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either probable or improbable, of the two following propositions being true: namely, first, that a future ftate of existence should be destined by God for his human creation; and, fecondly, that, being fo deftined, he fhould acquaint them with it. It is not neceffary for our purpose that these propofitions be capable of proof, or even that, by arguments drawn from the light of nature, they can be made out to be probable. It is enough that we are able to say concerning. them, that they are not so violently improbable, fo contradictory to what we already believe of the Divine power and character, that either the propofitions themselves, or facts strictly connected with the propofitions (and therefore no farther improbable than they are improbable), ought to be rejected at first fight, and to be rejected by whatever strength or complication of evidence they be attefted.

This is the prejudication we would resist. For to this length does a modern objection to miracles go, viz. that no human testiB 3


mony can in any cafe render them credible. I think the reflection above stated, that, if there be a revelation, there must be miracles; and that, under the circumftances in which the human species are placed, a revelation is not improbable, or not improbable in any great degree, to be a fair answer to the whole objection.

But fince it is an objection which stands in the very threshold of our argument, and, if admitted, is a bar to every proof, and to all future reasoning upon the fubject, it may be neceffary, before we proceed farther, to examine the principle upon which it profeffes to be founded: which principle is concifely this, that it is contrary to experience that a miracle fhould be true, but not contrary to experience that teftimony should be falfe.

Now there appears a fmall ambiguity in the term "experience," and in the phrases contrary to experience," or "contradicting experience," which it may be neceffary


to remove in the first place. Strialy fpcak-
ing, the narrative of a fact is then only con-
trary to experience, when the fact is related
to have exifted at a time and place, at which
time and place we being prefent did not per-
ceive it to exift; as if it fhould be afferted,
that in a particular room, and at a particu-
lar hour of a certain day, a man was raifed
from the dead, in which room, and at the
time specified, we being prefent and looking
on perceived no fuch event to have taken
place. Here the affertion is contrary to ex-
perience properly fo called; and this is a
contrariety which no evidence can furmount.
It matters nothing, whether the fact be of a
miraculous nature or not. But although
this be the experience, and the contrariety,
which Archbishop Tillotfon alledged in the
quotation with which Mr. Hume opens his
effay, it is certainly not that experience, nor
that contrariety, which Mr. Hume himself
intended to object. And, short of this, I
know no intelligible fignification which can
be affixed to the term 66
contrary to experi-
ence," but one, viz. that of not having our-

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felves experienced any thing similar to the thing related, or fuch things not being generally experienced by others. I say "not generally;" for to ftate concerning the fact in queftion, that no fuch thing was ever experienced, or that universal experience is against it, is to affume the fubject of the controverfy.

Now the improbability which arifes from the want (for this properly is a want, not a contradiction) of experience, is only equal to the probability there is, that, if the thing were true, we should experience things fimilar to it, or that fuch things would be generally experienced. Suppofe it then to be true that miracles were wrought upon the first promulgation of Christianity, when nothing but miracles could decide its authority, is it certain that fuch miracles would be repeated fo often, and in fo many places, as to become objects of general experience? Is it a probability approaching to certainty? Is it a probability of any great strength or force? Is it fuch as no evidence can encounter?

counter? And yet this probability is the exac converse, and therefore the exact meafure of the improbability which arises from the want of experience, and which Mr. Hume represents as invincible by human testimony.

It is not like alledging a new law of nature, or a new experiment in natural philofophy, because, when these are related, it is expected that, under the fame circumstances, the fame effect will follow universally; and in proportion as this expectation is justly entertained, the want of a corresponding experience negatives the hiftory. But to expect concerning a miracle that it should fucceed upon repetition, is to expect that which would make it cease to be a miracle, which is contrary to its nature as fuch, and would totally deftroy the use and purpose for which it was wrought.

The force of experience as an objection to miracles is founded in the prefumption, either that the course of nature is invariable,



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