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xnunUy must always be made up of the opinions of individuals , a nation is not very likely to frame a liberal code of laws , where the habits of the people lead them to shun all who differ from them .
The custom of judging of men by any criterion , except their actions , is pregnant with incalculable evil ; " By their fruits ye shall know them / ' How much , of misery would the world have been spared if this divine maxim had always held its due authority !
Why are not the principles of the inductive philosoph y ( of which this rule is a beautiful epitome ) carried into moral science ? Why are not the discoveries of Bacon , to use his own words , ** brought home to our business and bosoms" ? M . D . H .
On Miracles . 463
AS Christianity is a system of doc-. trines founded on miracles , every attempt to explain their nature and enforce their credibility deserves to be treated with candour . Allow me ,
therefore , to offer a few hints to the consideration of your numerous readers , which are a summary of those reflections which have produced in my mind a belief in the miracles on
satisfactory evidence and rational conviction . The Founder of Christianity said to the Jews , c < The works that I do in my Father ' s name , they bear witness of me . —If I do not the works of my Father , believe me not . " John x . 25 , 37 .
It has , however , unfortunately happened , from the ideas entertained of the nature of miracles , that formidable objections have been made to the truth of the doctrines founded on them in
ancient and modern times . The Jews , believing in magic and the interference of evil spirits , ascribed our Saviour ' s miracles to Beelzebub . But as the present improved state of knowledge
has rooted from the minds of men the belief in magic , the Christian apologist has not now to combat with this childish superstition . Modern objections have taken a different turn , and been
principall y grounded on the idea that miracles are violations of the laws of nature . Thus Mr . Hume , in his Essays , says , " 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 aay argument from experience can possibly be imagined . " Many of the friends of Christianity whose
writings I have consulted , acknowledge that miracles are deviations or departures from general laws . Mr . Farmer , in his Dissertation on Miracles ,, observes , " Every sensible deviation from , or contradiction to , the known laws of nature , must be an evident and incontestable * miraele /*
Dr . Priestley , in his Evidences of Natural and Revealed Religion , has a short section on the Nature and Use ( < of Miracles , in which he observes , that < though it be wise to establish general laws , yet occasional deviations from
them may contribute more to promote the same end than a perfect uniformity . " He then proceeds to point out the advantages of these deviations , and at the conclusion makes the following important remark : €
* Strictly speaking , indeed , it is improper to say the laws of nature are violated in working of miracles , because they are no more than the effect of an adequate power in nature exerted . But this view of miracles by no means affords any objection to the use of them
that is here contended for , since whatever demonstrates the interposition of a power superior to human , must be referred to the operation of God , mediately or immediately , nor is it possible that any religion should have a stronger sanction than such works as these . " *
Supported by such authority , I beg leave to define a miracle to be a work superior to human power , which God enables a messenger whom he ha 3 sent to perform in attestation of his divine mission , by the immediate agency of physical or material causes . If it be supposed that no being besides God
ever wrought a real miracle , which appears to me to be the truth , the definition which I have given will not be materially affected . It is acknowledged they were wrought mediately or immediately by the power of God . The question to be considered is simply this , —Was this power exerted in violation of the laws of nature ? * Institutes , I . 255 .
Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), Aug. 2, 1821, page 463, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct2503/page/23/