« НазадПродовжити »
the miraculous birth of our Saviour, moment, and of propping the faith of and his miraculous resurrection. The Christians in all after ages ? The first is essential upon this ground growing opinion amonget reflecting that unless Christ had united the two Christians is, that they were not: that natures (divine and human) he could the evidential miracles accomplished not have made the satisfaction re- their whole purpose in their own age. quired : not being human, then, in- Something of supernatural agency, deed, he might have had power to go visibly displayed was wanted for the through the mysterious sufferings of first establishment of a new faith. the satisfaction : but how would that But, once established, it was a false have applied to man? It would have faith only that could need this exterbeen perfect, but how would it have nal support. Christianity could not been relevant ? Not being divine, unroot itself now, though every trace then indeed any satisfaction he could of evidential miracle should have make would be relevant: but how vanished. Being a true religion, once would it have been perfect? The rooted in man's knowledge and man's mysterious and supernatural birth, heart, it is self-sustained ; it never therefore, was essential, as a capacita- could be eradicated. tion for the work to be performed ; But, waiving that argument, it is and, on the other hand, the mysteri- evident, that whatever becomes of the ous death and consequences were evidential miracles, Christianity never essential, as the very work itself. can dispense with those transcendant
Now, therefore, having made this miracles which we have called constidistinction, we may observe, that the tuent,-those which do not so much first class of miracles was occasional demonstrate Christianity as are Chrisand polemic: it was meant to meet a tianity in a large integral section. special hostility incident to the birth. Now as to the way in which Hume's struggles of a new religion, and a argument could apply to these, we religion which, for the very reason shall reserve what we have to say unthat it was true, stood opposed to til a subsequent section. Meantime, the spirit of the world; of a religion with respect to the other class, the which, in its first stage, had to fight simply evidential miracles, it is plain; against a civil power in absolute that if ever they should be called for possession of the civilised earth, and again, then, as to them, Hume's argue backed by seventy legions. This ment will be evaded, or not, accordbeing settled, it follows, that if ing to their purpose. If their func Hume's argument were applicable in tion regards an individual, it will be its whole strength to the evidential no just objection to them that they miracles, no result of any importance are incommunicable. If it regards a could follow. It is clear that à Chris- multitude or a nation, then the same tianised earth never can want polemic power which utters the miracle can miracles again; polemic miracles were avail for its manifestation before a wanted for a transitional state, but multitude, as happened in the days of such a state cannot return. Polemic , the New Testament, and then is realmiracles were wanted for a state ized the case Beta of Sect. II. And if of conflict with a dominant idolatry. it is still objected, that even in that It was Christianity militant, and mili. case there could be no sufficient way tant with child-like arms, against of propagating the miracle, with its Paganism triumphant. But Chris. evidence, to other times or places, the tianity, in league with civilisation, answer must be, and resting on the powers of this earth 1st, Tbat, supposing the purpose allied with her own, never again can merely polemic, that purpose is anspeak to idolatrous man except from swered without such a propagation. a station of infinite superiority. If, 2dly, That, supposing the purpose, therefore, these evidential miracles by possibility, an ulterior purpose, are incommunicable as respects their stretching into distant ages, even then proofs to after generations, neither our modern arts of civilisation-printare they wanted.
ing, &c.-give us advantages which Ştill it will be urged-were not the place a remote age on a level with the miracles meant for purposes ulterior present as to the force of evidence ; to the transitional state ? Were they and that even the defect of autopsy not meant equally for the polemic may be compensated by sufficient tespurpose of confuting hostility at the timony of a multitude, it is evident that
Hume himself felt, by his evasion in centre in which, we are satisfied, lurks the case of the imaginary Elizabethan that apustov fevdos which Hume himself miracle proposed by himself.
suspected: and we add, that as a vast
number of witnesses (according to a RECAPITULATION.
remark made in Sect. II.) will virNow let us recapitulate the steps tually operate as a reduction of the we have made before going on to the value allowed to x, until 2 may be rest.
made to vanish altogether,—so, in 1st, We have drawn into notice the reverse order, any material reduce (Sect. II.) the case Beta,-overlooked tion of value in x will virtually operby Hume in his argument, but appa- ate exactly as the multiplication of rently not overlooked in his conscious- witnesses ; and the case Alpha will be ness,—the case where a multitude of raised to the case Beta. witnesses overrules the incommunica- This lemma being stated as a point bility attaching to a single witness. of appeal in what follows, we pro
2dly, We have drawn into notice ceed tothe class of internal miracles,-miracles going on in the inner economy of
Section IV. every Christian's heart; for it is essen- On Hume's Argument, as affected by tial to a Christian to allow of prayer.
the purpose. He cannot be a Christian if he should condemn prayer; and prayer cannot
This topic is so impressive, and inhope to produce its object without deed awful, in its relation to Christiaa miracle. And to such miracles nity, that we shall not violate its maHume's argument, the argument of jesty by doing more than simply sta
All the known or incommunicability, is inapplicable. țing the case. They do not seek to transplant them- imagined miracles that ever were re. selves; every man's personal expe
corded as flowing from any Pagan rience in this respect is meant for him. origin, were miracles-1. Of ostentaself alone.
tion; 2. of ambition and rivalship; 3dly, Even amongst miracles not 3. expressions of power; or, 4. were internal, we have shown- that if one
blind" accidents. Not even in pre: class (the merely evidential and pole tence were any of them more than mic) are incommunicable, i. e. not that. First and last came the Chriscapable of propagation to a remote
tian miracles, on behalf of a moral age or place, they have sufkciently purpose: The purpose was to change fulfilled their immediate purpose by man's idea of his own nature ; and to their immediate effect. But such change his idea of God's nature. miracles are alien and accidental to Many other purposes might be stated; Christianity. Christ himself reproved other wielder of supernatural power,
but all were moral. severely those who sought such signs, real or imaginary, it never had occuras a wicked, unbelieving generation ; red, by way of pretence even, that in and afterwards he reproved, with a most pathetic reproach, that one of working miracles he had a moral obhis own disciples who demanded such ject. And here, indeed, comes in the a sign. But besides these evidential argument of Christ with tremendous miracles, we noticed also,
effect—that, whilst all other miracles 4thly, The constituent miracles of might be liable to the suspicion of Christianity ; upon which, as regarded having been effected by alliance with Hume's argument, we reserved our
darker agencies, his only (as sublime selves to the latter section: and to these moral agencies for working the only we now address ourselves.
revolution that ever was worked in But first we premise this
man's nature) could not be liable to such a suspicion ; since, if an evil spirit would lend himself to the propagation
of good in its most transcendent form, That an à priori (or, as we shall in that case the kingdom of darkness show, an à posteriori) reason for be- would be “divided against itself.” lieving a miracle, or for expecting a Here, then, is an à posteriori reason, miracle, will greatly disturb the va- derived from the whole subsequent luation of x (that is, the abstract life and death of the miracle-worker, resistance to credibility), as assumed for diminishing the value of x in Hume's argument. This is the cording to the Lemma,
Now to any
and transcendent cause. The opposite On the Arguinent of Hume as affected hypothesis supposes effects without by Matters of Fact.
In short, upon any hypo.
thesis, we are driven to suppose-and It is a very important axiom of the compelled to suppose—a miraculous schoolmen in this case—that, à posse state as introductory to the earliest ad esse non valet consequentia, you state of nature. The planet, indeed, can draw no inference from the possi. might form itself by mechanical laws bility of a thing to its reality, but of motion, repulsion, attraction, and that, in the reverse order, ab esse ad central forces. But man could not. posse,
the inference is inevitable: if it Life could not. Organization, even is, or if it ever has been—then of ne, animal organization, might perhaps be cessity it can be.
Hume himself explained out of mechanical causes. would have admitted, that the proof But life could not. Life is itself a of any one miracle, beyond all possi- great miracle. Suppose the nostrils bility of doubt, at once lowered the formed-by mechanic agency ; still the -* of his argument (i. e. the value breath of life could not enter them of the resistance to our faith) so as to without a supernatural force. And affect the whole force of that argument, à fortiori, man, with his intellectual as applying to all other miracles what- and moral capacities, could not arise ever having a rational and an adequate upon this planet without a higher agenpurpose. Now it happens that we
cy than any lodged in that nature have two cases of miracles which can
which is the object of our present exbe urged in this view: one à posteriori, perience. This kind of miracle, as derived from our historical experience, deduced by our reason, and not witand the other à priori. We will take nessed experimentally, or drawn from them separately.
any past records, we call an à priori 1. The à priori miracle we call miracle. such—not (as the unphilosophic may 2. But there is another kind of mira. suppose) because it occurred previous- cle, which Hume ought not to have ly to our own period, or from any con- overlooked, but which he has, howsideration of time whatever, but in the ever, overlooked : he himself observes, logical meaning, as having been derived very justly, that prophecy is a distinct from our reason in opposition to our species of the miraculous ; and, no experience. This order of miracle it doubt, he neglected the Scriptural Prois manifest that Hume overlooked al- phecies, as supposing them all of doubttogether, because he says expressly ful interpretation, or believing with that we have nothing to appeal to in Porphyry, that such as are not doubtthis dispute except our human experi- ful, must have been posterior to the ence. But it happens that we have; event which they point to. It hapand precisely where the possibilities of pens, however, that there are some experience desert us. We know no- prophecies which cannot be evaded or thing through experience (whether “ refused," some to which neither physical or historical) of what preceded objection will apply. One, we will or accompanied the first introduction here cite, by way of example :--The of man upon this earth. But, in the prophecy of Isaiah, describing the absence of all experience, our reason desolation of Babylon, was delivered informs us—that he must have been about seven centuries before Christ. introduced by a supernatural agency. A century or so after Christ, comes Thus far we are sure. For the sole Porphyry, and insinuates, that all the alternative is one which would be prophecies alike might be comparaequally mysterious, and besides, con. tively recent forgeries! Well, for a tradictory to the marks of change-of moment suppose it : but, at least, transition and of perishableness in they existed in the days of Porphyry. our planet itself,-viz. the hypothesis Now, it happens, that more than two of an eternal unoriginated race: and centuries after Porphyry, we have that is more confounding to the hu- good evidence, as to Babylon, that it man intellect than any miracle what had not yet reached the stage of utter ever : so that, even tried merely as desolation predicted by Isaiah. Four one probability against another, the centuries after Christ, we learn from miracle would have the advantage. a Father of the Christian Church, who The miracle supposes a supersensual had good personal information as to
VOL. XLVI, NO, CCLXXXV.
its condition, that it was then become to the natural state. And, for the a solitude, but a solitude in good pre- miracles of prophecy, these require no servation as a royal park. The vast evidence and depend upon none : they city had disappeared, and the murmur carry their own evidence along with of myriads ; but as yet there were them; they utter their own testi. no signs whatever of ruin or desola- monies, and they are continually retion. Not until our own nineteenth inforcing them ; for, probably, every century was the picture of Isaiah seen successive period of time reproduces in full realization—then lay the lion fresh cases of prophecy completed. basking at noonday—then crawled the But even one, like that of Babylon, serpents from their holes; and at realizes the case of Beta (Sec. II.) in night the whole region echoed with its most perfect form. History, which the wild cries peculiar to arid wilder. attests it, is the voice of every gene
The transformations, there. ration, checked and countersigned in fore, of Babylon, have been going effect by all the men who compose it. on slowly through a vast number of centuries until the perfect accomplish
SECTION VI. ment of Isaiah's picture. Perhaps they have travelled through a course of the Argument as affected by the par. of much more than two thousand ticular Worker of the Miracles. years: and, from the glimpses we gain This is the last " moment,” to of Babylon at intervals, we know for use the language of mechanics, which certain that Isaiah had been dead for we shall notice in this discussion. many centuries before his vision could And here there is a remarkable petihave even begun to realize itself. But tio principii in Hume's management then, says an objector, the final ruins of of his argument. He says, roundly, great empires and cities may be safely that it makes no difference at all if assumed on general grounds of obser. God were connected with the question vation. Hardly, however, if they hap- as the author of the supposed mira. pen to be seated in a region so fertile cles. And why? Because, says he, as Mesopotamia, and on a great river we know God only by experience like the Euphrates. But allow this —meaning as involved in naturepossibility-allow the natural disap- and, therefore, that in so far as mirar pearance of Babylon in a long course cles transcend experience of of centuries. In other cases the dis- nature, they transcend by implication appearance is gradual, and at length our experience of God. But the very perfect. No traces can now be found question under discussion is-whether of Carthage; none of Memphis; or, God did, or did not, manifest himself if you suppose something peculiar to to human experience in the miracles Mesopotamia, no traces can be found of the New Testament. But, at all of Nineveh, on the other side of that events, the idea of God in itself alregion: none of other great cities, ready includes the notion of a power Roman, Parthian, Persian, Median, to work miracles, whether that power in that same region or adjacent re- were ever exercised or not; and as Sir gions. Babylon only is circumstan- Isaac Newton thought that space tially described by Jewish prophecy might be the sensorium of God, so as long surviving itself in a state of may we (and with much more philovisible and audible desolation : and to sophical propriety) affirm that the Babylon only such a description ap. miraculous and the transcendent is plies. Other prophecies might be the very nature of God. God being cited with the same result. But this assumed, it is as easy to believe in a is enough. And here is an à posteriori miracle issuing from him as in any miracle,
operation according to the laws of Now, observe: these two orders of nature (which, after all, is possibly in miracle, by their very nature, absoo many points only the nature of our lutely evade the argument of Hume. planet): it is as easy, because either The incommunicability disappears als mode of action is indifferent to him. together. The value of * absoDoubtless this argument, when adlutely vanishes and becomes =0. The dressed to an Atheist, loses its force ; human reason, being immutable, sug- because he refuses to assume a God. gests to every age, renews and rege. But then, on the other hand, it must be nerates for ever, the necessary infer- remembered, that Hume's argument ence of a miraculous state antecedent itself does not stand on the footing of
Atheism. He supposes it binding on evidence not derived from experience a Theist. Now a Theist, in starting at all, but from the reflecting reason : from the idea of God, grants, of ne- and the miracle has the same advancessity, the plenary power of miracles tage over facts of experience, that a far greater and more awful than man mathematical truth has over the truths could even comprehend. All he wants which rest on induction. It is the is a sufficient motive for such tran. difference between must be and is-bescendant agencies ; but this is sup- tween the inevitable and the merely plied in excess (as regards what we actual. have called the constituent miracles 4. That, in the case of another order of Christianity) by the case of a reli- of miracles, viz., prophecies, Hume's gion that was to revolutionize the argument is again overruled ; because moral nature of man. The moral the +a in this case, the affirmative nature-the kingdom of the will-is evidence, is not derived from human essentially opposed to the kingdom of testimony. Some prophecies are obnature even by the confession of irre, scure; they may be fulfilled possibly ligious philosophers; and, therefore, without men's being aware of the ful. being itself a supersensual field, it filment. But others, as that about
more reasonably adapted to the fate of Babylon-about the fate agencies supernatural than such as are of the Arabs (the children of Ishmael) natural.
Labout the fate of the Jews-are not
of a nature to be misunderstood ; and GENERAL RECAPITULATION,
the evidence which attends them is
pot alien, but is intrinsic, and deIn Hume's argument -<, which yeloped by themselves in successive expresses the resistance to credibi. stages from age to age. lity in a miracle, is valued as of ne. 5. That, because the primary mi. cessity equal to the very maximum or racle in No. 3 argues at least a power ideal of human testimony ; which, competent to the working of a miracle, under the very best circumstances, for any after miracle we have only to might be equal to +x, in no case seek a sufficient motive. Now, the obmore, and in all known cases less. We, jects of the Christian revelation were on the other hand, have endeavoured equal at the least to those of the origito show
nal creation. In fact, Christianity may 1. That, because Hume contem. be considered as a second creation
į plates only the case of a single wit- and the justifying cause for the con. Dess, it will happen that the case stituent miracles of Christianity is even Beta [of Sect. 11.) where a multitude to us as apparent as any which could of witnesses exist, may greatly exceed have operated at the primary creation, +x; and with a sufficient multitude The epigenesis was, at least, as grand must exceed x.
an occasion as the genesis. Indeed, 2. That in the case of internal it is evident, for example, that Chris. miracles-operations of divine agency tianity itself could not have existed within the mind and conscience of the without the constituent miracle of the individual--Hume's argument is ne- Resurrection ; because without that cessarily set aside : the evidence, the there would have been no conquest +x, is perfeet for the individual, and the over death. And here, as in No. 3, miraculous agency is meant for him tx is derived not from any experionly.
ence, and therefore cannot be con3. That, in the case of one primary trolled by that sort of hostile experimiracle, viz., the first origination of ence which Hume's argument relies man on this planet, the evidence great- on; but is derived from the reason ly transcends x : because here it is an which transcends all experience.