What is a miracle? Millions of people listened to the voice of King George VI speaking in the venerable Westminster Abbey in London as he took the vows of kingship and promised to uphold the law of the realm and defend the Protestant faith. No doubt many said to another during that day, "The radio is a wonderful thing, isn't it? A miracle." But is the radio—your hearing in Pittsburgh the voice of a man speaking in Westminster Abbey in London—a miracle? No. It is something that takes place by man's using and obeying in the strictest way the laws of nature—the atmosphere, electricity, call it what you please. Many of the things that are popularly spoken of as miracles are things done in strictest obedience to physical laws.
What, then, is a miracle? Here is a good definition of it: "A miracle is an event occurring in the natural world, observed by the senses, produced by divine power, without any adequate human or natural cause, the purpose of which is to reveal the will of God and to do good to man." A wonder, such as the radio or wireless photography, however little the layman may be able to explain it, is an event occurring in the natural world and observed by the senses, and produced by natural causes; whereas the miracle is without natural cause and is produced by the power of God.
Archbishop Trench tells how, in 1690, an agave plant was brought over and planted in the gardens of Hampton Court Palace by Queen Mary. The last ten years of the seventeenth century passed, and the plant gave no sign of flowering. The whole of the eighteenth century passed, and never a bud did the plant put forth. Eighty-eight years of the nineteenth century passed, and still no sign of a flower. But in 1889 the venerable plant burst into blossom.
Several generations of men might have watched that plant and written learned books about it, and said it was not of the flowering species and that it could never blossom. "And yet they would have been wrong. The blossoming potency was there, latent, slumbering, deep-hidden in its core. It was no miracle, but a long-delayed fulfillment of the law of its being, when it burst into blossom."
The great miracle is God himself. If you grant that, then all is possible.
Admit a God—that mystery supreme!
That cause uncaused! All other wonders cease;
Nothing is marvelous for Him to do;
Deny Him—all is mystery besides. —Archbishop Trench
Out in that yard of yours in the springtime, you clean up the ashes that have been accumulating during the winter season. Piles of ashes out there in the yard grow through the winter, and then in the spring you hire someone to come and cart them away. Ashes are from coal—coal that has been burned and consumed. Coal is carbon, and that beautiful, shining white stone in the engagement ring on your hand, lady, is carbon also. The diamond the king wears in his crown and the ashes out there in the yard are made of the same stuff!
Down in the state prison are some cinders of men, clinkers, burned out, only the ashes of life left. Down in some sections of the city are the women of the streets, burned out, clinkers, cinders, only the ashes of life are left. But the gospel is the good news that Jesus Christ can take the carbon (clinkers, if you will) and transmute it into a diamond, a gem for His own crown, made out of the ashes of sin.
A little girl made a strange misquotation of a verse but she told the truth when she said, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save cinders." Yes, He did He takes the clinkers, the cinders, the ashes, the burned-out, hopeless lives, and makes them glorious and new.—Will H. Houghton, in The Living Christ.
One Sunday afternoon my wife and I were taking a short walk when we were overtaken by a storm. We took shelter in a neighboring church where we found a special service for Sunday school scholars in progress. The vicar was catechizing the children, and asked: "What is a miracle?" A little girl put up her hand and replied, "Something we can't do, but Jesus can." The minister seemed surprised at this original answer, and pressed for a response in "more dignified English." Several chimed out the set answer he wanted, "A parable in action," and he seemed well satisfied. It left me cold, however, for I was still thinking of the little child's definition, "Something we can't do, but Jesus can."—Christian Herald.
"If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed."
In the days of Joseph Parker, an infidel lecturer in a mining town in the north of England gave an address in which he thought he had demolished all the arguments for the Bible, Christ and Christianity. He concluded by saying: "Now I hope I have succeeded in explaining to you that the existence of Jesus Christ is a myth."
As he finished speaking, a miner, who had entered in his grimy clothes, stood up and said, "Sir, I'm only a working man, and I don't know what you mean by the word `myth.' But can you explain me? Three years ago I had a miserable home; I neglected my wife and children; I cursed and swore; I drank up all my wages. Then someone came along and showed me the love of God and of His Son Jesus Christ. And now all is different. We have a happy home; I love my wife and children; I feel better in every way; and I have, given up the drink. A new power has taken possession of me since Christ came into my life. Sir"—and his face was all aglow—"can you explain me?"
The lecturer had no explanation to give, but that working man sent people home feeling that the Bible was still the Word of God and that Jesus was anything but a myth, and that the Gospel was "the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth."—The King's Business.
I was eating a piece of watermelon some months ago and was struck with its beauty. I took some of the seeds and weighed them and found that it would require some 5,000 seeds to weigh a pound. And then I applied mathematics to a forty-pound melon. One of these seeds, put into the ground, when warmed by the sun and moistened by the rain goes to work; it gathers from somewhere two hundred thousand times its own weight and, forcing this raw material through a tiny stem, constructs a watermelon. It covers the outside with a coating of green; inside of the green it puts a layer of white, and within the white a core of red, and all through the red it scatters seeds, each one capable of continuing the work of reproduction. I cannot explain the watermelon, but I eat it and enjoy it. Everything that grows tells a like story of infinite power. Why should I deny that a divine hand fed a multitude with a few loaves and fishes when I see hundreds of millions fed every year by a hand which converts the seeds scattered over the field into an abundant harvest? We know that food can be multiplied in a few months' time. Shall we deny the power of the Creator to eliminate the element of time, when we have gone so far in eliminating the element of space?—William Jennings Bryan.