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the effects produced by the modern telescope and microscope would have been deemed miraculous, and if related only by travellers as existing in China or Japan, would certainly have been disbelieved. The power of dipping the hand into melted metals unhurt, is a remarkable case of an effect of natural laws appearing to contravene another natural law; and it is one which certainly might have been, and probably has been regarded as a miracle and the fact believed or disbelieved, not according to the amount or quality of the testimony to it, but according to the credulity or supposed superior knowledge of the recipient. About twenty years ago, the fact that surgical operations could be performed on patients in the mesmeric trance without their being conscious of pain, was strenuously denied by most scientific and medical men in this country, and the patients, and sometimes the operators, denounced as impostors; the asserted phenomenon was believed to be contrary to the laws of nature. Now, probably every mán of intelligence believes the facts, and it is seen that there must be some as yet unknown law of which they are a consequence. When Castellet informed Réaumur that he had reared perfect silkworms from the eggs laid by a virgin moth, the answer was Ec nihilo nihil fit, and the fact was disbelieved. It was contrary to one of the widest and best established laws of nature; yet it is now universally admitted to be true, and the supposed law ceases to be universal. These few illustrations will enable us to understand how some reputed miracles may have been due to yet unknown laws of nature. We know so little of what nerve or life-force really is, how it acts or can act, and in what degree it is capable of transmission from one human being to another, that it would be indeed rash to affirm that under no exceptional conditions could phenomena, such as the apparently miraculous cure of many diseases, or perception through other channels than the ordinary senses, ever take place.

To illustrate how gradually the natural glides into the miraculous, and how easily our beliefs are determined hy preconceived ideas rather than by evidence, take the following pair of cases :

Some years since an account appeared in the London Medical Times of an experiment on four Russians who had been condemned to death. They were made, without knowing it, to sleep in beds whereon persons had died of epidemic cholera, but not one of them caught the disease. Subsequently they were told that they must sleep in the beds of cholera patients, but were put into perfectly clean and wholesome beds, yet three of them now took the disease in its most malignant form, and died within four hours.

About two hundred years ago Valentine Greatrak cured people of various diseases by stroking them with his hand. The Rev. Dr. R. Dean, writing an account from personal observation, says:--“I was three weeks together with him at my

Lord Conway's, and saw him lay his hands upon (I think) a thousand persons: and really there is something in it more than ordinary, but I am convinced 'tis not miraculous. I have seen deafness cured by his touch, grievous sores of many months date in a few days healed; obstructions and stoppings removed, and cancerous knots in the breast dissolved.” The detailed evidence of eyewitness of high character and ability as to these extraordinary cures is overwhelming, but cannot here be given.

Now, of these two cases the first will be generally believed; the second disbelieved. The first is supposed to be a natural effect of “imagination,” the second is generally held to be of the nature of a miracle. Yet to impute any definite physical effect to imagination is merely to state

the facts, and to hide our complete ignorance of the causes or laws which govern them. And to hold that there can be no curative power in the repeated contact of a peculiarly constituted human being, when the analogy of the admitted facts of mesmerism proves how powerful and curious are the effects of human beings on each other, would seem to be a very great degree of presumption in our present almost complete ignorance of the relation of the mind to the body.

But it will be objected that it is only the least important class of miracles that can possibly be explained in this manner. In many cases dead matter is said to have been endowed with force and motion, or to have been suddenly increased immensely in weight and bulk; things altogether non-terrestrial are said to have appeared on earth, and the orderly progress of the great phenomena of nature is affirmed to have been suddenly interrupted. Now one characteristic of most of this class of reputed miracles is, that they seem to imply the action of another power

and intelligence than that of the individual to whose miraculous power they are vulgarly imputed. One of the most common and best attested of these phenomena is the movement of various solid bodies in the presence of many witnesses, without any discoverable cause. In reading the accounts of these occurrences by eye-witnesses one little point of detail often recurs—that an object appears to be thrown or to fall suddenly, and yet comes down gently and without noise. This curious point is to be found mentioned in old trials for witchcraft, as well as in the most modern phenomena of spiritualism, and is strikingly suggestive of the objects being carried by an invisible agent. To render such things intelligible or possible from the point of view of modern science, we must, therefore, have recourse to the supposition that intelligent beings may exist, capable of acting on matter, though they themselves are uncognisable directly by our senses.

That intelligent beings may exist around and among us, unperceived during our whole lives, and yet capable under certain conditions of making their presence known by acting on matter, will be inconceivable to some, and will be doubted by many more, but we venture to say, that no man acquainted with the latest discoveries and the highest speculations of modern science, will deny its possibility. The difficulty which this conception presents, will be of quite a different nature from that which obstructs our belief in the possibility of miracle, when defined as a contravention of those great natural laws which the whole tendency of modern science declares to be absolute and immutable. The existence of sentient beings uncognisable by our senses, would no more contravene these laws, than did the discovery of the true nature of the Protozoa, those structureless gelatinous organisms which exhibit so many of the higher phenomena of animal life without any of that differentiation of parts or specialization of organs which the necessary functions of animal life seem to require. The existence of such preterhuman intelligences if proved, would only add another and more striking illustration than any we have yet received, of how small a portion of the great cosmos our senses give us cognisance. Even such sceptics on the subject of the supernatural as Hume or Strauss, would probably not deny the validity of the conception of such intelligences, or the abstract possibility of their existence. They would perhaps say, "We have no sufficient proof of the fact; the difficulty of conceiving their mode of existence is great; most intelligent men pass their whole lives in total ignorance of any such unseen intelligences: it is amongst the ignorant and superstitious alone that the belief in them prevails. As philosophers we cannot deny the possibility you postulate, but we must have the most clear and satisfactory proof before we can receive it as a fact."

But it may be argued, even if such beings should exist, they could consist only of the most diffused and subtle forms of matter. How then could they act upon ponderable bodies, how produce effects at all comparable to those which constitute so many reputed miracles? These objectors may be reminded, that all the most powerful and universal forces of nature are now referred to minute vibrations of an almost infinitely attenuated form of matter; and that, by the grandest generalisations of modern science, the most varied natural phenomena have been traced back to these recondite forces. Light, heat, electricity, magnetism, and probably vitality and gravitation, are believed to be but “modes of motion” of a space-filling ether; and there is not a single manifestation or force or develop ment of beauty, but is derived from one or other of these. The whole surface of the globe has been modelled and remodelled, mountains have been cut down to plains, and plains have been grooved and furrowed into mountains and valleys, all by the power of ethereal heat vibrations set in motion by the sun. Metallic veins and glittering crystals buried deep down under miles of rock and mountain, have been formed by a distinct set of forces developed by vibrations of the same ether. Every green blade and bright blossom that gladdens the surface of the earth, owes its power of growth and life to those vibrations we call heat and light, while in animals and man the powers of that wondrous telegraph whose battery is the brain and whose wires are nerves, are probably due to the manifestation of a yet totally distinct “niode of motion ” in the same allpervading ether. In some cases we are able to perceive the effects of these recondite forces yet more directly. We

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