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the laws of nature.” These words being regularly used to denote oppositions of moral beings to moral laws, and involving naturally the idea of turpitude, or wrong, were, I presume, used to attach to miracles an idea of some variation from that perfect moral conduct which we attribute to God. “ Miracles," he also says, " are contrary to our experience.' ,

” In this declaration he is unhappy. They may be truly said to be aside from our experience; but are in no sense contrary to it. All that can be said is, that we have not witnessed miracles. No man can say, that he has experienced any thing contrary to them.

Having made these observations, I proceed to examine Mr. Hume's capital doctrine, that testimony cannot evince the reality of a miracle. His argument is this: The evidence that any thing exists in any given case, is exactly proportioned to the number of instances in which it is known to have happened before. If then an event have happened a thousand times, and the contrary event should afterwards happen once; then there are one thousand degrees of evidence against the existence of this contrary event, and but one in its favour. We are, therefore, compelled, by a balance of nine hundred and ninety-nine degrees of evidence against nothing to believe that this event has not taken place. We are here, as Mr. Hume teaches, to weigh experience against experience, and to be governed in our decision by the preponderating weight. In this manner he determines that our experience has in the number of instances furnished such a vast preponderation of evidence against the existence of a miracle, that if we were to witness it, we could not rationally believe it to have existed, until it had taken place as many times, and some more, than what he calls the contrary event. ample: if we have known a thousand deceased persons to have been buried, and none of them to have been raised from the grave; we cannot rationally believe a man to have been raised from the grave, although we saw him rise, conversed with him, and lived with him ever so many years afterwards. Before we begin to believe that a person was raised from the dead, we must have seen, at least, one more person thus raised than the whole number who have been buricd, and have not risen. Then, and not till then, we shall become possessed of one degree of evidence, that a person has been raised from the dead:

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the whole influence of all the preceding resurrections being to diminish, successively, the previously existing evidence against the fact, that a person has been raised from the dead. Our own experience of the existence of a miracle is thus not to be admitted as a proof of its oxistence. But as testimony is founded on experience, and is evidence of a less certain pature, it is clear, that what experience cannot prove can never be evinced by testimony.

This reasoning has a grave and specious appearance, but is plainly destitute of all solidity. Every man knows by his own experience, that the repetition of an event contributes nothing to the proof or certainty of its existence. The proof of tho existence of any event lies wholly in the testimony of our

When the event is, as we customarily say, repeated, that is, when another similiar event takes place, our senses in the same manner prove to us the existence of this event. But the evidence which they give us of the second has no retrospective influence on the first, as the evidence given of the first has no influence on the second. In each instance the evidence is complete ; nor can it be affected by any thing which may precede it, or succeed it. What is once seen and known, is as perfectly seen and known as it can be, and in the only manner in which it can be ever seen and known. If we were to see a man raised from the grave, we should know that he was thus raised, as perfectly as it could be known by us; nor would it make the least difference in the evidence or certainly of this fact, whether thousands, or none, were raised afterwards.

In perfect accordance with these observations has been the conduct of mankind in every age and country. No tribunal of justice ever asked the question, whether a crime had been twice committed, in order to determine with the more certainty and better evidence, that it had been committed once. No evidence of this nature before any such tribunal was ever adduced, or considered as proper to be addnced, to evince the existence of any fact, or to disprove its existence. No individual ever thought of recurring to the testimony of his senses on a former occasion, to strengthen their evidence on a present occasion.

The man born blind (to apply this scheme directly to miracles) could not possibly feel the necessity or advantugr of in


quiring whether he had been restored to sight before, in or. der to determine that he had received it from the hands of Christ; or of asking the question, whether he saw at any time before, to prove that he saw now. The leper who acquired his health by the command of Christ, was as perfectly conscious of his restoration, as if he had been restored on twenty former occasions. All around him also, when they saw the scales fall off with which he had been incrusted, and the bloom of health return; when they beheld his activity renewed, and all the proofs of soundness exhibited to their eyes, perceived the cure as perfectly, as if they had been witnesses of one hundred preceding cures of the same nature.

What is true of these is equally true of all similar cases. Experience, therefore, is capable of completely proving the existence of a miracle.

What we experience we can declare, and declare exactly as it has happened. Were this always done, testimony would have exactly the same strength of evidence which experience is admitted to possess. It is not, however, always done. Errors, both intentional and unintentional, and those very numerous, accompany the declarations of men. Still the weight of testimony is very great ; so great, that the conduct of almost all the important concerns of mankind is regulated entirely, as well as rationally, by the evidence which it contains. Should twelve men, known and proved to possess the uniform character of unimpeachable veracity, declare to one of us, independently (no one of them being acquainted with the fact that any other had made the same declaration) that they had seen in the midst of a public assembly a leper cleansed, and the white, loathsome crust of the leprosy fall off, and the bloom and vigour of health return at the command of a person publicly believed to have wrought hundreds of such miracles, and to be distinguished from all men by unexampled wisdom and holiness, every one of us would believe the testimony to be true. Especially should we receive their testimony, if we saw these very men endued with new and wonderful wisdoin and holiness, professedly derived from the same person ; forsaking a religion for which they had felt a bigoted attachment, embracing and teaching a religion wholly new; and in confirmation of this new religion professedly taught by God himself, working many miracles, forsaking all earthly enjoyments, voluntarily

undergoing all earthly distresses, and finally yielding their lives to a violent death. A miracle, therefore, can be proved by testimony.

I have already pursued this subject farther than I intended in this Discourse. Some other considerations relative to it I shall probably mention hereafter. At the present time I will only remark farther, that Mr. Hume confidently but erroneously supposes a presumption to lie strongly against the existence of miracles. The presumption is wholly in favour of their existence. We know that innumerable miracles have taken place. The creation of the world is one immense complication of miraculous works, and the first beings of every sort were miraculous existences. As miracles were wrought here, so the analogy of the divine works, as well as the uniformity of the divine character, irresistibly compels us to believe that they will be wrought, wherever a sufficient occasion is presented. The illumination and reformation of mankind is a canse of this nature, existing in the highest degree. That God should work miracles to prove the truth and spread the influence of Christianity is, therefore, with the highest reason to be expected, especially as miracles are the most proper as well as most forcible of all proofs that a religion is derived from him.


III. I shall now attempt to point out the importance of miracles.

1. The importance of the miracles of Christ is manifest in the immediate benefit of those for whom they were wrought.

All the miracles of Christ were glorious acts of beneficence. In his own words, The blind received their sight, and the lame walked ; the lepers were cleansed, and the deaf heard ; the dead were raised up, and the poor had the Gospel preached to them.' That acts of this general nature were of high importance to those for whom they were done; and that, multiplied as we are told they were, particularly by St. Jobn, they constituted a mass of beneficence incalculably interesting to the age and country in which they existed, will not admit of a doubt.

2. The miracles of Christ were of great importance to his character.

They were important, first, as proofs of power. Christ, for

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the wisest and best reasons, appeared as the son of a carpenter, and lived alway in a state of general humiliation. But it was necessary also that his character, even in this world, should be distinguished by personal greatness. The distinction nothing could so effectually produce, as the power of controlling in this manner the laws of nature, and suspending or counteracting in this manner the agency by which the affairs of this world are carried on. As Christ wrought miracles in his own name, he was thus proved to possess this power in himself, as an inherent energy. But how superior is this power to all that can be boasted by the greatest men who have ever lived ! What conqueror would not cheerfully barter all the power in which he glories, for the control of wounds and diseases, of winds and waves, of life and death? This power exhibited Christ in the midst of all his humiliation as greater than any and than all the children of Adam, and surrounded his character with a splendour becoming his mission. How important, how necessary, this greatness was to Christ, as the Mediator between God and man, I need not illustrate.

3. The miracles of Christ were necessary as proofs of his benevolence.

Benevolence is proved by action. But no actions were ever equally proofs of benevolence with the miraculous actions of Christ, except his condescension, atonement, and intercession. It would not have been possible for Christ in any other manner to exhibit the same character with the same strength. No actions could have been equally beneficent. The good done was the most necessary and the most useful to those for whom it was done. Those for whom it was done were persons to whom it is usually least done, who most need it, to whom it is of the highest consequence, and who, therefore, as objects of Christ's beneficence, illustrate more clearly than any others could do this excellence of his character. At the same time, it was beneficence accomplished by a person possessed of stupendous power and greatness, manifested in the very communication of the good. Those who possess great power very rarely manifest, and therefore are justly believed very rarely to possess, an eminent degree of good will. Intoxicated with their greatness, they are generally employed in displaying it to mankind, and in thus engrossing admiration and applause. From such persons Christ is gloriously distinguished, by cmploying his

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