Are Miracles to Be Expected? -- By: Lucius E. Smith

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 048:189 (Jan 1891)
Article: Are Miracles to Be Expected?
Author: Lucius E. Smith


Are Miracles to Be Expected?

Lucius E. Smith,

IT is a remarkable example of opposite developments, that, while at the present time a philosophy has gained extensive credence which denies the possibility of any super- natural action controlling or modifying the course of nature, a considerable number of Christians firmly believe and confidently assert that miracles are now wrought, and that more would be witnessed but for a lamentable want of faith. Scepticism that doubts the being of God exists beside a faith that might remove mountains, if it only would. This heroic faith is not only held and avowed, but is supported by learned and devout interpreters of Scripture, and advocated in books that have the prestige of eminent names, and that make a plausible appeal to religious minds. It cannot be denied that this is a matter deserving of earnest consideration. It is time to inquire whether such faith has its war- rant in the teachings of Scripture. Have miracles ceased, as has long been the common belief of the Protestant church? Or are signs and wonders still to be looked for in answer to prayer offered with a due measure of faith?

This is a question which cannot be intelligently or profitably discussed without an attempt, at the outset, to define the meaning of terms. What do we, or ought we, to mean

by miracles? What is the relation of miracles to other supernatural acts? Are there supernatural acts that fall short of the miraculous? It is not merely with reference to the subject of the present inquiry that these preliminary questions are important. The whole subject of providential divine government and of the reasonableness of prayer is needlessly perplexed by a confused use of language.

We are making this inquiry as Christians, and assuming as true the fundamental beliefs of Christianity. To us there is one God, the Father, and all things by him. In him we live, and move, and have our being. He is the creator and upholder of all things. By this we understand that he maintains not only the order of the universe, but its existence. Created existence is dependent existence, and is dependent not only in the moment of its creation, but in every subsequent moment. In the light of this truth, the distinction often drawn between a general and a particular providence vanishes. To every person, to every thing, to every particle of matter, God is present, and nothing can happen to any person or thing or particle of matter without his knowledge or permission. What we term the laws of nature are simply forms of expression denoting certain regular modes or conditions of existence which he has established and which he maintains—conditions imposed by him upon the material universe, including th...

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