Life and Its Mysteries, by Frank L. Hammer, , at sacred-texts.com
Many people wonder whether miracles ever took place. Others believe they may have happened in Biblical times, but are somewhat skeptical whether they actually happened. They share the opinion of the agnostic who says: "A miracle is an unusual phenomenon which never occurred." Many agree with Hume's idea: "A miracle may be accurately defined, a transgression of a law of nature by a particular volition of the Deity, or by the interposition of some invisible agent." Webster, however, approaches the truth in his explanation: "An event or effect in the physical world, beyond or out of the ordinary course of things, deviating from the known laws of nature, or transcending our knowledge of these laws."
Nature is indeed known to us only in a very limited degree, and known laws are few compared to the many unknown laws. And although the circumstances of the occurrence or miracles may appear unusual, they are never contrary to nature, but only contrary to nature as known to us, for everything
that happens, or has happened, or will happen, can happen only through law.
Also lack of knowledge creates a belief in miracles. Happenings which we cannot explain are miraculous to us and, as we never will know all, there will always be miracles. Moreover, things that an ignorant, undeveloped man considers miraculous are quite simple to the educated and learned philosopher. Superstitious people consider all unusual things marvelous, everything not encompassed within the realm of their limited understanding.
Furthermore, any event called miraculous now may easily cease to be so at some future time. Many things commonplace today would have been considered miracles not so long ago, for example, the wonders of electricity, radio, aeroplane, television, all these would have been called miracles a few years ago.
The conquest of numerous diseases by science would have been regarded miracles a century back. Then, certain diseases meant certain death, for men did not know their cause and were powerless to effect a cure. So knowledge dissipates miracles.
The greatest objection to miracles seems to be that facts are against them. Well, are they against them? Science declares that the universe is governed by great, natural laws, whose action is definite, constant and unchangeable; and for miracles to be produced these laws would have to be overridden, intermitted, or set aside. And this, scientists insist, cannot be done, for any interference with
natural laws would instantly plunge the universe into chaos, if not destruction. They argue that natural law repudiates and rejects the idea of divine intervention; that God does not, and cannot, interfere with the laws He has created and controls. In other words, they believe that He is bound by His own laws.
Now, what is the nature of Deity? Is He omnipotent or is He not? He IS omnipotent and, therefore, is not bound by any law. If He created them, He can overrule them or destroy them. Some of the theories advanced by scientists who doubt the omnipotence of Deity are far more incredible, implausible and improbable than the truthwhich is that the All-powerful Supreme Being can and does intervene in the affairs of men. It is much more reasonable to believe that He cares for His creations than to accept the scientific theory that there is nothing but cold, natural law, devoid of feeling and intelligence. Apparently men are not content to create God in THEIR likeness, but must ascribe to Him their limitations as well.
In the study of miracles we can discard all ideas of accident and violation of natural law. But we cannot dismiss the action of intelligent beings other than man controlling and regulating these laws, for no miracles are performed by law alone, as behind all law there are intelligent operators. If you deny the existence of beings other than man, you have a hopeless task accounting not only for miracles, but for many other events which frequently occur.
Intelligence or mind is master of natural law. A higher law can be employed to overrule and direct a lower one. Intelligence can override it, vary it, and use it however it will, and can make it work. Christ more than once hinted that, by an increase of power, ascendancy is gained over the lower and physical laws; that by faith, knowledge and power men may control things that are around them, just as the body can be made subservient to the mind power. Indications of it also pervade the history of the race down to our time.
The Bible unquestionably is the greatest history of miracles. Angels are frequently mentioned in connection with them, and the angels usually appeared in human form. Furthermore, it is evident they possessed extraordinary strength and great wisdom. Then the question arises: "Who are angels?" Angels were once human beings who have progressed to the status of angelhood, for life is immortal and progression eternal. Some are sufficiently advanced to have planetary authority, and are superhuman to an indescribable extent. There are others who control the elements, and prayer for rain has been complied with innumerable times. Moreover, all grades of intelligences are utilized in some way as agents of the Almighty.
The Resurrection is regarded by many people as the most impossible of "miracles." However, this event was not at all miraculous, but some of its interpretations certainly are. Why should anyone think it incredible that Christ rose from the "dead"?
[paragraph continues] Nothing unusual about it. All people rise from the dead. No soul ever inhabits a grave, crypt or tomb, but at death discards its material garment and rises in a spiritual body and continues life elsewhere. What makes the Resurrection take on the nature of a miracle, as defined by Hume, "a transgression of the law of nature," is due to men's ignorance of their true nature.
"If a man die, shall he live again?" This question has been pondered throughout the ages by all races of men. In the first records of any nation at all civilized or cultured, we find they believed in immortality. The Egyptians were among the first to furnish us with knowledge of this subject. Their architecture gives evidence that they believed in the life beyond. So do their mummies, which are still in a preserved condition. In fact, all ancient races possessed this truth which, in time, was lost to the masses or distorted, but always a few have kept this knowledge alive.
The minds of the untutored of every race could not conceive the idea of the life of the immortal soul as separate from the physical body. Hence, we have the embalming, pyramids, different methods of preserving the body, as once again, they believed it would be the dwelling place of the soul.
The same thing happened to the doctrine of the Christian religion. The rising of Christ from the "dead" was considered a physical resurrection, and even today there are people who firmly believe He
resumed His physical body when three days later He appeared to the Marys and His disciples.
But, contrary to this belief, Jesus rose in His spiritual body; clothed Himself with a temporary materialized body for the purpose of identification. In no other way would the doubting Thomas' have recognized Him. He walked the earth forty days in this body. Though material, it was so ethereal that He appeared "suddenly in their midst." "He appeared in another form, the doors being shut," and He also, says the Evangelist, "vanished out of their sight." This power of materialization did not end with Christ. It still exists at the present time and has been witnessed by many.
Every event and every act in the life of Christ were in accordance with natural law. All His life He taught the truth of immortality and, after His crucifixion, demonstrated it by appearing objectively to many people. Nothing unusual about this. Many people have done the same. Many departed souls have appeared to relatives and friends before the burial of their bodies. We know of instances where they returned within sever hours after severing connection with their material forms. But no soul ever again assumes the physical body after death, for that, saying nothing about its impossibility, would be raising the body only to die again. The reference is to reclothing the spiritual body in such materialized garments as to be visible to the physical eye. At the time of the crucifixion many spirit entities clothed
themselves, or materialized, and appeared in Jerusalem.
"If a man die, shall he live again?" is the question uppermost in the minds of people all over the world today, for they know that death has been having an unprecedented harvest in the past few years, and they seek an answer to this age-old query. Hundreds of thousands of American boys have been slaughtered on foreign soil. Their blood has mingled with the blood of the youths of other nations on the battlefields of hate and greed. The slaughter has been something the like of which the world has never seen, and so has the suffering, for those who went to war, for those who returned crippled, diseased, maimed and blind. But those who live to mourn will suffer the most.
And, on the eve of their departure to the unknown country, multitudes of young men think deeply and ask themselves many questionsquestions relative to life and death. They ask, What manner of life awaits us Over There? Or is this ghastly, horrible world all we shall ever know? Is life to end abruptly before we ever have an opportunity to live? Or are there other worlds where better living, saner adventures may be had? Are justice, equality, brotherly love only myths, or do they have reality elsewhere?
Some of these boys seek solace in religion. Others take refuge in cynicism and bitterness. Many fortify themselves with a contemptuous and reckless philosophy. Many bewildered youngsters indulge in
what they believe to be a "last fling." But alas, there is no "last fling" for a race of immortals dwelling in eternity; for life is a continuous stream of consciousness and cannot be broken into separate and isolated fragments. Life and death are one and inseparably entwined. What the world calls "death" is life's greatest and most beautiful adventure, for death holds the key which opens the door which cannot be opened any other way. It unfastens the gate to the spiritual realms where absolute justice, love, peace and harmony are the law. For those who do not possess actual knowledge of this truth, but must accept it on faith, we have the word of Him who knew the Father: "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you."
The more we unfold the more beautiful life becomes.
Prayer and the power of God figure conspicuously in the performance of all miracles, and there is no record of any authentic miracle ever having occurred without them. Christ always gave the glory of His accomplishments to God: "The Father in me doeth the works." The prophets "cried out to God," or "called upon God" before they performed any miracle.
[paragraph continues] These men of God lived and died in prayer, for they knew that without Him they could do nothing.
Another noticeable feature connected with miracles is the inconstant power of those who performed them. St. Paul, an outstanding healer, was not always successful and, like any other uninspired physician, prescribed wine for Timothy. Moreover, he was unable to cure his own infirmity. He writes: "For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And He said unto me, "My grace is sufficient for thee." Yet God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul.
Moses, a healer of extraordinary powers, could not cure his stammering, and Aaron was his mouthpiece whenever he addressed his people. Only with perfection and with God there are no failures.
Healing formed an integral part of the ministry of the disciples and the apostles. And was it not their Master's command to "raise the dead and heal the sick?" Jesus was eminently practical and knew that men were not interested in their souls while hunger gnawed at their stomachs, so He first fed the multitude and then preached to them. The Disciples, following in His footsteps, healed as they preached, and it was their healing which attracted the people. Human nature remains much the same. People are still more interested in obtaining relief from their physical afflictions than in the welfare of their souls. And is not the human organism one of the greatest miracles on earth? But men in their colossal ignorance
neglect, abuse, mutilate and desecrate this holy of holies, the temple of the Living God.
There never has been any cessation of miraculous healing; it is in our midst today. Countless people have had instantaneous and miraculous cures; many have been healed through faith and prayer, or the laying on of hands after doctors had pronounced them incurable. Many "incurables" have been made whole at the Shrine of Lourdes. Some physicians scoff at these cures, saying they are solely due to hypnotic influence acting on patients who are merely hysterical. Like the great Charcot, who denied the faith cures at Our Lady of Lourdes and then declared: "What does it matter if the patient gets well?" and sent patients to Lourdes to be healed.
Some twenty years ago a friend of ours was gradually going blind from glaucoma. At that time cures for this disease were more or less in the experimental stage, but he tried them all in the hope that one might effect a cure. Yet to no avail. He also submitted to several mental phases of healing, but with no better result. His eyesight finally became so impaired he could scarcely distinguish large objects. The world was closing in on him and he had reached the end of his resources. Then, one night in utter despair and abject hopelessness, he fell on his knees and cried: "My God, I have done all I could; I leave it to Thee." In that instant he was healed. From a state of almost total blindness, he no longer required glasses, not even for- reading.
Miracles are not always beneficial, but sometimes definitely retributory in character. We know a woman who was suddenly stricken blind a short distance from a bank where she was going to deposit a considerable sum of money which she had extorted from a poor man. She had loaned him the money for a stipulated period, at the end of which he was unable to repay due to unemployment and illness. But, nevertheless, she was determined to have her money. So she hounded and harassed the unfortunate man who, in order to get out of her clutches, borrowed the money elsewhere and repaid her. She paid dearly for her cupidity. Total blindness for over a year; many months more of only partial vision. Not only this, in her terror and confusion at suddenly being blind, she dropped her purse in the street and it was never recovered.
A modern miracle occurred at Dunkerque. In reading first-hand accounts one has the feeling from first to last that there was something miraculous about the entire ten days of evacuation; that there were forces at work not attributable to human beings. The whole thing, as one writer observed, "was covered with a strange feeling of something supernatural." The pier at Dunkerque, their only avenue of escape, was the unceasing target of bombs and shellfire throughout, yet it never was hit. "God sent a wind which crushed the Spanish Armada; this time God withheld the wind." The board of Admiralty thought they would be lucky if 30,000 could
be saved, but 335,000 men escaped. If that was not a miracle, there never was a miracle.
Dunkerque's parallel is found in the book of II Kings, where Elisha and his servant found themselves surrounded by a host of chariots and horses sent by the king of Syria. Elisha possessed the disconcerting faculty of being able to hear what the king spake in his bedchamber, many miles distant, who for this reason sought to seize Elisha. The servant was frightened, so Elisha prayed that his eyes might be opened. He saw: "And behold, the mountains were full of horses and chariots of fire round Elisha. They that be with us are more than they that be with them." Then Elisha blinded them and escaped from the city.
The rescue of Rickenbacker and his men has indications of miraculous elements. Furthermore, five who were atheists did not come back atheists. Persons who have known such close escapes from death are not apt to deny either miracles or the power of God to act in the affairs of men.
How often people say: "That certainly was a miracle." They had missed a boat or train that met with an accident and loss of life. Thy were detained from keeping an engagement and, in doing so, avoided danger. Sometimes we are impressed to do certain things, or we have "hunches" to walk on another street, or avoid a particular place, and discover in doing so we avoided injury or disaster. Most people have miraculous escapes of which they are not even aware, for in truth "God has appointed His angels
charge over us" and they, seeing more clearly, warn us of dangers of which we know not.
Then some remonstrate: "But why should only some people be singled out for Divine protection?" All people are under Divine protection, but, unfortunately, not all are sufficiently sensitive to catch the subtle thoughts of warning. And then how often people admit they received impressions and premonitions to do things, or act in a certain manner, but refused to follow and profit by them, invariably to their sorrow and regret.
Few miracles have exercised such fascination upon the human mind as the miracles of the Philosopher's Stone and the Elixir of Youth. Throughout all ages people have been interested in the prolongation of physical life and the transmutation of the baser metals into precious metals. Transmuting iron into gold was, and is known to the adepts, but there is another power, transmuting base, low qualities into noble and high ones. This Philosopher's Stone is in the possession of all men, but how few value it or use it!
The secret of the Elixir of Youth is known to those who have attained an advanced degree of development, and such individuals have the power to prolong life in the physical body far beyond the average age. This they do whenever it is necessary to complete a mission or perform a task, which requires their functioning in corporeal form. But they extend life at its prime, and not in old age. Like Moses, "who lived to be one hundred and twenty in
full vigor nor was his eyesight dimmed," these persons retain their mental and physical vigor to the end.
Another miracle dawning upon the horizon is the discovery of the unseen world. It is destined to become like a newly discovered continent. We shall see its inhabitants and we shall hold communion with them, and we shall marvel how many thousands of years could pass with our being in ignorance of their existence. Then immortality will no longer be a question of faith, conjecture or theory, but every man will know definitely that life follows life and that death is a condition that has never existed.
People do not all die at the same time, nor do they all arise at the same time.