Billeder på siden



feel that my own vision is dim, my own faith faint; and if he, who sees men only as trees walking, is disposed to boast of his sight, he only proves himself among the blindest.

To those who insist that Jesus referred his miracles to the power of God, I say in conclusion, that it has been the ruling purpose of these chapters, (imperfectly executed, I know,) to justify this reference, to show that his miracles were wrought by the spirit, that they bear the impress of the finger of Him, of whom, through whom, and to whom are all things, and I am wholly unable to understand how this can be shown, save by showing that they are in entire harmony with his nature and with all nature.

There are three of the miracles, the turning water into wine, the finding a piece of money in a fish's mouth, and the withering of the fig-tree, of which I feel myself bound to confess that I am as yet unable to discern their truth, as I discern the truth of the rest. I do not say that I am disposed to question their reality, for I am unconscious of any such disposition. I am persuaded something has been overlooked or not yet discovered in the relations of these facts. There is light yet to break forth to disclose their life and beauty and harmony.

The question now arises, in what does the importance of the miracles consist? What is their value and use? I answer they are of inestimable value as Signs. And this is their designation in the Scriptures. The word miracle' occurs comparatively seldom. They are entitled by the sacred writers signs and wonders.' They are signs of the Spirit of Jesus and



the Spirit of God. These great acts were words. As his language was action, so was his action, language.'

All facts are valuable solely as signs, as they signify those truths and facts which are not objects of sense. All physical phenomena, the changes and appearances of the natural world as they are presented to our senses, are worthy of attention and study, because they unfold the laws and modes of the physical creation. So also the facts of human life, the words and deeds of men, are interesting and important only as they manifest the qualities of the human mind and heart, and let us into the spirit or nature of man and the laws of his being. Regarding all facts as a sort of language, full of significance, of no value to man until he has learned to interpret them, we may perceive that in this light, the facts of the life of Jesus are of supreme importance. In the long and various succession of events which pass before human eyes, they are the fullest of meaning. They are, so to speak, the key-words in the vast volume which lies open before us to read and learn. They are the signs, which, rightly interpreted, will give us the complete idea of a man, the most expressive illustration of the noblest of the divine creations, of a Son of God; and, of course, as the Creator is known through his works, of the Spirit of God himself. In fine, such is the connexion between religion, philosophy and science, that the miracles of Jesus bear vital relations to the whole sum of thought and knowledge. To disregard them is to leave out of view the most valuable facts whereby we are to be aided in forming a sound philosophy of life, providence and nature; and it is of unspeakable importance that they should be proved beyond the possibility of doubt. Their value is not limited to the



age in which they occurred. By no means. They were never more valuable than they are now at this present period, when the study of the profoundest philosophy is reviving with some new interest. The relations of philosophy and Christianity are reciprocal. But hitherto the latter has been interpreted in accordance with philosophical systems, in the origin of which it has had no participation. It must be studied by the new methods of philosophical investigation, for which it prepares the way by its noble proclamation of freedom, and which have obtained for us so many triumphs in the other and inferior departments, and then philosophy itself will receive from Christianity aids so new and powerful, that it will be a matter of astonishment how it has ever made any progress without them. Christianity must no longer be narrowed by philosophy, but philosophy be enlightened, enlarged and inspired by the religion of Jesus Christ.

But it is in their relation to him by whom they were wrought that their primary value lies. They are parts of his wondrous being. (Without them, we can obtain only a very imperfect knowledge of what he was. He fades away into a shade. His words give us, it is true, some idea of him, but it is by his works that he is revealed, and we are enabled to distinguish him as an individual from all other men.) It is by the nature, manner, form of his deeds, that we learn what he was. Were we striving to obtain a vivid idea of any distinguished individual, it would be a strange proceeding to put out of view, as unimportant, all the most remarkable acts of his life. So in the case of Jesus Christ. Erase the wonderful things he did from his history, and you throw away the indispensable means of knowing him. You may have a dim idea in



your mind to which you give his name. But you have formed no conception of him as he is, and he does not exist to you. In this way the rejection of the miracles is equivalent to a rejection of all that gives Christianity a peculiar value. For, in showing us what manner of man he was, what was his inward life, they attest his authority, his divine authority, and give a new weight to every word that he uttered.

[blocks in formation]

"The transfiguration of Christ is to be regarded rather as an event in the lives of the disciples who witnessed it, than as an event in the life of the Saviour himself. It was an effect produced on their minds, and not any thing which essentially affected his condition. He needed no such outward sign to assure him of that divine nature, to which his own consciousness bore unceasing testimony far stronger than any outward sign could supply."


THE extraordinary facts to the establishment of which the two preceding chapters are devoted, being admitted, it follows that the spectators of these wonders, the personal attendants of Jesus particularly, must have been moved in no common manner and degree. Those great events must have excited their sensibilities powerfully. That a disposition was produced, more or less strong, in the disciples of Jesus, to look for things startling and supernatural, and to transform common occurrences into miracles, is a presumption enforced by all that we know of the human heart. Living in the midst of wonders, they naturally enough expected wonders.

It behoves us in examining these records of the life of Jesus, to keep in view the possible influence of this disposition for the marvellous, which there was so much to produce, and do our utmost to determine whether and to what extent it has given the narratives the fashion which they wear. It may be thought by some that this bias has had a preponderating share in making

« ForrigeFortsæt »