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beside." But let us look at recorded facts, or what professes to be a record of facts.
History informs us that miracles were wrought by Christ for precisely that purpose for which we have shown them to be necessary; viz., to corroborate testimony, Jesus every where recognizes the true relation of miracles to a revelation of matters of facts, which lie beyond the reach of human observation.
When the disciples of John came to Him to inquire whether he was the expected Messiah, or they were to look for another, he could have answered directly in the affirmative or negative. If he was the Messiah, He was a miraculous personage. It was a question of fact whether He was or not. But recognizing the principle that His mere testimony as a man could not be satisfactory on such a question, He refers them to His miracles. “Go your way and tell John what things ye have seen and beard; how the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and to the poor the gospel is preached.”
When the Jews once pressed Him earnestly on the same point-“How long dost thou make us to doubt? if thou be the Christ tell us plainly”—He recognizes the same principle. He replies—" the works that I do in My Father's name, they bear witness of me.” Indeed, He distinctly states this principle in another place, where He says, “If I bear witness of myself my witness is not true. There is another that beareth witness
On another occasion, when a man sick of the palsy was brought to Jesus for healing, He at first pronounced the forgiveness of the sick man's sins. But when the inquiry arose, “Who hath power to forgive sins but God only?”– He replies, " that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins,”-He then said to the sick of the palsy, “ arise, take up thy bed and walk.” Whether Jesus had power to forgive sin, or not, was a question of fact of great importance for man to know, particularly in its bearing on the system of pardon which He professes to disclose. But as this power belongs to God only, he who assumes to exercise it must show that he is clothed with Divine authority. This can only be done by the inanifest exertion of Divine power. Hence Jesus wrought this miracle of healing that it might be known that He was clothed with such power. It is some proof, it seems to us, of the authenticity of the history of Christ's miracles, that they were professedly wrought to meet precisely that exigency which, as we have seen, can only be met by miracles.
If the New Testament be not a fable, it follows from what has been said above, that Jesus Christ,-- both on account of the benevolence and integrity of His character, and on account of the miracles by which His mission was attested, is a qualified witness to testify on the great questions of man's immortality, the pardon of sin, a future retribution and final judgment. Without the credit which this part of His testimony derives from miracles, we could not be said to have a gospel.
But we apprehend that the influence of Christ's miraculous character was not limited to the credit which it lent to His testi. mony on the great questions specified above. His miracles would
. be likely to secure to Him more numerous and more attentive listeners to His Divine words, even when giving utterance to those moral truths which convince the reason by their own inherent power. Thus the truth would become more widely diffused and leave a deeper impress on the minds of all. The appearance of Jesus in the world in His miraculous character was calculated to startle the minds of that age from the dreams of selfishness in which they were plunged, and to attract their attention to the purity and innocence of His life and the divine sublimity of His doctrines. Many minds would be thrown into an attitude of inquiry, and others would be led to Jesus for a solution of dark questions, over which they had long brooded with corroding anxiety. In this point of view, how natural is the language of Nicodemus, as he came to Jesus by night and said to him, “ We know that thou art a teacher come from God, for no man can do the miracles that thou doest except God be with him.” Here we have a man of cultivated mind," a man of the pharisees, a ruler of the Jews,”—expressly alleging the miracles of Christ as the ground of confidence in Him. There are other topics lying in the same range of thought which must be deferred for another article.
It may be useful to apply the principles developed in the foregoing pages to some of those controversial questions which have from time to time divided the opinion of the Christian church. Take as an illustration some of those questions involved in the alleged revelations of Swedenborg; for instance, what he says concerning the arrangements of the spiritual world. The questions involved in his declarations concern matters of fact. If his statements are true, the facts which he alleges were miraculously revealed to him. But if God had made to him a miraculous revelation, and sent him as a messenger of truth to mankind, He would surely have attested his mission by conferring on him miraculous powers. For almost all of Swedenborg's so-called revelations concern matters of fact, which can only be made certain by testimony attested by miracles. But as he laid no
. claim to the power of working miracles, much less actually wrought them, mankind are justified in regarding him as a vain dreamer, instead of a true messenger from God.
Again, take the doctrine of an intermediate state and place be
tween heaven and hell ;—the doctrine of purgatory with the Catholics,-that of extended probation with others. Now, this is a question of fact, and unless God has decided it on the authority of miracles, it remains undecided, and it would be the height of presumption for any one to assume positively to affirm or deny in the premises. The votes of thousands of ecclesiastical councils cannot decide such a question, nor the embodiment of those votes in creeds and forms from time immemorial. Neither can any mere process of argumentation settle the controversy. With those who rely on the Bible as the word of God, it is merely a point of biblical interpretation. The testimony of God is alone sufficient to shed the light of certainty around such a point. It may be a man's duty to form an opinion in the case, and to act in accordance with the highest probability ; but before he is certain he must be able to say, “ Thus saith the Lord.”
We are told that a controversy once arose in the ancient church with regard to the origin of the human soul. While some held the doctrine of pre-existence, that all souls were created in the beginning, and that each in its turn is introduced into a body as ages roll on,-others held that a soul is created by an especial act for each body, whenever the latter is prepared for its reception. And others, again, contended, that the soul is produced, under the Divine superintendence in the natural process of generation.
We have not introduced this question, in order to decide which of the above hypotheses is true; but to show how futile is any attempt at a decision, which is not based upon the unequivocal testimony of God on the point, either explicitly uttered or clearly implied. For if human experience or observation does not decide this question, then it requires a miraculous revelation to decide it. It is a question of fact; and if human testimony cannot reach it, then the testimony of God is necessary to its solution; and miracles are essential to seal that testimony as Divine. We may form an opinion on the point; but if God has
. not given his miraculous testimony, a cautious mind could scarcely go farther than mere opinion or conjecture.
But suppose the doctrine of pre-existence were to be revived, and were again to become the subject of controversy. Now it is obvious, that if universal experience were in favor of the doctrine, if all mankind could distinctly remember a pre-existent state, then there would be an end of controversy at once, or rather the question could never become a subject of controversy at all. But as no one has any such recollection, the question remains to be decided by miraculous testimony. Nothing else can decide it. It is in vain to present a plausible argument in favor of the doctrine. It is altogether a question of fact. Is it so or is it not so? Let us have the testimony of a competent witness, and then we shall have a basis for certainty, and not till then.
We have foreseen an objection which may have arisen in the minds of some with regard to the Bible or any other book being received for all coming time as a sufficient revelation. While admitting the force of our argument for the necessity of miracles, some may contend that miracles could only satisfy those by whom they were witnessed, and that the argument which proves their necessity at all, proves the necessity of their repetition from age to age.
We would remark in reply, that the question, whether miracles, have been wrought in attestation of certain declarations with regard to the revelations and destiny of man, is entirely one of historical evidence. If, therefore, we can have satisfactory historical evidence on the question, whether such a man as Julius Cæsar lived, conquered, usurped the supreme power at Rome, and was assassinated by Brutus and others; then is it possible by the same kind of evidence, to settle satisfactorily the question, whether such a person as Jesus Christ lived, made certain declarations, taught certain doctrines, wrought miracles, was crucified and rose from the dead. If then it is possible to become convinced that we have the teachings of such a being, we may be satisfied with them as a revelation.
But the difficulty vanishes, if we consider the true relation of a depraved and darkened mind to a system of revealed religion. A revelation, from the very nature of the mind, is necessarily progressive; for the plain reason, that the mind of the human race is progressive. The utterance of revealed truth must, therefore, be adapted to the stage of progress, in which it finds the human race at the time when it appeals to them for acceptance. Othertherwise the sublimest revelations might pass as the idle wind, finding no response to their deep and vast import in any human breast. "Thus the human mind at one stage of development, may need miracles to enforce those very truths, which afterwards are seen in their own unaided light, and carry home conviction by their own inherent power. Such, we doubt not, is the manner in which many sublime moral truths have in past ages gained access to the human mind.
Again, those truths which are at first received on the ground of miraculous testimony, become the instruments of progress, by which the human mind is elevated to a position from which reason is able not only to grasp these truths themselves, but others still higher in the scale of progress. Thus, in a system of revealed religion, truth is passing by a constant transition from the province of miraculous testimony to that of reason. And here, it seems to us, is the true cause why so many have denied the necessity of miracles. In the pride of their reason, they deny both the necessity and the possibility of miracles, because, forsooth, their own minds readily apprehend and receive without miracles, truths which are alledged to have been originally communicated to man through miraculous testimony. They reflect not, that those miracles which they deride have been the instruments of elevating them to that lofty stand-point, from which they presume to look with contempt on the superstitions and credulity of past ages:
It follows, therefore, that miracles will come to an end, when their necessity ceases to exist ;-i. e. when all the great truths, which man needs to know are safely lodged within the human mind, and when our race has reached such a stage of development, that these truths will be securely held within the grasp of reason. Such, we conceive, has been the attitude of the human race since the time of Jesus and His apostles.
[In giving place to the following interesting review, we by no means intend to endorse the peculiar views of Madam Guyon or of her admirers, on certain doctrines involved in her experience, and seemingly taught in her writings. The characteristics of this work, the auspices under which it is introduced to the public, and the signs anu tendencies of the age, warrant the belief, that it is destined to exert no little influence on the piety and character of the Christian church, for good or for evil, at no distant day. There stand connected with it subjects of vast and vital importance, which must be met—which are forced upon the attention and anxious inquiry of those who are praying for the regeneration of our world, in new aspects and relations, by every evolution of the great wheel of Providence. There is much in these volumes to interest, to instruct, to incite to holy living, with no little that may mislead and injure certain minds. They need criticism, kind, yet searching and faithful. Whether our reviewer is not too sparing our readers must judge. It is not our object at present to affirm the right or wrong of his views, but simply to present them to the reader.-Ed.] LIFE AND WRITINGS OF MADAME GUYON.
By Rev. HENRY T. CHEEVER, New York. Life and Religious Opinions and Experience of Madame De La Mothe Guyon: Together with some account of the Personal History and Religious Opinions of Fenelon, Archbishop of Cambray. By THOMAS C. ÚPLAM, Professor of Mental and Moral Philosophy in Bowdoin College. In two vols. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1847 : pp. 380 and 431. These volumes make their appearance as the legitimate de