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again! Let us re-bind all cables to that Anchor, and the Ship of destiny, including all souls' freightage, will again obey her rudder, and be saved from wreck.
The great question for every man is that of his personal answer to the Word, spoken out of the skies, of a personal God.
L. T. TOWNSEND, D.D.
UNDERLYING all our discussions of the Bible, whether arguing for its genuineness, its authenticity, its credibility, or its inspiration, is a subject which at the outset demands recognition; it is the subject assigned for the present hour. That this claim is not extravagant is easily shown. For we might, in the ordinary way and to our satisfaction, prove that the Bible is all we claim for it ; still, our arguments would have but little weight with unbelieving scientific and logical minds, if these minds were convinced that there is in the Bible the record of events purporting to be true, which, upon scientific grounds, are felt to be impossible. The reasoning is, that if the matters recorded are impossible, they are incredible; if incredible, they completely destroy the claims of the Bible as to its infallibility and inspiration. Hence, unbelieving people who are acquainted with philosophical and logical methods, will invariably ask that all other discussions relating to the Bible may be suspended until we have come to a somewhat satisfactory solution of those events of an unquestioned supernatural character which fill a very large space in the sacred volume.
As it will be impossible, in the time before us, to do justice to the entire subject of Bible miracles, and as it will be unsatisfactory to limit the discussion to some single miracle, we make a compromise, and confine attention to the miracles recorded in the New Testament, and almost exclusively to those wrought by our Lord in the presence of His disciples. But it should be borne in inind
that the same principles and methods employed in the discussion of our Lord's miracles apply equally well to all others, whether contained in the New or in the Old Testament.
Upon careful inquiry, the chief difficulty hanging over the subject of miracles will be found in the fact that they seem to antagonize what is termed “the uniformity of nature,” which is said to be such as not to allow anything like a miracle to take place.
David Hume—who, it must be confessed, has presented one of the most powerful metaphysical arguments ever offered on either side of this subject-bases his reasoning, you remember, upon the uniformity of nature as opposed to things extraordinary. “A miracle," he says, “is a violation of the laws of nature; and, as a firm and unalterable experience has established those laws, the proof against a miracle, from the very nature of the case, is as entire as any argument from experience can possibly be imagined.”
Benedict Spinoza also brought to bear upon these questions a giant intellect; but likewise built his argument upon the supposition that there is “an established uniformity in the processes of nature,” which renders miracles impossible. Theodore Parker's position is essentially the same: “I do not believe there ever was a miracle, or ever will be; everywhere I find law the constant mode of the operation of the infinite God.” Of similar character are the words of Ernest Renan: “We banish miracles from history in the name of a constant experience.”
Certain other rationalists of late date have seized upon a sentiment of Goethe, and constructed their theories accordingly. “An audible voice from heaven could not convince me," says Goethe, “that water burns; I rather hold this to be blasphemy against the great God and His revelation in nature.”
A writer in The Westminster Review applies this same test to the resurrection of our Lord. The article is based upon the plea that “there is no evidence of any miracleworking agency in nature"; the sharp, antithetical conclusion reached by the essayist is this: “If Christ died, He never reappeared; or, if He reappeared, He never died.”
Now, it must be conceded that if the position is granted that miracles are an actual overthrow of the established processes of nature, and if it is still further granted that such overthrows are impossible, then there is no chance for further argument. Only two propositions of threc terms each are needed completely to demolish the doctrine of miracles and to overthrow the foundation upon which rests the entire superstructure of revealed religion. Thus, a miracle is a violation of nature; a violation of nature is impossible; therefore a miracle is impossible. Revealed religion rests upon a miraculous basis; but a miraculous basis is an impossible basis; therefore revealed religion rests upon an impossible basis. Granting the premises, the demonstration is overwhelming and unanswerable. Logically, therefore, upon these premises of Hume, all the miraculous transactions recorded in the Bible become incredible; the supernatural becomes a theological dogma, deserving of no respect whatever; and the basis of Christianity being overthrown, the superstructure, as well first as last, may be left to fall to the ground; for in the end, fall it must.
But before granting the foregoing premises, and before abandoning the Christian faith, — which certainly has much that commends itself to the world, -it might be well to inquire if these men who oppose Christianity have not assumed in their arguments some things which they cannot prove, and some things which are absolutely false.
It may be that the public has been deceived by them;
that what has been thought to be reasoning is nothing but fallacy; that, in some instances, blatant assertions and ingenious guesswork have been palmed off for science, philosophy, and argument.
At least, these adverse teachings, without harm to any one, now and then may be re-examined. Speaking with perfect frankness, we think it can be clearly shown that the evangelical view of miracles is as yet unimpeached; that all the leading objectors to the Bible miracles have held untenable positions; and that the evangelical claims can be established as clearly as any other matters that fall within the range of moral demonstration.
CHRIST'S MIRACLES ARE PROBABLE IF THEY ARE POSSIBLE.
In support of these positions, we begin with a very conservative statement that Christ's miracles are probable, provided they are possible. Some of the probabilities in their favor are so apparent that they need merely an allusion.
It is in their favor, for instance, that they bear Christ's name. He has enthroned Himself completely in the realms of eternal and unreached ideals. He is the Supreme One. His miraculous power is not easily separated from Him. It seems natural for Him to do as He did. Everything about Him is remarkable. It is no stretch of fancy or of fact to say that the greatest miracle of all is Christ himself!
Not long since we were deeply impressed while reading from Dr. Channing, the father of American Unitarianism, the following words: “I ask you whether the character of Jesus be not the most extraordinary in history, and wholly inexplicable on human principles ? He talks of His glories as one to whom they were familiar, and of His intimacy and oneness with God as simply as a child speaks of his connection with his parents. I maintain that this