PHILOSOPHY OF MIRACLES.
Trembling with awe and fear, the mind inquires—
“What master spirit, now, the bard inspires;
What bold philosophy shall dare assign
A law to govern miracles divine—
Tell how effects transpire without a cause,
And how kind nature breaks kind nature’s laws?”
Among the popular errors of modern times, an opinion prevails that miracles are events which transpire contrary to the laws of nature, that they are effects without a cause.
If such is the fact, then, there never has been a miracle, and there never will be one. The laws of nature are the laws of truth. Truth is unchangeable, and independent in its own sphere. A law of nature never has been broken. And it is an absolute impossibility that such law ever should be broken.
That which, at first sight, appears to be contrary to the known laws of nature, will always be found, on investigation, to be in perfect accordance with those laws. For instance, had a sailor of the last century been running before the wind, and met with a vessel running at a good rate of speed, directly in opposition to the wind and current, this sight would have presented, to his understanding, a miracle in the highest possible sense of the term, that is, an event entirely contrary to the laws of nature, as known to him. Or if a train of cars, loaded with hundreds of passengers, or scores of tons of freight, had been seen passing over the surface of the earth, at the rate of sixty miles per hour, and propelled, seemingly, by its own inherent powers of locomotion, our fathers would have beheld a miracle—an event which would have appeared, to them, to break those very laws of nature with which they were the most familiar.
If the last generation had witnessed the conveyance of news from London to Paris, in an instant, while they knew nothing of the late invention of the electric telegraph, they would have testified, in all candour, and with the utmost assurance, that a miracle had been performed, in open violation of the well known laws of nature, and contrary to all human knowledge of cause and effect.
But, once familiar with the arts of the living age, all those miracles cease to be such, and the laws of nature, and of cause and effect, are found to be still moving, unimpaired, in all the harmony of primeval existence and operation.
The same views will apply, with equal force, to all the spiritual phenomena of the universe.
The terms miracle and mystery must become obsolete, and finally disappear from the vocabulary of intelligences, as they advance in the higher spheres of intellectual consistency. Even now they should be used only in a relative or limited sense, as applicable to those things which are not yet within reach of our powers, or means of comprehension.
We will here remind the student of two principles, or laws of existence, developed in a former chapter of this work, which will account for all the miraculous powers of the universe—all the mighty works ever manifested by God, or by His servants.
First. All the elements of the material universe are eternal.
Second. There is a divine substance, fluid or essence, called Spirit, widely diffused among these eternal elements.
This spiritual substance is the most refined, subtle, and powerful element in the universe. It is endowed with all wisdom, all knowledge, all intelligence and power. In short, it is the light, life, power and principle of all things, by which they move; and of all intelligences, by which they think.
This divine element, or Spirit, is the immediate, active, or controlling agent, in all holy, miraculous powers.
Angels, and all holy men, perform all their miracles, simply, to use a modern magnetic term, by being in “communication” with this divine substance. Two beings, or two millions—any number thus placed in “communication“—all possess one mind. The mind of the one is the mind of the other, the will of the one is the will of the other, the word of the one is the word of the other. And the holy fluid, or Spirit, being in communication with them all, goes forth to control the elements, and to execute all their mandates which are legally issued, and in accordance with the mind and wisdom of the Great Eloheim.
God the Father is the Head. The mandates of Jesus Christ must be in the name of the Father.
The mandates of angels, or of holy men, in order to be legal, or of due force and power, must be issued in the name of Jesus Christ, or of the three who compose the Head Council; and must be in accordance with their united mind and will. The Holy Spirit then goes forth and executes their mandates. This agency being invisible, and the effect visible, the act performed appears to those who are unacquainted with spiritual agency, as a miracle, or an effect without a cause.
When Jesus Christ was clothed upon with a mortal tabernacle, he had not the fulness of this divine substance at the first, but grew and increased in the same, till, being raised from the dead, he received a fulness and, therefore, had all power, in heaven and on earth.
His Apostles received a portion of this Spirit, but not a fulness, while they were mortal; therefore, they could know and perform some things, but not all.
The members of the Church also partook of this Spirit, through the ministry of the Apostles, by which miraculous gifts were imparted unto them, some to one, and some to another: some to speak in tongues; some to interpret, or translate from one language into another; some to prophesy, see visions, or converse with angels; and others to control, or cast out devils, or heal the sick; and others, again, to teach and edify the Church, or the world, by the word of wisdom, and by the word of knowledge.
All these gifts and miracles were the workings of that one, and the self same Spirit given to the members of the Church of the Saints, while the world did not partake of a sufficient measure of the Spirit to possess these gifts. The reason of this is, that they did not repent, and believe in Jesus Christ, and be baptized in his name, and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, by the laying on of the hands of the Priesthood—these duties and ordinances, being the legal or appointed channel by which the gift of the Holy Spirit was imparted. The reason why these gifts of the Spirit have not been enjoyed in all ages of the so called “Christian Church” is because it is not the true Church; nor, is the true ministry or Apostleship to be found among the Church, or Churches, where these gifts are denied. Every minister and member of such institutions have need to repent, and be baptized, in the name of Jesus Christ, for remission of sins; and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, by the laying on of hands of those who have authority, in order to enter into the kingdom of God.
These ordinances, ministered by a legal Priesthood, being divinely appointed, are the only legitimate means by which man may receive and exercise these divine powers; or, in other words, they are the means ordained of God, by which one being may communicate or impart a portion of this divine substance to another, so as to place that other in communication with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and with angels, and the spirits of just men in the world of spirits, and with the members of the true Church on the earth.
To heal a person by the touch, or by the laying on of hands in the name of Jesus Christ, or to impart the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands, is as much in accordance with the laws of nature, as for water to seek its own level, an apple to fall to the ground when loosened from the tree where it grew, quicksilver to attract its own affinities, or the magnet to obey its own laws.
As the electric fluid obeys its own laws upon the wire, so, also, does the spiritual or holy fluid convey itself, through certain channels, from one body to another, in accordance with certain legitimate laws.
The usual channel for all spiritual fluids, whether holy or impure, in their operations upon the human system, or in their passage from one animal body to another, is the nerves.
A person commissioned of Jesus Christ, and filled with this spiritual substance, can impart of the same to another, provided there is a preparation of heart, and faith on the part of the receiver. Or if, as in cases of healing, casting out devils, &c., it happens that the receiver has no command of his own mind—as in cases of little children, persons swooned, fainted, deranged, or dead, then the faith of the administrator alone, or in connexion with other friends and agents, in his behalf, is sufficient, in many cases, to perform the work.
However, the touch, or laying on of hands, is not the only means of communicating the gift of healing. A word spoken, a mandate issued, or even a handkerchief, apron, or other garment, worn or touched by a person full of this Spirit, and conveyed to another, has, according to sacred history, and also the experience of the present age, proved sufficient to communicate the spiritual fluid, between minds of strong and mutual faith. So well acquainted was the Prophet Elisha with this principle, that he sent his servant to lay his staff upon a dead child, in order to raise it from the dead; but, in this instance, the undertaking failed. The Prophet could only resuscitate the child by placing face on face, eye to eye, mouth to mouth, hand to hand, &c., so as to give the greatest possible effect to the imparting of the spirit of life.
For the holy and divine fluid, or spiritual element, to control all other elements, agreeable to its own will, and the will of others, who are in communication or in perfect unison with itself, is just as natural as for the greater to control the less, or the strong the weak. It is upon the same principle that a higher intelligence is able to comprehend, circumscribe, and instruct that which is less.
Hence, when the worlds were framed, God spake, and this divine fluid went forth and executed the mandate, by controlling the elements, in accordance with the will, pattern, or design, formed in the mind of Him that spake, and it that executed. Wisdom pondered the pattern of all created things, weighed their properties, attributes and uses in the balance of mature intellect. Every minute portion and member of the several departments of life and being, every adaptation to their natural use, was clearly conceived, formed in the mind, and matured, ere the mandate was issued. And the whole was executed in exact accordance with the pattern matured in the Divine Mind.
By this divine Spirit all things were designed and formed. By this divine Substance all things live, move, and have a being. By this agency Moses controlled the sea; Joshua, the motions of the earth; Daniel, the mouths of the lions; and his brethren, the flames. By this, the heavens were opened, and were shut; the rain or the dearth prevailed; armies were subdued; the sick healed, or the dead raised; and all in accordance with the laws of nature, it being perfectly natural for the subordinate elements to obey the supreme, all controlling, all pervading element, which contains in itself the innate, and inalienable, controlling power.
The modern world, called “Christian” claims to have perpetuated the system called “Christianity,” while, at the same time, it declares, that the miraculous gifts of the Spirit have ceased.
With as much propriety it might be contended, that the magnet had been perpetuated, but had lost its magnetic properties; that water was perpetuated with all its virtues, but had lost its power to quench thirst, or seek its own level; that fire was still fire, but had lost its heat.
How, we inquire, can Christianity have been perpetuated, while its virtues, its legitimate powers, its distinguishing features, its very life and essence have ceased from among men? Or, of what possible use is it if it does exist? Is a compass of use when its needle has lost its magnetic attraction? Is water of use when it no longer seeks its level, or quenches thirst? Is fire of use when it loses its heat? Is a sun dial of use in a dark and cloudy day; or, a watch without a mainspring?
Or, are the mere forms and ceremonies of any system of use, when the divine, or legitimate powers, for which such forms were instituted, are withdrawn?
O man! be no longer deceived by solemn mockeries of things sacred, or by great and holy names applied to corrupt and degenerate systems.
When the miracles and gifts of the divine Spirit ceased from among men, Christianity ceased, the Christian ministry ceased, the Church of Christ ceased.
That ministry which sets aside modern inspiration, revelation, prophecy, angels, visions, healings, &c., is not ordained of God; but is Anti-Christian in spirit. In short, it is that spirit of priestcraft and kingcraft, by which the world, for many ages, has been ruled as with a rod of iron.
The sooner the present generation lose all reverence and respect for modern “Christianity,” with all its powerless forms and solemn mockeries, the sooner they will be prepared to receive the kingdom of God. The sooner the treasuries of nations, and the purses of individuals, are relieved from the support of priestcraft and superstitions, so much sooner will they be able and willing to devote their means and influence to print and publish the glad tidings of the fulness of the Gospel, restored in this age, to assist in the gathering of the house of Israel, and in the building of the cities and temples of Zion and Jerusalem.