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§ 86. Positive Element.—Teleological Aim of Miracles.

Miracles, then, are entirely different from results of the powers of nature intensified. The question of their character cannot be decided on the ground either of Deism or Pantheism (opposed as these theories are to each other; the one incorrectly separating the idea of God from that of the world, the other as incorrectly blending the two together), but only in regard to the Final causes of the government of God, considered as an Omniscient and Omnipotent personal Being. We might dispute with these theories in reference to isolated facts, on historical and exegetical grounds; but the question of miracles, as such, rises into a very different sphere, and no agreement on separate points would bring us nearer to an adjustment.

The positive element, which must be added to the negative one, already spoken of, in order to constitute any inexplicable phenomenon a miracle, is, that the Divine power in the phenomenon itself shall reveal it to our religious consciousness as a distinctive sign of a new Divine communication, transcending the natural progress and powers of humanity, and designed to raise it to a position higher than its originally created powers could have reached. That higher position to which the Divine revelations, accompanied by miracles as distinctive signs, 130were destined to elevate mankind, is the character originally stamped by God upon human nature, which was lost by sin. Man violently sundered his union with God, his true element of life, in which the Supernatural and the Natural were in perfect harmony: it was necessary, therefore, that the former should reveal itself in opposition to the latter—that Miracles should be opposed to Nature—in order that Nature might be brought back to her original harmony with God. But miracles, considered as signs of the Divinity revealed in the world of sense, cannot, as such, be considered apart from their connexion with the whole revelation of God. Their essential nature is to be discovered, not by viewing them as isolated exhibitions of Divine power, but as elements of his revelation as a whole, in the harmony of his inseparable attributes, the Holy Love and Wisdom appearing as much as the Omnipotence. It is this which stamps Divinity upon such phenomena, and attracts all souls that are allied to God. Thus the negative element of miracles is only a finger-post to the positive; the inexplicable character of the event leads us to the new revelation, which it accompanies, of that same Almighty love which gave birth to the laws of the visible world, and which, in ordinary times, veils its operations behind them.

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