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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. ing 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 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 in Mr Hume's conclusion 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 must be 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, burnt, 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 sceptic in the world, who would not believe them, or who would defend such incredulity.
Instances of spurious miracles supported by strong apparent testimony, undoubtedly demand examination ; Mr Hume has endeavoured to fortify his argument by some examples of this kind. I hope in a proper place to show that none of them reach the strength or circumstances of the Christian evidence. In these, however, consists the weight of his objection; in the principle itself, I am persuaded, there is none.
OF THE DIRECT HISTORICAL EVIDENCE
OF CHRISTIANITY, AND WHEREIN IT IS
ALLEGED FOR OTHER MIRACLES.
The two propositions which I shall endeavour to establish are these:
I. That there is satisfactory evidence that many, professing to be original witnesses of the Christian miracles, passed their lives in labours, dangers, and sufferings, voluntarily undergone in attestation of the accounts which they delivered, and solely in consequence of their belief of those accounts; and that they also submitted, from the same motives, to new rules of conduct.
II. That there is not satisfactory evidence, that persons professing to be original witnesses of other miracles, in their nature as certain as these are, have ever acted in the same manner, in attestation of the accounts which they delivered, and properly in consequence of their belief of those accounts.