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dence of his delegated authority, that his personal integrity is unimpeached and his communications are such as might be expected from his government. The time for action would be lost while such proof was being proved. He must exhibit credentials which carry on their face the direct evidence of his commission. He must show the broad seal of his sovereign stamped upon their handwriting. So must an ambassador from God. What then can he show but miracles? What else can set to his communications the seal of God? "In fact, the very idea of a revelation includes that of miracles. A revelation cannot be made but by a miraculous interposition of Deity."*
So that the idea of miracles can be unreasonable or improbable only so far as it is unreasonable or improbable that God should commission one or more persons to make a revelation of his truth and will. That such a revelation was needed in the world at the time when Christ appeared, can be denied only by asserting that the additional light now possessed, in consequence of the gospel, is superfluous and useless. This denial can only be maintained by showing that the world, sunk in idolatry, vice, and darkness, as it was universally before the gospel came, had all the knowledge of God, and all the assurance of his will and of the retributions of a future state, that were important to its happiness. A matter of proof which I suppose no one here imagines to be possible. Then if it cannot be shown that a revela
* Gregory's Letters.
tion was not needed, it cannot be proved that the idea of a revelation from a God of infinite goodness and mercy, was either unreasonable or improbable. But a revelation can be attested only by miracles. They are inseparable. Consequently, in the idea of miracles being wrought in proof of divine revelation, it cannot be proved that there is any thing either unreasonable or improbable.
It would not be difficult to show, that in the circumstances of the world at the Christian era, a revelation was not only probable, but necessary; and by manifest consequence that miracles, as its necessary attestations, were also not only probable, but
Having thus endeavored to show that there is no presumptive evidence against a miracle, except as it lies equally against a revelation, and that the one is probable in proportion as the other may be expected, let us proceed to our second proposition.
2. If miracles were wrought in attestation of the mission of Christ and his apostles, they can be rendered credible to us by no other evidence than
that of TESTIMONY. There are various descriptions of evidence, as the evidence of sense, the evidence of mathematical demonstration, and moral evidence including that of testimony. Each of these has its own department of subjects. A question of morals cannot be demonstrated by mathematics, or proved by the senses. A question of historical fact can be settled only by testimony. It might as well be put to the tests of chemistry, as to have applied to it
either the evidence of mathematical demonstration or of the senses.
Not only is there a separate department for each of these species of evidence, but each is sufficient, in its appropriate place, for the complete establishment of truth. By this I mean, that when the quantity of an angle is proved by mathematical demonstration, we have a result of no more practical confidence than when the existence of this house is proved by the senses, or that of the city of London is proved by testimony. Proof in either case is the foundation of entire belief. We are just as certain that such a man as Napoleon once lived, as that any proposition in geometry is true, though one is a mat- · ter of testimony, the other of demonstration. We are quite as sure that arsenic is poisonous as that food is nutritious, though one is, to most of us at least, a matter of testimony only, while the other is to all a matter of sense. We are perfectly certain of all these things.
It is likely that some minds are led into erroneous notions of the comparative conclusiveness of testimony on one side, and that of mathematical demonstration and of the senses on the other, on account of the technical name by which the former is distinguished in philosophical discussions.* It is called probable evidence. It would seem to some as if, because probable, it must be less satisfactory, since in common speech what is merely probable is not certain. But in philosophical language, the word
* Stewart's Phil. 2, p. 179.
probable is used, not in distinction from certain evidence, but simply from that which is sensible or demonstrative, without reference to the measure of certainty attached to it. Thus, our belief that the sun will rise to-morrow, or that we are all to die, or that London was once visited with a dreadful plague, is founded on what is called probable evidence, though we should be suspected of lunacy did we question the propriety of acting upon it with perfect assurance. Such, then, being the sufficiency of testimony to convey a perfect assurance of any thing in its appropriate sphere, however distant in point of time or place, I return to the proposition that if miracles were wrought by Christ and his apostles, they can be rendered credible to us of the nineteenth century by no other evidence than that of testimony. Mathematical evidence is evidently inapplicable to the question. It is a matter of fact belonging to another century, and therefore intangible by sense. Nothing remains but testimony. This kind of evidence is perfectly appropriate to the subject of proof. If, therefore, the gospel miracles are true, they must be substantiated by testimony, or not at all. We proceed to the next proposition.
3. Miracles are capable of being proved by testimony. This I consider to be as true and obvious as that miracles are capable of being proved by the evidence of the senses. That a certain person was dead and buried yesterday, and that he is alive and walking the streets to-day, the senses are perfectly competent to decide. I never heard of this being
questioned. But if I and twenty others saw these facts, is there no way of making them credible to my neighbor who did not see them? Will it be pretended, that if twenty men of unquestionable honesty and intelligence should solemnly and by every means of conviction in their power assure me that they saw the man dead, buried, and in corruption, I would have no sufficient reason to believe their assertion? Will it be pretended, that if the same men should in the same way assure me that subsequently they saw the same man alive and conversed with him, I should have no reason to believe their assertion? I think there are none among us who could avoid belief in such a case. It would evidently be a case of miracle, believed on testimony; and to maintain that it would be believed without reason, and that no conceivable addition of honest testimony could furnish reason for the belief of those two simple facts, that the man was dead yesterday and is alive to-day, would seem an absurdity too gross to be touched by argument.
Here I should leave the matter, confident in the common-sense of my hearers, were it not that the very absurdity in view has been so mystified with the drugs of false philosophy, so disguised under the dress of logical forms and ceremonies, and so followed in its circulation with the influence of one of the chief names in modern scepticism, as to perplex many minds unaccustomed to the entanglements of sophistry. The principle that no conceivable amount of testimony can prove a miracle, with David Hume for its original champion, has been eagerly adopted by