Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

does not require in ordinary testimonies; it will appear, I think, morally certain, that the legislator has spoken.

This moral certainty will increase, if I can discover what were the views of the legislator, in thus modifying the laws of nature*

* Vide Ch. vi, Part i:

CHAP. IV.

CONTINUATION OF OBJECTIONS TO TESTIMONI. AL PROOF, WHEN APPLIED TO MIRACULOUS FACTS.-ANSWERS, --GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS ON PHYSICAL AND MORAL ORDER.

M

Y scepticism must not stop here.

The facts, which I name miraculous are a violation of physical order : imposture is a violation of moral order, especially in witnesses who unite in the highest de. gree all the qualities essential to testimony.

Would it then be less probable, that such witnesses should attest false facts, than that a dead man should have risen ?

On this subject I find it necessary to ad vert to what I have set forth concerning physical order, in Ch. v. and vi.* of the

* In those chapters the author has stated his hypothesis respecting miracles, and supported it by many arguments both ingenious and new, for which I refer the reader to the original. But, as this opinion may appear to some readers too refined and abstruse; and as Mr. Bonnet himself acknowledges, p. 219, that he does not mean to controvert the received opinion concerning miracles, and that this will answer every useful purpose as well as his own (p. 249), I have taken the liberty to omit those chapters

[ocr errors]

first Part : if I have proved that miracles might be the result of a physical predetermination, they will not be a violation of physical order ; but they will be particular dispensations of that order, included in that great chain which binds the past to the present, the present to the future, and the future to eternity.

Physical order, then, is not precisely the same as moral order: the first relates to all possible modifications of bodies, the latter, to those of the soul.

The sum of the particular modifications of the soul is, what I call moral character.

The nature, the multiplicity, the variety of acts, which bring me to the knowledge of a moral character*, establish the opinion I form of that character.

* Vide Ch. ï. of this part.

The number, therefore, and the variety of those acts, of which I am informed, will confirm my judgment as to this certainty.

If those acts bore the stamp of a most re, fined virtue ; if they were directed towards one view; if that view were the supreme happiness of man; that moral character would appear eminently and illustriously virtuous.

It appears therefore less. probable to me, that a witness eminently virtuous should attest as true an extraordinary fact, which he must know to be false, than that a body should undergo a modification contrary to the ordinary course of nature. Because I clearly discover a first cause and a view in this modification ; because I discover no contradiction between this modification and that which I term the essence of a body; be. cause, so far from discovering any sufficient reason why such a witness should deceive me, I, on the contrary, perceive many pow. erful motives, which might engage him to: conceal the fact, did not the love of truth predominate in him.

E

If, moreover,

many such witnesses concur in attesting the same miracu. lous fact ; if they persevere with con- . stancy in their narration ; if by their perseverance they evidently expose themselves to the greatest calamities, and to death it: self; I should conclude that the imposture of such witnesses would be such a violati. on of moral order, as I could not suppose, without controverting the dictates of com. mon sense.

I presume

I should further violate those dictates, if I imagined that these witnesses were deceived: for I have supposed that they attested a palpable fact, a fact of which the senses are as well able to judge as of any other fact; and the positive certainty of which was a matter of the highest importance to the witnesses.

One thing, however, I must admit, which is, that had I been a witness to this fact, it would have appeared to me indubitable, and yet it would not have appeared to me less contrary to the ordinary course of nature. Shall I deny, then, that men (endowed with the same faculties as those

« PoprzedniaDalej »