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argument is stated in the following words: “A miracle is a violation of the laws of nature ; and as a firm and unalterable experience has established these laws, the proof against a miracle, from the very nature of the fact, is as entire as any argument from experience can possibly be irnagined" (Essays, vol. ii., sect. 10). To the same effect Strauss says, “We summarily reject all miracles, prophecies, narratives of angels or demons, and the like, as simply impossible, and irreconcilable with the known and universal laws which govern the course of events." The argument of Hume seems to amount to this: Our experience of the uniformity of nature's laws has never deceived us, but the testimony of our fellow-creatures has often deceived us; and therefore he concludes that their testimony, except in certain cases, can never prove that there has been a “violation" of the laws of nature, He admits, indeed, with strange inconsistency, that human testimony might in some cases prove a miracle; but he maintains that if the miracle be intended to support religion, then no proof can establish its reality. That is to say, suppose that God should resolve to reveal His will directly to the human race, in order to remove their miseries and sins, and should think fit to convince them by miracles that He has really done so, then Hume would at once deny the reality of these miracles, and discredit the strongest testimony in their favour.

Though the miracles might, in certain circumstances, be received as facts, yet they must be rejected as fictions, provided that they are designed to support a religion. In his estimation, a religious motive vitiates and evacuates the evidence furnished by miracles.

Such is Hume's argument; but if we closely examine it, it will not be difficult to show that it contains a double fallacy; first, in regard to experience, and second, in regard to testimony.

First, as to our experience of the uniformity of nature's laws. No doubt this experience may inform us as to past events, but it can give us no certain or infallible information as to future events. For instance, experience tells us that the sun has risen and set daily during the last six thousand years; but experience cannot make us perfectly sure that the sun will continue to rise and set for ever. Nay, if the observations of astronomers and the calculations of mathematicians are to be relied upon, it can be demonstrated that the solar system, as at present constituted, cannot last for ever, but that it contains within itself the elements of its own destruction. Again, suppose that the extinct animals which have been found imbedded in the rocks, and which belong to an era far anterior to the creation of man, had been capable of reasoning, they might have said, like Hume, “Our experience for many centuries shows that the laws of nature have never been violated ;

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and this, therefore, proves that these laws never will or can be violated.” But the lifeless remains of these animals in the rocks show that their reasoning would have been as false as Hume's is, and that God did work a miracle to destroy them from the face of the earth. It is, therefore, nothing to the purpose to assert that a miracle is contrary to past experience. The only relevant question is, whether the evidence adduced in proof of the miracle, as a fact, be valid and sufficient or not? Neither is it true to affirm that “ miracle is a violation of the laws of nature,” in any sense in which such a violation is regarded as impossible or inconceivable. For, as has been shown by Dr Brown, in his work on “Cause and Effect," a miracle is simply the introduction of a new cause, with new powers; and it cannot, therefore, be reduced to the rules suggested by a past experience, but its reality must be determined upon independent evidence of its

For example, by the law of gravitation, all bodies left free fall necessarily to the earth; but by the will and power of man, aided by science, these bodies, such as a cannon ball, can be forced upwards in an opposite direction. This, however, is not a violation of a law of nature, but it is merely the introduction of a new force. If, then, man's will can produce such results, may not God's will produce greater? And why, in such a case, should our limited "experience” lead us to deny a fact?

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This has been well illustrated, in a recent work, with reference to that mysterious principle of life “which seems to have the power, during its continuance, of 'violating' all the laws of nature. By that principle, the chemical elements which enter into the composition of the oak are detached from their natural connections, as they are found in the air, the earth, and the waters; the chemical laws which held them in these connections are suspended; they enter, under the new principle of life, into new combinations, constituting now the component parts of a tree—the organic structure, the fibre, the bark, the branch, the leaf, the fruit—and they are held together, by that principle of life, with all the power needful to lift up the enormous mass from the earth, despite the law of gravitation, and to keep it steadfast against the influence of storms and tempests, century after century, until that principle of life shall lose its grasp, and become extinct; and then, not before, the chemical laws resume their power, and the old oak returns to gases, and to earth, under the resumed operation of these laws. • All over the earth, therefore, on the land, in the waters, in the air, nothing is more common than that what are called the "fixed and uniform laws of nature' are in fact suspended, 'violated,' held in check and abeyance, by this principle of life, where life is the only antecedent in the result. That a higher power than life-the Life itself, GOD-may not sus

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pend them; that that higher Power may not suspend the laws which regulate life itself, or restore it, has not as yet been established by a firm and unalterable experience" (Barnes, “Evidences of Christianity," pp. 171, 172).

Second, as to the reliableness of human testimony in favour of miracles. Now, as to this, it must be admitted that some testimonies do deceive us; but then there is a kind of testimony which never deceives us, and the falsehood of which would imply as great a miracle as any recorded in the Bible. For example, as we shall endeavour to show in our next and concluding chapter, the testimony of the whole Jewish nation to the miracles of Moses, both at the time when they were wrought and in succeeding ages, cannot be reasonably accounted for, unless it was perfectly true. And so, the testimony of the apostles and others to the miracles of Christ, and the testimony of the primitive Church to the miracles of the first preachers of Christianity-miracles wrought publiclyand repeatedly, appealed to as proofs of a Divine commission, and accredited by the losses and sufferings of those who performed and witnessed them—such testimony as this has a force and verisimilitude and conclusiveness which it is not easy to see how any fair reasoner can resist or gainsay. Those who bear testimony to these miracles could not be themselves deceived in plain matters of fact which they had seen with their eyes;

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