Imatges de pÓgina

or disposed to be convinced, the purity of the lite and of the teachings of Jesus present an irresistible argument. But it is not to such persons solely or chiefly that the evidences of Christianity address themselves. It is not the humble believer that needs to be convinced; he is convinced already. It is the unbeliever, — the man who is disposed to set aside the whole thing as unreasonable or unworthy of his notice, and to regard the teachers of the new faith as either credu. lous fools or cunning imposters,—that needs to be convinced that this despised faith and these despised men are indeed from God. Now, with him the internal evidence is not so likely to be conclusive. In many cases it will make no impression on him whatever. He will see no force in the argument, because not himself in a moral condition to be affected by such considerations. But let the earth open at his feet, let the prison walls be shaken, and the iron gates touched by no visible hand fly back upon their hinges, let voices from heaven be heard, let sick men be healed by a passing shadow, blind men restored to sight by a touch, dead men to life by a word ; let these things, and such as these, be done in his immediate presence, and in direct attestation of the divine authority of the new system, and from such evidence the stoutest sceptic will find it difficult to turn away.

But it will perhaps be replied, the unbelieving scribe and Pharisee did turn away from precisely these arguments and evidences in the time of Christ and his disciples, unconvinced even by the signs and wonders. True, they did so. But if they rejected Christianity as thus attested, how much more would they have despised and set aside its claims had it come to them with no such manifestation of authority. What impression would the purity of the character and the elevation of the doctrines of Jesus have made upon a prejudiced and unbelieving age, had there been no other evidences of his divine mission ?

And here we shall be met by the objection, that miracles are adapted to a rude and primitive age, such as that in which Christianity, for example, made its first entrance into the world; an age of great credulity and of comparative in

tellectual barbarism ; that while they are fitted to impress with awe the minds of men in such an age, they are quite out of place in the argument for Christianity in this nineteenth century. This is the key-note of the essay of Mr. Powell, to which we have so frequently referred. Rosenmüller and Paulus also take the view that miracles were of evidential force only at the time when they were wrought, but have long ceased to be so. Similar is the view of Schliermacher who regards them as, in fact, not miracles at all, except as relatively to the apprehensions of the age.

In opposition to all such views, we maintain that those miraculous manifestations of divine power which accompanied the promulgation of Christianity were adapted not to the age, as such, in distinction from other ages of the world, not to any one age as being more or less enlightened, more or less credulous, more or less barbarous, but rather to any age that is to receive a new dispensation or revelation from God. They are adapted not to one age more than another, save as one, and not another, is to receive that revelation. No increase of intellectual or scientific culture would have obviated the necessity for such divine interpositions, at any time, when a new system of religious truth was to be inaugurated, and its claims to divine authority established. Indeed, if a new revelation were now to be made, miracles would be necessary to establish it; nothing short of this would convince the very men who reject as unnecessary all external evidences of Christianity, that God was in very deed speaking unto them. The distinction now made between the adaptation of miracles to the promulgation of a new system of divine truth, and their adaptation to the particular age in which that system happens to be first promulgated, is a distinction tov obvious to require argument, but one which is wholly overlooked by the class of objectors to whom we refer.

But, it will be said, even though miracles, may have been useful at the first introduction of a new dispensation, it by no means follows that they are useful now. In one sense this is true. Christianity once established as a system from


God, there is no further need of miracles to establish it. The working of miracles may thenceforth be dispensed with, unless some new occasion shall arise demanding new interpositions of divine power. But it does not follow that the miracles which have been wrought, and on which the system depends for confirmation, are no longer of use. They are as much needed now as they ever were.

There is no need of new piers to support the dome of St. Peter's. Pier-building, so far as St. Peter's is concerned, may be discontinued when once the dome is up, and securely held in its place. It does not follow, however, that the piers already there are no longer needed, and may as well be taken down. This again is a distinction which certain minds of a prehensive capacity” fail to apprehend. Because miracles are no longer needed in support of Christianity, they conclude that the argument from miracles is no longer of use.

Our argument thus far proceeds on the supposition that the direct and special object of a miracle is to establish the divine commission and authority of him who performs it, and so of the truth or system which he propounds. For this it is needed. This it accomplishes, and was designed to accomplish. But does it prove anything more than this? Does it also prove the inspiration, or divine authorship of the writings that record it? We think not. Miracles are wrought, not to prove the writings infallible, and of divine origin, but to substantiate the claims of the teacher or prophet to be a man sent from God, and clothed with divine authority. They prove the inspiration of the man, and not of the books or writings, as such. The miracles of Jesus prove his inspirarion and authority, and that of his doctrine, but they do not prove the inspiration or divine authority of the Gospel of Matthew, or of the Gospel of Luke. If the problem be to establish the inspiration of the sacred scriptures, the argument from miracles is not in place, unless it can be shown that miracles were wrought with a view to establish that inspiration ; but we know of no miracle wrought for this purpose. If, however, the problem be to establish the divine authority of Moses or of Paul, as



speaking by commission from God, and so to confirin their teaching or message, the argument from miracles is in place, and of force; for it does prove that. And such is the use which Christ and his apostles actually make of the miracles which they perform, as shown in the passages cited above. They constantly appeal to them as evidence of their own divine commission: “ Though ye believe not me, believe the works.” “Go and tell John what things ye have seen," said Christ. To the same effect is the language of Paul to the Hebrews : “ God also bearing them witness both with signs and wonders, and with diverse miracles." 3

To the question, then : What does a miracle prove ? we answer, it proves the divine commission of him who performs it, and so the divine authority of his doctrine. It proves Christianity to be a system of divine origin, a religion sent from God. It is the broad seal of Heaven stamped upon the system, as its credentials. This was the intention ; this the accomplished fact.




We have frequently heard the Mosaic laws alluded to as barbarous and bloody, and belonging to an age of like character; adapted, perhaps, to the degree of civilization, or rather uncivilization, which then prevailed, but altogether unfit for the present advanced stage of enlightenment and progress.

An instance of this kind within our knowledge led us recently to examine the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, with this point in view. We took note as we went along, both of the features which give

1 John x. 38.

? Luke vii. 28.

& Heb ii. 4.

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rise to the charge, and the opposite, the laws which must be
marked as lenient and hurnane. We have embodied in the
following remarks our results, at which we confess, on our
own part, no little surprise.

We note it as wonderful, at the outset, that a code of
laws, if barbarous and bloody, should have made a people
so highly civilized as the Hebrews certainly became, what-
ever we may say of the age. A barbarous and bloody code
should belong to a barbarous and bloody people, and make
them only the more so. We should expect such a people
to be rude, warlike, cruel, idolatrous, and perhaps cannibal.
We should think of them together with the old Assyrians,
the later Scythians, and the still later fierce tribes which
overbore the power of the Roman Empire, and later still,
with the inhabitants of New Zealand and the South Sea
Islands. We should think of them certainly as little ad-
vanced in the arts and customs of civilization. We cannot
think thus, however, of the Hebrews. They were far from
being a people of this character. From the day of their
exodus from Egypt, a nation of emancipated slaves, they
occupied the level of an unparalleled civilization.

They were widely distinguished at once from the barbarous nations around them. The degraded and barbarous practices of Egypt, Edom, Assyria, Syria, and the tribes of Canaan, they were wonderfully exempt from. Observe the difference, e. g. between them and the Egyptians, a close similarity to whom, on the contrary, we should have expected. It was remarkable. The Egyptians had a civilization which, it is true, was very high in certain respects. It had arts and learning, for Moses had profited by them, being learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians. The monuments likewise which stand to this day on the banks of the Nile witness the same. It had the science of astronomy, and had carried it as far as was possible, perhaps, without the aid of modern instruments; also the science of chemistry in certainly greater degree than modern civilization had attained before the time of Lord Bacon. It had geometry too, and a grand massive architecture, as the Pyramids and temples

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