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the anti-slavery advocates propose for the majority in the British legislature, these awful evils, is the declaring the either to stop in the career of injusslave trade piracy by the laws of all tice, or make any amends for the civilized nations. It is evident now errors of past times. It is evident, that this would only still further ag- however, that, baving plunged so gravate the existing evils; and that deeply into former errors, it was innothing but it is wanting to put the cumbent on the British parliament last hand to the cup of African bitter- to have had more than usual tolera
The whole navies of the world. tion for exasperated feeling and could not stop the smuggling of wounded interests—to have recol. slaves between Africa and the Ame- lected that men, seeing their proper. rican shores; the search for slave ties and the substance of their families ressels, with the penalty of death wasting away, under the effect of hanging over the crew if taken, would former British legislation-could not only aggravate the sufferings of the be expected to have their feelings taptives by rendering desperate the peculiarly cool, or their tempers sig. cruelty of the captors. If the trade nally under control, in political conwere stopped from the African shores, tests with the dominant power, from it would speedily begin from the whom they had suffered so much : southern provinces of America, who and that now, when experience is on would breed slaves to fill up the gap all sides so clearly demonstrating produced by British madness in the how well grounded their complaints West Indies. One way, and one only, really are, was the time, by a respectof stopping the infernal traffic exists; ful attention to their suggestions and and that is, enabling the British plant- uniform deference to their wishes, to er, with stationary slaves, gradually have demonstrated the disposition of improving in industry, to undersell the the parent state, to remedy, so far as foreign slave-holder in the supply of yet in their power, the existing evils., the world with sugar. That method - Instead of this, what have the Libethe simple, just, progressive method of ral Ministry done? Why, they brought nature-uas in satisfactory progress; in a bill sus, unding the constitution of and the slave trade must have declined, Jamaica, on the first angry controand perhaps in the course of ages ex- versy with the British Parliament; pired, from the effect of the competi- and on its being stopped by the firmtion of the British stationary serf with ness and zeal of the Conservative opthe foreign imported slave, when the position, they have brought in another, whole progress was stopped by the substantially the same, and vesting abEmancipation Act; our own islands solute legislative power in the goverreduced to ruin ; our own slaves re- nor and council, if certain acts of stored to savage life; and a new im- Assembly were thrown out by the pulse, to which philanthropy can veto of the sovereign authority! We assign no limits, communicated to the first tax the West India planter one hunexecrable traffic in human flesh! Such dred per cent on his agricultural proeven, when under humane guidance, duce; next let loose the live stock on and when actuated by a benevolent his estate for less then half their value, spirit, is the legislation of the masses, and in so doing, render his fields toWhat must it be, if stimulated by cupi- tally unproductive ; and, when he redity and directed by ambition ? monstrates on a subordinate point of.
After the dreadful and irremediable management, deprive him of all his evils inflicted on our own subjects liberties and reduce him to despotic our own negroes—and the African authority! If these are the blessings race in general, by the well-meant which democratic institutions secure but ill-judged and most disastrous to their colonial dependencies, what legislation of late years, the recent evils has despotism in store for its disputes between the mother country subjects ? and if such is the system of and the Jamaica House of Assembly government of a widely-extended cosink into insignificance, and cease to lonial dominion, how long is it likely be the object of serious attention, ex- to withstand the shock of fortune con. cept as indicating the indisposition of sequent on the almost total paralysis the party, unhappily still possessing of the central executive power ?
ON HUME'S ARGUMENT AGAINST MIRACLES.
Home's argument against miracles us, the result will be worse ; for the afis simply this :-Every possible eventi firmative testimony will be sure to fall bowever various in its degree of credi- in many ways below its ideal maxibility, must, of necessity, be more mum; leaving, therefore, for the final credible when it rests upon a suffi- result a considerable excess to the cient cause lying within the field of negative side of the equation. what is called nature, than when it does not : more credible when it obeys
| Section II. some mechanical cause, than when it transcends such a cause and is miracu- Of the Argument as affected by the lous.
Covert Limitations under which it Therefore, assume the resistance to
is presented. credibility, in any preternatural oc- Such is the Argument: and, as the currence, as equal to å, and the very first step towards investigating its ideal or possible value of human testi- sanity and its degree-its kind of force, mony as no more than x, in that case, and its quantity of force, we must diunder the most favourable circumstan- rect our attention to the following ees conceivable, the argument for and fact, viz., that amongst three separate against a miracle will be equal : or, conditions under which a miracle (or expressing the human testimony by any event whatever) might become 1, affected with the affirmative sign known to us, Hume's argument is (+ x]; and expressing the resistance applied only to one. Assuming a to credibility on the other side of the miracle to happen (for the possibility equation, by 1, affected with the of a miracle is of course left open negative sign (- xthe two values throughout the discussion, since any will, in algebraical language, destroy argument against that would at once each other, and the result will be -0. foreclose every question about its
But, inasmuch as this expresses communicability), - then it might the value of human testimony in its happen under three several sets of highest or ideal form, a form which is circumstances, in relation to our never realized in experience, the true consciousness. 1st, It might happen result will be different,—there will al- in the presence of a single witness ways be a negative result -Y ; that witness not being ourselves. This much or little according to the cir- case let us call Alpha. 2dly, It might cumstances, but always enough to turn happen in the presence of many witthe balance against believing a minesses, - witnesses to a vast amount, racle.
but still (as before) ourselves not being “ Or in other words,” said Hume, amongst that multitude. This caso popularising his argument, “it will let us call Beta. And 3dly, It might always be more credible that the re- happen in our own presence, and porter of a miracle should tell a false fall within the direct light of our own hood, or should bimself have been the consciousness. This case let us call dupe of appearances, than that a mira- Gamma. cle should have actually occurred- Now these distinctions are impor. that is, an infraction of those natural tant to the whole extent of the queslaws (any or all) which compose what tion. For the 2d case, wbich is the we call experience. For, assume the actual case of many miracles recorded utmost disinterestedness, veracity, and in the New Testament, at once cuts sound judgment in the witness, with away a large body of sources in which the utmost advantage in the circum- either error or deceit could lurk. stances for giving full play to those Hume's argument supposes the requalities; even in such a case the value porter of the miracle to be a dupe, or of affirmative testimony could, at the the maker of dupes—himself deluded, very utmost, be equal to the negative or wishing to delude others. But, in value on the other side the equation: the case of the thousands fed from and the result would be, to keep my a few loaves and small fishes, the faith suspended in equilibrio. But in chances of error, wilful or not wilful, any real case, ever likely to come before are diminished in proportion to the
number of observers ; * and Hume's of her first cousin Lord Hunsdon,) ob. inference as to the declension of tained his title and subsequent preferthe affirmative x, in relation to the ment as a reward for the furious ride negative x, no longer applies, or, if he performed to Edinburgh (at that at all, with vastly diminished force, time at least 440 miles distant from With respect to the 3d case, it cuts London), without taking off his boots, away the whole argument at once in in order to lay the earliest tidings of its very radix. For Hume's argu- the great event at the feet of her sucment applies to the communication of a
In reality, never did any miracle, and therefore to a case of death cause so much posting day and testimony. But, wherever the miracle night over the high roads of Europe, falls within direct personal cogni. And the same causes which made it zance, there it follows that no question so interesting has caused it to be the can arise about the value of human best dated event in modern history; testimony. The affirmative X, ex- that one which could least be shaken pressing the value of testimony, dis- by any discordant evidence yet discoappears altogether; and that side of verable. Now, says Hume, imagine the equation is possessed by a new the case, that, in spite of all this chroquantity (viz., ourselves our own nological precision—this precision, and consciousness) not at all concerned in this notoriety of precision-her MaHume's argument.
jesty's court physicians should have Hence it results, that of three pos- chose to propagate a story of her sible conditions under which a miracle resurrection. Imagine that these may be supposed to offer itself to our learned gentlemen should have issued knowledge, two are excluded from a bulletin, declaring that Queen Elithe view of Hume's argument.
zabeth had been met in Greenwich
park, or at Nonsuch, on May-day of SECTION III.
1603, or in Westminster, two years
after, by the Lord Chamberlain when Whether the second of these conditions
detecting Guy Faux-let them even is not expressly noticed by Hume.
swear it before twenty justices of the It may seem so. But in fact it is
peace; I for one, says Huine, am free not. And (what is more to the pur- to confess that I would not believe pose) we are not at liberty to consider them. No: nor, to say the truth, it any accident that it is not. Hume would we; nor would we advise our had his reasons. Let us take all in readers to believe them. proper order : 1st, that it seems so ; 2dly, Here, therefore, it would seem 2dly, that in fact it is not so ; and as if Hume were boldly pressing his 3dly, that this is no accident, but in- principles to the very uttermosttentional.
that is, were challenging a miracle as 1st, Hume seems to contemplate untenable, though attested by a mulsuch a case, the case of a miracle titude. But, in fact, he is not. He witnessed and attested by a multitude only seems to do so ; for, if no numof persons, in the following imaginary ber of witnesses could avail anything miracle which he proposes as a basis in proof of a miracle, why does he for reasoning. Queen Elizabeth, as timidly confine himself to the hypoevery body will remember who has thesis of the queen's physicians only happened to read Lord Monmouth's coming forward? Why not call in Memoirs, died on the night between the whole Privy Council ?-or the the last day of 1602 and the first day Lord Mayor and Common Council of of 1603: this could not be forgotten London-the Sheriffs of Middlesex by the reader, because, in fact, Lord and the Twelve Judges ? As to the M., who was one of Her Majesty's court physicians, though three or four nearest relatives (being a younger son nominally, virtually they are but one
*" In proportion to the number of observers.”—Perhaps, however, on the part of Hume some critical apologist will say--" Doubtless he was aware of that ; but still the reporters of the miracle were few. No matter how many were present, the witnesses for us are but the Evangelists.” Yes, certainly, the Evangelists; and, let us add, all those contemporaries to whom the Evangelists silently appealed. These make up the “multitude" con. tomplated in the second case.
They have a common inte. him of his purpose; or, 3dly, we might rest, and in two separate ways they even join issue with him, and perempare liable to a suspicion of collusion : torily challenge his verdict upon his first, because the same motives which own fiction. For it is singular enough, act upon one, probably act upon the that a modern mathematician of emirest. In this respect, they are under nence (Mr Babbage), has expressly a common influence ; secondly, be- considered this very imaginary quescause, if not the motives, at any rate tion of a resurrection, and he prothe physicians themselves, act upon nounces the testimony of seven witeach other. In this respect, they are nesses, competent and veracious, and under a reciprocal influence. They presumed to have no bias, as sufficient are to be reasoned about as one indi. to establish such a miracle. Strip vidual.
Hume's case of the ambiguities already 3dly, As Hume could not possi- pointed out-suppose the physicians bly fail to see all this, we may be really separate and independent wit. sure that his choice of witnesses was nesses-not a corporation speaking by not accidental. In fact, his apparent one organ-it will then become a mere carelessness is very discreet manage- question of degree between the philoment. His object was, under the fic- sopher and the mathematician-seven tion of an independent multitude, to witnesses ? or fifty? or a hundred ? smuggle in a virtual unity ; for his For though none of us (not Mr Babcourt physicians are no plural body in bage, we may be sure), seriously beeffect and virtue, but a mere pleonasm lieves in the possibility of a resurrecand a tautology.
tion occurring in these days, as little And in good earnest, Hume had can any of us believe in the possibility reason enough for his caution. How that seven witnesses, of honour and much or how little testimony would sagacity (but say seven hundred), avail to establish a resurrection in any could be found to attest such an event neutral* case few people would be when not occurring. willing to pronounce off-hand, and, But the useful result from all this above all, on a fictitious case. Pru- is, that Mr Hume is evidently aware dent men, in such circumstances, of the case Beta (of last Sect.) as a would act as the judges in our Eng- distinct case from Alpha or from lish courts, who are always displeased Gamma, though he affects blindness : if it is attempted to elicit their opin- he is aware that a multitude of comions upon a point of law by a proposed petent witnesses, no matter whether fiction. And very reasonably; for seven or seven hundred, is able to in these fictitious cases all the little establish that which a single witness circumstances of reality are wanting, could not ; in fact, that increasing the and the oblique relations to such cir- number of witnesses is able to comcumstances, out of which it is that any pensate increasing incredibility in the sound opinion can be formed. We subject of doubt; that even supposing all know very well what Mr Hume is this subject a resurrection from the after in this problem of a resurrection. dead, there may be assigned a quantity And his case of Queen Elizabeth's re- of evidence (2) greater than the resurrection being a perfectly fictitious sistance to the credibility. And he becase, we are at liberty to do any one trays the fact, that he has one eye open of three different things:-either sim- to his own jesuitism by palming upon ply to refuse an answer; or, 2dly, to us an apparent multitude for a real give such an answer as he looks for, one, thus drawing all the credit he can viz., to agree with him in his disbelief from the name of a multitude, and yet under the supposed contingency, with- evading the force which he strictly out therefore offering the slightest knew to be lodged in the thing ; seekprejudice to any scriptural case of re- ing the reputation of the case Beta, surrection: i.e. we might go along but shrinking from its hostile force. with him in his premises, and yet balk
* By a neutral case is meant, 1st, one in which there is no previous reason from a great doctrine requiring such an event for its support, to expect a resurrection ; 2dly, a case belonging to a period of time in which it is fully believed that miraculous agency bas ceased.
have made them communicable. The Of the Argument as affected by a Clas. language of Scripture is, that he who sification of Miracles.
wishes experimentally to know the Let us now inquire whether Hume's changes that may be accomplished by argument would be affected by the prayer, must pray. In that way only, differences in miracles upon the most
and not by communication of knowgeneral distribution of their kinds.
ledge from another, could he under
stand it as a practical effect. And to Miracles may be classed generally
understand it not practically, but only as inner or outer. I. The inner, or those which may
in a speculative way, could not meet be called miracles for the individual, any religious wish, but merely an ir. are such as go on, or may go on, with religious curiosity. in the separate personal consciousness
As respects one great division of
miraculous of each separate man. And it shows
agency, it is clear, there
fore, that Hume's argument does not how forgetful people are of the very doctrines which they themselves profess apply. The arrow glances past : not as Christians, when we consider, on
so much missing its aim as taking a false one.
The hiatus which it sup, the one hand, that miracles in this sense are essential to Christianity, and yet, poses, the insulation and incommunion the other hand, consider how often cability which it charges upon the it is said that the age of miracles is miraculous as a capital oversight, was past. Doubtless, in the sense of ex
part of the design: such mysterious ternal miracles, all such agencies are agencies were meant to be incommupast. But in the other sense, there nicable, and for the same reason which are distinct classes of the supernatural shuts up each man's consciousness agency, which we are now consider. into a silent world of its own-sepa
rate and inaccessible to all other coning; and these three are held by many Christians ; two by most Christians ; thrown open by such agencies between
sciousnesses. If a communication is and the third by all. They are
the separate spirit of each man and a.-Special Providences : which class the supreme Spirit of the universe,
it is that many philosophic then the end is accomplished ; and it
Christians doubt or deny. is part of that end to close this com B. - Grace : both predisposing [by munication against all other cogni. old theologians called pre
So far Hume is baffled. The venient] and effectual.
supernatural agency is incommunica7:—Prayer considered as efficacious. ble: it ought to be so. That is its
Of these three we repeat, that the perfection. two last are held by most Christians : II. But now, as respects the other and yet it is evident that both pre- great order of miracles—yiz. the ex, sume a supernatural agency. But ternal, first of all, we may remark a this agency exists only where it is very important subdivision : miracles, sought. And even where it does exist, in this sense, subdivide into two most from its very nature (as an interior ex-- different orders--1st, Evidential mir, perience for each separate conscious- acles, which simply prove Christi. ness) it is incommunicable. But anity. 2nd, Constituent miracles, that does not defeat its purpose. which, in a partial sense, are ChrisIt is of its essence to be incommuni- tianity. And, perhaps, it may turn cable. And, therefore, with out that Hume's objection, if appli. lation to Hume's great argument, cable at all, is here applicable in a which was designed to point out a vast separate way and with a varying hiatus or inconsistency in the divine force. economy-" Here is a miraculous Thelst class, the evidential miracles, agency, perhaps, but it is incommų. are all those which were performed nicable: it may exist, but it cannot merely as evidences (whether simply manifest itself; which defect neutra- as indications, or as absolute demon. lizes it, and defeats the very purpose of strations) of the divine power which its existence"-the answer is, that upheld Christianity. The 2d class, as respects these interior miracles, the constituent miracles, are those there is no such inconsistency. They which constitute a part of Christianity, are meant for the private forum of Two of these are absolutely indispeneach man's consciousness : nor would sable to Christianity, and cannot be it have met any human necessity to separated from it even in thought, viz,