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MIRACLE


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MIRACLE


for it is more probable that the testimony is false than that the miracles are true. But (1) his contention that "a uniform experience", which is "a direct and full proof", is against miracles, is denied by Mill, pro- vided an adequate cause — i. e., God — exists. (2) Himie's "experience" may mean: (a) the experience of the individual, and his argument is made absurd (e. g., historic doubts about Napoleon) or (b) the ex- perience of the race, which has become common prop- erty and the type of what may be expected. Now in fact we get this by testimony; many supernatural facts are part of this race experience ; this supernatural part Hume prejudges, arbitrarily declares it untrue, which is the point to be proved, and assumes that miraculous is synonymous with absurd. The past, so expurgated, is made the test of the future, and should prevent the consistent advocates of Hume from ac- cepting the iliscoveries of science. (3) Hard-pressed, Hume is forced to make the distinction between testi- mony contrary to experience and testimony not con- formable to experience, and holds that the latter may be accepted — e. g., testimony of ice to the Indian prince. But this admission is fatal to his position. (4) Hume proceeds on the supposition that, for practi- cal purposes, all the laws of nature are known, yet ex- perience shows that this is not true. (,5) His whole argument rests upon the rejected philosophical prin- ciple that external experience is the sole source of knowledge, rests upon the tliscredited basis that miracles are opposed to the uniformity of nature as violations of natural laws, and was advanced through prejudice against Christianity. Hence later sceptics have receded from Hume's extreme position and teach, not that miracles cannot be proved, but that as a matter of fact they are not proved.

The attack by Himie on miracles in general has been apjjlied to the miracles of the Bilile, and has received aiUled weight from the denial of Divine inspiration. Varying in form, its basic principle is the same, viz., the humanism of the Renaissance applied to the- ology. Thus we have: (1) The old rationalism of Semler, Eichhorn, de Wette, and Paulus, who held the credibility of the Bible records, but contended that they were a collection of writings composed by natural intelligence alone, and to be treated on the same plane with other natural productions of the human mind. They got rid of the supernatural by a bold interpreta- tion of miracles as purely natural facts. This is called the "interpretation" theory, and appears to- day under two forms: (a) modified rationalism, which teaches that we are warranted in accepting a very considerable portion of the Gospel narratives as sub- stantially historical, without being compelled to be- lieve in any miracles. Hence they give credence to the accounts of the ilemoniacs and healings, but allege that these womlers were wrought by, or in accordance with, natural law. Thus we have the electric theory of M. ( 'orelli, the appeal to " moral therapeutics " by Mat- thew Arnold, and the psychological theory advanced by Prof. Bousset of Gottingen, in which he claims that Christ performed miracles by natural mental powers of a superior kind (cf. " N. World", March, 1 S96) . But the attempt to explain the miracles of the fiospel either by the natural powers of Christ, i. e., mental or moral superiority, or by peculiar states of the recipient, faith cure, and allied psychic phenomena, is arbitrary and not true to facts. In many of the miracles faith is not required, and is in fact absent; this is shown, in the miracles of power, by the ex- pressed fear of the Apostles, e. g., at Christ stilling the tempest (Mark, iv, 40), at Christ on the waters (Mark, vi, .51), at the draught of fishes (Luke, v, 8), and in the miracles of expelling demons. In some miracles Christ requires faith, but the faith is not the cause of the miracle, only the condition of His exercising the power.

(b) Others, like Holstein, Renan, and Huxley, fol- low de Wette, who explains the miracles as [he emo-


tional interpretation of commonplace events. They claim that the facts which occurred were substan- tially liistorical. but in the narrating were covered over with the interjirclations of the writers. Hence, they say that, in studying the Gospels, we must distin- guish between the facts as they actuall.y took place and the subjective emotions of those who witnessed them, their strong excitement, tendency to exaggera- tion, and vivid imagination. Thus they appeal not to the " fallacies of testimony " so much as to the " fallacies of the senses ". But this attempt to trans- form the Apostles into nervous visionaries cannot be hekl by an unbiased mind. St. Peter clearly dis- tinguished between a vision (Acts, x, 17) and a reality (Acts, xii) , and St. Paul mentions two cases of visions (Acts, xxii, 17; II Cor., xii), the latter by way of contrast with his ordinary missionary life of labours and sufferings (II ('or., xi). Renan even goes so far as to present the glaring inconsistency of a Christ re- markable, as he says, for moral beauty of life and doctrine, who nevertheless is guilty of conscious de- ception, as, e. g., in the make-believe raising of Laz- arus. This teaching is in reality a denial of testi- mony. The miracles of Christ must be taken as a whole, and in the Gospel setting where they are pre- sented as a part of his teaching and his life. On the ground of evidence there is no reason to make a dis- tinction among them or to interpret them so that they become other than they are. The real reason is pre- judgment on false philosophical grounds with a view to get rkl of the supernatural element. In fact, the conjectures and hypotheses proposed are far more im- probable than the miracles themselves. Again, how thus explain the great miracle that the hero of a base- less legend , the impotent and deceit f ul Christ .could be- come the fountler of the Christian Church and of Chris- tian civilization'? Finally, this method violates the first principles of interpretation; for the New-Testament writers are not allowed to speak their own language.

(2) The theory of Biblical Humani-sm. — The fun- damental idea of Hegel's metaphysic (viz., that ex- isting things are the progressive manifestation of the idea, i. e., the absolute) gave a philosophical basis for the organic conception of the universe, i. e., the Divine as organic to the human. Thus revelation is presented as a human process, and history — e. g., the Bible — is a record of human experience, the product of a human life. This philosophy of history was applied to explain the miraculous in the Gospels antl appears under two forms; (a) the Tubingen School. Baur regards the Hegelian process in its objective aspect, i. e., the facts as things. He held the books of the New Testament to be states through which the human life and thought of early C'hristianity had passed. He attempted to do with reference to the origin what Gibbon tried with reference to the spread of Chris- tianity — i. e., get rid of the supernatural by the tacit assumption that there were no miracles and by the enumeration of natural cau.ses, chief of which was the Messianic idea to which Jesus accommodated Himself. The evolution element in Baur's Hiunanisni, however, con.strained him to deny that we i)ossess contempo- raneous documents of our Lord's life, to hold that the New-Testament literature was the result of warring factions among the early Christians, and therefore of a much later date than tradition ascribes to it, and that Christ was only the occasional cause of Chris- tianity. He accepted as genuine only the Epistles to the Galatians, Romans, I and II Corinthians, and the Apocalypse. But the Epistles admitted by Baur show that St. Paul believed in miracles and as.serted the actual occurrence of them as well-known facts both in regard to ('hrist and in regard to himself and the other Apostles (e. g., Rom., xv, IS; I Cor., i, 22; xii, 10; II Cor., xii, 12; Gal., iii, 5, especially his re- peated references to the Resurrection of ('hrist, I Cor., xv). The basis oft-which the Tubingen School