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or that, if it be ever varied, variations will be frequent and general. Has the neceffity of this alternative been demonftrated? Permit us to call the courfe of nature the agency of an intelligent Being, and is there any good reafon for judging this ftate of the cafe to be probable? Ought we not rather to expect, that fuch a Being, upon occafions of peculiar importance, may interrupt the order which he had appointed, yet, that such occafions fhould return feldom; that these interruptions confequently fhould be confined to the experience of a few; that the want of it, therefore, in many, fhould be matter neither of furprise nor objection?

But as a continuation of the argument from experience it is faid, that, when we advance accounts of miracles, we affign effects without caufes, or we attribute effects to causes inadequate to the purpose, or to caufes 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 afcribe the


cure of the palfy to a touch, of blindness to the anointing of the eyes with clay, or the raising of the dead to a word, we lay our felves open to this imputation; we reply, that we afcribe no fuch effects to fuch causes. We perceive no virtue or energy in thefe things more than in other things of the fame kind. They are merely figns to connect the miracle with its end. The effect we afcribe fimply to the volition of the Deity; of whofe existence and power, not to fay of whose prefence and agency, we have previous and independent proof. We have therefore all we feck for in the works of rational agents, a fufficient power and an adequate motive. In a word, once believe that there is a God, and miracles are not incredible.

Mr. Hume ftates the cafe of miracles to be a conteft of oppofite improbabilities, that is to say, a question whether it be more improbable that the miracle fhould be true, or the teftimony false; and this I think a fair account of the controverfy. But herein I remark a want of argumentative juftice, that,



in describing the improbability of miracles, he fuppreffes all thofe circumftances of extenuation, which refult from our knowledge of the existence, power, and difpofition of the Deity, his concern in the creation, the end answered by the miracle, the importance of that end, and its fubferviency to the plan pursued in the work of nature. As Mr. Hume has reprefented the question, miracles are alike incredible to him who is previously assured of the conftant agency a divine Being, and to him who believes that no fuch being exists in the universe. They are equally incredible, whether related to have been wrought upon occafions the most deferving, and for purposes the most beneficial, or for no affignable end whatever, or for an end confeffedly trifling or pernicious. This furely cannot be a correct statement. In adjusting alfo the other fide of the balance, the ftrength and weight of teftimony, this author has provided an answer to every poffible accumulation of historical proof by telling us, that we are not obliged to explain how the story or the evidence arofe.

arofe. Now I think that we are obliged; not, perhaps, to fhew by pofitive 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 folves the phenomenon. If we reject this folution, we ought to have fome other to reft in; and none even by our adverfaries can be admitted, which is not confiftent 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


But the short confideration which, independently of every other, convinces me that there is no folid 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 fimple cafe ; and, if it produce a false result, he is fure that there must be fome mistake in the demonftration. Now to proceed in this way with what may be called Mr. Hume's

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Hume's theorem. If twelve men, whose probity and good fenfe I had long known, fhould seriously and circumftantially relate to me an account of a miracle wrought before their eyes, and in which it was impoffible that they should be deceived; if the governor of the country, hearing a rumour of this account, fhould call thefe men into his prefence, and offer them a fhort proposal, either to confefs the imposture, or submit to be tied up to a gibbet; if they should refuse with one voice to acknowledge that there existed any falfehood or impofture in the cafe; if this threat were communicated to them separately, yet with no different effect; if it was at laft executed; if I myfelf faw them, one after another, confenting to be racked, burnt, or strangled, rather than give up the truth of their account; ftill, if Mr. Hume's rule be my guide, I am not to believe them. Now, I undertake to fay that there exifts not a fceptic in the world who would not believe them; or who would defend fuch incre- · dulity.


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