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general calamity; we shall see that all which is possible to be done, is to mitigate those evils which cannot be cured, and to alleviate those burdens which cannot be removed.
On the third Rule to be observed by a good
Citizen, namely, To avoid an idle Curiosity in political Matters; and still more a Disposition to hunt after small or unknown Grievances.
I. Curiosity is an original passion in our nature. It discovers itself early in children, who, when any thing appears to be concealed from them, show themselves very anxious to detect the secret; or when any singular event engages their attention, are apt to be inquisitive after its cause.
This, like every other principle implanted by the Author of nature, neither can nor ought to be eradicated; our only business is to direct it to its proper objects, and to regulate the manner and measure of its exercise.
The objects to which it ought to be directed, relate either to our natural, our mo
ral, or our political situation; and though the last only falls strictly within our subject, I would entreat the reader's indulgence to a few previous observations on the two former. · 1. First then, as to our natural situation. When a man travels into a foreign land, his eye is directed to the face of the country; and should any new and singular phenomena present themselves, they naturally awaken his curiosity, and call forth his researches. Something like this is the case when, after the dawn of reason, we enter upon the great scene of the universe. Suppose a boy, who has begun to exert his understanding, should observe the sun rising behind a certain hill; and some months afterward should observe him rise behind another hill at some distance from the former; he will be curious to know the reason of this difference. Or, if he see the moon at first scarcely visible as a crescent, then in a semicircular form, and afterwards at the full, he will be equally curious to understand the cause of this changeable appearance; and this is a disposition which ought to be encouraged, and, as far as possible, to be gratified. As his reason advances, and he is able to take a more extensive view of nature, he may be prompted, by the same inquisitive temper, to carry his researches into the vegetable, the animal, or the mineral kingdoms; he may endeavour to analyse the air, and, ascending above the atmosphere, to determine the laws of the planetary revolutions, and to explore the starry regions. And provided this excursive curiosity be regulated by those just rules of philosophy laid down by Bacon, and above all, by a regard to the divine will, which ought undoubtedly to direct and limit all our pursuits, it is both rational and laudable; it may subserve many useful purposes of life, and manifest the glory of the Creator, whose works are great and admirable, and “sought out * of all them that have pleasure therein t.”
2. Our moral situation is an object of still more important and rational curiosity. To know the things around us in their natural
* d'v97 quæsita.
Psal. cxi, 2.
virtues and properties, may indeed contribute to our present use and convenience; but to know them morally, or as they infer certain duties and obligations on our part, is a point of far greater concernment; as it bears an immediate respect to our real and final happiness. This ought therefore to call forth our most diligent and critical investigation; which, in order to be successful, must first proceed in an ascending scale froin the creature to the Creator, whose will, informed by his wisdom, is that which renders binding and obligatory upon us, what before at most could only be discerned to be fit and congruous. In this way may some knowledge be obtained of the obligations we are under both towards God and man. But as nature alone fails to give us any full or clear information even of our duty; and fails still more to afford us any solid ground on which to build our future hopes and expectations; we must be content, after all our philosophic efforts, to have recourse to the page of revelation; we must search the scriptures*,
* John v. 39. “ Epeuvõte Tès ypce@as.-In voce éqeUvAY