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which for ages surrounded them, have all, from their history, had experience of miracles. In a word, you cannot in any other way obviate the conclusion of miracles appertaining to Christianity, than by questioning the authenticity of that book, concerning which no less a man than Newton, when he was writing his commentary on Daniel, expresses himself, "I find more sure marks of authenticity in the Bible than in any profane history whatsoever."

In the second place, the principle by which you reject miracles, leads to absurdity. The laws of gravitation are the most obvious of all the laws of nature; every person, in every part of the globe, must of necessity have had experience of them. There was a time, when no one was acquainted with the laws of magnetism; these suspend, in many instances, the laws of gravity nor can I see, upon the principle in question, how the rest of mankind could have credited the testimony of their first discoverer and yet to have rejected it would have been to reject the truth. But that a piece of iron should ascend gradually from the earth, and fly at last, with an increasing rapidity through the air, and,

taching itself to another piece of iron, or to a particular species of iron ore, should remain suspended

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pended in opposition to the action of its gravity, is consonant to the laws of nature. I grant it; but there was a time when it was contrary, I say, not to the laws of nature, but to the uniform experience of all preceding ages and countries; and at that particular point of time, the testimony of an individual, or of a dozen individuals, who should have reported themselves eye witnesses of such a fact, ought, according to your argument, to have been received as fabulous. *

But what are those laws of nature which you think can never be suspended? Are they not different to different men, according to the diversities of their comprehension and knowledge? And if any one of them should have been known to you, or to me alone, while all the rest of the world were unacquainted with it, the effect of it would have been new, and unheard of in the annals, and contrary to the experience of mankind, and, therefore, ought not in your opinion to be believed. Nor do I understand what difference, as to credibility, there could be between the effects of such an unknown law of nature, and a miracle: for it is a matter of no moment in that view, whether the suspension of the

known

• Bishop Watson.

known laws of nature be effected, that is, whe ther a miracle be performed, by the mediation of other laws that are unknown, or by the ministry of a person divinely commissioned; since it is impossible for us to be certain, that it is contradictory to the constitution of the universe, that the laws of nature, which appear to us general, should not be suspended, and their action overruled by others, still more general, though less known; that is, that miracles should not be performed before such a being as man, at those times, in those places, and under those circumstances, which God, in his universal providence, had pre-ordained.*

But miracles entirely out of the question. In the days of heathenism, the most sacred and the most pure of the religious rites of antiquity were performed on altars, erected to mortals who had enlightened and benefited mankind. The wisest, the bravest, and the greatest characters assisted at these ceremonies with reverence and gratitude. With a general voice they poured forth their praises and their adoration: they cherished the memory of the good; they held their instructors in veneration. Is it to be classically consistent and diginified, then, I would

ask

• Watson's Letters to Gibbon.

ask the infallible expounders of the book of nature, to take a diametrically opposite line of conduct. Even supposing Christ to have been a mere human instructor, is his name, as the dispenser of the most invaluable and unheard of blessings, not to be honoured and worthily treated, at least in an equal degree with the names of Ceres or Minerva ? "We celebrate you," says Herodotus, speaking of a certain tutelary divinity, "without knowing what appellation to give you. The Pythia, indeed, doubted whether you were divine or mortal. Whichever be the case, we in our uncertainty, at least, can style you the friend of God; for you, in numberless instances, have been the friend of man, and thence it is our duty to worship you with honour, and we do it with the utmost cheerfulness of heart."

VOL. VI.

E

LET.

LETTER XCII.

MOST of the writers, who have undertaken to prove the divine origin of Christianity, have had recourse to arguments drawn from three heads the prophecies still extant in the Old Testament; the miracles recorded in the New; and the internal evidence arising from that excellence, and those clear marks of supernatural interposition, which are so conspicuous in the religion itself. The two former have been sufficiently explained and inforced by the ablest pens; but the latter, which seems to carry with it, if not the most satisfactory, at least the most simple kind of conviction, has not altogether been considered with that attention, which it ap→ pears to deserve. *

My meaning here, you are well convinced, is far from being to depreciate the proofs arising from either prophecies or miracles: they are both of great weight in the general argument. Prophecies

Jenyn's Intern, Evid.

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