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importance, may interrupt the order which he had appointed, yet, that such occasions should return seldom; that these interruptions, consequently, should be confined to the experience of a few; that the want of it, therefore, in many, should be matter neither of surprise nor objection?

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"But as a continuation of the argument from experience, it is said, that when we advance accounts of miracles, we assign effects without causes, or we attribute effects to 'causes inadequate to the purpose, or to causes, of the operation of which we have no experience. Of what causes, we may ask, and of what effects does the objection speak? If it be answered, that when we ascribe the cure of the palsy to a touch, of blindness to the anointing of the eyes with clay, or the raising of the dead to a word, we lay ourselves open to this imputation; we reply, that we ascribe no such effects to such causes. We perceive no virtue or energy in these things more than in other things of the same kind. They are merely signs, to connect the miracle with its end. The effect we ascribe simply to the volition of the Deity; of whose existence and power, not to say of whose presence and agency, we have previous and independent proof. We have, therefore, all we seek for in the works of rational agents--a sufficient power, and an adequate motive. In a word, once believe that there is a God, and miracles are not incredible!

"Mr. Hume states the case of miracles to be, a contest of opposite improbabilities; that is to say, a question whether it be more improbable that the miracle should be true, or the testimony false; and this I think a fair account of the controversy. But herein I remark a want of argumentative justice, that, in describing the improbability of miracles, he suppresses all those circumstances of extenuation which result from our knowledge of the existence, power, and disposition of the Deity; his concern in the creation; the end answered by the miracle; the importance of that end, and its subserviency to the plan pursued in the works of nature. As Mr. Hume has represented the question, miracles are alike incredible to him who is previously assured of the constant agency of a Divine Being, and to him who believes that no such Being exists in the universe. They are equally incredible, whether related to have been wrought upon occasions the most deserving, and for purposes the most beneficial, or for no assignable end whatever, or for an end confessedly trifling or pernicious. This surely cannot be a correct statement. In adjusting also the other side of the balance, the strength and weight of testimony, this author has provided an answer to every possible accumulation of historical proof, by telling us that we are not obliged to explain how the story or the evidence arose. Now I think that we are obliged; not, perhaps, to show by positive accounts how it did, but by a probable hypothesis how it might so happen. The existence of the testimony is a phenomenon; the truth of the fact solves VOL. I.


the phenomenon. If we reject this solution, we ought to have some other to rest in; and none, even by our adversaries, can be admitted, which is not consistent with the principles that regulate human affairs and human conduct at present, or which makes men then to have been a different kind of beings from what they are now.

"But the short consideration which, independently of every other, convinces me that there is no solid foundation for Mr. Hume's conclu. sion, is the following:-When a theorem is proposed to a mathematician, the first thing he does with it is to try it upon a simple case; and if it produce a false result, he is sure that there is some mistake in the demonstration. Now, to proceed in this way with what may be called Mr. Hume's theorem,-If twelve men, whose probity and good sense I had long known, should seriously and circumstantially relate to me an account of a miracle wrought before their eyes, and in which it was impossible that they should be deceived: if the governor of the country, hearing a rumour of this account, should call these men into his presence, and offer them a short proposal, either to confess the imposture, or submit to be tied up to a gibbet; if they should refuse with one voice to acknowledge that there existed any falsehood or imposture in the case; if this threat were communicated to them separately, yet with no different effect; if it was at last executed; if I myself saw them, one after another, consenting to be racked, burned, or strangled, rather than give up the truth of their account; still, if Mr. Hume's rule be my guide, I am not to believe them. Now I undertake to say, that there exists not a skeptic in the world who would not believe them, or who would defend such incredulity." (PALEY'S Evidences, Preparatory Considerations.)

"The essayist," says the bishop of Llandaff, "who has most elaborately drawn out this argument, perplexes the subject, by attempting to adjust, in a sort of metaphysical balance of his own invention, the degrees of probability resulting from what he is pleased to call opposite experiences; viz. the experience of men's veracity, on the one hand, and the experience of the firm and unalterable constitution of the laws of nature, on the other. But the fallacy in this mode of reasoning is obvious. For, in the first place, miracles can, at most, only be contrary to the experience of those who never saw them performed: to say, therefore, that they are contrary to general experience, (including, as it should seem, the experience even of those who profess to have seen and to have examined them,) is to assume the very point in question. And, in the next place, it is equally fallacious to allege against them the experience of the unalterable constitution of the laws of nature; because, unless the fact be previously investigated, whether those laws have ever been altered or suspended, this is likewise a gratuitous assumption.

"In truth this boasted balance of probabilities could only be employed

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with effect, in the cause of infidelity, by counterpoising, against the testimony of those who professed to have seen miracles, the testimony of those (if any such were to be found) who, under the circumstances, and with the same opportunities of forming a judgment, professed to have been convinced, that the things which they saw were NOT miracles, but mere impostures and delusions. Here would be indeed experience against experience: and a skeptic might be well employed in estimating the comparative weight of the testimony on either side; in order to judge of the credibility or incredibility of the things proposed to his belief. But when he weighs only the experience of those, to whom the opportunity of judging of a miracle by personal observation has never been afforded, against the experience of those who declare themselves to be eye witnesses of the fact; instead of opposite experiences, properly so called, he is only balancing total inexperience on the one hand, against positive experience on the other.

Nor will it avail any thing to say, that this particular inexperience of those who have never seen miracles, is compensated by their general experience of the unalterable course of nature. For, as we have already observed, this is altogether a mere petitio principii. It is arguing, upon a supposition wholly incapable of proof, that the course of nature is indeed so unalterably fixed, that even God himself, by whom its laws were ordained, cannot, when he sees fit, suspend their operation.

"There is therefore a palpable fallacy, (however a subtle metaphysi cian may attempt to disguise it by ingenious sophistry,) in representing the experience of mankind as being opposite to the testimony on which our belief of miracles is founded. For, the opposite experiences, as they are called, are not contradictory to each other; since there is' (as has been justly observed) no inconsistency in believing them both.' A miracle necessarily supposes an established and generally unaltered (though not unalterable) course of things; for, in its interception of such a course lies the very essence of a miracle, as here understood. Our experience, therefore, of the course of nature leads us to expect its continuance, and to act accordingly; but it does not set aside any proofs, from valid testimony, of a deviation from it: neither can our being personally unacquainted with a matter of fact, which took place a thousand years ago, or in a distant part of the world, warrant. us in disbelieving the testimony of personal witnesses of the fact. Common sense revolts at the absurdity of considering one man's ignorance or inexperience as a counterpoise to another man's knowledge and experience of a matter of fact. Yet on no better foundation does this favourite argument of infidels appear to rest."

The substance of Dr. Campbell's answer to Mr. Hume's argument has been thus given :

"The evidence arising from human testimony is not solely derived

from experience: on the contrary, testimony has a natural influence on belief, antecedent to experience. The early and unlimited assent given to testimony by children, gradually contracts as they advance in life; it is therefore more consonant to truth to say, that our diffidence in testimony is the result of experience, than that our faith in it has this foundation. Beside, the uniformity of experience in favour of any fact is not a proof against its being reversed in a particular instance. The evidence arising from the single testimony of a man of known veracity, will go farther to establish a belief of its being actually reversed. If his testimony be confirmed by a few others of the same character, we cannot withhold our assent to the truth of it. Now, though the operations of nature are governed by uniform laws, and though we have not the testimony of our senses in favour of any violation of them; still, if in particular instances we have the testimony of thousands of our fellow creatures, and those, too, men of strict integrity, swayed by no motives of ambition or interest, and governed by the principles of common sense, that they were actually witnesses of these violations, the constitution of our nature obliges us to believe them.

"Mr. Hume's reasoning is founded upon too limited a view of the laws and course of nature. If we consider things duly, we shall find that lifeless matter is utterly incapable of obeying any laws, or of being endued with any powers; and, therefore, what is usually called the course of nature, can be nothing else than the arbitrary will and pleasure of God, acting continually upon matter according to certain rules of uniformity, still bearing a relation to contingencies. So that it is as easy for the Supreme Being to alter what men think the course of nature, as to preserve it. Those effects, which are produced on the world regularly and indesinently, and which are usually termed the works of nature, prove the constant providence of the Deity; those, on the contrary, which, upon any extraordinary occasion, are produced in such a manner as it is manifest could not have been either by human power, or by what is called chance, prove undeniably the immediate interposition of the Deity on that especial occasion. God, it must be recollected, is the Governor of the moral as well as of the physical world; and since the moral well being of the universe is of more consequence than its physical order and regularity, it follows obviously, that the laws, conformably with which the material world seems generally to be regulated, are subservient and may occasionally yield to the laws by which the moral world is governed. Although, therefore, a miracle is contrary to the usual course of nature, (and would indeed lose its beneficial effect if it were not so,) it cannot thence be inferred, that it is 'a violation of the laws of nature,' allowing the term to include a regard to moral tendencies. The laws by which a wise and holy God governs the world, cannot (unless he is pleased to reveal them) be learnt in any other way

than from testimony; since, on this supposition, nothing but testimony can bring us acquainted with the whole series of his dispensations; and this kind of knowledge is absolutely necessary previously to our correctly inferring those laws. Testimony, therefore, must be admitted as constituting the principal means of discovering the real laws by which the universe has been regulated; that testimony assures us, that the apparent course of nature has often been interrupted to produce important moral effects; and we must not at random disregard such testimony, because in estimating its credibility we ought to look almost infinitely more at the moral than at the physical circumstances connected with any particular event." (2)

Such evidence as that of miracles, transmitted to distant times by satisfactory testimony, a revelation may then receive. The fitness of this kind of evidence to render that revelation an instant and universal benefit, wherever it comes, is equally apparent; for, as Mr. Locke observes, (Reasonableness of Christianity,) "the bulk of mankind have not leisure nor capacity for demonstration, nor can they carry a train of proofs; but as to the Worker of miracles, all his commands become (2) It would be singular, did we not know the inconsistencies of error, that Mr. Hume himself, as Dr. Campbell shows, gives up his own argument.

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I own," these are his words, "there may possibly be miracles, or violations of the usual course of nature, of such a kind as to admit a proof from human testimony, though perhaps [in this he is modest enough, he avers nothing; perhaps] it will be impossible to find any such in all the records of history." To this declaration he subjoins the following supposition: Suppose all authors, in all languages, agree that from the first of January, 1600, there was a total darkness over the whole earth for eight days; suppose that the tradition of this extraordinary event is still strong and lively among the people; that all travellers who return from foreign countries, bring us accounts of the same traditions, without the least variation or contradiction; it is evident that our present philosophers, instead of doubting of that fact, ought to receive it for certain, and ought to search for the causes whence it might be derived." Could one imagine that the person who had made the above acknowledgment, a person too who is justly allowed by all who are acquainted with his writings, to possess uncommon penetration and philosophical abilities, that this were the same individual who had so short a while before affirmed, that "a miracle," or a violation of the course of nature, "supported by any human testimony, is more properly a subject of derision than of argument."

The objection "that successive testimony diminishes, and that so rapidly as to command no assent after a few centuries at most," deserves not so full a refuta-. tion, since it is evident, that "testimony continues credible so long as it is transmitted with all those circumstances and conditions which first procured it a certain degree of merit among men. Who complains of a decay of evidence in relation to the actions of Alexander, Hannibal, Pompey, or Cesar? We never hear persons wishing they had lived ages earlier, that they might have had better proof that Cyrus was the conqueror of Babylon; that Darius was beaten in several battles by Alexander," &c. (See Dr. O. GREGORY'S Letters on the Christian Revelation, vol. i, p. 196.)

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