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1. To take then first the name “wonder*,” in which the effect of astonishment which the work produces upon the beholder is transferred to the work itself, an effect often graphically pourtrayed by the Evangelists, when relating our Lord's miracles, (Mark ii. 12 ; iv. 41; vi. 51 ; viïi37; Acts iii. 10, 11,) it will at once be felt that this does but touch the matter on the outside. The ethical meaning of the miracle would be wholly lost, were blank astonishment or gaping wonder all which they aroused; since the same effect might be produced by a thousand meaner causes. Indeed it is not a little remarkable, rather is it singularly characteristic of the miracles of the New Testament, that this name “wonders” is never applied to them but in connexion with other names. They are continually “signs and wonders,” or “signs” or “powers" alone, but never “ wonders" alonet. Not that the miracle, considered simply as a wonder, as an astonishing event which the beholders can reduce to no law with which they are acquainted, is even as such without its meaning and its purpose ; that purpose being that it should forcibly startle from the mere dream of a sense-bound existence, and, however it may not be itself an appeal to the spiritual in man, should yet be a summons
* Tépas. The term Oaūma, near akin to tépas, and one of the commonest in the Greek Fathers to designate the miracles, never occurs in the Holy Scripturé ; Davudolov only once; (Matt. xxvi. 15 ;) but the Bavpáser is often brought out as a consequence. (Matt. viii. 27; ix. 8, 33; xv. 31, &c.) Tlapádogov, which in like manner brings out the unexpectedness of the wonder, and so implies, though it does not express, the astonishment which it causes a word of frequent usage in ecclesiastical Greek-is found only Luke v. 26.
† It is not satisfactory that a word, which is thus only the subordinate one in the Greek, should be the chief one in our language to designate these divine facts,—that the two words almost exclusively in use among us, namely wonders and miracles, should bring out only the accidental accompaniment, the astonishment which the work creates, and should go so little into the deeper meaning of the work itself. The Latin miraculum (which properly is not a substantive, but the neuter of miraculus,) and the German Wunder lie exactly under the same defect.
to him that he should open his eyes to the spiritual appeal which is about to be addrest to him.
2. But the miracle, besides being a “wonder,” is. also à es sign*,” a token and indication of the near presence and working of God. In this word the ethical end and purpose of the miracle comes out the most prominently, as in “wonder” the least. They are signs and pledges of something more than and beyond themselves; (Isai. vii. 1]; xxxviii. 77 ;)
* Enuelov. Our version is not entirely satisfactory from its lack of consistency in rendering this word. There is no reason why onueiou should not always have been rendered “sign;" but in the Gospel of St. John, with whom the word is an especial favourite, far oftener than not, “sign” gives place to the vaguer “miracle," and this sometimes not without injury to the entire clearness and force of the words. See for instance iii. 2; vii. 31; x. 41; and especially vi. 26, where the substitution of “miracles” for “signs” is greatly injurious to the meaning. Our version makes Christ to say to the multitude, which, after he had once fed them in the wilderness, gathered round him again, “Ye seek me not because ye saw the miracles, &c.” But rather should it be, “Ye seek me not because ye saw signs,” Conuela without the article), “not because ye recognized in these works of mine tokens and intimations of an higher presence, something which led you to conceive great thoughts of me: they are no glimpses of my higher nature, which you have caught, and which bring you here; but you come that you may again be filled.” The coming merely because they saw miracles, in the strictest sense of the word-works that had made them marvel-the coming with the expectation of seeing such again, would have been as much condemned by our Lord as the coming only for the satisfying of their lowest earthly wants. (Matt. xii. 39; xvi. 14.)
+ Basil upon this passage : "Eoti onueio a payua pavepòv, kerpuupévou Tlvós kai ápavoûs év čavtớ triv osja wow é xov. (SUICER’s Thes., s. v.) And Lampe is good here (Comm. in Joh., v. 1, p. 513): Designat sanè onuecov naturâ suâ rem non tantùm extraordinariam, sensusque percellentem, sed etiam talem, quæ in rei alterius, absentis licet et futuræ significationem atque adumbrationem adhibetur, unde et prognostica (Matth. xvi. 3,) et typi (Matth. xii. 39; Luc. xi. 29,) nec non sacramenta, quale est illud circumcisionis, (Rom. iv. 11,) eodem nomina in N. T. exprimi solent. Aptissimè ergo hæc vox de miraculis usurpatur, ut indicet, quod non tantum admirabili modo fuerint perpetrata, sed etiam sapientissimo consilio Dei ita directa atque ordinata ut fuerint simul characteres Messiæ, ex quibus cognoscendus erat, sigilla doctrinæ quam proferebat, et beneficiorum gratiæ per Messiam jam præstandæ, nec non typi viarum Dei, earumque circumstantiarum per quas talia beneficia erant applicanda.
they are valuable, not so much for what they are, as for what they indicate of the grace and power of the doer, or of the connexion in which he stands with a higher world. Oftentimes they are thus seals of power set to the person who accomplishes them, (“the Lord confirming the word by signs following,” Mark xvi. 20; Acts xiv. 3 ; Heb. ii. 4;) legitimating acts, by which he claims to be attended to as a messenger from God* We find the word continually used in senses such as these, Thus, “ What sign shewest thou ?" (John ii. 18,) was the question which the Jews asked, when they wanted the Lord to justify the things which he was doing, by shewing that he had especial authority to do them. Again they say, “We would see a sign from thee ;” (Matt. xii. 38;) “Shew us a sign from heaven.” (Matt. xvi. 1.) St. Paul speaks of himself as having “the signs of an apostle," (2 Cor. xii. 12,) in other words, the tokens which should mark him out as such. Thus, too, in the Old Testament, when God sends Moses to deliver Israel he furnishes him with two “ signs.” He warns him that Pharaoh will require him to legitimate his mission, to produce his credentials that he is indeed God's ambassador, and equips him with the powers which shall justify him as such, which, in other words, shall be his “ signs.” (Exod. vii. 9, 10.) He “gave a sign” to the prophet whom he sent to protest against the will-worship of Jeroboam. (1 Kin. xiii. 37).
* The Latin monstrum, whether we derive it with Cicero (De Divin., 1. 1, c. 42) from monstro, or with Festus from moneo, (monstrum=monestrum,) though commonly used as answering most nearly to tépas, is in truth by either etymology more nearly related to onuciov. Thus Augustine, who follows Cicero's derivation (De Civ. Dei, l. 21, c. 8): Monstra sanè dicta perhibent à monstrando, quòd aliquid significando demonstrant; et ostenta ab ostendendo, et portenta à portendendo, id est præostendendo, et prodigia quod porrò dicant, id est futura prædicant.
† As is natural, the word sometimes loses its special and higher signification, and is used simply as = Tépas. Thus St. Luke (xxiii. 8,) says of Herod, that he hoped to have seen some "sign” (onuecov) wrought by Christ.
At the same time it may be as well here to observe that the “sign” is not of necessity a miracle, although only as such it has a place in our discussion. Many a common matter, for instance any foretold coincidence or event, may be to a believing mind a sign, a seal set to the truth of a foregoing word. Thus the angels give to the shepherds for “ a sign” their finding the child wrapt in the swaddling clothes. (Luke ii. 12.) Samuel gives to Saul three “ signs” that God has indeed appointed him king over Israel, and only the last of these is linked with aught supernatural. (1 Sam. x. 1—9.) The prophet gave Eli the death of his two sons as “a sign” that his threatening word should come true. (1 Sam. ii. 34.) God gave to Gideon a sign in the camp of the Midianites of the victory which he should win, (Judg. vii. 9—15,) though it does not happen that the word occurs in that narration*. Or it is possible for a man, under
a strong conviction that the hand of God is leading him, to set such and such a contingent event as a sign to himself, the falling out of which in this way or in that he will accept as an intimation from God of what he would have him to do. Examples of this also are not uncommon in Scripture. (Gen. xxiv. 16; Judg. vi. 36-40; 1 Sam. xiv. 8-13.)
3. Frequently also the miracles are styled “ powers” or "mighty works,” that is, of God*. As in the term “wonder” or “miracle,” the effect is transferred and gives a name to the cause, so here the cause gives its name to the effectt. The "power" dwells originally in the divine Messenger, (Acts vi. 8; x. 38; Rom. xv. 9 ;) is one with which he is himself equipped of God. Christ is thus in the highest sense that which Simon blasphemously suffered himself to be named, - The great Power of God.” (Acts viï. 10.) But then by an easy transition the word comes to signify the exertions and separate puttings forth of this power. These are “powers” in the plural, although the same word is now translated in our version, “wonderful works,” (Matt. vii. 22,) and now, 6 mighty works,” (Matt. xi. 20; Mark vi. 14 ; Luke x. 13,) and still more frequently, “ miracles,” (Acts ii. 22; xix. 11; 1 Cor. xii. 10, 28; Gal. iii. 5;) in this last case giving sometimes such tautologies as this, “ miracles and wonders ;" (Acts ii. 22; Heb. ii. 4;) and always causing to be lost something of the express force of the word,-how it points
prodigia, quia ad signandum res cælestes aliquando etiam res communes adhibentur. Compare 2 Chron. xxxii. 24, 31 ; where at ver. 24 that is called a onucîov, which at ver. 31 is a répas (LXX).
* Auvduels =virtutes.
+ With this covoia is related, which yet only once occurs to designate a miracle. They are termed čvooča, (Luke xiii. 17,) as being works in which the doča of God came eminently out, (see John ii. 11; xi. 40,) and which in return caused men to glorify him. (Mark ii. 12.) They are Meyaleia =magnalia, (Luke i. 49,) as outcomings of the greatness of God's power.