Page images

xiphias, hyaena or yaena, zibelta. Most of these he divided also into four parts, viz. head and body, feet, fins or wiogs and tail, and by some arbitrary or chimerical attachment of each of these to a word or thing which be desired to remember, he committed them to the care of his memory, and that with good success.

It is also by this association of ideas, that we may better impriot any new idea upon the memory by joining with it some circumstances of the time, place, company, &c. wherein we first observed, heard or learnt it. If we would recover an absent idea, it is useful to recollect those cireumstances of time, place, &c. The substance will many times be recovered and brought to the thoughts by recollecting the shadow: a man recurs to our fancy by remembering bis garment, his size, or stature, his office, or employment, &c. A beast, bird, or fish by its colour, figure, or motion, by the cage, or court-yard, or cistern wherein it was kept.

To this head also we may refer that remembrance of dames and things, which may be derived from our recollection of their likeness to other things wbich we know; either their resemblance in the name, character, form, accident, or any thing that belongs to them. An idea or word which has been lost or forgotten, has been often recovered by hitting upon some other kindred word or idea, which has the nearest resemblance to it, and that in the letters, syllables or sound of the name, as well as properties of the thing.

If we would remember, Hippocrates or Galen, or Parcelsus, think of a physician's name, beginning with H. G. or P. If we will remember Ovidius Naso, we may represent a man with a great nose; if Plato, we may think upon a person with Jarge shoulders ; if Crispus, we shall fancy another with curled hair; and so of other things. And sometimes a new or strange idea may be fixed in the memory, by considering its contrary or opposite. So if we cannot hit on the word Goliath, the remembrance of David may recover it: or the name of a Trojan may be recovered by thinking of a Greek, &c.

. 8. In such cases wherein it may be done, seek after a local memory, or a remembrance of what you bave read by the side or page where it is written or printed; whether the right or the left, whether at the top, the middle or the bottom; whether at the beginning of a chapter or a paragraph, or the end of it. It has been some advantage for this reason, to accustom one's self to books of the same edition : 'and it has been of constant and special use to divines and private Christians, to be furnished with several Bibles of the same edition ; that wheresoever they are, whether in their chamber, parlour or study, in the younger or elder years of life, they may find the chapters and verses

Grammars, Psale in the same pistance to those met

standing in the same parts of the page. This is also a great conveniency to be observed by printers in the new editions of Grammars, Psalms, Testaments, &c. to print every chapter, paragraph or verse in the same part of the page as the former, that so it may yield an happy assistance to those young learners, who find, and even feel the advantage of a local memory.

9. Let every thing we desire to remember be fairly and distinctly written and divided into periods, with large characters in the beginning, for by this means we shall the more readily imprint the matter and words on our minds, and recollect them with a glance, the more remarkable the writing ap-, pears to the eye. This sense conveys the ideas to the fancy better than any other; and what we have seen is not so soon forgotten as what we have only heard. What Horace affirms of the mind. or passions may be said also of the memory.

Segnius irritant animos dernissa per aurem
Quam quæ sunt oculis subjecta fidelibus, et quæ
Ipse sibi tradit spectator.

Applied thus in English :
Sounds which address the ear are lost and die
In one short hour; but that which strikes the eye
Lives long opon the mind; the faithful sight

Engraves ibe knowledge with a beam of light. For the assistance of weak memories, the first letters or words of every period, in every page, may be written in distinct colours ; yellow, green, red, black, &c. and if you observe the same order of colours in the following sentences, it may be still the better. This will make a greater impression, and may much aid the memory.

Under this head we may take notice of the advantage which the memory gains, by having the several objects of our learning drawn out into schemes and tables ; inatters of mathematical science and natural philosophy are not only let into the understanding, but preserved in the memory by figures and diagrams. The situation of the several parts of the earth are better learnt by one day's conversing with a map or sea-chart, than by mere reading the description of their situation a hundred times over in books of geography. So the constellations in astronomy and their position in the heavens, are more easily remembereil by bemispheres of the stars well drawn. It is by having such sort of memorials, figures and tables hung round our studies or places of residence or resort, that our inemory of these things will be greatly assisted and improved, as I have shewn ai large in the twentieth chapter of the Use of the sciences.

I might add here also, that once writing over what we desiga to remember, and giving due attention to what we write,

will fix it more in the mind than reading it five times. And in the same manner, if we had a plan of the naked lines of longitude and latitude, projected on the meridian printed for this use, a learner night much more speedily advance himself in the knowledge of geography by his own drawing the figures of all the parts of the world upon it by imitation, than by many days survey of a map of the world so printed. The same also may he said concerning the constellations of heaven, drawn by the learner on a naked projection of the circles of the sphere upon the piane of the equator.

10. It has sometimes been the practice of men to imprint names or sentences on their memory, by taking the first letters of every word of that sentence, or of those names, and making a new word out of them. So the name of the Maccabces is borrowed from the first letters of the Hebrew words which make that sentence Mi Camoka Baelim Jehovah, that is, who is like thee among the gods ? Which was written on their banners. Jesus Christ our Saviour hath been called a fish, by the fathers, because these are the first letters of those Greek words, Jesus Christ, God's Son, the Saviour. So the word vibgyor teaches us to remember the other of the seven original colours, as they appear by the sun-beams cast through a prism on a white paper, or formed by the sun in a rainbow, according to the different refrangibility of the 'rays, viz. violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange and red.

In this manner the Hebrew grammarians teach their students to remember the letters which change their natural pronunciation by the inscription of a dagesh, by gathering these six letters, beth, gimel, daleth, caph, pe and thau, into the word begadchephat ; and that they might not forget the letters named quiescent, viz. d, h, v, and i, they are joined in the word ahevi. So the universal and particular propositions in logic, are remembered by the words barbura, celarent, darii, &c. Other artificial helps to memory may be just mentioned here. :

Dr. Grey in his book called Memoria Technica, has exchanged the figures 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, for some consonants, b, d, t, f, 1, y, p, k, n, and some vowels, a, e, i, o, 11, and several diphthongs, and thereby formed words that denote numbers, wbich may be more easily remembered : and Mr. Lowe has im. proved his scheme in a sinall pamphlet called Mnemonics Delineated, whereby in seven leaves he has comprized almost an infinity of things in science and in common life, and reduced there to a sort of measure like Latin verse; though the words may be supposed to be very barbarous, being such a mixture of vowels and consonants as are very unfit for harmony. But after all, the very writers on this subject have confessed, that several of these artificial belps of memory are so cumbersome as not to

scenephat, anda daleth, cam, da

be suitable to every temper or person ; nor are they of any use for the delivery of a discourse by memory, nor of much service in learning the sciences; but they may be sometimes practised for the assisting our remembrance of certain sentences, numbers, or names.

these yourselves remember" inquiry andnd then

CHAP. XVIII.–Of determining a Question. ' I. WHEN a subject is proposed to your thoughts, consider Dhether it be knowable at all, or no: and then whether it be not above the reach of your enquiry and knowledge in the present state ; and remember that it is a great waste of time, to busy yourselves too much amongst unsearchables ; the chief of these studies is to keep the mind humble, by finding its own ignorance and weakness.

II. Consider again whether the matter be worthy of your enquiry at all ; and then, how far it may be worthy of your present search and labour according to your age, your time of life, your station in the world, your capacity your profession, your chief design and end. There are many things worthy enquiry to one man, which are not so to another; and there are things that may deserve the study of the same person in one part of life, which would be improper or impertinent at another. To read books of the art of preaching, or disputes about church discipline, are proper for a theological student in the end of his academical studies, but not at the beginning of them. To pursue mathematical studies very largely may be useful for a professor of philosophy, but not for a divine.

III. Consider whether the subject of your enquiry be easy, or difficult ; whether you have sufficient foundation or skill, furniture and udvantages for the pursuit of it. It would be mad. ness for a young statuary to attempt at first to carve a Venus or a Mercury, and especially without proper tools. And it is equally folly for a man to pretend to make great improvements in nalu. Tal philosophy without due experiments.

IV. Consider whether the subject be any ways useful or no, before you engage in the study of it ; often put this question to yourselves, Cui bono ? to what purpose ? what end will it attain? Is it for the glory of God, for the good of men, for your own advantage, for the removal of any natural or moral evil, for the attainment of any natural or moral good? Will the profit be equal to the labour ? There are many subtle impertigences learnt in the schools, many painful trifles even among the mathematical theorems and probleins, many difficiles nugae, or laborious follies of various kinds, which some ingenious wen bave

been engaged in. A due reflection upon these things wil call the miod away from vain amusements, and save much time.

V. Consider what tendency it has to make you wiser and better, as well as to make you more learned ; and those questions which tend to wisdom and prudence in our conduct among men, as well as piety towards God, are doubtless more important, and preferable beyond all those enquiries which only improve our knowledge in mere speculations.

VI. If the question appear to be well worth your diligent application, and you are furnished with the necessary requisites (o pursue it, then consider whether it be drest up and entangled in more words than is needful, and contain or include more complicated ideas than is necessary: and if so, endeavour to reduce it to a greater simplicity and plainness, which will make the enquiry and argument easier and plainer all the way. . VII. If it be stated in an improper, obscure, or irregular form, it may be meliorated by changing the phrase, or transposing the parts of it; but be careful always to keep the grand and important point of enquiry the same in your new stating the question. Little tricks and deceits of sophistry, by sliding in, or leaving out such words as entirely change the question, should be abandoned and renounced by all fair disputants, and honest searchers after truth. The stating a question with clearness and justice, goes a great way many times toward the answering it. The greatest part of true knowledge lies in a distinct perception of things which are in themselves distinct; and some men give more light and knowledge by the bare stating of the question with perspicuity and justice than others by talking of it in gross confusion for whole hours together. To state a question is but to separate and disentangle the parts of it from one another, as well as from every thing which doth not concern the question, and then to lay the disentangled parts of the question in due order and method ; oftentimes without more ado this fully resolves the doubt, and shews the wind where the truth lies, without argument or dispute.

VIII. If the question relate to an axiom or first principle of truth, reinember that a long train of consequences inay depend upon it,' therefore it should not be suddenly admitted and received. It is not enough to determine the truth of a proposition, much less to raise it to the bovour of an axiom or first principle; to say that it has been believed through many ages, that it has been received by many nations, that it is almost universally acknowledged or no body denies it, that it is established by human laws, or that temporal penalties or reproaches will attend the disbelief of it.

IX. Nor is it enough to forbid any proposition the title of an axiom, because ii has been denied by some persons, and

« PreviousContinue »