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Superstition is there gradually losing its hold on the human mind ;--the Scriptures are in full circulation in the Irish language ;-teachers of youth are preparing the people for the reception of the Living Oracles : they are going before the face of the Lord to prepare his way in the desert, and to make his path straight. The mighty work has been begun, which will advance in renovating and enlightening the neighbouring isle, and which, while it will moralize and sanctify its interesung population, will bring to the aid of this country a powerful auxiliary in diffusing the knowledge of everlasting salvation. It is then that the Douglas and the Percy united, will be proof against the world in arms; and Ireland, rising from that long night of darkness with which it has been covered, will reflect the light that now talls on its shores, and will itself in its turn become a luminary for theenlightening of other nations, directing their views to the salvation which God has prepared before the face of all people,-a light to lighten the Gentiles, and to be the glory of his people Israel.
The Pamphlet before us well deserves the consideration of the public. It clearly points out the means by which these important ends may be attained. To take a full view of its contents, and of the various subjects to which they are allied, would oblige us to assign a larger space to this article than our limits permit. We earnestly recommend its attentive perusal to all who wish to be well informed on a subject which, till of late, has been greatly misunderstood. We shall only add the very forcible observations of Dr. Johnson on the state of the Ilighlands, and which are no less applicable to the state of Ireland at the present moment.
These observations are contained in a letter addressed to a gentleman in Edinburgh.
"I did not expect to hear that it could be, in an assembly convened for the propagation of Christian knowledge, a question, whether any nation uninstructed in religion, should receive instruction; or whether that instruction should be imparted to them by a translation of the holy books into their own language. If obedience to the will of God be necessary to happiness, and knowledge of his will be necessary to obedience, I know not how he that withholds this knowledge, or delays it, can be said to love his neighbour as himself. He that voluntarily continues in ignorance, is guilty of all the crimes which ignorance produces; as to him that should extin. guish the tapers of a lighthouse, might justly be imputed the cala. mities of shipwreck. Christianity is the highest perfection of humanity; and as no man is good, but as he wishes the good of others, no man can be good in the highest degree, who wishes not to others the largest measure of the greatest good. To omit for a year, or for a day, the most efficacious methods of advancing Chris. tianity, in compliance with any purposes that terminate on this side of the grave, is a crime of which I know not that the world has yet
had an example, except in the practice of the planters in America, a race of mortals whom, I suppose, no other man wishes to resemble.
• When the Highlanders read the Bible, they will naturally wish to have its obscurities cleared, and to hnow the history, collateral or dependent. Knowledge always desires increase : it is like fire, which must be kindled by some external agent, but which will afterwards propagate itself. When they once desire to learn, they will naturally have recourse to the nearest language by which that desire can be gratified; and one will tell another, that if he would attain knowledge, he must learn English.'
Art. X. Remarks on an Article in the Edinburgh Review, in which
the Doctrine of Hume on Miracles is maintained. By the Rev, James Somerville, Minister of Drumelzier. 8vo. pp. 3 t. price ls.
Edinburgh, Oliphant, and Co.; London, Hatchard, 1815. WHEN we noticed, in our Number for last December, the
strange revival and recommendation, by an Edinburgh Reviewer, of Hume's repeatedly exploded tenets respecting miracles, we felt persuaded that the vigilant defenders of the Christian religion, north of the Tweed, would, no more than ourselves, suffer so censurable and dangerous an attack upon established doctrines, to pass without animadversion. We have not been disappointed. Two papers, in refutation of the Edinburgh Reviewer's reasonings, have appeared in a very respectable magazine, “ The Edinburgh Christian Instructor;” one of which, with a little enlargement, is now laid before the public in a separate pamphlet.
This masterly production, for such in truth it is, is divided into three sections. In the first, the Author examines the reasoning of Laplace. He shows, decisively. that that distinguished mathematician reasons from false premises; that he deals in mere assertion without proof, and not only without proof, but without foundation ; that when Laplace says, we should not believe extraordinary or miraculous occurrences on any testimony whatever, he is contradicted by the whole his• tory of mankind; for it is the unquestionable fact, that man• kind have, in all ages, believed the most extraordinary occur
rences on what they considered as good testimony? He shews, that the first of Laplace's premises, is no other than his conclusion ;--that he assumes the very question in dispute, and makes that assumption the medium of proving it; -thus proving the thing by itself!—The Author terminates this section by an observation, which, as it proves that when a geometer pretends to settle this question definitively, he wanders out of his appropriate province, we shall quote at length.
• Before Laplace can establish his theory, he must first prove, that we would not believe the greatest number of the most intelligent and upright witnesses wbo should assert that they had seen a hundred dice fall on the same faces; and he must prove, that when we believe the testimony of our own eyes, we do it from a persuasion of the immutability of the laws of vision. He has made no attempt to prove either the one or the other; and we believe he did not make the attempt because he knew he had no such proofs to offer. He comes not forward here as a geometrician, but as an observer of human nature. Geometry could afford no proofs ; and all the proofs which could be brought from the observation of the sense and conduct of mankind, were against him; for in all ages mankind have actually believed the most astonishing events when well attested ; and they still go on to do so, in spite of all that Hume and the enemies of revelation have said to the contrary. If it is a question which must be referred to the general judgment of mankind,—there is no doubt of that being against them !'
In the second section Mr. Somerville proceeds to examine the reasoning of the Edinburgh Reviewer. "Here he shews, in the first place, that the Reviewer employs a most pitiful sophism, calling that experience, which, in reality, is testimony, and ought to have been so called, and then arguing from it against testimony
• If (says Mr. S.) it was owing to the want of acumen that the Re. vicwer did not perceive this confusion of ideas and terms, he must be placed very low in the class of reasoners. If he did perceive it, but adhered to it, because he easily saw that the distinction would overthrow all his reasoning, he must stand still lower as a man of integrity.'
He then proceeds to shew that the proposition, which assumes that no testimony can prevail against perfect uniformity of experience, is a mere childish truism, in which it is first assumed, that experience is perfectly uniform, and then argued, that if it be perfectly uniform, it must be perfectly uniform! The result, indeed, is this, that, according to the principles of the Reviewer, 'no testimon
no testimony is to be credited beyond our own observation ;' a result which necessarily includes the grossest absurdity, and contradicts common sense.
In the third section Mr. Somerville proves that the Reviewer has made a concession which overthrows his whole argument.
He computes that the probability of the sun rising to-morrow, is as 2611,
person may wager 1826214 to 1 in favour of it. This implies, that if a person should wager more, as for instance, a hundred millions to one, he would act against the laws of probability. Here it is taken for granted that there is some probability of the sun not rising to-morrow : it is very small, but still it is something. Now,
or that a
I should be glad to know, by what mood or figure he will attempt to prove that an event which is not only possible, but to a certain de gree probable, to-morrow, cannot by any evidence be established to have happened in any past period. If he say, that it is in itself impossible, we deny it upon his own showing, for he has proved that it is possible, and even to a certain degree probable. If he say, that uniform experience is against it, we deny it, and say that only the experience of the present generation is against it. If he say that uniform testimony is against it, this we deny also ; for it is testified by the author of the book of Joshua, that in his time the sun stood still for a whole day; and there is no testimony at all on the other side, as applicable to that particular day. The same observations may be applied to all the miracles recorded in Scripture. Experience is not applicable to them, for it is limited to the objects under our notice ; and testimony is so far from being against them, that there is testimony for them, and none against them. Many persons testify that they saw them happen, and none testify that they were upon the spot, and examined all the circumstances, and saw that they did not happen. As to the testimony of those who were not there, however uniform it might be, it does not bear at all upon the subject.'
Our acute Author then proves that the Reviewer has not, any more than Laplace, been able to bring his own science to act upon the subject, and that nothing approaching to the certainty of
geometrical demonstration has been brought by either of them into the discussion. Their argumentation, indeed, rests upon the most egregious sophistry, and Mr. Somerville has properly exposed it. His reasoning is close and cogent, and his conclusions are irrefragable. The refutation of these two mathematicians, (who seem to have rashly approached a topic which they had very inadequately considered,) is complete, and, at the same time, temperate. We most cordially recommend the pamphlet to the attention of all who have in any way been thrown into a state of doubt, by the positive tone of the Edinburgh Reviewer ; and we are convinced that where the head only has been be. wildered by his sophistry, doubts must soon yield to the force of Mr. Somerville's arguments.
As the subject is momentous, we shall subjoin a few observations.
And first, let us notice the singular fatality wbich often attends men of acumen and science, when they are tempted to oppose the truths of Revelation. The mathematical articles in the Edinburgh Review, though they are sometimes marked with strange peculiarities and prejudices, always evince considerable talent and research. The writer assumes the tone of a master, and generally proves that he is one. The only blunders in reasoning or investigation, into which (as far as we recollect) be bas fallen, in the course of twelve years, are trou, viz. this in reference to miracles, and that in which he confounded the motive, and the accelerative forces, in order to prove that God did not superintend the world he had made! How is this to be regarded but as another confirmation of the Divine decree, that “ they “ who despise God shall be lightly esteemed," either for the baseness and folly of their lives, or the childishness and imbecility of their reasonings, when they presume to employ human intellect in opposition to the teachings of Him who gave it?
Let the conduct of the Edinburgh Reviewers, in reference to their article, and to this refutation, be considered. Mr. Somerville's paper appeared in the “ Edinburgh Instructor” on the 1st of December, 1814, and was published separately early in the February of the present year. There can be no doubt that the Editor of the İnstructor, in the first instance, and Mr. Somerville, in the next, would leave copies of this paper with the publisher of the Edinburgh Review, to be forwarded to the Reviewer. We have now lying at our elbow the 48th Number of the “ Edinburgh Review,” which contains articles manifestly written about the end of March, or beginning of April. Does it exhibit any refutation of Mr. Somerville's essay? No. Does it contain any acknowledgement of error, or even of inadvertence, in reference to the language it held, in the 46th Number, on the subject of miracles ? It does not. What then are we to infer from this, but that these Reviewers have neither intellectual ability to refute Mr. Somerville, nor manliness sufficient to acknowledge their own mistake, and deplore its evil tendency ? It is to no purpose to say that they cannot be expected to stoop to notice what they may regard as insignificant magazines, and insignificant pamphlets. The Edinburgh Instructor is read by hundreds of well-informed persons, who are occasionally thrown into the society of the members of “the coterie;" and Mr. Somerville's pamphlet, though humble in its appearance, is the subject of frequent conversation at Edinburgh. The Reviewer of Laplace, therefore, must know, it is next to impossible it should be otherwise, that the bulk of well-informed persons at Edinburgh, consider him as completely refuted: the same impression will, doubtless, be made upon every unbiassed reader of Mr. Somerville's essay; and unless the Reviewer immediately attempt a reply to his clerical antagonist, the public will inevitably conclude, not merely that he is, but that he considers himself, defeated. We venture to predict, however, that this gentleman will neither reply nor retract; but that he and his colleagues will, as usual, seize every convenient opportunity of sapping the foundations of religion, and sneering at the folly and fanaticism of those who consider Christianity to be of supreme importance. But this is, and always has been the man