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must be possible by intuition to perceive truth; there is no such thing as sensation possible, or it must be porfible for the mind to perceive real objects. That what we actually and really apprehend by intuition and senfation, muit be somewhat real, as far as actually and really apprehended; it being impossible to apprehend that which is not. Now, the evidence of the reality of any existence, or the truth of any propofition, let it be conveyed to the mind by deduction, by testimony, by revelation, or if there were a thousand other methods of inforination, would still be reducible at last to direct intuition ; excepting what arises from sensation. The mind, in judging of any proposition, through whatever channel communicated to it, or on whatever arguments established, judges of the strength of the evidence; it makes allowance for the objections ; it balances the arguments, or, confiderations of whatever kind, against one another, it sees which preponderates. And fupposing this to be done properly, it sees the true state of the case, and determines accordingly; nor can it possibly determine contrary to what it sees to be the true Aate of the case.

When, for example, I consider in my own mind, on one hand, the various evidence from authors and remains of antiquity, that there was formerly such a state as the Roman, which conquered great part of this fide of the globe ; and on the other, find no reason for doubting of the existence of such a state in former times, I find it as reasonable to believe it, and as impossible to doubt it, as to doubt the solution of a question in numbers or quantity, which I had proved by arithmetic vulgar and decimal, and by Algebra. And so of other instances. So that, though it would not be proper to say, I see, by intuition, the truth of this proposition, “there was " once such a city as Rome ;" yet I may with the utmost propriety fay, I see such a superabundance of evidence for the truth of the propofition, and at the same time see no reason to think that any valid objections can be brought against it, that I intuitively see the evidence for it to be such as puts it beyond all possibility of being doubted by me, and feel that,

though though I should labour ever so much to bring myself to question it, I absolutely cannot; nor can I conceive it poffible that it should appear questionable to any person, who has fairly considered it.

Suppose, in the same manner, (in a point which has been difputed) a man, of a clear head, to have thoroughly examined all the various evidences for the Christian religion, allowing to every one its due weight, and no more ; suppose him to have attentively confidered every objection against it, allowing, likewise, to every one impartially its full force ; fuppose the result of the whole inquiry to be his finding such a preponderancy of evidence for the truth of Christianity, as should beyond all comparison over-balance the whole weight of the objections against it; I say, that such a person would then intuitively see the evidence for Chriftianity to be unsurmountable ; and could no more bring himself to doubt it, than to doubt whether all the angles of a triangle are equal to two right ones; nor to conceive the poflibility of any other person's doubting it, who had fairly considered both sides of the question.

In the same manner a person, who should carefully examine the arguments in a system of ethics, and should clearly and convincingly perceive the strength of each, the connection of one with another, and the result of the whole; might in the strictest propriety of speech be faid to fee intuitively the truth and justness of that ystem of ethics.

If so, then it is plain, that certainty is, in the nature of things, equally attainable upon ali subjects, though beings of our limited capacity may not, in our present imperfect state, be capable of attaining it. In the same manner as the truth of the most obvious axiom in arithmetic or geometry, may lie out of the reach of an infant, or an idiot; which appears felf-evident to the first glance of any mind that is capable of putting two thoughts together. How comes it to pass, that the truth of such an axiom as the following appears immediately incontestable: That if from equal quantities equal quantities be subtracted, equal quantities will remain? How comes, I say, the truth of this axiom to appear at once, while moral doctrines furnish endless dispute? The obvious answer is, from the fimplicity of the terms of the proposition, and of what is afiirined of them, which leaves no room for ambiguity or uncertainty; and from the narrownefs of the subject to be considered, or the smallness of the number of ideas to be taken in, which prevents all danger of puzzling - or distracting the understanding, and rendering the refuit or conclufion doubtful. Suppose the arguments for Christianity to be exactly one thousand, and the objections against it exactly one hundred : Suppose an angelic, or other superior understanding, to perceive intuitively the exact state of each; and to see diftinctly the hundred objections to be surmountable, or not valid, and the arguments to every one folid and conclufive; I say, that such a being would intuitively see the truth of Christianity in the same manner as a human mind fees the truth of any complex demonstration in Luclid.


It is therefore certain, that all evidence whatever is to be finally tried by, and reduced to intuition, except that which we have from sensation : That truth of all kinds is equally capable of being intuitively perceived, and of being ascertained to minds fitted for receiving and examining it: That moral truth is in no respect naturally more vague or precarious than mathematical ; but equally fixed, and equally clear, to superior minds; and probably will be fo hereafter to those of the human make, who shall attain to higher improvements in future states : And that in the mean time our duty is to examine carefully, and to act upon the result of candid inquiry.

That we are, in fome instances of inconfiderable inportance to our final happiness, liable to error, is no more than a natural consequence of the imperfection of our present state, and the number of particulars nccefsary to be taken in, in order to find out the true state of things upon the whole. But this, so far from proving the impoflibility of coming at truth, or that we are exposed to irremediable error, thews, that truth is cer. tainls to be attained by such intelligent beings as small with proper advantages of capacity and means, set themselves to the finding it out with sincerity and diligence.

The amount of what has been faid on moral certainty is briefly as follows, viz.

That it is felf-contradictory to talk of doubting the perceptions of our faculties, it being impossible to perceive a truth clearly, and yet to doubt it.

That our fimple ideas, being the immediate objects of our understandings, and being level to direct intuition, are capable of being with the greatest exactness examined and compared, in order to the finding the truth or falsehood of any proposition, whose terms are not too complex, or otherwise out of the reach of our faculties, And that whatever the understanding clearly determines, after mature examination, to be truth, it is impossible to doubt.

That whatever any mind really perceives must be real, as far as perceived. That therefore, there must be real truth perceiveable, else there could be no perceptive faculty in the universe; since falsehoods and impossibilities are not in the nature of things perceiveable, being non-entities.

That all kinds of truths appear equally certain to minds capable of investigating them. That moral truth is in its own nature no more vague or precarious, than mathematical; though in some instances more difficultly investigated by our narrow and defective faculties,

That there must be in the nature of things, (the basis of which is the Divine Nature) an eternal, essential, and unchangeable difference in morals; that there is a real, not a factitious, or arbitrary, good and evil, a greater and less preferableness in different characters and actions. That, accordingly, if it had been in the nature of things no way better that an universe should be created, than not; it is evident, God, who fees all things as they are, would not have seen any reason for creating an universe, and therefore would not have exerted his power in the production of it.

That the Divine attribute of benevolence, is, in its own nature, really and effentially, and without all regard


the notions of created beings, and exclusive of all confequences, a perfection; not an indifferent property, as some pretend. For that nothing either evil or indifferent can be conceived of as existing necessarily : but the Divine Benevolence and all the other attributes of his nature exist necessarily.

That if it was proper, or good, to create an universe of beings capable of happiness, it must on the contrary be improper, or morally wicked, to endeavour to oppofe the Divine scheme of Benevolence, or to wish innocent beings condemned to misery. There is therefore an eternal and essential, not a factitious, or arbitrary, good and evil in morals; and the foundation of moral good is in the necessary and unchangeable attributes of the Divine Narure.

That certainty is in the nature of things attainable by sensation. That reality must be the object of sensation, it being impossible to feel what has no existence. That it is imposible to doubt what we perceive by sensation,

That certainty is in the nature of things attainable by intuition. That the existence of intelligence necefsarily supposes that of truth, as the object of understanding. That truth is a Divine Attribute; therefore must exist necessarily. That every intelligent mind must be supposed capable of intuitively perceiving truth. And that we find by experience, we cannot even force ourfelves to doubt the truths we intuitively perceive.

That such certainty is in the nature of things attainable in subjects of which we receive information by deduction, testimony, and revelation, as renders it impoftible for the mind to hesitate or doubt. For that the sum, or result, of all kinds of evidence, however complex and various, except what arises from sensation; is the object of direct intuition.

To conclude this introduction : were our present state much more disadvantageous than it is; did we labour under much greater difficulty and uncertainty, than we do, in our search after truth ; prudence would ftill direct us, upon the whole, what course to take. The probability of safety in the main would still be Q2


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