But her eyes…they lowered, avoiding his gaze. He gestured to the couch in the living area, the joy slipping away. We have a few hours. She put her hands over her face. The joy surged back. She turned from him and stepped into the living area.
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It was a small room that overlooked Main Street. She gazed at his brown leather couch and leather recliner as if she were seeing his apartment for the first time. He looked, too, trying to see his place through her eyes. Wondering what it said about him. It gave him a sense of solidity. This place had survived a lot, and so had he. But right now he was content to watch her in her black slacks and red sweater. Tall and shapely and emotional, with something that pulled him to her every time he saw her.
Even when she and Mike had still been together. No special reason. But someone has to have bad things happen, and I chose you. The characters are absolutely realistic and the chemistry between the two main characters is a slow simmer that builds into an amazing blaze. It had action, romance and suspense and I am impressed. From the Church signs and wonders will be well nigh or altogether withdrawn, while the greatest and most startling of these will be at his beck. A miracle does not prove the truth of a doctrine, or the divine mission of him that brings it to pass.
That which alone it claims for him at the first is a right to be listened to; it puts him in the alternative of being from heaven or from hell. The doctrine must first commend itself to the conscience as being good, and only then can the miracle seal it as divine. But the first appeal is from the doctrine to the conscience, to the moral nature in man. For all revelation presupposes in man a power of recognizing the truth when it is shown him,-that it will find an answer in him,-that he will trace in it the lineaments of a friend, though of a friend from whom he has been long estranged, and whom he has well nigh forgotten.
It is the finding of a treasure, but of a treasure which he himself and no other had lost. The denial of this, that there is in man any organ by which truth may be recognized, opens the door to the most boundless skepticism, is indeed the denial of all that is godlike in man. But " he that is of God, heareth God's word," and knows it for that which it proclaims itself to be. It may be objected, indeed, If this be so, if there be this inward witness of the truth, what need then of the miracle?
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.
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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. 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. 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. 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. 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. Dei, 1. So to the Manichieans he says Con. Faust, 1. And Tertullian, refuting Gnostics, who argued that there was no need that Christ should have been pro.
Siquidem edicens multos venturos, et signa facturos, et virtutes magnas edituros, aversionem [eversionem? John v. 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.
They are immoral;I or if not so, yet futile, without consequences, leading to and ending in nothing.
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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.
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 forward, 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. What traces have they left behind them? Arnold, in a letter to Dr. Hawkins, Life, v. 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 r from the Devil. 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 Clementt and in the cognate Clementine Homilies,: 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?
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. H ffom. Bono sunt, ad hominum salutem, deferuntur; ut sunt illa quTe fecit Dominus noster, qui fecit ceecos videre, fecit surdos audire; debiles et claudos erexit, languores et daemones effugavit Ista ergo signa quse ad salutem hominum prosunt, et aliquid boni hominibus conferunt, Malignus facere non potest.
IauENaus, Co. 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 often. 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. On the place which these works should take in the array of proofs for the things which we believe there will be occasion, by and by, to speak. For the present it may be sufficient observe, that if men are taught that they should believe in Christ upon no other grounds than because he attested his claims by works of wonder, and that simply on this score they shall do so, how shall they consistently refuse belief to any other, who shall come,attesting his claims by the same?
We have here a paving of the way of Antichrist, for as we- know that he will have his signs and wonders, so, if this argument is good, he will have right on the score of these to claim the faith and allegiance of men. But no; the miracle must witness for itself, and the doctrine must witness for itself, and then the first is capable of witnessing for the second;' and those books of Christian evidences are utterly maimed and imperfect, fraught with the most perilous consequences, which reverence in the miracle little else but its power, and see in that alone what gives either to it its attesting worth, or to the doctrine its authority as an adequately attested thing.
TIIE miracles of our Lord and those of the Old Testament afford many interesting points of comparison, and of a comparison equally instruc. Thus, to note first a remarkable difference, we find oftentimes the holy men of the old covenant bringing, if one may venture so to speak, hardly and with difficulty the wonder-work to the birth; there is sometimes a momentary pause, a seeming uncertainty about the issue; while the miracles of Christ are always accomplished with the highest ease; he speaks and it is done.
Thus Moses must plead and struggle with God, "' Heal her now, O God, I beseech thee," ere the plague of leprosy is removed from his sister, and not even so can he instantly winl the boon; Num. Elijah must pray long, and his servant go up seven times, before tokens of the rain appear; 1 Kin. Christ, on the other hand, shows himself the Lord of the living and the dead, raising the dead with as much ease as he performed the commonest transactions of life.
Thus Moses, God's organ for the work of power, speaks hastily and acts unbelievingly. It is needless to say of the Son, that his confidence ever remains the same that his Father heareth him always; that no admixture of even the slightest human infirmity mars the completeness of his work. Where the miracles are similiar in kind, his are larger and freer and more glorious. Elisha feeds a hundred men with twenty loaves, 2 Kin. They have continually their instrument of power to which the wonder-working power is linked.
Moses has his rod, his staff of wonder, to divide the Red Sea, and to accomplish his other mighty acts, without which he is nothing, Exod. But Christ accomplishes his miracles simply by the agency of his word, or by a touch, Matt, xx. And, which is but another side of the same truth, while their miracles and those of the apostles are ever done in the name of, and with the attribution of the glory to, another, "Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will show you," Exod.
Mark xvi. John xx. Alrnobius, too, Adv. John xii. Thus needful was it for them, thus needful for -all, that they should have great and exclusive thoughts of him, and should not class him with any other, even the greatest and holiest of the children of men. These likenesses and unlikenesses seem equally such as beforehand we should have naturally expected.
We should have expected the mighty works of either covenant to be like, since the old and new form parts of one organic whole; and it is ever God's law that the lower should contain the germs and prophetic intimations of the higher. We should expect them to be unlike, since the very idea of God's kingdom is that of progress, of a gradually fuller communication and larger revelation of himself to men, so that he who in times past spake unto the fathers by the prophets, did at length speak unto us by his Son; and it was only meet that this Son should be clothed with mightier powers than theirs, and powers which he held not from another, but such rather as were his own in fee.
They are miracles, indeed, of God's grace, but yet also miracles of the Law, of that Law which worketh wrath, which will teach, at all costs, the lesson of the awful holiness of God, his hatred of the sinner's sin,-a lesson which men had all need thoroughly to learn, lest they should mistake and abuse the rnew lesson which a Saviour taught, of God's love at the same time toward the sinner himself.
Miracles of the Law, they preserve a character that accords with the Law; being oftentimes fearful outbreaks of God's anger against the unrighteousness of men; such for instance are the signs and wonders in Egypt, many of those in the deserts OJf. X Tertullian, Adv.
They supposed that in so doing they were, if any thing, confirming the truth of either, though now the assailants of Revelation will bave it that these coincidences are only calculated to cast suspicion upon both,. I say all of our Lord's, for that single one, which seems an exception, the cursing of the barren fig-tree, has no right really to be considered such. Indeed it is difficult to see how our blessed Lord could more strikingly have shown his purpose of preserving throughout for his miracles their character of beneficence, or have witnessed for himself that he was come not to destroy men's lives but to save them, than in this circumstance,-that when he needed in this very love to declare, not in word only but in act, what would be the consequences of an obstinate unfruitfulness and resistance to his grace, and thus to make manifest the severe side of his ministry, he should have chosen for the showing out of this, not one among all the sinners who were about him, but should rather have displayed his power upon a tree, which, itself incapable of feeling, might yet effectually serve as a sign and warning to men.
He will not allow even a single exception to the rule of grace and love. Deus Verbum in miraculis que edidit omne autem miraculum, est nova creatio, et non ex lege primee creationis nil facere voluit, quod non gratiam et beneficentiam omnino spiraret. Moses edidit miracula, et profligavit,Egyptios pestibus multis: Elias edidit, et occlusit ccelum ne plueret super terram; et rursus eduxit de ccelo ignem Dei super duces et cohortes: Elizaeus edidit, et evocavit ursas e deserto, ques laniarent impuberes; Petrus Ananiam sacrilegumn hypocritam morte, Paulus Elymam magum cmecitate, percussit: sed nihil hujusmodi fecit Jesus.
Descendit super eum Spiritus in forma columbae, de quo dixit, Nescitis cujus Spirittls sitis. Spiritus Jesu, spiritus columbinus: fuerunt illi servi Dei tanquam boves Dei triturantes granum, et conculcantes paleam; sed Jesus agnus Dei sine ira et judiciis. Omnia ejus miracula circa corpus humanum, et doctrina ejus circa animam humanam. Indiget corpus hominis alimento, defensione ab externis, et curt. Ille multitudinem piscium in retibus congregavit, ut uberiorem. Nullum nmiraculum judicii, omnia beneficentiae, et circa corpus humanum.
And consistently with this, the earlier miracles, done as the greater number of them were, in the presence of the giant powers of heathendom, have oftentimes a colossal character: those powers of the world are strong, but the God of Israel will show himself to be stronger yet. Compared with our Lord's works wrought in the days of his flesh, those were the whirlwind and the fire, and his as the still small voice which followed. In that old time God was teaching his people, he was teach.
But Israel at the time of the Incarnation had thoroughly learned that lesson, much else as it had left unlearned: and the whole civilized world had practically outgrown polytheism, however it may have lingered still as the popular superstition. And thus the works of our Lord, though miracle. Christ's answer, " Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of," is not, as it is often explained, " Ye are mistaking a spirit of bitter zeal for a spirit of love to me;" —but the rebuke is gentler, " Ye are mistaking and confounding the different standing points of the Old and New Covenant, taking your stand upon the old, that of an avenging righteousness, when you should rejoice to take it upon the new, that of a forgiving love.
Thus "that Egyptian" whom the Roman tribune supposed that he saw in Paul, Acts xxi. They are eminently miracles of the Incarnation-of the Son of God, who had taken our flesh, and taking, would heal it. They have predominantly a relation to man's body and his spirit. Miracles of nature take now altogether a subordinate place: they still survive, even as we could have ill afforded wholly to have lost them; for this region of nature must still be claimed as part of Christ's dominion, though not its chiefest or its noblest province.
The apocryphal gospels, abject productions as, whether contemplated in a literary or moral point of view, they must be allowed to be, are yet instructive in this respect, that they show us what manner of gospels were the result, when men drew from their own fancy, and devised Christs of their own, instead of resting upon the basis of historic fact, and delivering faithfully to the world true records of him who indeed had lived and died among them. Here, as ever, the glory of the true comes out into strongest light by comparison with the false.
But in nothing, perhaps, are these apocryphal gospels more worthy of note, than in the difference between the main features of their miracles and those of the canonical Gospels. Thus in the canonical, the miracle is indeed essential, yet, at the same time,sever subordinated to the doctrine which it confirms, —a link in the great chain of God's manifestation of himself to men; its ethical significance never falls into the background, but the act of grace and power has, in every case where this can find room, nearer or remoter reference to the moral condition of the person or per sons in whose behalf it is wrought.
The miracles ever lead us off from themselves to their Author; they appear as emanations from the glory of the Son of God; but it is in him we rest, and not in them, —they are but the halo round him; having their worth from him, not contrariwise, he from them. But it is altogether otherwise in these apocryphal narratives. To say that the miracles occupy in them the foremost place would very inadequately express the facts of the case. They are every thing. Some of these so-called histories are nothing else but a string of these; which yet and this too is singularly characteristic stand wholly.
Not one of them belongs to the period after his Baptism, but they are all miracles of the Infancy, —in other words, of that time whereof the canonical Gospels relate no miracle, and. John ii. It follows of necessity that they are never seals of a word and doctrine which has gone before; they are never "signs," but at the best wonders and portents. Any high purpose and aim is clearly altogether absent from them. It is never felt that the writer is writing out of any higher motive than to excite and feed a childish love of the marvellous — never that he could say, "These are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through his name.
Indeed, so far from having a religious, they are often wanting in a mzoral element. The Lord Jesus appears in them as a wayward, capricious, passionate child, to be feared indeed, seeing that he is furnished with such formidable powers of avenging every wrong or accidental injury which he meets; and so bearing himself that the request which the parents of some other children are represented as making, that he may be kept within the house, for he brings harm and mischief wherever he comes, is perfectly justified by the facts.
It may be well to cite a few examples in proof, however harshly some of them may jar on the Christian ear. Thus some children refuse to play with him, hiding themselves from him; he pursues and turns them into kids. Thomae, c. At five years old he has made a pool of water, and is moulding sparrows from the clay.
Another child, the son of a scribe, displeased that he should do this on the Sabbath, opens the sluices of his pool and lets out the water. On this Jesus is indignant, gives him many injurious names, and causes him to wither and wholly dry up with his curse. The idea is as much a gift, as the power to realize that idea. Even the miracles which are not of this revolting character are childish, tricks like the tricks of a conjurer, never solemn acts of power and love.
Jesus enters the shop of a dyer, who has various cloths from various persons, to be dyed of divers colors. In the absence of the master, he throws them all into the dyeing vat together, and when the dyer returns and remonstrates, draws them out of the vat each dyed according to the color which was enjoined. In the Evanzg.
Jr Evang. This appears with variations in the Evang. J Ibid. The most striking, perhaps, of the miracles related in regard of the child Jesus, is that of the falling down of the idols of Egypt at his presence in the land; for it has in it something of a deeper signifi.
Mark, that he "was with the wild beasts;" i. But with a very few such partial exceptions as these, the apocryphal gospels are a barren and dreary waste of wonders without object or aim; and only instructive as making us strongly to feel, more strongly than but for these examples we might have felt, how needful it is that there should be other factors besides power for producing a true miracle; that wisdom and love must be there also; that where men conceive of power as its chiefest element, they give us only a hateful mockery of the divine. Had a Christ such as these gospels paint actually lived upon the earth, he had been no more than a potent and wayward magician, from whom all men would have shrunk with a natural instinct of distrust and fear.
It would plainly lead much too far from the subject in hand to enter into any detailed examination of the authority upon which the later, or, as they may be conveniently termed, the ecclesiastical miracles, come to us. Yet even in miracles such as this, there is always something that will not let us forget that we are moving in another world from that in which the sacred evangelists place us. It is not my belief that she has this gift of working miracles, nor yet that she was intended to have, and only through her own unfaithfulness has lost, it; nor that her Lord has abridged her of aught that would have made her strong and glorious in not endowing her with powers such as these.
With reasons enough for humbling herself, yet I do not believe that among those reasons is to be accounted her inability to perform these works that should transcend nature. So many in our own day have arrived at a directly opposite conclusion, that it will be needful shortly to justify the opinion here expressed. And first, as a strong presumption against the intended continuance of these powers in the Church, may be taken the analogies derived from the earlier history of God's dealings with his people.
We do not find the miracles sown broadcast over the whole Old Testament history, but they all cluster round a very few eminent persons, and have reference to certain great epochs and crises of the kingdom of God. Abraham, the father of the faithful,-David, the great theocratic king,Daniel, the n"man greatly beloved," are alike entirely without them; that is, they do no miracles; such may be accomplished in behalf of them, but they themselves accomplish none. In fact there are but two great outbursts of these; the first, at the establishing of the kingdom under Moses and Joshua, on which occasion it is at once evident that they could not have been wanting; the second in the time of Elijah and Elisha; and then also there was utmost need, when it was a question whether the court religion which the apostate kings of Israel had set up, should not quite overbear the true worship of Jehovah, when the Levitical priesthood was abolished, and the faithful were but a scattered few among the ten tribes.
Then, in that decisive epoch of the kingdom's history, the two great prophets, they too in a subordinate sense the beginners of a new period, arose, equipped with powers which should witness that he whose servants they were, was the God of Israel, however Israel might refuse to acknowledge him. There is here in all this an entire absence of prodigality in the use of miracles; they are ultimate resources, reserved for the great needs of God's kingdom, not its daily incidents; they are not cheap off-hand expedients, which may always be appealed to, but come only into play when nothing else would have supplied their room.
How unlike this moderation to the wasteful expenditure of miracles in the church-history of the middle ages! There no perplexity can occur so trifling that a miracle will not be orought in to solve it: there is almost no saint, certainly no distin. VWe must add to this the declarations of Scripture, which I have already entered on at large, concerning the object of miracles, that they are for the confirming the word by signs following, for authenticating a message as being from heaven-that signs are for the unbelieving.
What do they then in a Christendom? It may indeed be answered, that in it are unbelievers still; yet not in the sense in which St. Paul uses the word, for he would designate not the positively unbelieving, not those that in heart and will are estranged from the truth, but the negatively, and that, because the truth has never yet sufficiently accredited itself to them.
Signs are not for the positively unbelieving, since as we have seen, they will exercise no power over those who harden themselves against the truth; such will resist them as surely as they will resist every other witness of God's presence in the world; but for the unbelieving who are such by no fault of their own-for them to whom the truth is now coming for the first time.
And if not even for them now,-as they exist, for instance, in a heathen land,-we may sufficiently account for this by the fact that the Church of Christ, with its immense and evident superiorities of all kinds over every thing with which it is brought in contact, and some portions of which superiority every man must recognize, is itself now the great witness and proof of the truth which it delivers.
That truth, therefore, has no longer need to vindicate itself by an appeal to something else; but the position which it has won in the very forefront of the world is itself its vindication now-is sufficient to give it a first claim on every man's attention. And then further, all that we might ourselves beforehand presume from the analogy of external things leads us to the same conclusions.
We find all beginning to be wonderful-to be under laws different from, and higher than, those which regulate ulterior progress. Thus the powers evermore at work for the upholding the natural world are manifestly insufficient for its first creation; there were other which must have presided at its birth, but which now, having done their work, have fallen back, and left it to its ordinary development. The multitudinous races of animals which people this world, and of plants which clothe it, needed infinitely more for their first production than suffices for their present upholding.
It is only according to the analogies of that which thus every where surrounds us, to presume that it was even so with the beginnings of the spiritual creation-the Christian Church. Then, in the regeneration, the strongest tendencies of the old nature are overborne; the impossible has become possible, in some measure easy; by a mighty wonder-stroke of grace the polarity in the man is shifted; the flesh, that was the positive pole, has become the negative, and the spirit, which was before the negative, is henceforth the positive.
Shall we count it strange, then, that the coming in of a new order, not into a single heart, but into the entire world-a new order bursting forcibly through the bonds and hindrances of the old, should have been wonderful? It had been inexplicable if it had been otherwise. The son of Joseph might have lived and died and done no miracles: but the Virgin-born, the Son of the IMost Highest, himself the middle point of all wonder, —for him to have done none, herein, indeed, had been the most marvellous thing of all.
But this new order, having not only declared but constituted itself, having asserted that it is not of any inevitable necessity bound by the heavy laws of the old, henceforth submits itself in outward things, and for the present time, to those laws. All its true glory, which is its inward glory, it retains; but these powers, which are not the gift-for Christ himself is the gift-but the signs of the gift, it foregoes.
They were as the proclamation that the king was mounting his throne; yet the king is not proclaimed every day, but only at his accession: when he sits acknowledged on his throne, the proclamation ceases. They were as the bright clouds which gather round, and announce the sun at his first appearing: his mid-day splendor, though as full, and indeed fuller, of light and heat, knows not those bright heralds of his rising.
That it has had these wonders-that its first birth was, like that of its wondrous Founder, wcnderful-of this the- Church preserves a record and attestation in its Scriptures of truth. The miracles recorded there live for the Church; they are as much present witnesses for Christ to us now as to them who actually saw them with their eyes. The details, the local coloring, may be different, and there were no need to be perplexed at such a difference appearing; yet the later must not be, in their inner spirit, totally unlike the earlier, or they carry the sentence of condemnation on their front.
They must not, for instance, lead us back under the bondage of the senses, while those other were ever framed to release from that bondage. They must not be aimless and objectless, fantastic freaks of power, while those had every one of them a meaning, and distinct ethical aim-were bridges by which Christ found access from men's bodies to their souls,-manifestations of his glory, that men might be drawn to the glory itself. They must not be ludicrous and grotesque, saintly jests, while those were evermore reverend and solemn anad awful. And lastly, they must not be seals and witnesses to aught which the conscience, enlightened by the Word and Spirit of God, — whereunto is the ultimate appeal, and which stands above the miracle, and not beneath it,-protests against as untrue, the innumerable Romish miracles which attest transubstantiation, or as error largely mingling with the truth, the miracles which go to uphold the whole Romish system, those other having set their seal only to the absolutely true.
Miracles such as any of these, we are bound, by all which -we hold most sacred, by all which the Word of God has taught us, to reject and to refuse. It is for the reader- tolerably acquainted with the church-history of the middle ages, to judge how many of its miracles will, if these tests be acknowledged and applied, at once fall away, and come no more even into consideration. There are few, perhaps, who have been surrounded with such a halo of wonders as the two great pillars of the order of the Jesuits, Loyola and Xavier.
Upwards of two hundred miracles of Loyola were laid before the Pope, when his canonization was in question,-miracles beside which, those of our Lord shrink into insignificance. If Christ by his word and look rebuked and expelled demons, Ignatius did the same by a letter. If Christ walked once upon the sea, Ignatius many times in the air. If' Christ, by his shining countenance and glistening garments, once amazed his disciples, Ignatius did it friequently; and, entering into dark chambers, could, by his presence, light them up as with candles.
If the sacred history tells of three persons whom Christ raised from the dead, the number which Xavier raised exceeds all count. In like manner, the miracles of his great namesake of Assisi rivalled, when they did not leave behind, those of Christ. The author of the Liber Conformitatum, writing of him less than a century after his death, brings out these conformities of the Master and the servant: Hic sicut Jesus aquam in vinum convertit, panes multiplicavit, et de navicula.
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Huic omnis creatura quasi ad nutum videbatur parere, ac si in ipso esset status innocentice restitutus. Et ut czetera taceam: crecos illuminavit; surdos, claudos, paralyticos, omnium infirmitatum generibus laborantes curavit, leprosos umundavit; dzemones effugavit,; captivos eripuit; naufragis succurrit, et quAm plures mortuos suscitavit.
Lehrbuch der Kirchengeschichte, v. But to return to Ignatius, and the historic evidence of his miracles. Ribadeneira, from early youth his scholar and companion, published, fifteen years after his death, that is in , a life of his departed master and friend; which book appeared again in , augmented with many additional circumstances communicated by persons who had lived in familiar intercourse with Ignatius while living, and who had most intimate opportunities of being acquainted with all the facts of his life gravissimi viri et Ignatio valde familiares.
Now it is sufficiently remarkable that neither in the first, nor yet in the second so greatly enlarged and corrected edition, does the slightest trace of a miracle appear. On the contrary, the biographer enters into a lengthened discussion of the reasons why it did not please God that any signal miracle should be wrought by this eminent servant of his:-Sed dicat aliquis, si hec vera sunt, ut profecto sunt, quid cause est, quam ob rem illius sanctitas minus est testata miraculis, et, ut multorum Sanctorum vita, signis declarata, virtutumque operationibus insignita?
Cui ego; Quis cognovit sensum Domini, aut quis conciliarius ejus fuit? Ille enim est qui facit mirabilia magna solus, propterea illius tantummod6 infinitA virtute fieri possunt, queecumque ant nature vim aut modum excedunt. Et ut solus ille haec potest efficere, ita ille solus novit, quo loco, quo tempore miracula et quorum precibus facienda sint. Sed tamen neque omnes sancti viri miraculis excelluerunt; neque qui illorum aut magnitudine preestiterunt, ant copin, idcirco reliquos sanctitate superarunt.
Non enim sanctitas cujusque signis, sed caritate aestimanda est. Two years before the appearance of the second edition of this work, that is, in , Maffei, styled the Jesuit Livy, published at Rome his work, 1De Vitd et moribus S. Ignatii Loyolce Libri tres; and neither in this is aught related of the great founder of the Order, which deserves the name of a miracle, however there may be here some nearer approach to such than in the earlier biography-remarkable intimations, as of the death or recovery of friends, glimpses of their beatified state, ecstatic visions in which Christ appeared to him; and even of these, the list is introduced in a half apologetic tone, which shows that he has by no means thoroughly convinced himself of the historic accuracy of those things which he is about to relate: Non pauca de eodem admirabiliaprcedicantur, quorum aliqua nobis hoc loco exponere visum est.
But with miracles infinitely more astounding and more numerous the Romish church has surrounded his great scholar, Francis Xavier. Even the very boys who served him as catechists received and exercised a similar power of working wponders. Now there are, I believe, no historic documents whatever, laying claim to an ordinary measure of credibility, which profess to vouch for these. And in addition to this, we have a series of letters written by this great apostle to the heathen, out of the midst of his work in the far East, S.
Francisci Xaverii Epistolarumn Libri tres. Thus was it with regard to the over-valuing of miracles, the counting them the only evidences of an exalted sanctity.
Against this what a continual testimony in all ages of the Church was borne; not, indeed, sufficient to arrest the progress of an error, into which the sense-bound generations of men only too naturally fall, yet showing that the Church herself was ever conscious that the holy life was in the sight of God of higher price than the wonderful works-that love is the greatest miracle of all — that to overcome the world, this is the greatest manifestationr of the power of Christ in his servants.
One passage from Chrysostom, in place of the many that might be quoted, and even that greatly abridged, must suffice. And what was it then, you say, which made the apostles so great? I answer, This, that they contemned money; that they trampled on vain-glory; that they renounced the world. If they had not done thus, but had been slaves of their passions, though they had raised a thousand dead, they would not merely have profited nothing, but would have been counted as impostors.
What miracle did John, who reformed so many cities, of whom yet it is expressly said, that he did no sign? And thou, if thou hadst thy choice, to raise the dead in the name of Christ, or thyself to die for his name, which wouldst thou choose? Would it not be plainly the latter?
And yet that were a miracle, and this is but a work. And if one gave thee the choice of turning all grass into gold, or being able to despise all gold as grass, wouldst thou not choose the last? And rightly; for by this last thou wouldst most effectually draw men to the truth.
This is not my doctrine, but the blessed Paul's: for when he had said,'Covet earnestly , letters which prove him indeed to have been one of the discreetest, as he was one of the most fervent, preachers of Christ that ever lived; and which are full of admirable hints for the missionary; but of miracles wrought by himself, of miracles -which the missionary may expect in aid of his work, there occurs not a single word. This is difficult, because it is difficult to say at what precise moment the Church was no longer in the act of becominzg, but contemplated in the mind of God as now actually being; when to the wisdom of God it appeared that he had adequately confirmed the word with signs following, and that these props and strengthenings of the infant plant might safely be removed from the hardier tree.
Thus Odo of Clugny relates of a pious layman, whom some grudged should be set so high, seeing that he wrought no miracles, how that once detecting a thief in the act of robbing him, he not merely dismissed him, but gave him all that which he would wrongfully have taken away, and adds, Certe mihi videtur, quod id magis admiratione dignum sit, quam si furem rigere in saxi duritiem fecisset.
And Neander v. One of these confesses indeed that it is a long line of miracles which is chiefly looked for from them quod maxim6 nune exigitur ab iis qui sanctorum vitas describere volunt. There is a beautiful passage on the superior worth of charity in St. Bernard, Serm. As therefore an husbandman, having lately committed a young tree to the bosom of the earth, counts it worthy, being yet tender, of much attention, on evety bMsd fencing it round, protecting it with stones and thorns, so that neither it way be torn up by the winds, nor harmed by the cattle, nor injured by any other injury; but when he sees that it is fast rooted and has sprung up on high, he takes away the defences, since the trae can now defend itself from any such wrong; thus has it been in the matter of our faith.
When it was newly planted, while it was yet teader, great attention was bestowed on it on every side. But after it was fixed and rooted and sprung up on high, after it had filled all the world, Christ both took away the defences, and for the time to come removed the other strengthenings. Wherefore at the beginning he gave gifts even unto the unworthy, for the early time had need of these helps to faiit. But now he gives them not even to the worthy, for the strength of faith no longer needs this assistance. Ut enim fides cresceret, miraculis fuerat nutrienda: quia et nos cium arbusta plantamus, tamrdiu eis aquam infindimus, quousque ea in terrA jam convaluisse videamus; et si semel radicem fixerint, in rigando cessamus.
We can conceive the order of retrocession to have been in this way; that divine power which dwelt in all its fulness and intensity in Christ, was first divided among his apostles, who, therefore, indi. It was again from them further subdivided among the ever-multiplying numbers of the Church, who, consequently, possessed not these gifts in the same intensity and. Yet it must always be remembered that these receding gifts were ever helping to form that which should be their own substitute; that if they were waning, that which was to supply their room was ever waxing,-that they only waned as that other waxed; the flower dropped off only as the fruit was being formed.
If those wonders of a first creation have left us, yet this was not so, till they could bequeath in their stead the standing wonder of a Church,f itself a wonder, and embracing manifold wonders in its bosom. What is the new birth in Baptism, and the communion of Christ's body and blood in the Holy Eucharist, and the life of God in the soul, and a kingdom of heaven in the world, what are these but every one of them wonders. I should not be startled if I were told it were greater. Bnt it does not follow that this equally holds good of each component part. An evidence of the most cogent clearness, unknown to the primitive Christians, may compensate for the evanescence of some evidence which they enjoyed.
Evidences comparatively dim have waxed into noonday splendor, and the comparative wane of others once effulgent, is more than indemnified by the synopsis roo racvroS, which we enjoy, and by the standing miracle of a Christendom commensurate and almost synonymous with the civilized world. If you do not believe the miracles, you must at least believe this miracle, that the world was converted without miracles.
Si miraculis non crediltis, saltem huic miraculo credeadum est, raundurn. It is as though the heavens should not declare to us the glory of God, nor the firmament show us his handiwork, except at some single moment such as that when the sun was standing still upon Gibeon, and the moon in Ajalon. De Civ. And on the relation of the helps to faith, the witnesses of God's presence in the midst of us which we have, and which the early Church had, he says Serm.
Habemus vices nostras: habemus gratiam dispensationis et distributionis nostree: ad credendum certissimis documentis, tempora nobis in una fide sunt distributa. Illi videbant caput, et credebant de corpore: nos videmus corpus, et credamus de capite. Nam sacerdotes ejus cum per exorcismi gratiam manum credentibus imponunt, et habitare malignos spiritus in eorum mente contradicunt, quid aliud faciunt, nisi doemonia ejiciunt? Et fideles quique qui jam vitae veteris secularia verba derelinquunt, sancta autem mysteria insonant, Conditoris sui laudes et potentiam, quantum prnevalent, narrant, quid aliud faciunt, nisinovis linguis loqauntur?
Qui dum bonis suis exhortationibus malitiam de alienis cordibus, auferunt, serpentes tollunt. Et dum pestiferas suasiones audiunt, sed tamen ad operationem pravam minime pertrahuntur, mortiferum quidem est quod bibunt, sed non eis nocebit. Qui quoties proximos suos in opere bono infirmari conspiciunt, dum eis totA virtute concurrunt, et exemplo sume operationis illorum vitam roborant qui in propria actione titubant, quid aliud faciunt, nisi super agros manus imponunt, ut bene habeant?
Que nimirum miracula tant6 majora sunt, quanto spiritalia, tanto majora sunt, quantb per hmec non corpora sed animm suscitantur Corporalia illa miracula ostendunt aliquando sanctitatem, non autem faciunt: hmc vero spiritalia, quse aguntur in mente, virtutem vitee non ostendunt, sed faciunt. Illa habere et mali possunt; istis autem perfrui nisi boni non possunt Nolite ergo, fratrescarissimi, amare signa qume possunt cum reprobis haberi communia, sed hbec qum modo diximus, caritatis atque pietatis miracula amate; qum tanto securiora sunt,quanto et occulta; et de quibus apud Dominum eo major fit retributio, quo apud homines minor est gloria.
John xiv. While then it does not greatly concern us to know when this power was withdrawn, what does vitally concern us is, that we suffer not these carnal desires after miracles, as if they were necessarily saints who had them, and they but ordinary Christians who were without them, as though the Church were incomplete and spiritually impoverished which could not show them, to rise up in our hearts, as they are ever ready to rise up in the natural heart of man, to which power is so much dearer than holiness.
There is no surer proof than the utterance of "eelings such as these, that the true glory of the Church is hidden kerom our eyes —no sadder sign that some of its outward trappings and ornaments have caught our fancy; and not the fact that it is all glorious within, taken possession of our hearts and minds. It is, indeed, ill with us, for it argues little which we ourselves have known of the miracles of grace, when they seem to us poor and pale, and only the miracles of power have any attraction in our eyes.
A RIGID monotheistic religion like the Jewish, left but one way of escape from the authority of miracles, which once were acknowledged to be indeed such, and not mere collusions and sleights of hand. There remained nothing to say but that which we find in the New Testament the adversaries of the Lord continually did say, namely, that these works were works of hell: " Tiis fellow doth not cast out devils but by Beelzebub, the prince of the devils. Mark iii. We have our Lord's own answer to the deep malignity of this assertion; his appeal, namely, to the whole tenor of his doctrine and his miracles-whether they were not altogether for the overturning of the kingdom of evil-whether such a lending of power to him on the part of Sataln would not be wholly inconceivable, since it were merely and altogether suicidal.
This charge is dressed out with infinite blasphemous additions in the later Jewish books. Jzdenth, v. He who came, as all his words and his deeds testified, to destroy the works of the Devil, could not have come armed with his power, and helped onward by his aid. It is not a pact with the Evil one which this tells of, but of one mightier than that Evil one having entered with power into his stronghold, and who, having bound him, is now spoiling his goods.
Our Lord does in fact repel the accusation, and derive authority to his miracles, not on account of the power which they display, however that may be the first thing that brings them into consideration, but on account of the ethical ends which they serve.
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He appeals to every man's conscience whether the doctrine to which they bare witness, and which bears witness to them, be not from above and not from beneath: and if so, then the power with which he accomplished them could not have been lent him from beneath, since the kingdom of lies would never so contradict'tself as seriously to help forward the establishment of the kingdom of truth. And this is most deeply true, that hell is as much in arms against itself as against heaven; neither does our Lord deny that in respect of itself that kingdom is infinite contradiction and division: only he asserts that in relation to the kingdom of goodness it is at one: there is one life in it and one soul in relation to that.
Just as a nation or kingdom may embrace within itself infinite parties, divisions, discords, jealousies, and heart-burnings; yet if it is to subsist as a nation at all, it must not, as regards other nations, have lost its sense of unity; when it does so, of necessity it falls to pieces and perishes. To the Pharisees he says: " This kingdom of evil subsists; by your own confession it does so it cannot therefore have denied the one condition of its existence, which is, that it should not lend its powers to the overthrowing of itself-that it should not side with its own foes; I am its foe, it cannot therefore be siding with me.
See a curious passage, Origen, Con. It was little more than a stone which they found conveniently at hand to fling, and with them is continually passing over into the charge that those works were wrought by trick-that they were conjurer's arts; the line between the two charges is continually disappearing.
The heathen, however, had a method more truly their own of evading the Christian miracles, which is now to consider. A religion like the Jewish, which, besides God, and the angels who were in direct and immediate subordination to him, left no spirits conceivable but those in rebellion against him, the absolutely and entirely evil; this, as has been observed, allowed no choice, when once the miracle was adjudged to be not from God, but to attribute it to Satan. There was nothing between; it was from heaven, or if not from heaven, from hell.
But it was otherwise in the heathen world, and with the " gods many" of polytheism. So long as these lived in the minds of men, the argument from the miracles was easily evaded. For, what did they prove at the uttermost with regard to the author of them? What but that a god, it might be one of the higher, or it might be one of the middle powers, the Gaitovs;, the intermediate deities, was with him?
What was there, men replied, in this, which justified the demand of an absolute obedience upon their parts? Wherefore should they yield exclusive allegiance to him that wrought these works?. The gods had spoken often by others also-had equipped them with powers equal to or greater than those claimed by his disciples for Jesus; yet no man therefore demanded for them that they should be recognized as absolute lords 49; 1.
This charge of fetching his magical skill from Egypt, which Celsus in like manner takes up, Origen, Con. It is evermore repeated in Jewish books. Egypt, say they, was the natural home of magic, so that if the magic of the world were divided into ten parts Egypt would possess nine; and there, even as the Christian histories confess, Jests resided two years. Judelnth, v.