L 146 MIRACLES antecedent incredibility of a miracle is such as abso- lutely to preclude all a posteriori reasoning on the subject. And that antecedent incredibility rests on " the grand truth of the universal order and constancy of natural causes, as a primary law of belief," a belief " so strongly entertained in the mind of every truly inductive inquirer, that he cannot even conceive the possibility of its failure 11. The world, in all its parts, is ordered and governed upon an es- tablished plan. As science extends her domain and pushes her discoveries into new regions, cases which once seemed exceptional are found to conform to the general rule. If in any instance the conformity can- not be traced, yet the instances in which it can are so innumerable, that there can be no reasonable doubt that in this also the rule holds. H7 Spinoza held that a miracle is absolutely impossible, because it would be derogatory to the Deity to depart from the established laws of the universe 7 , an argu- ment which appears to be identical with that of "Weg- scheider referred to by Professor Powell, "that the belief in miracles is inconsistent with the idea of an eternal God consistent with himself 2. A miracle, in the Scriptural notion of the word, is a violation neither of the laws of matter, nor of any other of the laws of nature. But there is one clause in his quotation, the meaning of which, he confesses, is not clear to him, that, namely, in which "moral laws" are spoken of as "controlling physical. His mind appears to have been so en- grossed with the study of what is called natural science, his eye so exclusively fixed upon the mate- rial world around him, that he overlooked the fact, that the world contains other elements besides material, that it has other forces besides physical, and that as matter is perpetually acted upon in all imaginable e See Dean Trench, "Notes on the Miracles," p.
The human will is the element, the action of whose disturbing force upon the material system around us comes most frequently or most strikingly under our notice.
Man, in the exercise of his ordinary faculties, is perpetually interfering with, or moulding, or con- trolling the operation of those ordinary laws of matter which are in exercise around him.
He does so if he does but disturb one pebble in its state of rest, or stay the fall of another before it reaches the ground. He does so to a vastly greater extent when, by means of the appliances with which art, instructed by science, has furnished him, he projects a ball to the distance of four or fixe miles, or constrains steam, or light, or electricity, or chloroform to do coursework paper his bidding. Still his doings are not miracles, because they do not extend beyond the range of his unassisted powers.
But are we sure that God may not, on special occasions and for special ends, have endued some men with super- human powers, by which the laws of the material world may be controlled to an extent beyond what coidd have been done by unassisted nature? That He e " What degrees of power God may reasonably be supposed to have communicated to created beings, to subordinate intelligences, to good or evil angels, is by no means easy for us to determine.
The fact is, once admit that there is a God, and even beings who have to do with this earth, inferior to God but superior in might to man, or admit that man himself may, for special reasons, be endued with superhuman power, and you grant that there are agents who have it in their power to interfere with or control the laws ordinarily in operation in the material world, so as to work miracles.
Admit, further, that there may be an occasion calling for superhuman interference, — and such surely is the authentication of a revelation containing truths which it was of the utmost consequence for man to know, but of which, except by revelation, he could know nothing, — and the possibility is advanced to proba- bility. It professes to direct man towards the attainment of the true end of his being, to instruct him in the know- ledge of God, and to teach him how to serve God acceptably, and it assures him (an assurance which he could not otherwise have had) of the continu- and so on. So that excepting the original power of creating, which we cannot indeed conceive communicated to things which were themselves created, we can hardly affirm with any certainty that any particular effect, how great or miraculous soever it may seem to us, is beyond the power of all created beings in the universe to have produced. These are subjects to the knowledge of which unassisted human reason could by no possibility have attained, and yet that coursework paper knowledge, seeing that sundry most important duties grow out of the relationships involved f , cannot but be of the utmost consequence to us. If then it was not to have been expected ante- cedently ( as who could have ventured to predict beforehand how God would deal with us in such a case?
Who would coursework paper believe, or would be justified in believing, the great facts which constitute its substance, on the ipse dixit of an un- accredited teacher? And how, except by miracles, could the first teacher be accredited?
And in this respect Christianity is entirely con- sistent with itself. Had it made no appeal to miracles, its teaching, considering what the substance of its teaching is, could scarcely have gained credit. Had its teaching been such as men might have attained to by their unassisted powers, suspicion might fairly have rested on its appeal to miracles.
The case is one entirely sui generis, except in so far as it has associated with it other revelations, intimately connected with it, belonging to a former dispensation.