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cloud in which they are involved, neceffarily arifes from the fubject itself; and are rarely inclined to fufpect their own ignorance, incapacity, or preju. dice. It must, however, be acknowledged, that Metaphyfics cannot be wholly vindicated from the charge of obfcurity; a certain degree of darkness and doubt hangs over all our investigations "these mysterious fubjects; but we ought carefully to diftinguish between that obfcurity which arifes from the nature of the fubject, and which is neceffarily connected with it, and the obfcurity which arifes from the want of a proper and adequate attention to the fubject; and I am strongly inclined to fufpect, that it is this latter fpecies of obfcurity, which by thofe who are moft fond of declaiming against the Study of Metaphyfics, is almost invariably mistaken for the former.
"Metaphyfics," Mr. K. further obferves, "were once encouraged and cultivated, because they "served the purposes of fuperftition. They involved "theological fubjects in a perplexity which the fimple could never unravel. They gave an air "of mystery and depth which caught the admi. "ration of the vulgar. They are now employed " in a fimilar manner in the fervice of infidelity. They have induced the half-learned and the "conceited, thofe who think they understand
them, and those who wish to be thought by "others to understand them, to adopt, without "being apprehenfive of danger, opinions fatal to "their own happiness, and to the existence of O 2 66 fociety."
"fociety." Notwithstanding the volubility and fmartness of this declamation, I hope Mr. K. will not think he concedes too much in granting, that even in Metaphyfics there is fuch a diftinction as truth and falfehood; and that of two opposite opinions, if one is wrong, the other muft be right; and, I prefume, I may further be allowed to fuppofe, that the metaphyfical notions to which Mr. K. alludes in the laft paragraph, as having been productive of fuch extenfive mischief, are in themfelves falfe and erroneous. Now I fhould he glad to be informed how these false and dangerous metaphyfical opinions, opinions which have produced effects fo fatal to the happiness, and even to the exiftence of fociety, can ever be properly and fatisfactorily confuted, but by metaphyfical arguments? Certainly, just and rational fentiments in Metaphyfics must be ferviceable to the general caufe of virtue and happiness, in exactly the fame proportion that the falfe and abfurd opinions to which he refers are prejudicial and dangerous. No doubt the Study of Metaphyfics may, in particular inftances, have produced an unhappy effect upon the minds of the half-learned and conceited; upon those whofe capacities were unequal to the difcuffion of subjects of this nature, or upon those who engaged in the pursuit of them with previous corrupt and vicious propenfities. The study of theology is likewise liable to the fame objection; but what then? To borrow the noble and decifive argument of Hamlet, "If the fun breed maggots
" in a dead dog," is that glorious luminary therefore to be reproached? The interests of truth, virtue, and happiness, are infeparably connected; and if Mr. K. thinks that any particular opinions in Metaphyfics are unfavourable to virtue and happiness, why should he defire to prevent any man, who has paid a proper attention to the fubject, from attempting to expofe the fallacy and falfehood of them? He afferts, however, that "Even when "cultivated by the honeft and truly ingenious, "they exhibit an instance of blameable pride;
they aim at a science to which man can never "attain. It is truly laughable to obferve a crea"ture, with hardly knowledge enough of the "things around him to guide him with fafety, "perplexing himself with ontological enquiries "into the nature of angels, and the effence of the "devil." But Mr. K. who feems to apply to metaphysical debate what Solomon fays of contention in general," that it fhould be left off before it be "meddled with," is certainly a very incompetent judge what degree of attainment may be reached by fuch men as Locke, Hartley, and Clarke; and let their attainments be ever fo flender, I cannot agree with Mr. K. that it is an instance of blameable pride to engage in difquifitions of this nature, because, previously to the trial, I prefume no man, I mean Mr. K. excepted, can pretend to fay, what degree of proficiency it is practicable to arrive at. Alfo, as I have no objection to join in a laugh, I wish Mr. 0 3 K. had
K. had been fo obliging as to have specified the names of those writers who have "perplexed them"felves by ontological enquiries into the nature of "angels, and the effence of the devil." I acknowledge they have totally escaped my notice and obfervation; and if we could for a moment fuppofe, after the authentic information we have re. ceived from Mr. K. that there really were no fuch writers, it would not, I think, be amifs, rather than be disappointed of a laugh, to direct it againft the man who may have credulity enough to believe, or effrontery enough to affirm, that there are perfons who actually employ themselves in such prepofterous fpeculations.
"The ontologifts and pneumatologifts, the "nominales and reales, the doctores feraphici, and "all the tribe of microscopic philofophers, are in "the prefent age of difcernment," as Mr. K. further informs us, 66 totally neglected. Even Male"branche and Locke, the most rational of the me"taphyficians, are daily lofing ground. A few, "however, in the prefent times, have been fo un
fortunate as to waste their labour in defending «Materialism, in expatiating on Liberty and Neceffity, and in proving that man is no more than "an animal." It is true, the metaphyfical opinions of the middle ages, as contained in the laborious works of thofe philofophers who go under the general denomination of the Schoolmen, many of whom were men of admirable talents, and the whole Ariftotelian fyftem, are now exploded. The dogmas of
of the Stagyrite are juftly fuperfeded by the more rational and intelligible hypothesis of Des Cartes and Locke; but whoever reprefents this total change of fyftem, as a proof of the uncertainty and futility of metaphyfical researches in general, fhould recollect, that natural philosophy has undergone a revolution equally striking; that the system of Locke and Hartley does not differ more from that of Thomas Aquinas, than the Newtonian theory of the universe does from the Ptolemaic. In the prefent age of difcernment, however, it feems, that even Locke is daily losing ground; and whenever the discernment of the age fhall happily arrive to an equality with that of Mr. K. the Effay on Human Understanding will no doubt be completely difcarded. It is not by force of argument, indeed, that Mr. Locke's system is to be demolished. Our modern men of difcernment have found out a method of attack much more pleasant, as well as effectual. In short, they are determined to laugh it out of countenance; and this new fect of laughing philofophers are fortunately able to boast of a leader in Mr. K.'s eftimation every way worthy of his distinguished rank and station. "Such mi"ferable effects of metaphyfical research," fays Mr. K. "have induced an amiable writer, whose "heart and abilities vie with each other for ex"cellence, to vindicate the nature and immuta"bility of Truth, to expofe the futility of Meta❝phyfics, to confound the devices of its patrons, "and to establish the natural rights of common 0 4 "fenfe.