Special Divine Interpositions In Nature -- By: Edward Hitchcock

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 011:44 (Oct 1854)
Article: Special Divine Interpositions In Nature
Author: Edward Hitchcock


Special Divine Interpositions In Nature1

Edward Hitchcock

No subject of theology has in it more true moral sublimity than the government of God over this world. Yet it is eminently a practical subject. Our views of it afford a test of our piety and a type of its character. Nay, there is one feature of this government, that has been regarded as the chief distinction between revealed and natural religion. We refer to Special Divine Interpositions. These have been supposed to be peculiar to revelation; while nature moves on by uniform, unchanging and unchangeable laws; nor does the whole history of those laws, as given by natural science, show a single example of interference or modification on the part of the Deity.

We venture to call in question the correctness of these views. If we have read nature aright, it teaches a different lesson. That lesson may be worth learning. We choose for our subject, therefore, Special Divine Interpositions in Nature, as made known by science.

Let us, in the first place, endeavor to affix a definite meaning to the phrase: Special Divine Interpositions.

But here, perhaps, it may be necessary to interpose a remark, to prevent misunderstanding. We assume, as the basis of much

of our reasoning, those views, now almost universal among geologists, and very common among theologians, which teach that this world existed through a vast and indefinite period before man was placed upon it. Such an opinion we think perfectly reconcilable with a fair interpretation of Scripture; though this is not the place to go into the proof. But let no one imagine, when we take such views for granted, that we mean to cast the slightest doubt upon the inspiration and literal truth of revelation. Let us be believed rather, when we express the conviction, that, if admitted, they afford a strong corroboration and illustration of some most important doctrines of revelation.

We proceed now to affix a definite meaning to the phrase: Special Divine Interpositions.

It requires but a few years’ experience in this world, to satisfy any observing mind, that natural operations are carried on in a settled order; that the same causes, in the same circumstances, are invariably followed by the same effects. We call this uniformity of operation, the course of nature; and the invariable connection between antecedent and consequent, we call the laws of nature. If we should see a new force coming in to disturb this settled order, we should call it a miracle. It might do this by a direct counteraction of nature’s laws; and thi...

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