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modern miracles ; nay, they would take sufficient pains to weigh the evidence of the miracles which support the unhesitating religious belief of other sects, and other nations. Let the supernaturalist be just upon such an important point ; let him put aside that national pride, and that more extended though weaker pride of race, which stand to him in lieu of examination for his comfortable conviction that all miracles but the Jewish and Christian, are totally unworthy of attention. A man whose religious belief is founded upon the intrinsic and rational worth of what he embraces as such, he who is perfectly convinced that what most concerns every individual man, must have been placed by the great Creator within the reach of our mind, if it but honestly wish to exert its faculties, —such a man may justly turn a deaf ear to those who call him to examine the various and reciprocally opposed collections of miraculous evidence, ancient and modern ; for he is convinced that God has not appointed that kind of evidence for those at least, to whom he has not addressed it in itself and originally: but it is most unreasonable, not to say arrogant, in those who contend that miraculous evidence, reduced to testimony, is the direct and the highest proof of revealed truth, to sit down contentedly in their own corner of the world, closing their eyes to all other evidence of the same kind. Protestants of this description are bound, at the least, to go to Rome, and examine the detailed evidence of thousands of miracles, proved to the satisfaction of a board of cardinals, who pass judgment in conformity with a previously established code of laws. Many a smile, and many a scowl too, will be raised on hearing this invitation; but what will the smilers and the scowlers say to a similar answer from a follower of Mahomet, or of Brahma, on their being invited to examine the miraculous evidence of the Bible? I, for one, well know what my address would be on such occasion. I would desire the Mahometan, the Hindoo, and all others, to reflect on the view of religion which I myself call Christianity,—to compare it with his national religion, and judge between the two. If he appealed to
the wonders exhibited in past ages, I would tell him that, in my relative ignorance of Oriental history and total unacquaintance with the language of the documents adduced as the testimony of ocular witnesses of his national miracles, I could not judge their value and weight. I would mention the Christian Scriptures, and my just confidence in their intrinsic value, just to make him perceive the analogy of our respective situations in regard to the written testimony of past ages. From the certainty of this analogy, from the obviously insuperable difliculty of his transforming himself into a European scholar, or my becoming a learned Pundit, in good time for making up our minds on the respective value of our traditional evidence of miracles, I hope I could infer satisfactorily for a reasonable man of any nation whatever, that God cannot have made our happiness depend upon the settlement of such a question. Having conjured away that disturbing mental phantom, the rest of the examination could not fail to be both improving and satisfactory to any couple of upright men, whatever might be their respective conclusions at the end of the conference.
“(29.) Is this Rationalism, or is it already rank infidelity, a formal renunciation of all revelation? I confess I am perfectly indifferent to the name by which others may choose to express the simple fact that they do not agree with me. But I am far from being indifferent to the removal of dark and unsocial prejudices, when there is a chance left of my being heard on these important subjects. I wish, therefore, to request the serious attention of men not totally blinded by the spirit of orthodoxy, to a passage in the Old Testament which clearly proves the inferior value, as evidence, which Moses, or whoever was the writer of the book of Deuteronomy, sets on miracles. The too common practice of talking a great deal of the inspiration of the Old Testament, whilst by some it is read in detached passages merely as a charm, and in total indifference to the sense; and by others it is kept as much as possible out of view, in order to avoid the disturbance which, if read attentively, it never fails to produce in the minds of thinking
persons,—this practice alone is the cause of the general notion that the Bible lays the ultimate foundation of religion on miracle. The following passage deserves deliberate attention! it is in the 13th chapter of Deuteronomy :
“* If there arise among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or of that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord
God with all your heart and with all your soul. Ye shall walk after the Lord
your God and fear him, and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death.'
.“ This rationale of miraculous evidence deserves a degree of 'consideration from those who conceive revelation to depend on miracles, which they certainly have not bestowed upon it. It discloses something very extraordinary relating to God, but, at the same time, most important in regard to miraculous evidence. According to this oracular writer, God, after having established a religion by miracles, may happen to assist false prophets in the performance of really miraculous works,-or, at least, may connive at the production of signs and wonders perfectly undistinguishable from miracles, with a view to try whether a people's belief in their religion is proof against that same kind of evidence which made them embrace it. Now the question occurs: Did the Jews act upon this revealed command in regard to Christ? Unless they were accustomed to read the Old Testament like most divines amongst us, they could not have overlooked a law so obviously applicable to the miracles of Jesus and his apostles. Yet either the Christian documents have suppressed the very perplexing argument which this passage offered to the Scribes and Pharisees, or both Christ and his learned contemporaries must have been
aware of the inherent and intrinsic weakness of miraculous evidence. There are, indeed, in the Gospels deeply marked traces of Christ's dislike to the popular notions regarding miracles: the genuineness of the passages in which Jesus reproves the Jews for their determination not to believe him except. on the ground of miraculous exhibitions, becomes unquestionable, when we consider that those speeches are preserved by men who fully partook of the popular notions in favour of miraculous proofs of doctrine, of men who evidently did not understand the meaning of such sayings, nor their inconsistency with the abundance of miracles found in their narratives. But I leave those who ground their Christianity on miracles and inspired books, to grapple with these difficulties. One thing after all is evident,—that the Bible itself is not decidedly in favour of the notion that the miraculous can be the ultimate proof of a divine revelation. As to Christ himself, a conviction that miracles must be the credentials of an extraordinary messenger from God, is totally inconsistent with his reproof to the Jews,— except you see signs and wonders, you will not believe.' If we follow
the consequences of the como monly established notions on this subject, the Jews were perfectly right in not believing except under that condition, But, in justice to them, it must be acknowledged that not even the clearest miracles could relieve them from a most distressing perplexity; the book of Deuteronomy excludes all miraculous evidence in regard to the Jews themselves, and condemns the miracle worker to death. The Jew was bound to continue what he was in regard to religion, even if heaven and earth obeyed the voice of a reforming prophet: the sun miglit rise in the west, and the seasons change their succession at his command. The Jew,—the faithful, orthodox Jew,--would not be moved at such signs, for he had the highest authority to believe “ that the Lord his God was proving him.' Such was his clear duty, according to the Law, even when the miracles were worked before his eyes. What then can be expected
from the conscientious Israelite of our own times, who has only miracles in writing to convince him?
(30.) What then, I shall be asked, can prove a revelation from heaven ?-I know nothing that can prove it except the thing revealed. How the glorious thoughts, pregnant with blessings to mankind, were imparted by the Father of lights at sundry times and in divers manners,' but especially in these last days to his greatest messenger, Christ,—whether those thoughts arose according to the established laws of mind, or were breathed, together with a vivifying moral spirit, into the souls of the divine messengers, we have not means to ascertain ; all that we are enabled to do is to appreciate the value of the message itself. Revelation is precious because it communicates truth. Gold might be miraculously drawn from the bowels of the earth, but its miraculous origin could not raise its standard when put into circulation with other gold. The wisdom of God, I doubt not, has, in mercy to mankind, chosen instructors, whom, by means known to God alone, he has enabled to do for the world, what, as far as we can judge, would be out of the power of any individual unsupported by a peculiar divine assistance. Among the benefactors of mankind, I cannot find any one to compare to Jesus of Nazareth. But if mankind cannot be benefitted by the truths he taught, except through an historical conviction that those truths were miraculously known, and miraculously proved, the truly divine mission of Christ is doomed to remain without any thing like an adequate result. Millions of men may continue to call themselves Christians, but with no more reason than they would be called Mahometans, if chance had united that name with the circumstances of their birth and education. Unless Christianity be what men, all over the world, may rationally accept as soon as education shall have awakened their conscientious reason,—that faculty which judges between moral evil and good,-unless Christianity can be preached to the poor without the assistance either of enthusiasm, or of historical and critical proofs, we are forced to conclude that