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Such connections, as difcovered, furnish us fo many rules or laws of operation and influence: " and when we say, that one thing produces another by a law of nature, this fignifies no more, but that one thing which we call in popular language the caufe, is conftantly and invariably followed by another, which we call the effect; and that we know not how they are connected."

Conclufion.

To conclude. Let me observe, that although I were to grant that we have not intuitive, or even demonstrative evidence of the actual exiftence of external things, and must content our felves with merely probable evidence: Yet exiftence, actual exiftence fuppofed and admitted for fake of argument, when our conceptions of its objects are generalized, we then reason with demonftrative evidence, concerning the abstract conceptions.

Thus granting the actual existence of power, and that ability, capacity, and opportunity are esfential to its exiftence: We generalize power, ability, capacity, and opportunity, and having them confequently in abstract conception, we demonftrate from intuitive principles, as concerning other metaphyfical fubjects, various truths concerning them. For inftance, that if a conjunction of the three are effential to power, the conjunction of only two of them will be inadequate

quate to power: Or again, that the existence of only one, will be inadequate to power in any case whatsoever. And thus alfo, that if ability, capacity, and opportunity, are effential to power, that which does not coexift with these, or immediately depend on thefe, or immediately refult from these, cannot be power.

These demonstrations are of importance to our argument, when we find mere ability, mere capacity, or mere opportunity held up as power.— Also when might or strength, which is a mode of ability, is afferted to be power.-Also, when dominion, which is a conjunction of ability and opportunity is faid to be power. Likewise, when the properties, qualities, or attributes of any being, are called its powers, or their aggregate afferted to be power, and the power of their sub ject.-Likewife, when power is confounded with negative caufes, or mere opportunity.-Alfo, when it is confounded with poffibility,—And also, when power is confounded with liberty.

A

DISQUISITION

ON

HUMAN PREFERENCE.

OF

SECTION I.

Of Human Preference in general.

F all the numerous modifications of human thought, I know of none fo important as that we call preference, which is the fubject of this difquifition. On preference, as a centre, all our virtues and vices, graces and depravity, seem suspended, and subordinately, our happiness and mifery, in time and in eternity. If thinking under the modification of prefering be fo important, furely its ftudy muft be equally interesting; which will further appear, if we reflect, that without clear conceptions of preference, we cannot attain clear conceptions of virtue or vice, praise or blame, reward or punishment; fince the property of preference is effential to the existence and constitution of a moral agent. Thus the investi

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gation of preference, is as interesting as to men of a philofophical taste, it will be entertaining. To affift the meditation of fearchers in this branch of mental knowledge, is one end of the Author, in publishing the result of his enquiries on this fubject; who will find such contemplations comparatively easy, as its object is ever at hand, and experiments within their dominion.

As effential as a clear understanding of the language of an author is to a true perception of the ideas he intended to convey; fo effential to the character of an intelligent writer, is a strict conformity of his expreffions to the great end of being understood. Every man of reflection must have obferved that our notions, diftinct notions, far exceed our names, diftin&t names, affixed to them; yet that, of thofe comparatively few names, feveral in common use, are in many inftances, affixed to one thing with perhaps not a fhade of difference; and that from various fources, fynonimous names have abounded. The candid will fuffer and excufe my diftinguishing the meaning of fome of thefe, for accommodating with names, feveral things, which we may find blended and confounded together. Were no names to be affigned to what may appear in fome respects new objects of thought, our discourses concerning them through repeated definitions, would be full of circumlocutions, and a burden

fome

fome confequent, where clearness and brevity are aimed at.

We may just notice, that the word prefer, fometimes means advancing or promoting, and in law, a bringing in, fpeaking of a bill of indictment: but without regard to either of these meanings, I use it in this Essay in a philosophical sense, for an action of the mind, or rather, for thinking, which seems the action of the mind, but under a particular modification.

In common language, the word preference seems used promifcuously with willing, wifhing, chufing, accepting, refufing, confenting, approving, difapproving, liking, difliking, determining, inclining, or being averse to, being pleafed or difpleased with, &c. with indeterminate fhades of difference. I purpose in the progress of the work to distinguish and affix determinate diftin&t meanings to some of these words: yet let it be observed here, that, a reflection on what passes in the mind when we prefer, intend, will, chufe, &c. according to popular language, will confusedly convey the object I would communicate by the term prefering, or thinking under that modification; or by preference as a thought thus modified; or in the abstract, as a property of foul.

Thinking feems to be the primary mode of the human mind, whilft it is alfo rightly conceived a property effential to the existence of power in many refpects. From its analogy to action of

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