Images de page
PDF
ePub

+

¿

reasoning is what is called by logicians, a paralogism. It is reafoning in a circle. Space is nothing but a repetition of the ideas we acquire of extenfion by means of the fenfes of feeing and touching. To fay therefore that an extended and folid fubftance is that which excludes other, bodies from occupying the fame place at the fame time, is faying nothing more than that folidity is falidity, and extenfion is extenfion.

But though the notion of space feems not to enter at first into the mind, until it is introduced by the proper object's of fenfe; Dr, Reid obferves, that being once introduced; it remains in our conception and belief, though the objects which introduced it be removed-fpace not only retains a firm hold of our belief, even when we fuppofe all the objects that introduced it to be annihilated, but it fwells to im menfity. We can fet no limits to it, either of extent, or of duration. But it is only an immenfe, eternal, immoveable, and indestructible void or emptincfs-when we attempt to comprehend the whole of fpace, and to trace it to its origin, we lofe ourselves in the fearch-the extenfion of bodies which we perceive by our fenfes, leads us neceffarily to the concep tion and belief of a space which remains immoveable when the body is removed. And the duration of events which we remember, leads us neceffarily to the conception and belief of a duration, which would have gone on uniformly, though the event had never happened without fpace there can be nothing that is extended-and without time there can be nothing that hath duration: all limited duration is comprehended in time, and all limited extenfion in fpace, Thefe in their capacious womb contain all finite existences, but are contained by none. Created things have their particu→ lar place in fpace, and their particular place in time; but time is everywhere, and fpace at all times."

g

3

If it were true that space and time were thus exiftences, however anomalous, and not dependent in their very nature and effence on ideas of extenfion, motion, and fucceffion; the definition given of the primary qualities of matter by Dr. Reid, would explain one thing, in fome degree, by a relation it bears to other things. Perhaps it might be ac counted ftrictly logical. Matter is an exiftence that cannot co-exist with other existences in the fame place and time!! Here, other things, as ideas, thoughts, energies, fpirits, &c. are fuppofed to exift, and thefe may exift in the fame time and place. But different bodies cannot exist in the fame time and place. Thus, we fhould have both a genus, and a fpecific difference: The genus, or rather the fummum genus of exiftence; and the specific difference con

3

fifting

[ocr errors]

466

I

fifting of an incapability of co-existing in the fame place with another body, or a power of excluding another body from the fpace which it occupies. But if our ideas of space and time be derived wholly from matter, and matter in motion, as they feem to be, Dr. Reid's definition of matter amounts to nothing.

But although our ideas of space and time first enter into the mind by means of the objects of fenfe being introduced, it is faid we cannot dismiss them, for the one" fwells "in our conception to immensity, and the other to eternity."

We endeavoured to account for this matter, when we faid above, that space is nothing but a repetition of ideas and extenfion. By experience or habit we form to ourselves certain portions or measures of space and time; and by repeating these measures or ideas of them in our minds, we are led into the notion that space and time are infinite, because there is no limit fixed to our capacity of repeating them. As we may, in our imagination, add one thoufand miles to another, and one thousand years to another; fo we fancy that there is no end of miles and years. The grandeft idea of space we can form at a fingle glance, view, or effort of the imagination, is, no other than that which we actually take in by our fense of seeing when we behold the vault or canopy of the heavens ftretched over and furrounding the visible horizon. Having by habit rivetted this idea in our mind, we figure to ourselves its utmost boundary or line, and from thence we feem to ourselves to launch forth into a new space of equal extent, beyond that line, when in reality we are only repeating the fame idea that we had formed before. It is not new ground that we go over; but the landscape we had already. taken ever and anon recurring to the imagination, which cannot dismiss it while the mind chufes to think upon it, any more than it can difinifs any particular object from the fancy, fo long as it pleases to think on that object. And' we might as well fay that any particular mountain is every where, because we can tranfport it, in imagination, from one place to another, as that the particular space or measure is every where, which we take into the mind by contemplating the sky and our narrow horizon. A man who fees his fhadow wherever he goes, might as well say that he is omniprefent. The frolicfome animal that runs round and round, and finds no end of its labour in the vain effort to catch with its claws its own tail, is not an unjust emblem of a grave philofopher, pursuing, as he thinks, the immenfity of space, while, as he fancys he is advancing into the illimitable void, he carries with himself, or in himself, the very object he at

attempts

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

tempts to grafp and comprehend. We conclude therefore, that space and duration, depend, for their existence, on those of the primary qualities of matter; and that the primary qualities of matter, are just what we perceive them to be and no more; and depend for whatever exiftence we have any reafon or argument for afcribing to them, on perception as the fecondary qualities do.

The perception of colour, and the fenfation of pain, are not more effential to the exiftence of the colour and of the pain, than the perception of an houfe is to the existence of an houfe. Any fpecies of pain, fuppofe the gout, may exift in the limbs of another perfon without your feeling it; just as an house may exist at the diftance of an hundred miles without your feeing it. Thefe are no other than the different exercifes of different fenfes: the one of feeling, the other of seeing: though there be this difference between them, that the organ, the eye, may be fhut, or the view of an object intercepted by darkness or an intervening object; whereas the organs of feeling are fo conftituted, that a painful or pleasurable object cannot be thus intercepted from the feeling of the individual perfon affected. The open eye neceffarily fees a prefent object; and the fenfe of feeling is neceffarily affected with prefent pain. The fenfation is not more neceffary to the exiftence of pain, than the perception is to the exiftence of the object. But external objects, fays Dr. Reid are always feen by the open eye; but pain not al ways perceived by fentient beings.-True; and because we are always accustomed to fee the fame external things, therefore, we believe, by the power of habit, or fome other power, that they always exift-Would the firft, would a fingle glance of an external object, would one impreffion of it on a mind that had never been imprefled, or perceived any external before, create a belief of its permanent existence? furely not. And what more is there in the fecond, third, or any impreffion that is not in the first?

Dr. Reid, with his ufual acutnefs and penetration has attended to the force of this question. He maintains that fenfation, and memory are fimple and original principles of belief. Senfation implies the prefent exiftence of its object; memory its paft exiftence: but imagination views its object naked, and without any belief of its existence, "or non-existence, and is therefore called in the fchools, fimple apprehenfion-Inftead of faying that belief or knowledge is got by putting together and comparing the fimple apprehenfions, we ought rather to fay, that the fimple "apprehenfion is performed by refolving and analysing a na

66

62

66 tural

66

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

"tural and original judgment." [See Effay vi.] There are innumerable other places in which Dr. Reid affirms that, in fenfation, the mind believes, knows, and judges of the existence of objects.

Now there is not a more abftracted idea, there is not fo abstracted an idea as that of exiftence. How then is it poffible that any abftracted, and fuch an abftracted or general. idea fhould be acquired by perception, or fenfation, or memory? Let us hear what Dr. Reid fays on this fubject, [To be continued.]

ART. II. The Hflory of New Hampshire. Volume 1ft. compre hending the events of one complete century, from the Discovery of the River Pafcataqua. By Jeremiah Belknap, A. M. Member of the American Philofophical Society, held at Philadelphia, for promoting ufeful Knowledge. 8vo. 5s. boards, Philadel phia. Longman, London.

AS S the difcovery of America took place when the inhabitants of Europe were in a state of cultivation and refinement; and as the emigrants to that quarter of the globe were advanced in the rational and active powers; it is a matter of fome furprife, that our colonial fettlements approached fo flowly to importance. More than a century elapfed before America became an object of attention to England. Perhaps, this circumftance is chiefly to be afcribed to the extreme want of enlargement which has fo uniformly diftinguifhed the Minifters of this country. But while the northern continent was neglected by our statesmen, the Spaniards more penetrating and fagacious, effected the conqueft of Peru and Mexico. From the want of forefight in the English, it followed, that a fpirit of turbulence was engendered in their colonies, which in a diftant period was to prove fo humiliating to them; and from the vigilance of the Spaniards it proceeded, that their fettlements are now so securely established.

After recording the difcovery of America, and glancing at the fhameful blindness of the English Princes and statef men, our author relates the flender atchievements of the earlier emigrants, and exhibits a view of the condition of the natives. He then recounts the union of New Hamps fhire with Maffachufets; explains the principles and conduct of the first planters of New England; defcribes their laws; and gives a picture of their intolerance and perfecutions. Proceeding in his courfe, he details the struggles of the greater proprietors for the prefervation of their power and

property

2

property, and characterizes the hesitating, precarious, and feeble conduct of the mother country. The great objects which next occupy his attention, are the war with the French and Indians, denominated "King William's war ;” and the war with the French and Indians, known under the appellation of" Queen Anne's war."

At the very period when his fubject was beginning to be interesting, our author has thought it proper to conclude his volume. But as he is to proceed with his undertaking, we fhall probably have an opportunity of calling anew to him the attention of our readers.

It becomes us, however, at prefent to felect fome fpeci mens of his ability. Concerning the planters of New England, he writes as follows.

The drinking of healths, and the ufe of tobacco were forbidden, the former being confidered as an heathenifh practice, grounded on the ancient libations; the other as a fpecies of intoxication and waste of time. Laws were inftituted to regulate the intercourfe between the fexes, and the advances toward matrimony: They had a ceremony of betrothing, which preceded that of marriage. Pride and levity of behaviour came under the cognizance of the magiftrate. Not only the richness but the mode of drefs, and cut of the hair were fubject to state regulations.. Women were forbidden to expose their arms or their bofom to view; it was ordered that their fleeves fhould reach down to their wrist, and their gowns be clofed round the. neck. Men were obliged to cut fhort their hair, that they might not resemble women. No perfou not worth two hundred pounds was allowed to wear gold or filver lace, or filk hoods and scarfs. Offences against these laws were prefentable by the grand jury; and those who dreffed above their rank were to be affeffed accordingly. Sumptuary laws might be of ufe in the beginning of a new plantation; but these pious rulers had more in view than the political good. They were not only concerned for the external appearance of fobriety and good order, but thought themselves obliged, fo far as they were able, to promote real religion and enforce the obfervance of the divine precepts.

As they were fond of imagining a near resemblance between the circumstances of their fettlement in this country and the redemption of Ifrael from Egypt or Babylon; it is not ftrange that they fhould alfo look upon 66 their commonwealth as an inflitution of God for "the prefervation of their churches, and the civil rulers as both "members and fathers of them." The famous John Cotton, the first minister in Bofton was the chief promoter of this fettlement. When he arrived in 1633, he found the people divided in their opinions. Some had been admitted to the privileges of freemen at the first general court, who were not in communion with the churches; after this an order was paffed, than none but members of the churches fhould be admitted freemen; whereby all other perfons were excluded from every office or privilege civil or military. This great man,

by

« PrécédentContinuer »