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the world; but they are not themselves the primary substance of truth; they flow from it rather in the way of effect and shadow, and can be of no force whatever save as they appear under such secondary and peripheral relation. Their force to prove a divine revelation lies in their connection with the revelation itself, in their concrete growth out of it, and not in their abstract value, as tokens of a higher presence, confronting us on the outside of the door by which we are afterwards to be admitted to the hearing of the oracles within. The oracle is as much necessary to make good the truth of the miracle, as the miracle to make good the truth of the oracle. This is no vicious circle ; but the common law only, which in every concrete manifestation requires the parts to be taken as reciprocally complemental in the constitution of the whole. So body and soul authenticate each other in the common life of man.
an. The body proves the presence of the soul, only as the soul at the same time proves that the body itself is no corpse but a true living human frame. And just in the same way, we affirm, the word of God coming among men by new and extraordinary revelation must authenticate itself by outward proofs and seals; it lies in the very conception of such a revelation, that it should not touch the world in a naked and abstract way, but that it should come into it with appropriate surroundings and effects, reaching forth fully in the form of miracles into the outward sphere of nature itself; and the absence of such outflowing argument and evidence of a higher presence, (as in the case of the pretended revelations of Mohammed and Swedenborg,) may well be taken as a reason for withholding faith in any mission that claims to be from God, however much it may appear to deserve consideration on other groạnds. Miracles are the necessary seal of a divine mission; even as the bursting leaves of the forest are necessary to prove the presence of the life, that is at work in the roots and trunks of the trees of which it consists. But still, as the leaves prove this only by being actually the product of the trees, and not a show of foliage simply dropped from the clouds, so also the word, thus rightly attended with such proof, must itself stand under the miracles, and in the midst of them, as the only sure and sufficient guaranty that they are in fact what they claim to be, and not a mere delusion. The word proves the reality of the miracles, and certifies them to be from heaven, (not from hell;) so that they become in turn fairly of force again, to authenticate and establish the word.
Take, for instance, the revelation which completes all truth besides, that which challenges the faith of the world in the per
son of Jesus Christ; who is the truth itself, the light of the world, the inmost sense of the Divine Mind, the Word made flesh. It could not come to pass, without being attended with the proof of miracles. The works of Christ in such form belong to his life, and could not be wanting to it, without bringing his whole mission into discredit. They serve accordingly to prove the truth of his mission. But this only, let it be well borne in mind, as they are themselves illustrated and accredited by the truth and grace that shine forth from his person; they carry with them such force as they have in fact, only because they go to fill out in a becoming way the picture, of which he is the central figure. Their sense and significance hold in their relation to his august presence, as that by which they are conditioned and from which they proceed. In this view, Jesus Christ authenticates himself, and all evidence besides which goes to establish his truth ; not in a naked isolated way, of course, and independently altogether of such evidence; but along with it, and in the midst of it, as the natural and necessary fruit of his presence, the true and proper form of its manifesiation; and under such relation to it thus, at the same time, that the precedence and priority of proof must be taken to be in himself, and not in anything beyond. Christ is the central truth, and whatever is true besides becomes so only by its relation to him in this character. How then should he be authenticated, or proved true, by any evidence or argument wholly external to his own person? How should faith find a preliminary warrant to receive and rest upon him as the Son of God, in 110 connection with his own life? Can truth be more true or sure under any other form, that this should serve so as a logical ground, from which to start, or on which to build, in order to reach Him in whom dwelleth the fulness of the Godhead bodily? Every conception of that sort must be set down as indeed rationalistic in the worst sense. Christ himself is the centre of the whole christian revelation, the fountain of its entire glory. Every part of it does indeed shed light on his character; as the whole world also, rightly understood, bears witness to him, and lays its homage of acknowledgment at his feet; but all this is in consequence of the light which goes forth from him in the first place, as the true sun of the world, irradiating and filling with divine sense the whole order which belongs to it in every other view.
“You complain,” says Dr. Arnold, in a letter to Dr. Hawkins,“ of those persons who judge of a revelation not by its evidence, but by its substance. It has always seemed to me, VOL. II.--NO. VI.
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 or from the Devil.”
It is a beautiful and deeply significant remark of Gerhard, quoted by Trench: “Miracula sunt doctrinæ tesseræ ac sigilla; quemadmodum igitur sigillum a literis avulsum nihil probat, ita quoque miracula sine doctrina nihil valent.”
The relation between miracle and doctrine being of this sort, it must be taken as a most serious and dangerous omission on the part of many, who in modern times have written so-called “Evi. dences of Christianity," that they have brought it so litle into view; that the moral nature of the proof has been so inuch overlooked; the maxim being forgotten, that the doctrine is to try the miracle, as well as the miracle to seal the doctrine; and the works of Christ outwardly considered, and mainly as acts of power, being made the exclusive argument for the reception of what he taught as a divine revelation. “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 bis 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 iis authority as an adequately attested thing.'
The same subject is taken up again by our author, in the closing chapter of his Preliminary Essay, which is devoted particularly to ihe consideration of the “ Apologetic Worth of Miracles," or the place they should occupy in the argument for Revealed Religion. It is a curious fact, that far less stress was laid upon them in the early Apologies, for this purpose, than what they have been made to bear in modern times. With the system of thinking which reigned in the beginning both among the Gen
tiles and the Jews, the acknowledgment of the truth of the Christian miracles was not of itself enough to shut men up to the acknowledgment of its divine origin; they might be referred to Satan, to intermediate deities, to magic; the whole case could be allowed, and still not be felt to carry with it any conclusive force in favor of the new religion. In the Apologies of Justin Martyr, the argument from miracles is scarcely employed at all.
“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 defence of the faith, written during the last two centuries, and beginning with the memorable work of Grotius, (De Veritate Religionis Christiane,) are composed. Much as this and many
others contain of admirable matter, yet in well nigh all that great truth of the Italian poet seems to have been forgotten:
• They struggle vainly to preserve a part,
Who have not courage to contend for all.' These apologists, on the contrary, would seem very often to have thought that Deism was best to be resisted, by reducing Christianity to a sort of revealed Deism. Like men that had renounced the hope of defending all, their whole endeavor was to save something, and when their pursuers pressed them hard, they were willing to delay the pursuit, by casting to them as a prey much that ought to have been the dearest to themselves. Now this, which caused so much to be thrown greatly out of sight, as generally the mysteries of our faith, which brought about a slight of the inner arguments for revelation, caused that from the miracles to assume a disproportionate magnitude. A value too exclusive was set on them; they were rent away from the truths for which they witnessed, and which witnessed for them-only too much like seals torn off from the document, which at once they rendered valid, and which gave importance to them. And thus, in this unnatural isolation, separated from Christ's person and doctrine, the whole burden of proof was laid on them. They were the apology for Christianty, the reason which men were taught they should give for the faith which was in them."-P. 76.
The object in all this was to get an absolute demonstration of the Christian faith-one which objectively should be equally good for every man; like the proof that exists for a proposition
a in mathematics or in logic. There was something however not altogether healthy in the state of mind which led to such wish; it is the mark of an outward and merely historical faith, to be thus set on evidence of an outward sort, and to find in it the highest value. The idea of coming to a certain and full assur. ance of the truth here in question on grounds external to the truth itself, was itself rationalistic, and carried in it a measure of treason to the revelation whose credit it pretended in such style to fortify and uphold. The outward is indeed of high account in this argument; but only as it is taken in connection with the inward, as the primary and fundamental interest. Miracles are all important as a part of the proof for Christianity, in their right order and proper place; the fault now noticed lies in making them to be the whole proof, or at least the main proof, and this in a purely outward view—as though it were possible for men to be certified of a revelation by means of such preliminary and ab-extra evidence, aside altogether from the revelation itself, and independently of its own inward character and form.
“When we object to the use that has often been made of these works, it is only because they have been forcibly severed from the whole complex of Christ's life and doctrine, and presented to the contemplation of men apart from these; it is only because, when on his head who is the Word of God are many crowns, (Rev. xxix. 12,) one only has been singled out, in proof that he is King of kings and Lord of lords. The miracles have been spoken of as though they borrowed nothing from the truths which they confirmed, but those truths everything from them; when indeed the true relation is one of mutual interdependence, the miracles proving the doctrines, and the doctrines approving the miracles, and both held together for us in a blessed unity, in the person of him who spake the words and did the works, and through the impress of highest holiness and of ‘absolute truth and goodness, which that person leaves stamped on our souls ;-so that it may be more truly said that we believe the miracles for Christ's sake, than Christ for the miracles' sake. Neither when we thus affirm that the miracles prove the doctrine, and the doctrine the miracles, are we arguing in a circle ; rather we are receiving the sum total of the impres. sion, which this divine revelation is intended to make on us, instead of taking an impression only partial and one-sided."-P. 81.
This deep thought it is substantially which St. Augustine has in his mind, when he says against the Donatists, and their claims