Saint John, the Beloved Apostle of Our Lord, being Boiled in Oil - by Charles Le Brun
A MIRACLE may be considered as an 'Event' Inconsistent-with the Constitution of Nature, that is, with the Established Course of Things, in which it is found. Or, again, an 'Event' in a Given System, which cannot be Referred-to any Law, or Accounted-for by the Operation-of any Principle, in that System. It does not necessarily imply a Violation of Nature, as some have supposed, — merely the Interposition of an External Cause, which, we shall hereafter show, can be no other than the Agency of the Deity. And the Effect Produced, is that of Unusual or Increased Action in the Parts of the System.
Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman
The Natures of Things, are Based-on the Divine Nature. But the Existence of Things, Whether Men or Trees or Clouds Exist, Depends-on the Divine Will. If God is going to make a Man, He has to give him an Intellect, but Whether He is going to make One or not, is up to His Free Will. God is Utterly Free about whether to Create or Not. That is, He can Choose Whether or Not to confer Existence or 'Be' on a Nature. Created Beings are Contingent (the opposite of Necessary) - they can 'Be' or 'Be-not' - their Creation and Continued Existence, depend Completely-on the Creative and Conserving Will of God. Now, as ' Do' follows 'Be', just as the 'Be' of Creatures is Contingent, so too is their 'Do'. Just as Creatures Depend-on Divine Conservation, to continue-in Existence, so too, do they Depend-on Divine Concurrence for their Acts.
What do I mean by this? The Acts that we Perform, such as Seeing, Walking, Thinking, Eating, Talking and so on, Flow-from our Nature and its Powers, but are not Identical-with them. My Power to See is not my Act of Seeing. If it were, having the Power of Sight would mean actually Seeing all the time, but we know that this is not the Case. My Power of Sight, though Ordered to the Act of Seeing, is really Distinct-from it. I can Close my Eyes, or go to Sleep, and I do not See, while still having the Ability to See. This is the Real Distinction between the Power (the 'Can-do') and the Act (the 'Does-do'). Now since the Power is not the Act (although Ordered by Nature to it), something must be Required-to Move the Power into Act (See Note 2 below). This is because of the Principle so well Enunciated in the Living the Truth Series, that Nothing can ever give what it has not got. I can't give you Ten (10) Dollars, if I have only Five (5). Non-Livings things, cannot of themselves, give Rise to Life. Creatures without Senses, cannot (by reason of being what they are), Evolve into Sensitive Life. Irrational Animals (by Reason of being Irrational Animals), cannot Develop into Human Beings. Non-Being cannot give Rise to Being (because it is not Being). Less, cannot of itself, give Rise to More. 'Can-do' cannot of itself give Rise to 'Does-do'. Non-livings Things, cannot of themselves, give Rise to Life.
In His Ordinary Providence, God cooperates-with Creatures in their Acts (See Note 3 below) - this is Divine Concurrence. So in our Experience, the Power of Sight, results-in the Act of Sight; the Corrosive Power of an Acid succeeds in Corroding the Metal it makes contact with; and the Fire Heats the Coals to Cook the Barbecue. But God can, if He Wishes, Refuse-to Cooperate-with moving the 'Can-do' to 'Does-do'; the 'Can-see' to 'Does-see'; the ' Can-heat' (of the Fire) to 'Does-heat'. When this happens, it is a Source of a Wonder to us, because it is Out-of the Ordinary - it is a Work, in fact, of God's Extraordinary Providence. This is One Type of Miracle. Just as God can Withhold Existence, that is, Create or Not, so also can He can Withhold 'Does-do' or Act. They are both 'Contingent' Realities:
So when Saint John was Thrown-into the Boiling Oil, God simply Refused to Cooperate with the 'Can-Burn' of the Oil in the Ordinary Production of Burning, and no ' Does-Burn' or Burning-of the Evangelist occurred.
Note 1 - By "Physical" here is not meant "Bodily" but "in the Order of Actual Existence".
Note 2 - Another way of putting it is that following the Principle that "not of themselves are the Diverse United", when you find Two (2) Diverse Realities United, and Power and Act are Diverse by Relative Opposition, there must have been a Third which United them, i.e. God.
Note 3 - Creatures are Secondary Causes - they are Caused to Cause - and Depend on the Prime Cause for their Causative Power. The Prime Cause, God, is necessarily the Uncaused Cause.