A Free Enquiry into the Miraculous Powers, which are supposed to have subsisted in the Christian Church, from the Earliest Ages through Several Successive Centuries. By which it is shewn, that We have no Sufficient Reason to believe, upon the Authority of the Primitive Fathers, that any such Powers were continued to the Church, after the Days of the Apostles. [Bound with] A Vindication of the Free Inquiry into the Miraculous Powers, which are supposed to have subsisted in the Christian Church, &c., from the Objections of Dr Dodwell and Dr Church. By the late Conyers Middleton. Conyers MIDDLETON.
A Free Enquiry into the Miraculous Powers, which are supposed to have subsisted in the Christian Church, from the Earliest Ages through Several Successive Centuries. By which it is shewn, that We have no Sufficient Reason to believe, upon the Authority of the Primitive Fathers, that any such Powers were continued to the Church, after the Days of the Apostles. [Bound with] A Vindication of the Free Inquiry into the Miraculous Powers, which are supposed to have subsisted in the Christian Church, &c., from the Objections of Dr Dodwell and Dr Church. By the late Conyers Middleton

A Free Enquiry into the Miraculous Powers, which are supposed to have subsisted in the Christian Church, from the Earliest Ages through Several Successive Centuries. By which it is shewn, that We have no Sufficient Reason to believe, upon the Authority of the Primitive Fathers, that any such Powers were continued to the Church, after the Days of the Apostles. [Bound with] A Vindication of the Free Inquiry into the Miraculous Powers, which are supposed to have subsisted in the Christian Church, &c., from the Objections of Dr Dodwell and Dr Church. By the late Conyers Middleton

London, R. Manby and H.S. Cox, 1749 and 1751.

Small quarto, two volumes bound as one, [iv], xxxvi (last blank), 77 (Introductory Discourse with Postscript), [1] (advertisement), 232, [20] (index) pages; and [iv], 99 pages.

Early full calf later skilfully rebacked by Riviere in period style (raised bands, with extensively gilt-decorated compartments, retaining the original title-label); leather on the front and rear panels slightly crazed, but with the original gilt rules and inner dentelles; all edges red; occasional foxing and offsetting; an excellent copy with a modern commercial bookplate on the verso of the flyleaf.

The article on Conyers Middleton (1683-1750) by Leslie Stephen in the 'Dictionary of National Biography' is painstakingly (and almost painfully) informative. The English clergyman was no stranger to controversy: 'Serious imputations ... have been made upon his literary honesty [he was accused of plagiarism] ... Middleton was probably one of the few divines who can be fairly accused of conscious insincerity'. This book 'denied the credibility of the stories of miracles in periods subsequent to the first age of the church, attacked the character of the narrators, and explained the origin of the narratives by the general credulity of the times in which they arose. The book produced a lively controversy. Hume found that it had eclipsed the volume of essays (published in April 1748), which included his own argument against the credibility of miracles. Gibbon's temporary conversion to catholicism soon afterwards was chiefly due to a perusal of Middleton' (and there's a lot more where this came from!).

From the sacred to the profane (relatively speaking), the note printed on the verso of the initial half-title has great period flavour: 'Dec. 12. 1748. Dr Middleton's "Free Inquiry &c." having been printed in such hast [sic], and at such a season of the year, that the sheets have not had sufficient time to dry, it is thought proper to give this notice to Gentlemen, not to have their books bound in less than two months or they will run the hazard of having them spoiled'.

Item #100115

Price: $550.00

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