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him-a new speaking on his part to man. The miracles are to be the credentials for the bearer of that good word, signs that he has a special mission for the realization of the purposes of God in regard of humanity. When the truth has found a receptive heart, has awoke deep echoes in the innermost soul of man, he who brings it may thus show that he stands yet nearer to God than others, that he is to be heard not merely as one that is true, but as himself the Truth, (see Matt. xi. 4, 5; John v. 36 ;) or if not this, as an immediate messenger standing in direct connection with him who is the Truth, (1 Kin. xiii. 3;) claiming unreserved submission, and the reception, upon his authority, of other statements which transcend the mind of man,-mysteries, which though, of course, not against that measure and standard of truth which God has given unto every man, yet which cannot be weighed or measured by it.
To ask such a sign from any one who comes professing to be the utterer of a new revelation, the bringer of a direct message from God, to demand this, even when the word already commends itself as in itself good, is no mark of unbelief, but on the contrary is a duty upon his part to whom the message is brought. Else might he lightly be persuaded to receive that as from God, which, indeed, was only the word of man. Thus it was no impiety on the part of Pharaoh to say to Moses and Aaron, “Show a miracle for you,” (Exod. vii. 9, 10,) on the contrary, it was altogether right for him to require this. They came saying they had a message for him from God: it was his duty to put them to the proof. On the other hand, it was a mark of unbelief in Ahaz, (Isai. vii. 10–13,) however he might disguise it, that he would not ask a sign from God in confirmation of the prophet's word. Had that word been more precious to him, he would not have been satisfied till the seal was set to it; and that he did not care for the seal was a sure evidence that he did not truly care for the promise which with that was to be sealed.
But the purpose of the miracle being, as we have seen, to confirm that which is good, so, upon the other hand, where the mind and con. science witness against the doctrine, not all the miracles in the world have a right to demand submission to the word which they seal. On the contrary, the great act of faith is to believe, in the face, and in despite, of them all, in what God has revealed to, and implanted in, the soul, of the holy and the true; not to believe another Gospel, though an
* Gregory the Great (Hom. 4 in Evang.): Unde et adjuncta sunt prædicationibus sanctis miracula ; ut fidem verbis daret virtus ostensa, et nova facerent, qui nova prædicarent.
† As Gregory the Great says well—the Church does not so much deny, as despise the miracles of heretics (Moral. 1. 20, c. 7): Sancta Ecclesia, etiam si qua fiunt hæreticorum miracula, despicit ; quia hæc sanctitatis specimen non esse cognoscit.
angel from heaven, or one transformed into such, should bring it; (Deut. xiii. 3; Gal. i. 8;*) and instead of compelling assent, miracles are then rather warnings to us that we keep aloof, for they tell us that not merely lies are here, for to that the conscience bore witness already, but that he who utters them is more than a common deceiver, is eminently “a liar and an antichrist," a false prophet,-standing in more immediate connection than other deceived and evil men to the kingdom of darkness, so that Satan has given him his power, (Rev. xiii. 2,) is using him to be an especial organ of his, and to do a signal work for him.
But in these things, if they are so, there might seem a twofold danger to which the simple and unlearned Christian would be exposed—the danger first of not receiving that which indeed comes from God, or secondly, of receiving that which comes from an evil source. But indeed these dangers do not beset the unlearned and the simple more than they beset and are part of the trial and temptation of every man—the safeguard from either of these fatal errors lying altogether in men's moral and spiritual, and not at all in their intellectual, condition. They only find the witness which the truth bears to itself to be no witness, they only believe the lying wonders, in whom the moral sense is already perverted; they have not before received the love of the truth that they might be saved from believing a lie. Thus, then, their believing this lie and rejecting that truth is, in fact, but the final judgment upon them that have had pleasure in unrighteousness. With this view exactly agree the memorable words of St. Paul, (2 Thess. ii. 9—12,) wherein he declares that it is the anterior state of every man which shall decide
* Augustine (De Civ. Dei, 1. 10, c. 16): Si tantum hi [angeli] mirabilibus factis humanas permoverent mentes, qui sacrificia sibi expetunt: illi autem qui hoc prohibent, et uni tantùm Deo sacrificari jubent, nequaquam ista visibilia miracula facere dignarentur, profectò non sensu corporis, sed ratione mentis præponenda eorem esset auctoritas. So to the Manichæans he says (Con. Faust, l. 13, c. 5): Miracula non facitis; quæ si faceretis, etiam ipsa in vobis caveremus, præstruente nos Domino, et dicente, Exsurgent multi pseudo-christi et pseudo-prophetæ, et facient signa et prodigia multa.
+ Thus Irenæus (Adv. Hær., 1 2, c. 31, § 3) calls such deceitful workers, “ precursors of the great Dragon," and speaks exactly this warning, saying, Quos similiter atque illum devitare oportet, et quantò majore phantasmate operari dicuntur, tantò magis observare eos, quasi majorem nequitiæ spiritum perceperint. And Tertullian, refuting Gnostics, who argued that there was no need that Christ should have been prophesied of beforehand, since he could at once prove his mission by his miracles, (per documenta virtutum,] replies (Adv. Marc., 1. 3, c. 3): At ego negabo solam hanc illi speciem ad testimonium competisse, quam et Ipse postmodum exauctoravit. Siquidem edicens multos venturos, et signa facturos, et virtutes magnas edituros, aversionem [eversionem l] etiam electorum ; nec ideò tamen admittendos, temerariam signorum et virtutum fidem ostendit, ut etiam apud pseudo-christos facillimarum.
whether he shall receive the lying wonders of Antichrist or reject them. (Cf. John v. 43.) For while they come “ with all deceivableness of unrighteousness" to those whose previous condition has fitted them to embrace them, who have been ripening themselves for this extreme judgment, there is ever something in these wonders, something false, or immoral, or ostentatious, or something merely idle, which detects and lays them bare to a simple faith, and for that at once broadly differences them from those which belong to the kingdom of the truth.*
These differences have been often brought out. They are immoral;f or if not so, yet futile, without consequences, leading to and ending in nothing. For as the miracle, standing as it does in connection with highest moral ends, must not be itself an immoral act, so may it not be in itself an act merely futile, issuing in vanity and nothingness. This is the argument which Origen continually uses, when he is plied with the alleged miracles of heathen saints and sages. He counts, and rightly, that he has sufficiently shown their emptiness, when he has asked, and obtained no answer to, this question, "What came of these? In what did they issue? Where is the society which has been founded by their help? What is there in the world's history which they have helped for. ward, to show that they lay deep in the mind and counsel of God? The miracles of Moses issued in a Jewish polity; those of the Lord in a Christian Church; whole nations were knit together through their help. I What have your boasted Apollonius or Esculapius to show as the fruit of theirs ? What traces have they left behind them ?'' And not
*" You complain,” says Dr. Arnold, in a letter to Dr. Hawkins, (Life, v. 2, p. 226,) " of those persons who judge of a revelation not by its evidence, but by its substance. It has always seemed to me that its substance is a most essential part of its evidence; and that miracles wrought in favor of what was foolish or wicked, would only prove Manicheism. We are so perfectly ignorant of the unseen world, that the character of any supernatural power can only be judged by the moral character of the statements which it sanctions. Thus only can we tell whether it be a revelation from God or from the Devil."
+ Thus Arnobius (Adv. Gen., 1. 1, c. 48) of the heathen wonder-workers : Quis enim hos nesciat aut imminentia studere prænoscere, quæ necessariò (velint nolint) suis ordinationibus veniunt ? aut mortiferam immittere quibus libuerit tabem, aut familiarium dirumpere caritates : aut sine clavibus reserare, quæ clausa sunt ; aut ora silentio vincire, aut in curriculis equos debilitare, incitare, tardare; aut uxoribus et liberis alienis (sive illi mares sint, sive fæminei generis) inconcessi amoris flammas et furiales immittere cupiditates ? Cf. IRENÆUS, Adv. Hær., 1. 2, c. 31, $ 2, 3.
+ Con. Cels., 1. 2, σ. 51: 'Εθνών όλων συστάντων μετά τα σημεία αυτών.
8 Con. Cels., 1.1, c. 67: Δεικνύτωσαν ημίν Έλληνες των κατειλεγμένων τινός βιωφελές, λαμπρόν, και παρατείναν επί τάς ύστερον γενεάς, και τηλικούτον έργον, ώς εμποιεϊν πιθανότητα των περί αυτου μύθω, λέγοντι από θείας αυτούς γεγονέναι σποράς.
merely, he goes on to say, were Christ's miracles effectual, but effectual for good,--and such good was their distinct purpose and aim; for this is the characteristic distinction between the dealer in false shows of power and the true worker of divine works, that the latter has ever the refor. mation of men in his eye, and seeks always to forward this; while the first, whose own work is built upon fraud and lies, can have no such purpose of destroying that very kingdom out of which he himself grows.*
These, too, are marks of the true miracles, and marks very nearly connected with the foregoing, that they are never mere freaks and plays of power, done as in wantonness, and for their own sakes, with no need compelling, for show and ostentation. With good right in that remarkable religious romance of earliest Christian times, The Recognitions of Clement and in the cognate Clementine Homilies, f Peter is made to draw a contrast between the wonderful works of Christ and those alleged by the followers of Simon Magus to have been wrought by him. What profit, what significance was there, he asks, in his dogs of brass or stone that barked, his talking statues, his flights through the air, his transformations of himself, now into a serpent, now into a goat, his putting on of two faces, his rolling of himself unhurt upon burning coals, and the like ?—which even if he had done, the works possessed no meaning; they stood in relation to nothing; they were not, what each true miracle is always more or less, redemptive acts; in other words, works not merely of power but of grace, each one an index and a prophecy of the inner work of man's deliverance, which it accompanies and helps forward. But, as we should justly expect, it was pre-eminently thus with the miracles of Christ. Each of these is in small, and upon one side or another, a partial and transient realization of the great work which he came that in the end he might accomplish perfectly and for ever. They are all pledges, in that they are themselves first-fruits, of his power; in each of them the word of salvation is incorporated in an act of salvation. Only when regarded in this light do they appear not merely as illustri
* Con. Cels., 1. 1, c. 68; cf. EUSEBIUS, Dem. Evang., 1. 3, c. 6
SL 3, c. 60 (COTELERII Patt. Apostt., v. 1, p. 529): Nam dic, quæso, quæ utilitas est ostendere statuas ambulantes ? latrare æreos aut lapideos canes ? salire montes ? volare per aerem ? et alia his similia, quæ dicitis fecisse Simonem? Quæ autem à Bono sunt, ad hominum salutem, deferuntur; ut sunt illa quæ fecit Dominus noster, qui fecit cæcos videre, fecit surdos audire; debiles et claudos erexit, languores et dæmones effugavit. . . . Ista ergo signa quæ ad salutem hominum prosunt, et aliquid boni hominibus conferunt, Malignus facere non potest. Of. IREN ÆUS, Con. Hær., 1 2, c. 32, § 3.
ous examples of his might, but also as glorious manifestations of his holy love.
It is worth while to follow this a little in detail. The evils what are they, which hinder man from reaching the true end and aim of his creation, and from which he needs a redemption? It may briefly be answered that they are sin in its moral and in its physical manifestations. If we regard its moral manifestations, the darkness of the understanding, the wild discords of the spiritual life, none were such fearful examples of its tyranny as the demoniacs ; they were special objects, therefore, of the miraculous power of the Lord. Then if we ask ourselves what are the physical manifestations of sin; they are sicknesses of all kinds, fevers, palsies, leprosies, blindness, each of these death beginning, a partial death—and finally, the death absolute of the body. This region therefore is fitly another, as it is the widest region, of his redemptive grace. In the conquering and removing of these evils, he eminently bodied forth the idea of himself as the Redeemer of men. But besides these, sin has its manifestations more purely physical ; it reveals itself and its consequences in the tumults and strife of the elements among themselves, as in the rebellion of nature against man; for the destinies of the natural world were linked to the destinies of man, and when he fell, he drew after him his whole inheritance, which became subject to the same vanity as himself. Therefore do we behold the Lord, him in whom the lost was recovered, walking on the stormy waves, or quelling the menace of the sea with his word; incorporating in these acts the deliverance of man from the rebel powers of nature, which had risen up against him, and instead of being his willing servants, were oftentimes now his tyrants and his destroyers. These also were redemptive acts. Even the two or three of his works which seem not to range themselves so readily under any of these heads, yet are not indeed exceptions. For instance, the multiplying of the bread easily shows itself as such. The original curse of sin was the curse of barrenness,—the earth yielding hard-won and scanty returns to the sweat and labor of man;
but here this curse is removed, and in its stead the primeval abundance for a moment re-appears. All scantness and scarceness, such as this lack of bread in the wilderness, such as that failing of the wine at the marriage-feast, belonged not to man as his portion at the first; for all the earth was appointed to serve him, and to pour the fulness of its treasure into his lap. That he ever should hunger or thirst, that he should have need of any thing, was a consequence of Adam's fall-fitly, therefore, removed by him, the second Adam, who came to give back all which had been forfeited by the first.
But the miracle being, then, this ethical act, and only to be received