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LECTURE V.

Acts ii. 22.

Jefus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you,

by miracles, and wonders, and signs. HAVING

ING considered the consistency of the Mosaic and Christian revelations, I now propofe to offer a few remarks on the miracles and prophecies which connect the two dispenfations.

To begin with the subject of miracles; a species of evidence, in which it must be allowed that there is no analogy to a general providence; for these are deviations from that ordinary course, by which he is pleased to conduct the works of nature. This evidence is much disputed, and reluctantly received, not only by those who poffefs an evil heart of unbelief, but by those who can comprehend that only which immediately operates on the external senses. As St. Paul asked, when pleading before Agrippa a, Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you that God should raise the dead ? the same mode of interrogation may be applied to those who deny this extraordinary interposition in his moral government. Why should it be thought incredible that God should work a miracle for

any special purpose ? In both cases it must obviously strike us, that the cause is more than equal to the effect. In the mechanism of nature, as well as of art, we can always suppose an effect, to which an adequate cause can be assigned. This will apply to miracles. There are none affirmed in the Scriptures to have been performed which are beyond the power, or inconsistent with the attributes of God. To cause a temporary suspension, or derangement, or inversion of the laws of nature, is a less effort of Omnipotence than creation, or the appointment of those laws. He who

gave life, and contrived so exquisitely all its functions, may, if he please, arrest their operation, or restore it when destroyed. This admits of no dispute ; and therefore the objections of sceptics are rather raised against the probability than the possibility of a miracle. Now the most obvious answer to this may be, that, since the possibility is granted, we cannot refuse afsent to the probability, provided the occasion or the object of any miraculous interference of the Deity be of such importance as to require. a particular suspension or diversion of the ordinary course of providence, and if the object alleged be consistent with those great and efsential attributes, wisdom, mercy, and justice. It has been urged with some appearance of plausibility, that our own experience of the regularity of nature is sufficient to invalidate any testimony that may be brought in favour of a miracle.

* Aets xxvi. 8.

This however is to oppose particular experience to universal; a portion of existence to all the ages of mankind. For what may not have been perceived by one individual, may have been experienced by many ; what may not have occurred in one generation, may frequently have been witnessed in others antecedent. Of collective experience it is impossible to speak decidedly, because that may be well known to an individual, or to many individuals, which has never been communicated to others; and there is no universal register of experience.

Nor is it a sufficient confutation of any fact,

to assert that it has not been submitted to par. ticular observation. We have no means of ocular testimony for any historical circumstance, and for the truth of such circumstances we mult trust to the records of former ages. Volcanos have existed in many parts of the globe, which are now extinct : yet here the phenomena of nature concur to establish our belief in their existence. Our faith is here determined by analogy, by considerable probability, but altogether without particular experience.

They who oppose the credibility of a miracle seem to forget that the origin of all created things must have been miraculous ; that is, contrary to human experience. For the origin of the creation of man, either we must trust to imaginary speculation, or to the declarations of the Scriptures: for nothing is more clear, than that the original parent could not have exifted from infancy to maturity without supernatural aid; for of all animals man is the most helpless in the early part of existence. The human mind too is progressive, and collects and forms all its ideas gradually, and could therefore only arrive at understand

by some miraculous interposition of almighty wisdom. It is evident therefore, that

ing

the first parents of the buman species could not have subsisted in a state of infancy, unless by some particular interference of Providence; it is therefore certain that they must have been created, as the Scriptures represent, in a state both of corporeal and mental maturity. The same observation will apply to many species of animals. Here then we have an absolute demonstration of the existence of miracles; and thus we may safely conclude, that God, having at first produced all the creation by miracles, might have successively employed similar interpositions.

Both the Jewish and Christian dispensations have been subject to discussion of the same kind. Their miracles, and indeed all their evidences, meet with objectors of the same temper. They were equally disputed and dif-, trusted. Their authority was equally called in question. But the same remark may be made on both, that from their nature they could not have been the effect of any collusion.

On the subject of miracles it is impossible to enter into a detail; but their general necessity in ages antecedent to the establishment of Christianity must be obvious. When events proceed in a natural course, they produce little effect on the human mind. Thus the rising

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