When he says that “a firm and unalterable experience has established these laws,” we say that science teaches us that there must have been epochs in the history of the world when new forces made their appearance on the scene, for it teaches us that the world was once incandescent, and so incapable of supporting any conceivable form of animal life, but that at a certain geological period life made its appearance.
Now, we believe that it is just as wonderful, and contrary to the experience of a lifeless world, that life should appear on that world, as that it is contrary to the experience of the present state of things, that a dead body should be raised.
When he asserts that a miraculous event is contrary to uniform experience, we can only reply that it is not contrary to the experience of the Evangelists, of St. Peter and St. Paul, and of the other Apostles and companions of the Lord; that it was not contrary to the experience of the multitudes who were miraculously fed, and of the multitudes who were miraculously healed. When it is replied to this, that we have insufficient evidence of the fact that these persons witnessed miracles, we rejoin that there is far greater evidence, both in quality and amount, for these miracles, especially for the crowning one, than there is for any fact of profane history; but, if there was twice the evidence that there is, its reception must depend upon the state of mind of the recipient himself.
If a man, whilst professing to believe in “a God under whose beneficent government we know that all that is consistent with wise and omnipotent law is prospered and brought to perfection,” yet has got himself to believe that such a God cannot introduce into any part of the universe a new power or force, as for instance that He is bound not to introduce vital force into a lifeless world, or mental power into a reasonless world, or moral power into a world of free agents, but must leave these forces to work themselves out of non-existence;—if it man, I say, has got himself to believe in such a Being, he will not, of course, believe in any testimony to miracles as accrediting a Revelation from Him, and so he will do his best to get rid of them after the fashion in which we have seen the author of “Supernatural Religion” attempt to get rid of the testimony of Justin Martyr to the use of the Four Gospels in his day.
OBJECTIONS TO MIRACLES.
I will now briefly dispose of two or three of the collateral objections against miracles.
1. The author of “Supernatural Religion” makes much of the fact that the Scripture writers recognize that there may be, and have been, Satanic as well as Divine Miracles, and he argues that this destroys all the evidential value of a miracle. He writes:—