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if there was that crowd, what need of such urgent haste? it was but waiting an hour or two, till the multitude had dispersed; “I should have thought their faith might have worked patience.” Why did not Jesus tell the people to make way? would they not have done so readily, since to see a miracle was the very thing they wanted ? How should the pulleys, ropes, and ladder have been at hand to haul him up? How, strange that they should have had hatchets and hammers ready to break through the spars and rafters of the roof, and stranger still that the good man of the house should have endured, without a remonstrance, his property to be so injured! How did those below escape without injury from the falling tiles and plaster? And if there were a door in the roof, as some, to mitigate the difficulty, tell us, why did not Jesus go up to the roof, and there speak the healing word, and so spare all this trouble and damage and danger?
But enough ;—it is evident that this style of objection could be infinitely multiplied in regard of any history. There is always something else that might have been done besides the thing that was done. It is after this taking to pieces of the narrative, this triumphant shewing, as he affirms, that it cannot stand in the letter, that he proceeds, as a sort of salvo, to say it may very well stand in its spirit, as an allegory and symbol of something else ; and that so, and so only it was intended. This is what he offers by way of this higher meaning in the present case: By the palsy of this man is signified “a dissoluteness of morals and unsteadiness of faith and principles, which is the condition of mankind at present, who want Jesus' help for the cure of it.” The four bearers are the four Evangelists, “ on whose faith and doctrine mankind is to be carried unto Christ.” The house to the top of which he is to be carried is “the intellectual edifice of the world, otherwise called Wisdom's house." But “to the sublime sense of the Scriptures, called the top of the house, is man to be taken ; he is not to abide in the low and literal sense of them.” Then if he dare to s open the house of wisdom, he will presently be admitted to the presence and knowledge of Jesus *."
Not very different is Strauss's own method of proceeding. He wields the same weapons of destructive criticism, thinking to shew how each history will crumble at his touch—will remain a heap of improbabilities, which no one can any longer maintain. It needs not to say that he is a more accomplished adversary than Woolston, with far ampler resources at command,-more, if not of his own, yet of other men's learning; inheriting as he does all the negative criticism of the last hundred years, of an epoch, that is, which has been sufficiently fruitful in this kind. Here indeed is in great part the secret of the vast sensation which his work for a season caused: all that was scattered up and down in
* Fourth Discourse on the Miracles, pp. 51-67. Strauss's own judgment of his predecessor in this line very much agrees with that given above. He says, “Woolston's whole presentation of the case veers between these alternatives. If we are determined to hold fast the miracles as actual history, then they forfeit all divine character, and sink down into unworthy tricks and common frauds. Will we, on the other hand, not let go the divine in these narrations, then must we, with the sacrifice of their historic character, understand them only as the setting forth, in historic guise, of certain spiritual truths; for which, indeed, the authority of the chiefest allegorists in the Church, as Origen and Augustine and others, may be adduced ;-yet so, that Woolston imputes falsely to them the intention of thrusting out, as he would do, the literal interpretation by the allegorical altogether; while yet they, a few instances on Origen's part being excepted, are inclined to let both explanations stand, the one by the other. Woolston's statement of the case may leave a doubt to which of the two alternatives which he sets over against one another, he with his own judgment inclines. If one calls to mind, that before he came forward as an opponent of Christianity, as received in his day, he occupied himself with allegorical interpretations of the Scripture, one might regard this as the opinion which was most truly his own. But on the other hand, all that he can adduce of incongruities in the literal sense of the miracle histories is brought forward with such one-sided zeal, and so colours the whole with its mocking tone, that one must rather conjecture that the Deist seeks only, by urging the allegorical sense, to secure his own rear, that so he may the more boldly let himself loose on the literal meaning.” (Leben Jesu, 3rd edit., v. 1, p. 14.) There is a very accurate and carefully written account of Woolston, and his life and writings, in Lechler's Geschichte des Englischen Deismus, pp. 299–311.
many books he has brought together and gathered into a single focus ; all which other men had spoken faintly and with reserve, he with a greater boldness has spoken out; he has dared to give utterance to all which was trembling upon the lips of numbers, but which, from one cause or another, they had shrunk from openly declaring. Yet as regards the treatment of the miracles,—for with that only we have now to do,—there are differences between him and Woolston. He unites in his own person the philosophical and the critical assailant of these ; for he starts from the philosophic ground of Spinoza, that the miracle is impossible, since the laws of nature are the only and the necessary laws of God; and he then proceeds to the critical examination of the Gospel miracles in detail; but of course in each case to the trial of that which is already implicitly tried and condemned. Thus, if he is ever at a loss—if any of them give him trouble—if they oppose a stubborn resistance to the powerful solvents which he applies, threatening to stand in despite of all, he immediately falls back on his philosophic ground, and exclaims, “ But if we admit it was thus, then we should have here a miracle, and we have started from the first principle, that such is inconceivable.” This mockery in every case he repeats, trying them one by one, which have all been condemned by him beforehand in the gross.
There is, too, this further difference, that while Woolston professed to consider the miracles as the conscious clothing of spiritual truth, allegories devised artificially, and, so to speak, in cold blood, for the setting forth truths of the kingdom, Strauss gives them a freer birth and a somewhat nobler origin. They are the halo of glory with which the infant Church gradually and without any purposes of deceit clothed its Founder and its Head. His mighty personality, of which it was livingly conscious, caused it ever to surround him with new attributes of glory. All which men had ever craved and longed for-deliverance from physical evil, dominion over
the crushing powers of nature, victory over death itself, all which had ever in a lesser measure been attributed to any, they lent in larger abundance, in unrestrained fulness, to him whom they felt greater than all. The system may be most fitly characterized as the Church making its Christ, and not Christ his Church.
With one only observation I will pass on, and not detain the reader any longer from more pleasant and more profitable portions of the subject. It is this, that here, as so often, we find the longings and cravings of men after a redemption, in the widest sense of that word, made to throw suspicion upon him in whom these longings and cravings are affirmed to have been satisfied. But if we believe a divine life stirring at the root of our humanity, the depth and universality of such longings is a proof rather that they were meant some day to find their satisfaction—that they were not always to be hopes and dreams; and if so, in whom, but in him whom we preach—in whom, but in Christ? What other beside him could, with the slightest shew of reason, be put forward as the fulfiller of the world's hopes? If we do not believe in this divine life, nor in a divine leading of our race--if we hold a mere brutal theory about man, it were then better altogether to leave discussing miracles and Gospels, which indeed have no meaning for, as they stand in no relation to, us.
THE APOLOGETIC WORTH OF THE MIRACLES.
A most interesting question remains: namely this, What is the place which those who are occupied with marshalling and presenting the evidences of Revelation should give to the miracles? what is the service which they may render here? The circumstances have been already noticed which were sufficient to hinder them from taking a very prominent place in the early Apologies for Christianity*. The Christian miracles had not sufficiently extricated themselves from the multitude of false miracles,—nor was Christ sufficiently discerned and distinguished from the various wonder-workers of his own and of past ages; so that, even if men had admitted his miracles to be true and godlike, they would have been hardly nearer to the acknowledging of Christianity as the one faith, or of him as “the way, the truth, and the life.”
But a different and far more important position has been assigned them in later times, especially during the last two hundred years; and the tone and temper of modern theology abundantly explains the greater prominence, sometimes, I believe, the undue, because the exclusive, prominence, which in this period they have assumed. The apologetic literature of this time, partook, as was inevitable, in the general depression of all its theology. There is no one, I think, who would now be satisfied with the general tone and spirit in which the defences of the faith, written during the two last centuries, and beginning with the memorable work of
• Thus, in the Apologies of Justin Martyr, they are scarcely made use of at all. It is otherwise indeed with Arnobius, who (Adv. Gen., l. 1, c. 42) lays much stress on them. Speaking of the truth of Christianity and of Christ's mission, he says, Nulla major est comprobatio quàm gestarum ab eo fides rerum, quàm virtutum, -and then appeals through ten eloquent chapters to his miracles.