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see good and wise reasons for doing so. “ The laws of nature," as we call them, are nothing more than the rule or method, according to which God usually works; but these “laws can never fetter or restrain His Almighty hand, or prevent Him from departing, when He sees fit, from His usual course of procedure. Nay, such departures from the “laws of Nature” as are implied in a miracle may have been predetermined by God in His eternal counsels, however strange or exceptional they may appear to our limited and clouded perceptions; and their very strangeness may have been designed to serve important moral purposes which could not have been accomplished in any other way. Even from the beginning, God may have so “ordered the constitution of the world, as to leave room for the exercise of those miraculous powers which He foresaw would at a certain time be exercised, just as He has left room for the free exercise, within narrower limits, of the human will ” (“ Aids to Faith,” P. 21)

At all events, to assert that it is impossible for God to suspend or alter the laws of nature is manifestly unwarrantable and presumptuous. He who set the wheels of nature in motion at first, must surely have the power, at any time, to retard them or to stop them altogether. The denial of this would be equivalent to the denial of a Personal God, who governs the world which He has created; and it would lead to dreary atheism and pantheism. But, believing that there is a God, as nature through all her works proclaims, a God of infinite intelligence and glorious perfection, by whom the heavens and the earth were created, we cannot doubt that He can, if He please, alter or modify the laws which He himself has established. As Dr Paley truly says, “Once believe that there is a God, and miracles are not incredible," or impossible.

CHAPTER II.

THE PROBABILITY OF MIRACLES.

S to this, it may be asked, Can any one affirm

or prove that circumstances could never

arise, under the government of God, to render it both expedient and desirable that He should give His fallen but responsible creatures an extraordinary revelation of His will? Is there anything incredible in the supposition, that, when a great and disastrous crisis in their history has occurred, God should make a direct communication to these creatures, in order to rectify their errors, and remove their sins, and guide them to peace and happiness? Man's urgent need of a Divine revelation has been conclusively proved by Dr Leland in his well-known work on the deplorable state of the ancient heathen world, when gross darkness covered the nations. So deeply sensible was Socrates, the illustrious Greek philosopher, of his own ignorance, that he expressed the earnest wish that a messenger could be sent from heaven to teach the world. And if such a messenger has really been sent down, is it wonderful that He should be endowed with miraculous powers to arrest men's attention, and to convince them that His message is Divine? And is it not expedient and desirable that“He who came as the conqueror of sin and death, and who had power to lay down His life, and power to take it again, should come also as the Lord of the Body and the Lord of the Spirit, having power over the elements of matter, and over the thoughts of men's minds ?”. An eminent modern philosopher has truly said that “the universe is governed, not only by physical, but by moral laws.” “If, then, the spiritual restoration of mankind has in any degree been promoted by means of a religion professing to have been introduced by the aid of miracles, and whose whole truth is involved in the truth of that profession, we have a sufficient reason for the miraculous interposition, superior to any that can be urged for or against it, from considerations derived from the material world” (Mansel, p. 29).

CHAPTER III.

THE VALUE OF MIRACLES AS EVIDENCES.

RANTING, then, that a revelation from God

to man is both possible and desirable, the

question presents itself, To how many persons ought such a revelation to be directly made? Should it be given to every individual in all the world and in every age? Or should it be given to a few persons, selected and commissioned to instruct the rest? Now, as to the first of these modes, it would, no doubt, be possible for God to reveal His will to every person separately. But we should feel greater difficulty in establishing the consistency of this mode, either with the wisdom of God, or with the free agency of man. Besides, such frequent revelations would soon lose their impression and their designed effect, and might come to be confounded with the ordinary light of reason and conscience. Obviously, therefore, the preferable mode would be to impart the revelation to a few persons, selected and accredited to be God's messengers to the rest of the world.

Here, however, another question arises, viz., How can the rest of the world be assured that these few are really commissioned by God, and that they are not giving forth merely their own fallible opinions ? Now, while it would be presumptuous in us to assert

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that God might not have proved, in some other way than by miracles, the Divine commission of His servants; yet we may safely assert that there is no other conceivable way which would be more simple, more direct, and more convincing than the power of altering the course of nature by a word, such as that of divid. ing the sea, or bringing down bread from heaven, or raising the dead to life. None can deny, that "power" like this “belongeth unto God” alone, and therefore if He should accompany the message of His servants with such an exertion of almighty power, He would give the clearest possible testimony to the truth of their message, and “set to His seal” that it really comes from Himself. As no creature can arrest the working of His omnipotent arm, so every interruption in the established course of nature can only take place by His appointment, or by His permission. If the laws of nature" were at first established by the great Creator, and if a human being is seen to accomplish such an alteration or suspension of those laws, as could neither be effected by human power nor foreseen by human intelligence, while that human being appeals to the miracle in proof of his Divine commission, is it not clear, beyond all controversy, that the miracle was wrought by the power of God, and that it bears most satisfying testimony to the truth of the message which he brings ? Such, then, is the value of miracles as attestations of a Divine revelation.

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