Postscript to Whately’s Original Doubts Relative to Napoleon Bonaparte

POSTSCRIPT.

 

With respect to the foregoing arguments, it has been asserted (though without even any attempt at proof) that they go to prove that the Bible-narratives contain nothing more miraculous than the received accounts of Napoleon Buonapartè. And this is indeed true, if we use the word “miraculous” in the very unusual sense in which Hume (as is pointed out in the foregoing pages) has employed it; to signify simply “improbable;” an abuse of language on which his argument mainly depends.

It is indeed shown, that there are at least as many and as great improbabilities in the history of Buonapartè as in any of the Scripture-narratives; and that as plausible objections,—if not more so,—may be brought against the one history as the other.

But taking words in their ordinary, established sense, the assertion is manifestly the opposite of the truth. For, any one who does,—in spite of all the improbabilities,—believe the truth of both histories, is, evidently, a believer in miracles; since he believes two narratives, one of which is not miraculous, while the other is. The history of Buonapartè contains—though much that is very improbable—nothing that is to be called, according to the established use of language, miraculous. And the Scriptures contain, as an essential part of their narrative, Miracles, properly so called.

To talk of believing the Bible, all except the Miracles, would be like professing to believe the accounts of Buonapartè, except only his commanding armies, and having been at Elba and at Saint Helena.

 

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One cannot doubt that in the course of the forty years that this little Work has been before the Public, some real, valid refutation of the argument would have been adduced, if any such could have been devised.

1860.

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