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says our author, men in all ages have been so im-
posed on by ridiculous stories of that kind." Now,
besides that it is untrue that any religion but that
of the Bible ever attempted to set up its claims by
the credentials of miracles, this is utter trifling. After
all the metaphysical parade to which we have been
attending, are we brought to this, that because some
men have been knaves and fools, therefore all must
be such? Can we believe in the sincerity of none,
because hypocrites have been many? Must we refuse
belief in any accounts of physical phenomena, be-
cause men in all ages have been imposed on by ridic-
ulous accounts of such things? Must we decline
accepting any notes issued by our banks, because
men have so often been imposed on by counterfeit
currency? On the contrary, counterfeit currency is
positive proof that there is such a thing as a sound
and honest currency.
And in like manner, the fact
of spurious pretensions to miracles, so far from being
a reason for rejecting all accounts of miracles, is a
strong presumptive proof that some of them are true.
An argument which finds itself constrained to seek
refuge under the shadow of such a position as this,
must indeed have been reduced to an extremity.

We have dwelt on this desperate effort of the most noted and acute sceptic of modern times, much longer than was called for by any thing either diffi cult or important in itself, because it affords a very strong presumptive proof of the impossibility, by any force of talent or skilfulness of manœuvre, of breaking the solid mass of testimony by which the miracles

of the gospel are defended. Such a mind as that of the historian of England would never have descended to the absurdity of denying the credibility of all testimony in proof of a miracle, had it not been that all his efforts to pick a flaw in the testimony of those of Christianity had utterly failed. Show me a man endeavoring to pick his way through the stone wall of a prison, and I need not be told that he is shut up and has despaired of escape by the door.

The pains which all sceptics have taken to escape from being shut up to the faith of Christ, adopting every other conceivable method than the one simple and equitable plan of refuting the direct evidences of Christianity, should be considered unequivocal proof that there is a force in those evidences which their enemies dare not encounter face to face-something that persuades the bold champion of infidelity that in this warfare "discretion is the better part of valor."

But we cannot relinquish this division of our lecture without pausing to draw a lesson from the scepticism of Hume. That he was a learned and very ingenious writer, none can deny. That he was much more amiable and less unexemplary in his temper and habits than infidel champions generally are, we have no disposition to question. But these commendations only render his case the more affecting, and his insidious sophistry the more dangerous. The pride of reason was his master. The praise of a philosopher was his idol; to doubt what others believed, his habitual tendency; to maintain a paradox against the world, his prevailing ambition.


the influence of these dispositions, the very fact that the religion of Christ was a revelation requiring him to sit at its feet and learn, instead of a theory flattering the sufficiency of his own powers to discover truth, was its condemnation. The more it possessed the sanction of ages, and of the greatest minds, the more did it rouse him to its rejection. The imposing multitude and weight of its evidences were the strongest stimulants of his unbelief. He first denied the miracles of the gospel, and then set his wits to contrive some grand argument by which all the testimony in their favor might be undermined. He reasoned himself almost out of his own existence, and surrounded himself with impenetrable darkness. The present was all contradiction, the future all "an enig ma," to his mind. Poor unhappy philosopher! How little his learning could do in the search of truth, for want of humility. How easily can all human know. ledge and all mortal wisdom become foolishness, when the wise man leans to his own understanding, instead of acknowledging and seeking God in all his ways! That Hume was accustomed to pray for guidance in his investigations of truth, it is impossible to suppose. The great fountain of light being thus denied, God gave him up to the devices and desires of his own heart. Verily, "He taketh the wise in their own craftiness." Thus, most justly, did our philosopher meet with darkness in the daytime, and was permitted to grope in the noonday as in the night. One just view of himself as a sinner would have refuted and broke up his whole system of proud

unbelief. I have known a good deal, by experience, of the conflict which infidels maintain behind the intrenchments of Hume and other champions of their cause; I have known also something, personally, of conversions among such people; and it has often astonished me to see how immediately a whole system of well-jointed infidelity tumbles to pieces-how entirely the most darling argument against the gospel is changed into folly, and given to the winds, as soon as one realizes that he is a sinner and must stand before God in judgment.

4. Let us pass to our fourth proposition. The testimony in proof of the miracles of the gospel has not diminished in force by the increase of age. It is not an uncommon idea that the transmission of remote events by successive testimony, from generation to generation, weakens their evidence in proportion to the time. It is supposed, that had we lived in the fourth instead of the nineteenth century, we should have possessed the testimonial evidence of the Christian miracles in much greater force than it is now enjoyed. But we deny that there is any reason for this supposition. Mere oral tradition must weaken with age; but written testimony cannot suffer loss as long as the genuineness of the document containing it is unimpaired, and the character of the witnesses is substantiated. For example, suppose it be recorded on the minutes of the Young Men's Society of New York, that on the 13th day of January, 1832, this lecture was delivered to its members, on the Evidences of Christianity, and those


minutes be laid up among its records; and the society exist from generation to generation, keeping a regular account of its transactions, for four hundred years; and at the end of that time some one, searching into its early papers, should read the minutes of the above event-the evidence of the fact would be considered as conclusive as if, instead of four hundred years, only fifty had elapsed since its occurrence. The event would be as certain as the genuineness of the record, and would have no reference to the age of either. Let the society continue a thousand years, and its records being still preserved uncorrupted, the evidence will remain undiminished. We rely upon the testimony in proof of the invasion of Britain by Julius Cæsar, or of Italy by Hannibal, with quite as much confidence as we read of the wars of Charles the First in England. And if our present accounts of those widely remote events shall be preserved to the end of the world, the confidence of our posterity at that time in their historical correctness, cæteris paribus, will be as complete as ours. Indeed, it is only with regard to the facts related in the Bible that men ever talk of any diminution, by the lapse of years, in the credibility of testimony. But with how little reason is evident, when you remember that a matter of historical fact is of the same nature in regard to testimony, whether it be found between the covers of the Bible or those of a Roman historian. For precisely the same reason that the event of this lecture, recorded in the minutes of the Young Men's Society, would retain its evidence unimpaired as long

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