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now holds it in check, but still there, and ready to work, did that higher law cease from its more effectual operation. What in each of these cases is wrought may be against one particular law, that law being contemplated in its isolation, and rent away from the complex of laws, whereof it forms only a part. But no law does stand thus alone, and it is not against, but rather in entire harmony with, the system of laws; for the law of those laws is, that where powers come into conflict, the weaker shall give place to the stronger, the lower to the higher. In the miracle, this world of ours is drawn into and within an higher order of things ; laws are then at work in the world, which are not the laws of its fallen condition, for they are laws of mightier range and higher perfection; and as such they claim to make themselves felt, and to have the pre-eminence which is rightly their own*. To make this clearer I might take a familiar illustration borrowed from our own church-system of feasts and fasts. It is the rule here that if the festival of the Nativity fall on a day which was designated in the ordinary calendar for a fast, the former shall displace the latter, and the day shall be observed as a festival. Shall we therefore say that the Church has awkwardly contrived two systems which here may, and sometimes do, come into collision with one another? and not rather admire her more complex law, and note how in the very concurrence of the two, with the displacement of the poorer by the richer, she brings out her idea that holy joy is an higher thing even than holy sorrow, and shall at last swallow it up altogethert?
• In remarkable words the writer of the Wisdom of Solomon (xix. 6) describes how at the passage of the Red Sea all nature was in its kind mould. ed and fashioned again from above (ή κτίσις πάλιν άνωθεν διετυπούτο) that it might serve God's purposes for the deliverance of his people, and punishment of his enemies.
+ Thus Aquinas, whose greatness and depth upon the subject of miracles
the modern theology on the same subject (Sum. Theol., pars 1, qu. 105, art. 0): A quâlibet causâ derivatur aliquis ordo in suos effectus, cùm quælibet
It is with these wonders which have been, exactly as it will be with those wonders which we look for in regard of our own mortal bodies, and this physical universe. We do not speak of these changes which are in store for this and those, as violations of law. We should not speak of the resurrection of the body as something contrary to nature, as unnatural ; yet no power now working in the world could bring it about ; it must be wrought by some power not yet displayed, which God has kept in reserve. So, too, the great change which is in store for the outward world, and out of which it shall issue as a new heaven and a new earth, far exceeds any energies now working in the world, to bring it to pass, (however there may be predispositions for it now, starting points from which it will proceed ;) yet it so belongs to the true idea of the world, now so imperfectly realized, that when it does take place, it will be felt to be the truest nature, which only then at length shall have come perfectly to the birth.
The miracles, then, not being against nature, however they may be beside and beyond it, are in no respect slights cast upon its ordinary and every-day workings; but rather, when contemplated aright, are an honouring of these, in the witness which they render to the source from which these also originally proceed. For Christ, healing a sick man with
causa habeat rationem principii. Et ideo secundùm multiplicationem causarum multiplicantur et ordines, quorum unus continetur sub altero, sicut et causa continetur sub causâ. Unde causa superior non continetur sub ordine causæ inferioris, sed è converso. Cujus exemplum apparet in rebus humanis. Nam ex patrefamiliâs dependet ordo domùs, qui continetur sub ordine civitatis, qui procedit à civitatis rectore: cùm et hic contineatur sub ordine regis, à quo totum regnum ordinatur. Si ergo ordo reruin consideretur prout dependet à primâ causâ, sic contra rerum ordinem Deus facere non potest. Si enim sic faceret, faceret contra suam præscientiam aut voluntatem aut bonitatem. Si verò consideretur rerum ordo, prout dependet à qualibet secundarum causarum, sic Deus potest facere præter ordinem rerum; quia ordini secundarum causarum ipse non est subjectus; sed talis ordo ei subjicitur, quasi ab eo procedens, non per necessitatem naturæ sed per arbitrium voluntatis ; potuisset eniin et alium ordinem rerum instituere.
his word, is in fact claiming in this to be the lord and author of all the healing powers which have ever exerted their beneficent influence on the bodies of men, and saying, “ I will prove this fact, which you are ever losing sight of, that in me the fontal power which goes forth in a thousand gradual cures resides, by this time only speaking a word, and bringing back a man unto perfect health ;"—not thus cutting off those other and more gradual healings from his person, but truly linking them to it*. So again when he multiplies the bread, when he changes the water into wine, what does he but say, “ It is I and no other who, by the sunshine and the shower, by the seed-time and the harvest, give food for the use of man; and you shall learn this, which you are always in danger of unthankfully forgetting, by witnessing for once or for twice, or if not actually witnessing, yet having it rehearsed in your ears for ever, how the essences of things are mine, how the bread grows in my hands, how the water, not drawn up into the vine, nor slowly transmuted into the juices of the grape, nor from thence exprest in the vat, but simply at my bidding, changes into wine. You burn incense to your drag, but it is I who, giving you in a moment the draught of fishes which you had yourselves long laboured for in vain, will remind you who guides them through the ocean paths, and suffers you either to toil long and to take nothing, or crowns your labours with a rich and unexpected harvest of the sea.”—Even the single miracle which wears an aspect of severity, that of the cursed fig-tree, speaks the same language, for in that the same gracious Lord is declaring, “ These scourges of mine, wherewith I punish your sins, and
* Bernard Connor's Evangelium Medici, scu Medicina Mysticu, London, 1697, awakened some attention at the time of its publication, and drew down many suspicions of infidelity on its author (see the Biographie Univ. under his name). I have not mastered the book, as it seemed hardly worth while; but on a slight acquaintance, my impression is that these charges against the author are without any ground. The book bears on this present part of our subject,
summon you to repentance, continually miss their purpose altogether, or need to be repeated again and again, and this mainly because you see in them only the evil accidents of a blind nature ; but I will show you that it is I and no other who smite the earth with a curse, who both can and do send these strokes for the punishing of the sins of men.”
And we can quite perceive how all this should have been necessary*. For if in one sense the orderly workings of nature reveal the glory of God, (Ps. xix. 1—6,) in another they hide that glory from our eyes ; if they ought to make us continually to remember him, yet there is danger that they lead us to forget him, until this world around us shall prove-not a translucent medium, through which we look to him, but a thick impenetrable veil, concealing him wholly from our sight. Were there no other purpose in the miracles than this, namely to testify the liberty of God, and to affirm the will of God, which, however it habitually shews itself in nature, is yet more than and above nature, were it only to break a link in that chain of cause and effect, which else we should come to regard as itself God, as the iron chain of an inexorable necessity, binding heaven no less than earth, they would serve a great purpose, they would not have been wrought in vain. . But there are other purposes than these, and purposes yet more nearly bearing on the salvation of men, to which they serve, and to the consideration of these we have now arrived t.
Augustine (Enarr. in Ps. cx. 4): [Deus] reservans opportunè inusitata prodigia, quæ infirmitas hominis novitati intenta meminerit, cùm sint ejus miracula quotidiana majora. Tot per universam terram arbores creat et nemo miratur; arefecit verbo unam, et stupefacta sunt corda mortalium. . . . Hoc enim miraculum maximè adtentis cordibus inhærebit, quod assiduitas non vilefecerit.
+ J. Müller (De Mirac. J. C. Nat. ct Necess., par 1, p. 43): Etiamsi nullus alius miraculorum esset usus, nisi ut absolutam illam divinæ voluntatis libertatem demonstrent, humanamque arrogantiam, immodicæ legis naturalis admirationi junctam, compescant, miracula haud temere essent edita.
THE AUTHORITY OF THE MIRACLE.
Is the miracle to command absolutely and without further question the obedience of those in whose sight it is done, or to whom it comes as an adequately attested fact, so that the doer and the doctrine, without any more debate, shall be accepted as from God? It cannot be so, for side by side with the miracles which serve for the furthering of the kingdom of God, runs another line of wonders, counterworks of him, who is ever the ape of the Most High, who has still his caricatures of the holiest ; and who knows that in no way can he so realize his character of Satan, or the Hinderer, a3 by offering that which shall either be accepted instead of the true, or, being discovered false, shall bring the true into like discredit with itself. For that it is meant in Scripture to attribute real wonders to him there is to me no manner of doubt. They are “lying wonders,” (2 Thess. ii. 9,) not because in themselves frauds and illusions, but because they are wrought to support the kingdom of lies*.
Thus I cannot doubt that, according to the intention of
* Gerhard (Loc. Theoll., loc. 23, c. 11, § 274): Antichristi miracula dicuntur mendacia, ... non tam ratione formæ, quasi omnia futura sint falsa et adparentia duntaxat, quàm ratione finis, quia scilicet ad confirmationem mendacii erunt directa. Chrysostom, who at first explains the passage in the other way, that they are “lying” quoad formam, (ovoèv dłnbés, alla após arátyu ta távta,) yet afterwards suggests the correcter explanation, sî dieysevouévous, îi els prevôos ayovor. Augustine (De Civ. Dei, 1. 20, c. 19,) does not absolutely determine for either, observing that the event must decide. According to Aquinas they will only be relative wonders (Summ. Theol., p. 1", qu. 114, art. 4): Dæmones possunt facere miracula, quæ scilicet homines mirantur, in quantùm eorum facultatem et cognitionem excedunt. Nam et unus homo in quantùm facit aliquid quod est supra facultatem et cogni. tionem alterius, ducit alium in admirationem sui operis, et quodammodo miraculum videatur operari.