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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 16

Part II

Part II.

In the part of the Bishop's pamphlet now reached, the method employed in the argument begins to be disclosed, and the way is prepared for it by the admission that miracles cannot be "contradictory to necessary truths of reason."

Now, these truths are, as stated, "the result of the imagination of possible objects corresponding to actual notions."

Therefore, a miracle cannot affect what is, as we know, very easily affected, namely, the imagination still what appears most impossible is a mere plaything to it. Surely the author has not defined the necessary truths properly, or is it that miracles are thus limited, in order that the human will may be free; that is, both the possibility of free will and of miracles is desired, but they must not interfere with each other. If this is the page 13 object of thus limiting the scope of miracles, all I will say is, that for a believer in the literal sense of the word to maintain that free will cannot be thus affected is a very singular anomaly indeed. What was the hardening of Pharaoh's heart, and Divine Inspiration generally, but the exercise of a Divine Influence upon man's free will? Does not this limitation, imposed upon miracles, taken along with the qualifications put upon them a little way back, hedge and cut them down in such a way that few of the alleged Biblical ones will stand? To my mind, to abide by such definitions carries a person out of orthodoxy altogether.

There is a point connected with the limitations thus imposed upon miracles which I must treat of: the author's admission as to the impossibility of miracles contradicting necessary truths of reason, if followed up, seems to involve him in strange dilemmas, one of which I will take the liberty of showing. It appears as a deduction from the following series of axioms or propositions, howhever we like to name them, which just occur to me.

1.O=O: A triviality, mere reiteration, it may be said, but so are some of our much vaunted geometric axioms when worked down to their simplest terms.

A Universe is:

Next I have two, which being theological ones will of course pass for axiomatic truths or something more.

3.God is:

The Universe is God made:

Therefore, as nothing can come from nothing, God made the Universe out of Himself.

Of course this conclusion is wrong, palpably wrong. I know, we all know it to be so, and for the very sufficient reason it that, is against all reason and common sense and no doubt Christians are dad to know this page 14 for in truth is it not bringing God too close to us, besides is it not allowing Him too much, giving Him all the Praise, the Glory and the Power. Such a tremendous abnegation of self, and such a trial of faith as this involves and requires is too much for us, too reverential to God, too humiliating to ourselves. Fortunately for us it is wrong; but the point is this, the author having stated that miracles cannot be contrary to necessary truth, seems placed in this dilemma, he must either allow they can be, or accept the obnoxious conclusion cited; for, surely, to change the axiom 0=0 into 0=1 requires a miracle, and one as big or bigger than to change that of 1=1 into 1=2, thus a necessary truth has to be contradicted by a miracle, or else Pantheism stares us in the face, becomes in fact a stern necessity; but as this doctrine is evidently absurd, miracles can contradict necessary truths, or something even bigger, so taking the author's own description of the dreadful consequences of this, our "reason is stultified, and all use of it is impossible." Thus we are brought to a truly sad state—the prospective loss of reason from disuse of it.

This position may of course be escaped by denying the correctness of proposition 2, that is, by assuming we have no evidence of the existence of a universe. In the author's own words it is alleged that this "cannot be proved;" but, any way, the Bishop either kepts in a dilemma, or, if he avoids this, it is only to occupy the absurd position of sagely arguing about what either does not or is not known to exist.

It surely will not be contended that truth is confined to abstract notions, and that whenever we take concrete quantities the very shadow of truth goes: what is this but affirming that truth is only of the mind. However, I leave the question just raised, at this interesting point, as it is sufficient that I have shown the curious consequences which follow when one sets out page 15 as a believer in the possibility of miracles with the funny idea of their having bounds which they cannot pass.

We now approach the second stage of the author's argument. He has admitted that a miracle cannot be against a necessary truth, all therefore that is wanted, all that the argument has to do, is to show that there are no necessary truths in the way of a miracle (no easy task), but in place of this we have only the bare affirmation that, "The only necessary truths of which the human reason is cognizant are the proper axioms of geometry."

Now, as the author is so particular to stick to "necessary truths" for his side, it is only proper he should do so for the other. What should have been done in place of making this useless affirmation, was to prove that these axioms are the only necessary truths; the author would then have closed the argument victoriously and done something which would have worthily associated him as a discoverer with those "great men" I shall presently allude to: but in fact the author I find further on himself restates the case more favourably for us, and with some little "versatility" affirms that in effect "there may be others (necessary truths) legitimately drawn from them."

In accordance with what has been admitted, it is clear that, until it is proved that miracles cannot be against reason, it must be shewn as a necessary truth that there are no other necessary truths than those expressed in the axioms of geometry, or legitimate deductions from them excepting, of course, the limiting one then found. This of course must be exceedingly difficult to do, and I shall hazard in their appropriate places the few I shall require for the object in view: meanwhile, let us go on and see what these axioms are, which a miracle cannot affect—how they differ from what are considered as truths, truths which cannot be proved to be otherwise.

page 16

We find that truths, other than these axiomatic ones are alleged to "rest upon knowledge acquired by experience," and the author avers that "knowledge acquired in this manner cannot lay any claim whatever to be an absolute truth of reason," so, by implication, axiomatic truth is not acquired by experience. Either, the author is not himself "abreast of modern scientific thought" (to use the language he applies to sceptics) or he pooh-poohs the opinion of numerous able thinkers that experience is necessary for the attainment of axiomatic truth.

Any way it is certain that, the controversial stage being that in which this subject is, it is not right that in a work professedly logical and treating a question of great interest, the fact of the premises used in it being of a very doubtful and so debatable nature is left unnoticed; rather, I think, this should have been stated, and those reasons have accompanied the statement which induced the author to look upon the matter in the light he does; thus the public would have been placed in a position to form an opinion on the subject. As it is, the chain of logical argument is, as I conceive, completely broken off at this point.

It is not my place of course to demonstrate that experience is the basis of necessary truths, it is sufficient for me to state here my firm belief that it is so. It is a question, which is, perhaps, best left to each man to decide for himself.

I meet statements with statements, possibly quite as reliable as those I controvert; so before absolute progress can be made, it is necessary, I think, to test these, but, a controversy of this nature is not for me to initiate; the onus of proof resting as it does upon the one who first asserts. To properly state either side I should have to give numerous pages of extracts, a course which would stretch this work to undue dimensions, and besides take from it that coherence page 17 and directness it is ray object to give it I shall, however, be very happy to give my utmost attention to any argument upon this subject with which the learned author may favor the public, while, to show that even among the clerical party here experience is deemed requisite to the attainment of necessary truth, I quote two passages from an able paper by the Rev. R. Kidd, L.L.D., on "Induction and Necessary Truth. * "It is from experience that we acquire the conception of things; so that without experience we could not form any proposition whether inductive or necessary . . . . . . . . . it is fitting and requisite that recourse should be had to experience in order to verify our judgments."

Returning now to the position taken up by our author in limiting necessary truths to those expressed in the geometric axioms and deductions from them, it is apparent that if experience is their common basis it will be very difficult to prove that some of the other scientific truths are not also necessary ones, considering that they also have experience for their basis. Take for instance, the one held to be axiomatic, "every effect has a cause;" this is based on experience, as it is experience which indicates that every effect we know of has had a cause, and we cannot conceive of this being contradicted when we make out of it a universal proposition, and consequently an axiom. But, if it is not an axiomatic truth, how can we distinguish it from one?

It must be considered that the Bishop's position is such, that if even one necessary truth lies outside those he cites (that is in nature) his argument fails utterly; for instance, to apply the one just stated, (an undeniable one I believe) it is in the order of nature "that every effect has a cause," but as "necessary truth" a miracle "cannot contradict it," therefore, a

* Transactions and Proceedings of the N.Z. Institute, vol, vii

page 18 miracle is opposed to reason, and the general proposition that a miracle is not opposed to reason is incorrect.

There are many other truths of nature which appear valid as necessary ones, and so will be opposed to miracles, but as sufficient has I believe been adduced to overthrow the author's position, I forbear citing any of them now.

Ere I quite leave this subject however, I will just consider that portion of the pamphlet which professes especially to grapple with the question of immutability of the order (laws) of nature. The author commences his labours here by saying:—"It seems very usually taken for granted and asserted most positively, that the order of nature is absolutely invariable and immutable, and that this being established by reason, any interruption of it is impossible."

Now, this is not by any means the position a sceptic would take up; he would certainly object to making immutability of the order of nature contingent upon its "being established by reason;" but I let this pass without further comment, and proceeding, I find with feelings of great relief, that I am perfectly justified in believing that the order of nature is immutable: how then can I believe in miracles? Again, if I am to believe in them, how am I "justified" in believing the future will be like the past, how can I be justified in supposing that miracles will happen again, so that the future will be like the past? Does not the author wish to show that laws or supposed laws cannot be depended on?

I merely ring these changes to show what meshes we are involved in, when we take leave of experience, and introduce a conception of a disturbing element by assuming Divine interference with the order of nature.

But going back to the argument as regards immut- page 19 ability of the order of nature, I find, as has been shown in my analysis of terms, that order is used generally, if not always, by the author as an equivalent for regular recurrence, so our own proper argument does not appear, and therefore, is not met. Thus we are placed in a false position and the ridicule hurled at us falls harmless. *

But as I have already pointed out, this sense of the term "order" in its present application is not the proper one, it is law, and we use it, in a sense implying its unchangeableness, which of course, is quite a different thing, and why the term order should have been substituted for that of law, I cannot yet comprehend. For this reason, we should never think of adopting as a premise, for showing the sun will rise to-morrow, the one supplied us, "he has risen a million successive days," or even that he has risen daily for a million years, which is nearer the mark. That he has risen such a number of days successively at any time is with us an argument that he will not rise to-morrow, (or, perhaps I should say, again); knowing well the mutability of nature as regards succession of events, we consider him in reality less likely to rise again, than if he had only just turned up.

The kind of argument furnished to us here, would have been the only possible one about the time of the Reformation, but we have better ones now, thanks to the unhallowed and anathematized but glorious labors of the philosophers of that epoch, in bringing to light again the precious thoughts of ancient times, from under the vile accumulations which, during centuries of religious violence, superstition and ignorance had heaped upon them.

Some of these I will now state. In doing so I take what appears to me impossible to conceive of other

* Possibly the Bishop's idea of a "straw man" having been set up by Zetalethes is a reminiscence of the one to which I here call attention.

page 20 than as necessary truths:—
1.That matter is, as regards ourselves, force.
2.That force is indestructible.
3.That force acting in any direction requires force to divert it.
4.That force acts in the same way at all times under similar circumstances.
5.That all possible force is at present in existence.

1. As to the first we only know matter by its operations, that is, as manifested to us experientially, and these operations are nothing more to us nor ever will be than the play of forces. It cannot be deemed that we know anything in regard to matter except as force, and the laws or some of the laws which it observes. Further views respecting the constitution of matter are given in Note A. of the appendix to this.

2. In regard to the alleged indestructibility of force we cannot conceive of any force being absolutely lost. That any given force may be less apparent to us after another force has run counter to it, is undeniable, but in such a case the force is merely as it were spread out, or cut up, has passed into other forms, has been coerced into different directions or self-involvements. We can follow it with the eye of faith as we may a drop of water in the "ocean; we may conceive a universal degradation, as it were, of force, as regards operant power in relation to ourselves, or to any particular object, but we cannot imagine its annihilation.

3. That force requires force to affect it or divert it is undeniable. Force can neither change its mode of action nor even its direction without the determining effect of another force.

4. In regard to the fourth proposition, time surely cannot be supposed to be a factor in any kind of result; but when it appears to be so it is because natural operations have become factors in regard to what we page 21 are contemplating. If, however, anybody thinks differently, he cannot conceive of it but as a constant factor, that is, of the same value for the past, present, or future.

5. And, lastly, whatever number or kinds of forces there are, we cannot imagine, but that all possible force is as it were out, that is, in present existence, and that these have been so from all eternity. We cannot conceive of a latent force locked up for emergencies, say for the interruption or suspension of present force as would be necessary for miracles. To go further, we can never think that God himself is in any way latent. He must ever be infinitely active, He has "made all things" and "in Him we live and move and have our being;" surely this requires omnipotent action.

Science has long given up her idea of a latent power, in the sense of one gagged, repressed or concealed, and only uses it now to express a power working in a manner not so perceptible to us as when working in another manner, and science must still persist in this rendering of the term, whatever is in view. Thus we cannot conceive that any of God's power is latent in the sense stated, but must hold, as I say, that it is all in operation. What this amounts to is, that there can not be any creation of force, that all present and future results are, or will be due, at bottom, to force now in existence.

If, now, the above stated propositions are necessary truths, the legitimate deductions from them will likewise be so.

I quote from Lewes to sustain these views:—"The laws of motion have the same certainty and self-evidence when their terms are apprehended as the axioms of Geometry; neither have these characters when the terms are imperfectly apprehended; both demand that the mind should already be in possession through experience of the specified relations."

page 22

Using now these propositions, and those deductions from them which are necessary for our purpose., I maintain that the earth having at this instant a determinate axial motion, will preserve this not only for another day, but for a great number of days, and, that further, she will keep her relative position in respect to the sun, and so sunrise will be an event of the morrow. In all this, we, of course, use calculations based upon those laws of force, which we have up to this time ascertained.

We do not contend, in this as implied by the Bishop, that it is a necessary truth of reason that the sun will rise to-morrow, but merely that the chances of this happening are as a number almost infinite is to one. We further contend as a necessary truth, that were he not to rise to-morrow say, not till the day after, some physical cause would have prevented him, a cause certain to be discovered by one or other of those who retained their heads under the circumstances, and thus kept aloof from the insensate superstition which would be sure to attack the weak at such a time. If it is urged that God can surely arrest or re-direct that which he sustains and orders, we answer that this requires an absolute creation of force; and, if it is further urged that this might be accomplished by a mere withdrawal of God or His power, we would ask where the power thus withdrawn can be placed, or how it can be disposed of.

Is it not certain that God can only be present where His power is! and to imagine this power neutralized or removed, is to suppose, that the Omnipresent is not in this case present, which leads us evidently into an absurdity.

In this part I have only now to notice two or three points in the pamphlet of minor importance. In answer to the argument against miracles, "that they would utterly disturb and subvert the whole equili- page 23 brium of nature," the author alleges that this "collateral disturbance could as certainly be provided against as the primary object carried out," which, is of course undeniable; but in order to make still surer he remarks that "such an interference with the equilibrium of nature is not beyond the province and power of man's free will," and then follows an illustration of the meaning of this, from which it is plain our author considers and maintains that man can perform acts which in their educement may precisely comply with the terms he employs for defining a miracle—Consequently these acts or their resultant may, in the exercise of our free will, be miraculous or not according to the nature of the purpose involved in them, that is, if for "the sake of moral beings who inhabit the earth" they are miracles, if not for them they are simply I suppose common events—mere phenomena. Now, as many acts of our free will are for moral purposes, we have no doubt if all this be true, that miracles are performed daily. Really then what is the use of arguing for the possibility of miracles (or what is the ultimate end—the truth of the sacred miracles) when we have them turned off by the thousand now, when at every determinate action of the human will for our moral welfare, pop goes a miracle.

Surely it would have been the more direct process, and more likely to result in the conversion of our "youth" to the true faith, if one of these miracles had been critically examined, and the result published than to argue for an abstract principle. But at this rate of manufacture, would not miracles lose their prestige? and then what would become of those ancient writings embellished and made piquant by the recital of them, and which as to their doctrinal truths receive such support from them: surely a contempla-of the possibility of miracles being common will lead page 24 to disastrous results. This aspect of the case, however, seems not to have been considered.

Seriously, however, what is meant by this bugbear, man, interfering with the equilibrium of nature? And what of the equilibrium of nature itself, that which, in spite of our belief in it, is yet so easily and sensibly disturbed.

First, as to the term, equilibrium of nature, I learn that the construction put on it is that of static condition—thus the "atmospheric status" is written of as if it were always in a condition of static equilibrium—whereas, the truth is, its condition is ever being constantly disturbed.

In this sense the sun, conjointly with other powers, is constantly disturbing atmospheric equilibrium. Does the writer wish to imply that when man disturbs this, he introduces a power outside of nature? if so we have a vast subject and one which I cannot examine here.

The results of scientific knowledge, now to hand, are taken by "learned men" to indicate, if not to demonstrate, that we modify nature only by nature; that as in the case of physical exertion, so in that of mental exertion, chemical changes in our bodies are involved, and in fact, are absolutely necessary.

I merely state this theory to show that the idea thrown out about man modifying nature by something outside it, is not one upon which an argument can be constructed in a logical manner, and I therefore deprecate the introduction of it here.

After having for so long been at variance with the Bishop, it is with great pleasure I now discover statements in which I heartily concur. They are these, "that a man cannot be more conscious of his own personal existence than he is of the existence of God;" and, further, that "we cannot prove our own existence, or that of an external world." These statements, page 25 coupled with, and fully interpreted by, the extracts headed B in the appendix to the pamphlet in question, clearly show how little as regards ourselves is, in the logical mind, taken as "necessary truth," or even as truth at all; the question seems to be all God or no God, and science, together with logic, holds to the former. Truly fashion and thought change along with the use of things. Formerly, faith was required in God—now it is in ourselves, or rather, I should say, in our hypothetical selves—it is hard, indeed, to find how to put it.

The quotations in the pamphlet, with one or two exceptions, do not require any notice; it would be, of course, a very easy matter in those cases where they show apparently good arguments for the author's side, to neutralize such by an insertion here of counter quotations, but I forbear taxing the reader's patience.

I observe some of the doctrines advocated by the author of Supernatural Religion, are duly advertized; and I will ask if this is not a piece of inadvertence on the Bishop's part. Who should be more fully aware than he of the fatality, to our unfortunate race, of fruit forbidden, especially when it hangs in rich clusters amidst fruit of less inviting aspect.

But this author is, I find, described as "feeling the ground to be slipping away from under his feet," because for the nonce he assumes that the order of nature is not immutable, so that he can work this position out as he has the other.

But this is certainly not a retreat, it is merely a change of front, turning the enemy's guns on him; it is not, therefore, "versatility" as alleged. Again, in reference to this, I do not suppose the author alluded to would really make such a deduction as the one attributed to him, viz., "because then an interruption of the uniformity of that which has no such characteristic (uniformity) becomes impossible." The impos- page 26 siblity of affecting what does uot exist, hardly requires stating.

The Bishop quotes "weighty words" from Bacon in elucidation of the supposed truth, that, as he affirms, "it was in connection with human redemption, that miracles became necessary," but, on looking up this extract, I find, the whole weight of the words lies in their being the utterance of a great man, they are simply a confession of faith, in the form of undemonstrated propositions.

I should like to have had Lord Bacon's explanation as to how Adam and Eve, and the earth, etc., before them, were formed, if not by a miracle. Redemption was not surely the object of their production; therefore, we have the singular phenomena of unnecessary miracles, performed by One who would surely not perform an unnecessary act. If any one has the hardihood to affirm that human redemption was the ultimate end of all this, let him turn to the second version of the creation of man, in the "sacred narrative," to that giving the origin of Eve, when, if I mistake not, he will find that this was evidently an after-thought, occasioned by the sight of Adam moping about in single cursedness. This shows that redemption as we have it, that is to children born in sin, or indeed, any kind of redemption, could hardly have been the current idea of that time, consequently, the miracles I have cited were, if Lord Bacon is correct, unnecessary ones. If, however, such a one is still perverse, let him explain the miracle of the talking serpent, by Lord Bacon's idea of the purpose of miracles, to my satisfaction, and I'll believe with the author, "they first became necessary in connection with human redemption." Surely, to say that the fall of Eve was necessary for human redemption, is just about the same as saying a man must be knocked down before you can pick him up.

The Bishop concludes his pamphlet by asserting page 27 that he has no confidence in the potency of his arguments, even though advanced with ten-fold his ability, to draw sceptics to believe in the Christian religion, and, therefore, in miracles. Now, as the learned author's ability is, as I am happy to admit, undoubted, does it not seem that the arguments themselves are, in his own estimation, very feeble; that is, comparatively so—feeble compared with what may be adduced against them.

But it is not the old hardened incorrigible sceptic, nor indeed the sceptic at all, whom the author is writing for, but the "young and unwary" one, he who can be led away to another belief by the "arrogance" of the tone in which it is sought to be inculcated. For in what but arrogance can the power of a book consist, if "the very imperfect acquaintance" of the writer with the subject is "patent" in it. I will not think so poorly of our youth, or at least our thoughtful youth, as to suppose they can be converted by mere "arrogance" and dogmatism. Youth is more likely to be drawn from a proper creed by this, than charmed to a bad one.

But is it not undeniable that anyone so easy to entice or convert is not worth "powder and shot," or else the tenets the Bishop condemns, are so adapted to the form of his mind, so suited to his intellectual cravings, that it would be an uncharitable and foolish act to disturb him. God forbid that any trap should be laid for enterprising youths in their search after truth, from which traps, if they should fall into them, ten times his Lordship's power could not extricate them: His goodness forbid that the chance of reading these works should entail upon such unwary youths those dreadful and eternal consequences, which, in the Bishop's opinion, must (as I think) attach to a belief in the doctrines they inculcate. For what is this but signifying that heaven may be lost by a fluke and hell page 28 be gained in like manner; for surely this uncomfortable place can hardly fail to be the lot of any unwary youth, who (perhaps inadvertently) takes up a work of this description, and then gives way to the arrogance of him who has written it. How hardly indeed may such an one be brought back to the true faith, when even the largely multiplied power indicated cannot effect it.

In this connection I would fain ask the author if to fish, as he does, in the open water for small fry, i.e., the "young and unwary," is not rather an unwise act? For is there not a great probability that some one or other of the wary ones will for the interest of their kind, or in mere playfulness, so maul his net about, so work it into holes, as to render it perfectly useless. Does it not appear that the best way would have been, for the object as stated, to have cast this net in some quiet pool "where only minnows are." To leave the figurative, would not an encyclical letter addressed to those he wishes to guard from what is conceived of as a danger, have been a safer course. Owing to the re-searches and arguments of Zetalethes, * regarding our author's pamphlet, (apart from any influence my own work may have,) I think next time the Bishop "would a fishing go" and takes to troubled waters, he should use a stronger and a more carefully constructed net than this one.

It is no use keeping a net dangling about and vowing it to be quite sound while all the fish are just playing and popping about as if neither a net nor a Bishop were in the road, passing folks only shrugging their shoulders and laughing. I most sincerely advise the author to mend this net, or what is better still prepare a new one; on the general principle that prac-

* This paragraph has been inserted since the appearance of Zetalethes's Reply to the Bishop re Miracles and of the newspaper correspondence which ensued.

page 29 tice makes perfect, such an one might catch something. No one can rightly expect much from a first trial, and really I cannot avoid thinking that for one of the Bishop's well known courage, skill and calibre, larger game than what he is now hunting might be sought for. I promise for one to pay all due attention to any effort he may make in this direction. Like the young lady who wants kissing I will try and get caught if only for a few blissful moments. In all seriousness, I really wish to be caught in this way, so that I can experience again that delightful and elevating state of wonderment with which, as a boy, I used to con over those miraculous tales as related in the "sacred narrative" and our nursery books. Were this to happen, how pleasantly we could exchange compliments—his rare logical power, and great knowledge of God's ways with nature, my judgment, soundness of heart, lively faith "which hopeth all things, believeth all things," and my inceptive capacity for the vast and harmonious truths of theology as grounded on miracles. It would altogether be so nice!

I conclude this part by summing up what I conceive to have been demonstrated in it:—

1. That (supposing miracles possible) their scope must be unbounded, or we are involved in very gross absurdities indeed, and, besides, certain alleged Biblical miracles are degraded to mere phenomena, or something very much the same.

2. That the Bishop's implication as to experience not being necessary to the acquisition of axiomatic truths does not carry any weight with it; many eminent thinkers considering that experience is necessary to us here, and, this being so, I point out the absolute need there is, before the Bishop can rightly prosecute his argument, that he should demonstrate the truth of what he has implied.

3. That the Bishop's allegation as to the only page 30 necessary truths being the "proper geometric axioms and correct deductions from them," also, has little if any weight, and requires proof of correctness before it can be rightly used here, numerous and very able "scholars and learned men" thinking quite differently from him on this point also.

Further, I state a natural truth outside these axioms which appears taken on all sides for a necessary one, and thus so far, to upset the author's argument, that a miracle is not against reason.

4. In regard to the immutability of the order of nature, which as to its truth, or rather, I should say, as to our knowledge of it as necessary truth, I show that the Bishop misinterprets our argument for this, by using the term "order" as synonymous with regular succession, in which sense it does not convey our meaning.

I show, further, the premises debited to those who would sustain the proposition, that the sun will rise to-morrow, is the very reverse of what they would take; and just to meet this case, and generally to show that the laws of nature are immutable, I venture a series of propositions for such tests as the Bishop may deem necessary to subject them to.

In all this I have adhered rigidly to the course prescribed by the Bishop for the argument, and thus many of our strongest points do not appear. I have endeavoured to popularize what is a very dry subject, indeed, as it seems to me, a very useless and absurd one. The results of my attempt I leave for a discriminating public, for whom I write, to determine.

There is one aspect of the question, "is a miracle opposed to reason" which I have not hitherto considered. As necessary truth is acknowledged by the Bishop to be miracle-proof, and as the human mind is certainly developing, may we not at any future time be able to know some law of nature as a necessary page 31 truth of reason, and so learn that a miracle is opposed to reason. I still of course maintain that we have such necessary truths now; but I just point out this aspect to show that even had we not such truths, a negative answer to the question proposed, is never safe to swear by, that is, at any time it might have to be changed for a positive one.

I append another short extract from a church dignitary, bearing upon the above. "If we thoroughly understood the nature of what we call matter, we should doubtless perceive that the supposition of matter devoid of gravitation or of other experienced qualities would be self-contradictory." *

* Kidd on "Induction and Necessary Truth."