Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

diffusion. The miracles of Christ, so far from being out of harmony with His mission, are indeed necessary to give it completeness and credibility. If He indeed came from God, and went to God, as He alleged, and was commissioned to announce new and startling truths hateful to the teachers of the day, was it not most reasonable that He should appeal to His Father in heaven for miraculous confirmation of His authority, and was it not most reasonable that God should answer that appeal? Surely, if the Christian religion is from God at all, it is worthy of being attested by miracles. It has to do with the most vital interests of man, and if God thought it essential for man to know it, why should He refuse that attestation which He could easily give, and without which it would be impossible to secure credence for it among mankind ? It appears to us that the repugnance to miracles is closely connected with a repugnance to believe in a personal and living God. Whenever the mind fully receives the idea of God as a living, conscious Being, having a will and affections, as He is represented in the Bible to have, belief in miracles, when properly attested, naturally follows; for it is impossible to believe that such a God as this would refuse to manifest Himself to man in the way that man's faculties can most surely apprehend Him. The disbelievers in miracles are in a great degree disbelievers in God-probably to a much greater extent than they are aware of, or would admit to be true. The God they believe in is a pantheistic abstraction or a figurative expression for the laws of nature—as Matthew Arnold has lately defined it to be, “the stream of tendency which all things have to fulfil the law of their being.” Their idea of God is not very far removed from atheism; He is one who shrouds Himself amid nature's laws, and sits far away, passionless and serene, like the Olympian deities of Homer, who quaffed nectar and feasted on ambrosia, regardless of the sufferings of man. He is, in fact, the slave of nature, not its ruler; for He cannot suspend the laws He has set in motion, He cannot speak to man in audible accents, as that, forsooth, would be a departure from the etiquette of the universe! Better that man should perish than that God should step out of the eternal silence to speak to his immortal

soul! If the Bible tells us anything at all, it tells us that God is above nature and apart from nature, and it proves this in the only way which could ever have carried conviction to the ordinary human mind, viz., by miraculous interposition.

It has always appeared to us an unaccountable fact that men of intelligence and moral worth should hold that the Christian religion is in some sense divine, and yet reject all that savours of the miraculous. There are many who go to the New Testament for moral teaching, and allow that Jesus Christ revealed more of God's mind than any prophet the world has seen, and yet regard as fabulous all His claims to supernatural power and all the miraculous doings recorded of Him. We hold that it is utterly impossible to separate the historical veracity of the New Testament from its moral and spiritual teaching : they are interwoven in so close an embrace that they cannot be severed without mutual destruction. Mankind would never submit to the life of self-denial imposed by Christ if they were to think that He claimed powers that were

fictitious; the sanction of His authority would be gone, the spell would be dissolved in an instant that taught men to die for His religion, the whole domain of revelation would be relegated to the limbo of uncertainty, and all efficient motive withdrawn to a lite of holiness. The absolute truthfulness of Christ is a first condition to the reception of His teaching, and not merely His absolute truthfulness, but the sanction of His divine authority: it is the feeling that He speaks with the voice of God, and will one day be the Judge of men, which triumphs over man's inclination to evil. Those know little of the struggles and self-denial that a life of faith imposes, who think that it can be sustained by a Christ who was full of illusions and errors. When He requires that we should pluck out our right eye and cut off our right hand rather than let them offend us, who would listen to the injunction, if the voice that spoke was that of an erring mortal? When He commands us to run counter to the strongest currents of our nature, who would have grace to obey if none believed the Teacher to be divine ? His teaching would be less weighty than that of Socrates and Seneca, indeed infinitely less; for they laid claim to no imaginary powers : they delivered their message with much weight of learning and with undoubted sincerity of aim ; but Christ did not deign to avail Himself of human learning at all, and, according to this monstrous theory, enforced His teaching by pretended miracles, or, at least, by conniving at those who did so. To our mind, a more impossible theory was never imagined than that of a teacher charged with the most weighty truth, loving the souls of men even to the death, and yet fighting with the weapons of grossest deception. .

But some allege that Christ was Himself the victim of deception. He imagined He had miraculous power, and the ready credulity of the age ratified the claim. We are asked to contemplate the great Teacher, whose words penetrated the depths of man's nature, so weak as to suppose that He raised the dead and walked on the waves, while yet He was innocent of any power beyond what a spiritualist lays claim to now-a-days. The proposition needs only to be stated to be scouted with disgust; it outrages, not merely all Christian

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »