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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 peo. ple in a room? By what natural powers, which philo. sophy may explain, could Christ give immediate sight to a man born blind, cure inveterate paralyticks in a moment, and give calmness and rationality to distract. ed persons, and soundness to withered limbs? How could he restore full health at once to such as lan. guished in fevers, or call the dead out of their graves? Could multitudes be persuaded that they saw these effects, when they saw them not? Could not the ru. lers, who crucified Jesus, have disproved his preten·sions to miracles, if he had not wrought them? Would they and their posterity to this day have imputed them to magick, or similar causes, if they could have deni. ed them? Did not these miracles challenge investigation from the best informed and most inimical per. sons? Were not time, place, and circumstances particularly mentioned; and the appeal thus made to vast multitudes? What have magnetism, electricity, bal. loons, 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?
The lameness of the doctrine, which needs a mi. racle to prove it,'* means its contrariety to our false notions and corrupt affections, and it implies, that we should not have discovered it without revelation. The argument therefore stands thus: • Every doctrine is
lame, that we cannot know without revelation, or are not disposed to receive: so that revelation is needless
and useless: miracles are only needful to support re'velation; therefore all miracles 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 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 such event had eves here been witnessed? But as he ascended before ten thousand 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 therefore, not, whether it be more probable that nature should • go out of ber course, or a man tell a lie:' but whe. ther it be more probable, that God, for wise reasons,
* P. i. p. 58.
should suspend or alter the course of nature, on some important occasions; or that ten 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 logick and candour. If a miracle be 'an impossibility attested by a single " witness,' his arguing against all miracles is conclu. sive. Indeed he speaks of miracles as things naturally incredible:t and in several places seeins disposed to re. tail Mr. Hume's famous sophism, that' miracles are . contrary to universal experience;' which means neither more nor less than the experience of all who nee ver saw them! The African prince, who called the Eu. ropeans 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 abserved 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 Jeru. “ salem;" which does not imply, that he was carried through the air, or went without his own free consent, or that it was properly speaking miraculous. So that in this, as in other instances, Mr. P.'s profane ridi. cule falls on his own absurd interpretation of Scrip. ture.
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; ard to shew them, in what manner he 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; 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 mul. titudes, and frequently repeated or varied, would dis
* P. I. p. 59.
tinguish the true prophet from all pretenders to inspi. ration, 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 impossi. ble 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 altempts it. To raise the dead is as easy to omnipotence, as to preserve the living; to restore the withered arn, as to wither the healthy one; and to cure instantane. ously the paralytick 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 cffects produced, beyond the powers of man, and contrary to the ordinary course of nature: and when well authen. ticated, they are equally credible with other events; provided it appear also, that some important end was intended, and some great effects were produced by them. In this view, how different do the miracles of Scripture appear, from the insulated, ambiguous, uncertain, and useless miracles, pretended to have been wrought by Vespasian, or in favour of Alexander's army! Though Mr. P. says these are quite as well authenticated as the Bible-miracles! *
If the miracles ascribed to Moses, or to Jesus Christ and his apostles, were actually performed; it musi be allowed, that they were the work of omnipotence, and
* P. ii. p. 5.