Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

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 effect. 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 viii. 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, “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 to new powers which have come into, and are working in, this world of ours.

These three terms, of which we have hitherto sought to unfold the meaning, occur thrice together, (Acts ii. 22; 2 Cor. xii. 12; 2 Thess. ii. 9,) although each time in a different order. They are all, as has already been noted in the case of two of them, rather descriptive of differ. ent sides of the same works, than themselves different classes of works

tenus aliquid extraordinarium, quod stuporem excitat, sistunt. Hinc sequitur sig norum notionem latius patere, quám prodigiorum. Omnia prodigia sunt signa, quia in illum usum a Deo dispensata, ut arcanum indicent. Sed omnia signa non sunt prodigia, quia ad signandum res coelestes aliquando etiam res communes adhibentur. Compare 2 Chron. xxxii. 24, 31; where at ver. 24 that is called a amuelov, which at ver. 31 is a répac (LXX).

* Avvæuetc = virtutes.

# With this #ovaía is related, which yet only once occurs to designate a miracle. They are termed ovdoša, (Luke xiii. 17,) as being works in which the 66;a 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 utyazeia=magnalia, (Luke i. 49,) as outcomings of the greatness of God's power.

An example of one of our Lord's miracles may show how it may at once be all these. The healing of the paralytic, for example, (Mark ii. 1– 12,) was a wonder, for they who beheld it “were all amazed ;” it was a power, for the man at Christ's word “arose, took up his bed, and went out before them all;” it was a sign, for it gave token that one greater than men deemed was among them; it stood in connection with a higher fact, of which it was the sign and seal, (cf. 1 Kin. xiii. 3; 2 Kin. i. 10;) being wrought that they might “know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins.”*

4. A further term by which St. John very frequently names the miracles is eminently significant. They are very often with him simply “works,”? (v. 36; vii. 21; x. 25, 32, 38; xiv. 11, 12; xv. 24; see also Matt. xi. 2.) The wonderful is in his eyes only the natural form of working for him who is dwelt in by all the fulness of God; he must, out of the necessity of his higher being, bring forth these works greater than man's. They are the periphery of that circle whereof he is the centre. The great miracle is the Incarnation; all else, so to speak, follows naturally and of course. It is no wonder that he whose name is “Wonderful,” (Isaiah ix. 6,) does works of wonder; the only wonder would be if he did them not. The sun in the heavens is itself a wonder, but not that, being what it is, it rays forth its effluences of light and heat. These miracles are the fruit after its kind, which the divine tree brings forth; and may, with a deep truth, be styled “works”; of Christ, with no further addition or explanation.]

* Pelt's definition (Comm. in Thess., p. 179,) is brief and good: Parum differunt tria ista évváuetc, omuria, Tépara. At vault numero singularitamen est vis miraculorum edendorum; amueia quatenus comprobandae inserviunt doctrinae sive missioni divinae: répara portenta sunt, quae admirationem et stuporem excitant. # The miracles of the Old Testament are called opya, Heb. iii. 9; Ps. xciv. 9, LXX. # Augustine (In Ev. Joh., Tract. 17): Mirum non esse debet à Deo factum miraculum....Magis gaudere et admirari debemus quia Dominus noster et Salvator Jesus Christus homo factus est, quâm quod divina inter homines Deus fecit. § I am aware that this interpretation of £pya, as used by St. John, has sometimes been called in question, and that by this word has been understood the sum total of his acts and his teachings, his words and his works, as they came under the eyes of men; not indeed excluding the miracles, but including also very much besides; yet I cannot doubt that our Lord, using this word, means his miracles, and only them. The one passage brought with any apparent force against this meaning, (John xvii. 4,) does not really belong to the question. For that opyov in the singular, may, and here does, signify his whole work and task, is beyond all doubt; but that in the plural the word means his miracles, the following passages, v. 36; x. 25, 32, 38; xiv. 11, to which others might be added, seem to me decisively to prove. | With regard to the verbs connected with these nouns, we may observe in the

z

three first Evangelists, amueia dudóval, (Matt. xii. 89; xxiv. 24; Mark viii. 12) and still more frequently duváuetc troueiv. (Matt. vii. 22; xiii. 58; Mark ix. 39, &c.) Neither of these phrases occurs in St. John, but omuela troueiv continually, (ii. 11; iii. 2; iv. 54, &c.,) which is altogether wanting in the earlier Evangelists; occurring, however, in the Acts, (vii. 36; xv. 22,) and in Revelations (xiii. 13; xix. 20). Once St. John has a mueia detkview (ii. 18).

CHAPTER II.

THE MIRACLES AND NATURE.

WHEREIN, it may be asked, does the miracle differ from any step in the ordinary course of nature? For that too is wonderful; the fact that it is a marvel of continual recurrence may rob it, subjectively, of our ad miration; we may be content to look at it with a dull incurious eye, and to think we find in its constant repetition the explanation of its law, even as we often find in this a reason for excusing ourselves altogether from wonder and reverent admiration;" yet it does not remain the less a marvel still. o To this question it has been replied by some, that since all is thus marvellous, since the grass growing, the seed springing, the sun rising, are as much the result of powers which we cannot trace or measure, as the water made wine, or the sick healed, or the blind restored to vision, there is therefore no such thing as a miracle eminently so called. We have no right, they say, in the mighty and complex miracle of nature which encircles us on every side, to separate off in this arbitrary manner some certain facts, and to say that this and that are wonders, and all the rest ordinary processes of nature; but that rather we must confine ourselves to one language or the other, and entitle all or nothing miracle. But this, however at first sight it may seem very deep and true, is indeed most shallow and fallacious. There is quite enough in itself and in its purposes to distinguish that which we name by this name from all with which it is thus attempted to be confounded, and in which to be lost. The distinction indeed which is sometimes made, that in the miracle God is immediately working, and in other events is leaving it to the laws which he has established, to work, cannot at all be admitted: for it has its root in a dead mechanical view of the universe which lies altogether

* See Augustine, De Gen. ad Lit, l. 12, c. 18; and Gregory the Great (Hom. 26, in Evang.): Quotidiana Dei miracula ex assiduitate viluerunt.

remote from the truth. The clock-maker makes his clock and leaves it; the ship-builder builds and launches his ship, and others navigate it; but the world is no curious piece of mechanism which its Maker makes and then dismisses from his hands, only from time to time reviewing and repairing it; but as our Lord says, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work;” (John v. 17;) he “upholdeth all things by the word of his power.” (Heb. i. 3.) And to speak of “laws of God,” “laws of nature,” may become to us a language altogether deceptive, and hiding the deeper reality from our eyes. Laws of God exist only for us. It is a will of God for himself. That will indeed, being the will of highest wisdom and love, excludes all wilfulness—is a will upon which we can securely count; from the past expressions of it we can presume its future, and so we rightfully call it a law. But still from moment to moment it is a will; each law, as we term it, of nature is only that which we have learned concerning this will in that particular region of its activity. To say then that there is more of the will of God in a miracle than in any other work of his, is insufficient. Such an affirmation grows out of that lifeless scheme of the world, of which we should ever be seeking to rid ourselves, but which such a theory will only help to confirm and to uphold. For while we deny the conclusion, that since all is wonder, therefore the miracle commonly so called is in no other way than the ordinary processes of nature, the manifestation of the presence and power of God, we must not with this deny the truth which lies in this statement. All is wonder; to make a man is at least as great a marvel as to raise a man from the dead. The seed that multiplies in the furrow is as mar. vellous as the bread that multiplied in Christ's hands. The miracle is not a greater manifestation of God's power than those ordinary and ever. repeated processes; but it is a different manifestation. By those other

* Augustine: Sunt qui arbitrantur tantummodo mundum ipsum factum a Deo; cetera jam fieri ab ipso mundo, sicut ille ordinavit et jussit, Deum autem ipsum nihil operari. Contra quos profertur illa sententia Domini, Pater meus usque adhuc operatur, et ego operor....Neque enim, sicut a structurá aedium, clim fabricaverit quis, abscedit; atque illo cessante et absente stat opus ejus; ita mundus vel ictu oculi stare poverit, si ei Deus regimen suum subtraxerit. So Melancthon (In loc. de Creatione): Infirmitas humana etianusi cogitat Deum esse conditorem, tamen postea imaginatur, ut faber discedit à navi exstructà et relinquit eam nautis; ita Deum discedere à suo opere, et relinqui creaturas tantùm propriae gubernationi; haec imaginatio magnam caliginem offundit animis et parit dubitationes.

+ Augustine (Serm. 242, c. 1): In homini carnali tota regula intelligendi est consuetudo cernendi. Quod solent videre credunt: quod non solent, non credunt..... Majora quidem miracula sunt, tot quotidie homines nasci quinon erant, quâm paucos resurrexisse quierant: et tamen ista miracula non consideratione comprehensa sunt, sed assiduitate viluerunt. 3

« PoprzedniaDalej »