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§. 91. Modes, substances, and relations resolvable into

simple ideas.

All our complex ideas, whether MODES, SUBSTANCES, or RELATIONS, may be traced back and resolved into simple ideas, although it may not be very obvious, in some instances, how this is to be done, or when we have arrived at the end of the analysis.

It seems in general to be more easy to ascertain what are the simple ideas, which enter into the formation of the two first classes, than of the third. But nothing, it must be confessed, is so much wanting as the patience necessary into a careful examination of our thoughts, in order to a successful result even in this last class.

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When we say, that honey is sweeter than bread, or that iron is harder than wax, the words, swEETER and HARDER express relations or relative ideas, but being analyzed, so far as we are able to, they clearly terminate in the simple ideas of sweetness and hardness.

When we say of any individual, whom we happen to see, that he is our friend or our enemy, words, which not only express relations, but are correlative to each other, what do we mean to say or imply in the use of such expressions, but this; viz.

(1) That he is a man, (2) That he exercises love or hatred, (3) That we are the subjects of it. And having made this general analysis of the terms, we are then to consider what the complex notion, expressed by the word, MAN, is made up of, to inquire also where the idea of LOVE or of HATRED is to be classed, and what is its origin, &c. And thus we shall in the end arrive at those ideas, which are termed simple.

At present no further remarks remain to be made by us on the subject of the origin of our ideas. As this Treatise is designed for beginners in the science, to be more particular might tend rather to discourage, than to lead them on in the path of knowledge; and yet, we trust, such a view of it has been taken, as will not only be deemed in general correct, but sufficiently extensive to satisfy a moderate curiosity.

We finish this chapter with a few practical remarks on furnishing our minds with ideas.

It was observed in the seventy ninth section, that a few real ideas are of more consequence than many chimerical ones, and let it to be admitted to be a just remark. But of such ideas, as are real, as are consistent, as are distinct, and ready at command, there cannot be too many, any more than a man can have an excess of truth or an exuberance of moral virtue.

§. 92. The mind should be furnished with a store of ideas.

As early as possible should the mind be furnished with a rich variety of thoughts. Although it be proper and oftentimes necessary, that persons should direct their attention more to some particular subject than others, yet he cannot be considered as possessed of a good education, who is not in some degree acquainted with many subjects.


Our acquisitions are not to be limited to the affairs of our own country, but we are to become acquainted with the history of other nations also; and while there is much to be learnt, that is modern, the records of antiquity are not to be neglected. We are to learn things both of a political and a religious kind, those, which have relation to the mechanick arts, the laws of nature, the intercourse of life, the principles of the mind, and on a variety of other subjects.

Some of the benefits of possessing a large fund of ideas, which are the elements or materials of our knowledge, are these.

(1) It enables us to take a wide, and, therefore, in general a more accurate view of subjects.

In regard to every science there are some things true and some things false, and we are constantly liable to errour; it may, therefore, well be expected, that he, who has a large store of ideas in that science, which he can examine and compare together, stands so much the better

chance of having his sentiments well balanced and cor


A person, designing to pursue the study of law or of theology, may be of the opinion, that a knowledge of chymistry, of natural philosophy, or of the physiology of the human sytem, may be of no advantage to him, as a lawyer, theologian, &c., but there are many things, it may be replied, even if we admit the propriety of this opinion, the knowledge of which may not be so particularly beneficial in one's chosen pursuit, but of which, nevertheless, it would be highly discreditable to be ignorant.

Moreover, a lawyer, who is quite familiar with the principles of his particular department, may sometimes find himself a little perplexed, even when debating in a court of justice, in consequence of his ignorance of the chymical art, and a judge has been known to be confused, in making up a decision on a case of suspected murder, for want of a more intimate acquaintance with the philosophy of our animal organization.

(2) There is a second advantage, resulting from this enlarged and general acquaintance with things, viz. It will help, on the one hand, to preserve us from an excess of credulity or too readily believing every thing, which is proposed to us for our assent, and, on the other, will be likely to guard us from a positive and, dogmatical turn of mind.

There are many things, which at first sight appeared strange and incredible, but were afterwards found by us to be true. The more extensive the range of our ideas, the more shall we have found of instances of this sort. Hence when any thing is stated, however strange it may at first appear, we shall not be disposed to affirm or deny in respect to it with dogmatism, but to inquire further.

The more we know also in general, the more we shall, consequently, know, in particular, of intentional deceptions, and of the various unavoidable causes of mistake, and shall thus be strengthened against the indulgence of an extreme credulity.

These are advantages, which are not to be lightly prized, and are a sufficient reason, why we should early at

tempt to furnish ourselves with many ideas on a variety of subjects, by our personal observation of what things take place around us, by reading judicious books, and by conversation.

One fruitful source of ideas is conversation. We may learn something even in conversing with those persons, who have not had the advantages of a liberal education, and whose time is perhaps chiefly taken up in the exercise of soine mechanick art, or in manual labour in the cultivation of the soil.

It is to be remarked further, that we are not to despise the conversation of those, who are of slow utterance. and whose conversation is thought to be rather uninteresting. It is a remark of Dean Swift, which has some philosophy in it, that the common fluency of speech in many persons is owing to a scarcity of words and ideas. For whoever, as he reasons on the subject, is master of language and has a mind full of ideas, will be apt, in speaking, to hesitate upon the choice of both. Whereas common speakers have only one set of ideas and one set of words to clothe them in, and these are always ready. It is something like people coming fast out of a church, when it is nearly empty, but slow when there is a large crowd.

NOTE. In passing from the origin of our ideas to the subject treated of in the next chapter, we have only to say, that we follow an order in the discussion, which naturally suggests itself. We do not mean to assert, that the 'arrangement will appear perfectly natural to every one at first sight, although it will be likely to, on a little examin


Having spoken of the origin of our ideas, which are the materials, about which the mind employs itself, it surely comes in course to examine those states of mind, where there is supposed to be a real perception of external objects, but is not; and which, therefore, are a species of faise or illusive ideas, not resulting from the natural opcrations of the intellect, and not furnishing grounds of knowledge.




§. 93. What we are to understand by apparitions.

Angels have appeared on earth. The Almighty has permitted it, as one means of forwarding the Scripture revelation, so necessary to mankind; also other preternatural appearances in connection with the same great object.

It is hardly necessary to mention, among other instances, the appearance of the angel to Manoah and his wife, the sudden arrival of one of the same class of beings to release Peter from prison, and the circumstances of the Transfiguration.

As the canon of Scripture has long been closed, and the days of miracles are over, it does not rightly fall to us to consider the cases, to which we have alluded, and, further, they do not properly come under the head of APPARITIONS, since they were not merely imagined appearances, but real.

Apparitions are appearances, which seem to be real, but which exist only in the imagination.

There may be apparitions, then, of departed spirits, of angels, of celestial cities, of landscapes, of mountains and precipices, of festivals, triumphs, funeral processions, temples. There may be apparitions of all things, which exist, and of some things which do not exist.

We may imagine, that we see such things, as have been mentioned, and others, and firmly believe, that they are before us, or that we are in the midst of them, and all of it be merely a mental deception.

§. 94. Of the connection between the mind and body.

All apparitions, it may be said with safety, are owing

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