Chapter III

CHAPTER III.

THE SENSE IN WHICH WE CAN BE SAID TO KNOW THE ABSOLUTE AND INFINITE GOD.

The general result (of the discussion in Chap. II.)— or the theistic position—is that—

1. All our knowledge is not derived by induction from the phenomena of sensation; otherwise no God is reached, or only an imagination, a being made in our image, an anthropomorphic deity, an illusion—no reality.

2. That man can know the Absolute as well as the Relative, and knows the Relative as relative only because he has a presentiment—a knowledge of the real being of the Absolute.

3. This knowledge is not a negative knowledge, excepting in the sense that it declares that the Infinite is not the Finite, the Absolute is not the Relative. It is positive in the sense of the affirmation of real being.

4. While our knowledge is not an absolute knowledge, it is a knowledge of the Absolute. We can know the real being of what we are not, know that—not what—know, not comprehend. E. g. We can know that space is illimitable without grasping the illimitable, or being ourselves illimitable. •

God may have some modes or attributes of which we know nothing. Spinoza here is right,* and cau

/. e., as far as his method is concerned.

tious, when he says: "The infinite substance may have infinite modes; of these we know two, thought and extension."

Hence, if we know God, this cannot be by induction, which would give only the sum of the finite; nor by intuition (direct), else no proof could be demanded; nor by identification, else we should know no God above the World.

If we know God at all, it is not as we know a stone, or tree, or man; not as we know a class, an abstract notion, a general idea; not as we know a nothing or an inconceivability; but as we can and may know a perfect absolute being—intelligent and personal— the author of the world, and the appropriate object of our love and worship.

We have now the question: How man comes to the knowledge of God. In what sense we know Him ; and how we arrive at such knowledge.

§ 1. Explanatory. The question is, How can we know

God?

This very question implies some knowledge. Unless we had some conception of God we could and would nevermore ask, How can and do we know God? Unless man had some belief in God he would not ask, any more than an animal, Can you prove His being—can you demonstrate His existence?

The question implies a need, a craving—seeks for an answer to a demand of our rational and moral being. This is the very least that can be said. There is a strong subjective belief—that is the startingpoint; and the question is, Is there a corresponding objective reality? Are there sufficient grounds for full belief, binding on all rational and moral beings? *

Hence the question is not at all about knowing some unknown thing, about proving the existence of a mere abstraction—as a theorem in geometry. It is as to the proving the existence of a being in whom, somehow, in some wise, we already believe. It is not going from the known to the unknown—but showing that there are valid and final reasons for a strong, universal, native, human belief.

Proof, in this case, means—and can only mean— that the ultimate truths of our mental and moral being, that all the facts we know about the world without and the world within, that the ultimate ideas and laws of the mind, and the rationale of matter as well—that all our ideas, all our knowledge, all the categories of thought, all the processes of knowledge —agree with, lead to, rest in, the knowledge and worship of the one only living and true God.

So that if we give up God, we give up all that is highest and best in knowledge, the very life of the soul.

To illustrate the character of the proof required, take the case of the parallel (in some sense) belief in an external world. Everybody believes in an ex

* In some respects like, e. g., the question of the real existence of the sun and fixed stars. We believe them—see them. But, it is objected, our senses deceive us; there may be no external world. You think you see it; it is only a sensation—an image—a nervous impression—a motion of the molecules—an irrecognizable source of transient impression. Prove that the sun exists.

ternal world.* But some sceptic says, there is none; it is all a fleeting shadow, ideas, sensations. Prove, if you can, that such a world exists. Then we will believe it, when you demonstrate it by means of some ultimate idea or crucial experiment. How, now, are you to set about proving this to him, especially when he says that if you do not, all the natural sciences must be given up as unreal and visionary.f

We tell him there is an irresistible, universal, inexpugnable belief. Yes, he replies, but that is only an idea, a sensation, something purely subjective. Prove, demonstrate your objective reality.

How, we ask him, can any one go to work to conduct such a proof in the way you propose? Everything that you know, that you are conscious of, you call a subjective sensation, and demand that we pass from that to something objective. You deny all objectivity, all reality to the object, and then ask us to put that idea into you as a development of the subjective. That cannot be done. Nobody can deduce the objective from the subjective. The objective can only be known, not deduced.

If you admit the reality of any objectivity whatever, there is a basis of argument; but if you do this, you give up the opinion that the objective is to be proved by a process, and confess that it may be known as a fact and ultimate.

We may, can, and must know nature (and God),

* Especially do the naturalists who doubt about everything else; else were their vocation emptier than that which they ascribe to the theologians.

f This is what they say about religion. because we may, can, and must recognize an objective reality corresponding to some—say only at first some one—of our ideas. Grant this, and the rest follows: deny this, and you fall into metaphysical insanity.

The idea of being as objective is the source and test of all true philosophy.

Admit anywhere, at any point—the smallest—that the subject and object are together in an act of consciousness, and the question is settled. For there, at that point, in that consciousness, idea and reality, thought and being, coalesce. If such objective reality of some of our ideas or beliefs be wholly denied, no proof is possible. Thus, if the barest objective be admitted (the least ray of light), it is inclusively admitted that the two coalesce in a single conscious act somewhere. Hence the belief in the objective world is given directly in consciousness, be that world atoms, or forces, or what it may.

Then to carry on the argument proving the reality, the proof will consist (on the basis of the above admission), in showing that the facts of external and internal experience agree, are counterparts, outside and inside, idea and law, all making up one system.

So, in respect to the proof of the being of God. The reality of being (objective) is the primal consciousness.

In sum: There are two grand spheres, Nature and Spirit. Man belongs to both. In the spiritual, as spirit, he knows God; in the natural, he knows nature. There are two fundamental metaphysical questions: (i) Does nature exist; has it a real being? (2) Does God (the spiritual in essence) exist, and has God real being? There is the same question for both. There are the same objections to both. Man, developed, knows both. What are the grounds of his knowledge? Is there an object corresponding to the subjective belief? Mature is, says the naturalist. God is, says the spiritualist. Prove the existence of nature, says the idealist. Prove the existence of God, says the naturalist. The method of proof (so called) must be essentially the same in the one as in the other. Track, know the mode of proof in the one, and in the other is its parallel. What does, or can, proof here mean? Disprove God, and by the same argument I will disprove the world. Prove the world, and in a way akin I will prove God.

§ 2. First Point in the Ascensio Mentis ad Deum.

The starting-point, the point d'appui, the fulcrum is in man's native belief, in the fact that man is made in the image of God.

Hence what the mystics call the ascensio mentis ad Deum; and there is a natural ascension here as well as a spiritual, an instinctive as well as a reflective knowledge, as is proved by the history of all nations.

What is implied in native knowledge?

Man is made for God—must believe in Him, must know Him. The image seeks its archetype; the reflected light is to be traced back to its source. In this native knowledge of God we have the profoundest instinct, the deepest bent of the human soul.

This does not by itself prove the being of God, objectively. It sets us on the proof: it makes the evidence a matter of the highest concern. It haunts us, as Columbus was haunted and inspired by the vision of the Atlantis beyond the seas. It shapes the question thus: Is there valid and sufficient evidence of the real being of Him whom we worship, of a Reality corresponding with the aboriginal instinct of the human soul?

This instinct, we say, is native to the soul, implanted, vis insita.* Religion is impossible without it; the actual religions prove the belief, as much as works of art prove the existence of the sentiment and idea of beauty; as much as social order, and law, and courts of justice prove the reality of duty and obligation; as much as the existence of governments, states, and nations proves the existence of a social instinct, that government is not by contract, but by necessity.

We call this—and may well call it—a native belief.f We mean by this, that man is made for God;

* Dr. Owen (cited in Haliburton's Rat. Inq., c. 3): "We do not say that men are born with any natural knowledge of God, as they have no knowledge at all when they are born ; but we say that they are born with a capacity of knowing him, and that they do not so naturally know, as they feel this implanted capacity of knowing God, which stirs them up to worship him in some manner. And that this capacity will not less naturally and spontaneously exert itself in adults that are possessed of reason than reason itself."

f In Latin we can szy,Conscientia Dei; in German, Gottesbewusstsein; in French even, la conscience de Dieu; not quite yet in English, consciousness of God. "Innate idea " also is too definite; it came from the Cartesian metaphysics of simple ideas—clear, distinct—as ultimate. that all his powers tend to Him; that the right use of all his powers leads to Him i that man's reason, conscience, and affections are satisfied only in Him, that He is the complement of our being; that we, in fact, know ourselves only as we know Him. The evidence for this " native belief" is—

I. Historical.

II. Psychological (analyzing our powers we find that the highest exercise of all is in religion).

III. Philosophical.

As to I., the consensus gentium, the proof of which must of course be derived from history, we cite a few instances and illustrations.

The historical testimony is well summed up in Calvin's Inst., lib. i. ch. 3. Caption: "Dei notitiam hominum mentibus naturaliter esse insitam."

The first sentence: "Quendam inesse humans menti, et quidem naturali instinctu, divinitatis sensum, extra controversiam ponimus."

Aristotle (de Ccelo, i. 3) says: nocvtES avSpoonoi nepi Ssgqy exovffir vno}ipiv.

Plato (de Legibus x. contra Atheos) often asserts that "the belief in the god or the gods is a natural, an universal instinct."

Cicero (Tusc. Disp., i. 27) says: "Nec vero Deus ipse, qui intelligitur a nobis, alio modo intelligi potest, nisi mens soluta quaedam et libera, segregata ab omni concretione mortali, omnia sentiens et movens, ipsaque praedita motu sempiterno."

Cicero (de Nat. Deor., i. 16), "Quae est enim gens, aut quod genus hominum, quod non habeat, sine doctrina, anticipationem quandam Deorum, quam appellat npoXrjfiv Epicurus, i. e., anteceptam animo rei quandam informationem, sine qua non intelligi quidquam, nec quaeri, nec disputari potest." *

Maximinus Tyrius (cited by Grotius, de Veritate, i. § 15) says: "Notwithstanding the great discord, confusion, and debates among men, the whole world agree in this one constant opinion, that God is the king and father of all; but that there are many other gods who are but sent and share in his government. This is affirmed by Greeks and barbarians, by the dweller on the continent and the dweller on the shore."

Prichard (Egypt. Mythol.) shows that the Egyptians believed in a First Cause which was spiritual.

Sharon Turner (History Angl. Sax., App. to Bk. II. ch. 3) says: "Odin's first name was All-Father, though many others were subjoined in process of time."

The universality of belief in God is hardly contested. The array of evidence would fill volumes. As soon as society exists anywhere we find something like forms of worship. The most primitive and most degraded tribes are most exclusively under this religious control.f

The general evidence from the consensus gentium also contains an objective element (besides the sub

* Conf. de Leg., i. 8 ; Tusc. Q., i. 13; de Nat., x. 17; Seneca, Epist. 117.

f In reviewing the evidence Benjamin Constant (born at Lausanne, 1767) had a remarkable experience. He set out to write a book to disprove the universal belief in deity, but as he proceeded became convinced of the opposite. He was a disciple of the Encyclopaedists. "My work," he says, "is a singular proof of the remark of Bacon, that a little philosophy leads a man to atheism, but a good deal to religion." His book, de la Religion, published at Paris, 1824.

jective) that, as a matter of fact, men not only have this internal religious sentiment, but have also believed in the existence of deities, and ultimately of one supreme, divine power. Man's religious feeling is not a mere subjective state, but an aiming ever after an object; as if there were an objective reality corresponding. (This would not directly prove the existence of such an object; but it does prove the fact that men have believed in such.) The religious sentiment aims after and needs an object, just as much as the eyes need light, as the body craves food. That there should be in man such a craving for divinity, and no object corresponding, is as unnatural, as incredible, as that there should be a craving for food and no food to satisfy it. And, in point of fact, we cannot conceive (metaphysically) of an exercise of the religious sentiment without the belief in the objective existence of deities.*

The most primitive belief of India, seen in the older Sanskrit writings, was doubtless such.f Such was the most ancient Egyptian. (See Kenrick and Prichard.) Cicero, Plato, and Aristotle all confess such, not only as being their own faith, but as being the primitive faith of man. The Indians of America believed in one spirit: Dr. Livingstone finds a similar belief among the tribes of Central Africa. The Mosaic monotheism was a revelation, but it completed, unfolded the idea of God; and man's reason, when

* As of the question of beauty, etc.

t Cf. Prof. H. H. Wilson, Ed. Rev., Oct., i860, The old Vedic Religions. Diestel, Der Monotheismus des altesten Heidenthums, Jahrb. f. d. Theol., i860.

the idea of God is understood—however received— welcomes it as the truth. So that ultimately the belief is in one God.* So the Mohammedan religion. So of the Christian monotheism. The religious sentiment leads naturally, logically, and only to this one God, where it is rightly educated.

To give specimens of the evidence,f we mention:

The fate behind the Greek drama, and behind the Parsee conflict of Ormuzd and Ahriman.

Athens with thirty thousand deities, longing for the unknown God.

The Eleusinian mysteries.

Eusebius (Praep. Evang.) cites from a lost tragedy of Euripedes:

"Thou self-sprung being, that doth all infold
And in thine arms heaven's whirling fabric hold."

On the Sibylline Oracles, see Neand. Ch. H., i. 35. Justin Martyr cites from them this passage:

"One God there is alone, great, uncreate,
Omnipotent, invisible, seeing all,
Himself unseen by mortal flesh."

The passage from the Cilician poet Aratus, to

* A. H. v. Schlegel. "The more I investigate the ancient history of the world, the more I am convinced that the civilized nations set out from a purer worship of the Supreme Being "—that polytheism was a corruption of this, and that the wise preserved the memory of it.

f See Cudworth's Intel. Syst.; Warburton's Div. Leg.; Mtiller's Introd. to Mythology; F. W. Schlegel's Lang, and Wisd. of the Indians; Mosheim's Early History of Chr'y, i. 17; Neander's Ch. Hist., i. 536; Kenrick's Ancient Egypt, i. 302; Ritter, vol. i. ; and especially Schelling's Philos. d. Mythologie, 1856.

which the Apostle Paul is supposed to have referred (Acts xvii.), has been thus translated:

"From Jove begin we—who can touch the string,
And not harp praise to heaven's Eternal King?
He animates the mart and crowded way,
The restless ocean and the sheltered bay.
Doth care perplex? Is lowering danger nigh?
We are jfove's offspting, and to Jove we fly."*

These phenomena of religion can only be ascribed to this: that there is a subjective religious sentiment or feeling belonging to human nature as such (simple and ultimate), prompting man to seek for God.

No mere external authority could have produced these phenomena and facts of religion in human history.

No "invention" theory will account for them. Men do not invent what IS, on such a grand scale. The religions of history are the grand facts of history. And besides, why are the " inventions" received?

The assertion that religion springs from fear does not answer. Whence the fear?

Nor that it is from education. It is through education, not from it.t

Only some native, common religious sentiment can account for the sum of the phenomena.

The very universality of superstition demands of us that we recognize such a ground for it.

* But see a different version in Turnbull, p. 45.

f The difference between what is given by nature and education is seen in the act of talking and learning the alphabet. Religion is learning to talk.

The native belief in God is equally proved by man's conscious internal experience. All men, at times, have the feeling of reverence and worship springing up in them. They cannot suppress it always; its voice is heard in the great emergencies and changes of life. It shows itself in all men, chiefly in the following forms:

(a) A profound sense of dependence on some unseen and higher power.*

(b) In the monitions of conscience, suggesting divine judgments for our deeds. This is in all men. So that the divine being is recognized as a moral ruler.

(c) It is also seen in the fact that man will sacrifice to religion all other ties and affections.

II. The second source of proof that the knowledge of God is connatural, is derived from an analysis of human nature itself, showing that the highest exercises of each and all of man's powers is in religion.

There are two points here: (a) The highest exercise of each is in religion ; {b) The combined exercise of all is in religion, f

(a) The highest exercise of each.

(i) The intellect. The ultimate analysis here is into the two elements, the infinite and the finite, or the absolute and the relative. These comprehend, in the last analysis, the two extreme terms of our knowledge. We cannot, in thought, either escape or go beyond them. Take away, in thought, all that

* Schleiermacher makes this the only element. It is not that—but it is one.

f The first source being the consensus itself, the second, the analysis of this into its subjective and objective elements.

comes from the finite and the limited, and we go back upon and rest in something which is infinite. Take away what is fleeting, and we cannot but think of and believe in something which is absolute.

Whether this infinite, this absolute, be conceived of as positive or as negative (which we must by and by ask about), it is still a fact of man's intellect that he believes, and cannot but believe, that there is that which is infinite, which is boundless, which is unlimited. The necessity of thought compels to this; we cannot escape it. Everybody who thinks about it believes that as a matter of fact there is something which is not finite, not limited, e. g., space and time. Exceptions are exceptions. They arise from yielding the mind too exclusively to physics, or to too much metaphysics. Instances given are such as La Place, some French Encyclopaedists,* Harriet Martineau, Comte,f Epicurus, Leucippus, etc., to show that a number of highly intellectual persons have disavowed belief in God.

The only object of a reply to this objection is to show that the unbelief of such persons does not involve disproof of the general fact.

(a) These are exceptions in their own class of

* Not Voltaire.

f Comte, however, grants, that if an answer must be had to the question of the origin of things, the best answer would be an intelligent will; but he says the problem is insoluble. He repudiates the name of atheist, saying that "atheism is the most irrational form of theology."

minds. The greatest minds of all times have been on the other side.

(&) Even these concede the existence of an ultimate power, energy, etc., in unity of action—the most general notion of divinity. Their denial is that of a single personal agency.*

(<:) As degradation may suppress nature, so may a one-sided intellectual or metaphysical cultivation dry up, stifle the soul. This is doubtless possible.

(d) Their scepticism does not at all impair the argument for the point to be established, viz., that a belief in God is native to man. They have suppressed the voice of nature. Their unbelief no more disproves that belief is native than the solitary cases of misanthropes disprove the position that man was made to love his fellows; nor than the case of the idealists disproves the fact that men are by nature impelled to a belief in the independent existence of the material world.f

(V) The reply to this scepticism is in the general argument.

III. The Philosophical Evidence.

God is the sum of the categories. God is the idea of ideas. God is that which is ultimate in human thought.

The rudiments of the IDEA: being, force, cause,

* The ancient atheists were against the gods many; the modern are against one God.

t Cf. Cud worth's Intel. Syst., ch. iv.

Hume's Essays on the Natural History of Rel. acknowledge the feeling of dependence on God, but ascribe it to education, disease, etc.

substance—eternal and infinite—truth, beauty, goodness—all in one.

None doubt this except those bound up in sense.

Man may think away external nature, but not infinite and absolute being, in some form.

The only real question to-day is as to personal intelligence and consciousness. The force of force, idea of ideas, sum of the categories—that is confessed by unbelievers to be their God.

The theist claims all this, and more too.

§ 3. The Shaping of the A rgument.

We have thus our basis in the argument—a primary, universal, instinctive belief, conscientia Dei. This is the fulcrum of the lever. Now to frame the argument. What is its nature? What its best form? What is the sense of the argument?

We must come to the knowledge of God as we do to all other real and ultimate knowledge, by the combination of two factors—the intuitional and the experiential; by the union of two methods, the a priori (ontological, demonstrative) and the a posteriori, the inquisition into the grounds and causes of facts and phenomena.

The meaning of "Argument for the Being of God—"

Not, arguing from the known to the unknown.

The object is to evince the certainty, reality of the idea of God's being.

The idea is innate: not as complete and distinct, but irresistible mental and moral tendency. It appears first in the form of feeling, anticipation. Education develops it.

The proofs are the development of this idea, in all its necessity and relations.

The proofs are various; not because any of them is unconvincing, but on account of the universality of the idea.

All the proofs are one proof or chain of argument. The progress in the proofs is from the more abstract to the most concrete. Ontological, cosmological, teleological, moral, etc., exhibiting it on all sides.

The proof is not of a mere abstract being, but of the existence of the fullness of absolute being. What, now, are we to prove?

The existence of an infinite personal Spirit, the author (or Creator) of the world. This is the least we can propose; it presents the demand in its lowest terms. Two points are involved: (i) The infinitude and personality of this Spirit; (2) this world (all that is finite) is by and through him. To prove the one without the other is not to prove God. To prove an infinite personal spirit alone is not enough; to prove an author of the world is not enough; we must do both to have God, i. e., a being in whom we may trust", who is our God. The two conceptions may be sundered in thought and proof; there might be an infinite personal being who had no relation to the world; there might, possibly, be an author of finite phenomena, not an infinite spirit. We need both if the proof is to be adequate.

How, then, shall this proof be conducted?

It can only be, it seems to me, in the following order and manner:

1. As the starting-point show that man's whole nature and man's whole history prove the need to him of a God; that man by nature and reason is irresistibly prompted to seek for Deity, and cannot else be satisfied. This is not the proof of God's being, but the basis of proof.*

2. That all the phenomena and facts of the universe (so far as known) demand the recognition of a God as their source and unity—a personal God, the necessary complement of the world.

3. That man's reason (a priori) demonstrates the existence of a real, infinite, absolute being.

4. The combination of 2 and 3 gives us the result and proof.

In its ultimate philosophical principles the proof for the being of God consists of three arguments, resting upon three ideas:

(a) The ontological argument, on the idea of being.

(b) The cosmological argument, on the idea of cause.

(c) The teleological argument, on the idea of design.

The so-called ontological is not a priori in the sense of from cause to effect, as if the cause of God's

* There is a kind of parallel here to Kant's procedure in his Critique of the Pure Reason, against the sceptics, to show, first of all, the necessity and universality of the judgments of pure reason, against sceptics, not yet asking for their objective validity (which is to be established on other grounds). He cuts off, thus, the appeal of sceptics to reason, etc., etc.

existence were grasped. It is the argument from being, from the idea of being. Not a syllogism, rather an analysis. The only assumption is that of being. The only conclusion—the attributes of being.

In the cosmological argument, the eye is not now on being, but on successions of being; so that all temporal is seen to depend on the eternal, all finite on the infinite, etc.

In the teleological argument, nature, mind, morals, history, reveal the pursuit of ends, above all, of an end.

The contradictory proposition never can be proved.

To prove the atheist's position would imply omnipresence, omniscience, eternity, self-existence in him who established the conclusion.*

All the proofs make one proof; all the arguments make one argument. All are intended to establish the necessity of the divine existence, to explain the universe, so far as we know it.

The proofs need to be enumerated seriatim and independently: e. g., in Melanchthon's Loci, 9, they are reduced to five or six. But all these are only successive aspects and enlargements of the idea of God. Thus, the ontological argument gives the idea of the being of God and its abstract elements as necessary to human thought, the idea of one absolute, infinite Being as the cause of all that is.f

Then the cosmological argument stands between

* Cf. Pearson. Infidelity.

t See Herbert Spencer's reasonings and concessions; his attempt to reconcile philosophy and theology.

the a priori and a posteriori, giving the connecting link, the bridge, in the idea of cause.

And then follows the a posteriori argument, showing that there is an all-powerful, wise, and good author of the world (all that is finite). The natural sciences, mental and moral constitution of man, history, consensus gentium (not hominuni) testify here.

The decisive force of the argument lies in the combination of the two main aspects of it.

The ontological proves, from our necessary ideas, that there is a Being, infinite, unconditioned, spiritual, the ground and cause of all that is. But it has failed to demonstrate conscious intelligence or personality.

The different forms of the a posteriori argument prove that the adequate cause of all that is must be (a) intelligent, rational, wise—because there is intelligence, reason, wisdom, in the whole of creation; (t>) must be moral, because there are moral ideas and a moral order in the world itself. But this argument fails to show the infinitude of this cause, and fails to demonstrate that only one personal agency is concerned in all.

Combining the two, we have one substance, infinite, spiritual, and the ground and cause of all that is; also, intelligent and moral, or the source of rational ends and a moral order.

The question may arise, what warrants us in making the combination, and saying that the one infinite substance (demonstrated ontologically) is also the cause or source of the rational ends and moral order in creation? We are warranted in doing this for two reasons: (a) The law of parsimony; requiring a simplicity of ultimate causes. But this is not enough. (b) By the nature of the causative agency, which enters into both arguments equally. Ontologically, we see the necessity of one ultimate causative energy for all that is; and, in the series of causes produced by this energy, we find intelligence, reason, and moral order. Hence the causality in the case must be rational and moral.

After all, true knowledge of God is a living, vital knowledge, gained only from communion with Him. It is the highest spiritual vision of the soul. The loss of it is spiritual darkness and death. This we are never to forget and never deny. Religion is not a theory, not metaphysics, not demonstrations^—but a life, the life of God in the soul of man.

CHAPTER IV.

THE SUPERNATURAL AS THE MIRACULOUS. THE DOCTRINE OF MIRACLES : * HERE CHIEFLY PHILOSOPHICAL.

THE Supernatural and the Miraculous are not identical.

* References to works. Hume, of course. Campbell, Dissertation on Miracles. Mill's Logic (concedes that a miracle is not against the law of cause and effect). Article by Prof. Smith in Appletons' Cyclopedia. Mozley, 1865 (3d ed., 1872). Wardlaw, 1852. Trench, 1850 (and later). Leslie, Truth of Christianity. Powell, Essays and Reviews (cf. Goodwin, Am. Theol. Rev.). N. W. Taylor, Sects, on Mor. Gov." Mansel, Aids to Faith, 1861. Butler, Anal., Pt. II., c. 2. Whately, Historic Doubts. Douglass, Criteria of Miracles.

The miraculous is one mode or manifestation of the supernatural, as we have already seen. In one sense, in the highest sense, all nature is a manifestation of the supernatural. Creation is the highest miracle (in a general sense). The incarnation and resurrection of Christ are also manifestations of the supernatural. Take the resurrection of Christ and the raising of Lazarus, and the latter is a miracle in the stricter sense. But really, fundamentally, there is the same power, the same idea, the same moral end in both. Unbelief creates a sliding scale as to the whole manifestation of the supernatural. Give up the Scripture miracles, and logically you give up Creation. This is Strauss's position (Old and New Faith), Renan's, and that of the whole modern school. Belief in a personal God and in miracles really stand or fall together in any consecutive logic or theory. Miracles are the revelation of the supernatural in deed, as the Bible is in word, as Christ is in the incarnation.

Further, miracles are usually discussed only in relation to the evidences—the question being, How far, and in what sense they give evidence of the divine commission of those who claim to be messengers of God. Christ says: "The works that I do bear witness to me." This, undoubtedly, is the strict sense of " miracles." It is necessary, however, to take

Steinmeyer, Miracles (translated, 1875). Dr. A. Hovey, Miracles of Christ as attested, 1863. Barnes, Ely Lectures. Dr. A. P. Peabody, Ely Lectures. Dr. Skinner, Presb. Rev., Jan., 1865.- Newman's Essay.

them—before they are viewed as evidences—in their most general aspects. Here is the battle ground on the question of the Supernatural in History.

Here, moreover, both Christianity and Theism are in the sharpest contrast and contest with the two reigning schools of modern anti-Christian thought— the pantheistic and materialistic—the idealistic and the positive (materialistic—realistic). The impossibility of miracles is with them as an axiom—is the one unproved datum of all their criticism and philosophy. The same is true of evolutionists of every variety. Strauss and Renan both assume this as the basis of their criticism of the life of Christ, rejecting as unhistorical all that is miraculous (without any exception). This unproved postulate we are now to examine.

On philosophical grounds the proposition: A miracle in the nature of the case is impossible, is to be met with the proposition : A miracle is possible, and, on sufficient evidence, credible.

Hume was cautious, arguing against the proof or the possibility of proving a miracle; now, opponents are more daring, asserting the impossibility of the miraculous intervention itself. Of course, one who does not believe in a God cannot believe in a miracle as a work of God; as an event it may confound, but cannot convince him.

Strauss says: "The absolute cause never disturbs the chain of second causes by single arbitrary acts, but rather manifests itself in the production of the aggregate of final causalities, and of their reciprocal action." This is well put. (i) He allows that the absolute cause manifests itself in second causes— which is true. (2) Allows that it produces the chain and all in it—in which he is right. (3) Asserts that the absolute cause produces not as an arbitrary act, that is, not without cause, ground, reason—which is granted. But (4) can we tell a priori what and what not the absolute cause may or may not do? If not, it is a question of fact, history, testimony, and the miraculous is not a priori impossible. In the discussion all depends on getting

1. The True Idea of the Miracle.

2. The Possibility of it.

3. Determining when it is Probable.

4. Determining the Actual Proof.

§ 1. The True Idea of the Miracle.

As prodigies, wonders, marvels, miracles are almost universally recognized, in all religions.

In the early apologies for Christianity they were not contested in general; objections were made to particular miracles and their proof—not to miracles in general. This mode of viewing the matter prevailed for a long time in the early church; no sharp lines were drawn.

Augustine first brought the idea of miracles under the general notion of order—a part of Providence— a mode of divine working.*

* De Civ., x. 12. "Is not the world a miracle, yet visible, of God's working? Nay, all the miracles done in the world are less than the world itself, the heavens and earth and all that in them is ; yet God made them all, and after a manner we cannot conceive."

De Civ., xxi. 8. Miracles are not against nature in her highest

In the New Testament, three words are chiefly used, which may serve as criteria of a miracle:

1. repots. Marvels, prodigies (never Savpa),

HD1D, marking the effect on the beholder.

2. dvva/xi?. Mighty work, marking the efficiency, the supernatural element.

3. GrffAEiov, niX. Sign, marking the purpose or object, the moral end, placing the event in connection with revelation.

Miracles thus are

Wonderful phenomena, not explicable by known laws or natural agencies (second causes);

The product and evidence of superhuman, divine power;

Designed to give attestation to a divine revelation. More particularly:

1. A miracle is some event or phenomenon which (in common with all other events) is a fact, an occurrence, subject to observation and testimony. Else there could be no proof of it. The presumption is against it; but this may be overborne by evidence, as far as the alleged fact is concerned. E.g. Raising the dead.

The miraculous is doubtless used always in contrast with nature or the natural; but it is not propaspect. "How is that against nature which comes from the will of God, since the will of such a great Creator is what makes the nature of everything? In miracles God does nothing against nature : what is unaccustomed may appear to us to be against nature, but not so to God who constituted nature."

So Abelard: "In relation to God nothing is miraculous."

erly or best defined as a violation of the laws of nature, or a suspension. This is, at the best, a negative description, and does not give the attributes of the miracle. It exposes to needless objections. Miracles are in contrast with the ordinary laws of nature, are not explicable by them,* are above them; that is all.

In relation to nature, a miracle is in it, yet not of it, is from a higher source, another power than is seen in the sequence strictly natural.f

It is not necessary to say that all the signs and wonders in the Bible are of this decisive, indubitable character; there may be, and is, a great difference among them, and some " wonders" may be explained by natural laws.

Only—There are some indubitable ones, some manifestations of divine power which no possible advance of science can explain. There are Test Miracles, which admit only of the alternative: Miracle or Fraud. E. g. The raising of Lazarus. We should not care if there were only one—that is enough.^

* Thus Spinoza, Tract. Theol.-politicus: "A miracle signifies any work, the natural cause of which we cannot explain after the example of anything else to which we are accustomed: at least he who writes about or relates the miracle cannot explain it."

f As to the ambiguity of "Nature" and "Laws of Nature," see Mill in his "Essays on Religion " (last work).

(a) Nature means: all phenomena and their causes. In this sense miracles would belong to nature.

(b) It may mean: second causes—the ordinary course. In this sense the cause of miracles lies outside of second causes.

(c) It may mean: the uniformity of nature, allowing no changes. But this, as we shall see, is no final principle, no absolute law.

X As Renan plainly sees and grants.

The question arises: Can God only perform miracles? Wm. Fleetwood (1656-1723, Bp. St. Asaph) in his Essay on Miracles, 1701, takes the ground that none but God performs true miracles: " No true miracle was ever performed in opposition to truth." He was replied to by Bp. Hoadley, 1702 (and by Gilbert).*

Chalmers has taken the position that created agents may work miracles; that miracles are to be distinguished by their design, not their source, to be tested by the falsehood or truth of the doctrine which they seal.

This evidently denudes the miracle of its value— as an interposition of God.

On the whole, the weight of evidence goes to show that bad men and demons have not wrought real miracles.

The Egyptian enchantments were probably impositions; the man of sin produces lying wonders; Samuel may be best assumed to have been raised by divine power, etc. t

It is difficult to believe that God would give a direct power over nature—power to set aside his own ordinances—to evil beings. If the power in question be creative—the power of raising the dead—this would seem to be impossible to be communicated.

* The reading of these led Locke to write his Disc, on Miracles.

f The prohibitions of necromancy and witchcraft do not necessarily involve the recognition of a real control over nature similar to the divine, exercised by demons. Yet it need not be denied that evil spirits have access to some secrets of nature which human science has not reached, and may never reach. Man (and demons) may work the "mirabile," but not the "miraculum."

The Scriptures afford the following intimations on both sides of the question:

Only God performs real miracles:

John iii. 2. "No man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him." (This, of course, being the opinion of Nicodemus, is not decisive.)

Acts x. 38-40. "Jesus of Nazareth .... who went about doing good, and healing all that were possessed of the devil; for God was with him."

John v. 36. "The same works that I do bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me."

John x. 38. "Though ye believe not me, believe the works."

Matt. xii. 26, 28. —" if Satan cast out Satan "—" if I by the Spirit of God "— Per contra:

Matt. vii. 22. —" and in thy name have cast out devils," i. e., men rejected at the last have exercised this power. But mark—" in thy name."

Matt. xxiv. 24. —" shall arise .... false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders." Yet there is no reason why these should not belong only to the class of "mirabilia," and not of "miracula."

Rev. xiii. 13; xvi. 14. The same remark applies.

2. Does the progress of science, continually explaining what have heretofore been marvels, establish a probability that the wonders related in Scripture were susceptible of such explanation?

Matthew Arnold* says: "That miracles cannot

* In his God and Bible, 1876.

happen, we do not attempt to prove; the demonstration is too ambitious. That they do NOT happen— that what are called miracles are not what the believers in them fancy, but have a natural history of which we can follow the course—the slow action of experience, we say, more and more shows; and shows, too, that there is no exception to be made in favor of the Bible."

Further: "We have to renounce impossible attempts to receive the legendary and miraculous matter of the Scripture as grave, historical, scientific fact. We have to accustom ourselves to regard henceforth all this part as poetry and legend." *

We deny the main point above, viz.:

That the progress of science and experience does or can show that the miracles recorded in the Bible can be resolved into myths, legends, natural causes, and imagination. Especially will this be impossible in regard to the chief, the test miracles, e. g., the raising of Lazarus. The progress of science, so far from favoring the view that this can be explained by natural laws, demonstrates more and more the utter impossibility of doing this. The more we know of nature and science, the more impossible it will be to account for this by second causes.

The progress of science does not leave the alternative, miracle or imagination; it leaves only the alternative, miracle or imposition.

* Vet Arnold is anxious to keep the Bible, and its hold, after giving up all miracles—the vainest of attempts. Keep Christ and the Apostles, and reject miracles!

3. How is a miracle related to the law of cause and effect?

It does not contradict—is not inconsistent with that law.

The idea of cause is that of power, efficiency—not mere sequence.* The law of causality demands that for every event or change in nature there must be an adequate cause, ground, or reason. This is universal—co-extensive with phenomena, f

This law is not violated in a miracle; there is a cause assigned. Brown % says: "A miracle is a new effect, supposed to be produced by a new cause." Mill § concedes, "that in the alleged miracles, the law of causation is not contradicted."

Instead of impugning the. law of cause and effect, a miracle only postulates a higher than the ordinary causes—a divine power.

4. How are miracles related to the dogma of the uniformity of nature?

This is the chief point in the debate.||

Proposition: "Natural laws are elastic."

So far as the uniformity of nature implies or involves any absolute truth, a miracle does not violate that uniformity:

And, so far as a miracle does violate the uniformity of nature, it does not conflict with any absolute truth.

* The simplest idea of it is seen in the case of willing,
f It does not apply to substance, or first cause.
% Notes to Essay on Cause and Effect.
§ Quoted above.

I The ablest statement of opponents is Baden Powell's Order of Nature. Reply by Goodwin, Amer. Theol. Rev., 1862.

The uniformity of nature has at least five distinct meanings:

(rt) It may mean that the total sum of causes and effects is always the same. This may be true, if in the causes all is included—the supernatural, absolute force, God. Miracles are not against this.

(b) It may mean that the ultimate causality always pursues the same order and method of manifestation. This is the common view of it, and false, radically opposed to astronomy, geology, history—to all evolution.

(c) It may mean that the same series of merely physical causes and phenomena continue invariably the same. This begs the question (materialism), and is refuted by human agency using physical sequences, destroying them for use, for beauty, for law, for worship.

(d) It may mean that physical and human sequences together are invariably the same. This is refuted by providence and history.

(e) It may mean that the same causes in the same circumstances will always produce the same effects. This is true, and the whole truth. And a miracle does not contradict this. This is all there is to induction and positivism. And who knows all the causes ? *

* Mr. Lewes (Problems, ii., 99) calls it an " identical proposition ;" viz., "the assertion of identity under identical conditions; whatever is, is and will be, so long as the conditions are unchanged; and this is not an assumption, but an identical proposition."

A. Bain (Log. of Deduction, 273) lays it down "as essential that we should postulate or beg the uniformity of nature ;" maintaining

The Scotch school has done great harm to all metaphysics and theology, by hypostasizing the socalled uniformity of nature as an ultimate datum or principle, as an irreducible idea. Whereas, instead of being simple, it is both complex and vague. It has been allowed to play the part of a second god, and finally to many it has become a god.*

Generally admitted and advanced by Theists, it has proved tolerably safe with the background of Theism; but it can be, and has been, used in the interests of modern materialism. Now it is supplanted, in the idealistic schools, by spirit, being, force; in the materialistic schools by atoms and forces, or force.

The ultimate ideas are: being and cause—being as causal (force, energy). Force is not final, it demands a substratum; being (substance) is presupposed. And ultimately all we know of force is from the consciousness of power (or causal energy) in ourselves, in mind: as applied to external events it is derivative, symbolic. And so the uniformity of nature is simply that the same causes in the same circumstances will produce the same effects (as above). "The logic of unbelief wants a universal. But no real universal is forthcoming, and it

that we could give no reason for the future resembling the past, but must simply risk it, and see if it does not come out so.

Bain (in Mind, No. I., '76, p. 146), vs. Lewes, says : Lewes '' takes no account of differences in space and time," as among " the conditions" etc., etc. As if mere space and time could alter the real conditions!

* Cf. Mill in his Three Essays (on Nature, Laws of Nature, etc.). only wastes its strength in wielding a fictitious one." *

In Hume's noted argument the required universal is silently assumed in the phrase, " unalterable experience." The word "unalterable" begs the whole question. (Hume's objection, however, is really to the proof, and not the possibility, of miracles.) "Experience " is indefinite; there is no law in it. Up to a recent period, a train drawn by a steam-engine was contrary to all experience. To affirm that a certain experience is " unalterable," it is necessary to know all the possibilities of experience—which involves omniscience—or to grasp a law which involves the unalterableness.

5. What is the relation of miracles to doctrine, or to the sum of our knowledge of God and his designs?

Besides having an adequate cause, miracles have also a sufficient end or object, and are never to be considered apart from, or dissociated from that.

The Scriptural miracles always stand in this point of view. "Jesus . . . manifested forth his glory." t "The works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me." \ "God also bearing them wit

* Mozley on Miracles, p. 61. The following are also instances of the futile attempt to establish such a universal: Spinoza—'' Nothing can take place in nature which is contrary to the laws of nature." Powell (Study of Evid., p. 107)—" No testimony can reach to the supernatural." As to the latter position, see Mansel (Aids to Faith, pp. 14, 15, Eng. ed.). One kind of testimony certainly reaches to the supernatural, viz., that of him who performs the work.

f John ii. 11.

t John x. 25.

ness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles." *

Much of the speciousness of modern infidelity is gained just here, by conceiving of the miracle as a mere prodigy, as that which breaks up the order of nature for no object, something altogether baffling to thought in any consistent view of the universe.

There is no greater conceivable object than that which is disclosed in the Christian system of redemption.? A supernatural doctrine may well be attested by a supernatural fact. A supernatural fact not connected in any way with a course of revelation of supernatural doctrine would lack one of the most important marks of the " miracle." \

6. What is the relation of miracles to the ordinary exertion of divine power, and to the divine plan?

They are not " single" acts—arbitrary—but are in

* Heb. ii. 4.

f Mozley (Bampton Lect's, '66) defines a miracle as " a visible suspension of the order of nature for a providential purpose" (p. 6). There must be a purpose; no mere prodigy amounts to a miracle. Miracles differ from special providences, as the latter are '' a less obvious intervention of the supernatural" (pp. 8, 211) ; and special providences are also deficient in the coincidence between the prediction and the fulfillment (pp. 7, 148), which makes up the complete proof of a miracle.

% Wardlaw makes re pa? chief, 6rjneXov incidental; Trench reverses this, testing miracle by doctrine.

In the apologetic age of Christianity, its divine origin was argued chiefly from its moral effects, though this would not show what weighed the most with Christian thinkers, but only what they thought the best adapted to impress their heathen readers. Christ, in vindicating the divine character of miracles, appeals to the whole tenor of his doctrine and work. "If Satan cast out Satan "—

the whole plan of God from the beginning. No new power is required for them, only the same power which produces and sustains all things in another form. They involve no greater power—not so great —as that which built the worlds.

In this view they are not against law, but a manifestation of the very highest law. They argue no want of foresight; they are no afterthoughts. They are Promethean, not Epimethean.

Summary:
The Idea of Miracles is that they have:
An efficient cause—God;

A final cause or object—to authenticate a rev-
elation;

A possible attestation—being sensible phenomena, capable of being apprehended and known by men. Miracles are:

possible, if there is a God;

probable, if a positive revelation is needed; and

they have been, if Christ and his apostles can be believed.

Miracles are: direct works of divine power, superseding or using second causes (the ordinary course of nature) for a higher end—for a higher and better manifestation of God—the end for which God made the world.

Definitions of The Miracle.

Mozley;* "The chief characteristic of miracles,

On Miracles, p. 149.

and that which distinguishes them from mere marvels, is the correspondence of the fact with the notification; what we may call the prophetical principle. For, indeed, if a prophecy is a miracle, a miracle, too, is in essence a prophecy; the essence of which is the correspondence, not the futurity, of the event."

Bacon: * "There never was a miracle wrought by God to convert an atheist; because the light of nature might have led him to confess a God; but miracles are designed to convert idolaters and the superstitious, who have acknowledged a Deity, but erred in his adoration; because no light of nature extends to declare the will and worship of God."

Spinoza :\ "Miraculum significat opus cujus causam naturalem exemplo alterius rei solitae explicare non possumus, vel saltem ipse non potest qui miraculum scribit aut narrat." %

Alexander § gives the following classification of all the definitions which have been framed:

1. From the point of view of the agency employed in their production.

a. Divine, only.

b. Superhuman.

2. From that of their relation to the course of nature.

a. As violating all natural laws.

b. As not violating but superseding laws.

* Adv. Learning, B. 3, c. 2. t Tract. Theol., c. iv., 67.

\ So Wegscheider, De Wette. Schleiermacher denied that miracles proved truth or the commission of the worker. § Christ and Christianity, App. D.

3. From the view of their effect or design.

a. As producing wonder.

b. As producing faith (religion being the test).

4. From their relation to our ignorance.

Aquinas (one of the best as far as it goes): "Nothing can be contrary to the order of the world, as it proceeds from the primal cause;" but if we look at the order as it is grounded in the cosmical chain of causes and effects, then God may bring something to pass praeter ordinem rerum; for he is not limited to this series of causes and effects. Hence: "Miracula sunt omnia quae divinitus fiunt praeter ordinem communiter servatum in rebus."

A sufficient definition: A miracle proper is an event in the course of nature—not to be accounted for by natural laws—produced by divine power, in attestation of the personal divine commission of him who works it.*

§ 2. The Possibility of Miracles.

This possibility is exactly measured by the real belief in the Being of God—as a Personal, Conscious

* On the question, How does the miracle prove the credibility of the worker? see Dr. Thornwell (So. Presb. Rev., Aug., '56, p. 355). The worker appeals to God as a witness.

(a) It is an example of the supernatural.

(b) It is an example of the precise kind of the supernatural which it is advanced to confirm. Wardlaw (p. 32-3), "The prophecy is a miracle of knowledge—the miracle is a prophecy of power."

(c) God's character would not permit such audacity as is implied in working miracles by a bad man.

"That ye may know that the Son of Man hath power on'earth to forgive sins "—prophecy of power. Mark ii. 10.

Intelligence. It is as vital as religion itself—or prayer; though prayer be not a miracle, yet both belong to the same order of conceptions—both involve belief in the reality, presence, and power of the Supernatural in History. The degree is different, but the order of facts is the same, i. e., the supernatural order, a living sense of God's presence and power.

If there be a Personal, Intelligent, Omnipotent, and Holy God—the author and governor of the world—it is possible that, to answer the end for which the world was made, he may intervene by miracles. If the being of God is on the whole only the most credible hypothesis as to the origin, course, and end of the universe, miracles may be congruous therewith.

In such a universe the physical must be in and for moral and spiritual ends—the world for God—man for God—God the end of creation. To manifest his full power and glory, for, in, and by his creatures, there may be need of supernatural intervention, or, at any rate, such an intervention is possible.

This does not here require further illustration.

The anti-Christian theories, on this point, either wholly beg the question, or come under the necessity of establishing the inherent incredibility, the physical and metaphysical impossibility of the miraculous. In the face of the general belief, the impossibility must be proved if the possibility is denied. (We do not yet speak of the probability or the actuality, but only of the general possibility.)

This proof cannot be conducted: the claim is only an assumption, as violent and arbitrary as any that can be made; involving a denial of all supernaturalism—the affirmation of Nihilism and Nescience at the root, not only of our knowledge, but also of the universe itself. Even if God be only possible, miracles have a derivative possibility.

These anti-Theistic theories—materialistic or pantheistic—or both—or neither—assume, in common, the following points:

1. That all we can directly know is, certain sensations or subjective phenomena. This is the indubitable.

2. That all we can do with these sensations or phenomena is, to state them in some general rule or so-called law—which only means, that we combine the separate facts in one general statement.

3. That as to the cause or source of these phenomena or facts, all that we can do, " scientifically," at the utmost, is to refer them to some unknown, inconceivable, indefinable substance, cause, or source. Some deny even this.

4. That this ultimate substance, cause, or source evolves or develops the phenomena by a necessary law—evolution—which is always at work in the same order. Here is a difference. A says: This evolution is of atoms and forces, but both material; B says: This evolution (development) is not material (atomic), but spiritual—as force. Yet it is an unconscious force.* C says: It is neither spiritual nor material, but some tertium quid, hybrid, both in one: that spirit and matter are different sides of the same

* Von Hartmann.

facts. But all say: It is a Mode of Being, unconscious, non-intelligent, non-ethical.

5. That this evolution is for some end. There is a question here among anti-theistic theorists. Positivists deny (in terms, while their position all the while demands) final cause or end; Mill hesitates. But all who admit radical evolution virtually admit final cause: for what is evolution without end or beginning? It is simply atoms in motion, and time and space. The end, however, is not contained in thought, in plan, in the original sense, but just comes to be, somehow or other, because it could not help it.

This is the sum and substance of the present theory against the possibility of miracles.

Now, if this theory is not true, miracles are possible. Hence we go on to consider the dogma of Evolution in relation to the origin and end of creation.* [The author intended to do this in the Ely Lectures for 1876.] See APPENDIX III., Outline of Prof. Smith's Intended Lectures on Evolution.

§ 3. The Probability of Miracles. Only the outline of discussions will be given here; the full treatment belongs to Historical Apologetics.

* If there is a Personal God,
if Nature is not God,
if Atoms and Forces are not all,
if the spiritual is as real as the natural,
if the moral is above the natural,
if there is a moral government,

and a moral end (even if only " generally tending to Righteous-
ness," in Matthew Arnold's phrase); then
Miracles are possible.

The argument is manifold and combined:

1. The two general positions; Theory of the Universe:

a. God is Holy and a God of Law;

b. Man is a moral being, made for God; and

this world is for moral ends, under a moral government.

2. The Actual Condition; the Historical State of Mankind:

The end is not reached, yet is in process and progress.

The two great facts of sin and of the need of redemption. Man's moral nature, though perverted, asserts itself. Conscience testifies to his sin and need. The need is of God's interposition. It is met in the Incarnation, the Atonement, the Redemption in Christ.

3. The special .state of the world at Christ's coming, and preparation for that coming.

4. History since: Christianity the center of History. Christianity beneficent.

The evils of Christianity are the evils of human nature contesting against it.

The probability of miracles is of the same order and degree as the probability of the truth and need of the Christian system.*

* Butler, Anal., Pt. ii., c. I, 2.

Paley's position: There is the same probability of miracles as of a revelation.

The "Truth" of Christianity lies in its correspondence with the character of God and his plan, and in its proved historical adequacy to meet the entire "need " of man.

§4. The Proof of Miracles. (Here only outlined.)

The witnesses—numerous—had full opportunity of observing, were honest, unimpeachable—give full details (no thaumaturgic reserve), shaped their whole lives by the supernatural facts and doctrines which they relate, suffered, and (many of them) died in attestation, which is notably true of Christ and the apostles.

The miracles were visible, audible—public in the face of foes, of many witnesses.

The question coming up here is as to the possibility of proving miracles and the nature of the proof actually afforded; whether, on general grounds, it is to be deemed valid.

The real question is, not whether there is enough testimony, but whether any possible degree of testimony can prove a miracle.

The testimony of the miracle-worker is the decisive element. He testifies to the supernatural. Is he then credible?

As miracles are appeals to the senses, to "experience," testimony is the only mode of proving them to us. The proof to those who witness them is the evidence of the senses; the proof to us, their testimony. The Scriptures say that the miracles are from God. Testimony here may be valid, unless one assumes that it is not, and if this be assumed, the procedure is suicidal; "going to testimony to show that testimony cannot be depended on." *

* The assumption can only be based upon the fact that the mass of human testimony goes to show that miracles have not occurred within

The proof of miracles, as far as testimony goes, is complete.

The two chief objections to the proof: (a) It does not reach to the divine agency. To show that an event lies out of the range of the causes which man knows of, is not to show that it lies beyond the range of all second causes, and to trace it to the direct energy of God. (b) Testimony, from the nature of the case, cannot prove a miracle. The evidence that the sequences of nature are unbroken is stronger than mere human testimony to any facts can be.

(a) Such proof as we have respecting miracles does not reach to the divine agency.

(i) It is said that in affirming the occurrence of a miracle, we virtually claim that we know all the laws of nature,* since the miracle is denned as being above or contrary to all those laws.

Reply: We need not know all nature to be certain that some evetits are entirely above nature; e. g., raising the dead, curing the blind with a word. Observation and experience have given us the limitations of nature in certain directions, though not in all.

If we do not know enough of the laws of nature to decide that a miracle has occurred, infidelity does not know enough of them to decide that it has not.

the experience of the vast majority of men. If the (unimpeachable) testimony of those who have observed miracles is to be rejected, the testimony of those who say they have not seen them is to be neglected. * The substance of Rousseau's objection to miracles.

There may be direct proof that the miracle is from divine power, in the way of the testimony of the miracle-worker, he being entirely credible; e. g., Christ and apostles.

(2) It is said that what are deemed miracles may be due to occult agencies in nature merely, as magnetism, etc.

Reply: No such are proved to be available, or are even conceivable in, e. g., the raising of the dead.

If occult natural agencies were employed, the efficiency would not be in them, but in the will which controlled them.

The testimony of Christ is explicit. "If I by the finger of God "— "Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me." *

(3) Another form of (2). It is said that the Scriptures recognize the fact that the miracle-worker may do what to others is miraculous, yet not by divine aid; may know secret powers, etc. Deut. xiii. 1-3. "If there arise among you a prophet . . . and giveth thee a sign, . . . and the sign come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, . . . thou shalt not hearken." (So Matt. vii. 27; xxiv. 24; 2 Thess. ii. 9, quoted before.)

Reply: The Scriptures describe these as lying wonders, false signs.

The criterion is, that they are against the truth. Then—

(4) It is said that the Scriptures would prove truth by miracles, and miracles by truth. No, we reply:

At the raising of Lazarus. John xi. 41.

the evidence that these are not true miracles is that they undertake to support false doctrine. It is a part of the evidence—not the whole—of true miracles, that they are " for the truth." It is a part—not the whole—of the evidence for the truth that it is attested by miracles. The single circumstance that alleged miracles are for the truth does not prove them to be true miracles; but their being against the truth proves them to be false.* On the whole, under Obj. (a).

That the proof does reach to the divine agency is involved in the testimony, especially of Christ; all centers there in him, and his disciples derivatively.

Obj. (b). No amount of testimony can prove a miracle. This is Hume's noted objection: No evidence can establish the fact of a miraculous occurrence; there is always greater probability that men are deceived or deceivers, than that a miracle has taken place; for testimony has, nature has not, deceived.f He says: "A miracle is a violation of the laws of nature, and. as a firm and unalterable experience has established these laws, the proof against a miracle, from the very nature of the fact, is as entire as any argument from experience can possibly be imagined."J

(It follows that the progress of science has nothing

* The excellency of doctrine agrees with—does not prove—the divinity of the miracle; the divinity of the miracle establishes the excellency of the doctrine, yet never so but that the excellency is also seen in its own light.

t Hume does not deny the abstract possibility of miracles. Admits this in Essays, ii., pp. 131, 132. (Edinb. ed., 1788.)

t Phil. Works, iv., 133.

to do with the argument—it is the same always ; i.e., there is a metaphysical impossibility of proving miracles. But the progress of science, in fact, makes Christ's miracles appear still more supernatural, since nothing adequate to perform them is discovered.) * The best replies f to Hume:

If "experience" means universal experience, it begs the question.:]:

The objection proves too much. Proves the impossibility of establishing any new event. Proves that the fact of creation cannot be believed on any testimony of God, coming through men.

The objection assumes a violent probability against miracles. But " under the circumstances," etc., the fact is the reverse.

Hume separates the miracle from its object. A miracle with him is a miracle merely, not a miracle of Christ for the redemption of men.

Hence the probability against the Christian miracles is based upon sceptical ground, taken in advance.

His objections to testimony cannot apply to Christ and his apostles. It is more difficult to believe that such men § were deceivers than that the sequences of nature are " alterable."

* So Mansel, Aids to Faith, p. 13.

f See Campbell, Paley, Encycl. Brit., Babbage, Vaughan, Chalmers (Evid., Bk. I., c. 3), Rogers (Edin. Rev., 1849).

% The experience of any who were present when unimpeachable witnesses testify that miracles were wrought, and did not see them, might be brought forward with effect.

§ Archb. Whately has written with force upon this point. On the

Newton, certainly equal to Hume in his power of estimating what is involved in the uniformity of nature, thus qualifies the "immutability of the laws of nature:" "nisi ubi aliter agere bonum est."* The "uniformity of nature " is not a rational, necessary truth. The uniformity of physical law gives way under the impulse of man's free will, whenever this is duly put into the line of causes; a fortiori it will under God's, f

other hand, a singular proof of the incapacity of some minds to see the decisive feature in testimony is afforded in the writings of one Craig, a Scotchman, who wrote, in 1699, a 4to pamphlet, "Theologise Christianiae, Principia Mathematica," proving that on its present evidence Christianity could be received until A. D. 3153.

* See paper on the Immutability of the Laws of Nature, in Lond. Quart. Rev., Oct., 1861.

f So, in substance, Mansel, Aids to Faith, pp. 18, 19 ; see, also, Dr. A. P. Peabody, Chris. Exam., Nov., 1856.