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nounce it in a certain manner, and with a certain tone and accent?
In all these cases, we may observe, that the animal infers some fact beyond what immediately strikes his senses; and that this inference is altogether founded on past experience, while the creature expects from the present object the fame consequences, which it has always found in its observation to result from fimilar objects.
Secondly, It is impossible that this inference of the animal can be founded on any process of argument or reasoning, by which he concludes, that like events must follow like objects, and that the course of nature will always be regular in its operations. For if there be in reality any arguments of this nature, they surely lie too abftrufe for the observation of such imperfect understandings; since it may well employ the utmost care and attention of a philofophic genius to discover and observe them. Animals, therefore, are not guided in these inferences by reafoning: Neither are children: Neither are the gene: rality of mankind, in their ordinary actions and conclusions: Neither are philosophers themselves, who, in all the active parts of life, are, in the main, the fame with the vulgar, and are governed by the same maxims. Nature must have provided fome other principle, of more ready, and more general use and application; nor can an operation of such immense consequence in life, as that of inferring effects from caufes, be trusted to the uncertain process of reasoning and argumentation. Were this doubtful with regard to men, it seems to admit of no question with regard to the brute creation; and the conclusión being once firmly established in the one, we have a strong presumption, from all the rules of analogy, that it ought to be universally admitted, without any exception or reserve. It is custom alone, which engages animals, from every object that strikes their fenses, to infer its usual attendant, and carries their
imagination, from the appearance of the one, to conceive the other, in that particular manner which we denominate belief. No other explication can be given of this operation, in all the higher, as well as lower, classes of sensitive beings, which fall under our notice and observation *.
But though animals learn many parts of their knowledge from observation, there are also many parts of it which they derive from the orginal hand of nature; which much exceed the share of capacity they possess on ordinary occafions; and in which they improve little or nothing by the longest practice and experience. These we denominate InSTINCTS, and are fo apt to admire, as something very extraordinary, and inexplicable by all the difquisitions of human understanding. But our wonder will, perhaps, cease or diminish, when we conlider, that the experimental reasoning itself, which we poffefs in common with beasts, and on which the whole conduct of life depends, is nothing but a species of instinct or mechanical power, that acts in us unknown to ourselves; and in its chief operations is not directed by any such relations or comparisons of ideas, as are the proper objects of our intellectual faculties. Though the instinct be different, yet still it is an instinct which teaches a man to avoid the fire; as much as that which teaches a bird, with such exactness, the art of incubation, and the whole economy and order of its nursery.
Of MIRA Ć LE S.
HERE is, in Dr TILLOTSON's writings, an ar
gument against the real presence, which is as concise, and elegant, and strong, as any argument can possibly be supposed againft a doctrine, ko little worthy of a serious refutation. It is acknowledged on all hands, says that learned prelate, that the authority, either of the scripture or of tradition, is founded merely on the testimony of the apostles, yho were eye-witnesses to those miracles of our Saviour, by which he proved his divine mission.' Our evidence, then, for the truth of the Christian religion, is less than the evidence for the truth of our senses; because, even in the first authors of our religion, it was no greater; and it is evident it must diminish in palling from them to their disciples; nor can any one rest such confidence in their testimony, as in the immediate object of his senses. But a weaker evidence can never destroy a stronger; and therefore, were the doctrine of the real presence ever so clearly revealed in scripture, it were directly contrary to the rules of just reasoning to give our assent to it. It contradicts sense, though both the scripture and tradition, on which it is supposed to be built, carry not such evidence with them as sense; when they are considered merely as external evidences, and are not brought home to every one's breast, by the immediate operation of the Holy Spirit.
Nothing is so convenient as a decisive argument of this kind, which must at least filence the most arrogant bigotry and superstition, and free us from their impertinent solicitations. I flatter myself, that I have discovered an argument of a like nature, which, it just, will, with the wife and learned, be an everlasting check to all kinds of superstitious delusion, and consequently will be useful as long as the world endures. For so long, I presume, will the accounts of miracles and prodigies be found in all history, sacred and profane.
Though experience be our only guide in reasoning concerning matters of fact; it must be acknowledged, that this guide is not altogether infallible, but in some cases is apt to lead us into errors. One who, in our climate, should expect better weather in any week of JUNE than in one of DECEMBER, would reason juftly and conformably to experience; but it is certain, that he may happen, in the event, to find himself mistaken. However, we may obferve, that, in such a case, he would have no cause to complain of experience; because it commonly informs us beforehand of the uncertainty, by that contrariety of events, which we may learn from a diligent observation. All effects follow not with like certainty from their supposed causes.. Some events are found, in all countries and all ages, to have been constantly conjoined together: Others are found to have been more variable, and sometimes to disappoint our expectations; so that, in our reasonings concerning matter of fact, there are all imaginable degrees of assurance, from the highest certainty to the lowest species of moral evidence.
A wise man, therefore, proportions his belief to the evidence. In such conclusions as are founded on an infallible experience, he expects the event with the laft degree of assurance, and regards his past experience as a full proof of the future existence of that event. In other cases, he proceeds withnmore caution: He weighs the opposite experiments: He con
siders which side is supported by the greater number of experiments : To that fide he inclines, with doubt and hesitation; and when at last he fixes his judgement, the evidence exceeds not what we properly call probability. All probability, then, supposes an opposition of experiments and obfervations, where the one fide is found to overbalance the other, and to produce a degree of evidence proportioned to the fuperiority. A hundred instances or experiments on one side, and fifty on another, afford a doubtful expectation of any event; though a hundred uniform experiments, with only one that is contradictory, reasonably beget a pretty strong degree of affarance. In all cases, we must balance the opposite experiments, where they are opposite, and deduct the smaller number from the greater, in order to know the exact force of the superior evidence.
To apply these principles to a particular instance; we may observe, that there is no species of reasoning more common, more useful, and even necessary to human life, than that which is derived from the testimony of men, and the reports of eye-witnesses and spectators. This species of reasoning, perhaps, one may deny to be founded on the relation of cause and effect. I shall not dispute about a word. It will be sufficient to obferve, that our affurance in any argument of this kind is derived from no other principle than our observation of the veracity of human testimony, and of the usual conformity of facts to the reports of witnesses. It being a general maxim that no objects have any discoverable connection together, and that all the inferences which we can draw from one to another, are founded merely on our experience of their constant and regular conjunction; it is evident, that we ought not to make an exception to this maxim in favour of human testimony, whose connection with any event seems, in itself, as little necessary as an any other. Were not the memory tenacious to a certain degree; had