Illustrations to Young's Night Thoughts
Blake and Paine agreed that there was no such thing as a miracle in Watson's sense - of God giving an arbitrary command to prove his superior power to unbelieving subjects. Miracles were discernible to those whose spiritual consciousness had been awakened. Blake saw that Paine himself had been the vehicle for the working of miracles by writing pamphlets which gave men the courage to release themselves from their 'mind forged manacles', and thereby forge free societies.
Thomas Paine wrote in Age of Reason: "To an almighty power, it is no more difficult to make the one than the other, and no more difficult to make millions of worlds than to make one. Everything, therefore, is a miracle, in one sense, whilst in the other sense, there is no such thing as a miracle. It is a miracle when compared to our power and to our comprehension, if not a miracle compared to the power that performs it; but as nothing in this description conveys the idea that is affixed to the word miracle, it is necessary to carry the inquiry further. Mankind have conceived to themselves certain laws, by which what they call nature is supposed to act; and that miracle is something contrary to the operation and effect of those laws; but unless we know the whole extent of those laws, and of what are commonly called the powers of nature, we are not able to judge whether anything that may appear to us wonderful or miraculous be within, or be beyond, or be contrary to, her natural power of acting."
William Blake wrote this in his annotations to Watson's Apology for the Bible which was his reply to Age of Reason.
"Jesus could not do miracles where unbelief hinderd hence we must conclude that the man who holds miracles to be ceased puts it out of his own power to ever witness one The manner of a miracle being performd is in modern times considerd as an arbitrary command of the agent upon the patient but this is an impossibility not a miracle neither did Jesus ever do such a miracle. Is it a greater miracle to feed five thousand men with five loaves than to overthrow all the armies of Europe with a small pamphlet. look over the events of your own life & if you do not find that you have both done such miracles & lived by such you do not see as I do True I cannot do a miracle thro experiment & to domineer over & prove to others my superior power as neither could Christ But I can & do work such as both astonish & comfort me & mine How can Paine the worker of miracles ever doubt Christs in the above sense of the word miracle But how can Watson ever believe the above sense of a miracle who considers it as an arbitrary act of the agent upon an unbelieving patient. whereas the Gospel says that Christ could not do a miracle because of Unbelief If Christ could not do miracles because of Unbelief the reason alledged by Priests for miracles is false for those who believe, want not to be confounded by miracles. Christ & his Prophets & Apostles were not ambitious miracle mongers" (E 616)