JAMES VANDENBERG SAID:
Q. What miracles have been wrought to confirm the scriptures? A. The plagues of Egypt; the dividing of the Red Sea; causing the sun to stand still; raising the dead; giving sight to such as were blind, &c.
Q. How do miracles confirm the divinity of the scriptures? A. Because God would never work miracles to confirm any imposture, Heb. ii. 3, 4.
Q. But may not Satan, &c. work miracles? A. He may work counterfeit, but no true miracles.
Q. Wherein doth a counterfeit miracle differ from a true one? A. Besides a difference in their natures, all true miracles confirm doctrines leading to a virtuous and holy life; but counterfeit miracles always confirm falsehoods and wicked practices, Deut. xiii. 5, 2 Thess. ii.
Q. Why doth not God still work miracles for the confirmation of the scriptures? A. Because they are only necessary to establish truth at first, and to awaken the world to consider and receive it; and if always wrought, be esteemed common things, and make no impression on the minds of men. Exod. iv.—xiv, &c.
--John Brown of Haddington
i) Quoting the opinion of a Reformed theologian is not ordinarily a relevant way to verify or falsify a proposition–although it can be a witness to what some Reformed theologians believe.
John Brown was not a prophet or apostle. Quoting his bare opinion, shorn of supporting arguments, is not a serious method of proof or disproof. You need to cultivate the habit of arguing for your position rather than taking refuge in some Reformed theologian or anotehr, as if he were an authority-figure whose opinion automatically commands our assent.
ii) Don’t forget that I, too, was quoting a Reformed theologian: Cotton Mather. Mather took an avid interest in spectral evidence. So I can answer you on your own terms. Indeed, I did–in my original post. Did you miss that?
However, I was citing Mather as a historical witness to certain contemporary occultic or paranormal phenomena.
iii) ”Counterfeit miracle” is equivocal. It could mean:
a) A merely legendary miracle.
b) An apparent miracle which is actually a hoax, trick, or illusion.
c) A genuinely supernatural/preternatural event which is instigated by the dark side, (e.g. witchcraft).
These three definitions carry different implications. Warfield seemed to use it in the sense of (a) or (b), whereas Brown seems to use it in the sense of (c).
iii) In the sense of (c), the occurrence of counterfeit miracles would serve to qualify the evidential force of miracles.
iv) It’s simplistic to suggest the only function of miracles is evidentiary. Some Biblical miracles are acts of mercy.
v) It’s also simplistic to suggest that a “counterfeit miracle” always confirms a falsehood. Even if they intend to confirm falsehoods, they may incidentally confirm certain truths. If, for example, a miracle is wrought by the power of the dark side, then that confirms the existence of the dark side. And, in that regard, it would confirm a truth. There really is a dark side, and certain occultic phenomena are evidentiary in that respect.
But as I’ve said before, there’s a difference between what is true and what is right.
vi) I never took a position on whether God still performs miracles to confirm Scripture. That’s wholly irrelevant to the subject of my post, which was directed at Richard Carrier’s objection to Biblical miracles.
vii) It’s unclear whether Brown rejects all post-biblical miracles, or only post-biblical miracles to attest Scripture. His position seems to be equivocal. On the one hand, he allows for “counterfeit miracles.” On the other hand, he disallows post-biblical miracles to attest Scripture.