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solve a few difficulties, they have given a greater attention to these difficulties than to the positive proofs of the thing; which insensibly led them to imagine that the notion of liberty was all an illusion. I own it is necessary in the research of truth, to consider an object on every side, and to balance equally the arguments for and against; nevertheless we must take care we do not give to those objections more than their real weight. We are informed by experience, that in several things, which in respect to us are invested with the highest degree of certainty, there are many difficulties notwithstanding, which we are incapable of resolving to our satisfaction: and this is a natural consequence of the limits of the mind. Let us conclude therefore, from thence, that when truth › is sufficiently evinced by solid reason, whatever can be objected against it ought not to stagger or weaken our conviction, as long as they are such difficulties only as embarrass or puzzle the mind, without ivalidating the proof themselves. This rule is so very useful in the study of the sciences, that one should keep it always in sight.
FURTHER OBSERVATIONS ON THE POWERS AND FACUL TIES OF THE MIND.
THE dividing line between the operations of the understanding, and the operations of the will is better conceived by reflecting on what passes within us, than it can be described. These operations are extremely blended, and as it were run into each other. But this, I think, we are sure of, that the understanding is always passive, and the will, active, in their respective operations. Their different ways of acting have been called by different names, and are denominated faculties of the mind, such as reason, memory, &c. These faculties may be greatly improved by exercise, and seem to assist each other. Now, truth being, as we have seen, the proper object of the understanding, the perfection of this power of the mind is to have a distinct knowledge of truth; at least of those important truths, which concern our duty and happiness. For such a purpose the mind, should be formed to a close
attention, and examen; the memory should be exercised and invigorated, and reason, that noble fac. ulty of man, which exalts him above the brute creation, and takes the lead of all his other faculties, must be constantly in search after truth to furnish the understanding. Reason, the procuring faculty of knowledge, may be called the hight of the mind, on which its perfection depends; we should will nothing against the dictates of reason, nor use our liberty only to obtain that good, which reason says is for our perfection and hapiness. The term reason, always carries within it an idea of perfection; therefore what is against reason is imperfect; it is not right.
The faculties of which we are treating are common to all mankind; but they are not always found in the same degree, owing, perhaps, sometimes, to physical causes; but more generally to the exercises of them. Besides they have their periods in every man; that is, their increase, perfection, enfeebling, and decay, in the same manner almost as the organs of the body.
They also vary in different men : one has a quicker sensation, another a stronger memory; another a sounder judgment; while another is swayed by violent passions. And all this is combind, and diversified an infinite number of ways, according to the difference of temperaments, education, examples, and occasions that furnish an opportunity for exer
oising certain faculties or inclinations rather than others for it is the exercise that strengthens them
more or less. Such is the source of that prodigious variety of geniuses, taste, and habits, which constitute what we call the characters and manners of men; a variety, which considered in general, very far from being unserviceable, is of great use in the views of providence.
But whatever strength may be attributed to the passions, and habits; still it is necessary to observe, that they have never enough to impel man invincibly to act contrary to reason. Reason has it always in her power to preserve her superiority, and rights. She is able, with care and application, to prevent, or correct and even extirpate bad habits; or to bridle the most unruly passions by sage precautions, to weaken them by degrees, and finally to destroy them entirely, or to reduce them within their proper bounds.
This is sufficiently proved by the inward feeling that every man has of the liberty with which he determines to follow this sort of impressions; proved by the secret reproaches we make to ourselves, when we have been too much swayed by them; proved in fine by an infinite variety of examples. True it is there is some difficuly in surmounting these obstacles; but this is richly compensated by the glory attending so noble a victory, and by the solid advantages from thence arising.
OF THE IMPUTATION OF VOLUNTARY ACTIONS; MORAL OBLIGATION; AND NATURAL LAW.
I. We have taken a view of the powers and faculties of the mind, and may infer from them, that man is master of his voluntary actions; that he exercises a kind of authority and command over them, by virtue of which he can direct, and turn them which way he pleases. This being the case he should be accountable for his actions, and in justice and reason they can be imputed. The term of imputation is borrowed of arithmetic, and signifies properly to set a sum down to some body's account. To impute an action therefore to a person is to attribute it to him, as its real author, to set it down as it were to his account, and to make him chargeable for it. The true reason why a person cannot complain of being made answerable for an action is, that he had liberty, and did the action knowingly, and willingly. Every thing almost