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RATIONALISM AND MIRACLES.
CHRISTIANITY INSEPARABLY INTERWOVEN WITH
W E now pass to another side of the Christian
VV Controversy, which engrosses much attention at the present day. We refer to the miraculous claims of Christianity. There is a widespread aversion now-a-days to believe in miracles; the scientific mind finds in all departments of nature the evidence of law-of a uniform ordered course of events, and recoils from the thought that the Creator could ever have set aside His own laws. There is amongst many of our scientific men an invincible repugnance to receive what the Bible tells us of the miraculous doings of Christ, and
immense ingenuity has been expended to eliminate this element from Christianity, without destroying its texture: it is thought that the moral and supernatural can be separated, and that Christianity can be retained while rejecting miracles. We believe this to be a delusion; miracle is so interwoven with the framework of the Bible that the two must stand or fall together, and that colourless compound, which may be extracted from the Scriptures, after all the supernatural is expunged, will never form the basis of a Divine religion.
We use here the terms miraculous and supernatural as synonymous for the sake of convenience, though they are not strictly so. The former is usually restricted to visible and external interference with the course of nature; whereas the latter properly applies to all divine manifestations transcending human experience; and thus some of Christ's sayings and doings may be termed supernatural, or, at least, superhuman, which are not strictly miraculous. But we are chiefly concerned here with the objections urged against the miraculous events, properly so called, related in the New Testament.
One chief reason, we believe, why the philosophic intellect has difficulty in assenting to these statements, besides the one already mentioned, is that so many alleged miracles have been proved historically to be false. All the heathen systems of religion, all the corrupt forms of Christianity, have put forward miraculous claims, most of which appear, at this day, transparently absurd. The Church of Rome has done much to abuse this source of influence. She has traded upon the superstitious element in man's nature to the utmost, and has fabricated so many false miracles, that it is not to be wondered at if hasty generalisers have refused credence to whatever savours of supernatural power.
But hasty generalisation is the fruitful source of many errors, and is, in an especial sense, the stumbling-block of the present day. Men who pretend to be philosophers take hasty glances at human history, and, perceiving well-marked tendencies of the human mind in the direction of superstition, conclude that all belief which transcends human reason must be superstitious. If they would follow the example of great physical investigators, and seek for reliable facts rather than theories, and refuse to generalise beyond what well-ascertained facts will warrant, they would show more diffidence in pronouncing that all miracle is impossible.
So far as mere a priori reasoning is concerned, we should be disposed to argue that just because the mind of man craves after miraculous attestation, therefore God, in making a revelation, would accredit it by miracle. He would adapt Himself to the laws of man's mind, and bring that evidence before it which was best fitted to satisfy it; and no one who knows anything of psychology will deny that wherever man believes in miracle he instinctively sees the hand of God, and nothing else so effectually awes him into submission to a higher power.
It it be once granted that God has made a revelation at all, it is most natural and fitting that He should attest it by supernatural means; indeed, we know no other way in which a divine religion could be introduced into an unbeliving world—a religion most unpalatable to the human mind, and relying entirely upon moral force for its