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fond ofjoy and pleasure: he is free from those reproaches of conscience by which those who know what is right without doing it must be tormented A person whose actions are at variance with his judgment, must be the seat of constant tumult and vexation. The juster his sentiments are, the more extensive his knowledge, so much the more must he be the object of his own abhorrence. But a person who has an enlightened mind, and at the same time arts uprightly and is conscious of obeying the dictates of his reason, is the more happy in proportino as he sees more of the light of truth, and is better instructed in his duty.
You see,sir, what strong mo!ives we have to endeavour to accompany our knowledge with practice. I have already told you thai knowledge without practice is much worse than vain and insignificant. It is a bane and a curse; it renders those who possess it more despicable and vile; it increases guilty, and will inflame our falure reckoning and prachten to the deepest misery. Let these argumenis, my knowledge. This propely, your learning above all thingsió important; butl am showing you a
a mutur to increase our Desire knowledge, but desire it in order to practice. Desire knowledge, but turn your main zeal towards reat goodness. It is this alone can render you lovely and respect able. It is this alone that can save you from future condeinnation, and bring you to everlasting happiness. The prac. tíce of virtue is the proper business of life; it was for this we were stationed in the present world, and not so niuch for any of the purposes of speculation and literary improve ment. The only science worth pursuing with anxiety, is that which leads to the amendment of the heart, and helps us to establish our souls in purity and tranquillity.
If God gives us knowledge enough for this, we need not be very sorry for our ignorance in other respects. It is, without doubt, extremely desirable to be possessed of knowJedge; nor can any person of liberal sentiments avoid wishing he was better satisfied than he is on many points of speculation. A thirst after knowledge is a noble and excellent principle; and we cannot cherish it too much, if we take care to keep it in a proper subordination to a thirst af. ter moral improvement. We should, however, always re-member, that in the present world we cannot hope to have
this principle gratified. He that applies himself now to the practice of moral virtue, shall have all the knowledge he wishes for in another state; but he that neglects this now, and whose knowledge leave him a slave to brutal passions, is more wretched than can be imagined'; he inust fall a sacrifice to divine justice, and bis knowledge end in shame and ruin.
It is but little we are capable of knowing in this life : we are at present necessarily in a state of great ignorance: weare obliged to content ourselves; in numberlessinstances, with conjectures instead of knowledge, and to sit down in doubt and darkness with respect to subjects, which we cana not help longing to be better acquainted with Would you acquire real knowledge would you have all your present doubts resolved would you become acquainted with the constitution of nature, the wisdom, providence, and wonders of the creation? would you exchange this state of darkness and ignorance, for the regions of light and glory! then apply yourself to the practice of knowledge. Be vittuous now, and you may be happy hereafter.
I am, dear sir, your most sincere friendo
parent, for his kind instructions. You hirst-laughtme tó form a prayer, and now you have instructed me how to reduce my knowledge to practice. Your letter came to me at a very seasonable juncture; I had been conversing with some of my fellow-students concerning the utility of study ing history. One represented it as dull and insipid; ano. ther as only suited to an idle person, who was so mean as to despise the beau monde. For my own part, I am very diffident in deciding dogmatically on an affair of any importance, 'either real or apparent. But as I would not choose to spend my time in idleness; so neither would I neglect any opportunity of acquiring the knowledge of such sciences as can either enlarge the powers of the human mind, or become useful in common life. I know that we are liable to be swayed by a great number of prejudices; and being well convinced of the deptavity of human nature, I am glad to seek for instruction wherever I can
find it, but much more so from you. I shall therefore trobe ble
you with the following queries, viz. I. Is the study of history; necessary; and, if so, what are the benefits arising from it?.
JI. Whether is it most proper to begin with the Sacred.. The Greek, or Roman histories, or those of our own country
111. Is biography a part of history, of what are its con.comitants?
As your knowledge can only be exceeded by your humanity, I doubt not but you will favour me with your'an. swers to the above, and I do assure you I shall abide by your directions. Let me also beg that you will be pleased to mention in your next, which are the most proper authors. to be perused in the above studies. There is such a variety of writers, that the utmost extent of human life will not admit of time to peruse them. In such a wilderness, it is so wonder if I look for a guide. Your ipse dixit shall, on all occasions, be the rule of my conduct; and so far as I obtain your approbation, I shall consider myself in the way of duty
I am, sir, yours with gratitude, &c.
My dear Sir,
measure able to comply with your request, having spent many years in the study of history. To attend unto the events of Providence, to watch the stream of time and ob. serve its various revolutions, is an exercise as useful as it is pleasing. If we neglect it, we lose the noblest employment of the human understanding, weslight the best friend of virtue, and despise the most, faithful advocate for the wisdom and goodness of God. History presents us with a view of the conduct of our fellow-creatures in every age and nation. By it we are led into the secrets of princes thousands of years ago; we learn what were the causes that the once famous Persian empire became so easy a prey to a handful of Greeks, under the command of that illusa irious murderer Alexander ; and why Julius Cæsar, a sera vant of the republic at Rome, should be able to trample on the rights of his fellow-citizens. But above all, by tracing
up to their original cause, we see and are convinced of the wisdom, equity, and beauty of the Divine Providence, and with the patriarch of old say, “This hath God done." For example, when we consider, that the effects of the Grecian conquests in Asia diffused amongst those people the knowledge of the Greek language, and the Roman conquests on the other hand made the Latin as well known ; at first sight this may appear a trilling observation; but in reality it was attenderl with very beneficial consequences to mankind. At the time of Christ's appearance, the Ro. man empire extended over the greatest part of the then known world; and abstracting from a few dialects, the greatest and most general body of the people spoke only two Janguages. This, in a great measure, facilitated the propagation of Christianity, and the glad tidings of the gospel were heard through all lands. History, like every other science, becomes useful according to the manner in which we read' it. A chronological series of facts may satisfy an idle curiosity, 'bit the thinking person will deduce rational inferences from every material occurrence. A hare narrative of facts is like the materials used in buildings, hut it is only the skilful architect who can complete the edifice. The mind may be stored with facts, while it is altogether uninformed. Voltaire has justly observed, that it is of little concern to us when a tyrant was slain by his injured subjects, and a revolution happened, unless we learn at the same time what were the causes from which those effects flowed. There are three ways in which history ought always to be sead; viz. First, in a short abstract; second, in a more en. larged manner; and, lastly, in a judicious abridgment to refresh the memory. History has likewise three insepa. rable companions, chronology, geography, and logic. Chronology marks out to us the steps of our journey; geography points out to us the bounds of that country through which we are travelling, and logic enables us to form judgment of men and their actions. There is not any body of men, to whom history is not useful. Would you enter into the church, you would find it absolutely necessàry. For how should ihey be able to understand the different heresies, or the causes which produced them, unles they were well acquainted with ecclesiastical history, buth ancient and modero. The phrysician cannot understand the nature of that science
which he professes, unless he is conversant with history; and it is well known, that law is inseparably connected with it,
The senator can never discharge his duty as the represen, tative of the people, unless he knows the history, laws, and constitution of the country wherein he lives. Byit the sol. dier is fired with emulation, when he reflects on the characters of Xenophon and Epaminondas, and would wish, in some measure, to share in their glory. These are a few of the advantages arising from the study of history; and this, I hope, may serve as an answer to your firsi query. I shall consider the other two in the next, and am
Your sincere friend. LETTER CX,
From the same. Sir, COME now to consider your second question, namely,
Whether we should begin the study of history by reading the sacred oracles, or the records of our own country: I answer, that it is one thing to read history; another to study it. It is well known that we are made acquainted with the contents of our bible, before we are able to judge for our selves. It is one of the first books put into our hands, and indeed all that is authentic in sacred history is to be met with in that book. I shall not hesitate one moment in de claring, that you ought to begin the study of history with that of your own country. How foolish must that gentleman appear, who having made the tour of Europe, and acquired a perfect knowledge of the laws and constitutions of foreign nations, returns home ignorant of his own. It is like one who is master of all knowledge, but at the same time ignorant of bimself. On a subject of so much importance, I intend to be as explicit as possible; and whilst I am jecommending the history of your own country, I shall lay down the same plan which I followed when engaged in that delightful study; and not only that, but even history in ge. neral. Britain will make a very distinguishing figure in the annals of time, as long as human literature is cultivated in the world. There is not one action celebrated amongst the Greeks and Romans that remains unequalled in Britain: and whilst we admire the disinterestedness of Themistocles, the humanity of Epaminondas, the wisdom of Numa Pompilius, and the 'valour of Cæsar, we find them all equalled in Cas