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AN EXAMINATION OF THE EVIDENCE OF SEVERAL MIRACLES WHICH HAVE BEEN SAID TO HAVE BEEN WROUGHT FOR OTHER PURPOSES THAN THE CONFIRMATION OF THE JEWISH AND CHRISTIAN REVELATIONS.
TT TE shall be much confirmed in our VV belief of the miracles of Moses
and of Christ, and of the truth of their religions, if we compare the evidence which has been brought for them, with that which is alledged in favour of other miracles. For miracles have been
pleaded in favour of heathenism, Mohammedanism, and the church of Rome; but the evidence which is alledged in their favour, though it has been boasted of by modern unbelievers, as equal, and even superior to what has been pleaded for the miracles of Moses and of Christ is exceedingly defective, if there be any propriety in the rules which I have already laid down for ascertaining the value of human testimony.
The number of false miracles which have gained credit in the world, pofterior to those of Christ and his apostles, are, in some measure, an evidence of their truth. Mankind are easily led by analogy from one thing to another; so that having been compelled to admit the evidence of some miracles, they would more easily admit that of others, in any respects similar to them (as their being wrought by the same kind of persons, and for similar purposes) upon much more slender evidence; whereas, if nothing had existed of the like nature before them, the evidence of which was indisputable, the later miracles would have gained no credit at all; so that the credit which they have obtained is a kind of proof that something better authenticated had taken place before them. In like manner spurious Gospels, &c. are some proof that there were genuine ones prior to them.
It may truly be said of all miracles, not Jewish or christian, that they were either not published to the world till long after the time in which they were said to have been performed, or not in the places in which they were said to have happened, or they were suffered to pass without examination, because they coincided with the favourite opinions and prejudices of those to whom they were reported; or that it was the interest of priests or magistrates to favour the deceit. None of these miracles were performed in places where they must have been the most wanted, viz. in the presence of unbelievers; and besides, they were of such a nature, as could answer no good end whatever, many of them a bad one, and the rest were whimsical and ridiculous, such as, we cannot but think, must
have have been altogether unworthy of the cha. racter of the supreme being. And yet, with respect even to the popish miracles, which are only pretended to have been wrought in countries in which it is highly dangerous not only to make any inquiry into them, but even to hint the least suspicion of their truth; Mr. Chubb fcruples not to say, that they are better attested than any that are faid to have been wrought in the first cena tury, that is, by Christ and the apostles; and the philosophical Mr. Hume expresses himself in a still stronger manner to the fame purpose.
The pretended miracles of Apollonius Tyanæus have been set upon a level with those of Christ by Hierocles and Philostratus among the antients, and by Mr. Blount among the moderns. I shall therefore give a more particular account of them.
This Apollonius was a Pythagorean philosopher, cotemporary with Christ, and remarkable, as it is said, for his temperance and many other virtues. It is affirmed, that