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Of all the Popish miracles, those which have been afcribed to the Abbé Paris are generally allowed to be the most credible. Mr. Hume boafts exceedingly of them, afferting that no where else can there be found fuch a number of circumftances, agreeing to the corroboration of one fact; and that nothing can be oppofed to fuch a cloud of witneffes, but the abfolute impoffibility, or miraculous nature of the events. He even fays, that thofe miracles may be said, with fome appearance of reafon, to furpass those of Chrift in evidence and authority, Philofophical Effays, p. 198, &c. Let us now confider a few circumftances which our philofopher feems to have overlooked, when he gave his judgment in this cafe,
At the time when these miracles were faid to have been performed, there was a ftrong and numerous party in France, under the conduct of very able and learned men, who were strongly prepoffeffed in favour of that caufe which thofe miracles were calculated to fupport; and on the first rumour of them, they were eagerly cried up, and confidered
confidered as the clear decifion of heaven in favour of the Janfenifts.
The character of this Abbé was fuch, as makes it highly improbable that any miracle fhould have been wrought by him, or in his favour. His whole life was a courfe of the moft abfurd and painful fuperftitions. He abridged himself even of the neceffaries of life, and was, in fact, acceffary to his own death, by refufing proper affiftance, and even better nourishment, when he was manifestly drawing near his end, in confequence of his extreme aufterities.
By the manner in which Mr. Hume writes upon this fubject, one would imagine that thefe miracles had never been contradicted, and that the evidence for them had never been difputed; and yet the fact is, that they were always fufpected by moft perfons who heard of them; that the archbishop of Sens confrdered twenty-two of them as impoftures; that the counfellor Montgeron, who undertook to confute him, gave up feventeen of these pretended cures, and defended only
only five; that M. Des Voux proved to him that he defended them very ill; that in the judicial proceedings upon the occafion, the falfity of many of thefe prodigies was demonftrated; that many witneffes abfconded to escape examination; that others depofed that their certificates had been falfified, by the addition of circumstances which were not true; that many of the sick perfons protefted against the account which had been published of their cures; that many of thofe who had been fubject to convulfions, confeffed to M. De Heraut, the lieutenant of the police, that their convulfions were artificial; that the cures, true or falfe, were but gradual, and accomplished by feveral fleps; that they were obliged to go nine times at least, and often more, to the tomb of the Abbé; fo that the cures might very poffibly be either the work of time, of a lively imagination, or of the medicines which they continued to take; that by far the greatest number of those who applied for a cure were difappointed; that it was very unlikely that the afliftance of the divine being should not have been obtained but by means of convulfions,
convulfions, fwoonings, violent, and fome times very indecent geftures, which thofe who applied for a cure made use of; and laftly, that these miracles entirely ceased when no credit was given to them; and inftead of drawing the Janfenifts out of the low reputation into which they were fallen, they only ferved to make the whole party more ridiculous and contemptible *.
Mr. Hume alfo mentions, after the cardinal De Retz, a miracle which was faid to have been wrought in Saragoffa; but, by Mr. Hume's own account, the cardinal himself did not believe it.
The laft inftance I fhall mention is one on which Mr. Chubb lays great stress, viz. a miracle faid to have been wrought among the Camifards, or the proteftants in the South of France, and which he fays cannot be distinguished from a real miracle. The principal thing that was exhibited upon occafion was one Clary, feeming to ftand or dance about in the flames unhurt. The
Lettres de Rouftan, p. 85, &c.
account was published by Mr. Lacy, an English gentleman, who joined the French proteftants when they took refuge in England, from the depofitions of John Cavalier, a brother of the principal leader of the Camifards, but a perfon of an infamous character, who afterwards turned papift, and inlifted in the French king's guards.
But M. Le Moine, who answered Mr. Chubb's treatife on miracles, in which this fact was mentioned, having taken fome pains to inquire into it, found, upon the teftimony of the most unexceptionable witneffes, efpecially that of one Serres, who had been a member of the privy council of the Camifards, that the whole business was a trick, contrived by themfelves, in order to encourage their troops. This perfon, when near his death, gave a circumstantial account of the manner in which the artifice had been conducted; and the particulars, together with the proofs of the whole difcovery, may be feen in M. Le Moine's treatife on miracles, p. 420, &c.