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PRELIMINARY ESSAY.

CHAPTER I.

ON THE NAMES OF THE MIRACLES.

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AVERY discussion about a thing will best proceed from

an investigation of the name or names which it bears; for the name seizes and presents the most distinctive features, the innermost nature of the thing, embodying this for us in a word. In the name we have a witness to that which the universal sense of men, finding its utterance in language, has ever felt thus to lie at the heart of the thing; and if we would learn to know this, we must start with an investigation of the name or names which it bears. In the discussion

upon

which now we are entering, there is not one name only, but

many, to consider; for it results from what just has been said, that where we have to do with aught which in many ways is significant, the names also will inevitably be many, since no one will exhaust all its meaning. Each of these will embody a portion of its essential qualities, will present it upon some single side; and not from the contemplation exclusively of any one, but only of all of these together, will any adequate conception of that which we desire to understand be obtained. Thus what we commonly call miracles, are in the sacred Scriptures termed sometimes wonders, sometimes signs, sometimes "powers,' sometimes simply 'works. Some other titles which they bear, of rarer occurrence, will easily range themselves under one or other of these ;-on each of which

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it will be well to say something, before making any further advance in the subject.

1. In the name 'wonder,'' the astonishment, which the work produces upon the beholders, an astonishment often graphically portrayed by the Evangelists when relating our Lord's miracles (Mark ii. 12 ; iv. 41; vi. 51; vii. 37; cf. Acts iïi. 10, 11), is transferred to the work itself. This word, as will at once be felt, does but touch the outside of the matter. The ethical meaning of the miracle would be wholly lost, were blank astonishment or mere amazement all which it aroused; since the same effect might be produced by a thousand meaner causes. Indeed it is not a little remarkable, rather is it profoundly characteristic of the miracles of the New Testament, as Origen noted long ago,' that this name wonders' is never applied to them but in connexion with some other name. They are continually signs and wonders' (Acts xiv. 3 ; Rom. xv. 19; Matt. xxiv. 24; Heb. ii. 4); or 'signs' alone (John i. II; Acts viii. 6; Rev. xiii. 13); or powers' alone (Mark vi. 14; Acts xix. 11); but never wonders' alone. 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 forcibly to startle men from the dull dream of a sense-bound existence

1 Τέρας. The term θαύμα, near akin to τέρας, and frequent in the Greek Fathers, never occurs in Scripture; Bavuáciov only once (Matt. xxi. 15); but the Bavpášev is often brought out as a consequence (Matt. viii. 27; ix. 8, 33 ; IV. 31, &c.). Napáčočov, which expresses the unexpectedness of the wonder, and so implies the astonishment which it causes,-a word frequent in ecclesiastical Greek,-is found only at Luke v. 26; cf. Num.

xvi. 30.

2 In Joh. tom. xiii. $ 6.

3 We must regret that words, only subordinate in the Greek, should be chief with us,—'wonder' I mean, and ‘miracle,'—to designate these divine facts, bringing out, as they do, only the accidental accompaniment, the astonishment which the work creates, and so little entering into the deeper meaning of the work itself. The Latin miraculum (not properly a substantive, but the neuter of miraculus) and the German Wunder lie under exactly the same defect.

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