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should be known, and that wise men conclude it to be true, therefore to pretend that we know it to be true.
8. And it is sinful folly to pretend that we truly know or apprehend the thing or matter, or incomplex object, merely because we have got the bare words, and second notions of it, which are separable from the knowledge of the thing. All these are false and sinful pretences of knowledge which men have not.
But because Paul so warneth us to take heed of vain philosophy, and atheists and infidels deride him for speaking against the wisdom of the world, as if he spake against learning, because he had it not; and because the disease which he attempted to cure, remaineth among scholars to this day, and instead of a cure, many contemn the physician; and dislike Christ himself and the Gospel, as defective of the learning which they overvalue; I will once again, and that more distinctly tell you some few of the faults of our common learning; even now that it is cultivated and augmented in this age, that you may see that Paul did not injuriously accuse it, or Christ injuriously neglect it.*
1. Natural imperfection layeth the foundation of our common calamity ; in that it is so long
* M. Antonine (1. 1, sect. 17) doth thank God that he made no greater progress in Rhetoric, Poetry, and such like studies, which might have hindered him from better things, if he had perceived himself to have profited in them. And in fine) quod cum Philosophandi cupiditas incessisset, non in sophistam aliquem inciderim, nec commentariis evolvendis, vel syllogismis resolvendis, vel Meterologicis discutiendis tempus deses contriverim.
before sense and reason grow up to a natural maturity, through the unripeness of organs, and want of exercise, that children are necessitated to learn words before things, and to make these words the means of their first knowledge, of many of the things signified ; so that most furnish themselves with a stock of names and words, before ever they get any true knowledge of the matter.
II. And then they are exceeding apt to think that this treasury of words and second notions is true wisdom, and to mistake it for the know. ledge of the thing : even as in religion we find almost all children and ignorant people, will learn to say by rote the Creed and Lord'sprayer, and Commandments, and Catechism, and then think that they are not ignorants, when it is long after, before we can get them to understand the sense of the words which they can so readily speak; yea, though they are plain English words, which they use for the most part in ordinary discourse.
III. When children come to school, also their masters teach them as their parents did, or worse; I mean that they bestow almost all their pains to furnish them with words and second notions; and so do their tutors too often at the University. So that by that time they are grown to be masters of a considerable stock of words, grammatical, logical, metaphysical, &c., and can set these together in propositions and syllogisms, and have learned memoriter the theorems or axioms, and some distinctions which are in common use and reputation, they are ready to pass for Masters of the Arts, and to set up for themselves, and leave their tutors, and to teach others tbe like sort and measure of learning which they have thus acquired. Like one that sets up his trade as soon as he hath gotten a shop full of tools,
IV. And the great mischief is, that multitudes of those notions that are taught us are false, not fitted to the things, but expressing the conceptions of roving, uncertain, erroneous,
bewildered minds. Words are the instruments of communication thoughts. And when I hear a man speak, I hear, perhaps, what he thinketh of things, but not always what they are. Our universal notions are the result of our own comparing things with things. And we are so wofully defective in such comparings, that our universal notions must needs be very defective, so that they abound with error.
V. And the conceptions of men being as various as their countenances, the same words in the mouths of several men, have several significations. So that when tutors read the same books to their scholars, and teach them the same notions, it is not the same conceptions always that they thus communicate.
VI. And the narrowness of man's mind and thoughts is such, that usually there must go many partial conceptions to one thing or object really indivisible : so that few things, or nothing rather in the world, is known by us with one conception, nor with a simplicity of apprehension answerable to the simplicity of the thing : and hereby it cometh to pass that inadequate conceptions make up a great part of our learning and knowledge.
VII. The .entia rationis' being thus exceeding numerous, are already confounded with objective realities, and have compounded our common systems of logic, metaphysics, and too much of physics : so that students must at first see through false spectacles, and learn by seducing notions, and receive abundance of false conceptions, as the way to wisdom; and shadows and rubbish must furnish their minds under the name of truth, though mixed with many real verities. For young men must have teachers ; they cannot begin at the foundation, and yet every one learn of himself, as if none had ever learned before him : he is like to have but a slow proficient, that maketh no use of the studies and experience of any that ever learned before him. And he that will learn of others, must receive their notions and words as the means of his information.
VIII. And when they grow up to be capable of real wisdom, O! what a labour it is, to cleanse out this rubbish, and to unlearn all the errors that we have learned, so that it is much of the happiest progress of extraordinary successful studies, to find out our old mistakes, and set our conceptions in better order one by one: perhaps in one year we find out and reform some two or three, and in another year one or two more, and so on. Even as when at my removal of
my library, my servant sets up all my books, and I must take them half down again to set them in their right places.
IX. And the difficulty of the matter is our great impediment, when we come to study things. For, 1. Their matter, 2. Their compo
sure, 3. Their numbers, 4. Their order and relations, 5. And their action and operation, are much unknown to us.
X. The order and relation of things to one another is so wonderfully unsearchable, and innumerably various, as quite surpasseth all human understanding. Yea, though ORDER and RELATION constitute all morality, policy, literature, &c., so that it is as it were that world which human intellects converse in, and the business of all human wills and actions, yet few men know so much as what ORDER and RELAtion is : nay, whether it be anything or nothing. And though health and sickness, harmony and discord, beauty and ugliness, virtue and vice, consist in it, and heaven and hell depend upon it, and law and judgment do make and determine it : yet is it not easy to know what it is by an universal notion ; nor whether it be truly to be called anything at all.
XI. And which is yet worse, the certain apprehension of sense and reason, is commonly by men called learned, reduced to, and tried by, these dreaming ambiguous names and universal notions; and men are drawn to deny their certain knowledge, because they know not by what universal term to call it, e. g. I know as far as is useful to me, by seeing, what light is; but whether it be substantia, accidens, modus, &c., or what to call it universally, few know ! And no wonder, for their universal notions are their own works or • Entia rationis,' fabricated by the imperfect comparing of things with things, by ignorant understandings; but the sensibility of objects, and the sensitive faculty and the intellect,