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instances I have given. That gentleman says that he has continued to cultivate his language notwithstanding his loss of hearing. I think you will find that that is rather a remarkable case, because I have had a great deal of experience with persons in that condition. I am sure I have held intimate conversation with at least four hundred deaf and dumb persons, and that is a large amount of experience. Everything I have said in this paper has been the result of that enlarged experience, and not the reflecting upon the matter merely for a few weeks. I have long, from intimate and lengthened consideration of the phenomena presented, entertained the convictions I have come to. There has been a great deal of theorizing on this subject. I cannot but say that much I have heard is purely theoretical, for I do not think a single speaker in reference to this paper has had any experience with the deaf and dumb. They may have had intercourse occasionally with one or two, but as for any amount of experience that would warrant anything like deductions for a trustworthy theory or statement, not nk that such experience has been possessed by any person who has made observations on this

paper.

In reference to what has been said respecting a primitive race or community of persons having no speech, but hearing, that they would frame a language, partly gestural and partly vocal, I think, to a certain extent, that is likely. I have not the slightest doubt they would give sound-names to every sounding object, but they would consider it ridiculous to give a soundname to a soundless object. And as for not giving a gestural name to an animal, I think that is very simple. Every animal I have seen, I can describe by signs. If I want a horse, what have I to imitate but the ambling of the horse ? or a dog, what but to imitate the action that we generally perceive in a dog? Or, if a cat, the whiskers and the stroking of the cat ; the cow, by the milking operation ; thus distinguishing the cow from the bullock. [The appropriate signs were here given.] And I say there is no difficulty in giving a gestural description of any animal that has been seen. The deaf and dumb are extremely expert in this method of description ; and I remember an instance in which a deaf and dumb boy explained to his companion that he had for the first time seen a steamboat, and he gave a rough but very ingenious idea of the motion of the boat. This was done by covering the back of the left hand with the palm of the right, advancing the hands thus placed with a wave-like movement, and giving a rotary motion to the thumbs. [These gestures were exhibited.]

The Meeting was then adjourned to 3rd December.

ORDINARY MEETING, DECEMBER 3, 1866.

THE Rev. WALTER MITCHELL, VICE-PRESIDENT, IN THE CHAIR.

The minutes of the previous meeting were read and confirmed, after which the following Papers were read by the Honorary Secretary in the absence of the Authors:

ON MIRACLES; THEIR COMPATIBILITY WITH PHI

LOSOPHICAL PRINCIPLES. By the Rev. W. W.
ENGLISH, M.A., Mem. Vict. Inst.

stand upon

miraculous interpositions of the Almighty is very desirable. We want a philosophy of miracles—a foundation wide enough to admit even the sceptic. Not that I would advocate the abandonment of a single point that is tenable ; but, instead of arguing, for example, with a Theistic writer, that “all things are possible with God," and, upon this foundation, proceed to defend the miracles of the Bible, I would seek rather for some basis that accords with acknowledged principles of philosophy, and take

my that.

In dealing with opponents of revelation it would also tend to the simplification of points at issue, were the various objections urged against miracles classified under appropriate heads. For example, the cloudy array of direct and implied assaults in Mr. Baden Powell's Essay in Essays and Revicus, would appear much smaller if arranged, as they might be, under the three heads of objections drawn from moral, metuphysical, and physical considerations. The question of the historical fact of miracles, and their evidential value, would fall under the first head ; the bearing of the nature and attributes of God upon miraculous interposition would fall under the second ; and the question of the compatibility of the facts and discoveries in physical science with a belief in miracles, would fall under the third. These questions would, doubtless, be found to interlace in minute discussion ; but such a classification would have two advantages,-it would be convenient, and also tend to keep before the mind facts and principles which we are in danger of undervaluing or forgetting. For example, while Mr. Powell is loud and frequent in praise of what he calls “those grander conceptions of the order of nature, those comprehensive primary elements of all physical knowledge, those ultimate ideas of universal causation, which can only be familiar to those thoroughly versed in cosmical philosophy in its widest sense, he is not above stepping occasionally out of this “grander" position to admit objections from humbler considerations of à moral and metaphysical kind. Physical science contains in fact but a part, and not the whole, of the scientific principles involved in the acceptance or rejection of miracles.

DEFINITION OF MIRACLES.

It is of primary importance to define what we mean by a miracle. Yet the task is not easy. Like faith, a miracle scarcely admits of strict logical definition. But if we regard miracles as direct, mediate, and providential, a definition may be given that will suit all practical purposes. By a direct miracle is meant such as God wrought immediately or without the intervention of second causes; as the act of creation. By a mediate miracle is meant such as God wrought through the instrumentality of chosen agents, as Prophets and Apostles; abundant instances of which are to be found in Holy Scripture. By a providential miracle is meant such as God wrought by means of second causes, combined in an unusual manner; as the advent of the swarm of flies or cloud of locusts in Egypt,-events that could be explained upon natural principles. Their evidential force as miracles lay in the occasion and circumstances of their production, and particularly in the foreknowledge displayed in their prediction and fulfilment at a given time and for a specified purpose. A Bible miracle, then, may be defined" an event having for its efficient cause the active power of God exercised directly, mediately, or providentially, for the accomplishment of moral ends, among free agents.”

All such statements as “violations” of nature, or events “contrary to nature," adopted by Mr. Powell, ought to be discarded. They do not describe a miracle in any sense; for it is neither a "violation” of, nor “contrary" to, nature. The expression “laws of nature" is misleading and ambiguous.

“Nature," for example, is used sometimes to include the active operations of Deity, direct and mediate (natura naturans), and in this sense it may include miracles. Bishop Butler used the term nature in this sense, but not to include miracles. He said, "The only distinct meaning of the word natural is stated, fixed, or settled; since what is natural as much requires and presupposes an intelligent agent to render it so, that is, to effect it continually, or at stated times, as what is supernatural or miraculous does to effect it for once."* Then, again, “nature” is sometimes used to include simply the works of nature (natura naturata). But even here the term is ambiguous and variously modified, for it is sometimes made to include both mind and matter; at other times it is used of matter to the exclusion of mind. “ The term nature (said Sir W. Hamilton) is used sometimes in a wider, sometimes in a narrower extension. When employed in its most extensive meaning, it embraces the two worlds of mind and matter. When employed in its more restricted signification, it is a synonym for the latter only, and is then used in contradistinction to the former . . With us the term nature is more vaguely extensive than the terms physics, physical, physiology, physiological, or even the adjective natural; whereas, in the philosophy of Germany, Natur and its correlatives, whether of Greek or Latin derivation, are, in general, expressive of matter in contrast to the world of intelligence.”+

Then, again, not only is the question of miracles often clouded by this ambiguous term “nature," but we have another word, “law," used as vaguely. « All things (said Hooker) that have some operation, not violent or casual, -that, which doth assign unto each thing the kind, that which doth moderate the force and power, that which doth appoint the form and measure of working, the same we term a law.”I " It is a perversion of language (said Dr. Paley) to assign any law as the efficient operative cause of anything.” “The rules of navigation (said Dr. Reid) never steered a ship, and the law of gravity never moved a planet.” “Those who go about (said Hale) to attribute the origination of mankind (or any other effect) to a bare order or law of nature as the primitive effecter thereof, speak that which is perfectly irrational and unintelligible ; for although a law or rule is the method and order by which an intelligent being may act, yet a law, or rule, or order, is a dead, unactive, uneffective thing of itself, without an agent that useth it, and exerciseth it as his rule and method of action." || “In the language of modern

* Anal., ch. i.

+ Reid's Works, p. 206, note. I Ecc. Pol., book I.

§ Nat. Theol., ch. i. || Prim. Origin. Hom., ch, vii.

science (said Dugald Stewart) the established order in the succession of physical events is commonly referred (by a sort of figure or metaphor) to the general laws of nature.

It is a mode of speaking extremely convenient from its conciseness, but it is apt to suggest to the fancy a groundless, and indeed absurd analogy between the material and moral worlds. In those political associations from which the metaphor is borrowed, the laws are addressed to rational and voluntary agents, who are able to comprehend their meaning, and regulate their conduct accordingly; whereas, in the material universe the subjects of our observation are understood by all men to be unconscious and passive.. If the word law, therefore, be in such instances literally interpreted, it must mean a uniform operation, prescribed by the Deity to Himself ; and it has accordingly been explained in this sense by some of our best philosophical writers, particularly by Dr. Clarke."* "A law (said Dr. Whewell) supposes an agent and a person ; for it is the mode according to which the agent proceeds, the order according to which the power acts. Without the presence of such a power, conscious of the relations on which the law depends, producing the effects which the law prescribes, the law can have no efficacy, no existence. Hence we infer that the intelligence by which the law is ordained, the power by which it is put into action must be present at all times and in all places, where the effects of the law occur; that thus the knowledge of the agency of the Divine Being pervades every portion of the universe, producing all action and passion, all permanence and change. The laws of matter are the laws which He, in His wisdom, prescribes to His own acts; His universal presence is the necessary condition of any course of events; His universal agency, the only organ of any efficient force.”+

Taking, then," law” in this, its true philosophical sense, and the term "nature" as including both mind and matter, it will be difficult to conceive in what sense a miracle can be said to "violate the laws of nature," or be “contrary to nature.” The laws of nature are not causes, but courses—they are not efficient forces. Yet they are often spoken of in this deceptive sense. They cannot, with strictness or propriety, bo confined to the material world. Yet this appears to be the sense in which they are commonly understood when miracles are said to be opposed to them. T'he mind of man has its “natural” laws, as well as the material world; hence we have a philosophy

* Phil. of the Human Mind, pp. 393-4,
of Astron., p. 361.

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