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fear of the Lord, &c. which is the beginning of wisdom. It is the Lord who gives wisdom even to the simple, and out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.
CHAP. II.- Observation, Reading, Instruction by Lectures,
Conversation, and Study compared. THERE are five eminent meuns or methods whereby the mind is improved in the knowledge of things, and these are observation, reading, instruction by lectures, conversation, and meditation ; which last in a most peculiar manner is called study.
Let us survey the general definition or descriptions of them
I. Observation is the notice that we take of all occurrences in human life, whether they are sensible or intellectual, whether relating to persons or things, to ourselves or others. It is this that furnishes us even from our infancy, with a rich variety of ideas and propositions, words and phrases : it is by this we know that fire will burn, that the sun gives light, that a horse eats grass, that an acorn produces an oak, that man is a being capable of reasoning and discourse, that our judgment is weak, that our mistakes are many, that our sorrows are great, that our bodies die and are carried to the grave, and that one generation succeeds another. All those things which we see, which we hear or feel, which we perceive by sense or consciousness, or which we know in a direct manner, with scarcely any exercise of our re-, flecting faculties or our reasoning powers, may be included under the general name of observation.
When this observation relates to any thing that immediately concerns ourselves, and of which we are conscious, it may be called experience. So I am said to know or experience, that I have in myself a power of thinking, fearing, loving, &c. that I have appetites and passions working in me, and many personal occurrences bave attended me in this life.
Observation therefore includes all that Mr. Locke means by sensation and reflection,
When we are searching out the nature or properties of any being, by various methods of trial; or when we apply some active powers or set some causes at work, to observe what effects they would produce, this sort of observation is called experiment. So wben I throw a bullet into water, I find it sinks : and when I throw the same bullet into quick-silver, I see it swims : but if I beat out this bullet into a thin hollow shape like a dish, then it will swim in the water too. So when I strike two flints together, I find they produce fire ; when I throw a sced into the earth, it grows up iuto a plaut..
All these belong to the first method of knowledge, which I call observation.
I. Reading is that means or method of knowledge, whereby we acquaint ourselves with what other men hare written or pubLished to the world in their writings. These aris of reading and Eriting are of infinite advantage; for by them we are made partakers of the sentiments, observations, reasonings, and improvements of all the learned world, in the most remote nations, and in former ages, almost from the beginning of mankind.
III. Public or private lectures, are such verbal instructions as are given by a teacher while the learners attend in silence. This is the way of learning religion from the pulpit, or of philosophy or theology from the professor's chair or of mathematics by a teacher shewing us various theorems or problems, that is speculations or practices, by demonstration and operation, with all the instruments of art necessary to those operations.
IV. Conversation is another method of improving our minds, wherein by mutual discourse and enquiry, we learn the sentiments of others, as well as communicate our sentiments to others in the same manner. Sometimes indeed, though both parties speak by torns, yet the advantage is only on one side ; as, when a teacher and a learner mcet and discourse together : but frequently the profit is mutual. Under this head of conversation, we may also rauk disputes of various kinds,
V. Meditation or study includes all those exercises of the mind whereby- we render all the former methods useful for our increase in true knowledge and wisdom. It is by meditation we come to confirm our nemory of things that pass through our thoughts in the occurrences of life, in our own experiences, and in the observations we make : it is by meditation that we draw various inferences and establish in our minds general principles of knowledge. It is by meditation that we compare the various ideas which we derive from our senses, or from the operations of our souls, and join them in propositions. It is by meditation that we fix in our memory whatsoever we learn, and form our own judgment of the truth or falsehood, the strength or weakness of what others speak or write. It is meditation or study that draws out long chains of argument, and searches and finds deep and difficult truths, which before lay concealed in darkness.
It would be a needless thing to prove that our own solitary meditations, together with the few observations that the most part of mapkiod are capable of making, are not sufficient of themselves to lead us into the attainment of any considerable proportion of koowledge, at least in au age so much improved as ours is, without the assistance of conversation and reading, and other proper instructions that are to be attained in our days. Yet each of these five methods have their peculiar advantages, where
by they assist each other; and their peculiar defects, which bave need to be supplied by the other's assistance. Let us trace over some of the particular advantages of each.
I. One method of improving the mind is observation, and the advantages of it are these : . 1. It is owing to observation that our mind is furnished with the first, simple and complex ideas. It is this lays the groundwork and foundation of all knowledge, and makes us capable of using any of the other methods for improving the mind : for if we did not attain a variety of sensible and intellectual ideas by the sensation of outward objects, by the consciousness of our own appetites and passions, pleasures, and pains, and by inward experience of the actings of our own spirits, it would be impossible either for men or books to teach us any thing. It is observation that must give us our first ideas of things, as it includes in it sense and consciousness.
2. All our knowledge derived from observation, whether it be of single ideas or of propositions, is knowledge gotten at first hand. Hereby we see and know things as they are, or as they appear to us; we take the impressions of them on our ininds from the original objects themselves, which give a clearer and stronger conception of things; these ideas are more lively, and the propositions (at least in many cases) are much more evident. Whereas what knowledge we derive from lectures, reading, and converation, is but the copy of other men's ideas, that is, the picture of a picture; and is one remove further from the original.
3. Another advantage of observation is, that we may gain knowledge all the day long, and every moment of our lives, and every moment of our existence we may be adding something to our intellectual treasures thereby, except only wbile we are asleep; and even then the remembrance of our dreamings will teach us some truths, and lay a foundation for a better acquaintance with human nature, both in the powers and in the frailties of it. į II. The next way of improving the mind is by reading, and the advantages of it are such as these:
1. By reading we acquaint ourselves in a very extensive manner with the af; uirs, actions and thoughts of the living and the dead, in the most remote nglions, and in most distant ages ; and that with as much ease as though they lived in our owu age and nation. By reading of books we may learn something from all parts of mankind; whereas by observation we learn all from ourselves, and only what comes within our own, direct cognizance; by conversation we can only enjoy the assistance of a very few, persons, viz. those who are near us, and live at the same time when we do, that is, our neighbours and contemporaries : but our knowledge is much more narrowed still, if
fre confive ourselves merely to our own solitary reasonings, without much observation or reading: For then all our improvement must arise only from our own inward powers and meditations.
2. By reading we learn not only the actions and the senti. ments of distant nations and ages, but we transfer to ourselves the knowledge and improvements of the most learned men, the visest and the best of mankind, when or wheresoever they lived: For though many books have been written by weak and injudi. cious persons, yet the most of those books which have obtained great reputation in the world, are the products of great and wise men in their several ages and pations : whereas we can obtain the conversation and instruction of those only who are within the reach of our dwelling, or our acquaintance, whether they are wise or unwise; and sometimes that narrow sphere scarcely affords any person of great eminence in wisdom or learn. ing, uoless our instructor happen to have this character. And as for our own study and meditations, even when we arrive at some good degrees of learning, our advantage for further inprovement in koowledge by them, is still far more contracted than what we may derive from reading.
3. When we read good authors we learn the best, the most laboured and most refined sentiments even of those wise and learned men ; for they have studied hard, and have committed to writing their maturest thonghts, and the result of their long study and experience : whereas by conversation, and in some lectures, we obtain many times only the present thoughts of our tutors or friends which (though they may be briglit and useful), yet, at first perhaps, may be sudden and indigested, and are mere hints which have arisen to no maturity.
4. It is another advantage of reading, that we may reviere what we have read; we may consult the page again and again, and meditate on it at successive scasons in our serenest and retired hours, having the book always at hand: but what we obtain by conversation and in lectures, is oftentimes lost again as soon as the company breaks up, or at least when the day vaoishes ; unless we happen to have the talent of a good memory, or quickly retire and note down what remarkables we have found in those discourses. And for the same reason, and for want of retiring and writing, many a learned man has lost several useful meditations of his own, and could never recal them again.
III. The advantages of verbal instructions by public or priFate lectures are these :
1. There is something more sprightly, more delightful and entertaining in the living discourse of a wise, a learned, and well-qualified teacher, than there is in the silent and sedentary practice of reading. The very turn of voice, the good pronunciation, and the polite and alluring manner which some teachers have attained, will engage the attention, keep the soul fixed, and convey and insinuate into the inind, the ideas of things in a more lively and forcible way, than the mere reading of books in the sileuce and retirement of the closet.
2. A tutor or instructor, when he paraphrases and explains other authors, can mark out the precise point of difficulty or controversy, and unfold it. He can shew you which paragraphis are of the greatest importance, and which are of less inoment. He can teach his hearers what authors, or what parts of an author, are best worth reading op any particular subject; and thus save his disciples much time and pains, by shortening the labours of their closet and private studies. He can shew you what were the doctrines of the ancients in a compendium, which perhaps would cost much labour and the perusal of many books to attain. He can inforın you what new doctrines or sentiments are rising in the world, before they come to be public ; as well as acquaint you with his own private thoughts, and his own experiments and observations; which never were, and perhaps never will be published to the world, and yet may be very valuable and useful.
3. A living instructor can contey to our senses those notions with which he would furnish our minds, when he teaches us natural philosophy, or most parts of mathematical learning. He can make the experiments before our eyes. He can describe figures and diagrams, point to the lines and angles, and make out the demonstration in a more intelligible manner by sensible means, which cannot be done so well by mere reading, even though we should have the same figures lying in a book before our eyes. A living teacher, therefore, is a most necessary help in these studies.
I might add also, that even where the subject of discourse is moral, logical or rhetorical, &c. and which does not directly come under the notice of our senses, a tutor may explain his ideas by such familiar examples, and plain or simple similitudes, as seldom find place in books and writings.
4. When an instructor in his lectures delivers any matter of difficulty, or expresses himself in such a manner as seems obscure, so that you do not take up his ideas clearly or fully, you bave opportunity, at least when the lecture is finished, or at other proper seasons, to inquire how such a sentence should be unulerstood, or how such a difficulty may be explained and removed. . If there be permission given to free converse with the tutor, either in the midst of the lecture, or rather at the end of it, con