V SYNOPSIS. -- Biblical miracles the effluence of extraordinary lives. -- Life the world's magician and miracle worker; its miracles now termed prodigies. -- Miracle the natural product of an extraordinary endowment of life. -- Life the ultimate reality. -- What any man can achieve is conditioned by the psychical quality of his life. -- Nothing more natural, more supernatural, than life. -- The derived life of the world filial to the self-existent life of God, |begotten, not made.| -- Miracle, as the product of life, the work of God. Be it noted, now, that the marvellous phenomena of the Biblical record, whatever else be thought of them, are, even to a superficial view, the extraordinary effluence of extraordinary lives. Here at length we gain a clearer conception of miracle. Life
is the world's great magician, -- life, so familiar, yet so mysterious; so commonplace, yet so transcendent. No miracle is more marvellous than its doings witnessed in the biological laboratory, or more inexplicable than its transformation of dead matter into living flesh, its development of a Shakespeare from a microscopic bit of protoplasm. But its mysterious processes are too common for general marvel; we marvel only at the uncommon. The boy Zerah Colburn in half a minute solved the problem, |How many seconds since the beginning of the Christian era?| We prefer to call this a prodigy rather than a miracle, -- a distinction more verbal than real; and we fancy we have explained it when we say that such arithmetical power was a peculiar endowment of his mental life. Now all of the inexplicable, inimitable reality that at any time has to be left by the baffled intellect as an unsolved wonder under the name of miracle is just that, -- the natural product of an extraordinary endowment of life
. More of its marvellous capability is latent in common men, in the subconscious depths of being, than has ever yet flashed forth in the career of uncommon men. Some scientists say that it depends on chemical and physical forces. It indeed uses these to build the various bodies it inhabits, but again it leaves these to destroy those bodies when it quits them. The most constant and ubiquitous phenomenon in the world, the ultimate reality in the universe, is life
, revealing its presence in innumerable modes of activity, from the dance of atoms in the rock to the philosophizing of the sage and the aspirations of the saint, -- the creator of Nature, the administrator of the regular processes we call the laws of Nature, the author of the wonders men call miraculous because they are uncommon and ill understood.
The works of which any man is naturally capable are conditioned by the psychical quality of his life, and its power to use the forces of Nature. Through differences of vital endowment some can use color, as wonderful painters, and others employ sound, as wonderful musicians, in ways impossible to those otherwise endowed. So |a poet is born, not made.| So persons of feeble frame, stimulated by disease or frenzied by passion, have put forth preternatural and prodigious muscular strength. By what we call |clairvoyant| power life calls up in intelligent perception things going on far beyond ocular vision. By what we call |telepathic| power life communicates intelligence with life separated by miles of space. Such are some of the powers that have been discovered, and fully attested, but not explained, as belonging to the world's master magician, Life. And when the poet asks, --
|Ah, what will our children be,
The men of a hundred thousand, a million summers away?|
we can only answer with the Apostle: |It doth not yet appear what we shall be.| But we cannot deem it likely that the powers of life,
|Deep seated in our mystic frame,|
and giving forth such flashes of their inherent virtue, have already reached their ultimate development.
We look with wonder and awe into the secret shrine of life, where two scarcely visible cells unite to form the human being whose thought shall arrange the starry heavens in majestic order, and harness the titanic energies of Nature for the world's work. There we behold the real supernatural. Nothing is more natural than life, and nothing also more supernatural. Biology studies all the various forms that the world shows of it, and affirms that life, though multiform, is one. This embryology attests, showing that the whole ascent of life through diverse forms from the lowest to the highest, during the millions of years since life first manifested its presence on this globe, is recapitulated in the stages of growth through which the human being passes in the few months before its birth. And philosophy, which does not seek the living among the dead, affirms, omne vivum ex vivo. The varied but unitary life of the world is the stream of an exhaustless spring. It is filial to the life of God, the Father Almighty. What the ancient creed affirmed of the Christ as the Son of God -- whom his beloved disciple recognized as |the eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested unto us| -- may be truly affirmed of the mysterious reality that is known as life: |Begotten not made; being of one substance with the Father; through whom [or which] all things were made.| Looking from the derived and finite life of the world, visible only in the signs of its presence, but in its reality no more visible than him |whom no man hath seen, nor can see,| up to the life underived, aboriginal, infinite, we recognize God and Life as terms of identical significance. How superficial the notion of miracles as |the personal intervention of God into the chain of cause and effect,| in which he is the constant vital element. If an event deemed miraculous is ever ascribed, as of old, to |the finger of God,| the reality behind the phenomenon is simply a higher or a stronger power of life than is recognized in an event of a common type -- life that is one with the infinite and universal Life,
|Life that in me has rest,
As I, undying Life, have power in Thee.|
1 John i.2.