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was no Course of Nature at the Time which CHAP. we are speaking of: or if there were, we are not acquainted, what the Course of Nature is, upon the first peopling of Worlds. And therefore the Question, whether Mankind had a Revelation made to them at That Time, is to be considered, not as a Question concerning a Miracle, but as a common Question of Fact. And we have the like Realon, be it more or less, to admit the Report of Tradition, concerning this Question, and concerning common Matters of Fact of the same Antiquity; for Instance, what Part of the Earth was first peopled.
Or thus: When Mankind was first placed in this State, there was a Power exerted, totally different from the present Course of Nature. Now, whether this Power, thus wholly different from the present Course of Nature, for we cannot properly apply to it the Word miraculous; whether This Power Popped immediately after it had made Man, or went on, and exerted itself farther in giving him a Revelation, is a Question of the fame Kind, as whether an ordinary Power exerted itself in such a particular Degree and Manner, or not.
Ör suppose the Power exerted in the Formation of the World, be considered as mira.
PART culous, or rather, be called by that Name;
II. the Case will not be different: since it must be
ed. For supposing it acknowledged, that our
It is evident then, that there can be no
Add, that there does not appear the least Intimation in History or Tradition, that Religion was first reasoned out: but the whole of History and Tradition makes for the other Side, that it came into the World by Revelation. Indeed the State of Religion in the first Ages, of which we have any Account, seems to suppose and imply, that this was the Original of it amongst Mankind. And these Reflections together, without taking in the peculiar Authority of Scripture, amount to real and a very material Degree of Evidence, that there was a Revelation at the Beginning
of the World. Now this, as it is a Confir-CHAP.
III. But still it may be objected, that there is some peculiar Presumption, from Analogy, against Miracles; particularly against Revelation, after the Settlement and during the Continuance of a Course of Nature.
Now with regard to this supposed Presumption, it is to be observed in general; that before we can have Ground for raising what can, with any Propriety, be called an Argument from Analogy, for or against Revelation considered as somewhat miraculous, we must be acquainted with a similar or parallel Case. But the History of some other World, seemingly in like Circumstances with our own, is no more than a parallel Case: and therefore Nothing short of This, can be fo. Yet, could we come at a presumptive Proof, for or against a Revelation, from being informed, whether such World had one, or not; such a Proof, being drawn from one single Instance only, must be infinitely precarious. More particularly : First of all; There is a « p. 170, &c.
PART very strong Presumption against common fpe
II. culative Truths, and against the most ordinamry Facts, before the Proof of them; which
yet is overcome by almost any Proof. There is a Presumption of Millions to one, against the Story of Cæfar, or of any other Man. For suppose a Number of common Facts so and so circumstanced, of which one had no kind of Proof, should happen to come into one's Thoughts ; every one would, without any possible Doubt, conclude them to be false. And the like may be faid of a single common Fact. And from hence it appears, that the Question of Importance, as to the Matter before us, is, concerning the Degree of the peculiar Presumption supposed against Miracles; not whether there be any peculiar Presumption at all against them. For, if there be the Presumption of Millions to one, against the most cominon Facts; What can a small Presumption, additional to this, amount to, though it be peculiar? It cannot be estimated, and is as Nothing. The only material Question is, whether there be any such Presumption against Miracles, as to render them in any fort incredible. Secondly, If we leave out the Consideration of Religion, we are in such total Darkness, upon what Causes, Occasions, Reasons, or Circumstances, the present Course of Nature depends; that there does not appear any Improbability for or a
gainst gainst supposing, that five or fix thousand CHAP. Years may have given Scope for Causes, Oc- II. cafions, Reasons, or Circumstances, from m whence miraculous Interpositions may have arisen. And from this, joined with the foregoing Observation, it will follow, that there must be a Presumption, beyond all Comparison, greater, against the particular common Facts just now instanced in, than against Miracles in general; before any Evidence of either. But, Thirdly, Take in the Confideration of Religion, or the moral System of the World, and then we see distinct particular Reasons for Miracles: to afford Mankind Instruction additional to That of Nature, and to attest the Truth of it. And this gives a real Credibility to the Suppofition, that it might be Part of the original Plan of things, that there should be miraculous Interpositions. Then, Lastly, Miracles must not be compared, to common natural Events; or to Events which, though uncommon, are similar to what we daily experience: but to the extraordinary Phenomena of Nature. And then the Comparison will be between, the Presumption against Miracles; and the Presumption, against such uncommon Appearances, suppose, as Comets, and against there being any such Powers in Nature as Magnetism and Electricity, so contrary to the Properties of other Bodies not endued with these Powers. And