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haviour of a man who has hitherto been governed by interest, we may conclude with a probability approaching to certainty, that interest will continue to prevail.
Belief comes last in order, which, as defined above, is knowledge of the truth of facts that falls below certainty, and involves in its nature some degree of doubt. It is also of two kinds; one founded upon intuition, and one upon reasoning. Thus, knowledge, opinion, belief, are all of them equally distinguishable into intuitive and discursive. Of intuitive belief, I discover three different sources or causes. First, A prefent object. Second, An object formerly present. Third, The testimony of others.
To have a clear conception of the first cause, it must be observed, that among the simple perceptions that compose the complex perception of a present object, a perception of real and prefent existence is
This perception rises commonly to certainty ; in which case it is a branch of knowledge properly so termed; and is handled as such above. But this tion falls below certainty in some instances; as where an object, seen at a
But this percep
great distance or in a fog, is perceived to be a horse, but fo indistinctly as to make it a probability only. The perception in fuch a cafe is termed belief. Both perceptions are fundamentally of the fame nature ; being fimple perceptions of real existence. They differ only in point of diftinctness: the perception of reality that makes a branch of knowledge, is fo clear and distinct as to exclude all doubt or hefitation: the perception of reality that occasions belief, being lefs clear and diftinct, makes not the existence of the object certain to us, but only probable.
With respect to the second cause; the existence of an absent object, formerly feen, amounts not to a certainty; and, therefore is the subject of belief only, not of knowledge. Things are in a continual flux from production to diffolution; and our senses are accommodated to that var riable feene: a present object admits no doubt of its existence; but after it is removed, its existence becomes less certain, and in time finks down to a flight degree of probability.
Human testimony, the third cause, produces belief, more or less strong, accor
ding to circumstances. In general, nature leads us to rely upon the veracity of cach other; and commonly the degree of reliance is proportioned to the degree of veracity. Sometimes belief approaches to certainty, as when it is founded on the evidence of persons above exception as to veracity. Sometimes it finks to the lowest degree of probability, as when a fact is told by one who has no great reputation for truth. The nature of the fact, common or uncommon, has likewise an influence: an ordinary incident gains credit upon very slight evidence; but it requires the strongest evidence to overcome the improbability of an event that deviates from the ordinary course of nature. At the same time, it must be observed, that belief is not always founded upon rational principles. There are biaffes and weaknefles in human nature that fometimes disturb the operation, and produce belief without sufficient or proper evidence :-we are disposed to believe on very flight evidence, an interesting event, however rare or singular, that alarms and agitates the mind; because the mind in agitation is reinarkably susceptible of impreffions : for VOL, III,
which reason, stories of ghosts and apparitions pass current with the vulgar. Eloquence also has great power over the mind; and, by making deep impressions, enforces the belief of facts upon evidence that would not be regarded in a cool moment,
The dependence that our perception of real existence, and consequently belief, hath upon oral evidence, enlivens focial intercourse, and promotes fociety. But the perception of real existence has a still inore extensive influence'; for from that perception is derived a great part of the entertainment we find in history, and in historical fables (a). Ar the fame time, a perception that may be raised by fiction as well as by truth, would often mislead were we abandoned to its impulse: but the God of nature hath provided a remedy for that evil, by erecting within the mind a tribunal, to which there lies an appeal from the rafh impressions of sense. When thé delusion of eloquence or of dread fubfides, the perplexed mind is uncertain what to believe. A regular process commences, counsel is heard, evidence pro(9) Elements of Criticisin, cha, 2. part I. $ 7.
duced, and a final judgement pronounced,
151 sometimes confirming, sometimes varying, the belief impressed upon us by the lively perception of reality. Thus, by a wise appointment of nature, intuitive belief is subjected to rational discussion : when
Low confirmed by reason, it turns more vigorous and authoritative: when contradicted by reason, it disappears among fengible people. In some instances, it is too headAtrong for reason; as in the case of hobgoblins and apparitions, which pass current among
the vulgar in spite of reason. We proceed to the other kind of belief,
, that which is founded on reasoning ; to which, when intuition fails, us, we must have recourse for ascertaining certain facts. Thus, from known effects, we infer the existence of unknown causes.
too effect must have a cause, is an intuitive proposition ; but to ascertain what partiçular thing is the cause, requires commonly a process of reasoning. This is one of the means by which the Deity, the pri- : mary, cause, is made known to us, as mentioned above. Reason, in tracing
, causes froin known effects, produces different degrees of conviction. It sometimes D d 2