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favourite argument, and which is undermined by the very system from which it springs, it may be observed, that it contains within itself a complication of blunders, more numerous, perhaps, than ever were crowded into the same brief space. The argument of Hume against miracles is as follows:— A miracle is a violation of the laws of nature; but we learn from experience that the laws of nature are never violated. Our only accounts of miracles depend upon testimony, and our belief in testimony itself depends upon experience. But experience shows that testimony is sometimes true and sometimes false, therefore we have only a variable experience in favour of testimony. But we have a uniform experience in favour of the uninterrupted course of nature. Therefore, as on the side of miracles there is but a variable experience, and on the side of no miracles a uniform experience, it is clear that the lower degree of evidence must yield to the higher degree, and therefore no testimony can prove a miracle to be true. Every one who has attacked this sophistry has pointed out a new flaw in it, and they are scarcely yet exhausted. Paley showed that it was necessary to demonstrate that there was no God, previously to demonstrating that there could be no miracles. Campbell showed that so far from belief in testimony being founded on experience alone, that it was diffidence in testimony that we acquire by experience. Others have pointed out the sophism in the double use of the word experience, and the confusing of the experience of a particular individual with the universal experience of mankind; for to assert that miracles are contrary to experience in the last sense, is most pitifully to beg the question. Others have observed, upon the complete misapprehension of the argument of Tillotson, and upon the sophism in the use of the word “contrary,” for as it is a begging of the question to say that miracles are contrary to the experience of mankind, so it is a sophism to say that they are contrary to the experience of Mr. Hume himself, unless he had been personally present at the time and place, when and where all the miracles recorded in the Bible are said to have been wrought, from the days of Moses to the time of our Saviour. Our experience, so far from being contrary to miracles, is decidedly in favour of them. Both our reason and our experience are altogether in favour of the veracity of testimony, where there is no motive to deceive, and no possibility of being deceived. Such was the case with the apostles. Their personal experience, and that of many others, is invincibly in favour of miracles. There is no experience, no, not even of a single individual, against miracles. No one was ever placed in the situation where miracles might be reasonably expected, to whom miracles were not vouchsafed. Thus, so far from miracles being P

contrary to experience, the whole range of the experience we possess is altogether, and without one solitary exception, in favour of miracles. But to take entirely new ground, miracles, philosophically speaking, are not violations of the laws of nature. The miracles of the Bible, which are the only true miracles, so far from being violations of nature, are as natural as the lifting up a stone from the ground, or impelling a vessel along the waves by the stroke of an oar. None would call it a violation of the laws of nature when human agents set a body in motion which was previously at rest, and which would have remained at rest without their interference ; still less can it be called a violation of the laws of nature when the Divine Agent, who is the lawgiver of nature, impresses an additional force upon creation, and gives a new direction to its movements. But it would be endless to go over all the variety of mistakes which are involved in the sophistry against miracles, and to point out the many vulgar and unphilosophical notions which are implied in Hume's reasonings, both concerning “nature” and her “inviolable laws.” We have seen how Hume could make his philosophy bend to a particular purpose, and could talk of nature as if it were something different from the evanescent train of ideas which are continually fleeting through the mind. It only remains to observe, that he can use the same liberty with history as with philosophy, and can accommodate facts as well as reasonings to serve a present purpose. “Our conversation,” Hume says, “began with my admiring the singular good fortune of philosophy, which, as it requires entire liberty above all other privileges, and chiefly flourishes from the free opposition of sentiments and argumentations, received its birth in an age and country of freedom and toleration, and was never cramped, even in its most extravagant principles, by any creeds, confessions, or penal statutes. For, except the banishment of Protagoras, and the death of Socrates, which last event proceeded partly from other motives, there are scarcely any instances to be met with in ancient history of this bigoted jealousy with which the present age is so much infested.” A statement more contrary to facts can scarcely be conceived. Hume himself was conscious that it was so, even while he was writing it. We have his own words for it. “It is a vulgar error,” says Hume, “to imagine that the ancients were as great friends to toleration as the English or the Dutch are at present.” Did Mr. Hume forget, for he could scarcely be ignorant, when he mentioned Protagoras and Socrates as almost the only objects of persecution—that Anaxagoras, the first philosopher who established himself at Athens, would have been put to death, but for the intercession of Pericles, and all that Pericles, in general all power

ful with the democracy, could obtain for his friend was, that the sentence of death should be changed into that of perpetual banishment: that the disciples of Socrates, after his death, judged it unsafe to remain at Athens, and that ever afterwards they disguised their opinions, when these differed at all from the customs of the country: that Aristotle, in spite of this prudent reserve, was obliged to quit Athens, and that in the time of his disciple, Theophrastus, all the philosophers left that city upon a decree, which forbade any school of philosophy being opened without special leave being granted by the government, under pain of death: lastly, that the Athenians raised a pillar of brass, with an inscription upon it, proclaiming a reward of one talent to any who should kill Diagoras, and two talents to the man who should bring him alive. Truly, the belief in ancient liberality is a vulgar error indeed. The Athenian notion of toleration is well described by Socrates, and much resembles the opinion upon that subject that many entertain even in our own times. “It appears to me,” says Socrates, “that the Athenians do not greatly care what sentiments a man holds, provided he keeps them to himself; but if he attempts to instruct others, then they are indignant. VII. Few works have been more serviceable to infidelity than Voltaire's Philosophical Dictionary, because it contains no philosophy, but is a mere

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