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the reason why we are influenced by it, and act upon it, in any particular case, is that, from our knowledge of human nature, we have found that, so circumstanced, it never has deceived us ; fo that human nature must be changed before such testimony could be fallacious. For the same reason, all histofical evidence is ultimately an appeal to
appearances. For if things in time past had not been as they represent, the information we now receive concerning them, could not have been conveyed to us.
The argument from prophecy is of a mixed nature, resting, in general, upon the testimony of the friends of revelation, that such prophecies were actually delivered a fufficient time before the event, and upon the testimony of general history, and the present state of things, for the accomplishment of them. Many of the scripture prophecies, however, even in the Old Testament, and almost all those of the New, are universally acknowledged to have been published prior to the events to which they correspond.
These three kinds of evidence for the Jewish and christian revelations, viz. from testimony, from present appearances, and from prophecy, I shall consider in the order in which they are here mentioned.
Of the importance of testimony, and the credi
bility of miracles.
INCE one principal evidence of reve
lation depends upon human testimony, I shall first consider the importance of it, and then lay down some general rules for estimating the value of it.
The greatest part of our knowledge has no other foundation than testimony; and even when the proper foundation is of a different kind, our faith is much strengthened by means of it. For instance, when we ourselyes form any rational conclusion from appearances, as that there is a God, we are much confirmed in our belief, by finding that many other persons have drawn the same conclusion, either from the same appear
ances, or from
Besides, the knowledge on which we act every day depends chiefly upon memory, or our recollecting and believing that we once saw the evidence of the truths which may not now be obvious to us. For no person can pretend to be able at all times clearly to demonstrate every proposition to which he gives his firmest assent. Now belief, which depends upon recollection, is fomewhat similar to that which depends upon testimony. In one case we believe that we ourselves have seen a thing to be what we now apprehend it to be, and in the other case we believe that other persons have seen it to be fo.
We ought not, therefore, to think lightly of the nature of faith in revelation, because it is an historical faith, and depends upon human testimony; for the same is the founda
tion of the greatest, and most valuable part of human knowledge.
If we appeal to experience, to determine the actual weight and effect of different kinds of evidence, we shall be convinced that the evidence of testimony is adapted to give as much satisfaction to the mind of man as any other kind of evidence. No person, I believe, who has read history, has any more doubt of there being such a city as Rome, of there having been such a person as Julius Cæsar, or of his having been killed there, than he has of the truth of the
proposition that 2 and 2 make 4. At least, if there be any difference in the fullness of persuafion in these two cases, it is altogether imperceptible ; and any person would, in fact, venture as much upon the truth of the one, as upon that of the other.
Though it be true, indeed, in theory, that there is some small degree of uncertainty in every single testimony, which can never be wholly removed by any subsequent testimony (since this, also, must be liable to
the same kind of uncertainty) yet there is also a degree of uncertainty, and a source of mistake, in drawing conclufions from selfevident truths, and especially when the chain of deduction is of considerable length.
Considering the great weight which testimony naturally has with mankind, we cannot but conclude that any thing may be proved by it, except such things as are contradicted by superior evidence, and such is, certainly, that of our own senses, comprehending not only our immediate perceptions, but even necessary conclusions froin those perceptions. How incredible, therefore, soever, any fact may be a priori, fince, if it be not absolutely impossible, it may
be true, so also a certain degree of historical evidence must be sufficient to prove the truth of it.
We judge of other persons, and of the connection between their sentiments, language and conduct, by ourselves; and knowing, by our own consciousness, that a regard to truth is a natural, and very strong