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not believe,'' could not have intended to cast any slight on miracles, as a mean whereby men may be brought to the truth; or having been brought to it, are more strongly established and confirmed in the same.
One question before leaving this miracle claims a brief discussion, namely, whether this is the same history as that of the servant (trais) of the centurion (Matt. viii. 5; Luke vii. 2); here repeated with only immaterial variations. It would almost seem as if Irenæus ? had thought so; and some in the time of Chrysostom identified the two miracles, who himself, bowever, properly rejects this rolling up of the two narratives into one. By Ewald too it is taken for granted, though without the smallest attempt at proof. There is nothing to warrant it, almost nothing to render it plausible. Not merely the external circumstances are widely different; the scene of that miracle being Capernaum, of this Cana; the centurion there a heathen, the nobleman here a Jew (for had he been other, it could not have past unnoticed, our Lord's contact in the days of his flesh with those who were not of the chosen seed, always calling out special remark); that suppliant pleading for his servant, this for his son; there by others, in person here; the sickness there a paralysis, a
1 This passage and Matt. xii. 38-40; xvi. 1-4, have long been favourite ones with those who deny that Christ laid any special stress on his miracles, as proving his divine mission and authority. Those from St. Matthew, indeed, have been stretched into proofs that He did not even claim to do any. Thus by the modern rationalists, though the abuse of the passage is as old as Aquinas, who takes note of and rebukes it. But our Lord is as far as possible from denying the value of miracles, or afiirming that Ile will do pone (Matt. xi. 4, 5; John xiv. 11; XV. 24); but only that He will do none for them, for an evil and adulterous generation, which is seeking, not helps and confirmations of faith, but excuses and subterfuges for unbelief. These works of grace and power are reserved for those who are receptive of impressions from them. They are seals which are to seal softened hearts; hearts utterly cold and hard would take no impression from them, and therefore shall not be tried with them.
? Con. Har. ii. 22 : Filium centurionis absens verbo curavit dicens, Vade, filius tuus vivit. Yet centurimis may well be only a slip of the pen or of the
memory. 3 Die Johannischen Schriften, vol. i. p. 197.
fever here; but more decisive than all this, the heart and inner kernel of the two narratives is different. That centurion is an example of a strong faith, this nobleman of a weak faith; that centurion counts that if Jesus will but speak the word, his servant will be healed, while this nobleman is so earnest that the Lord should come down, because in heart he limits his power, and counts that nothing but his actual presence will avail to help his sick; that other is praised, this rebuked of the Lord. So striking indeed are these differences, that Augustine compares, but for the purpose of contrasting, the faith of that centurion and the unbelief of this nobleman. Bishop Hall does the same. How much difference,' he exclaims, ‘was here betwixt the centurion and the ruler! That came for his servant; this for bis
This son was not more above the servant, than the faith that sued for the servant surpassed that which sued for the son.' Against all this, the points of likeness, and suggesting identity, are very slight and superficial; as the near death of the sufferer, the healing at a distance and by a word, and the returning and finding the sick well. It is nothing strange that two miracles should have such circumstances as these in common.
' In Ev. Joh. tract. xvi.: Videte distinctionem. Regulus iste Dominum ad domum suam descendere cupiebat; ille centurio indignum se esse dicebat. Illi dicebatur, Ego veniam, et curabo eum : huic dictum est, Vade, filius tuus vivit. Illi præsentiam promittebat, hunc verbo sanabat. Iste tamen præsentiam ejus extorquebat, ille se præsentiâ ejus indignum esse dicebat. Hic cessum est elationi ; illic concessum est humilitati. Cf. Chrysostom, Hom. xxxv. in Joh.
3. THE FIRST MIRACULOUS DRAUGHT OF FISHES.
LUKE V. 1-11.
NHERE have been in all times those who have deemed
themselves bound to distinguish the incident here narrated from that recorded in St. Matthew (iv. 18) and St. Mark (i. 16-20). Thus Augustine' finds the divergences in the narratives so considerable, that he can only suppose the event told by St. Luke to have first happened; our Lord then predicting to Peter that hereafter he should 'catch men,' but not at that time summoning him to enter on the work; he therefore with his fellows continuing for a season in their usual employments; till a little later, as by the two other Evangelists recorded, they heard the word of command, ‘Follow Me, which they then at once obeyed, and attached themselves for ever to their heavenly Lord.
Some difficulties, yet not very serious ones, in bringing the two accounts to a perfect agreement, every one will readily admit. But surely the taking refuge at once and whenever these occur, in the assumption that events almost similar to one another, and with only slight and immaterial
1 De Cons. Evang. ii. 17: Unde datur locus intelligere eos ex capturâ piscium ex more remeâsse, ut postea fieret quod Matthæus et Marcus narrant. . . . Tunc enim non subductis ad terram navibus tanquam curâu redeundi, sed ita eum secuti sunt, tanquam vocantem ac jubentem ut eum sequerentur. Greswell in the same way (Dissert. vol. ii. Diss. 9) earnestly pleads for the keeping asunder of the two narratives. Yet any one who wishes to see how capable they are, by the expenditure of a little pains, of being exactly reconciled, has only to refer to Spanheim's Dub. Evang. vol. iii. p. 337; with whose conclusions Lightfoot (Harmony), Grotius, and Hammond consent.
variations, happened to the same people two or three times over, is a very questionable way of escape from embarrassments of this kind ; will hardly satisfy one who honestly asks himself whether he would admit it in dealing with any other records. In the extreme unlikelihood that events should thus repeat themselves a far more real difficulty is created, than any which it is thus hoped to evade.
Let us only keep in mind the various aspects, various yet all true, in which the same incident will present itself from different points of view to different witnesses; the very few points in a complex circumstance which any narrative whatever can seize, least of all a written one, which in its very nature is limited; and we shall not wonder that two or three relators have brought out different moments, divers but not diverse, of one and the same event. Rather we shall be grateful to that providence of God, which thus sets us oftentimes not merely in the position of one bystander, but of many; which allows us to regard the acts of Christ, every side of which is significant, from many sides ; to hear of his discourses not merely so much as one disciple took in and carried away,
but also that which sunk especially deep into the heart and memory of another.
A work professing to treat of our Lord's miracles exclusively has only directly to do with the narrative of St. Luke, for in that only the miracle appears.
What followed upon the miracle, the effectual calling of four Apostles, belongs to the two parallel narratives as well— St. Luke's excellently completing theirs, and explaining to us why the Lord, when He bade these future heralds of his grace to follow Him, should have clothed the promise which went with the command in that especial shape, 'I will make you fishers of men. These words would anyhow have had their propriety, addressed to fishers whom He found casting their nets, and, little as they knew it, prophesying of their future work;' but they win a
1 Auct. Oper. Imperf. in Matth. Hom. vi. : Futuræ dignitatis gratiam
peculiar fitness, when He has just shown them what successful fishers of the mute creatures of the sea He could make them, if only obedient to his word. Linking, as was so often his custom, the higher to the lower, and setting forth that higher in the forms of the lower, He thereupon bids them to exchange the humility of their earthly for the dignity of a heavenly calling ; which yet He contemplates as a fishing still, though not any more of fishes, but of men; whom at his bidding, and under his auspices, they should embrace not less abundantly in the meshes of their spiritual net.
But when we compare John i. 40-42, does it not appear that three out of these four, Andrew and Peter certainly, and most probably John himself (ver. 35), had been already called ? No doubt they had then, on the banks of Jordan, been brought into a transient fellowship with their future Lord; but, after that momentary contact, had returned to their ordinary occupations, and only at this later period attached themselves finally and fully to Him, henceforth following Him whithersoever He went. This miracle most likely it was, as indeed seems intimated at ver. 8, which stirred the very depths of their hearts, giving them such new insights into the glory of Christ's person, as prepared them to yield themselves without reserve to his service. Everything here bears evidence that not now for the first time He and they have met. So far from their betraying no previous familiarity, or even acquaintance, with the Lord, as some have affirmed, Peter, calling Him • Master, and saying,
Nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net,' implies that he had already received impressions of his power, and of the authority which went with his words. Moreover, the two callings, a first and on this a second, are quite in the manner of that divine Teacher, who would hasten nothing, artificii sui opere prophetantes. Augustine (Serm. Inedd., Serm. lviii.) Petrus piscator non posuit retia, sed mutavit.
It is often said that the other was, vocatio ad notitiam et familiaritatem, or, ad fidem ; this, ad apostolatum. See the remarks of Scultetus, Crit. Sac. vol. vi. p. 1956.