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tive religious educator, and has always been seeking one. This is of the nature of the miraculous -- a God-inspired testimony of himself to his ignorant, perishing offspring. It is not impossible. To affirm this is simple assertion. Our ground is this : moral interests in our world are vastly paramount to physical ; souls are of more worth than bodies. Whatever these are widely felt to need may be expected under the jurisdiction of God. Nature is subject to his supreme will to use it as he sees best. Men are equally within his control and employment. Laws of matter, powers of finite minds, are at his disposal. Here are the materials for the production of a Bible which shall be a depository of sure and sufficient religious instruction. To keep the world in motion merely for material and secular objects, that is, for its own sake as a temporal and temporary system, is a low and false conception both of its design anul designer. To use it as a means of spiritual deliverances, is a satisfying view of its history. We maintain this position as possible, probable, reasonable, actual. God ordinarily does this through providential appliances, as already explained and proven. He can carry an unusual providence on to a real miracle, we further hold, if there arise a justifying occasion. The question of the probability of a miraculous interposition is simply that of a revelation of himself, beyond that of his creative works, being granted at all. Bishop Butler's remark is true, that "revelation itself is miraculous, and miracles are the proof of it." A contemporary writer also puts the point with great and pungent sharpness : “How miracles can be impossible, unless God is impossible, it seems that we have yet to learn." The
pressure of this logic is felt. We agree with Professor Fisher, that the deism of the age is fast turning itself into pantheism, to get rid of a God for whom it finds no more room in the universe than there was für Jesus " in the inn," Are our rationalists ready for this change of base ?
This is any thing but a debate about words. It takes in the most vital concerns. The supernatural, or more correctly, su
If the retentive reader of our former volumes shall find a few sentences in this article reproduced from a paper in Vol. II. 382–396, it may be a sufficient apology for the want of more precise quotation to say, that both articles are from the same hand. VOL. VI.NO. XXXII.
perhuman parts of Christianity are the appointed proofs of its right to our belief and trust. They can not be rejected without the rejection of the Christian revelation. So Christ coupled them inseparably. “ If I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come unto you." This miraculous dominion over those demoniacal powers was set forth by our Lord as evidence that he announced and was bringing in the kingdom of God. Again : " But that ye may know that the Son of man has power on earth to forgive sins, I say unto thee, arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thy house." He did it; and as he went he was a witness to all beholders that Christ was able to save men from sin and ruin, which is the fundamental truth of the Christian system. The subject is just so practical and vital as this -- that, on Christ's own showing, there is no reposing faith in him as a Saviour without receiving these records of his superhuman works as actual verities. He fixes us there. We may not say these things were imaginary; they served a purpose for those who thought them real, and may do some service for others who still believe them; but we discard them as unreal; we do not need them as upholders of our religious convictions and beliefs. · That is not the question between us. It is this Christ declares in terms, that he casts out devils, cures the sick, raises the dead, in order that we, as those who then lived and looked on, may repose confidence in him for forgiveness of sins and life everlasting. What are we to do?
Immense efforts have been made to strike a compromise along this line by naturalistic explanations, as that Lazarus and Christ himself were not dead, but only in a long swoon from which they came forth ; as that the disciples had a sufficient supply of bread in the wilderness for the five thousand ; and so on through the rest. After this school of ingenious and most imaginative expounders, came another which turned the Scriptures into an oriental myth or fable, a moral allegory, or novel of an essentially symbolic and ideal character, though written by good men for useful purposes, but with no historical veracity. This is the ideology of modern times. But neither of these are easy holding places. They are too slippery to stand on for any long continuance. A much simpler solution of
the whole matter is with the bolder disbelievers, to say -- that the men who wrote the Bible, including Jesus also, knew that they were falsifying history, and deliberately did it, to answer some end which it is indeed difficult to discover. This, as noted on a former page, is Strauss' final position. There is no help for it: we must go whither the tide of scepticism is sweeping — to the extreme left of charging the founders of the Christian dispensation with the worst of fraud and forgery'; or we must take the record as it stands, and credit its supernaturalism as God's selected mode of certifying himself to the faith of the ages until the end of time.
until the end of time. On the one side or the other of this line, Christendom is in reality fast ranging itself, in this great conflict of Christ and antichrist. The miraculous elements of the Gospels are so intertwined with the historical, that if the former be rejected it is utterly impossible to retain the latter. A reasonable life of Christ can not be constructed on a merely naturalistic basis. We do not go into the question here, of the relevancy of this kind of testimony to the securing of moral convictions. It is enough for us that Christ assumes this as undeniable.
This subject has been needlessly perplexed by erroneous and confused conceptions of what a miracle is. It is not a suspension or violation of natural laws. It is an intervention of adequate power to set aside for the time being the usual action of physical causes.
But it is not this, so as to affirm that the same cause working at different points in exactly similar conditions will produce contrary effects. This could not be. But under different conditions that law may have wrought a most unlike result. This is the important consideration; that God can enforce these physical agents with new energies without changing their constitution; can vary the circumstances in which these laws of nature act, indefinitely. They who deny this assume an acquaintance with the possibilities of the Divine action, which itself is more than human.
6 A miracle is supernatural and contrary to nature only in reference to the old life, and in its highest meaning, is in conformity to a higher law. Therefore, miracles are the natural law of all natural laws taken together.”! So Augustine argued against the early sceptics.
Dr. John Peter Lange, in Hurst's History of Rationalism, p. 296.
“ The miracle, consequently, does not take place contrary to universal nature, but contrary only to nature so far as it is known to us; though even those things which occur in nature as known to us are not less wonderful and stupendous, to those who would carefully consider them, were it not that men are accustomed to wonder only at things that are infrequent and rare. ... That miracle of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which he made the water wine, is not wonderful to those who know that it was God who performed it. For He who made wine on that marriage day, in those six water pots which he commanded to be filled with water, makes wine the whole year round in the grape vines. But this latter we do not wonder at because it occurs all the year round. By reason of the uniformity, we lose our wonder." i
The sphere of the miraculous lies outside our knowledge of the capabilities of natural causes under superhuman adjustment and enforcement. It may at length be found that there is no more real opposition to the order of nature in a miracle, than in any instance of providential interposition, The difference between the two would seem mainly to lie in the measure rather than the kind of power thus exerted upon material causation by Deity, carrying the action into a higher sphere of seeming yet not real opposition to the ordinary course of nature. We say, not real; for in all these preternatural events, “the effect which a given antecedent, or sum of antecedents,” we should prefer to say, causes, “would otherwise produce, may be counteracted by the presence of other forces which are also natural.” ? This, also, answers the objection, that miracles imply a defect in nature. Rather it follows, that the supernatural element in God's government is the exponent of a nobler constitution of nature than otherwise were discoverable. Nor are miracles to be regarded as a make-shift for unforeseen emergencies, but as an integral part of the everlasting predeterminations of the unchangeable Deity.
Impressive, however, as are these exhibitions of the Divine government in controlling the physical world, and in authenticating a revelation of truth and salvation to men, we have another step to take to reach the proper termination of our inquiry : to notice the intervention of God in human affairs —
1 Shedd's History of Christian Doctrine. I. 169. ? Fisher's Essays, p. 480.
(3) Through remedial grace. The legitimateness of this extension of our discussion is obvious from the effort uniformly made, to overturn evangelical Christianity, by the deniers of its supernaturalism. It is not unfair to say, that as a general rule, an aversion to this is the conscious or unconscious motive which inspires the rationalism of the times. No one ought to object to the guarded and charitable manner in which Professor Fisher states this tendency of the rationalistic temper, in his first essay; while every lover of truth should be grateful that, at this initial and pivotal point, he has not failed to bear a distinct testimony to the power of that " evil heart of unbelief” which breeds so many “ errors in the brain."
The end of God's connection with men is not to convey to them a knowledge of the facts that he exists, that he governs, that the earth is his, and its people, that he can and does use its forces for moral results. The end of God's connection with us is to work in us to will and to do of his good pleasure: that is, to secure a harmony of being between himself and us.
Now, we mark the close analogy between his processes in nature and in grace, ever keeping in view, of course, the essential constitutional differences of a simply material and a rational system of being. Divine power or will acts upon human wills as directly and conclusively as upon physical nature, although not in
The government is as real in the one case as in the other. The interpositions for gracious purposes are as definite as for mechanical. Mind and soul are the subjects of God's influence as much as earth and water. Does he work in them? So is it God who worketh in us. It is a supernatural inworking of his grace, though not, in strict language, a miraculous.
Our helplessness is not of the same sort nor explanation as that of inanimate nature; but it is as certain and positive. We can no more carry on our spiritual life and training without a continual Divine inworking, than the laws of matter can of themselves sustain their regular evolutions. We know this when hours of temptation come, when we are driven in upon by bands of marauding appetites and passions. Then we are conscious that while, as responsible actors, we ought to be free and strong for the right, we are not, but are miserably bound in the
the same way.