, moral, and civil, may therefore be justly styled prejudices. The mind of a young creature cannot remain empty; if you do not put into it that which is good, it will be sure to receive that which is bad.
Do what you can, there will still be a bias from education ; and if so, is it not better this bias should lie towards things laudable and useful to society? This bias still operates, although it may not always prevail. The notions first instilled have the earliest influence, take the deepest root, and generally are found to give a colour and complexion to the subsequent lives of men, inasmuch as they are in truth the great source of human actions. It is not gold, or honour, or power, that moves men to act, but the opinions they entertain of those things.' Hence it follows, that if a magistrate should say: 'No matter what potions men embrace, I will take heed to their actions,' therein he shews his weakness ; for, such us are men's notions, such will be their deeds.
For a man to do as he wonld be done by, to love his neighbour as himself, to honoar his superiors. to believe that God scans all his actions, and will reward or punish them, and to think that he who is guilty of falsehood or injustice hurts himself more than any one else; are not these such notions and principles as every wise governor or legislator would covet above all things to have firınly rooted in the mind of every individual under his care? This is allowed even by the enemies of religiou, who would fain have it thought the offspring of state policy, honouring its usefulness at the same time that they disparage its truth. What, therefore, cannot be acquired by every man's reasoning, biust be introduced by precept, and riveted by custom; that is to say, the bulk of mankind must, in all civilised societies, have their miuds, by timely instruction, well-seasoned and furnished with proper notions, which, although the grounds or proofs thereof be unknown to them, will nevertheless influence their conduct, and so far render them useful members of the state, But if you strip men of these their notions, or, if you wi.l, prejudices, with regard
to modesty, decency, justice, charity, and the like, you will soon find them so many monsters utterly unfit for human society.
I desire it may be considered that most men want leisure, opportunity, or faculties, to derive conclusions from their principles, and establish morality on a foundation of human science. True it is-as St. Paul observes—that the invisible things of God, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen;' and from thence the duties of natural religion may be discovered. But these things are seen and discovered by those alone who open their eyes and look narrowly for them. Now, if you look throughcut the world, you shall find but few of these narrow inspectors and inquirers, very few who make it iheir business to analyse opinions, and pursue them to their rational source, to examine whence truths spring, and how they are inferred. In short, you shall find all men full of opinions, but knowledge only in a few.
It is impossible, from the nature and circumstances of humankind, that the multitude should be philosophers, or that they should know things in their causes.
We see every day that the rules, or conclusions alone, are sufficient for the shopkeeper to state his account, the sailor to navigate his ship, or the carpenter to measure liis timber; none of which understand the theory, that is to say, the grounds and reasons either of arithmetic or geometry. Even so in moral, political, and religious matters, it is manifest that the rules and opinions early imbibed at the first dawn of understanding, and without the least glimpse of science, may yet produce excellent effects, and be very useful to the world, and that, in fact, they are so, will be very visible to every one who shall observe what passeth round about him.
It may not be amiss to inculcate, that the difference between prejudices and other opinions doth not consist in this, that the former are false, and the latter true; but in this, that the former are taken upon trust, and the latter acquired by reasoning. He who hath been taught to believe the immortality of the soul, may be as right in his notion, as he who hath reasoned himself into that opinion. It will then by no means follow, that because this or that notion is a prejudice, it must be therefore false. The not distinguishing between prejudices and errors is a prevailing oversight among our modern freethinkers.
There may be, indeed, certain mere prejudices or opinions which, having no reasons either assigned or assignable to support them, are nevertheless entertained by the mind, because they are intruded betimes into it. Such may be supposed false, not because they were early learned, or learned without their reasons, but because there are in truth no reasons to be given for them.
Certainly if a notion may be concluded false because it was early imbibed, or because it is with most men an object of belief rather than of knowledge, one may by the same reasoning conclude several propositions of Euclid to be false. A simple apprehension of conclusions, as taken in themselves, without the deductions of science, is what falls to the share of mankind in general. Religious awe, the precepts of parents and masters, the wisdom of legislatures, and the accumulaied experionce of ages, supply the place of proofs and reasonings with the vulgar of all rauks; I would say that discipline, national constitution, and laws human or Divine, are so many plain landmarks which guide them into the paths wherein it is presumed they ought to tread.
From ‘Maxims concerning Patriotism. A man who hath no sense of God or conscience, would you make such a one guardian to your child ? If not, why guardian to the state ?
A fop or inan of pleasure makes but a scurvy patriot.
IIe who says there is no such thing as an honest man, you may be sure is himself a knave.
The patriot aims at his private good in the public. The knave makes the public subservient to his private interest. The former considers himself as part of a whole, the latter considers himself as the whole.
Moral evil is never to be committed; physical evil may be incurred either to avoid a great: r evil, or to procure a good.
When the heart is right, there is true patriotism.
The fawning courtier and the surly squire often mean the same thing each his own interest.
Ferments of the worst kind succeed to perfect inaction.
THE REV. JOHN NORRIS.
The REV. JOHN NORRIS (1657–1711), an English Platonist and 'mystic divine,' was one of the earliest opponents of the philosoplay of Locke. Hallam characterises him as * more thoroughly Platonic than Malebranche, to whom, however, he pays great deference, and adopts his fundamental hypothesis of seeing all things in God. His first work, ‘A Collection of Miscellanies,' 1078, was popular and went through several editions. It consists of poems, essays, discourses, and letters. In the preface to this work, Norris says: 'It may appear strange, that in such a refining age as this, wherein all things seem ready to receive their last turn and finishing stroke, poetry should be the only thing that remains unimproved.' Yet Milton had only been dead four years, and Butler and Dryden were alive! Norris's own poetry is quaint and full of conceits, but he has one simile which was copied (or stolen) by two poets-Blair, author of The Grave,' and Thomas Campbell (* Pleasures of Hope').
How fading are the joys we dote upon!
Are the most exquisite and stron
Mortality's too weak to bear them long.
In another piece Norris repeats the image :
Angels, as 'tis but seldom they appear,
We may quote a few more lines containing poetic fancy and expression:
Distance presents the objects fair,
The works of Norris are numerous: 'The Picture of Love Unveiled,' 1682; 'An Idea of Happiness,' 1683 ; ‘Praciical Discourses,' 4 vols 1687; ‘Discourses upon the Beatitudes,' 1691 ; 'A Philosophical Dis. course concerning the Immortality of the Soul,' 1708.
On Perfect Happiness. Nothing does more constantly, inore inseparably, cleave to our minds, than this desire of perfect and consummated happiness. This is the most excellent end of all our endeavours, the great prize, the great hope. This is the mark every man shoots at; and though we miss our aim never so often, yet we will noi, cannot give over, but, like passionate lovers, take resolution from a repulse. The rest of our passions are much at our own disposal; yield either to reason or tiine; we either argue ourselves out of them, or at least outlive them. We are not always in love with pomp and grandeur, nor always dazzled with the glitteriug of riches; and there is a season when pleasure itself-that is, sensible pleasure-shall court in vain. But the desire of perfect happiness has uo intervals, no vicissitudes. It outlasts the motion of the pulse, and survives the ruins of the grave. Many waters cannot quench it, neither can the floods drown it.' And now certainly God would never have planted such an ardent, such an importunate appetite in our souls; and, as it were, interwoven it with our very natures, had he not been able to satisfy it.
I come now to shew wherein this perfect happiness does consist; concerning which, I affirm in the first place, that it is not to be found in anything we can enjoy in this life. The greatest fruition we have of God here is imperfect, and consequently unsatisfactory. And as for all other objects they are finite, and consequently, though never só fully enjoyed, cannot afford us perfect satisfaction. No, inan knoweth not the price thereof; neither is it found in the land of the living. The depth saith, It is not in me; and the sea saith, It is not with me' (Job xxviii. 13, 14). The vanity of the creature has been so copiously discoursed npon, both by philosóphers and divines, and withal is so obvious to every thinking man's experience, that I need not here take an inventory of the creation, nor turn Ecclesiastes after Solomon. I shall only add one or two remarks concerning the objects of secular happiness. The first is this, that the objects wherein men generally seek for happiness here, are not only finite in their nature, but also few in number, Indeed, could a man's life be so contrived, that he should have new pleasure still ready at hand as soon as he was grown weary of the old, and every day enjoy a virgin delight, he might then, perhaps, like Mr. Hobbes's motion, and for a while think hiinself happy in this continued successiou of new acquisitions. But, alas! nature does not treat us with this variety; the compass of our enjoyments is much shorter than that of our lives, and there is a periodical circulation of our pleasures, as well as of our lives. The enjoyments of our lives run in a perpetual round, like the months in the calendar, but with a quicker revolution; we dance like fairies in a circle, and our whole life is but a nauseous tautology. We rise like the sun, and run the same course we did the day before; and to-morrow is but the same over again.
But there is another grievance which contributes to defeat our endeavours after perfect happiness in the enjoyment of this life; which is, that the objects wherein we seek it are not only finite and few, but that they commonly prove occasions of greater sorrow to us, than ever they afforded us content. This may be made out several ways, as from the labour of getting, the care of keepingthe fear of losing, and the like topics commonly insisted upon by others. But I waive these and fix upon another account less blown upon, and I think more material than any of the rest. It is this: that although the object loses that great appearance in the fruition which it had in the expectation, yet, after it is gone, it resumes it again. Now we, when we lament the loss. do not take our measures from that appearance which the object had in the enjoyment (as we should do to make our sorrow pot exceed our happiness), but from that which it has in the reflection : and consequently we must needs be more miserable in the loss that we were happy in the enjoyment.
From these and the like cousiderations, I think it will evidently appear, that this perfect happiness is not to be found in anything we can enjoy in this life. Wherein then does it consist? I answer positively in the full and entire fruition of God He, as Plato speaks, is the proper and principal end of man, the centre of onr tendency, the ark of our rest. He is the object which alcne can satisfy the appetite of the most capacions soul, and stand the test of fruition to eternity, and to enjoy him fully is perfect felicity,