An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding HTML version

God himself, but as the production of a mere human writer and historian. Here then we
are first to consider a book, presented to us by a barbarous and ignorant people, written in
an age when they were still more barbarous, and in all probability long after the facts
which it relates, corroborated by no concurring testimony, and resembling those fabulous
accounts, which every nation gives of its origin. Upon reading this book, we find it full of
prodigies and miracles. It gives an account of a state of the world and of human nature
entirely different from the present: Of our fall from that state: Of the age of man,
extended to near a thousand years: Of the destruction of the world by a deluge: Of the
arbitrary choice of one people, as the favourites of heaven; and that people the
countrymen of the author: Of their deliverance from bondage by prodigies the most
astonishing imaginable: I desire any one to lay his hand upon his heart, and after a serious
consideration declare, whether he thinks that the falsehood of such a book, supported by
such a testimony, would be more extraordinary and miraculous than all the miracles it
relates; which is, however, necessary to make it be received, according to the measures of
probability above established.
101. What we have said of miracles may be applied, without any variation, to prophecies;
and indeed, all prophecies are real miracles, and as such only, can be admitted as proofs
of any revelation. If it did not exceed the capacity of human nature to foretell future
events, it would be absurd to employ any prophecy as an argument for a divine mission
or authority from heaven. So that, upon the whole, we may conclude, that the Christian
Religion not only was at first attended with miracles, but even at this day cannot be
believed by any reasonable person without one. Mere reason is insufficient to convince us
of its veracity: And whoever is moved by Faith to assent to it, is conscious of a continued
miracle in his own person, which subverts all the principles of his understanding, and
gives him a determination to believe what is most contrary to custom and experience.