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sumption against the probability of such supernatural interposition is removed, as has been shown in the argument on that subject.
It might also be demonstrated, that upon the principles of this author, not only would it be absurd, upon any evidence, to believe in a fact which involved a real deviation from the laws of nature, but in any one which was entirely different from all our own experience of the laws of nature. For if it would be absurd to believe, on the testimony of thousands of uncon. nected witnesses that ice did not melt in a certain case when placed in the fire; then it was altogether rational for the king of Siam, and all others in similar circumstances, to disbelieve the fact, that water had been known to become as hard as a stone so that men and animals could walk upon it. Persons 80 situated never could know that such an effect existed but by testimony; yet as this testimony contradicted all their own experience about the laws of nature, in relation to water, they ought rather to reject the testimony, however strolig, than to credit a fact which seemed to involve a deviation from “the sequence of causes and effects,” to use the language of this author. And thus we should be reduced to the necessity of rejecting all facts not consonant to our own personal experience; for to receive them on the ground of testimony, would be to violate the principle, that causation is uniform.
But the zeal of our author to establish his favorite point, has led him, not only to assert, that a deviation from the regular euccession of the laws of nature was incredible, on the ground of testimony, but that it is, in the nature of things, impossible. In this assertion, he certainly may lay claim to originality; for I believe no one before him, not even Hume, has gone so far, in bold affirmation. His words are "An event is impossible which contradicts our experience, or which implies that the same causes have produced different effects, or the same effects been preceded by different causes. Thus, wben we pronounce that it was impossible for a piece of ice to remain in the midst of burning coals without being dissolved, our conclusion involves a complete knowledge of this particular effect of fire on ice."
And he is so confident that this is the true import of the word impossible, that he says, “If I am not greatly deceived,
the acutest reasoner, the closest thinker, the most subtle analyser of words, will find himself unable to produce any other meaning of the term, impossible, than that which is here assigned to it.” But he seems to have felt that he had gone too far in this dogmatical, and I must say, irrational assertion; for in a note he gives himself, another, and one of the true meanings of the word, impossible. But as confident assertion, accompanied by no proof nor reason, is sufficiently answered by a confident denial, I would take the liberty of saying, therefore, that if I am not greatly mistaken, no accurate philologist will admit, that this is the true meaning of the word, impossible. And certainly, men of plain common sense, never can be persuaded, that it is impossible for the succession of events ac. cording to the laws of nature, to be changed. It is true, when we confine our ideas to the mere powers and qualities of nature, we do assert that their effects will be uniform, and that it is impossible that the same causes should produce different effects; but when we extend our views to the Great FIRST Cause, it is not only absurd, but impious, to assert, that he cannot suspend or alter the laws of nature. Nothing is impossible to him which does not imply a contradiction, or is not repugnant to his attributes.
The conclusion which is rational on this subject, is, that all, things are possible to God, and whatever is possible may be believed on sufficient testimony; which testimony, however, must be strong, in proportion to the improbability of the event to be confirmed.
MOHAMMED asserted, that while he was in his bed one night, the Angel Gabriel knocked at his door, and that when he went out, he saw him with seventy pair of expanded wings, whi'er. than snow, and clearer than chrystal. The angel informed him that he had come to conduct him to heaven; and directed him to mount an animal, which stood ready at the door, and which was between the nature of an ass and a mule. The
name of this beast was Alborak, in color whiter than milk, and swift as lightning. But when the prophet went to mount, the animal proved refractory, and he could not seat himself upon its back, until he promised it a place in Paradise.
The journey from Mecca to Jerusalem was performed in the twinkling of an eye. When he arrived at the latter place, the departed prophets and saints came forth to meet him, and saluted him. Here, he found a ladder of light, and tying Alborak to a rock, he followed Gabriel on the ladder, until they arrived at the first heaven, where admittance was readily granted by the porter, when he was told by Gabriel, that the person who accompanied him, was Mohammed, the prophet of God. Here, be met an old decrepit man, who it seems was no other than our father Adam; and who greatly rejoiced at having so distinguished a son. He saw also innumerable angels, in the shape of birds, beasts, and men. This heaven was made of pure silver, and be saw the stars suspended from it, by chains of gold.
In like manner, he ascended to the second heaven, a distance of five hundred years journey, which was of pure gold, and contained twice as many angels as the former. Here, he met Noah. Thence he proceeded to the third, which was made of precious stones, where he met Abraham. The fourth was all of emerald, where he met Joseph, the son of Jacob. In the fifth, which was of adamant, he met Moses. In the sixth, which was of carbuncle, he saw John the Baptist. In the seventh which was made of divine light, he saw Jesus Christ, and commended himself to his prayers. sons he had seen before, however, begged an interest in his prayers. Here Gabriel informed him, that he could go no further, and he proceeded alone, through snow and water, until he came near the throne of God, when he heard a voice, saying, “O Mohammed, salute thy Creator !" He was not permitted to come near the throne of the Almighty, on the right side of which he saw inscribed the sentence, THERE is NO GOD BUT GOD, AND MOHAMMED IS HIS PROPHET; which is the fundamental article of the Mohammedan creed.
After being permitted to hold a long conversation with the Creator, he returned as he came, and found Alborak ready to
All the perconvey him home, on whose back be swiftly glided again to Mecca. All this happened in the space of the tenth part of a night.
la the third heaven, he says, he saw an angel of so great a size, that the distance between his eyes, was of seventy thousand days journey. This was the angel of death, who has a large table before him on which he is ever writing and blotting out; whenever a name is blotted, the persun immediately dies. He speaks also of another angel, in the sixth heaven, which had seventy thousand heads and as many tongues.
The Abbe Paris was the oldest son of a counsellor of Paris, but being much inclined to a life of devotion, be relinquished his patrimony to his younger brother, and retired to an obscure part of Paris, where he spent his life in severe penance, and in charitable exertions, for the relief of the distressed poor, He was buried in the ground of the church of St. Medard, near the wall, where his brother erected a tomb-stone over the grave. To this spot many poor people, who knew his manner of life, came to perform their devotions, as mucł., probably out of feelings of gratitude, as any thing else. Some among the devotees who attended at this place, professed that they experienced a salutary change in their ailments. This being noised abroad, as the Abbe had been a jealous Jansenist, all who were of this party encouraged the idea of miracles having been performed; and multitudes who were indisposed, were induced to go to the tomb of the saint; and some, as they confessed before a competent tribunal, were persuaded to feign discases which they never bad. It is a fact, however, that the greater part received no benefit, and that more diseases were produced than were cured; for, soon, many of the worshippers were seized with convulsions, from which proceeeded the sect of Convulsionists, which attracted attention for many years. It was soon found expedient to close up the tomb; but cures were still said to be performed by the saint, on persons in distant places. The Jesuits exerted themselves to discredit the
whole business, and the Archbishop of Paris had a judicial investigation made of a number of the most remarkable cases, the results of which were various, and often ludicrous. A young woman, said to have been cured at the tomb of blind-, ness and lameness, was proved to have been neither blind nor lame. A man with diseased eyes was relieved, but it appeared that he was then using powerful medicine, and that after all, his eyes were not entirely healed. A certain Abbe who had The misfortune to have one of his legs shorter than the other, was persuaded that he experienced a sensible elongation of the defective limb, but on measurement no increase could be discovered. A woman in the same situation danced on the tomb daily, to obtain an elongation of a defective limb, and was persuaded that she received benefit; but it was ascertained, that she would have to dance there fifty-four years, before the cure would be effected, at the rate at which it was proceeding; but for the unfortunate Abbe, seventy-two years would have been requisite. In short, the whole number of cures, after examination, was reduced to eight or nine, all of which can be easily accounted for, on natural principles; and in several of these instances, the cures were not perfect.