Frequently Assaulted Quotes
Quote #1: "I never read an account of a miracle but I seem instinctively to feel its improbability and discover some want of evidence in the account of it." (Life and Letters of Westcott, Volume I, pg. 52).
Before discussing the contents of the quote, I would like to point out that this quote of Westcott's was made when he was 22 years of age while he was a student, and approximately 34 years prior to the publication of Greek New Testament of 1881. How many current authors that oppose Westcott and Hort, such as Ruckman, Gipp, Fuller, etc., would like to be held to the quotes they made when they were that young? Probably none. Beliefs can change quite a bit in 34 years, as evidenced in most Christians.
Context reveals the point of the quote. Here is the entire journal entry, and the next:
"11th August. - James i. I do not recollect noticing the second verse ever before in the way I have. How sincerely do I wish that I could "rejoice in temptation." I never read an account of a miracle but I seem instinctively to feel its improbability, and discover some want of evidence in the account of it. The day is extremely warm.
31st August. - Hooker. V.S.D. Oh, the weakness of my faith compared with that of others! So wild, so sceptical am I. I cannot yield. Lord, look on me ; teach me Thy truth, and let me care for nothing else in evil report and good. Let me uphold nothing as necessary, but only Thy truth."
Here Westcott, as a 22-year-old student, is lamenting his own weaknesses. He is not expressing his disbelief in miracles, but admitting a natural tendency to want an explanation - that he struggled with simply accepting them by faith. That doesn't mean he did not accept by faith the accounts of the miracles, but rather that his first reaction (which he did not let determine his view on miracles) was to desire some evidence of them. In later years, Westcott went on to write many books, and wrote many things specifically about the absolute truth of the miracles as recorded in Scripture. He even wrote a book solely on this subject about 12 years later, called "Characteristics of the Gospel Miracles" in 1859.