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The phrases in their context!


Still, if we use words strictly, this must not be called a practical, but a doctrinal belief, which the theology of nature (physico-theology) must also produce in my mind.
In the wisdom of a Supreme Being, and in the shortness of life, so inadequate to the development of the glorious powers of human nature, we may find equally sufficient grounds for a doctrinal belief in the future life of the human soul.
The expression of belief is, in such cases, an expression of modesty from the objective point of view, but, at the same time, of firm confidence, from the subjective.
If I should venture to term this merely theoretical judgement even so much as a hypothesis which I am entitled to assume; a more complete conception, with regard to another world and to the cause of the world, might then be justly required of me than I am, in reality, able to give.
For, if I assume anything, even as a mere hypothesis, I must, at least, know so much of the properties of such a being as will enable me, not to form the conception, but to imagine the existence of it.
But the word belief refers only to the guidance which an idea gives me, and to its subjective influence on the conduct of my reason, which forces me to hold it fast, though I may not be in a position to give a speculative account of it.
But mere doctrinal belief is, to some extent, wanting in stability.
We often quit our hold of it, in consequence of the difficulties which occur in speculation, though in the end we inevitably return to it again.
It is quite otherwise with moral belief.
For in this sphere action is absolutely necessary, that is, I must act in obedience to the moral law in all points.
The end is here incontrovertibly established, and there is only one condition possible, according to the best of my perception, under which this end can harmonize with all other ends, and so have practical validity--namely, the existence of a God and of a future world.
I know also, to a certainty, that no one can be acquainted with any other conditions which conduct to the same unity of ends under the moral law.
But since the moral precept is, at the same time, my maxim (as reason requires that it should be), I am irresistibly constrained to believe in the existence of God and in a future life; and I am sure that nothing can make me waver in this belief, since I should thereby overthrow my moral maxims, the renunciation of which would render me hateful in my own eyes.
Thus, while all the ambitious attempts of reason to penetrate beyond the limits of experience end in disappointment, there is still enough left to satisfy us in a practical point of view.
No one, it is true, will be able to boast that he knows that there is a God and a future life; for, if he knows this, be is just the man whom I have long wished to find.
All knowledge, regarding an object of mere reason, can be communicated; and I should thus be enabled to hope that my own knowledge would receive this wonderful extension, through the instrumentality of his instruction.
No, my conviction is not logical, but moral certainty; and since it rests on subjective grounds (of the moral sentiment), I must not even say; It is morally certain that there is a God, etc., but; I am morally certain, that is, my belief in God and in another world is so interwoven with my moral nature that I am under as little apprehension of having the former torn from me as of losing the latter.
The only point in this argument that may appear open to suspicion is that this rational belief presupposes the existence of moral sentiments.
If we give up this assumption, and take a man who is entirely indifferent with regard to moral laws, the question which reason proposes, becomes then merely a problem for speculation and may, indeed, be supported by strong grounds from analogy, but not by such as will compel the most obstinate scepticism to give way.* But in these questions no man is free from all interest.
For though the want of good sentiments may place him beyond the influence of moral interests, still even in this case enough may be left to make him fear the existence of God and a future life.
For he cannot pretend to any certainty of the non-existence of God and of a future life, unless- since it could only be proved by mere reason, and therefore apodeictically--he is prepared to establish the impossibility of both, which certainly no reasonable man would undertake to do.