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PRAYER AND NATURAL LAW. 37

tent to open a new channel for the river, or to cause a
portion of it to flow over the Grimsel Pass, and down the
vale of Oberhasli to Brientz. This he would have deemed
a miracle, and he did not come to ask the Creator to per-
form miracles, but to do something which he manifestly
thought lay quite within the bounds of the natural and
non-miraculous. A Protestant gentleman, who was present
at the time, smiled at this recital. He had no faith in the
priest’s blessing, still he'deemed his prayer different in
kind from a requeSt to open a new river-cut, or to cause
the water to flow up-hill.

In a similar manner we Protestants smile at the honest
Tyrolese priest, who, when he feared the bursting of a
glacier-dam, offered the sacrifice of the mass upon the ice
as a means of averting the calamity. That poor man did
not expect to convert the ice into adamant, or to strengthen
its texture so as to enable it to withstand the pressure of
the water; nor did he expect that his sacrifice would cause
the stream to roll back upon its source and relieve him, by
a miracle, of its presence. But beyond the boundaries of
his knowledge lay a region where rain was generated, he
knew not how. He was not so presumptuous as to expect
a miracle, but he firmly believed that in yonder cloud-land
matters could be so arranged, without trespass on the
miraculous, that the stream which threatened him and his
flock should be caused to shrink within its proper bounds.

Both these priests fashioned that which they did not
understand to their respective wants and wishes. In their
case imagination wrought, unconditioned by a knowledge
of laws. A similar state of mind was long prevalent
among mechanicians; many of whom, and some of them
extremely skilful ones, were occupied a century ago with
the question of a perpetual motion. They aimed at con-
structing a machine which should execute work without
the expenditure of power; and many of them went mad

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