I ran across this quotation in my reading yesterday. The thought is not original with this author; in fact, it is an unpacking of something that Paley says in fewer words in the Preliminary Considerations to his View of the Evidences of Christianity. But it is well expressed.

Now if God does speak to man, as to the grandest themes to which man can give heed, it is all important to hear and recognize God’s voice, and know that it is God. Man has no right to be satisfied without proof that God has spoken; for he may be imposed upon and so misled into error and wrong doing. If anything is plain it is that I have a right reverently to ask for unmistakable evidence that the God of the universe is addressing me.

How shall He satisfy such honest doubt? By any method which shews that it is He who is actually revealing himself. If He shall choose to come down, as on Mount Sinai, and in a voice of thunder speak, till in terror we cry out, “Let not God speak to us lest we die!” we shall be satisfied that it is He. If He shall choose to appear, as to Moses, in a flame that burns a bush without consuming it, His whisper will be as convincing as the thunder was before; for we shall know that something more than a flame must be making that bush radiant and glorious. It is the fact of marked departure from the ordinary course of things, which arrests the mind and impresses it with the presence and power of God. There is an instinctive or intuitive conviction that where there is such a departure from the natural and usual order, God must be especially present and working. Nicodemus said to Christ, “We know that thou art a teacher come from God, for no man can do these miracles that thou doest except God be with him.” There is the argument for miracles, and from miracles, in a nutshell. Where miracles are, we feel that God certainly is. And to meet this natural need of some clear proof that God speaks to us, it is probable that if He does speak through a man, that man will do such works as prove to all candid minds that he comes with the authority of God.

Arthur T. Pierson, Many Infallible Proofs (1886), pp. 90-91

What struck me as I read this—and I am not sure why it did not strike me when I read Paley or Lacordaire or others who have said the same thing—is that this is the heart of the answer to those who think that laws God Himself could not violate would be somehow more elegant than laws that permitted divine intervention and therefore more fitting. They miss the fact that God, if He has truly created man in His image, has created a rational being, and that a set of laws that cuts Him off forever from communication with such a being is not beautiful at all.

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