Изображения страниц



The variety and finity of our natural consti

2. The variety and finity of knowledge.

3. The variety and finity of emotion.

4. The variety and finity of circumstances.

5. The variety and fortuitousness of imaginations.

Having already said so much on the diversity of preference, I will only enlarge on the last proposition. Admitting there is nothingness and chance, we assign them for the ultimate reason of finity and variety. No object, which takes actual existence by being made, can be raised to infinite excellence from chance and nothingness: for making a God is a self-contradictory supposition. "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen, were not made of things which do appear," Heb. ii. 3.

The variety and fortuitousness of human imaginations are a reason of the variety of human choices.

Choice, conceived of as opposed to chance or contingency, involves an interesting enquiry in the Philosophy of Christianity. The question is interesting, whether, or not, the choices of men in original and direct cases, be made from merely possibles, chances, and non-order. I will presume that, we all agree, the human mind itself has a beginning; and that all its knowledge commences primarily, from

from the inlets of the body, which we denominate, organs of sight, hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling; and secondarily, from its own reflections on its own exercises; and thirdly, from its abstractions and consequent general knowledge. But what I now venture to assume is, that original imaginations of mind do arise by the essential activity of mind, from its knowlegde in memory, and are frequently fortuitous. If so, this will not only account for their own great variety, but will more than any thing account for the great variety of human choices. By original imaginations, I mean those, the innumerable that arise, which are not under the bias of existing passion, wish, purpose, or will, and which are not suggested by another person or thing. There is probably nothing in the world more constantly varying than the imaginations of the mind: perhaps they do not remain precisely in the same state for the least noticeable space of time, and perhaps the same precisely in presence and arrangement, have not occurred twice since the creation.

That wonderful property of mind, by which it involuntarily and incessantly thinks of, and diversifies its ideas, we call imagination, and the numberless thoughts of this class, we call imaginations. Imagining is thinking, considered as the essential activity of mind, or the natural and involuntary springing up of our knowledge. I humbly conceive, that soul-ac


tivity primarily consists in merely imagining. Secondly, that soul-activity is sometimes involuntarily and fortuitously exercised on its simple ideas, varigating their composition in complex conceptions, that is, the mind imagining, also joins, disjoins, abstracts, divides, multiplies, diminishes, magnifies, or otherwise alters its objects, whether shapes, colours, sounds, motions, words, or things, conceptions, or notions. Thirdly, I judge that essential soul activity, involuntarily proceeds to production of accompanying emotions, that is, corresponding affections and passions. I appeal to experience, whether all these be not evident from our remembrance of dreams, and from reveries with our eyes open, independent on, and unsubjected to choice, purpose, or will; in a word, unsubjected to any direction which we call ours or our own. Imagination, or the fortuitous springing up of our ideas, diversified an hundred ways involuntarily, may effect our choices. This increasing variety and diversity of imaginations, so far as they effect choices, is a reason of an increasing variety and diversity of choices.

That imaginations and fancies are not naturally subjected to soul-direction, but fortuitous, is evident from our not being able to prevent them or dismiss them, or even to rule them without great resolution: -evident from their frequently varying our retained idea of a thing formerly seen, inasmuch, that when


we see the thing, person, or picture, again, we are struck with its difference from our idea. Again, a story heard and repeated from one person to another, in never-so-long succession, loses no length by popular repetition, but rather, like the snow-ball, gains by rolling, through activity of minds. Its evidence is also corroborated by the fact, that logicians unite to represent imagination an unruly faculty which needs a perpetual watch to guard against its excentricities and extravagancies, if we would attain or communicate real knowledge. Its evidence is also deduced from the fact, that moralists and civilians, while they admit its indispensibility to mind, ever prescribe rules and considerations, rewards and punishments, to guard from its danger, and turn it to the service of choice and wisdom: for all agree, that a warm imagination is a bad master, but a good and useful servant, under the wise choices to which it has concurred.-I need not tell any reflecting person, how many choices are determined by starts of fancy, or by warm imaginations, or a flash of wit, which be fortuitous. I need not tell any person who is conversant in the world, that many people are so top-heavy by chance fancies, that their choices seem more truly called chance-choices than self-choices.

Chance-imaginations frequently furnish to the mind objects to chuse from: how commonly thus in respect of our recreations and amusements, which is a reason of the diversity and variety of choices in similar

similar circumstances. Again, I think that fortuitous imaginations affect the choices made in similar external circumstances, rendering them various in their objects, and various in their degree, by joining in the active property, or by joining in the passive property which is requisite to the cause of chusing. If the objects presented for choice be interesting and momentous, and the impertinences of imaginations prevent or impede our chusing, we rightly call them vain thoughts. When they frequently or habitually intrude, and divert the same person, we give such a man the epithet of a frivolous, or undecided character. When chance-fancies join themselves fre quently with the active property, we call its subject a fanciful, or fantastical person. The same objects in kind, are frequently presented in providence, to different persons; and their consequent choices differ or are sometimes the reverse of each other. This, I conceive, usually happens when warm imaginations accidentally join the tendency of one of the presented objects, or when imaginations of a contrary tendency prevent operation in one case and not in the other. Again, we experiment, that pleasing scenes in memory are sometimes heightened and brightened by imagination beyond the original; and that imagination, under the bias of either hope or fear, magnifies possibilities to probabilities, and in this state, cause, or affect our inclinations. Imaginations, which by their variety in kind and


« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »