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CONTENTS OF SERMONS, &c.
I HERE offer to the Public a new and improved edition of my Dissertation on Miracles, first printed in the year 1762, together with some other Tracts related to it, as supplying additional evidences of the truth of our Religion, displaying its amiable spirit, and manifesting its beneficial tendency, in respect, not only of individuals, but of communities and states.
The first of these is a Sermon on the Spirit of the Gospel, preached before the Synod of Aberdeen in 1771. The second, á Sermon preached before the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge in 1777; the scope of which is to show, that the success of the first publishers of the gospel is a proof of its truth. The third is a Sermon preached at the Assizes at Aberdeen, on the happy
influence of Religion on Civil Society. The fourth also is a Sermon, on the Duty of Allegiance, preached at Aberdeen in 1776, on the Fast-day, on account of the Rebellion in America; and the fifth, an Address to the People of Scotland, on the alarms that had been raised in regard to Popery:
On the Dissertation itself I have made a few amendments, not very material I acknowledge, yet of some use for obviating objections and preventing mistakes. It has been observed by several, that Mr Hume has, since the Dissertation first appeared in, print, once and again republished the Essay to which it was intended as an answer; not only without taking the smallest notice that any thing reasonable, or even specious, had been urged in opposition to his doctrine, but without making any alteration of any consequence on what he had advanced. I know, but one exception, if it shall be thought of moment enough to be called an exception, from this remark. What, in former editions, had been thus expressed, as, quoted in the Dissertation", “Upon the whole, it appears that no “ testimony for any kind of miracle can ever possibly amount to a probability, much less to a proof;" is made, in the octavo edition published in 1767, “ Upon the whole, it appears that no tes "timony for
* Part I. Sect. 1.
kind of miracle has ever amounted " .to-a probability, much less to a proof.” By this more moderate declaration, Mr Hume avoids the contradiction there was in the sentence to the concession he had subjoined in a note. But no correction is given to many other sentences which needed correction, not less glaringly than this. For this conduct it is not easy to account, unless on the hypothesis, that he had never read the Dissertation, or that he had so low an opinion of it, as not to think it contained any thing which either required an answer, or deserved his notice. What follows will probably satisfy the reader that neither of these suppositions was the fact. That Mr Hume had read this attempt to confute his argument, and did not think contemptuously of it, I have his own authority to affirm; for soon after its publication, I was honoured with a letter from him, one great purpose of which was to assign his reasons for not intending ai.reply. What: hei writes on this subject shews sufficiently, though incidentally, that contempt was not the passion which the perusal of this Tract had