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to unite together in the true spirit of Christian charity and Christian love, and one and all to endeavour to agree upon some adequate plan for the universal education of the people.


No. VI.


The progress of our argument, in support of the Divine origin of Christianity, has now brought us to a point at which it becomes necessary that we should turn our attention to a consideration of the Christian Miracles, which are to many minds the one great and unfailing proof, which, beyond all else, gives authority to the teachings of Jesus; while to other persons they present a perpetual difficulty and stumbling block, almost powerful enough to make them prefer to give up Christianity altogether, rather than to receive with it these supernatural occurrences so closely intertwined with its early records.

There seems to have been much unnecessary difficulty made, and a good deal of needless mystery affected on this subject. Viewed in itself, apart from perplexing doubts and entangling questions, it is simple. We have certain ancient writings, which we call the four Gospels. We have sufficient evidence, as has been shown in former papers of this series, to convince us that these writings are some of them the work of those who shared in and witnessed the events they record, and some of them of those who were intimately connected with such eye-witnesses. We have every reason, from the character of their works, to think that they tell the truth, and to believe what they say. They profess to narrate the actions and teachings of a certain individual whom they call Jesus Christ, and they say that this Teacher inculcated the principles of action and feeling which their writings ascribe to Him, and worked certain miracles as a proof that His doctrines were communicated to Him by God.

Now, the first question which comes before us is this: Does the fact that the Gospels contain the record of miracles prove them not to be credible histories? It has been said, The idea of a miracle, of a departure from the uniform working of nature's laws, is so totally opposed to experience, that the narrative which professes to record such a thing thereby proves its own want of foundation. But, it is scarcely requisite to point out the folly and dogmatism of going to the examination of an ancient writing, and saying, before

hand, if it tells me what I have never myself witnessed I will not believe it. This is what we do if we settle that miracle is impossible, and argue that the Gospels cannot be true records because they narrate miracles; for who can set limits to God's power, or determine that His agency must always necessarily follow the same uniform course of operation as that which we behold? He who gives us life, can restore it after it has been for days suspended. He who rules the winds and waves, can, momentarily, from a storm produce a calm. He who breathes into man the inspiration of understanding, can restore reason to the maniac, at any moment when His wisdom sees fit to do so. There is no reason then, a-priori, from the nature of the case, and apart from all evidence to pronounce miracles impossible. All that we can reasonably require, is that there should be strong proofs of their reality; and these we have. We have already proved that the Gospels are the work of those who could not be mistaken, and that they honestly record the impressions produced on their own minds; we now see that the " supernatural" part of the Record is no evidence of the want of substantial correctness in the whole of it, and we therefore may conclude that what the Gospels declare to have happened did really happen.

Jesus Christ then did really go about in the Holy Land, more than 1800 years ago, preaching glad tidings to repentant sinners, rebuking hypocrisy and checking sin, warning the careless of an approaching judgment, consoling the weary with offers of rest and peace, teaching men to see in one another brethren, and to look up to God, as their universal Father. The events of which we so often read, and of which we perhaps think more as if they were some beautiful fiction, or the echo of some marvellous tradition, borne hither from the far off Eastern clime, than as if they were true, strict, exact history; these events all happened. The widow who wept behind the bier of her only son, when he was being carried out to be buried, did receive him again, alive, and strong, from the Master's hand. The man who had been blind from his birth, did learn what there is of beauty and wonder in the visible universe, when Jesus gave him sight. The sorrowful sisters, who stood by their brother's grave, did see him come forth from the tomb at the summons of the Christ, The crucifixion, the resurrection, the ascension are facts, significant in themselves, beautiful and interesting in imagination, and powerful because they are


Thus the miracles are so interwoven with every part of the history of Jesus, that you must receive them as true, if you believe that there is any truth in any part of the Gospels. So receiving them, as simple, plain, unvarnished accounts of what really did take place, what effect will they have on our minds; how will they affect our estimate of the Christian Religion; what light will they throw on the teachings of him who performed them?

In reply to such questions, it is sometimes said, "the miracles, however true they are, do not, and cannot prove the truth of doctrines, or give force to moral exhortations. There is no logical connection, between a truth and a miracle; for a teacher to restore sight to the blind, does not prove him to have any peculiar knowledge about God, or any enlightened views about duty. The presence of Deity is not more manifested in the restoration of life to the dead, than in the continuance of life to the living. There is as much to wonder at, as much to show that God is here, in all the natural world around us, and in our own bodies and souls, as in any of the miracles recorded in the New Tes tament."

This argument, however plausible in itself, depends entirely on a misapprehension of the meaning of the word miracle. It is no wonder that God should restore sight, or hearing, or strength, or life to any human being; it is no wonder that God should still the raging tempest, or should increase a few loaves and fishes till they were enough for the multitude. It is quite true, that these acts do not prove any especial presence of God; in Him we all live, and move, and have our being. Every leaf that rustles in the breeze, every flower that perfumes the gale, every insect that glit ters in the sunshine, proves His agency to be at work, as much as the cure of the diseased, or the resurrection of the dead. But the most wonderful act of Divine power, if unaccompanied by any human instrumentality, is not a miracle; we do not give this name to any occurrence, however much it may differ from the common order of God's operations, which happens without any human being fortelling it. This is the essence of a miracle, that a man should be able to know the exact moment when this uncommon act of Divine power will be exerted. Thus, to take an example; here is a man, now arrived at middle life, who has been blind from his infancy; God could at any time give him sight. We should not call it a miracle if the blind man were

suddenly to be able to see; but, Jesus Christ declares the exact moment when it is to take place. As soon as he speaks, God acts, and this power in the man to foresee the intentions of the Deity, is the wonder, and constitutes the peculiarity of the case.

A miracle then is AN EXTRAORDINARY AND UNUSUAL ACT OF DIVINE POWER, EXACTLY FORETOLD BY A HUMAN BEING. The fact that it is extraordinary and unusual, is enough to prove that it could not be foretold by any lucky guess, and the acquaintance displayed by the man, who is commonly said to work the miracle, with the intentions of the Divine Mind, proves that there must be some close and intimate communication between them, and therefore gives authority to all the teachings, and sanction to all the doctrines, which proceed from him.



For there can be no close and intimate connection and communion between God and Man, without the human mind being thereby purified and enlightened, and the human conC science quickened; and doctrines of superior power and high truth, and precepts of surpassing excellence must be the result. From the miracles, then, we conclude that Jesus Christ was the inspired messenger of God. The exact meaning of this word inspired, must be remembered, in order that we may properly understand all that is involved in the assertion. man, who is anxious to do his duty, finds that the more he succeeds in performing it, the more pure from defilement and free from sin he is, the greater support and comfort does he derive from the exercise of prayer. The wicked man loses the power of prayer; the thoroughly corrupt and depraved canpray, he may utter the words, but he cannot have the feelings, which really constitute the act. Thence we may perceive that the better any one becomes, the more fervent will be his prayers, the closer his communion. Jesus Christ was without sin, pure from all guile. His communion with God was therefore far closer and more intimate, than that any other man has ever been; by this communion, God gave him knowledge, feelings, thoughts, such as can flow only from Deity, and thus Jesus was inspired Through him, therefore, we draw nigh to God. Our sins and impurities unfit us to receive, as immediate communications, as he received; we have forfeited the inspiration, which might have been ours had we prepared for it as he did; but we can learn from him; we can derive from his teachings, as recorded in the New Testament, a knowledge of God, as our Father, and a per


ception of His will concerning us; we can study his character as a model for our imitation, and thus let him exercise a spiritual influence over us, such as he would have had if we had been with him when he was on earth.

If we bow to the spirit of the Gospel as the perfection of human progress on earth, if we make its teachings the daily support for our spiritual life, if we found our ideas of God, and man, and duty, and futurity, on the words of Christ, in their general scope and bearing, not in the letter of any one particular passage, then we receive Christianity, and show our faith in it as being of Divine origin.



M. D. W.

JULY is generally the month of heat and sunshine. The landscape generally looks warm and dry, and the pastures brown. The foliage of trees is rich, the majestic trees seem filled with a soft shadowy twilight. July is the great haymaking month. The mower goes forth before sunrise, that, 'ere the day's burning heat begins, his toil may be mainly performed. Accompany him. See the charm of a July morning. Go out before sunrise.

"All is so still, so sweet in earth and air,

You scarce would start to meet a spirit there."

The whole landscape is soft and clear, the air cool and refreshing, the scent of the hay from the fields and slopes around embalms the passing zephyr. The sun is at length about to rise. The dews feel the coming radiance, and ascend (as we call it) by anticipation. At length one streaming pencil of golden light appears in the horizon. The dewdrops sparkle as gems at your feet. By and bye, half the sun's disc is above the horizon, fields here and there receive his beams and lay like sheets of burnished gold; the eastern windows of the cottages in the West glare with rich reflection, every pane beams and blazes like a beacon fire, the trees as well as buildings also appear in golden light on their eastern sides. The fogs are dispersed, except here and there they may be seen lingering ever the currents of rivers and streams; the woods, the fields, the streams all appear rich with the sun's rays, looking vigorous, and rising as if from repose, "like giants refreshed with new wine." Then the cottage chimneys begin to send up their curling smoke, the farmer and labourer are seen taking forth the cattle, and all gradually begin the toils of the day.

One of the most remarkable things now, is the silence of the birds. July and August are called the mute months. With the exception of

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