« AnteriorContinua »
APPENDIX, containing an essay on the analogy be-
tween the methods by which the perfection and happi-
AN EXAMINATION OF THE EVIDENCE OF SEVERAL
MIRACLES WHICH HAVE BEEN SAID TO HAVE BEEN WROUGHT FOR OTHER PURPOSES THAN THE CONFIRMATION OF THE JEWISH AND CHRISTIAN REVELATIONS.
W E shall be much confirmed in our belief of
W the miracles of Moses and of Christ, and of the truth of their religions, if we compare the evidence which has been brought for them, with that which is alledged in favour of other miracles. For miracles have been pleaded in favour of hea.. thenism, Mohammedanism, and the church of Rome; but the evidence which is alledged in their favour, though it has been boasted of by modern unbelievers, as equal, and even superior to what has been pleaded for the miracles of Moses and of Christ is exceedingly defective, if there be any
propriety in the rules which I have already laid down for ascertaing the value of human testimony.
The number of falle iniracles which have gained credit in the worid, posterior to those of Christ and his apostles, are, in fome measure, an evidence of their truth Mankind are easily led by analogy from one thing to another; so that having been ei inpelled to admit the evidence of some miracles, ihey would more easily admit that of others, in any respects similar to them (as their being wrought by the same kind of persons, and for fimilar purposes) upon much more sender evidence ; whereas, if nothing had existed of the like nature before them, the evidence of which was indisputable, the later miracles would have gained no credit at all; so that the credit which they have obtained is a kind of proof that something better authenticated had taken place before them. In like manner spuriou Gospels, &c. are some proof that there were genuine ones prior to them.
It may truly be said of all miracles, not Jewish or Christian, that they were either not published to the world cill long after the time in which they were said to have been performed, or not in the places in which they were said to have happened, or they were suffered to pass without examination, because they coincided with the favourite opinions and prejudices of those to whom they were reported; or that it was the interest of priests or ma