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our minds free from the tyranny of lawless paffions, vigilance must be exerted where we are weakest and most exposed. We muft therefore be attentive to the state and constitution of our own minds; we must discover to what habits we are most addicted, and of what propensities we ought chiefly to beware: We must deliberate with ourselves on what resources we can most assuredly depend, and what motives are best calculated to repel the invader. Now, the study of human nature, accustoming us to turn our attention inwards, and reflect on the various propensities and inclinations of the heart, facilitates felf-examination, and renders it habitual.
Independent of utility, the study of the human mind is recommended in a peculiar manner to the curious and inquisitive; and is capable of yielding delight by the novelty, beauty, and magnificence, of the A 3
object. object. Many find amusement in searching into the constitution of the material world; and, with unwearied diligence, pursue the progress of nature in the growth of a plant, or the formation of an infect. They spare neither labour nor expence, to fill their cabinets with every curious production: They travel from climate to climate : They submit with chearfulness to fatigue, and inclement feafons; and think their industry fufficien ly .compensated, by the discovery of fome unusual phaenomenon. pebble that lies on the shore, not a leaf that waves in the forest, but attracts their notice, and stimulates their inquiry. Events, or incidents, that the vulgar regard with terror or indifference, afford them fupreme delight: They rejoice at the return of a comet, and celebrate the blooming of an aloe, more than the birth of an emperor. Nothing is left unexplored.: Air, ocean, the minutest objects of sense, as well as the greatest and most remote, are accurately and attentively scrutinized. But, though these researches are laudable, and are suited to the dignity and capacity of the human mind, we ought to remember, that Mind itself deserves our attention. Endowed with the superior powers of feeling and understanding, capable of thought and reflection, active, conscious, susceptible of delight, and provident of futurity, it claims to itself a duration, when the most splendid objects around us shall be destroyed. Observe the vigilance of the senses in collecting ideas from every part of the creation : Memory preserves them as the materials of thought, and the principles of knowledge : Our reasoning faculty separates, combines, or compares them, in order to discover their relations and consequences: And imagination, sea dulous to amuse, arranges them into vam A4
rious groups and assemblages. If we confider the passions and feelings of the heart; if we reflect on their diversity, and contemplate the various aspects they affume, the violence of some will terrify and astonish, the fantastic extravagance of many will excite amazement; and others, soft and complacent, will sooth us, and yield delight. Shall we assert, therefore, that the study of human nature is barren or unpleasant? Or that mind, thus actuated and informed, is less worthy of our notice than the insect produced at noon-tide, to finish its existence with the setting fun ? “ Shall a man,” says Socrates, "s be skilled in'the geography of foreign countries, and continue ignorant of the soil and limits of his own? Shall he inquire into the qualities of external objects, and pay no attention to the mind ?”
But, though the utility or pleasure reTulting from the study of human nature
áre manifest, the progress men have hitherto made in it neither corresponds with the dignity of the subject, nor with our advances in other branches of science. Neither is our knowledge of the passions and faculties of the mind proportioned to the numerous theories men have fabricated concerning them. On the contrary, the numerous theories of human nature that have appeared in various ages and languages, have been so different from one another, and withal so plausible and imposing, that, instead of informing, they perplex. From this uncertainty and diversity of opinion, fome have asserted, that the mind of man, on account of its transcendent excellence, and the inconceivable delicacy of its structure, can never be the object of precise inquiry. Others, again, from very different premises, deduce the same conclufion, forming their opinions on the numerous, and apparently discordant,