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braced in the doctrine which our author has adopted, relative to cause and effect; and that, in fact, an inference directly at variance with the one here drawn is legitimately deducible both from his own essay, and from his master's speculations on the same subject. If we are to consider every example of cause and effect as a mere conjunction of two events,—or as a case of mere antecedence and consequence,-we must necessarily believe, also, that the only foundation of our inference from the one to the other, in time to come, is the experience we have of the manner in which they have accompanied or followed each other in time past. In Hume's own language, the two things are quite distinct and arbitrary;' nor can we discover either in the first, or in the second, the least circumstance from which we might conclude that their succession, or conjunction, was the result of any connecting principle, or necessary causation. The obvious consequence is,—that no object or event can be inferred to have had a cause, unless at some time or other, we have seen a similar object or event, preceded by another in close and direct conjunction. Nay the antecedence and consequence must have passed repeatedly under our own eyes before the object or event in question can, according to this doctrine, be considered as having any thing like what we denominate a cause. Now, when we come to extend this principle beyond the petty phenomena of our own little spot which men call earth,' and bring the total universe, as one single object, under the supervision of the mental eye, we find ourselves utterly incapable of concluding that it had a cause; for who has ever witnessed the production of such a phenomenon? Who has ever seen a universe come from the hands of a Creator, or preceded by any other object or event whatsoever?
Another obvious consequence of Hume's doctrine is,--that we never can have any notion of the efficiency by which one event is rendered adequate to the production of another. All we know about the matter is, that the first goes immediately before the second; and the conclusion is, that any other event might take the place of either, without disturbing, in the least, our ideas relative to the propriety of association. Even if the
philosopher should grant, therefore, what we know he must be less sagacious than Hume* to think of granting,—that every object and event is logically concluded to have a cause, he still has a strong hold of impregnable scepticism in the denial of our possibility to point out the powers and attributes of that
* Of a Particular Providence and of a Future State. We suspect the author before us has forgotten this Essay.
If he suffers us to infer that the universe had a cause, he will dispute our right of attempting to define what sort of a cause it was. We are granted the simple fact,—that some object or event was immediately antecedent to the appearance of the universe; but whether it was material, or intellectual,whether, in short, it was God or not, -we cannot make our premises bear us out in concluding. Turn the doctrine on whatever side you will, therefore, it is inevitably destructive of all belief in a Supreme Being.
The relation of cause and effect, as we have endeavoured to explain it, involves no such conclusions as these. It is an unquestionable fact,--let philosophers dispute ever so much about the foundation on which it lies that from the circumstances invariably attending the phenomena which have come within our cognizance, from the uniform certainty that, with due examination, we can always find a reason for the events which fall under our supervision,—we are irresistibly led to the general conclusion that every object must have a cause. When all the examples of experience are added together, this general inference
be considered as the sum which stands at the foot: and we find it formed in the mind so very early in life, that even children who are scarcely able to lisp a question are extremely anxious to know the reasons of things.-But, along with our belief in the existence of causes, we receive, also, a notion of their comparative adequacy. We learn from experience that a force or momentum which can move a billiardball would be inadequate to impel a thirty-two-pound cannonshot; and we are taught farther by natural philosophy, that the momenta, which are respectively adequate to the impulsion of both, may be measured with arithmetical precision. From the same instructor, also, we acquire the additional information, that momentum itself is resolvable into the two elements of weight and velocity;-insomuch that by making up with the one what is wanting of the other, we are able to move the greatest mass of matter with the least, or the least with the greatest. From such examples as this, we acquire a notion of adequacy; and whenever we are attempting to investigate the cause of any anomolous event, this circumstance forms an essential and an invariable part of our reflections.-From the foregoing considerations we are impressed with the irresistible conclusion that the universe must have proceeded from a cause; from what we have just been saying, we acquire, at the same time, a conviction that, to be adequate, such a cause must have exceeded immeasurably any power within the sphere of our knowledge; and the mind' finds itself obliged, therefore, to
take refuge in the supposition of omnipotence. Beyond this we cannot go. There can be no cause of omnipotence.
With regard to Mr. Ogilvie's argument in favour of miracles we have to observe, that it proceeds upon an assumption which, by the person he is combating, would be considered as altogether false and gratuitous. Perhaps Hume, were he alive, would be the last person in the world to profess'a conscientious belief (p. 145) in the existence of God;' and our author would, therefore, find himself contending with an antagonist who, without trying the temper of his weapon or the force of his blows, would deprive him at once of the very ground on which he stood. In disputing with a sceptic it is doubly necessary to be assured, first of all, that our fundamental propositions are such as he acknowledges to be tenable: and without examining particularly the reasoning of the author before us, therefore, or requiring of Hume any other concession than such as he has voluntarily made, we shall proceed to offer one or two brief remarks in oppugnation of his celebrated argument against the existence of miracles.
Anabsurd consequence, if necessary, (says he, Of Liberty and Necessity, Pt. II; and we only quote his own language in order to take nothing for granted which he would not concede) proves the original doctrine to be absurd.' No absurdity can be greater than that the same principle should prove a thing to be, and not to be, at the same time; and if, therefore, we can demonstrate that Hume's rule on this subject is equally conclusive both against, and in favour of the existence of miracles, we suppose the principle itself must be given up as absurd. The great object is to ascertain the degree of confidence which we may rationally place in human testimony:-- and in all cases, (according to Hume) we must balance the opposite experiments, where they are opposite, and deduct the smaller number from the greater, in order to know the exact force of the superior evidence. An hundred instances on one side, and fifty on another, afford a very doubtful expectation of any event; though a hundred uniform experiments, with only one that is contradictory, reasonably beget a pretty strong degree of assurance.' Now the great defect of this rule is, that it proves too much. If it is admitted to be true, we can establish the veracity of the veriest liar in the world, and prove that any extraordinary event of which we have testimony, both did, and did not, occur. We prove its occurrence by examining the character of the witness; and we demonstrate its non-occurrence by investigating the nature of the event. It is a received truth,-and Hume himself acknowledges in one place,--that the great body
of mankind are to be considered as worthy of Lelief.* Let us, therefore, ' balance the opposite experiments' or deduct the smaller number from the greater,' and, if this doctrine is to be practised upon, we must be necessarily influenced to believe the testimony, --notwithstanding the knavery and mendacity of the witness is known and acknowledged. His veracity has the · hundred chances to one' in its favour; and the validity of his evidence is, therefore, weighed in the balance and noi found wanting
But, on the other hand, nothing can be clearer than that, from the very nature of the thing, the extraordinary event in question could never have taken place. Our process here must also be that of " balancing and deduction.' Rarity is the very quintessence of the extraordinary:~and accordingly when we came to balance the probabilities, we should find, on counting up the instances' for both sides,' that the number against the event is perhaps a thousand, while that in its favour is not more than a dozen. Deduct and balance as before; and it would be indubitably established that no such event could possibly have taken place. The odds are fearfully against it; and with the wise and learned the judicious and knowing,'—therefore, the testimony in its favour can never be of the least possible weight.
Perhaps we shall be better understood by adducing an instance. Let us suppose, then, that a person who was an eyewitness of the fact, should bring us the intelligence, that, in the transition of the steam-boat over the Delaware, one of the passengers fell overboard and was drowned. It would be our first business to establish the veracity of our informer; and this is very easily done by deducting the number of liars from the great body of mankind. If neither of the sums was precisely numerable, the balancing of proportions must be resorted to; and perhaps the result would be that 100 men will speak the truth, for one who would tell a lie. The passenger, therefore, was clearly drowned.--But, in the next place, we must examine the nature of the event:-and the result of our inquiries would probably be that 1000 men had passed the river in that very steam-boat, and yet not one of them had fallen overboard or was drowned. “Deduct the smaller number of chances from the greater,' and it is indisputable that the man in question could never have fallen overboard. Indeed, when this doctrine
** Men have commonly an inclination to truth and a principle of probity.' Of Miracles, Pt. 1. But we are far from alleging the proposition upon his single authority; inasmuch as in Part II. of the same Essay, he finds it expedient to say that the knavery and folly of men are such commox phenomena,' &c.
comes to be generalized, it amounts to precisely this,-that the majority of instances which give rise to a rule is conclusive against the smaller number which form the exceptions;a proposition which is so much at variance with the common sense of mankind, that the existence of exceptions is proverbially considered as proving the validity of the rule.
We are aware of the two answers which Hume would make to the observations in the foregoing paragraphs. He would tell us, in the first place, that the very same principle (Of Miracles, Pt. 1.) which gives a certain degree of assurance in the testimony of the witness, gives us also,' to be sure, ' another degree of assurance against the fact:' but then • from this contradiction necessarily arise a counterpoise, and mutual destruction of belief and authority.' Now to us the legitimate conclusion seems to be that a principle' which thus produces a flat and palpable contradiction' is radically and essentially absurd. Contradiction is the very last extreme of absurdity; and an absurd consequence (see above, p. 25) proves the original doctrine to be absurd.'-—But there is, besides, a great absurdity enveloped in the mysterious expression mutual destruction of belief and authority;' a phrase which, being interpreted, means nothing less than that, as the two conclusions destroy each other, neither the event, nor the testimony, nor any thing connected with the one or the other, could ever have had existence:-and this, again, is to discredit the direct and immediate evidence of our own eyes and ears. Read Hume's remarks upon the evidence of sense, at the beginning of Part I.
Our sceptic's second answer would be, that, as the drowning of a man was not miraculous, the rule proposed could have no legitimate application to such an event. In the prosecution of his argument on this subject, Hume unfortunately stumbled upon the instance of a tropical prince's disbelieving, that, in more northern climates, the intensity of cold had the effect of reducing water to a state of hardness; and as he perceived that such an example struck at the very root of the doctrine, he endeavoured to explain it away by an amusing note, in which we are told, for our satisfaction, that the operations of cold upon water are not gradual, according to the degrees of cold; but whenever it comes to the freezing point, the water passes from the utmost liquidity to perfect hardness. Nothing, we apprehend, can be more unquestionable than this; and yet it does not prevent us from seeing, that the conclusion of the Indian was exactly accordant with Mr. Hume's reasoning, and directly contradictory of notorious matter of fact. The congelation of water in tropical countries would be almost as much a miracle as the restoration of sight in a person by the mere