Gambar halaman

and pleasure—cures which no other person has been able to perform by any means whatever, are instances of the same nature. Of the same nature also, are those cases in which he raised the dead to life : viz. the daughter of Jairus, the son of the widow of Nain, and Lazarus. That these persons wcro all really dead, there is not the least room to doubt; that they were all raised to life is certain.

I shall only add two instances more- one in which he fed four, and the other in which he fed five thousand men, besides women and children, with a few loaves of barley-bread and a few little fishes. In this miracle creating power was immediately exerted, with a degree of evidence which nothing could resist, or rationally question.

That all these were miracles, according to the definition given above, must I think be acknowledged without hesitation. Arguments to prove this point, therefore, would be superfluous.

That these facts really took place, and that the narration which conveys the knowledge of them to us is true, has been so often, so clearly, and so unanswerably proved, that to attempt to argue this point here would seem a supererogatory labour. All of you have, or easily can have, access to a numerous train of books containing this proof, elucidated with high advantage. I shall, therefore, consider this subject in a manner extremely summary, and calculated to exhibit little more than a mere synopsis of evidence pertaining to the subject. For this end I observe,

1. The facts were of such a nature as to be obvious, in the plainest manner, to the senses and understanding of all men possessed of common sense.

2. The narrators were eye and ear-witnesses of them.

3. They were performed in the most public manner ; in the presence of multitudes, the greater part of whom were opposers of Christ.

4. They were generally believed ; so generally, as to induce, customarily, the friends of the sick and distressed wherever Christ came to apply to him, with absolute confidence in his ability to relieve them : a fact which proves the universal conviction of the Jewish people at that time, that Christ certainly and continually wrought miracles. But this conviction could not have existed to any considerable extent, unless he had actually wrought miracles.

5. The apostles had no possible interest to deceive their fellowmen. They neither gained, could gain, nor attempted to gain, any advantage in the present world by publishing this story. On the contrary, they suffered through life the loss of all things while declaring it, and the religion of which it was the foundation, to mankind. In the future world, as Jews, believing the Old Testament to be the word of God, they could expect nothing but perdition, as the reward of their useless imposture.

6. They were men whose integrity has not only been unimpeached, but is singular. This is evinced by the fact, that innumerable multitudes of their countrymen, and of many other nations, embraced the religion which they taught ; committed to their guidance their souls, and their everlasting interests ; hazarded and yielded all that they held dear in this world for the sake of this religion ; and still esteemed these very men, through whose instrumentality they had been brought into these distresses, the very best of mankind. It is also proved by the farther fact, that in the ages immediately succeeding, as well as in those which have followed, their character has in this respect stood higher than that of any other men whatever.

7. Their narratives wear more marks of veracity than any other which the world can furnish.

8. The existence of these miracles is acknowledged by Jews and heathen, as well as Christians, and was wholly uncontradicted by either for fifteen hundred years.

. 9. These narratives were the genuine productions of those to whom they are ascribed. That they were written by these persons is unanswerably proved by the testimony of their contemporaries, and very early followers. That they have come down to us uncorrupted and unmutilated is certain, from the age and coincidence of numerous Manuscripts, from the versions early made of them into various languages, from the almost innumerable quotations from them found in other books still extant, from the joint consent of orthodox Christians and heretics, from the impossibility of corrupting them with success, because of the frequency and constancy with which they


were read in public and in private, because of the numerous copies very early difused throughout all Christian countries, because of the profound religious veneration with which they were regarded, and because of the eagle-eyed watchfulness with which contending sects guarded every passage which furnished any inducement to corruption or mutilation.

No other history can boast of these, or one half of these powerful proofs of its genuineness and authenticity. If, then, we do not admit these narratives to be true, we must bid a final farewell to the admission of all historical testimony.

Mr. Hume has written an Essay to disprove the existence of the miracles recorded in the Gospel. In the introduction to this Essay he says, " be flatters himself he has discovered an argument which will prove an everlasting check to all kinds of superstitious delusion.” When this Essay first appeared, it was received with universal triumph by Infidels, and with no small degree of alarm by timorons Christians. Since that time, however, it has been repeatedly answered; it was most triumphantly refuted by Dr. Campbell, and completely exposed as a mere mass of sophistry, ingenious indeed, but shamefully disingenuous, and utterly destitute of solid argument, and real evidence.

After such ample refutation, it would be a useless employment for me to enter upon a formal examination of the scheme contained in this Essay. I shall, therefore, dismiss it with a few observations.

The great doctrine of Mr. Hume is this : “ That according to the experience of man, all things uniformly exist agreeably to the laws of nature; that every instance of our experience is not only an evidence that the thing experienced exists in the manner which we perceive, but that all the following events of the same kind will also exist in the same manner." This evidence he considers, also, as increased by every succeeding instance of the same experience. According to his scheme, therefore, the evidence that any thing which we perceive by our senses now exists, is made up of the present testimony of our senses, united with all former testimonies of the same nature to facts of the same kind. The existence of any fact, therefore, instead of being completely proved, is only partially proved by the present testimony of our senses to its existence. According to this scheme, therefore, we who are


present in this bouse know that ourselves and others are present, partly by seeing each other present at this time, and partly by remeinbering that we have been present beretofore. Of course, the first time we were thus present we had not the same assurance of this fact, as the second time. This assurance became still greater the third time; greater still the fourth; and thus has gone on accumulating strength in every succeeding instance. Every person, therefore, who has been here one hundred times, has an hundred times the evidence that he is now here, which he had when he was here the first time that he was then present; and I, who during twenty-four years have been present many thousand times, know that I am now here with a thousand degrees of evidence more than is possessed concerning the like fact by any other person who is present. A scheme of reasoning which conducts to such a manifest and gross absurdity must, one would think, have been seen to be false by a man much less sagacious than Mr. Hume.

Every man of common sense knows, and cannot avoid knowing even at a glance, that all the evidence which we possess, or can possess, of the existence of any fact, is furnished by the present testimony of our senses to that fact. Of course, every such man knows equally well, that no testimony

of the senses to any preceding fact can affect a present fact in any manner whatever. The person who is now present in this house for the first time, bas all the evidence that he is here, which is possessed by him who has been here a thousand times before. The evidence of the senses to any single fact is all the evidence of which that fact is ever capable. Nor can it be increased, even in the minutest degree, by the same evidence repeated concerning similar facts eristing afterwards, in any supposable number of instances. He who has crossed a ferry safely, never thought of crossing it a second time in order to know whether he was safe or not.

The influence which experience is intended by Mr. Hume to have on our belief of the existence of future events, is of the same nature. Past experience is, by his scheme, the great criterion for determining on all that which is to come. An event which has already been witnessed a thousand times is, in his view, to be expected again with a confidence exactly proportioned to this number. If an event, on the contrary,

Hume's purpose

in a very

has not taken place, it is not to be at all expected; but regarded as incredible. Thus, if a ferry-boat has crossed the ferry a thousand times without sinking, the probability is, as one thousand to nothing, that it will never sink hereafter.

The analogy here referred to is founded on the general maxim, that “ the same causes produce in the same circumstances the same effects.” The instances in which causes and circumstances apparently the same, are really such, are so few, that, in the actual state of things, it can answer Mr.

small number of cases only. Almost always the causes themselves, or the circumstances in which they operate, are in this mutable world so continually changed, that analogies founded on this maxim are rarely exact, and are, therefore, rarely safe rules for forming conclusions. All men are so sensible of this truth, that they easily and uniformly admit testimony as a sufficient proof of the fallacy of such conclusions. The smallest credible testimony will induce any man to believe that a ferry-boat has sunk, although it may before have crossed safely and regularly for many years. Much more do we always admit beforehand, that almost all events may come to pass, contrary in their nature and appearance to those which have already happened.

Mr. Hume exhibits to me a full conviction in his own mind that his scheme was unsound, by the recourse which he was obliged to have to the disingenuous arts of controversy. Thus he at first uses the word experience, which is all-important to this controversy, to denote, what alone it truly denotes, the actual evidence of a man's own senses. In the progress of his Essay, he soon diverts it into a sense entirely different; and means by it the experience of all who have preceded us. But of their experience we know ' nothing, except by testimony ; the very thing to which Mr. Hume professedly opposes

what he calls experience. On this testimony, styled by him experience, be founds an argument upon which he places great reliance, to overthrow the evidence of the same testimony. Thus be declares miracles to be contrary to all experience, meaning by it the experience of all mankind, when he knew that a part of mankind had testified that they in their own experience had been witnesses of miracles ; for this testimony was the very thing against which he wrote his Essay.

Miracles he defines to be “ violations and transgressions of

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »