Previous Index Next
Page 49
(previous) (Page 000049) (next)
 
MIRACLES AND SPECIAL PROVIDENCES. 49

icler, and that of the Tyrolese peasant, are substantially the
same. Each of them assumes that Nature, instead of flow-
ing ever onward in the uninterrupted rhythm of cause and
effect, is mediately ruled by the free human will. As re-
gards direct action upon natural phenomena, man’s will is
confessedly powerless, but it is the trigger which, by its
own free action, liberates the Divine power. In this sense,
and to this extent, man, of course, commands Nature.

Did the existence of this belief depend solely upon the
material benefits derived from it, it could not, in my opinion,
last a decade. As a purely objective fact we should soon
see that the distribution of natural phenomena is unaffected
by the merits or the demerits of man ; that the law of gravi-
tation crushes the ,simple worshippers of Ottery St. Mary,
While singing their hymns, just as surely as if they were
engaged in a midnight brawl. The hold of this belief upon
the human mind is not due to outward verification, but to
the inner warmth, force, and elevation with which it is com-
monly associated. It is plain, however, that these feelings
may exist under the most various forms. They are not
limited to Church of England Protestantism—they are not
even limited to Christianity. Though less refined, they are
certainly not less strong, in the heart .of the Methodist and
the Tyrolese than in the heart of Mr. Mozley. Indeed, those
feelings belong to the primal powers of man’s nature. A.
“ skeptic” may have them. They find vent in the battle-
cry of the Moslem. They take hue and form in the hunting-
grounds of the red Indian; and raise all of them, as they
raise the Christian, upon a wave of victory, above the ter-
rors of the grave.

The character, then, of a miracle, as distinguished from
a special providence, is that the former furnishes proof;
while in the case of the latter we have only surmise. Dis-
solve the element of doubt, and the alleged fact passes from
the one class of the preternatural into the other. In other

3

Previous Index Next