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that society had not received it. I may be mistaken; but it seems to me, that such pretensions, if false, could never have been admitted ; and this would seem to me still more improbable, if those who publicly professed the belief of these facts, and propagated them, exposed themselves voluntarily to every thing of which men have the most natural abhorrence, especially, if I discovered in their narrations no marks of fanaticism.
The improbability, in fine, of this supposition, would seem to increase still more, if the public testimony given of such facts had effected in the world a revolution much more astonishing than those ever caused by the most famous conquerors.
It follows, I think, in a legitimate manner, from the palpability of the facts, that the witnesses of whom I have spoken could not be imposed upon themselves. Can I possibly doubt whether the senses are competent, or not, to ascertain that a paralytic walks, that a blind man sees, that a dead man is raised ? &c.
Letus suppose, particularly, that the point in question is the resurrection of a man, with whom the witnesses had lived in the most familiar manner for the space of several years. If that man had been condemned to death by a supreme tribunal; if he had publicly died a. most painful death; if the tortures he underwent had left scars on his body; if, after his resurrection, this man had appeared several times to those same witnesses; if they had conversed and eaten several times with him; if they had recollected or examined his scars; if, finally, they had formed the strongest doubts of his resurrection, and if their entire conviction was owing to the repeated and concurring testimonies of their eyes, their ears, and their touch ; if, I say, all these facts are supposed true, I should not be able to conceive how these witnesses could possibly have been deceived. But further, if these attested miracles, as I have already said *, formed an uninterrupted chain, all the links of which were closely riveted together; if these miracles composed, as it were, a well-continued discourse, the parts of which were dependent on and supported each other; if the gift of speaking divers tongues argued necessarily the resurrection of a certain man, and his ascension into heaven; if the miracles which this man had . pretended to perform before his death, and which were attested to me by ocular wit. nesses, were indissolubly connected with those which have already been noticed; if these miracles were numerous and various ; if they had been wrought for the space
* Vide Part i. Chap. vi.
of many years ; if, I say (and as I suppose), all this were true, it would be impossible for me to conceive that the witnesses in question should have been deceived, respecting so many palpable, plain, and different facts.
It appears to me, at least, that had it been possible for them to have been de. ceived concerning any of these extraordinary facts, it would have been physically impossible for them to have been deceived in all.
But, above all, how can I conceive that these witnesses should have been deceived, as to the many and various miracles which they themselves wrought?
CH A P. VI.
OTHER OBJECTIONS TO TESTIMONY, DERIVED
SHALL not on this occasion engage in
any subtle disquisitions concerning the reality of the objects of our sensations, the illusion of the senses, or the existence of bodies; these metaphysical subtleties do not essentially belong to the examination of my subject; I have discussed them at large in several of my other writings, and have said on that subject whatever sound philosophy suggested to me.
I know perfectly well, that the objects of our sensations cannot be in themselves, what they appear to us to be ; I see objects which I denominate matcrial; from the essential properties of these objects, I de.