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admits frankly, that if Mr. Hume's tion of such a connection that we can definition of a miracle be admitted, prove any thing; if we must believe viz. that it is a violation of the laws that it has failed, we may as well beof nature, then he must be allowed to lieve that the failure is in the chain of have demonstrated, that no evidence evidence, as in the supposed fact to be of testimony can prove the existence proved by it. If then we suffer Mr. of a miracle. If a miracle supposes, Hume to define a miracle to be “a that the regular sequence of events, violation of the laws of nature," and the connection of cause and effect, attach to these words the meaning has been broken, that a new conse which Doctor Brown does, we must quent has followed an antecedent, in admit that he has indeed demonstraexactly the same circumstances in ted the impossibility of proving that a which it is usually followed by a dif- miracle ever took place. ferent event, then no testimony what The proper method of meeting ever can make a miracle probable; Mr. Hume's argument, is by denying since the highest possible evidence of the correctness of his definition. A testimony is that, in which the sup- miracle is not a violation of the laws position of its falsehood would be of nature ;' if by laws of nature be miraculous. If such testimony were meant the connection between cause given to prove a miraculous fact, that and effect. We add that those who is, a fact which supposes that the se- believe in miracles, never believe that quence of events,-the connection of the connection between cause and cause and effect, is broken, then there effect was broken, or that the sewould be one miracle to balance quence of events, properly underanother; which never could produce stood, has ever failed. 'So far from belief, though it might occasion doubt. it, they always take for granted that If we attempt to shew that the false- every effect must have an adequate hood of the testimony is a greater cause ; and since in a miracle, there miracle, than the fact which it asserts, is no visible cause adequate to the because twelve persons, for instance, effect, they infer that there must have testify to it, and to suppose their testi- been the interposition of a higher mony all false, would be to suppose power. If a being, for example, in twelve miracles. Doctor Brown meets the form of man, could, with a word, us with the assertion, that when the heal incurable diseases, raise the water at Cana of Gallilee, for instance, dead, command the elements, in short, was converted into wine, the conver- perform such wonders, as were never sion of each drop or particle was a known to follow human volition, and miracle, and consequently the num- consequently are not within the limber of particular miracles involved in its of human power—such, in a word, the general one, was indefinitely as we cannot believe to be the effect great. In a word, he denies that of any power less than that which there are any degrees in the improba- first gave existence and laws to nability of a miracle, if it really be " ture; then the belief that every event violation of the laws of nature.” Ac- must be connected with an adequate cording to such a definition, every cause, compels us to believe that such miracle, is a physical absurdity; and cause has here operated ; that the absurdities admit of no gradations. same Almighty Power which gave exIf two are supposed to meet, neither istence to matter and its properties, can be believed; we can only doubt. has himself interposed to vary the
We think with the author, that it common sequence of events. A miris in vain to attempt to prove that acle then supposes the introduction of the sequence of events, as he under- a new power producing a new effect; stands it, that is, that the connection a new antecedent must be premised, between cause and effect, has ever where a new consequent is observed. failed; since it is only on ihe supposi Just as when stoues are seen to fall
from the sky, the fact cannot be courtesy, Doctor Brown has given to doubted by those who witness it, nor the language of bis antagonist, the can it be by any who examine the only meaning which can give any apevidence of such facts; yet no one pearance of consistency and strength ever supposed that these bodies came to his argument. into existence without an adequate Whether it is probable, a priori, cause, although such cause is not that the Author of the universe, seen and cannot be even conjectured. should, in any case, interpose to proNo event, common or uncommon, or- duce events out of the ordinary course dinary or miraculous, can be believed of nature, is a different question. It to take place without an adequate cannot be denied however that the cause; and from these appearances God who made the world in infiwhich are called miraculous, viewed vite benevolence, continues to regard in all their circumstances, we infer it with the same benevolence; and if that God himself is the immediate he sees, that the end for which he and proper cause.
made it, will be promoted in any That a miracle, thus considered, is case, by interposing to vary the comimpossible, no man who believes in mon course of events, it is highly the existence of a God, can affirm. probable that he will do it. If then The God who made the universe, a fact, asserted to be miraculous, has and gave to nature its laws, can doubt- a manifest tendency to promote the less, if he please, suspend their opera end for which the world was evidenition. This inference, does not de- ly made, to a degree to which it could pend, in any degree, on a particular not, so far as we can see, be other theory of cause and effect. Those wise promoted; then there is a prewho believe with Doctor Brown, that vious presumption in favor of its exGod has made matter and endowed istence. We may be, and doubtless it with properties to become the effi- are, to a great extent, incompetent to cient cause of the changes which take decide, what events will finally conplace in nature, no less than those duce to the accomplishment of the who consider matter merely as the purposes of God in creation; but the physical or occasional cause of chan- apparent tendency of revelation, and ges, of which God himself is the sole of all the interpositions recorded in it, efficient, will admit that the Almigh- to promote the glory of God and ty Power which first gave, can, if he the best interests of his intelligent please, take away or vary
the prop- creatures, is justly considered by beerties and laws of matter. Surely, if lievers as affording a strong presumpever our will can give motion to that tion of its truth. which would otherwise have remain Such is a very brief sketch of Dr. ed at rest, and can vary to a certain Brown's luminous train of reasoning, extent the ordinary sequences of on the possibility and previous prob events, it is not too much to claim for ability of miracles. Our abstract the Creator, on any hypothesis of cannot do justice to the argument; causation, an unlimited power of the but as it stands in the work itsame kind, over nature. None there- self, we consider it quite unaoswerfore but an Atheist, can deny the pos. able. We should be amused to see sibility of miracles.
an infidel attempt fairly to meet it. It is of no importance to this argu- Mr. Hume himself, we are persuaded, ment, whether or not Mr. Hume, in. would sbrink from the task. tended by “a violation of the laws of We should have been more sparing nature," a disruption of the connec- of our abstract, and have quoted more nection of cause and effect, as Doc- largely from our author, if he had tor Brown understands him. If he given his arguments in a form so condid not intend this, his argument has densed, that we could have found root no force whatever. With his usual for them in his own words. But the
- p. 527.
author's habits of lecturing probably result has now taken place; as, when an led him to a diffuseness of statement earthquake first sbook the hills, or a vol.
cano first poured out its flood of fire, after and copiousness of illustration, which
the earth itself had perhaps esisted for ma. he would have avoided, had his com ny ages, there was that combination of cirpositions been always designed for cumstances of a different kind, of which the press. In the following passage
earthquakes and volcanoes are the natural
results. pp. 523-525. he briefly recapitulates the heads of of his argument.
There is not a phenomenon, however
familiar now, which bad not at one time If, before slating his abstract argument, a beginning; and I may say even, that Mr. Hume bad established any one of the there is not a phenomenon which was not following propositions, that there is no originally, as Mowing from the Creative proof of any power by which the Universe Will
, an event of this very class. Every was formed, -or that the Power which thing has once been miraculous, if miracuformed the Universe, and was the source lous mean only that which results from of all the regularity which we admire in the direct operation of a Divioe Power; nature, exists no longer,-or that the race and the most strenuous rejecter of all mirof beings, for whom, still more than for acles, therefore, if we trace him to bis oriany other of its various races, our Earth gin, through the successive generations of appears to have been formed, have now mankind, is an exhibiter, in his own perDecome wholly indifferent to the great son, of indubitable evidence of a miracle. Being, who then, by his own immediate agency, provided for them with so much care,-or that it is incoosistent with his It will readily be seen, that all the wist for the happiness of his creatures, arguments which shew the possibility which that early provision for them shews,
and probability, a priori, of miracles, that he should make to them at any time such a revelation as would greatly increase apply, in all their force, to those suptheir happiness, or that, if we should still posed interpositions of God, in regu, suppose him capable of making such a rev. lating the general course of events, elation, he could not be expected to sanction it with the authority of such events as
which are termed a particular Provithose which we term miracles,-then, in
dence. That such interpositions are deed, when either the Divine Power was possible, no believer in the existence. excluded from the number of the existing of God, will deny ;-that they can be Powers of Nature, or His agency in the proved by experience, is not to be nothing, therefore, was left to be compare expected ;-that they are in themed but ihe opposite probabilities or improb- selves probable, a priori, Dr. Brown abilities of breaches of the familiar sequen seems inclined to believe. We shall ces of events, the argument on which the
here let the author speak for himself; Essayist is disposed to found so much, might have been brought forward with ir. and first in respect to the evidence of resistible force. But if it be admitted, tbat such interpositions. a Power exists, who wrought the great miracle of creation with a gracious view Unfortunately, however, the successive to the happiness of man,—that there is no phenomena are not so clearly known to reason to believe this happiness to be less us, in all their circumstances, as to afford an object of Divine Benevolence than it a satisfactory decision of the question. In was originally, that a revelation, of which the mixed series of events in nature, every the manifest tendency was to increase this thing is so complicated with every thing, happiness, would not be inconsistent with and the analysis is often so much beyond such benevolence,--and that, if a revela our power, that in innumerable cases it is tion were deigned to man, a miracle, or impossible for us to predict the particular series of miracles, might be regarded as a effect that may be expected, and to detervery probable sanction of it,-ihen, since mine the particular moment, at which it a miracle would be only the natural result may be expected. We may know, for exof an existing physical power, in the pe- ample, when we look at some fottering caliar and very rare circumstances in wall, that the first great hurricane will which alone its mighty energy is revealed, throw it down ainong the ruins which the evidence of its operation is to be exam. have long been mouldering at its base; ined, precisely like the evidence of any but who is there that can venture to preother extraordinary event. There is no dict the very instant, at which it is to be violation of a law of nature, but there is a overthrown? And if it should fall, the new consequent of a new antecedent. very moment after some wanderer whom The extraordinary combination of circum. it had been sheltering had quitted it, who stances, of which a miracle is the physical is there that can venture to say with conf.
Vol. 3.- No. XI. 75
dence, from his knowledge of the laws of from a temporary change of the seeming gravitation and of the lateral force of cur. order of nature, ihan from a continuadce rents of air, that its (all was at the very of the same apparent order. moment which might have been predici lo this progressive reasoning, if the ques. ed, and, without any providential interfer. tion were to be considered wholly a priori ence, could not have taken place, while there does not seem to be any inconsisterthe wanderer was near enough to be a suf: cy. The only opposite argument, in such ferer? Our xperience of the order of a primary view of it, would be found in events may be sufficient, inderd, to render the good which must be allowed to low less probable the Divine interpositions from continued uniformity of order in the supposed; but it certainly is not sufficient phenomena of nature, as enabling us to to disprove what might or might not be, calculate on their future sequences, to be while all which we know of the order of the planners of our own condact, and in nature hud continued exactly the same. the lessons of experience to derive wisdom
That the supposed agency of the Deity from the very errors and evils of ibe past is not made visible to us by extraordinary pp. 529, 630. appearances,--that, for example, we do not see n falling wall suspended in the air Such views of the possibility and in its descent, till some individual have probability of a particular Providence, passed safely beneath,-:s no proof, that are delightful to every child of God sed. If the interposition were to be equal. They encourage him to look directly ly effective, as to its immediate object, in to his Heavenly Father for help, in either way, there can be no doubt that; every time of trouble ;-they animate view, the less obvious mode is that which his prayers, give him a deep sense the Deity would prefer; because, while it of the divine goodness, and enliven, produced equally the particular good in- beyond expression, his gratitude, fended, it would not seem to violate the when he receives surprising delive ils save all the advantage of that gener.rances or unlooked for blessings. ai unitormity, in relation to which every plan of conduct mighi be arranged, in the
When a house talls down, a few mo seme way, as if the providential interposi. ments after an individual bas quitled it, or sition itself bad not taken place.-pp. 532 a wave brings within the reach of a ship-534.
wrecked mariner, who has almost ceased
to bope, and is resigning himself, after a In respect to their previous proba- long and weary struggle, to the deatb that bility, be reasons thus
seems awaiting him, a plank, or other font
ing body sufficient to bear bim up,—it is It must be admitted,-an asserter of it impossible to trace all the series of physicmuy justly say,—that the Deity, with a al causes, which
retarded till that particoPierw to the good of mankind, has, at one lar moment the fall of the house, or broagbt El.p. directly operated, since the race of the instrument of succour, at the very moinankind, and all the objects which sur.
ment of feebleness and despalr, within the pound them, have existed only by his crea- reach of tbal arm wbich bad strength only live will ;-ihat there is no reason 10 sup- to grasp it. It is impossible, therefore, to pose the creatures, for whose happiness he say positively that the effects were sot at one time operated, 10 be objects of less the result of providential aid; and it is a interest to him, at one period, than at any
very pleasing influence of gratitude to orier period :-hat, if he love mankind, Heaven, that, after escape from peril sa he loves individuals, since mankind, which imminent, leads, in the vividness of jor, is only a name for a number of individual to this very supposition, as a reason for living beings, is nothing in itself, but as
still increasing gratitude.pp. 535, 536. significant of the individuals whom it comprebend. ;-bat it was not for the letters
This gratitude, however, and the or syllables, therefore, which form the love which it awakens, may be in word mankind, but for the living individu. danger of becoming selfish, and less als denoted by it, that he provided, by his worthy of the Giver of every good of things, which has been the home and and perfect gift, than that which rejoicing place of so many generations ;-- flows from more extended views of and tha:, if he truly love the bappiness of his beneficence. the individuals of mankind, he may, on the very principle which he must suppose The gratitude, which, in acknowledge to bave led to the original act of creation, ment of blessings received, looks to Hearbe expected to promote that happiness en as the source from wbicb they have diwhich' he loves, if circumstances should rectly flowed, is a feeling that at once may occur, in which more good would now increase devolion, aod increase the very
bappiness which leads to the grateful ac. rules the world, let us bless him indeed knowledgment. But there are many
for ibis act of his bounty; but while we minds, perhaps the greater number, in are devoutly thankful for the personal which the constant habit of ascribing eve good, let us bless bim still more for those ry little beneficial event to some interpo. general arrangements, from which the prosition of the Divine Power in their partic- duction of that personal good, in harmony ular favour, tends to cherish a sort of iso with the great end which they serve, was lating selfisbness, which, in its own pecul- only a momentary deviation,-arrangeiar relation to events that are supposed to ments, that have made the happiness of be out of the common course of things, al. the world, and, in the equal and uniform most loses the comprehensive and far order of which he may be considered as more impurtant relation of Nature to the exercising, at every moment, some act of whole human race. In the wide and providential bouniy, not to a single indiceaseles variety of good, that Aows from vidual only, but to thousands of our race, the general laws of the universe, the Au and perhaps to myriads of myriads of rethor of those laws appears as the benevo- joicing creatures. -. pp. 538—540. lent provider for all; in particular interpositions, though it may be truly the same We know nothing of Dr. Brown's universal benevolence which prompts religious character and sentiments, them, he appears as more especially prov; but we are rejoiced to observe, that, ident for some favoured individual and though it is the former of these characters under his inquisition, philosophy which is particularly Divine and worthy speaks a language which harmonizes of the most affectionate adoration, from with the doctrines and evidences of those who delight in viewing themselves Revelation. As nature and revelaas parts of a great community, and who consider the good, therefore, which many tion both spring from the same Auparlake with them as greater than the good thor, philosophy, which declares the which they enjoy alone; it is the latter of laws of the former, must, when corthese characters, that may be supposed to impress itself most strongly on an ordina. rectly understood, harmonize with ry mind, that values wbai it has itself ex the truths of religion contained in the clusively received, as far more precious, latter. To the interrogatories of than a good which has flowed lavishly to some, however, who have been conall. When we think of the local and na.
sidered as her distinguished votaries, tional Divinity of the Jews, and of the character, in which, under a different dis. philosophy has been thought to give pensation, he is believed to have revealed answers so much at variance with the himself as the God of all Mankind, we sure declarations of the Gospel, that pious ly cannot hesitate long in determining on which of these characters we should be minds have been tempted to turn with more inclined to dwell, if we wished to disgust from her instructions on moral elevate our mind to the noblest concep subjects; and it is truly refreshing to tions of the Divine Nature ; and the same hear, from Dr. Brown, her unsophistidifference of impression must be in some degree produced by the habit of consider
cated and decisive declarations of ing the Supreme Ruler of the World rath- truth. It will be understood, of er as a personal and particular Providence, course, that we do not now speak eithan as the Providence, which in the beau- ther of his peculiar theory of cause tilul arrangement of this system of things, and effect, on which we reserve the eral bounty. It is of this general bounty, privilege of giving an opinion hereaftherefore, ihat even he who believes most ter, or of his system of mental philosondoubtingly in the particular interposir ophy, which we have not seen. It tions of Heaven should accustom bimself is when, in the work before us, he positively, of any event, however oppor. incidentally speaks on subjects not tune it may seem, in relation to the bene. necessarily connected with his theofit which flows from it, that it is the result of providential agency; we cannot pro.
that he appears to us, the acute, ounce with absolute certainty, ibat it has
the able, as ell as the eloquent phimot been so produced : If, however, we losopher; and if this theory does lead incline to the former of these opinions, to those sceptical results which have and believe that what has happened ad been attributed to it, we are sure Dr. Vapageously for us at any time, has not Brown was indeed so happy as not bnt' by the direct volition of Him who fully to understand his own system.