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which I enjoy), have not seen and felt, what I myself should have seen and felt, had I ex, isted at the time and been in the place where the fact happened ? Am I not there. fore obliged to acknowledge that the proof which I deduced from physical order, cannot be put in opposition to that which I re: ceive from moral order?
First. Because these proofs are of a very different nature, and because moral certain, ty is not physical certainty.
Secondly. Because here I have not even a physical certainty, which I can oppose to moral certainty ; since I have admitted that physical order is subject to an intelligence, who may have modified it in a direct rela. tion to a certain view, and that I distinctly perceive this view :* Therefore I cannot draw a general conclusion from experience, or from physical order, against testimony :: this conclusion would extend beyond the premises.
* Vide Part i. Ch. xi.
I may form this particular conclusion; That, according to the ordinary course of nature, the dead do not rise ; but I cannot logically affirm, that there is not a secret dispensation of the physical order, of which the resurrection of the dead might be the result: and to affirm in general the impos sibility of the resurrection of the dead, wouid be still more repugnant to sound logic.
Were it even demonstrated further, that miracles can only be the result of an imme. diate act of omnipotence, that act would not imply à violation of physical order; because the legislator of nature does not violate his laws, whenever he suspends or modifies those laws. He does not act by a new will. Supreme intelligence beheld at once the whole series of things, and miracles entered from eternity into that series, as a condition of the greatest good*.
I'entreat that what I advanced concerning miracles, Part i. Chap. vi. Note 13, may be read over again. I do not wish that any one should imagine,, that consider my hypothesis as true..
This idea is clearly set forth by the author of the Essay on Psychology † ; although his style, often too concise, does not bring it within the comprehension of all readers : “ Whenever,” he says, “ the course of na
ture appears suddenly altered, or inter“rupted, that interruption is termed a mi
racle, and is supposed to be an effect of an immediate act of God. Such a judgment may be proved-false, and the miracle maybe " the result of second causes or of a pre" established arrangement.
The essential “good ; which was to result from it, might "require this arrangement or exception to “the ordinary laws, but, if there are miracles “which imply an immediate act of God, “ this act became part of the plan, as a ne
cessary means for happiness : in both cases the effect is the same with respect to faith."
Essay on Psychology, Part üi. Chap. iii.
CHA P. V.
WHETHER IT BE PROBABLE THAT THE WIT.
NESSES OF THE GOSPEL WERE EITHER DE CEIVERS OR DECEIVED.
HAVE supposed that the witnesses
could neither deceive nor be deceived. The first supposition was built on their integrity; the second, on the clearness of the facts.
The probability of the first supposition would, in my opinion, considerably increase if the facts attested were admitted to be of such a nature that no man of sound sense could have been deceived respecting them.
I can easily conceive, that a false doctrine may gain credit : it is the understanding which is to judge of a doctrine, and the understanding is not always endued with
sufficient powers to enable it to detect fals. hoods of a particular kind.
But if the inquiry concern things which fall under our senses, things of public notoriety, things which happened at a time and in places where the witnesses were exposed to continual contradictions; if, finally, these things attack national, political, and religious prejudices; how can we suppose it possible that impostors, unless totally deprived of their senses, could flatter themselves that credit would be given to such things ?
They would scarcely, I think, pretend to persuade their countrymen and contemporaries, that a man, whose death was public and notorious, was risen again ; that darkness covered the land ; that the earth shook at the decease of this man, &c. ; and, if we suppose these impostors illiterate men, and of the lowest class, it is still less reasonable to imagine that they would pretend to speak foreign languages, and absurdly upbraid an entire and numerous society with making an ill use of the same extraordinary gift, if