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BISHOP BUTLER's Analogy and Sermons have long been established text books at all our Universities, and in very many of our Colleges and Schools. The present edition is designed to supply what is believed to be a desideratum, namely, a popular exposition of the meaning of the learned author. With this object, the editor has prefixed carefully-digested Analytical Introductions both to the Analogy and Sermons, and has added brief notes at the foot of the page, wherever it seemed to him that elucidation was required. It should be remembered, that nothing greater has been attempted than to produce a really useful popular edition; such as may allure to the careful study of one of the best works in our language, those minds, which, without such help, might shrink from the task.
The present edition, will, it is hoped, be found useful, not merely to the College student in preparing for his Degree or for the Bishop's Examination, but also to that daily-increasing class of readers, who are desirous of exercising their reasoning faculties with a view to moral improvement.
It only remains to state that the foot-notes marked (D) are taken from Mr. Duke's very careful and scholar-like Analysis of the First Part of the Analogy; those marked (W.) from that by Mr. Wilkinson; those marked (H.) from that by Mr. Hobart, of Trinity College, Dublin. The letters (Ed.) are affixed to those notes which have been contributed by the present Editor; those which are unmarked, are reprinted from Bp. Halifax's standard edition.
BISHOP BUTLER'S ANALOGY OF RELIGION.
BISHOP BUTLER'S ANALOGY.
THE object of the “Analogy” is not to prove the truth of Revealed Religion, but to confirm it, by showing that there is no greater difficulty in the way of believing the Religion of Revelation, than in believing the Religion of Nature; and, consequently, that no one who does not reject Natural Religion can consistently reject Revelation on the score of insufficient proof. Its argument is, “If, in spite of all difficulties, you believe the one, you must, in common fairness, and to be consistent, believe the other. If they come from the same God, there is an a priori probability that they will each have the same or similar difficulties; and if, in spite of all its acknowledged difficulties, you are firmly persuaded of the truth of Natural Religion, you are bound to accept Revealed Religion, in spite of an equal amount of possible or actual objections that may be summoned up against it.” The principle asserted in the Analogy is not new : Origen himself has observed, that “He who believes Scripture to have proceeded from the Author of Nature may well expect to find the same sort of difficulties in the former as in the constitution of Nature.” Bp. Butler carries out this principle by arguing that “He who denies the Scripture to be from God on account of these difficulties, may with equal justice deny that the world is the work of God; and that if, on the other hand, there is an Analogy between Natural and Revealed Religion, there is a strong presumption that they have the same author.” Now it will at once be clear that in such reasonings as those contained in this work, we are not to expect demonstrative evidence. In this, as in the matters of every-day life, we must be content with probable evidence; which differs from the former in that it admits of degrees *. It is by its very nature imperfect,
* The essential distinction between Demonstrative and Probable evidence is one of matter; that of the former being certain, and that of the latter B