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What, although he had wrought miracles! Yes, certainly. Why? Because he set himself against the truth previously known, that the seed of Israel should inherit Canaan, and would seduce the people from trust in the promises of God.

The case is not essentially altered, however small a portion of truth we may suppose to be previously known. Let it be supposed, for instance, that in the very earliest ages a worker of admitted miracles had inculcated the worship of idols, what must have been known of the true God would have sufficed to supply materials for the moral test to which his works should be subjected.

And if we come forward into the world's later history, the case is substantially the same. What was convincing as to the divine mission of Christ was, not the bare fact that he wrought miracles, but that he wrought miracles of a convincing kind. · Rabbi,' said Nicodemus, ' we know that no man can do these miracles which thou doest, except God be with him.'

From the preceding observations there results the general conclusion, that man is made the judge of the fitness of miraculous interposition ; that he is to take nothing as proved by mere miracles, but is to ask of what kind they are, in what circumstances they are performed, and to what end they are conducive. Hence, another topic of inquiry opens upon us; and we have to ask, what are the moral tests by which a miraculous interposition may be justified: We assign four-Its wisdom, its rectitude, its adaptation, its adequacy. We shall say a few words on each of them.

1. A miraculous interposition is to be justified by its wisdom. The occasion should be worthy of it. This is a sentiment so natural, that even the pagans cherished it, as in the well-known lines of Horace,

• Nec Deus intersit, nisi dignus vindice nodus.' The machinery of a miraculous interposition being unusual, and of the highest kind, it accords with our sense of propriety, that it should be employed only on occasions of great weight, and of critical importance. It would be strange, unnatural, ridiculous, revolting, to witness the employment of it for an ordinary or a trivial purpose. In this light strongly stand out the two grand occasions in which the wisdom of God has had recourse to the employment of supernatural agency; namely, the deliverance of his oppressed people Israel from the yoke of a proud and stubborn despotism, in fulfilment of his covenant with Abraham, his friend, and the greater deliverance of the world from sin and death by the more glorious work of his Son, Jesus Christ. Many subordinate occasions, however, are not less satisfactory, and, perhaps, still more instructive; among which we may mention, the entire series of miraculous works by which the prophetical body maintained their prerogative under the theocracy, and the specific purposes of many of the single miracles, both in the Old Testament history, and the New.

2. A miraculous interposition is to be justified by its rectitude. It is, of course, to be presumed, that the divine mission in attestation of which it is adduced, is designed to communicate some portion of the Divine will, previously unknown, so that something must be added by it to the stock of human knowledge; and as the will of God must, in all its parts, be consistent with itself, so that which is newly announced must fully harmonize with all that has gone before. Thus, it was necessary to the conclusive power of the miracles of Christ, that his doctrine should piece itself on, so to speak, to the Old Testament, and to a further, but truly harmonious development of the system partially unfolded therein. What could miracles have done to prove him a faithful messenger from heaven, who should have thrown shame upon the wisdom, or have overthrown the authority of the ancient and unquestionable oracles of God!

3. A miraculous interposition is to be justified by its adaptation. There is a character in miracles, and they should be characteristic of the occasion on which, and of the purpose for which, they are wrought. Without such adaptation they lose part of the meaning with which they may be fraught, and very much of the force of the appeal they are intended to make. The miracles of Moses, for example, how strikingly characteristic were they! The God of Israel was about to redeem his people with a high hand, and an outstretched arm; and all the miracles (the first only excepted), minister warnings of the awful and destructive power with which the haughtiest of the Pharaohs had to contend, and inflict, indeed, portions of that vengeance which was about so signally to fall on the ruthless oppressor of the Hebrews. On the other hand, how benign are the miracles of Christ! He came, 'not to destroy men's lives, but to save them;' and all his works were wonders of compassion, and miracles of healing. How strange it would be if this aspect of things were reversed; if Moses, in the presence of Pharaoh, were to cure the blind, and to raise the dead, while Christ, in the streets of Jerusalem, should smite the first-born with death, or turn the waters into blood! Such incongruities as these would go far towards rendering a miraculous interposition unintelligible, and, consequently, useless.

4. A miraculous interposition is to be justified by its adequacy. It may be said, indeed, that one miracle contains the same proof as a thousand, and in a certain sense this is true; yet it has not pleased God to suspend important issues on single miracles. Even Moses was supplied with two, for the conviction of the Israelites themselves—the changing of his rod into a serpent, and the leprosy of his hand when put into his bosom. “And it shall come to pass,' said God, that if thcy will not believe the voice of the former sign, they will believe the voice of the latter sign.' In like manner, a series of wonders made their successive appeals to Pharaoh and his courtiers ; but no collection of miracles was ever so numerous and so splendid, as those which bore testimony to the Son of God, that the Father had sent him. These are manifest illustrations of the leading and all-pervading principle, that every miraculous interposition is to be great according to the greatness of the occasion of it, and that, on all occasions, the miracles wrought are to be sufficient in number, magnitude, and other circumstances, for the end proposed to be answered by them.

What now, let us ask, will be the effect of applying the moral test, as thus developed, to the various professed, or apparent, cases of miraculous interposition in the world's history? On the one side we have the scriptural miracles, both of the Old and the New Testament; which stand out in the light thus thrown upon them in the most perfect truth, and the most admirable beauty. In no point do they fail of approving themselves to a considerate and unprejudiced mind, as being, not merely miracles, but exactly what miracles, in the circumstances, ought to have been.

The treasure of supernatural power has, in these instances, been employed, on the one hand, without parsimony; and, on the other, without waste; at once husbanded and lavished. On the other side, we have the miracles—so to call them of the Romish Church, and more recently of the Irvingites, and (mirabile dictu !) of the Mormonites. We say nothing, at present, of the effect of subject. ing them to the physical test, or of instituting an examination, where that is possible, into the facts alleged; but, we ask, what is their aspect in the presence of the moral test? Alas! they turn pale, and die. What occasion has arisen for them? What has been added to revealed truth by them? What congruity has been apparent in them? Or what adequacy to an end has been exhibited by them? Nothing of the kind. Winking images, and other alleged wonders, even if they were realities, and not impostures, supply an answer to none of these questions, and can substantiate no claim to our regard.

It results, then, that there is a mode of estimating professed, miraculous interposition independently of any attempt, at least in the first instance, to investigate the facts; in other words, that the moral test may be applied without the physical. To know whether an alleged miracle really has, or has not taken place, although certainly desirable, is not necessary before you inquire into its occasion, its congruity, and its tendency. This question may, for a time, be kept in abeyance, and the affirmative of it even may be hypothetically admitted, while you

ask what is the object of the miracle, what its practical design, and what its adaptation and adequacy to its end. It is quite possible that, by seriously pursuing these inquiries, you may come to a satisfactory and perfect conviction, that the alleged miracle is either no miracle at all, or, if it be, that it is a worthless and ensnaring one-one of those by which it may still please the Lord our God to prove us, and to sce whether we love him with all our hearts. If the miracles, whether spurious or genuine, be identified with a system of spiritual domination and money-making priestcraft, such as Romanism; or with bascless pretensions to inspiration, such as Irvingism; or with flagrant immoralities and schemes of worldly aggrandisement, such as Mormonism ; in all cases seducing us from the established verities of holy scripture, and undermining the glorious gospel of the grace of God, we need not hesitate to pronounce them a temptation and a snare.

If, indeed, upon a careful and discriminating application of the moral test, we find ourselves led to the conclusion, that what commends itself to us as a fit occasion for a miraculous interposition has occurred, and that the miracles alleged are at once harmonious w the

dispensations wnich have gone before them, and both adapted and adequate to usher in some further development of them, all this cannot warrant us in concluding absolutely that such an interposition has really taken place. It becomes, then, further necessary to inquire into the facts, if they are open to our examination; or, if they be not so, to scrutinize the testimony on which they are presented to us. If the result of this be satisfactory, the prima facie case will then be reduced to a certainty, and we shall behold the divine dispensation in the blended and harmonious lights of both the moral and the physical tests.

The subjection of alleged miraculous interpositions to a moral as well as a physical test, has the effect of widening, to an incalculable extent, the field of examination in which they are placed. The physical test can be applied, for the most part, but by comparatively few persons, whereas the moral test may be applied by all to whom the case becomes known; and this not only in the age when the alleged miracles are wrought, but in all subsequent ages of the world. Very few persons comparatively have been able to test physically the miracles of either Moses or Jesus; but whether the mission of Moses, or the advent of the Messiah, constituted a fit occasion for supernatural interposition, and whether the modes in which it is recorded to have taken place were congruous, characteristic, and adequate, are questions which may be entertained in any age, and be decided for himself by every individual.

And the application of the moral test may be, and, in truth, often is, a much easier process than the application of the physical test. We do not mean to say that no miracles have been of a kind which made them obviously and undeniably such to all spectators and inquirers; but we mean to say, what, indeed, is sufficiently notorious, that not all miracles, whether genuine or spurious, have been such. As critics to this day dispute whether the daughter of Jairus was raised from death or from a swoon, so those who examined the case on the spot might have held different opinions. And of modern miracles (so-called) it may not be easy for all persons to discriminate between a miraculous cure and a wonderful recovery by emotional power, or to detect the skilful application of was by which a body long dead has been made to appear as though it had escaped decay. But it is easy for persons of the plainest understanding to say — Well, now, if I grant this to be a miracle, what occasion has arisen for the working of it? What purpose is it to answer? What new teaching is it to accredit? And wherein is its adaptation to its end? If it be for no better purpose than to glorify and enrich a particular order of monks, or to prove that Rome is the true church; if it be for no better purpose than to authenticate as inspired a new liturgy, evidently made up of patches from the old, or to give currency to sentiments gravely diverging from the oracles of truth; if it be for no better purpose than to procure money for the temple at Nauvoo, or to coax people to the shores of the Great Salt Lake; then I say it is enough. Whether your alleged miracles be false or true, they are alike unworthy of regard.'

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It thus appears, on the whole, that a mode of divine dispensation which, at the first glance, appeared strange, and even perilous, turns out to be at once safe, useful, and necessary. So congruous is the system of supernatural agency with the constitution and sentiments of mankind, that God safely condescends to submit the expediency, the aptitude, and the adequacy of its employment to man's own judgment; and thus puts into his hands an instrument for facilitating beyond measure the appreciation of every case in which its employment may be alleged. As an element in such a system, it was necessary that he should permit supernatural power to be employed, within certain limits, by evil men and for evil purposes; and there is at length discernible wisdom and benignity, as well as weight and solemnity, in the language which solves the mystery— The Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul.

Dissent in Scotland.


By the twenty-third chapter of the Confession of Faith of the Church of Scotland, it is provided that the civil magistrate hath authority and it is his duty to take order that unity and peace be preserved in the church ; that the truth of God be kept pure and entire ; that all blasphemies and heresies be suppressed; all corruptions and abuses in worship and discipline be prevented or reformed; and all the ordinances of God duly settled, administered, and observed. For the better effecting whereof he hath power to call synods, to be present at them, and to provide that whatsoever is transacted in them be according to the mind of God.' It is a strange anomaly in the character of the religious belief of the first Dissenters from the Church of Scotland, that while they could take peacefully the spoiling of their goods,' rather than submit to the yoke of patronage, they do not appear to have felt aggrieved by the Erastianism of this section of the Scottish Establishment's creed. But being free to think for themselves, and act out their convictions, these good men at length came to see the inconsistency of their conduct, and ultimately the twenty-third chapter of this Confession, as well as other parts of it, recognising the civil magistrate's power to regulate in and for the Christian Church, were struck out of their standards as being without authority in the word of God.

But the grand distinguishing characteristic of the earlier Scottish Dissenters was their deep-toned piety and ardent attachment to the essential doctrines of evangelical truth. That there was too much 'made of some doctrines, such as those which John Calvin stereotyped

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