The principle of credulity is as regular in its operation, as any other principle of the mind; and is so dependant on circumstances, and so restrained and checked by other parts of human nature, that sometimes the most obstinate incredulity is found in that very class of people, whose easy belief on other occasions moves our contempt. . . . [I]n general it may be affirmed, that the credulity of the ignorant operates under the control of their strongest passions and impressions, and that no class of society yield a slower assent to positions, which manifestly subvert their old modes of thinking and most settled prejudices. It is then very unphilosophical to assume this principle as an explanation of all miracles whatever. I grant that the fact, that accounts of supernatural agency so generally prove false, is a reason for looking upon them with peculiar distrust. Miracles ought on this account to be sifted more than common facts. But if we find that a belief in a series of supernatural works has occurred under circumstances very different from those, under which false prodigies have been received, under circumstances most unfavourable to the operation of credulity; then this belief cannot be resolved into the common causes which have blinded men in regard to supernatural agency.
William Ellery Channing, Discourse on the Evidences of Revealed Religion, 2nd ed. (Liverpool: F. B. Wright, 1830), p. 7