We must remember that there is a great difference between a myth and a miracle. A myth is the idealization of a fact. A miracle is the counterfeit of a fact. There is the same difference between a myth and a miracle that there is between fiction and falsehood--between poetry and perjury. Miracles belong to the far past and the far future. The little line of sand, called the present, between the seas, belongs to common sense, to the natural.
If you should tell a man that the dead were raised two thousand years ago, he would probably say: "Yes, I know that." If you should say that a hundred thousand years from now all the dead will be raised, he might say: "Probably they will." But if you should tell him that you saw a dead man raised and given life that day, he would likely ask the name of the insane asylum from which you had escaped.
Our Bible is filled with accounts of miracles and yet they always fail to convince.
Jehovah, according to the Scriptures, wrought hundreds of miracles for the benefit of the Jews. With many miracles he rescued them from slavery, guided them on their journey with a miraculous cloud by day and a miraculous pillar of fire by night--divided the sea that they might escape from the Egyptians, fed them with miraculous manna and supernatural quails, raised up hornets to attack their enemies, caused water to follow them wherever they wandered and in countless ways manifested his power, and yet the Jews cared nothing for these wonders. Not one of them seems to have been convinced that Jehovah had done anything for the people.
In spite of all these miracles, the Jews had more confidence in a golden calf, made by themselves, than in Jehovah. The reason of this is, that the miracles were never performed, and never invented until hundreds of years after those, who had wandered over the desert of Sinai, were dust.
The miracles attributed to Christ had no effect. No human being seems to have been convinced by them. Those whom he raised front the dead, cured of leprosy, or blindness, failed to become his followers. Not one of them appeared at his trial. Not one offered to bear witness of his miraculous power. To this there is but one explanation: The miracles were never performed. These stories were the growth of centuries. The casting out of devils, the changing of water into wine, feeding the multitude with a few loaves and fishes, resisting the devil, using a fish for a pocketbook, curing the blind with clay and saliva, stilling the tempest, walking on the water, the resurrection and ascension, happened and only happened, in the imaginations of men, who were not born until several generations after Christ was dead.
In those days the world was filled with ignorance and fear. Miracles happened every day. The supernatural was expected. Gods were continually interfering with the affairs of this world. Everything was told except the truth, everything believed except the facts. History was a circumstantial account of occurrences that never occurred. Devils and goblins and ghosts were as plentiful as saints. The bones of the dead were used to cure the living. Cemeteries were hospitals and corpses were physicians. The saints practiced magic, the pious communed with God in dreams, and the course of events was changed by prayer. The credulous demanded the marvelous, the miraculous, and the priests supplied the demand. The sky was full of signs, omens of death and disaster, and the darkness thick with devils endeavoring to mislead and enslave the souls of men.
Our fathers thought that everything had been made for man, and that demons and gods gave their entire attention to this world. The people believed that they were the sport and prey, the favorites or victims, of these phantoms. And they also believed that the Creator, the God, could be influenced by sacrifice, by prayers and ceremonies.
This has been the mistake of the world. All the temples have been reared, all the altars erected, all the sacrifices offered, all the prayers uttered in vain. No god has interfered, no prayer has been answered, no help received from heaven. Nothing was created, nothing has happened for, or with reference to man. If not a human being lived,--if all were in their graves, the sun would continue to shine, the wheeling world would still pursue its flight, violets would spread their velvet bosoms to the day, the spendthrift roses give their perfume to the air, the climbing vines would hide with leaf and flower the fallen and the dead, the changing seasons would come and go, time would repeat the poem of the year, storms would wreck and whispering rains repair, Spring with deft and unseen hands would weave her robes of green, life with countless lips would seek fair Summer's swelling breasts, Autumn would reap the wealth of leaf and fruit and seed, Winter, the artist, would etch in frost the pines and ferns, while Wind and Wave and Fire, old architects, with ceaseless toil would still destroy and build, still wreck and change, and from the dust of death produce again the throb and breath of life.