Writings by George Burgess (1829-1905)
Webster explains a Miracle to be a Deviation from the ordinary laws of “Nature”.
The following Statements occur in the old Bible, and New Testament, and in the Concordance, the word “miracles” stand at their head.
In the old Bible the above strange events are said to be the Lord’s work. That would seem to remove from them the miraculous meaning. Still, such events would appear as miracles to men from that far off time. It would be difficult to give us accuracy concerning its events. For even now Superstition still lives, but in that age it lived, and ruled the Rulers, and Kings, and the People. The Statements, as proof of facts have not been much believed in, by men of scientific-searching types of mind during the latter half of the nineteenth century.
But if men believe less in statements which run across Natural Laws, still their reverence for, and faith in, the Living God ruleth all beings, and all worlds, according to their natural order, do not diminish at all, but increase more and more.
IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
Unlike the old Bible, the foregoing New Testament reading speak of the “miracles” as being through faith in Jesus, the acts of men, namely, of the “Son of Man”, and his disciples.
According to the New Testament text, it may be noted, that the “multitudes” who sought the aid of Jesus were considered by him as being punished for their sins, and his miracles meant “Thy sins are forgiven thee, sin no more”, or “Behold thou are made whole, sin no more, lest a worse thing come into thee”. Few indeed sought to know if Jesus has any Spiritual, or Future life mission. Even the Capernaum Centurion, a man high in “authority” appears to have only sought Jesus for the one purpose of curing his Servant, who was “grievously tormented”. This done, the Centurion and Jesus seem to have parted, possibly forever.
The benefit of miracles seems to have been wholly confined to this world along with the aim to convince the Jews that Jesus was their “Messiah”.
It is especially important to remember that the statements concerning Jesus “working miracles, healing the impotent, sending the cast out devils into the swine, and raising the dead to life” etc. come from Matthew, Mark and others, and not from Jesus himself. Jesus never wrote anything about himself, and as far as we know, he never wrote anything at all, so hat we have no proof that we would assent to the unreasonable declarations of a few well-meaning men, possessed by Superstition, and who did not write about him until he had “gone the way of all the earth”. Therefore, it is probable that Jesus never knew that any man would ever write about him, and he was not responsible for the many unreasonable things written about him in the four Gospels, and elsewhere.
It is admitted that, according to the Gospel writers, Jesus himself, and his disciples – all, were subjects of that Superstition, which thought that personal, evil spirits, or devils, in various numbers, lived within men. And it is quite probable that Jesus was a subject of the prevailing superstition. Still, we have no (written) word concerning it, from Jesus himself. David, Solmon, Paul, Cicero, Mahomet, Luther, Calvin, John Wesley, Dr Martinean, Henry Ward Bucher, Dr Joseph Parker and multitudes of others have left us their written opinions, and their records, and their histories. But Jesus appears to have left the world without giving it one, written, word concerning his birth, his history, his life, or his works. And in this respect, Jesus appears to have been a silent being. And the Fact itself, historically, is Remarkable, and Startling!
It is not surprising, that the alleged miraculous powers, passed away when Jesus, and his disciples passed away. Such powers have not been possessed by Christians during the passing away of all the later long centuries.
The roots of all the Gifts, and capabilities, and possibilities of man were within his being from his beginning. Therefore, if miracles were possible by men 2000 years abo, they would be possible now. But all men, of right minds, know that miracles are not possible now, therefore it is fair to conclude that they could not be possible 2000 years ago, nor at any other age of the world’s history. History may easily prove the far off existence of a marked, real, Personality. But if acts are ascribed to the Personality which are beyond the powers of Human Nature then the existence of those acts are naturally doubted. And Time, usually proves that those acts only lived in the visions of Superstition.
Since those times, of the earliest disciples of Jesus, gradually the growing knowledge of the Science, and processes of the human constitution bodily and spiritually, as removed the delusion that men were ever possessed by personal evil spirits, living within them, and also removed the delusion that “all manner of diseases” were ever cured by miracles. The foremost, and progressive preachers of the last quarter of the nineteenth century have omitted to say much about, or to be influenced by, the New Testament miracles. They have exercised too much good sound common sense to so waste their time. But instead, they have spoken forth food, strong, earnest, developing Truth. There is no miracle, nor mystery in Godliness. Godliness has its root set right in the central being of mankind. Man is naturally both human and divine. Therefore, naturally he is inclined to live a good human, and divine life. And that life is Godliness. All goodness is Godliness.
A people in this age will not seek miracles to sure their Bodies, they know that they will never fine them. And, in this latest, and best, generation, people do not desire to grow Godly by the aid of miracles, they can grow both Godly, and manly, very much better without them.
And God’s changeless Laws, of all the moving Worlds, and of all the processes of Human Life, give no sign that miracles ever were probable, and needful, or that they ever will be probable, or needful, to come to the help of man.
George Burgess, January 1901