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into blood ? or cause thick darkness for three days in the whole land, while Goshen enjoyed the light? or destroy in one night all the first-born of man and beast? or divide the sea, for the deliverance of Israel and the destruction of Pharaoh ? Could an artful man impose on the senses of two whole nations, in such matters, as a juggler can deceive a few people in a room?
By what natural powers, which philosophy may explain, could Christ give immediate sight to a man born blind, cure inveterate paralytics in a moment, and give calmness and rationality to distracted persons, and soundness to withered limbs? How could he restore full health at once to such as languished in fevers, or call the dead out of their graves? If these things were actually done, omnipotence must have effected them: and it were absurd to admit the fact, and deny the conclusion.
Again : could multitudes be persuaded that they saw these effects, when they saw them not? Could not the rulers, who crucified Jesus, have disproved his pretensions to miracles, if he had not wrought them? Would they and their posterity to this day have imputed them to magic, or similar causes, if they could have denied them : Did not these miracles challenge investigation from the best informed and most inimical persons ? Were not time, place, and circumstances particularly mentioned? and was not the appeal thus made to vast multitudes ? What have magnetism, electricity, balloons, or magical deceptions, in common with such miracles? In some cases the suspended principle of life may be restored by proper means; yet
such humane efforts often prove unsuccessful : but when did Christ or his apostles fail of accomplishing their purpose? If, among ten thousand supposed to be dead, one should be merely in the state of a strangled man; who could certainly know that one from all the rest, as carried forth to be buried, or as laid in the grave ? And should any person now go forth, in the presence of assembled multitudes, and say “Young man arise,” “ Lazarus come forth ;” would not his pretensions be soon exposed ?
Mr. P. speaks of the lameness of the doctrine which needs a miracle to prove it.”? Every doctrine, then, is lame which could not have been known without revelation, or which is contrary to our false notions and corrupt affections. The argument therefore stands thus : ‘Every doctrine ‘is lame, that we cannot know without revela
tion, or are not disposed to receive : so that reve• lation is needless and useless; miracles are only ' needful to support revelation; therefore all mi‘racles are imposture; and cannot authenticate
revelation :' and thus our reasoner, completely argues in a circle !
Miracles confirming important truth, and giving authority to divine injunctions, answer far other purposes than to make people stare and wonder.' They do not stand on the testimony of a single reporter, as if Mr. P. should tell us that he
wrought a miracle in his study;' but on the testimony of hundreds and thousands of witnesses.Who would have believed Lunardi, if he had told
us that he had ascended into the air in the deserts of Arabia ; when no event of the like kind had ever been witnessed here? But, as he ascended repeatedly before tens of thousands of spectators, what reasonable man can doubt it? Or who in future ages will dispute the veracity of the authors who record it? The dilemma is not therefore, whether it be more 'probable that nature should
go out of her course, or a man tell a lie :' but whether it be more probable that God, for wise reasons, should suspend or alter the course of nature, on some important occasions; or that tens of thousands of witnesses should be deceived in the most evident facts, or combine together to deceive the world. And would not any one be ridiculed, who should gravely say, “It is more probable that a man should lie, than that people should mount into the air?' This I think is a fair statement of the evidence concerning balloons.
* It would have approached nearer to the idea of a miracle, if Jonah had swallowed the whale: ' this may serve for all cases of miracles.'! This may indeed serve for a specimen of Mr. P.'s logic and candour. If a miracle be an impossibility
attested by a single witness,' his arguing against all miracles is conclusive. Indeed he speaks of miracles as things naturally incredible :2 and in several places seems disposed to retail Mr. Hume's famous sophism, that ' miracles are contrary to
universal experience;' which means neither more nor less than the experience of all who never saw them! The African prince, who called the Euro
peans liars when they told him they had seen rivers and seas congealed by frost as hard as a stone, was of the same reasonable disposition. This was contrary to the universal experience of all those who inhabited the torrid zone; and it was more probable men should lie, than that things naturally incredible should be true!-But in fact, miracles must be extraordinary events, to answer the end proposed by them: and, if they became so common that every body had seen or observed them, we should be ready to think them the effect of some unknown natural causes, instead of a divine interposition.
Mr. P. says, ' The most extraordinary of all the things called miracles, is that of the devil flying away
with Jesus Christ.'? The New Testament relates no transaction of this nature : we are there only told that “the devil took Jesus to the holy
city,” “and to the mountain ;” and that “he brought him to Jerusalem ;? which does not necessarily imply that he was carried through the air, or went without his own free consent. But, in whatever way it took place, the transaction is not one of the things called miracles :' nor is it mentioned as a supernatural event. So that in this, as in other instances, Mr. P.'s profane ridicule falls on his own absurd interpretation of scripture.
Revelation has been shewn to be possible ; and it will hereafter be proved needful. The God of goodness and mercy purposes, as we suppose, to make known to mankind his perfections, truth, and will ; and to shew them in what manner he
P. i. p. 59.
? Matt. iv. 5, 8. Luke iv. 5, 9.
is pleased to be approached and worshipped. He therefore communicates these things to an individual, and orders him to inform others concerning them. But the prophet may on such an occasion say, How shall it be known that the Lord hath sent me? The things to be declared are contrary to men's notions and practices; and the world is full of impositions: how shall I be distinguished from a deceiver?' Now does it not occur to every reasonable man, that miracles, which could endure the strictest examination, wrought in the presence of multitudes, and frequently repeated or varied, would distinguish the true prophet from all pretenders to inspiration, who either wrought no miracles, or such only as were ambiguous and shrunk from investigation? If it be not unsuitable to God to give a revelation to his creatures; it cannot be either improper or impossible for him to affix such a seal to the instructions of his messengers as can neither be denied nor counterfeited, without exposing to shame the man who attempts it. To raise the dead is as easy to omnipotence as to preserve the living ; to restore the withered arm, as to wither the healthy one; and to cure instantaneously the paralytic after thirty-eight years, as to send a stroke of the palsy. The glory of God and the benefit of mankind are the ends proposed; the means are obvious. All things may be alike wonderful to us; but all are not alike miracles : for miracles are effects produced, beyond the powers of man, and contrary to the ordinary course of nature: and, when well authenticated, they are equally credible with other events ; provided it appear also that some important end was intended,