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way. And it appears, both from the foregoing account of the moral sense, and from common observation, that this requires much time, care, and cultivation, besides the previous knowledge of God, before it can be a match for the impetuosity of natural desires. We may conclude therefore, that the first men could not attain to that degree of the knowledge of God, and a moral sense, which was necessary for them, without divine inspiration.
There are several particulars in the Mosaic account of the creation, fall, and circumstances of the ancient world, which tally remarkably with the method of reasoning used here. Thus, man is at first placed in a paradise, where there was nothing noxious, and consequently where he would need less miraculous interposition in order to preserve him. He lives upon the fruits of the earth, which went no previous arts of preparing them, and which would ftrike him by their smells, and, after an instance or two, incite him to pluck and taste : whereas animal diet, besides its inconsistency with a state of pure innocence and happiness, requires art and preparation necessarily. There is only one man, and one woman, created, that so the occasions for exerting the social affections may not offer themselves in any great degree, before these affections are generated; but, on the contrary, the affections may grow naturally, as it were, out of the occasions. The nakedness, and want of flame, in our first parents, are concurring evidences of the absence of art, acquired affections, evil, &c. i. e. of a paradisiacal state. In this state they learned to give names to the animal world, perhaps from the automatic and semivoluntary exertions of the organs of speech, which the sight of the creatures, or the sound of their several cries, would excite; having probably a fufa ficient stock of language for communication with God, and for con. versing with each other about their daily food, and other necessary things, given them by immediate instinct or inspiration. And thus they would be initiated, by naming the animals, into the practice of inventing, learning, and applying words. For the same reasons we may suppose, that they learned many other things, and particularly the habit of learning, during their abode in paradise. Nay, it may perhaps be, that this growth of acquired knowledge, with the plea. fantness of it, might put them upon learning evil as well as good, and excite the forbidden curiosity. After the fall, we find God providing them with clothes ; Cain banished from the presence of God, an argument that others were permitted to have recourse to this presence to ask counsel, &c. bis pofterity inventing arts for themselves; Enoch and Noah walking with God before the flood, and Abraham afterwards; all the antediluvian patriarchs long-lived, the poftdiluvian long-lived also for some generations; amongit other reafons, that they might instruct pofterity in religious and other important truths; and the divine interpositions continuing through the whole antediluvian world, and gradually withdrawn in the poiidiluyian. And it seems to me, to say the least, a very difficult thing for any man, even at this day, to invent a more probable account of the first peopling of this earth, than that which Mofes has given us.
PROP. XIII. THE OBJECTION MADE AGAINST THE MIRACLES RECORDED IN THE
SCRIPTURES, FROM THEIR BEING CONTRARY TO THE COURSE OF NATURE, IS OF LITTLE OR NO FORCE.
IT is alledged here by the objectors, that the course of nature is fixed and immutable; and that this is evinced by the concurrent testimony of all mankind in all ages, and consequently that the testimony of a few persons, who affirm the contrary, cannot be admitted; but is, ipfo facto, invalidated by its opposing general, or even universal experience. Now, to this I answer,
First, that we do not, by admitting the testimony of mankind concerning the descent of heavy bodies upon the surface of our earth, the common effects of heat and cold, &c. suppose that this invalidates the testimony of those who declare they have met with contrary appearances in certain cases. Each party testifies what they have seen; and why may not the evidence of both be true? It does not follow, because a thing has happened a thousand, or ten thousand times, that it never has failed, nor even can fail. Nothing is more common or constant than the effect of gravity in making all bodies upon the surface of our earth tend to its centre ; yet the rare extraordinary influences of magnetism and electricity can suspend this tendency. Now, before magnetism and electricity were discovered, and verified by a variety of concurrent facts, there would have been as much reason to disallow the evidence of their particular effects attested by eye-witnesses, as there is now to disallow the particular miracles recorded in the Scriptures ; and yet we see, that such a distallowance would have been a hafty conclusion, would have been quite contrary to the true nature of things. And, in fact, whatever may be the case of a few persons, and particularly of those who think that they have an interest in disproving Revealed Religion, the generality of mankind, learned and unlearned, philosophical and vulgar, in all ages, have had no such disposition to reject a thing well attested by witnefles of credit, because it was contrary to the general, or even universal, tenor of former obfervations. Now it is evident to considering persons, efpecially if they reflect upon the foregoing history of association, that the difpofitions to assent and diffent are generated in a human mind from the sum total of the influences, which particular observations have had upon it. It follows, therefore, since the bulk of mankind, of all ranks and orders, have been disposed to receive facts the most surprising, and contrary to the general tenor, upon their being attested in a certain limited degree, that extraordinary facts are not, in a certain way of confidering the thing, out of the tenor of nature, but agreeable to it; that here therefore, as well as in common facts, the Itress is to be laid upon the credibility of the witnefses; and that to do otherwise is an argument either of some great fingularity of mind, or of an undue biass.
Secondly, if it should be alledged by the objectors that they do not mean, by the course of nature, that tenor of common obfervations
which occurred to the first rude ages of the world, or even that tenor which is usually called so at present; but those more general laws of matter and inotion, to which all the various phænomena of the world, even those which are apparently most contrary to one another, may be reduced; and that it is probable, that universal experience would concur to support the true laws of nature of this kind, were mankind fufficiently industrious and accurate in bringing together the facts, and drawing the conclusions from them; in which case, any deviations from the tenor of nature, thus supported and explained, would be far more improbable, than according to the supposition of the foregoing paragraph; we answer, that this objection is a mere conjecture. Since we do not yet know what these true laws of matter and motion are, we cannot presume to say whether all phænomena are reducible to them, or not. Modern philosophers have indeed made great advances in natural knowledge; however, we are still in our infant state, in respect of it, as much as former ages, if the whole of things be taken into consideration. And this objection allows and supposes iť to be so. Since therefore it was the proper method for former ages, in order to make advances in real knowledge, to abide by the award of credible testimonies, however contrary these testimonies might appear to their then notions and analogies, so this is also the proper method for us. · If indeed we put the course of nature for that series of events which follow each other in the order of cause and effect by the divine appointment, this would be an accurate and philosophical way of 1peaking ; but then we must at once acknowledge, that we are so ignorant of what may be the divine purposes and appointments, of secret causes, and of the corresponding variety of events, that we can only appeal to the facts, to credible relations of what actually has been, in order to know what is agreeable to the course of nature, thus explained. The Scripture miracles may not be at all contrary to its fixedness and immutability. Nor can any objection lie against them, if we consider things in this light, from the present notions of philosophical men, i. e. from the course of nature, understood in a popular senfe; since this falls so short of the true course of nature as here defined, i. e. as admitting the instrumentality of beings superior to us, men divinely inspired, good angels, evil spirits, and many other influences, of which our present philosophy can take no cognizance.
With respect to moral analogy, the case is somewhat different. If the moral attributes of God, and the general rules of his providence, be supposed to be established upon a sure footing, then a series of events, which should be contrary to these, would have a strong presumption against them. And yet it becomes us to be very diffident here also. God is infinite, and we finite : we may therefore, from feeing only a small portion, judge what we see to be different from what it is. However, Revealed Religion has no occasion in general for any such apology. Natural and Revealed Religion, the word and works of God, are in all principal things most wonderfully analogous; as has been sufficiently shewn by the advocates for Re
N vealed Religion, and most especially by Bishop Butler in his Analogy.
As far therefore as moral analogy carries weight, there is positive eviwidence for the Scripture miracles. And our comprehension of natural
analogy is so imperfect as scarce to afford any presumption against
them; but leaves the evidence in their favour, of nearly the same o ftrength as it would have had for other facts. . .
Thirdly, Let it be observed, that the evidences for the Scripture miracles are so numerous, and in other respects so strong, as to be nearly equal to any evidences that can be brought for the most common facts. For it is very manifest, as has been observed before, that a great number of credible evidences make a sum total, that is equal to unity, or absolute certainty, as this has been considered in the foregoing part of this work, nearer than by any perceptible difference: and the greatest number can never arrive quite to unity. The evidence therefore for common facts cannot exceed that for the Scripture miracles by more than an imperceptible difference, if we estimate evidences according to the truest and most accurate manner. Hence the nearly equal evidences for each must establish each in nearly an equal degree, unless we suppose either fome such inconsistency between them, as that, common facts being allowed, the Scripture miracles must be absolutely rejected, or that there is some evidence against the Scripture miracles, which may be put in competition with that for them; neither of which things can be said with any colour of reafon.
Fourthly, This whole matter may be put in another, and perhaps a more natural, as well as a more philosophical lighe; and that especially if the foregoing account of the mind, be allowed. Allociation, i, e. analogy, perfect and imperfect, is the only foundation upon which we in fact do, or can, or ought to assent; and consequently a dissonance from analogy, or a repugnancy thereto, is a necessary foundation for dissent. Now, it happens sometimes, that the fame thing is supported and impugned by different analogies ; or, if we put repugnance to analogy as equivalent to miracle,' that both a fact and its non-existence imply a miracle ; or, since this cannot be, that that side alone which is repugnant to the most, and the most perfect analogies, is miraculous, and therefore incredible. Let us weigh the Scripture miracles in this scale. Now the progress of the human mind, as may be seen by all the inquiries into it, and particularly by the history of association, is a thing of a determinate nature; a man's thoughts, words, and actions, are all generated by fomething previous; there is an established course for these things, an analogy, of which every man is a judge from what he feels in himself, and sees in others; and to suppole any number of men, in determinate circumstances, to vary from this general tenor of human nature in like circumstances, is a miracle, and may be made a miracle of any magnitude, i. e. incredible to any degree, by increasing the number and magnitude of the deviations. It is therefore a miracle in the human mind, as great as any can be conceived in the human body, to suppose that infinite multitudcs of Christians, Jews, and
miraclia and New.cles, as is athe Scripture miatio
Heathens, in the primitive times, should have borne such unquertionable testimony, some expressly, others by indirect circumstances, as history informs us they did, to the miracles said to be performed by Christ and his apostles, upon the human body, unless they were really performed. In like manner, the reception which the miracles recorded in the Old Testament met with, is a miracle, unless those miracles were true. Thus also the very existence of the books of the Old and New Testaments, of the Jewish and Christian Religions, &c. &c. are miracles, as is abundantly shewn by the advocates for Chriftianity, unless we allow the Scripture miracles. Here then a man must either deny an analogy and association, and become an absolute sceptic, or acknowledge that very strong analogies may fometimes be violated ; i. e. he must have recourse to something miraculous, to something supernatural, according to his narrow views. The next question then will be, which of the two opposite miracles will agree best with all his other notions ; whether it be more analogous to the nature of God, providence, the allowed history of the world, the known progress of man in this life, &c. &c. to suppose that God imparted to certain select persons, of eminent piety, the power of working miracles; or to suppose that he confounded the understandings, affections, and whole train of associations, of entire nations, so as that men who, in all other things, seem to have been conducted in a manner like all other men, should, in respect of the history of Christ, the Prophets, and Apostles, act in a manner repugnant to all our ideas and experiences. Now, as this last fup, position cannot be maintained at all upon the footing of Deism, so it would be but just as probable as the first, even though the objector should deny the possibility of the being of a God; for the least prefumption that there may be a being of immense or infinite power, knowledge, and goodness, immediately turns the scale in favour of the first fuppofition,
Fifthly, It is to be considered, that the evidences for the Scripture miracles are many, and most of them independent upon one another; whereas the dispensation itself is a connected thing, and the miracles remarkably related to each other. If therefore only so much as one miracle could be proved to have been really wrought in confirmation of the Jewish or Christian revelations, there would be less objection
to the supposition of a second; and, if this be proved, still less to · that of a third, &c, till at last the reluctance to receive them would quite vanish (which indeed appears to have been the case in the latter part of the primitive times, when the incontestable evidences for the Christian miracles had been so much examined and confidered, as quite to overcome this reluctance; and it seems difficult to account for the credulity in receiving false miracles which then appeared, but upon supposition that many true ones 'had been wrought). But it is not fo with the evidences. The greatest part of these have so little dependence on the rest, as may be seen even from this chapter, that they must be set aside separately by the objector. Here it ought to be added, that the objectors have scarce