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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.
E fhall be much confirmed in our belief of the miracles of Mofes and of Chrift, 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
pleaded in favour of heathenifm, Mohamme danism, and the church of Rome; but the evidence which is afledged in their favour, though it has been boafted of by modern unbelievers, as equal, and even fuperior to what has been pleaded for the miracles of Mofes and of Chrift 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 falfe miracles which have gained credit in the world, pofterior to those of Chrift and his apoftles, are, in fome meafure, an evidence of their truth. Mankind are cafily led by analogy from one thing to another; fo that having been compelled to admit the evidence of fome miracles, they would more cafily admit that of others, in any refpects fimilar to them (as their being wrought by the fame kind of perfons, and for fimilar purposes) upon much more flender evidence; whereas, if nothing had exifted of the like nature before them, the evidence of which was indifputable, the later miracles would have gained no credit
at all; fo that the credit which they have obtained is a kind of proof that something better authenticated had taken place before them. In like manner fpurious Gofpels, &c. are fome proof that there were genuine ones prior to them.
It may truly be faid of all miracles, not Jewish or chriftian, 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 faid to have happened, or they were fuffered to pafs 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 prefence of unbelievers; and befides, they were of fuch a nature, as could anfwer no good end whatever, many of them a bad one, and the reft were whimfical and ridiculous, fuch as, we cannot but think, muft have
have been altogether unworthy of the cha racter of the fupreme 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 leaft fufpicion of their truth; Mr. Chubb fcruples not to say, that they are better attefted than any that are said to have been wrought in the first century, that is, by Chrift and the apostles; and the philofophical Mr. Hume expreffes himself in a ftill ftronger manner to the fame purpose.
The pretended miracles of Apollonius Tyanæus have been fet upon a level with those of Christ by Hierocles and Philostratus among the antients, and by Mr. Blount among the moderns. I fhall therefore give a more particular account of them.
This Apollonius was a Pythagorean philofopher, cotemporary with Christ, and remarkable, as it is faid, for his temperance and many other virtues. It is affirmed, that