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about which it is employed. The interpreter cannot do him justice without having his own mind brought into a similar position with the original author's; and in order to this, he must be acquainted not only with the subject of the particular writing in question, but also with the characteristicks and spirit of that species of writing, to which it belongs. It would be presumption, not to say injustice in a mathematician, who had exclusively devoted himself to his chosen science,to undertake to pass sentence on the productions of a poet; those mental tendencies and that state of mind, which are adapted to the last mentioned department of literature, not being fitted to the former. It would be no less presumption and injustice for a mere painter to assume the criticism of musical compositions, or for a mere man of polite letters to attempt the interpretation of the writings and an estimation of the character of mathematicians.

NOTE. It may seem to be a proper place here, to men→ tion a peculiar difficulty in the interpretation of the Bible, arising from the nature of the subjects there treated of. Revelation is a communication of those things, which could not have been fully learnt, and some of them could not have been learnt in any degree, by our unassisted faculties. It is a declaration of such facts, as eye hath not seen, and ear hath not heard.

As, therefore, we derive our ideas from sensation and from what takes place in our own minds, it ought not to surprise us, that our weak and limited understandings are incapable of forming a perfect conception of God, of angels, of spiritual bodies, of the soul being brought to judg→ ment, of the resurrection from the dead, &c. The words, which are employed on these subjects, are not without meaning, but such is the nature of the things signified by the words, that the meaning of them is often necessarily obscure to us; and we here find a favourable opportunity both for the exercise of that religious feeling, which is termed faith, as to the things themselves, and also for the exercise of charity, when our own interpretations do not agree with those of any of our erring fellow beings.




§. 150. Of the meaning of mental association and of its general principles or laws.

Our thoughts and feelings follow each other in a regular train. Of this statement no one needs any other proof, than his individual experience ;--we all know, not only, that our minds are susceptible of new states, but what is more, that this capability of new states is not fortuitous, but has its laws. Therefore, we not only say, that our thoughts and feelings succeed each other, but that this antecedence and sequence is in a regular train ;-a circumstance in our intellectual economy, which, it may be just observed, has the most direct and important bearing on our preservation and happiness. To this regular and established consecution of the states of the mind we give the name of MENTAL ASSOCIATION.


The term, ASSOCIATION, is perhaps preferable to any othIt may, with no little appearance of reason, be objected to the word, SUGGESTION, which has sometimes been employed, that it seems to imply a positive power or efficiency of the preceding state of the mind in producing the subsequent. But of the existence of such an efficiency we have no evidence. All that we know is the fact, that our thoughts and feelings, under certain circumstances, appear together and keep each other company;-And this is what is understood to be expressed, and is all, that is expressed, by the term, ASSOCIATION.

By the principles or laws of association, we mean no other, than the general designation of those circumstances, under which the regular consecution of mental states, which has been mentioned, occurs. The following may be mentioned as among the primary principles of association, although it is not necessary to take upon us to assert, either that the enumeration is complete, or that some

better arrangement of these laws might not be proposed, -Viz. RESEMBLANCE, CONTRAST, CONTIGUITY in time and place, and CAUSe and effect.

§. 151. Resemblance the first general principle of association.

New trains of ideas and new emotions are occasioned by resemblance; but when we say, that they are occasioned in this way, all that is meant is, that there is a new state of mind, immediately subsequent to the perception of the resembling object. Of the efficient cause of this new state of mind under these circumstances, we can only say, the Creator of the soul has seen fit to appoint this connection in its operations, without our being able, or deeming it necessary to give any further explanation. A traveller, wandering in a foreign land, finds himself in the course of his sojournings in the midst of aspects of nature not unlike those, where he has formerly resided, and the fact of this resemblance becomes the antecedent to new states of mind; there is distinctly brought before him the scenery, which he has left, his own woods, his waters, and his home. The result is the same in any other case, whenever there is a resemblance between what we now experience, and what we have previously experienced. We have been acquainted, for instance, at some former period with a person, whose features appeared to us to possess some peculiarity, a breadth and openness of the forehead, an uncommon expression of the eye, or some other striking mark; — to-day we meet a stranger in the crowd, by which we are surrounded, whose features are of a somewhat similar cast, and the resemblance at once vividly suggests the likeness of our old acquaintance.

. 152. Resemblance in every particular not necessary.

It is not necessary, that the RESEMBLANCE should be complete in every particular, in order to its being a principle or law of association. It so happens, for instance, that we see a painted portrait of a female countenance, which

is adorned with a ruff of a peculiar breadth and display; and we are, in consequence, immediately reminded of queen Elizabeth. Not because there is any resemblance between the features before us and those of the English sovereign, but because in all the painted representations, which we have seen of her, she is uniformly set off with this peculiarity of dress, with a ruff like that, which we now see. Here the resemblance between the suggesting thing and that, which is suggested, is not a complete resemblance, does not exist in all the particulars, in which they may be compared together, but is limited to a part of the dress.

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That a single resembling circumstance, (and perhaps one of no great importance,) should so readily suggest the complete conception of another object or scene, which is made up of a great variety of parts, seems to admit of some explanation in this way. We take, for example, an individual; the idea, which we form of the individual is a complex one, made up of the forehead, eyes, lips, hair, general figure, dress, &c. These separate, subordinate ideas, when combined together, and viewed as a whole, have a near analogy to any of our ideas, which are compounded and are capable of being resolved into elements more simple. When, therefore, we witness a ruff of a size and decoration more than ordinary, we are at once reminded of that ornament in the habiliments of the British queen; and this on the ground of resemblance. But this article in the decorations of her person is the foundation of only one part of a very complex state of mind, which embraces the features and the general appearance. As there has been a long continued co-existence of those separate parts, which make up this complex state, the recurrence to the mind of one part or of one idea is necessarily attended with the recurrence of all the others. They sustain the relation of near friends; they form a group, and do not easily and willingly admit of a separation. The principle, which maintains in the relation of co-existence such states of the mind, as may be considered as grouped together, is the same with that, which so steadily and permanently

combines the parts of mixed modes or other complex ideas, and is no less effectual in its operation. What this principle is will more fully appear from remarks, shortly to be made, on contiguity in time and place.

§. 153. Of resemblance in the effects produced.

Resemblance operates, as an associating principle, not only when there is a likeness or similarity in the things themselves, but also when there is a resemblance in the effects, which are produced upon the mind.

The ocean, when greatly agitated by the winds, and threatening every moment to overwhelm us, produces in the mind an emotion, similar to that, which is caused by the presence of an angry man, who is able to do us harm. And in consequence of this similarity in the effects produced, they reciprocally bring each other to our recollection.

Dark woods, hanging over the brow of a mountain, cause in us a feeling of awe and wonder, like that, which we feel, when we behold, approaching us, some aged person, whose form is venerable for his years, and whose name is renowned for wisdom and justice. It is in reference to this view of the principle, on which we are remarking, that the following comparison is introduced in Akenside's Pleasures of the Imagination.

"Mark the sable woods,

"That shade sublime yon mountain's nodding brow; "With what religious awe the solemn scene

"Commands your steps! As if the reverend form

"Of Minos or of Numa should forsake

"The Elysian seats, and down the embowering glade "Move to your pausing eye."

As we are so constituted, that all nature produces in us certain effects, causes certain emotions, similar to those, which are caused in us in our intercourse with our fellowbeings, it so happens that, in virtue of this fact, the natural world becomes living, animated, operative. The ocean is in anger; the sky smiles; the cliff frowns; the aged woods are venerable; the earth and its productions are no longer a dead mass, but have an existence, a soul, an agency.

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