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education, for the habits of virine to burn this piece before it is seen by upon which you now justly value any other person, whereby you will yourself. You inight easily display save yourself a great deal of mortificayour excellent titlents of reasoning tion from the enemics it may raise upon a less hazardous subject, and avainst you, and perhaps a good deal thereby obtain a tank with our most of regrei and repentance. If men are distinguished anthors. - For among so wicked with religion, what would 1$ it is not necessary as aniqng the: they be if uithout it? I intend this Hottentots, that a youth in be raised letter itself as a proof of my friendship, into the company of men should prove and therefore add no professions to ii; his manhood by beating his mother, but subscribe simply yours, I would advise you therefore not to
B. FRANKLIN. attempt unchaining the tiger, but
An Examination of Mr. - Hume's rion by which to prove or judge of the Objection to Miraclis.
existence of miracles. The credit due R. HUME, in his celcbrated to them, it is admitted, rests entirely MR. Men betingelerator racle " A transgression of a law of jection to it, from the supposed incom. nature, by a particular volition of the petency of human testimony, is invalid, Deity, or by the interposition of an and at most a mere begging of the Invisibie Agent.". This Essay, to use question. Nevertheless, it must be his own words, is designed to show remembered, that the failure of an « That no testimony is sufficient to ingenious sophister to prove a negative establish a miracle, ualess the testimony by no means establishes the converse, be of such a kind, that its falsehood an affirmative. On the present occawould be more miraculous, than the sion, therefore, it will not be irrelevant, fact which it endearours to establish: and, perhaps, the only satisfactory reply and even, in that case, there is a mu
to an objection of this sort, not merely tual destruction of arguments, and the
to silence the negation, but also to atsuperior only gives us an assurance tempt upon adequate evidence to subsuitable to that degree of force which stantiate the affirmative. (The minor remains after deducting the inferior." support aiteupied to be derived from
In the above quotation, Mr. Hume the subsequent sophisms contained in assumes the utter incapacity of testimony the Essay, such as the notion of an to prove a miracle. That the assump
hypothetical array of conflicting testition is specious, will not be denied: monies, the want of an uniform expeand unhappily, considerable numbers rience, &c. &c. will in due time be have been imposed upon by it. In adverted to, but not much enlarged reality, howerer, a more gratuitous one upon, volumes having already been ably hath never been made, as will be fully written, amply refuting them.). exemplified by an investigation of the My first and principal endeavour, grounds upon which he has attempted then, will be to ascertain and prove to defend it. The corner-stone of his the competency of human testimony, to building is another assumption of a still establish and record the existence of more extraordinary nature, but which, any fact, whether of an ordinary or if correct, would undoubtedly silence extraordinary kind, even although it all oppugncrs, namely, that a greater
were “ A transgression of a law of miracle mrist be wrought to prove the nature, by a particular volition of the existence of a lesser one, or in other Deity, or by the interposition of an words, that a niiracle is the only crite- Invisible Agent," which is Mr. Hume's
definition of a miracle. " If the falschood of his testimony
“The evidence, that the course of would be more miraculous than the event nature has been departed from, is the which he relates, then, and not till then, very same by which we judge when it can he pretend to command my belief or is not departed from, and must be opinion." Essay.
equally competent in both cases. For VOL. XII.
certainly the eyes, ears and other senses mediate and personal observation, or to of men are equally capable of judging that of others, who have recorded them concerning all things, which they are to us. To assert, then, that a fact equally capable of perceiving." cannot be proved, when already ad
All' miracles are facts, of a nature mitted to have been fully proved, is an cognizable by the ordinary faculties absolute contradiction, the very aband suited to the common apprehension surdity charged upon the abettors of of mankind : indeed if they were not miracles. A miracle, then, we must 50, to no purpose would they have admit, in the first instance, is capable been performed. Those recorded in of being proved by the senses; and the the Christian Scriptures have a peculiar subsequent establishment of its proof efficacy in this view, since they do not by testimony is no contradiction: independ upon à priori arguments and deed, why iis being registered and rerecondite speculations for proof; but corded as a testimony of its truth to uniformly referring to plain facts, and others should alter its nature, and as it addressed to the common sense of man. were by enchantment annihilate its kind, the most illiterate as well as the previous capacity of proof, a wiser head most learned could equally judge of than even Mr. Hume's is requisite to their truth. Like other jacts, there- determine. It must be conceded, howfore, which are not miraculous, they ever, that the veracity of testimony is may be established by testimony, the not uniform; and here it is that we persons recording them affirming only meet the difficulty in its fullest force, the experience of their own senses, and and freely admit that miracles require that of others, in a plain and simple a stronger testimony than common case, namely, that certain effects were facts, but deny that the nature and carepeatedly produced in the presente of pacity of testimony is on that account any considerable numbers, and of which, ways altered or impaired, which by the too, they themselves had a personal objector is strenuously contended to be knowledge.
Had he confined himself to Mr. Hume, in Note K of his Essay, this single point, his objection would informs us, “That a miracle may be have had considerable weight, though discoverable by man or not; this alters it would by no means have been insunot its nature and essence." A more perable; but by blending with it the positive admission of the existence of utter incapacity of testimony to prove miracles could not have been made, at all, he has effectually defeated his since whatever has a nature and es- own purpose. A testimony that proves sence must necessarily exist. And that nothing cannot lie. a miracle is discoverable by man, Mr. A more than reiterated experience in Hume has furnished us undeniable proof of miracles is not wanting. If evidence in his own example; for if all occurrences, and all must be comnot so, how could he have known, and prehended under the idea of an uniform affirmed of it, that its nature and es- experience, were to be brought about sence would not have been altered by by means of particular interpositions the circumstances alluded to in the (which is the notion of a miracle), quotation: That a miracle is in itself every practical benefit to result from possible, and capable of being proved them would be lost, and to us they by the senses, is certain ; and farther, would no longer be miracles: an unthat it may also be satisfactorily proved ceasing series of miraculous interventions to others by testimony, Mr. Hume ac- would in effect be the same as an estaknowledges when he remarks, that our Vlished law. The efficacy of a reasonobservation of the veracity of human able experience in judging of them is testimony constrains our assent to the not denied : but the futility and unbelief of ordinary facts, even although reasonableness of an uniform experience they have never immediately fallen is manifest. Moreover, our competency under the cognizance of our own to judge of the existence of any fact,
Just so is it with miracles, whether of an ordinary or of an extrawhich, although undoubtedly facts of ordinary nature, does not depend upon an extraordinary nature, are not on that its constant recurrence, nor is it altered account the less discoverable by us, by our ignorance of what produced it; when, as in the case of ordinary facts, since the mode in which the operation they have been submitted to our im- of the usual course of the laws of liae ture is effected equally with the sup- decisive. By the addition of a single posed deviation from or transgression ounce to a pair of well poised, though of them (the case of miracles) is un- ordinary scales, you will turn them as known to us.
compleiely, and more commodiously ; The supposition supported by Mr. too, than by that of a pound; but the Hume of an array of antagonists or addition of hundreds or thousands of opposite proofs between miracles, and ounces, at once, to a pair of sceptical testimony as the criterion of them, is scales, would produce no other effect $u weak and untrue, as to be really that I am acquainted with, than the anworthy of him. Wherein is exem- breaking of them: and well would it plified any mutual destruction of argu- be for the experimentalist, if he were ments? Does the liability to falsehood not materially injured in the general in testimony, annul or impede its capa- wreck. Improbability, moreover, has city to record truth, even although that no relation to testimony, but only to truth be of a miraculous nature? Cer- opinion : where testimony begins, imtainly not; both the concessions in probability ends. To give testimony the Essay, and numerous other more to any event, supposes that we have powerful considerations herein ad- already ascertained the fact, either diduced, prove it beyond doubt. Is rectly, by the observation of our own testimony any other than the record of senses, or indirectly, through the meexperience? “ the criterion of facts dium of the senses of others. In either which do not fall immediately under case, improbability is wholly out of the our own observation.” What, then, question. can be more absurd than to oppose the The consideration that the sul-sequent record of positive experience to the absence effects in the Christian world can be of an uniform and personal one, or to accounted for on no other principle, the liability to error in testimony, de- than upon the supposition of the truth signed or undesigned, especially in a of the miracles, with the important end case of this kind, where multitudes of to be answered by them, are arguments living witnesses could have contradicted that have justly made a forcible imit? At the time the miracles are re- pression on numbers. Some have decorded to have been performed, they nied experience to be the sole foundawere never denied; the Power only by tion on which to ground our belief in which they were accomplished was testimony: others, in answer to the ever called in question. Human na- objection that miracles are not wrought ture, too, having been fully admitted in our days, have replied to it by saying to be the same in all ages, the persons that they are no longer necessary; inliving in those days were equally com- formation now abounds in the world; petent with ourselves, not only to ascer- mankind are of themselves sufficiently tain the facts, but also to record to inclined to examine the records of im others the experience of their senses: and mortality; a præternatural stimulus is no surely nothing more either has been longer wanting; and the Almighty done, or is wanting to be done, to cannot be expected to resort to extraestablish the proof of miracles, since ordinary means while ordinary ones this is the test by which we can alone are fully adequate ; à priori consideraknow them: but such are the minor tions have actuated the researches of a sophisms adduced in corroboration of few, who have directed their principal this celebrated objection, and main- efforts to ascertain the abstract nature of tained to be indispensable by their miracles, rather than the subsequent author.
establishment of their proofs. The Much stress has been laid by Mr. sum total, however, of these united Hume and others on the natural im- observations, seem to me to tend more probability of miracles, but with little to the refutation of the minor difficulties reason. Were it a question of pro- of the case, than to the subversion of bability only (which, however, it cer- the principal one: and one, more spetainly is not), the balance of records in cious than Mr. Hume's, will, I apprewhich they are noticed affirming their hend, be easily admitted to have never truth, and the preponderance of veracity been made. in human testiinony having been con- The capacity of testimony to record ceded in the Essay, the evidence in truth, even although that truth be of a their favour, even on this ground, is miraculous nature, can no longer be
denied--the futility of its supposed in- light upon the subject. From the latter capitency haring, it is presumedl, been cause, too, I cannot discover whether fully ascertained. I have directed my my conjecture be new, but I have observations more immediately to this certainly never heard of it before. My point of the objection, the nature and reasons for believing it well-founded, capucily of testimony, because it is the are, that we have no ground to imagine point which appears to me to be the that any doubts existed in the time of principal one, and in most of ihe an- our Lord with regard to his being the swers given, to have been the least son of Joseph by natural generation, attended to.
and therefore no cause for the EvanA BELIEVER IN MIRACLES. gelist's writing the words “
supposed,” after the name of Jesus ; Genealogy of Jesus and Joseph. whereas there is a manifest propriety
Gosport, Jun. 2, 1817. in their being appended to that of Joglish this verse thus:
natual generation, but (if the tradition “ Aud Jesus himself began to be of Eusebius be correct, and I know about thirty years of age, being (as not how, without adnitung it, to rewas supposed; the son of Josephi, concile the genealogies) by legal transfer which was the son of Ileli.”
only-Jacob having raised up seed The Improved Version, for “as was to his brother." supposed," reads, as was allowed by Could it be proved that by accident law.”
or design these words had been transIt is not the present writer's design posed by a copyist from their original to enter into the dispute concerning the situation (which, perhaps, may be disagreements between the genealogy of done, or at least the presumption strengthMatthew and that of Luke; neither is ened, by some of your ingenious and it of very material importance to his learned' correspondents), the believers argument whether we read“ supposed” in the miraculous conception would or “ allowed by law to be the son of have one argument the less in defence Joseph," he being well persuaded that of their hypothesis. those words in the parenthesis were I should be happy to see the disnot intended by the Evangelist to de- cussion taken up. scribe Jesus, but his father Joseph, and
J. READ. that the passage originally stood :
“And Jesus himself" began to be Nurrutive of a celebrated Auto de Fé in about thirty years of age, being the
the City of Logrono. son of Joseph, who was supposed to [Continued from Vol. XI. pp. 576 be (or allowed by law to be) the son
and 658.] of Heli." From Dr. Priestley's Ilarmony of TVE inquisitors state that the fol
lowing ceremonies take place on the Gospels (Sect. Il. Notes). I find the installation of a witch: that “ according to Eusebius, it was a The witch, who persuades any pertradition in the family of Joseph, that sons to become noviciates, first anoints he was properly the legal son of Heli, them with a fætid, greenish liquid, who, dying without children, his bro- and then takes them rapidly through ther Jacob inarried his wife, and having the air to the Aquelarre, where they are a child by her, it was transferred to received by the devil on his throne. Ileli."
They there renounce God, the virgin, The only use which Dr. P. makes of all the saints and sacraments, and on the citation, is to account for the dif- their knees they kiss various parts of ference in the genealogies—Matthew the devil's body, and acknowledge him stating that Jacob begat Joseph, and for their God and Lord; after which Luke that “ Joseph" was “ the son of his infernal majesty makes a wound in Ileli."
their flesh with his nail, and with a Whether at the time he published liquid like gold marks the apple of the Harmony, the Doctor believed the their eve, by which mark the witches miraculous conception or not, is less recognize one another. Though the apparent than might be wished in the pain from the former operation is exnotes to that work; and I have no cessive, the place wounded soon beother books at hand which will throw comes senseless, and the inquisitors
say that having discovered the places individuals, who had been hurried almost scratched by the devil, they drove pins to death by sundry apparitions, and whose into them till tireir heads were buried, accounts agreed with those of the witches. yet the witches felt or seemed to feel The name of Jesus, however, (the bo pain. An imp is then selected for inquisitors say they ascertained) is sufeach noviciate, which is fostered and ficient to dissolve every charm of witchfed by the old witches, till it is thonght craft; and they report many instances proper to entrust it to the care of the of the wonderful effects of the ejaculas newly installed. The whole assembly tion“ Jesus !"--Scores of witches dis. then dance amidst flames of fictitious persed in a moment-tempests calmed fire to the sound of timbrels, tamba- --invisible spirits made manifest, and rines and flutes (the musicians of the many other miracles. Zugarramurdi Aquelarre were among On the vespers of certain saints' days the witnesses under our cominission, a solemn act of adoration to the devil and were reconciled in consequence of is performed in the Aquelarre. The their disclosures), and the devil assures witches then make a confession of their them these are the flames of hell, and virtues (instead of their sins), and are encourages them to every sort of evil, reprehended gravely on account of promising them that hell-fire shall no them. All the apparatus of mass is inore scorch them than this unreal introduced in mockery (black, moreblaze. At cock-crowing they all dis- over, dirty and ugly), and the devil perse, each accompanied by his familiar reads an address from his own missal, (or imp), and fly through the air' to and afterwards gives a sermon on the their individual homes.
advantages of atheism and immorality. On Aquelarre nights the noviciates All the company then prostrate theme are employed in guarding a flock of selves at his fect, each presenting some imps (in the forın of toads), which fur- offering, which is received by evil spirits nish the witches with poisons and who are in attendance, and who alointments for their various diabolical ways take part in the more important purposes, and become the agents of ceremonies. The administration of their misdeeds. These imps are en- the sacrament is next turned into rie dowed with the gift of speech, and are dicule, by a burlesque, in which a piece clad in fine cloth and velvet. Some of of shoe-leather represents the consethe witches confessed, that they had crated wafer; and when these services nursed their imps with the greatest ten- are over, they proceed to every species. derness, had made them their constant of infamous crime. companions, and these, in return, had Miguel de Goyburu (oldest wizard watched over them both sleeping and and king of the Aquelarre) testified waking, and been to them like guardian (and he was borne out by other eviangels.
dence), that the senior witches greatly Juanes de Echalar (the minister of enjoy visiting church-yards, disinterring justice in our Aquelarre) declared, and the dead, and stealing their brains, his testimony was confirmed by many cartilages, and other parts of the body. others, that if any witch absented her- To light them while thus employed, self from the assembly, or in any way they use a torch made of the arm of infringed on the laws of witchcraft, hc an unbaptized child, the fingers being was accustomed to scourge the offender kindled, and this torch (they continue) with thongs and thorns, till blood has the singular property of illuminating streamed from the wounds, when the the witches, while it reinains invisible devil himself applied ointment to the to all other human beings. The colsores, and treated the sufferers with lected spoils are presented to the devil, such extraordinary care and tenderness, whodevours them greedily, encouraging that the marks were almost immediately the witches to do the same. removed.
In the autumnal season, the most The reconciled witches stated, thai privileged of the witches receive the one of the amusements of the Aquelarre visits of the devil and his imps, who was to sally forth (in the shapes of dif- accompany them to fields and dark ferent animals) to way-lay and frighten cares, where they instruct them how passengers, selecting those especially, to prepare poisonous ointinents, from who neglect to say grace before and various venemous animals, which they after meat. This iestimony was cor- amalgamate with human brains and roborated by a host of evidence from bones. With these poisons they be