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acknowledged to be the only firm foundation of the hope of immortality, cannot be presented; and our minds must want the ordinary seriousness of human nature, if it cannot arrest us.

That Christianity has been opposed, is a fact implied in the establishment of this lecture. That it has had adversaries of no mean intellect, you know. I propose in this discourse, to make some remarks on what seems to me the great objection to Christianity, on the general principle on which its evidences rest, and on some of its particular evidences.

The great objection to Christianity, the only one which has much influence at the present day, meets us at the very threshold. We cannot, if we would, evade it ; for it is founded on a primary and essential attribute of the religion. The objection is oftener felt than expressed, and amounts to this—that miracles are incredible, and that the supernatural character of an alleged fact, is proof enough of its falsehood. So strong is this propensity to doubt of departures from the order of nature, tlat there are sincere Christians who incline to rest their religion wholly on its internal evidence, and to overlook the outward extraordinary interposition of God, by which it was at first established. But the difficulty cannot in this way be evaded; for Christianity is not only confirmed by miracles, but is in itself, in its very essence, a miraculous religion. It is not a system, which the human mind gathered, in the ordinary exercise of its powers, from the ordinary course of nature. It professes to be a supernatural communication from God. So that the objection which I have stated still presses upon us, and, if it be well grounded, it is fatal to Christianity.

It is proper then to begin the discussion with inquiring, whence the disposition to discredit miracles springs, and how far it is rational. A preliminary remark of some importance is, that this disposition is not a necessary part or principle of our mental constitution, like the disposition to trace effects to adequate causes. We are indeed so framed, as to expect a continuance of that order of nature which we have uniformly experienced; but not so framed as to revolt at alleged violations of that order, and to account them impossible or absurd. On the contrary, take men at large, and they discover a strong ami incurable propensity to believe in miracles. Almost all histories, until within the two last centuries, reported seriously supernatural facts. Scepticism, as to miracles, is comparatively a new thing, if we except the epicurean or atheistical sect among the ancients; and so far from being founded in human nature, it is resisted by an almost infinite preponderance of belief on the other side.

hence then has this scepticism sprung? It way be explained by two principal causes : First, It is now an acknowledged fact, among enlightened men, that in past times and in our own, a strong disposition has existed and still exists to admit miracles without examination. Human credulity is found to have devoured nothing more eagerly than reports of prodigies. Now it is argued that we discover here a principle of human nature, namely, the love of the supernatural and marvellous, which accounts sufficiently for the belief of miracles, wherever we find it; and that it is consequently unnecessary and unphilosophical to seek for other causes, and especially to admit that most improbable one, the actual existence of miracles. This sweeping conclusion, is a specimen of that rash habit of generalizing, which rather distinguishes our times, and shows that philosophical reasoning has made fewer advances than we are apt to host. It is true, that there is a principle of credulity as to prodigies in a considerable part of society, a- disposition to believe without due scrutiny. But this principle, like every other in our nature, has its limits; acts according to fixed laws ; is not omnipotent; cannot make the eyes see, and the ears hear, and the understanding credit delusions, uuder all imaginable circumstances; but requires the concurrence of various circumstanoes and of other principles of oar nature, in order to its operation. For example, the belief of spectral appearances has been very common; but under what circumstances and in what state of mind has it occured? Do men see ghosts in broad day, aud amidst cheerful society? Or in solitary places; in grave-yards, in twilights or mists, where outward objects are so undefined as easily to take a form from imagination; and in other circumstances favourable to terror, and associated with the delusion in question? The principle of credulity is as regular in its operation, as any other principle of the mind ; and is so dependant on circumstances, and so restrained and checked by other parts of liuuian nature, that sometimes the most ohstinate i.icredulity i3 found in that very class of people, whose easy belief on other occasions moves our contempt. It is well known, for example, that the efficacy of the vaccine inoculation has been encountered with wuch more unyielding scepticism among the vulgar, than among the improved; and in general it may be affirmed, that the credulity of the ignorant operates under the control of their strongest passions and impressions, and that no class of society yield a slower assent to positions, which manifestly subvert their old modes of thinking and most settled prejudices. It is then very unphilosophical to assume this principle as an explanation of all miracles whatever. I grant that the fact, that accounts of supernatural agency so generally prove false, is a reason for looking upon them with peculiar distrust. Miracles ought on this account to be sifted more than common facts. But if we find that a belief in a series of supernatural works has occurred under circumstances very different from those, under which false prodigius have been received, under circumstances most unfavourable to the operation of credulity; then this belief cannot be resolved into the common causes which have blinded men in regard to supernatural agency. We must look for other causes, and if none can be found but the actual existence of the miracles, then true philosophy binds us to believe them. I close this head with observing, that the propensity of men to believe in what is strange and miraculous, though a presumption against particular miracles, is not a presumption against miracles universally, but rather the reverse; for great principles of human nature have generally a foundation in truth, and one explanation of this propensity so common to mankind is obviously this, that in the earlier ages of the human race, miraculous interpositions, suited to man's infant state, were not uncommon, and being the most striking facts of human history, they spread through all future times a belief and expectation of miracles.

I now proceed to the second cause of the scepticism in regard to supernatural agency, which has grown up, especially among the more improved, in later times. These later times are distinguished, as you well know, by successful researches into nature; and the discoveries of science have continually added strength to that great principle, that the phenomena of the universe are regulated by general and permanent laws, or that the Author of the universe exerts his power according to an established order. Nature, the more it is explored, is found to be uniform. We observe an unbroken succession of causes and effects. Many phenomena, once denominated irregular, and ascribed to supernatural agency, are found to be connected with preceding circumstances, as regularly as the

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