« ZurückWeiter »
which man stands to God, and these are creates an impassable gulf between our age subject to the law of the miraculous. Thus and the age of the Bible. While the latter miracles are a part of God's original plan; was the age of the supernatural, the present they have ever had their place in the is the age of the natural. Why should there world, like other phenomena, and are equal. be this unnatural chasm? Why should ly capable of a rational explanation. They miracles have ceased ? You can give no are not to be regarded as an after-thought, reason on the old theory which will not be but as begining with the creation of man, signally refuted by an appeal to fact. It is and continuing so long as he has his place sometimes said that revelation having been in this world.
proved by the aid of miracles, they are not The point of view we are advocating will now required. But how inappropriate is give a rational account of two difficulties such a remark in an age of unbelief' like the which are very formidable under the old present? What an immense impulse to theory. First, we can account for what Christian faith would not a revival of mirMr. Mozley terms the 'running miraculous.' acles give ? . But, in truth, the real import It is a remarkable fact, as Mr. Mozely has of the difficulty is not sufficiently s'ated by pointed out, that miracles have ever formed simply saying 'miracles were, and miracles part of the inmost life of humanity. · Be- are not. The difference between an age of lief in them has prevailed in all ages of miracles and au age without miracles imthe world, and among every class of man- plies a difference in the relation in which kind. Heathens and Jews, as well as Chris- man stands to God. It implies in the one tians, have had their miracles ; and even in case that God is very near to man, that He modern times science has supplied material guides, rules, assists him, and makes His for them, which has given rise to spiritual presence felt. It implies in the other that ism. The old theory cannot account for God has receded from this near relation ; this remarkable phenomenon. It is obliged that man may call to Him, but He will not to characterize this faith as a delusion, and answer, nor vouchsafe a sign that He is the hankering after such things as a 'mor near. We judge of the present by the past, bid want,' the product of curiosity, imagi- but to a soul agonizing with this frightful nation, misery, helplessness, and indolence' doubt, is there not a great temptation to (p. 204).
judge of the past by the present ? If all But how can that be a 'morbid want,' signs of God's presence now are to be set which has vindicated for itself a universal down as delusion, why should it not be the position in humanity? which has · flourished same in times past? "It is true, even from successively on heathen, Christian, and sci- our point of view, we have to account for entific material; because, in truth, it is the fact that miracles like those of Christ no neither heathen, nor Christian, por sci- longer take place. But if we relieve our entific, but human ?' Its universality proves views of the supernatural from the unpatthat it is not a 'morbid,' but a legitimate ural twist which they have received from want. What is universal is also necessary : the evidential theory, will not a simple and if it is the former it must have its consideration of the facts supply a sufficient ground in a necessity of human nature. answer? Great miracles like those of Christ And, in truth, if the point of view we are no longer take place, because the Gift resid. advocating is correct, it must be so. So ing in Christ is no longer in the world. But soon as man awakens to the consciousness of the working of Providence, and the gifts of a personal existence, he experiences the the Spirit, still remain — the latter, it may necessity of the Divine relation, and mira- be, not in such large measure as in Apostolic cles as the results and evidences of that times (which is, perhaps, our own fault), but relation. If this want is not gratified in a the same in kind. legitimate way, it will seek its gratification We have now to look at the question in by illicit means. In contemplating the re- its philosophical aspect; or, in other words, cords of the running miraculous we must to consider how we are to view the superallow a large margin for delusion. But natural in its relation to the natural. On Scripture undoubtedly contemplates along the view we take in this matter will depend, with delusion a measure of truth. We whether we are to assign as the differential know not how far the Spirit of God may character of the miracle, that it is a violahave revealed Himself among the heathen ; tion of suspension or a law of naturę. Now, • nor how far evil powers may have been if we adopt the definition of the miracle permitted to delude mankind.
which we have given, it is evident that such . The other difficulty to which we alluded a differential character is not needed. If is the cessation of miracles. The old theory miracles are the direct result of that perma
nent relation in which man stands to God, considered obnoxious. He would even go
ference will come out in answer to the
And in this We thus maintain that the mark of consense, and no other, do we allow that mira- trary to nature as a differential character of cles are contrary to nature. If there is any, miracles is not needed. But it is a mark sense in which miracles are more contrary which, from peculiar circumstanc.'s which to nature than other classes of phenomena, we will now point out, is not only dangerous let it be pointed out. If there is not, why but fatal to theology, and on this ground attach to them an obnoxious and unneces- ought to be rejected. We have hitherto sary mark which will give rise to endless spoken of nature as identical with the dispute and confusion ?*
sphere of human experience: but in doing Mr. Mozley, wbile doing us the honour to so we are using language which, although quote our remarks on this subject, takes common, when it comes to be examined will occasion to dissent. He is, indeed, willing sound strange in the ears of common sense. to resign the expressions - violation, or Common sense will ask, Is not nature suspension of a law of nature, if they are altogether independent of human expe
rience ? Did the visible world, wbich • Dr. Hannah, with his usual ability and clearness; geology tells us existed so many ages definition of a miracle – its eficient, its formal, and before man, only in reality begin to be, its final cause. With regard to the efficient cause when the human eye was created to bebe seen, we admit or reject according to what is hold it? Do mountains and valleys, do meant by nature.' With regard to the final cause, John and Thomas vanish into nothingness we have already shown in what respect we differ when they are not seen ? If they do not from the evidential theory. (See Contemporary Review, July, 1866, p. 303.)
and common sense is pretty sure they
we are at one with him.
do not — then is nature not identical with causæ et substantiæ, a corresponding noumehuman experience: it has a separate and in- non. The extreme sense-philosophy, as redependent existence. And upon this ground presented by Hume, would deny the existcommon sense will construct its theory of ence of a noumenal world: the more nature in relation to the supernatural. moderate would allow that it may exist, but The material world with its gradations of would maintain that we can never know it: beings, rising in a vast chain from the low- the common-sense philosophy would mainest existence up to man, forms one sphere of tain that it does exist, and that, although existence the sphere of nature: and we cannot know it positively, yet the fact above this, invisible to us, there is another of its existence is assured io us by an insphere of existence — heaven. It is peopled delible conviction impressed upon the mind. by spiritual beings and departed souls. We The effect of this distinction is that it know very little about it; but we know that cuts the popular idea of nature in two. In in respect of our spiritual nature we belong the days of Bishop Butler, the term nature to it, while in respect of our bodily nature included both the noumenal and phenomewe belong to the world of nature. Both nal world : people were not at that time these spheres of existence, the natural and aware of the distinction. Nor do we think supernatural, are united in the over-ruling there ought to be any other than a logical providence of God.
distinction : for noumenon and phenomenon Now, if this conception, which we believe as existing in nature are really one, to be philosophically accurate, and which rather noumenon is that which really exists, prevailed down to the end of last century, and phenomenon is the impression or knowlwere universally recognized in modern edge which we have of it. But in modern science and philosophy, there would be no science and in the sense-philosophy the disdifficulty in our definition of miracles. We tinction is made a very real one. That class might safely allow the differential character of scientific men represented by Professor of contrary to nature. In fact, Bishop But- Tyndall and Mr. Grove, and sense-philosoler's definition : * A miracle in its very no- phers, such as Stuart Mill, exclude alto, tion is relative to a course of nature, and gether from consideration the noumenal implies somewhat different from it,' would half of nature, and limit their views entirely hit the mark. For miracles would be the to the phenomenal. The position they take breaking in of the higher world upon the up is thus stated by Stuart Mill : lower; and they would establish themselves as a class by their opposition to nature as a "I premise, then, that when in the course of whole, just as every other class of pheno- this inquiry I speak of the cause of any phemena in nature have some mark of opposi- nomenon, I do not mean a cause which is not ittion to the rest.
self a phenomenon ; I make no research into But nature, in modern science and philoso adopt a distinction familiar in the writings of
the ultimate ontological canse of any thing. To phy, is taken in a sense which is not only the Scotch metaphysicians, and especially of different from, but has literally no analogy Reid, the causes with which I concern myself, are whatever to the above popular sense. In
not efficient, but physical causes. They are causes fact, a great revolution in human thought in that sense alone, in which one physical fact is was effected by Kant's polemic against said to be the cause of another. Of the efficient Hume. The line of argument which Kant causes of phenomena, or whether any such took up, was that of a distinction between causes exist at all, I am not called upon to give the noumenal and phenomenal world. This an opinion. The notion of causation is deemed, distinction, we may truly say, formed a new by the schools of metaphysics most in vogue at
the era in human thought: and its solidity is
present moment, to imply a mysterious and established by the fact that it has been does not, exist between any physical fact on
most powerful tie, such as can not, or at least adopted into all philosophies, and has found which it is invariably consequent, and which is its way downwards into the conceptions and popularly termed its cause; and thence is dereasonings of science. It is commonly ex- duced the supposed necessity of ascending high. pressed by the phrase, the relativity of er, into the essences and inherent constitution of human knowledge,' and it is equally con- things, to find the true cause, the cause which is tended for by the sense-philosophy, as re
not only followed by, but actually produces, the presented by Mill, and the common-sense, as effect. No such necessity exists for the purposrepresented by Hamilton. According to doctrine be found in the following pages.
es of the present inquiry, nor will any such
But this distinction, all that is objected to neither will there be found anything incompatthe senses, or in other words, all that ible with it. We are in no way concerned in we experience, is only, phenomenon; but the question. The only notion of a cause which behind this there is, or there is not, as verce) the theory of induction requires, is such a no
tion as can be gained from experience. The But if we maintain the character of oppoLaw of Cansation, the recognition of which is sition under this view, we must maintain it the main pillar of inductive science, is but the in the latter sense. The miracle thus befamiliar truth, that invariability of succession is found, by observation to obtain between every
comes an unexplained break in a chain of
For fact in nature, and some other fact which has phenomena. It is a lusus natura. preceded it; independently of all considera- modern science will admit no noumenal tion respecting the ultimate mode of production agency — neither the action of God, nor of phenomena, and of every other question re- the action of a personal man. garding the nature of things in themselves.'"* For these reasons we think the character -Mil's Logic, vol. i. p. 338.
of opposition to nature ought to be discard
ed. "Miracles are 'put in a better position, It is to be remarked that the class of when they are presented as a system within thinkers who take this line are the most human experience : a succession of spiritual popular at the present day; and that their phenomena parallel with other experiences, conception of nature is gradually supplant- No doubt, even in this light, they will ing the older one. People's minds are be- hardly become credible to such a scientific coming more and more habituated to think mind, but they will not needlessly repel it. of nature as a mere succession and co-exist- And theology will gain this advantage, ence of phenomena, It is in our view a that freed from the ban of science, it can false idea of nature ; but we have to face speak without impediment to those who are the fact that it not only prevails
, but is the less imbued with the scientific prejudice. dominant one. To a scientific mind imbued Nor) if we adopt this view shall we set with it, the natural world is the world of ourselves in opposition to Bishop Butler. phenomena, the supernatural (if it has any When he opposed miracles to nature, it existence) is the world of noumena. To was in the former not in the latter sense. such a scientific mind, man considered as a He would not have excluded the miraculous person i.e. a poumenon, is as much a super- from the domain of experience. Possibly natural being as are the angels.
he might not with us have put the experiWhat now will happen if in face of this ence of the Divine life in the same category view we maintain the opposition of miracles with the great miracles; but the reader to nature ? We shall put them in a posi- must judge whether in doing so we have tion in which they become quite incredible. reason on our side.* The true opposition is that between the We have occupied so much space with noumena of the supernatural world and the rationale of the miracle that we have the noumena of the natural; the opposition little left for other matters; but we cannot is not to a succession of natural phenomena. pass over Mr. Mozley's admirable argument
as against the objections of science. In * This is all very well for Mr. Mill and those scien- entering, however, upon the consideration tific men who think with him. But do they not, af- of it, we must relinquish the point of view ter this programme, stand self condemned, if they for which we have been contending, and For instance, with regard to Divine Providence. regard the miracle as an exceptional event. That is a question which literally turns upon the ex: We must also pass over from the philosophithere are true causes and substances in nature, that cal stand-point, which we have hitherto is, beings who have a created and permanent exist occupied, to the extreme position of the ence, then general providence or general law is the result of the relation in which they stand to euch
sense-philosophy: On the ground which other. But, in addition to this, unless we dissever we occupy, in dealing with this argument, God altogether from His creation, there must be a special care exercised by Him, either immediately relation as subsisting between man and
we are not entitled to speak of a personal ministry of angels. In a word, there must be such God, for the world of the sense-philosophy a system as the
Bible teaches, and man instinctively is not a world of persons and things, but of feels when he kneels down to pray. But, if there is no noumenal world, it all that is but a mere coexistence and succession of phenomena, then to talk of a special providence, or for that matter of a ** I find no appearance of a presumption from the God, in any real sense of the term, is simple folly analogy of a nature against the general scheme of What shall we say, then, of men who tell us, A Christianity that God created and invisibly governs noumeval world may or may not exist - we do not the world by Jesus Christ: and by Him also will choose to argue the point with you,' and who then hereafter judge it in righteousness, i.e. render to draw an inference on the supposition that it does every one according to his works, and that good not exist? We must, however, except Mr. Mill men are under the influence of His Spirit. Whether from this condemnation. In his recent . Examina- these things are or are not to be called miraculous is, tion of Sir W. Hamilton's Philosophy, he has perhaps, only a question about words." (Analogy, proved to bis own satisfaction the non-existence part il. chap: 2.) We do not contend for the word, of a noumenal world. Matter he finds but a perma- but for the thing - the identity of our spiritual life nent possibility of sensation, and mind but a series with the phenomena manifested in Christ and Ais of feelings.
phenomenal succession. Looking, then, atcept the conclusion. Mr. Mozley has shown miracles as exceptional acts, and at the that we are under no such necessity. He world, in this point of view, what is the na- has discovered a flaw in the reasoning. Acture of the scientific argument brought cepting as he does the premises, he shows against them? It may be stated thus: that the conclusion is by no means warrantthe world being made up of a chain of ed; for more is collected in the latter than orderly succession, what you mean by a is at hand in the former. miracle is an interruption or variation of In proceeding to his argument, Mr. Mozthat order. But an immense accumulation ley first of all makes sure of what, on emof experience has proved the fact that the pirical premises, we mean by the order of chain of succession is never broken or varied. nature. If the order of nature is defined to And besides, invariability, as a principle, is be the order in which physical events sucso firmly fixed in the mind of every scien- ceed each other, the definition will be true tific inquirer, that he cannot even conceive enough. But it will not bring out the point the possibility of its failure. Or, to apply which occasions all the difficulty, and which the argument to a particular case : You tell especially needs to be elucidated. There me of one or two dead men who have can be no question about the order of past risen. I cannot believe it. An immense events : that every one allows to be fixed accumulation of experience has convinced and invariable ; and, so far as we can see, me that such is not the order of succession not even the fiat of Almighty God could in the case of dead men. Dead men con- change it. It is about the future as continue dead : they do not rise again to life ; nected with the past that the whole difficuland so firmly am I convinced that this law ty arises. Our belief is that the future will is verified in every instance, that I cannot resemble the past ; that events which are at even conceive the possibility of its failure. present hidden in the unknown future will
The only effectual way of meeting this succeed each other in the same order as argument would be on philosophical ground. they have bitherto done. Bodies have We might, for instance, reply in this way: tended towards the earth ; they will conYour philosophy is all wrong. As a matter tinue to do so. The sun has hitherto risen of fact, the world is not made up of co-ex- and set; he will rise and set. Men have istences and sequences. Matter is not, as been born, have lived, and died ; such will Mr. Mill would persuade us, a permanent be their fate hereafter. As a matter of possibility of sensation, nor mind a series fact, such is the belief of every man, and of feelings. There are in nature true causes the instinctive faith of the brute creation. and substances; and man is a being pos- As a matter of fact, therefore, it must be sessed of a personal existence. As soon as accepted and dealt with by philosophy. We we allow this view of the world, the above are not inquiring how the philosophy which we argument falls to pieces. For events are receive would deal with it; we are following not arranged on the principle of antece- Mr. Mozley in his explanation of it on the dents and consequents, but are dependent principles of empiricism. But before proon the noumenal world of which they are ceeding, let us mark the exact bearing of the phenomena. Constancy of succession, the point as now stated on miracles. It is therefore, is not an absolute law, as is postulat- on the strength of this faith that miracles or ed in the above argument. The succession variations in the order of succession are exis only constant, so long as the noumenal cluded. From our conviction that nature relations remain the same. But in the case will go on as hitherto, it is argued that as a of a miracle these are altered ; just as in matter of fact it will do so; and retrospec. the world of nature phenomena are contin- tively that it has done so. And thus all ually varied by bringing new agents into miracles, past and future (if we regard them play. In the case, for instance, of the res- as exceptional events) : even the slightest urrections spoken of, we know, on good variation from the worn grooves is excludgrounds, that a power was present which ed. produced the effect.
It is obvious that this conclusion is deThis, however, is not the way in which pendent, on the mental character of this Mr. Mozley has met the argument. He has conviction. It is a trite remark — and the fought the sense-philosophy on its own opponents of miracles would be the first to ground. This, if we mistake not, is some- recognise it — that the mere fact of human thing quite new. Hitherto the argument belief does not in itself imply truth in fact, has been as against two rival philosophies. for many beliefs are fallacious. It depends It had been taken for granted, that if we on the mental character of our belief, it deaccept the empirical premises, we must ac- | pends on whether it has any ground in FOURTH SERIES. LIVING AGE. VOL. II). 50.