Sunday, August 05, 2018

The Improvement of The Mind - by Isaac Watts

" appears to be the necessary duty and the interest of every person living to improve his understanding, to inform his judgment, to treasure up useful knowledge, and to acquire the skill of good reasoning, as far as his station, capacity, and circumstances furnish him with proper means for it." (pg. 2)

"...if upon some few superficial acquirements you value, exalt, and swell yourself, as though you were a man of learning already, you are thereby building a most impassable barrier against all improvement; you will lie down and indulge idleness, and rest yourself contented in the midst of deep and shameful ignorance." (pg. 6)

"Bishop Saunderson says, that study without prayer is atheism, and that prayer without study is presumption." (pg. 18)

"The eyes of a man in the jaundice make yellow observations on every living thing; and the soul tinctured with any passion or prejudice, diffuses a false colour over the real appearances of things, and disguises many of the common occurrences of life:  it never beholds things in a true light, nor suffers them to appear as they are." (pg. 35)

"In all our studies and pursuits of knowledge, let us remember that virtue and vice, sin and holiness, and the conformation of our hearts and lives to the duties of true religion and morality, are things of far more consequence than all the furniture of our understandings, and the richest treasures of mere speculative knowledge; and that, because they have a more immediate and effectual influence upon our eternal felicity or eternal sorrow." (pg. 46)

"...but where, to the advantage of learned lectures, living instructions, and well chosen books, diligence and study are superadded, this man has all human aids concurring to raise him to a superior degree of wisdom and knowledge." (pg. 124)

"Attention is a very necessary thing in order to improve our minds.  The evidence of truth doth not always appear immediately, nor strike the soul at first sight.  It is by long attention and inspection that we arrive at evidence, and it is for want of it we judge falsely of many things." (pg. 135)

"The passions call away the thoughts with incessant importunity towards the object that excited them; and if we indulge the frequent rise and roving of passions, we shall thereby procure an unsteady and inattentive habit of mind.  Yet this one exception must be admitted, viz.  If we can be so happy as to engage any passion of the soul on the side of the particular study which we are pursuing, it may have a great influence to fix the attention more strongly to it." (pg. 138)

"The mind that deals only in vulgar and common ideas is ready to imagine the nature and powers of man to come something too near to God his maker, because we do not see or sensibly converse with any beings superior to ourselves." (pg. 144)

"There is no reason whatsoever that can prove or establish any authority so firmly as to give it power to dictate in matters of belief what is contrary to all the dictates of our reasonable nature." (pg. 262)

"Over-hastiness and vehemence in arguing is oftentimes the effect of pride; it blunts the poignancy of the argument, breaks its force, and disappoints the end." (pg. 267)

Isaac Watts, The Improvement of the Mind (Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 1998)

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