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the sun's constant rising and setting, and as great in his standing still, should we see him stopped in his course for the space of a whole day. That we have all eyes to see, and ears to hear, is an effect of as great power, as giving sight to one born blind, or hearing to one born deaf. Upon this account it is impossible that any true revelation should contradict or evacuate any clear dictate of natural religion, which stands at least upon as good a bottom as any revelation can do. And
therefore the principles of natural religion must - be supposed for the foundation of revealed. For
a revelation is not to prove the being of a God, or that he loves virtue and hates vice. God never wrought miracles for this purpose, having suffi- ciently evidenced himself from the beginning of the
world by the visible things of the creation : and · had any one asked our Saviour to show a proof
that there was a God, I am apt to imagine he · would have turned him over to the works of na
ture, as he did the rich man's brethren to Moses . and the prophets, for a proof of a future state.
To ascertain the use of miracles, it will be proper to consider when and for what purpose they were introduced. In early times we met with none: nor was there any occasion for them so · long as men preserved a right notion of God, as · maker and absolute lord of the universe, and were acquainted with him, (I had almost said personally acquainted with him) and knew his voice when he · spoke to them; for so long they received his com· mands without doubt or hesitation: and being per
fectly satisfied that the command came from God, · what weight or authority could the multiplying
signs and wonders add to their persuasion for signs and wonders could only show that the command came from God, to whom all nature obeyed and was subject: and as they wanted no such proof, there was no room or occasion for the introducing of miracles.
But when idolatry prevailed in the world, and every nation had its peculiar deity, to whom they gave the name of God, it became necessary, in order to preserve true religion in the world, to distinguish between the true God, and the pretended deities adored by the heathen. The great works of the creation were standing proofs of the being of a God, and common to all nations; and therefore the belief of a deity was the common persuasion of the world : for though men in general were become idolaters, yet they were not atheists : but then the true God was forgotten, or almost lost, in the multiplicity of false gods, to whom the blindness of the world ascribed the honour and power due to the one supreme only.
In this state of things God thought proper to exert himself in such acts of power as should demonstrate his superiority above all gods of the heathen, and to assume a character of distinction, that the hand might certainly be known from which the mighty works proceeded : and it is very observable, that God did publicly assume such a character, and work miracles at one and the same time. The first miracles of which we have any account, were those wrought by Moses in Egypt; and they are an immediate and direct proof of what they are brought to assert, the supremacy of God. The great doctrines of ma
tural religion want not the support of miracles. But when any new doctrine is published to the world, or any new command, of which nature has given no notice, it is of necessity that such new doctrines should be established by new proofs. One thing, indeed, we learn from natural reason, that God is to be trusted and obeyed in whatever he promises or commands : but still a proof is required, that such new doctrine or command does really proceed from God. And this shows how nécessary miracles are to the introduction of a new revelation: not that miracles can prove the truth of any doctrine ; but they directly prove the commission of the person who does them to proceed from him by whose power alone they could be performed.
CREDIBILITY OF MIRACLES, AS SUPPORTING
REVELATION. MIRACULOUS facts are not to be ranked with impossibilities. There was a time when the matter that composes my body was as void of life as it will be when it shall have lain twenty years in the grave; when the elementary particles, whereof my eye is made up, could no more enable a -percipient being to see, than they can now enable one to speak; and when that which forms the substance of this land was as inert as a stone. Yet now, by the goodness of the Creator, the first lives, the last moves, and, by means of the second, I perceive light and colours. And if almighty power can bring about all this gradually,
by one particular succession of causes and effects, may not the same power perform it in an instant, and by the operation of other causes to us unknown? Or will the atheist say, (and none who believes in God can doubt the possibility of miracles) that he himself knows every possible cause that can operate in the production of any effect? Or is he certain that there is no such thing : in the universe as almighty power? • To raise a dead man to life; to cure blindness · with a touch ; to remove lameness, or any other bodily imperfection, by speaking a word, are all miracles ; but must all be as easy to the authror of nature, or to any person commissioned by him for that purpose, as to give life to an embryo, make the eye an organ of sight, or cause vegetables to revive in the spring. And therefore, if a person, declaring himself to be sent of God, or invested with divine power, and saying and doing what is worthy of such a commission, should perform miracles like these, mankind would have the best reason to believe that his authority was really from heaven. • As the common people have neither time nor
capacity for deep reasoning; and as divine revelation of religion must be intended for all sorts of men, the vulgar as well as the learned, the poor as well as the rich: it is necessary, that the evidence of such a revelation should be of that kind which may command general attention, and convince men of all ranks and characters, and should therefore be level to every capacity. - be easy, no doubt, for the Deity to convey his
It would truths immediately to every man by inspiration,
so as to make inquiry unnecessary, and doubt impossible. But this would not be consistent with man's free agency and moral probation; and this would be very unlike every other dispensation of Providence with respect to man, who, as he is endowed with rational faculties, feels that he is under an obligation to use and improve them. This would be to make him love religion, and believe in it, without leaving it in his power to do otherwise; and such faith, and such love, would be no mark of either a good disposition or a bad.--Now there is no kind of evidence, consistent with our moral probation and free agency, that is likely to command universal attention, and carry full conviction in religious matters to men of all ranks and capacities, except the evi. dence arising from miracles, or supernaturalevents.
CREDIBILITY OF MIRACLES FROM HUMAN
TESTIMONY. I KNOW not how it has happened, but there are many in the present age, whose prejudice against all 'miraculous events have arisen to that height, that it appears to them utterly impossible for any human testimony, however great, to establish their credibility. For the sake of such men, suffer me to hazard an observation or two upon the subject.
Knowledge is rightly divided, by Mr. Locke, into intuitive, sensitive, and demonstrative. It is clear, that a past miracle can peither be the obe