A Thought on Miracles

1918 12 Faith delights to accredit God in all His ways either in His giving laws for the ordering of the universe, or in His suspending them, graciously, acting upon principles which man is constantly discerning, or in wondrously displaying His power and right to set aside for a given purpose His usual methods.

The sun stands still (Joshua 10:12). The earth quakes (1 Sam. 14. ; Matt. 27). The waters are turned into blood (Ex. 7:20), or stand "on heap" (Joshua 3:13). The violence of fire is quenched (Dan. 3:25), and even man himself becomes as a beast (Dan. 4), or is swallowed by a fish (Jonah 1) at His decree. Scripture testifies to the working of miracles in all ages. Sometimes directly by the divine hand alone, and sometimes by the instrumentality of chosen servants. Both the Old and the New Testaments furnish us with their marvellous records.

In Egypt, in the Wilderness, in the Land, in Captivity, the O.T. records the working of God by His power, for or with His people; whilst in the N.T. we read of signs being wrought by the Lord Jesus and the apostles, as well as by those who believed their testimony (Mark 16:17). Early church history also bears witness to their having been wrought while as yet Christianity was combating the forces of pagan emperors, and the powers of darkness. The purpose of God in using miracles may be gathered from the words used in scripture to express them, namely, signs, wonders, and powers. As "signs" they witnessed that God had visited His people; as "wonders," arresting the attention of a godless world to His rights in it; and as "powers," as being superhuman and accomplished only according to His permission, and the working of His sovereign will. We find all three words used in reference to the miracles wrought by the Lord Jesus Himself (Acts 2:22); by those wrought by the apostle Paul (2 Cor. 12:12); and to those which will be by the antichrist in the near future (2 Thess. 2:9).

Seeing then that we have this general testimony of Scripture concerning miracles, we may ask, To what cause can we attribute the fact that we do not see them wrought around us in the present day? Certainly none dare question the prerogative, or right, of God to act as He pleases in the heavens, or on the earth, and it may be that even now He puts forth His hand to over-ride some law of nature locally, for the deliverance or succour of His children: but such action does not take the form of a public testimony, because the Holy Spirit is not only now present in the church, but to convince (elegchein) i.e., to reprove, bring to light, and put to shame, the world as such, before God, by the instrumentality of His word now completed, and which would not be made more effectual even were It accompanied with miraculous powers. It is mighty in itself to the pulling down of strongholds (2 Cor. 10:4), and when its working is manifested by spiritual power seen by a gainsaying world in the believer, or in the church, and made known for the obedience of faith in the preaching of the gospel for the deliverance of souls from death and destruction, no material sign of the testimony being owned of God is required. For it is manifest that a miracle of grace has been wrought in every soul delivered from Satan's power; and the entire sufficiency of the word of God as the sword of the Spirit, would be less distinctly seen, did it please God to allow signs following to confirm the word now (Mark 16:20. Compare also 1 Thess. 1:5–10; 1 Thess. 2:13). We cannot rely too implicitly on,or press too earnestly, the sole authority of the Scriptures now completed, and accompanied by the presence of the Holy Ghost, sent down from heaven, who uses them. But the solemn fact is revealed that He who now letteth will be "taken out of the way" (2 Thess. 7); and the world, left to itself and its darkness, will worship the antichrist, who will exercise power, and, signs and great wonders (Rev. 13:12-13) lying wonders — which God will permit to delude those who believed not the truth (2 Thess. 2. 2 ). May He give us to discern the times and the spiritual blessings wherewith He now blesses us, together with the power of His word to accomplish all His will!


1918 12 When the iron was made to swim (2 Kings 6), or Peter given to walk on the water (Matt. 14), this was not "a suspension of the laws of nature," but God's withdrawal of the particular person or thing for the time being from the operation of the specific law. Everywhere else the law was, not suspended but, in full force.