The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 8
Praying for Rain
Praying for Rain.
Sir,—In your first number you gave an extract from Professor Tyndall's "Miracles and Special Providences" on the proper function of prayer.
The "rain-makers" among the savage tribes of Central Africa invariably postpone their necromantic rites as long as possible, so that in the very nature of things a meteorological change of some kind or other may fairly be counted upon. Such, also, has been the practice of our orthodox churches. Of course, rain or fine weather must come sooner or later, after their prayers; but whether post hoc, or propter hoc, is just the distinction which the clerical mind is so prone to overlook. It may be only a coincidence and a mere normal change occurring in due course. Why do not ecclesiastics put their theories to the test by praying for something about which there can be no reasonable doubt?
In the seventeenth chapter of Matthew, fourteenth and following verses, we are told that a certain man came to Jesus, asking for mercy, urging that he had brought his son, who was a lunatic, to the disciples, and that they could not cure him. We are further told that Jesus cast out the devil that possessed the child, and that his disciples came to him apart inquiring as to their inability to exorcise the demon. The reply was, "Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, if ye have faith" as a grain of mustard-seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove, and nothing shall be impossible unto you."
Now, to the application of this. It is believed that the proximity of the Blue Mountain chain to our Eastern coast has considerable influence on the uncertainty of the rainfall and on its distribution. Let, then, prayers be offered for the removal of this mountain barrier further into the interior of our continent, so that the rainfall might be more equable and more impartially divided than at present. (N.B.—I am writing during the small deluge under which we are suffering).
Well, if the desired result followed on this proceeding, I, for one, would most cordially accept the miracle. But would it? At any rate the act would go far to prove the sincerity of the faith of the actors in the efficacy of prayers of this kind, which, in the present state of matters, is by no means so evident.
Truly, the grain of mustard-seed is small, but what of the faith?—Iota.