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IX.

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as the only immediate effect of experience is to asso- SECT. . ciate our ideas together, it follows that all belief arises from the association of ideas, according to my hypothesis.

the effects of

relations 'Tis universally allowed by the writers on optics, that the eye at all times sees an equal number of phy-other habits sical points, and that a man on the top of a mountain has no larger an image presented to his senses, than when he is cooped up in the narrowest court or chamber. 'Tis only by experience that he infers the greatness of the object from some peculiar qualities of the image; and this inference of the judgment he confounds with sensation, as is common on other occasions, Now 'tis evident, that the inference of the judgment is here much more lively than what is usual in our common reasonings, and that a man has a more vivid conception of the vast extent of the ocean from the image he receives by the eye, when he stands on the top of the high promontory, than merely from hearing the roaring of the waters. He feels a more sensible pleasure from its magnificence, which is a proof of a more lively idea ; and he confounds his judgment with sen sation, which is another proof of it. But as the infera ence is equally certain and immediate in both cases, this superior vivacity of our conception in one case can proceed from nothing but this, that in drawing an in ference from the sight, beside the customary conjunc tion, there is also a resemblance betwixt the image and the object we infer, which strengthens the relation, and conveys the vivacity of the impression to the related idea with an easier and more natural movement.

No weakness of human nature is more universal and conspicuous than what we commonly call credulity, or a too easy faith in the testimony of others; and this

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PART weakness is also very naturally accounted for from the

influence of resemblance. When we receive any mat

ter of fact upon human testimony, our faith arises from knowledge

the very same origin as our inferences from causes to probability. effects, and from effects to causes ; nor is there any

thing but our experience of the governing principles of human nature, which can give us any assurance of the veracity of men. But though experience be the true standard of this, as well as of all other judgments, we seldom regulate ourselves entirely by it, but have a remarkable propensity to believe whatever is reported, even concerning apparitions, enchantments, and prodigies, however contrary to daily experience and observation. The words or discourses of others have an intimate connexion with certain ideas in their mind; and these ideas have also a connexion with the facts or objects which they represent. This latter connexion is generally much over-rated, and commands our assent beyond what experience will justify, which can proceed from nothing beside the resemblance betwixt the ideas and the facts. Other effects only point out their causes in an oblique manner ; but the testimony of men does it directly, and is to be considered as an image as well as an effect. No wonder, therefore, we are so rash in drawing our inferences from it, and are less guided by experience in our judgments concerning it, than in those upon any other subject.

As resemblance, when conjoined with causation, fortifies our reasonings, so the want of it in any very great degree is able almost entirely to destroy them. Of this there is a remarkable instance in the universal carelessness and stupidity of men with regard to a future state, where they show as obstinate an incredulity, as they do a blind credulity on other occasions. There is not indeed a more

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ample matter of wonder to the studious, and of regret SECT. to the pious man, than to observe the negligence of the bulk of mankind concerning their approaching condi

the effects of tion; and 'tis with reason, that many eminent theologians have not scrupled to affirm, that though the vul- relations gar have no formal principles of infidelity, yet they other habits. are really infidels in their hearts, and have nothing like what we can call a belief of the eternal duration of their souls. For let us consider on the one hand what divines have displayed with such eloquence concerning the importance of eternity; and at the same time reflect, that though in matters of rhetoric we ought to lay our account with some exaggeration, we must in this case allow, that the strongest figures are infinitely inferior to the subject : and after this, let us view on the other hand the prodigious security of men in this particular: I ask, if these people really believe what is inculcated on them, and what they pretend to affirm; and the answer is obviously in the negative. As belief is an act of the mind arising from custom, 'tis not strange the want of resemblance should overthrow what custom has established, and diminish the force of the idea, as much as that latter principle increases it. A future state is so far removed from our comprehension, and we have so obscure an idea of the manner in which we shall exist after the dissolution of the body, that all the reasons we can invent, however strong in themselves, and however much assisted by education, are never able with slow imaginations to surmount this difficulty, or bestow a sufficient authority and force on the idea. I rather choose to ascribe this incredulity to the faint idea we form of our future condition, derived from its want of resemblance to the present life, than to that derived from its remoteness, For I obserye,

Of

PART that men are every where concerned about what may III.

happen after their death, provided it regard this world;

and that there are few to whom their name, their fam knowledge

and mily, their friends, and their country are in any period probability of time entirely indifferent.

And indeed the want of resemblance in this case so entirely destroys belief, that except those few who, upon

cool reflection on the importance of the subject, have taken care by repeated meditation to imprint in their minds the arguments for a future state, there scarce are any who believe the immortality of the soul with a true and established judgment; such as is derived from the testimony of travellers and historians, This appears very conspicuously wherever men have occasion to compare the pleasures and pains, the rewards and punishments of this life with those of a future; even though the case does not concern themselves, and there is no violent passion to disturb their judgment. The Roman Catholics are certainly the most zealous of any sect in the Christian world; and yet you'll find few among the more sensible part of that communion who do not blame the Gunpowder Treason, and the massacre of St Bartholomew, as cruel and barbarous, though projected or executed am gainst those very people, whom without any scruple they condemn to eternal and infinite punishments. All we can say in excuse for this inconsistency is, that they really do not believe what they affirm concerning a fum ture state; nor is there any better proof of it than the very inconsistency.

We may add to this a remark, that in matters of religion men take a pleasure in being terrified, and that no preachers are so popular as those who excite the most dismal and gloomy passions. In the come

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mon affairs of life, where we feel and are penetrated SECT. with the solidity of the subject, nothing can be more disagreeable than fear and terror; and 'tis only in dra

the effects of matic performances and in religious discourses that they ever give pleasure. In these latter cases the ima- relations gination reposes itself indolently on the idea ; and the other habits. passion being softened by the want of belief in the subject, has no more than the agreeable effect of enlivening the mind and fixing the attention.

The present hypothesis will receive additional confirmation, if we examine the effects of other kinds of custom, as well as of other relations. To understand this we must consider that custom, to which I attribute all belief and reasoning, may operate upon the mind in invigorating an idea after two several ways. For supposing that, in all past experience, we have found two objects to have been always conjoined together, 'tis evident, that upon the appearance of one of these objects in an impression, we must, from custom, make an easy transition to the idea of that object, which usually attends it; and by means of the present impression and easy transition must conceive that idea in a stronger and more lively manner than we do any

loose floating image of the fancy. But let us next suppose, that a mere idea alone, without any of this curious and almost artificial preparation, should frequently make its appearance in the mind, this idea must, by degrees, acquire a facility and force; and both by its firm hold and easy introduction distinguish itself from any new and unusual idea. This is the only particular in which these two kinds of custom agree; and if it appear

that their effects on the judgment are similar and proportionable, we may certainly conclude, that the foregoing explication of that faculty is satisfactory. But can

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