As popularly regarded, the miracle is a supernatural occurance, or at least an experience beyond the scope of ordinary known natural causes. Current theology gives it a more restricted meaning by considering it to be an incident in the so-called natural world, but not according to the natural order; an event rendered possible and explicable only because of the intervention and application of deific power. According to Hodge, it is "(1) an event occurring in the physical world, capable of being discerned and discriminated by the bodily senses of human witnesses; (2) of such a character that it can be referred to no other cause than the immediate volition of God; (3) accompanying a religious teacher, and designed to authenticate his divine commission and the truth of his message" (Outlines of Theology).

For the phrase "the immediate volition of God," the Christian Scientist would substitute, "the normal activity of divine law," but aside from this, every thinker will do well to consider carefully this definition. Moses certainly authenticated his "divine commission and the truth of his message" by the performance of wonders which, while discernible "by the bodily senses of human witnesses," could not rationally be referred to any other than the immediate activity of divine law. Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, and other of the prophets established their right to be considered as God's messengers by performing various wonders which human witnesses of their times could perceive in the ordinary way. In similar ways, Jesus, his disciples, and their followers gave evidence of their divine commission and the truth of their message.

Instances are not wanting in the Bible to show the inefficiency of the human arm and the powerlessness of human efforts. When Hezekiah acknowledge his weakness and prayed to God for deliverance from Sennacherib, and when Jehoshaphat under similar circumstances adopted the same attitude, both were delivered from their enemies. These and many other instances go to show that while a man may seem to posses so-called will-power and be capable of performing notable feats by its aid alone, yet without the assistance of a power above and beyond himself he can perform no really noble work of rectification of palpably wrong conditions, no important creative work; nothing perhaps, we may conclude, that has an important bearing upon the advancement of mankind. To be sure he can harness the so-called physical forces with his intellectual energy and accomplish apparently much, but the ability to discern his duty to his fellow man on the higher spiritual plane, to understand his function in the world as it exists in divine law and order, to grasp and utilize his spiritual potentialities and thus to become a factor for good far beyond the mere physical realm, is acquired only when, like the prophets, and like Jesus and his disciples, he has mastered his human will and become inspired to do according to the law of God and thus usher in the kingdom of heaven—bring it a little nearer to human apprehension by proofs, visible signs, of divine harmony.

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January 20, 1912

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