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Miracle: Mental and Spiritual: The Unworthiness of the Minister: The Source of Life: Growth of Spiritual Capacity: Suggestion: Faith and Grace
THE health of the body is, we have said, immediately due to that subliminal part of the mind which we ought to call the "soul," in the exact language of the New Testament, only that our loose use of the word has spoilt its meaning. So we call the soul the subliminal self or undermind, though we have to remember that much of this "spirit" - the higher qualities of man-is also at any given time subconscious. The soul is greatly influenced by the spirit; in other words, the vital force, the working of the undermind, is influenced by the conscious mental condition.
The normal way by which health is maintained or restored is through the agency of the nerves, which are thus the link between matter and spirit; and the nerves bring health to the various parts of the body, mainly by creating, renovating through the oxygen in the lungs, distributing, and regulating the supply of blood, which last is effected by the vaso-motor nerves contracting or dilating the small arteries. This action of the "soul" can be very
materially assisted, as we have seen, by physical means, and also by means that are mental.
It can furthermore be assisted by spiritual means. Let us consider this statement.
When the undermind is successfully assisted by mental means the process is called mind-cure, though the most ordinary physical methods are also in a greater or less degree mental.1 When the assistance is given by religion it is called faithhealing or spiritual healing, though a lower kind of faith is indeed a valuable factor in all therapeutics. When such healing is of a remarkable and exceptional character people call it a miracle, and even religious folk are often mightily incredulous.
Many, indeed, no longer call these things miracles. They need not: the language of the New Testament is on their side; for "miracle" has no equivalent in the reported sayings of our Lord. Miracles in the New Testament are simply signs "2— significant acts of one who, in the language of the Collect, declares his "almighty power most chiefly in showing mercy and pity or "powers," or they are "works" 4 in St. John's Gospel, where this is given as our Lord's favourite term for his miracles: Christ makes little distinction between his ordinary and his extraordinary works, and he uses the same word for the good and beau
tiful acts of others.1 The nearest word to "miracle," Tépas, a wonder or prodigy, he only uses once and then in disapproval of those who hungered for such things-"Except ye see signs and wonders ye will not believe."
We shall return to the subject again in the Second Part of this book. Here it is only necessary to point out the naturalness of what we call miracle. In the New Testament is described the highest spiritual power that was ever exerted upon earth, and its success in the regeneration of both spirit and body. We can form our estimate of spiritual healing by that; and we find that these "works" are regarded as natural and spontaneous manifestations, that there is no craving after the supernatural" (a word for which indeed, as for “miracle," there is no equivalent in the New Testament, nor for that matter in the Old either), that there is no distinction between spiritual and mental, but only a distinction between goodness and badness,2 between faith and unfaith, between strength and weakness.
The therapeutic works, with which alone we are concerned here, described so simply and unstrainedly as works and signs and powers, were done, and have been done ever since. with dogmatic assurance.
Men have denied them
1"Why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work Kaλdν pyov on me," Mk. 146.
2 The peculiar moral use of yvxíkós is itself an example of this. See p. 50.
3" C'est parce qu'ils racontent des Miracles que je dis, Les Evangiles sont des légendes." E. Renan, Vie de Jésus, Preface to 13th edition, 1879, p. vi.
that denial was most confidently made, "miracles " were occurring in not inconsiderable number; but the learned were convinced that they could not happen, and were consequently blind to the fact that they did.
Christendom bowed for a while before that strange and narrow dogmatism, and grew ashamed of her own history, which from the beginning till now has been rich in mighty works. But that denial was due to insufficient knowledge. We now know enough to see that these powers come also within the realm of law. They are not supernatural. Nothing is, and nothing ever was.
This is no new argument invented to meet the needs of modern philosophy. St. Augustine summed it up long ago in a perfect epigram —“ Portentum ergo fit non contra naturam, sed contra quam est nota natura," 1 or, as we might render it, "Miracles are not contrary to nature, but only contrary to what we know about nature." Faith has been feeble because men have set their religion as a thing apart, suspended among shadows. But the great ages of faith are yet before us; an era of unexampled spiritual illumination and activity is dawning, because our faith is being regenerated in
1 City of God, XXI, 8. The same thought is worked out by Augustine in C. Faust, XXIX, 2, and in XXVI, 3, and again in LVI, 3, which last is quoted in the Report of the Lambeth Conference, 1908, p. 73, and thus translated:-" For it is this course of nature which is known to us and familiar that we call nature, and when God does anything contrary to this, such events are called marvels or miracles [magnalia vel mirabilia]. But as for that supreme law of nature which escapes our knowledge because we are sinful or because we are still weak, God no more acts against that than he acts against himself."
reason, and we are learning again with a profounder confidence that the spiritual energy which was displayed in the life of Christ is about us now, working by the same laws, accomplishing the same miracles of conversion and of healing-real as nothing else is real - bestowing new life on body and soul; and we remember that as men can approach towards the perfection of our Master in goodness, so can they in power. Miracles are becoming natural to us, now that we know a little more about nature.
Mental and Spiritual
We feel, therefore, that there is a class of health-giving powers which cannot well be called mental. The term is convenient because it is commonly taken to include the psychic work of the possibly agnostic mind-curer or even the hypnotist, and raises no religious points: it sounds humble and unassuming, and we may often use it for this reason. But we must be careful to remember that we do not even in its humblest use confine it to intellectual processes. It includes for us intellect, emotion, and will; and we often use it as covering the emotions of mundane hope and faith. There is, however, a more fundamental aspect of man which we call spiritual: mind is indeed one of the sides of this ultimate spiritual being, but when we speak of man's spiritual nature and of the spiritual means by which he may be healed, we mean not only mental but also moral and religious powers. Faith, hope, and love exist on the mental plane (I