Chapter I



The roots of Infidelity are doubtless in Sin and the consequent blindness of man to spiritual truth.

But it is equally true that, in discussion and in thought, there are certain theoretical positions about God, man, nature, and a future life, which prevent a believing acceptance of the religion of Christ: i. e. if thinking be consistent. For example: that all which we can know is the natural world (so called); that the infinite and supernatural are not objects of knowledge; that God cannot be known; that the knowledge of God, of the supernatural, is negative; that all knowledge is relative; that all science is about phenomena, external and sensible; that it is all generalized sensations; that the course of nature is uniform, unbroken—natural law being all; that the supernatural rests on credulity, blind faith.*

* The subsoil of the Natural is in the Supernatural.
The subsoil of Anti-Supernaturalism is in the denial.

The particular objections to special truths and doctrines run back into this general denial of the supernatural, e. g. the whole criticism on prophecy, miracles, the incarnation.

Order of the discussion.*

§ i. Nature (Idea) of the Supernatural per se.

§ 2. Real Being (Reality) of the Supernatural.

§ 3. Possibility of its Manifestation.

§ 4. Possibility of our knowing and testing this Manifestation. (The Proof of Manifestations coming subsequently. Here discussion only of the a priori possibility.)

§ 5. Objections.

§ 1. Nature (Ided) of the Supernatural.

The idea of the supernatural is differently grasped and defined in different ages, and in different systems. Rude tribes find it in meteors, eclipses, portents and prodigies, ghosts and witches, the general idea being that of events which have a super

* The following scheme is also proposed:

§ I. The Supernatural in its Eternal Being (Necessity).

§ 2. The Supernatural in the Possibility of its Manifestation.

§ 3. The Supernatural in its actual Manifestations in Historic Time, (a.) The Creative Act (original transition from Infinite to Finite —Absolute to Relative). This must have occurred, as all concede.

Subordinate epochs of creation, new forces, etc.

These once introduced become a permanent order—the introduction is supernatural. (b.) Especial Manifestation in Man and his Endowments. (c.) In Revelation in General. Inspiration, Prophecy, Miracles. (</.) The Incarnation.

(e.) The Church. Regeneration, Sanctification, and Final Victory.

human and super-mundane origin. In all its forms it involves a belief in the reality of such a power, controlling the world and human destiny. Examples: the Greek Fate above the gods; the East Indian Buddha; the American Indian's Great Spirit; the Creator, Incarnate God, worker of miracles of the Christian Faith: the Materialistic Fate; the Pantheistic Substance or Spirit. In all forms of faith, and almost all schemes of philosophy the supernatural is recognized, more or less dimly, more or less definitely.

In its highest and most abstract form of statement it is defined, in comparison and in contrast with what is called Nature—Naturalism.

By Nature is meant: the finite universe, with its constitution, order, and laws (which, it is supposed, can be detected and stated)—the finite, limited, dependent (interdependent) in a chain of effects and causes. Hence the so-called uniformity of nature.

(«.) Meaning of the Supernatural per se.

By the Supernatural, in contrast and comparison, is properly signified: what is before and above—in its being and nature independent of—Nature; the Absolute and Infinite; what is . above the sequences (causes and effects) in Nature; what is the cause or source thereof; the substratum and substantia of Nature; standing under and producing, so that the natural has its ground in, and is caused by, the supernatural.*

* Natura haturansnatura naturata, is the like distinction under the term Nature, which is here the equivalent of the Universe. But

{b.) Some, and Christian thinkers too, draw the line upon a different point. They embrace in the supernatural the human personality and will, all that is truly spiritual, all that is not included in the chain of causes and effects in the natural order. Man's will is supernatural, because it can break through and over the chain of causes and effects.

But the distinction here is not strictly between the Natural and the Supernatural, but between Physical Necessity and Moral Freedom, between Nature and Spirit. This view says, in effect, all that is spiritual is supernatural.

Dr. Bushnell defines the Supernatural,* "whatever it be that is either not in the chain of natural cause and effect, or which acts on the chain of causes and effects, in nature, from without the chain."

Dr. Hickok, on the Valid Being of the Soul,f says, "the facts of a comprehending—not merely conjoining, nor connecting—power over nature, and of an ethical experience, prove the soul to be supernatural."

Remarks and Criticisms on the Soul as Supernatural. I. The statements given in evidence establish the valid being of the soul, as free and moral—above the

it is better to say, the universe is the whole, divided into the Intelligible and the Material, the Ideal and the Natural, the Supernatural and the Natural. This is the most comprehensive view and the fairest statement of the case. Spinoza's division of the "universe" into the productive and the produced is right, if the meaning of terms is kept in view, but confusion results from making '' nature " the equivalent of all being.

* Nature and the Supernatural, p. 37.

f In Rational Psychology, pp. 540, 541.

control of physical necessity—of cause and effect as seen and found in physical sequences. So much is valid and valuable. Will, personality, free spirit, cannot be explained by the laws of the physical creation, in terms of matter, force, and motion.

2. The implication or tacit assertion that the supernatural and the spiritual are identical—that all which is truly spiritual is also supernatural—that moral freedom is, wherever found, also supernatural, is the unproved and disputable position. If man be essentially supernatural, how shall we distinguish between God and man radically? The barrier is broken down, if every act of man's moral freedom be a supernatural act.

3. The position does not reach to the matter in dispute: for the opponents of the supernatural say they refer to something super-human and super-mundane. Is there such a mode of being? It is replied: Yes, because man is above nature. But, is there not something above man too—essentially so? If not, then no argument is advanced by this position; if there is, then the position contains no reply.

4. So that, besides saying that man can control nature, we must also say that there is a supernatural above man, in order to make any headway. It is not enough to say: Man can comprehend and control nature, and hence God may. All that is thus proved is an analogy, that man is like God; the true and real supernatural is not obtained.*

* The argument from man's will to the supernatural has another relation, viz.: If man's will can use the sequences of nature for other ends

5. The law of cause and effect does not break down when applied to man's free will. If it did, then there would be pure contingence, and the element of nolaw pervading the system. It is a universal law of finite being, that every beginning or change must have a cause. All that is finite is under this law. If this is not a universal law, no Natural Theology is possible; the basis of the whole argument is uprooted.

6. The real question is this: Is there a Supernatural which is absolute, and absolute Power and Will, at the basis and the source of all that is phenomenal?

To answer this we may be helped by the analogy, but it can only be subsidiary.

It is easier to prove that there is an absolute supernatural, than that the human will is absolutely supernatural. To attempt the latter would lead to a long discussion with naturalism on a side issue— whether the acts of man's will can be explained as non-supernatural. The opponent would say: If that is all the supernatural which you claim, my task is easy.

7. Perhaps we may even go farther, and say that the supernatural, in its manifestations, in its workings, is under the law of causation — not physical causation, but real causation. The manifested supernatural is orderly, is successive, makes a system, a historic system in fact, the whole of the Historic

than the mechanical, etc., a fortiori. God may, and equally without violating the uniformity of nature.

Revelation, which is a sublime manifestation of power and intelligence, of cause and effect on the widest scale.

8. Though the human will be not directly supernatural, yet the highest form of the Supernatural is doubtless in Will, viz., Absolute Personality, which implies will and moral perfection. (But this is only stated here, not proved: it is the result of the whole argument on the Being and Nature of God.)

It may be also said, that the Human Personality, the Human Will, is the highest manifestation of the Supernatural in the natural world (not including miracles, the incarnation, etc.). Here, chiefly, man is in the image of God.

9. But the true real Supernatural, in its essence, is the Absolute, the Divine.

§ 2. The Reality of the Supernatural.

(References for American theological students.

The Denial of the Supernatural. Tayler Lewis, in Vedder Lectures, 1875. Ref. (D.) Board.

The Sensible, the Extra-Sensible, the Super-Sensible. Lewes. Problems of Life and Mind, 229253

Van Oosterzee. Dogmatics, i. 160.

Dr. Dabney. The Sensualistic Philosophy, etc. Philosophy and the Supernatural. 1875.

McCosh. The Supernatural in Relation to the Natural. 1862.

Bushnell. Natural and Supernatural.

Hickok. Rational Psychology. Appendix.)

Having considered the Nature (True Idea) of the Supernatural, we come now to the Real Being of it, with which is involved its Necessary Being.

The Real and Necessary Being of the Supernatural may be evinced from various sources of evidence.

1. It is a necessity of Religion (and if man was made for religion, it follows that he was made to stand in relation to the Supernatural).

2. It is a necessity of Thought.

3. It is confirmed by a well-nigh universal testimony; there are exceptions, but these are about as numerous relatively as those of thinkers who deny an external world. Only those who deny reality to anything but immediate experience through sensation deny the Supernatural.

1. The evidence for the Necessity of the Supernatural is to be viewed in connection with the evidence for the Necessity of Religion: they cover the same ground.

There can be no religion without an underlying sense of the reality of the super-human and the super-sensible. From the highest religion to the lowest this is the one universal and common element.

Take this away, and all religion vanishes; accept it, and religion is possible, however vague the form of faith or feeling may be.

Take this away from the history of the race; just eliminate the sense of worship—the dependence on an Unseen yet Real Presence—and the history of the world becomes a vain show, without inward truth or rational basis or moral end; it is a chapter in the laws of motion, an appendix to the physiology of the senses. It leaves man without a solid past or a valuable future—in a condition worse than that of the Stoics, of whom it is said their philosophy is above suicide-mark, and yet continually dropped below it.

Just as far, then, as there is evidence from history and consciousness that man is a religious being (even animal), that religion is a necessity of his spiritual nature as truly as air is vital to his physical growth and being—so far forth, conterminous with this at every point, is the evidence to man of the necessity of the supernatural.

To disprove this it is necessary to disprove and undermine the deepest faith of the race, its profoundest conviction.

Even where there is nothing left of religion but a vague sentiment, an undefined aspiration, an unintelligent impulse; still, so far forth as this goes, so far is the need of a belief in the supernatural recognized, dimly, it may be, but really.

Even those thinkers who have yielded themselves to an intense and all-absorbing intellectual scepticism, confess the moral and spiritual necessity of religion, and their scepticism makes the reluctant confession all the more impressive. Denying all present religions, they look for another, higher, because they feel the native majesty and authority of the Supernatural.*

* E. g., Comte, Tyndall, Huxley, and, in an eminent degree, Mill. The whole spirit of Mill's Inductive Philosophy was, to say the least,

2. The Supernatural viewed as a Necessity of Thought.

In relation to thought, the only alternative here is a denial of the possibility of any ultimate Truth—or rather any basis of Being—of any inherent reality in the universe. This alternative is Nihilism in respect to being, Nescience in respect to knowledge, Pessimism in respect to the end of being. It is saying, change is all; the flow of time and events is all; the stream of events in time has no beginning; casualty, not causality, rules; there is no order, no law, physical or moral; for as soon as you say, law, uniformity, you have something above the flow directing it. As between Fate and Chance, it says, Chance; for Fate has in it a principle and a method. To deny real and absolute Being is to deny the very essential ideas of reason itself. We take this ground—in respect to which we do not now argue, but claim— that all minds believe and must believe in the Supernatural, unless they proclaim all Truth and all Being to be a mockery and a delusion.

Discernment upon this fundamental point depends upon the invaluable mental habit of seeing things as they are—not seeing words instead of things—not

non-religious (Sir James Stephens says that Mill's Logic has done more for atheism than any other book of the century). But in his last essay on Theism he confesses that '' in the present state of our knowledge the adaptations in nature afford a large balance of probability in favor of causation by intelligence." Three Essays, pp. 168-70. (Even in his " Logic" he allows the possibility of miracles.) In Christianity he finds the high service of "inculcating the belief that our highest conceptions of combined wisdom and goodness exist in the concrete, in a living being, who has his eyes on us and cares for our good."

the vestigia nor the simulacra nor the larvae of things, but the actual realities. All the "idola" of Bacon stand in the way of this immediate vision of the reality; yet it is the first condition of all true knowledge.

We speak of Thought and of what is involved in the Necessity of Thought. All thought, every proposition, affirms or denies; it affirms Being or something about it. Fundamental, metaphysical, necessary thought is affirmation of being. I am. Space is. Time is. The world is. Phenomena are. Substance is. The testimony of consciousness is absolute and final. Sensations, imaginations, conceptions, ideas, feelings—all states and modes of the mind are. The ego, self, also is. Here is absolute certainty. "Only subjective certainty," it may be said. That may be, but the suggestion is an afterthought—a reflected thought. The contents of consciousness, to us, simply are. In its primary affirmations there are no distinctions.

The essence of knowledge consists:

(1) In the affirmation of Being.

(2) The analysis into subject and object, thought and being. How far we have certainty of the latter.

(3) The union of the two.

Further: (a) There is Thought; (b) there is the Necessity of Thought (our minds must view things under certain rational principles; mental action must proceed in accordance with these principles, or it must be suppressed altogether); (c) these rational principles enforce that our thinking and discernment of Being shall be thus and not otherwise, and thus we have also enforced the Necessity to Thought of

the Supernatural.

The principles referred to are such as these:

(a) The radical belief in a universal being—being

unlimited and unconditioned.

(d) The universality of the law of cause and effect

(viz., a sufficient cause for all the changes, every

change implying a previous and adequate cause).*

(c) The category of the substantial and phenomenal.

(d) The practical (rational) necessity of choosing between order and chance; and the fact that reason is "informed " and "ensouled " only by order, law.f

(e) Even on the development theory, a sufficient ground or source for the development must be assumed—the law of Ground and Consequence.

(/) The undeniable idea and law of motion, change, and a Primum Mobile, as in Aristotle.

* Under this, too, the argument from design. See Mill's Concessions, and even Comte's.

f The knowledge of Reason consists of the vision (intuition) of the absolute Idea in the beginning—of the absolute Ideal at the end. Herein, if anywhere, lies man's intellectual likeness to God and the prepledge of his immortality. Gazing with open eye upon the Infinite and Eternal, full of awe but full of knowledge (and of love), constitutes the fullness of our being. The idea of Pure Being, of an Infinite Kosmos, is the object of profound wonder to every great thinker or sage. This is evident in all the schools from East to West, and the sentiment underlies all our scientific researches to day. It is also the elemental idea of the Christian "new-birth"—the "new simple idea " of Edwards—yet here more concrete, viz., the knowledge of God face to face—the sense of the Supreme Reality. It is a perpetual possession of the religious mind, avouched by all experience, and of it no scepticism can rob the believer. And more than this: the glory of God shines in the face of Jesus Christ our Lord—the knowledge of God Incarnate is real knowledge.

As man must think under these conditions, and as the conditions presuppose a Supernatural Power— so it follows that the Supernatural is a Necessity of Thought.

It may be added that as all truth is the conformity between thought and being (which conformity is ascertained by a variety of inter-measurings), so what is necessary to our thought in the supernatural is attested, and becomes the object of new conviction, by our examination of it under different points of view and different relations.

What is truth? How do we reach certainty?

There is—being.

There is—thought.

As is thought so is being—as is being so is thought; the equation of the two, duly ascertained, gives certainty, constitutes truth.

We find that whatever is necessary to thought in the sphere of the natural has its correspondent reality in being; whatever is necessary to thought in the supernatural has a similar reality, as we should justly infer; and testing the supernatural as we do the natural (not by the same tests but by real tests), we find all the signs of the equation between being and thought, and arrive at truth, at certainty.

3. The reality of the supernatural element is confirmed by the history of thought in all the schools of philosophical speculation.

This statement applies not only to all the ancient and accredited systems and schools, but also—and in a marked way—to the most modern schools of antitheistic and even materialistic speculation.

The Supernatural is in them all more or less—expelled with a fork, it ever forces itself back.

The law of gravitation might seem to be defied when a column of water is thrown up into the air— until it all flows back again to its source, and it is evident that the same law governed the discharge and the return, that the law was served by the seeming violation. And so the very necessities of thought which seemed to lead to a denial of the Supernatural and the Eternal bring it back again in some other form, as resistlessly as the air rushes in to fill a vacuum.

Mr. J. S. Mill, in a remarkable passage in his Three Essays,* says: "Science contains nothing repugnant to the position that every event which takes place results from a specific volition of the presiding power, provided that power adheres in its particular volition to general laws laid down by itself."

Elsewhere f he says: "One only form of belief in the supernatural, one only theory respecting the origin and government of the universe, starts wholly clear, both of intellectual contradiction and of moral obliquity. It is that which, resigning irrevocably the idea of an omnipotent Creator, regards nature and life, not as the expression throughout of the moral character and purpose of the Deity, but as the product of a struggle between continuing goodness and an intractable material, as was believed by Plato, or a principle of evil, as was the doctrine of the Manichaeans."

* Posthumous Papers, 136.

f Essays on Religion, pp. 116, 117.

Herbert Spencer says: "That which persists unchanging in quantity, but ever changing in form under these sensible appearances which the universe presents to us, transcends human knowledge and conception; is an unknown and unknowable power which we are obliged to recognize as without limit in space, and without beginning or end in time.

"The sincere philosopher alone can know how high —we say not above human knowledge, but above human conception—is the universal power, whereof nature, life, thought, are manifestations.*

"Our knowledge of noumenal existence has a certainty which our knowledge of phenomenal existence cannot approach; in other words, in the view of logic as well as of common sense, realism is the only rational thesis; all the others are doomed to fall." f

Of Matter and Spirit, Spencer says: % "The one no less than the other is to be regarded as but a sign of the Unknown Reality which underlies both."

G. H. Lewes distinguishes ; § "the sensible, the extra-sensible, and the super-sensible." (The extrasensible is real and may be known, e. g., ether). The super-sensible is the domain of theology and " Metempirics," which is " closed against the method of science, but is open to faith and intellectual intuition." \

With Lewes the cardinal point of the Positive Philosophy is its ignoring of what is beyond the method

* Spencer on Education, p. 109 (new edition).

t Spencer on Principles of Psychology (new edition), 32.

% Spencer on First Principles, p. 503.

§ Lewes' Problems of Life and Mind, i. 229.

I Lewes' Problems of Life and Mind, i. 243.

of science. He designates all this as "The Metempirical." Yet "admits much that is called Metaphysics," viz.: the highest generalizations of the several sciences; though "it excludes the problems of Matter, Force, Cause, Life, Mind, Object and Subject," as " insoluble, metempirical." *

He allows " efficient causes," and says we "know essences," etc., properly understood, i. e., as far as they come into manifestation or experience. So, too, in ontology we may know much.f A metaphysician may have a knowledge of being as certain as the mathematician's knowledge of magnitude, or the chemist's knowledge of affinity, the biologist's of life, the sociologist's of society—and this knowledge may be gained in the same way.J

The position taken by Positivism, as to a First Cause, is thus stated by Littre, in a discours at his reception in the Masonic Lodge, Paris : § "Que faut il penser de la notion de cause premiere, de causality supreme? Aucune science ne nie une cause premiere, n'ayant jamais rien rencontre qui la dementit; mais aucune ne l'affirme, n'ayant jamais rien rencontre qui la lui montrat. Toute science est enfermee dans le relatif; partout on arrive a des existences et a des lois irr6ductibles, dont on ne connait pas l'essence."

With these impoverished abstractions of matter

•Problems, etc., p. 57. f Problems, etc., p. 60.

\ This is emphatically true. In both cases the knowledge is ultimate. Magnitude is—magnitude. Being is—being.

§ Quoted in Rev. Chret., by de Pressense, 1875, Sept., p. 259.

(and physics in general), compare the lofty ideal, e. g., of Plato—which is profounder, which is truer?

He asserts the reality of the eternal ideas. He speaks of rising out of " the sea of change " to the sea of beauty; * of "participating in ideas ; " of rising to the highest by abstracting, stripping off the finite till the real is left.f The idea of the good is the highest and last. "The idea of the good, last of all, is seen, and, when discerned, it is as the universal author of all things beautiful and right—parent of light and law of light in this world, and the source of truth and reason in the other.:): This is the First Great Cause,§ which he must behold who would act reasonably, either in public or private life." || It "gives truth to the object and knowledge to the subject."

With Plato the ethical, the good, is the source of all—no abstract substance, no undefined force. "Can we ever believe that motion, and life, and mind, are not present with absolute being? " ^[ Protagoras said: "Man is the measure of all; " Plato, "God is the measure of all." **

With Plato, the Perfect One is the only intelligible reality (that can be truly known), and matter—the phenomenal—is unintelligible. With modern science

* Banquet, 210.
f Republic, x. 597.
J In Rep., Bks. vi. vii.

§ " Not personal in Plato's view," it is said. But the question is not up.

I Rep., vii. 517. IT Sophist, 249. ** Laws, ii. 715. matter and its changes comprise all that we can know or understand. Pure Being is "inscrutable," negative.

Aristotle affirms that nothing is moved by chance: movement must always have a principle. In order that it may energize (produce) it must have another principle eternally acting. There must then be that (something) which moves without being moved— eternal being, pure essence, pure actuality. The unmovable mover is necessary being, and because necessary, it is the good, and hence a principle.*

Aristotle's principle is,f that all transition, Kivrjai?, from the potential to the actual depends on an actual cause (not merely potential). As every particular object demands an actual moving (efficient) cause, so the world as a whole demands an absolutely first mover to shape (give form to) the passive matter.^ This first mover is pure energy—eternal, pure, immaterial form—without parts—absolute spirit, mind (vovs), which thinks itself, and when thought, therefore, is the thought of thought. It is the cause of motion— the good per se—the end to which all tends—it acts by virtue of the attraction which the loved exerts upon the loving—it is the eternalprius of all development. Thought, which is the mode of its activity, constitutes the highest, best, and most blessed life.§

"The world has its principle in God, and this principle exists not merely as a form immanent in the

* Others assume two principles—(i) inertia, matter, (2) sufficient reason of movement (not matter)—God. f Met., ix. 8. % Met., xii. 6. § Met, xii. 7.

world, like the order of an army, but also as an absolute self-existent substance, like the general of an army" *

There is no need to multiply instances. The reality of the ultimate, absolute Being is affirmed in all the schools, ancient and modern, excepting the purely materialistic and casual, and, as we have seen, with many partial recognitions and concessions of it here.

Even if it is declared to be unknowable, still it is recognized.

Bacon, Des Cartes, Leibnitz lay it at the basis. Kant builds upon the Ding-an-sich—as existing— necessary to thought, even though not demonstrated as being.

We find it in all the Pantheists—in Spinoza's Substance, Fichte's absolute Ego, Schelling's Idealism, Hegel's Idea and Being.

§ 3. On the Manifestation of the Supernatural.

There is hardly need of arguing this point, after what has been already said about the nature of the supernatural. If the supernatural be, and be what we have indicated, there can be no doubt, not only that it may, but that it must be manifested.

The supernatural is the ground and source of the natural: so that in one sense all the natural is but its manifestation.

The position that it cannot be manifested (even if it exist) is irrational and illogical. It may be the unknowable, but it still must issue forth in know

* Ueberweg on Aristotle. History of Phil., i. 162-3.

able forms and relations. The a priori impossibility of its manifestation, which some assert, is wholly groundless.

The supernatural, in general, is what is before, above, in its being and nature independent of nature —what produces the natural and sustains its being and going. It may, however, be manifested in and through nature (such manifestation originating not in nature—found in it, but not of it).

The supernatural, it is claimed by supernaturalists, can manifest itself in and through the finite, but it is the influx of a new power into the flow of time— it is the incoming of a new force, to modify, elevate, transform the finite for some higher end or purpose.

The distinguishable cases of manifestation are three.

(a) Cases where the supernatural comes and stays as the natural.

What thus comes in may afterward become permanent in the finite—as, e. g., life among the lifeless. What is here claimed is that this life cannot be explained or deduced from any finite forces or forms that went before, but requires (to explain its origin) the incurrence or inflow of a higher power than has as yet been seen or known. For instance, man with his endowments above the animals; the materials may be found in nature, and may be used, but they are transformed by. a higher power and for a higher use.

(6) Cases where the supernatural comes and goes. For example, when a prophecy is uttered, the means and instrumentalities are found in nature—a man, a speech, a people—but the words show an omniscience which was not before there, and require a supernatural source or origin. Here the prophecy abides, but the power in which it was uttered is not inherited. While (above, in the case of life) the life once imparted goes on and becomes natural, yet its source is supernatural (i. e., above all the nature there was there).

So with miracles: they come and are not perpetuated.

(c) Cases where the Supernatural is both staying and going* (Operating upon a system?)

For example, revelation, the inspiration of Scripture. Here truths are revealed, not known before. They are not to be explained by, or as growing out of, what is before known. They have a supernatural source.

The Bible remains. The supernatural in it stays —as natural, it may be said. But its truths are ever upheld and applied by the same omniscient power that first announced them-—to illumine and to sanctify mankind. Christ is in the incarnation and in the church. God acts in regeneration and in sanctification. There are revivals in the religious sphere. And thus there is a system of supernatural operations where what has once been revealed is revealed anew, and is carried out by supernatural agency to its practical design.f

* /. e., returning.

f See McCosh, Nature and the Supernatural, Chapter II. "The System of the Supernatural." Also Bushnell. Nature and the Supernatural, Chapter IX. "The Supernatural Compatible with Nature and subject to Fixed Laws."

Note.—How do we know anything about this supernatural Being? Is it not all unknowable and incognizable? This is thought to be the question of questions, and enough to silence anybody. But it just begins the debate. How does any one know aught about anything? In two points or stages. (a) He knows, somehow, that it is. (6) He knows, further, what it is, by its manifestations, its phenomena, and does not and cannot know in any other way.

§ 4. The Course and Conclusion of the Argument.

1. The heart of the question, the first point to be established is, the Valid Being (Reality) of the Supernatural, i. e., some mode of being (call it force, substance, the absolute, or what one will), above and controlling all events, phenomena, in time and space.

All religions agree in this, and all philosophies, excepting only that form of philosophy which is essentially materialistic, knowing only phenomena, sensations, their possibilities and their inductions, a mere mathematically infinite (indefinite) flow of events as successive; or, which denies the existence of anything infinite, eternal, absolute.

Even those who deny that we know of such being, but grant that there is something incognizable (still saying that it IS), are not excluded ; for they concede an element of the supernatural in conceding the existence of what is incognizable.

All others * recognize more or less clearly the real

* The class of absolute sceptics, Nescients and Nihilists, are to be Being of what is above and beyond mere nature— mere succession of phenomena in time. This being conceded and established—

2. The next point is, that in this supernatural mode of being, whatever it may be, and however we may define it, we have and must have, by an irresistible logic (the law of cause and effect is conceded by all in some form), the ground, the cause, the original of all phenomenal and temporal being. We ask not yet how, but affirm that, be it by emanation, logic, or fiat.

That is, the Supernatural does and must manifest, unfold itself in the phenomena and processes of the finite universe, under the law of cause and effect. Even if it be only a universal Force, or an aboriginal Substance, it does this, whenever and however a transition is made into the realm of time and history. So that we have not only the Supernatural, but the manifestation of it—as necessary fact and truth— which must be conceded as real.

Not only the real being of the Supernatural, but the real manifestation of it, in the initial act of procession—call it creation or emanation—is necessary. Get rid of all miracles, and the one great miracle of creation or self-manifestation of the Absolute remains necessary on any rational theory of the universe. The possibility of such a manifestation must be conceded by all who hold to Evolution, Development, Progress, in any form, or else these words have no

met in the proper place on their special grounds. But they are exceedingly sparse, and of no real weight.

meaning: Evolution—of what? Development—of what? Mere evolution and development in the abstract is nothing but a name for a possibility. A law of cause and effect, when there are no substances, real existences, to which it is applied, is sterile—an abstract method.

So we have not merely the possibility of a manifestation (self-revelation) of the Supernatural, but also its reality, as an underlying fact—for all the theories of the universe—of evolution, of development, or however they may be named. They all take this for granted. This must hold good for philosophers as well as for theologians, for science as well as religion.*

This cuts the roots of the theory that the Supernatural is simply something in itself inscrutable, remote, isolated—an unintelligible abstraction—for we have obtained not only the Supernatural itself, as a datum of reason and philosophy, but also the Supernatural manifested, as necessary to any evolution, development, progress, or construction of a universal system.

* As to the manifested Supernatural, three points may be stated, (a) The Supernatural produces the natural. Gioberti: "Ens creat existentias—the formula of creation." This production—if not creation—is recognized in all systems which allow anything but the finite. This is the first miracle, (b) The Supernatural abides in the natural; the First Cause in second causes—the primal force in all secondary forces. (c) All that revelation adds is, the Supernatural may, and does at times, enter by a new illapse or influx into the natural, producing forms, forces, modes of manifestation before unknown. E. g. Man—in nature; Moses, a prophet—among men; Christ, the Son of God—among all things.

3. Thus, and only thus, is the ground cleared, and common ground found for both religion and philosophy, in respect to the question about

the Supernatural in manifestation,
or Miracle in history.*

All historic time, whether of the visible heavens or of the earth, of the earth or of man, must begin with a manifestation or act which is essentially supernatural—in short, a miracle—an act the most stupendous and wonderful we can conceive; or, if not conceive, which we can know and see to be necessary, logically, or in the logic of fact.

And, if it may and must be so, what sufficient reason can be assigned for denying that it may so go on, that the Supernatural may still continue its manifestations, at other points and junctures, according to the exigencies of the vast unfolding plan of Creation and Providence? Why may there not be a progressive unfolding and revelation, in which the same Supernatural shall manifest itself afterward as at the beginning? For the Supernatural still remains what and as it is: it is its nature to go forth, proceed, reveal (whether as force or as love); and who can set to it limits, or say that it must proceed according to a uniform succession of blind natural causes called matter, energy, and motion ? t

* The distinction between the Supernatural in itself and its manifestation is to be emphasized. Usually only the last, the Supernatural in history, is discussed. But we have aimed to go to its roots, and to find the fulcrum for the lever—thefou sto—in the nature and necessity of the case.

f We have the first great manifestation of the Supernatural in the

4. The only doctrine or theory that stands in the way of accepting the supernatural in history (on the ground of adequate testimony) is this: viz., that all things continue as from the beginning; or the uniformity of nature, expressed by the further theory, the conservation of forces, the law of evolution, and the principle of natural selection.*

This theory will come up for consideration at various points hereafter. Here it is necessary only to indicate the way to clear the a priori ground, and make fair place and verge for the testimony to the miraculous. All we now want to claim or argue is that there is no a priori impossibility of the manifestation of the Supernatural in history. Three points may be noted:

(a) The uniformity of nature is no ultimate law. All it means is, that the same causes, acting under the same conditions, produce the same results. If a new cause comes in, there is nothing in the uniformity of nature to prevent its producing its proper effects, as even Mill grants.

(b) The laws of nature give no real principle, they are only names for modes of action. These laws are

very being, production, of nature itself, in creation (sit venia verbo); for if any act be essentially supernatural, it is the creation. Hence the miracle of the incarnation does not stand alone: it is the sequence of creation, and the one is as supernatural as the other. It is significant that in the theology of Christianity the Logos is both in creation and in the incarnation (Proem of John's Gospel). The miracles in the system of redemption are easier to grasp and believe if we accept the primal miracle of creation. Deny the one—and either one— and the other logically goes. * This last is simply a regulative principle.

flexible; the higher control the lower; man subdues the earth.

(c) In the theory of the conservation (and correlation) of force, there is a fallacy. If force be all there is in the universe, the theory is true: but that includes the supernatural fountain; if the term is used of any finite forces, the theory is not proved: these may be changed and dispersed, and they do pass away (as Herschel said of vis viva). This theory only holds good as there is supposed to be Infinite and Absolute Force, ever reinforcing finite waste, change, and decay.

Hence, if the theory includes under force the supernatural fountain, it proves nothing to the purpose; if it is restricted to finite forces, it stands unproved and disproved.

5. All the theories about the universe, except that of the Nihilists and Nescients, turn upon the question of the transition from the primal essence to the forms of space and time, from the supernatural to the natural, the infinite to the finite. With the exception of Nescience, which denies all possible thought in respect to the matter, all theories may be brought into the following scheme:

(1) Rude Materialism. Lucretius, in "De Natura Rerum," is the best exponent of this. Atoms and motion given, all things may be engendered, in time enough and with chances enough. An atom is an impenetrable point in space, and with motion to set it going, it will in time produce the universe.

But what is an atom? No scientist can tell us. And how does motion come to be mated with atoms? Neither can be gotten out of the other.

(2) More refined Materialism. Here physical force is taken as primary. From this force matter is in some way developed. Pile up forces enough, and in some way atoms are produced. Perhaps a diffused ether in oscillation is the nearest to the conception.

(3) The theory of-some mode of being, inscrutable, but which can be stated, which is neither matter nor force, but from which matter and force come, or in which they are, or forms of which they are—as the inside and outside of a bowl. This is what Tyndall and Huxley have been seeking. Just as we are beings partly spiritual and partly material, produced from that which can produce both. Mill's theory, in general, comes here. He was too wise a man to construct the universe, but he says that as far as we can go in our thoughts we come to this. We have sensations, and refer them to an outer world. Before we had sensation there was a possibility of sensation, and in the world there was a possibility of producing sensation. So he says, Spirit is that in me which gives the possibility of sensation, and the world is that outside of me which has the power to produce sensation in me. This is his ultimate theory.

(4) The theory that spirit, as abstract and undefined, is primary, and from this the universe is derived by emanation, in successive grades. The East Indian Pantheism.

(5) Spirit is primary, not as abstract and undefined, but as thought, with logical law, law of logos or general reason. The development of this spirit by logical laws gives the universe. This is the Pantheism of Hegel.

(6) Spirit as will is the basis, but as unconscious will, producing the universe. This is the latest German philosophy.

(7) Spirit as personal will and intelligence, producing the finite universe by an act. Schelling's philosophy in its latest form. This contains the essential points of the Theistic theory of the universe.

All have the same problem. All grant, in some sense, a supernatural, aprius to creation—some mode of primal being, even if unknown. All philosophy raises an altar to the unknown God. Whom ye ignorantly worship Him declares Christianity to you.

"He hides himself behind eternal laws,
Which and not Him, the sceptic, seeing, exclaims
There is no God:

And never did a Christian's adoration
So praise Him as this sceptic's blasphemy."*


By this line of argument the following points are made:

(1) An irresistible (necessary) belief in the reality of the supernatural—the absolute.f

(2) As a necessary consequence, a belief in the possibility of its being manifested. The alleged a priori impossibility of its being manifested is baseless.

(3) A belief, equally irresistible and equally univer

* Schiller. Don Carlos, Act iii. Sc. X.

f In all recent physics there is a metaphysical background. This is seen in Huxley, Spencer, Tyndall.

sal, that the supernatural, so far as it is manifested, is known, and cannot but be known: so far forth, and that is enough.