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his arguments.* No one, then, can deny that this question of the supernatural in Scripture, assumed as it usually is among the indispensable conditions of a rational belief in divine communications to the human soul, does present very considerable difficulties, on more sides than one, to those who wish to examine it candidly and with openness to conviction. At the same time, it does appear to us, after long and anxious and repeated consideration of the subject, quite impossible, by any critical or exegetical process, altogether to eliminate from the history of Christ the traces of some mysterious power, which transcends the ordinary working of human nature; for they cleave to the minutest fibres of the texture of the narrative; and, on the other hand, to reconcile the imputation of such traces to intentional fabrication, with the indisputable evidence of moral earnestness and rectitude of intention in the writers of the New Testament. Between the horns of this dilemma the solution of the problem is suspended. With Ewald we are fully prepared to believe, that God originally endowed the human nature, which he had selected and predestined for the accomplishment of his highest purposes, with unique and extraordinary powers; that these powers, derived from the fundamental laws of all being, and cherished by most intimate communion with the Eternal Fountain of Life, controlled to a certain extent laws that were subsequent to them in the order of creation, and produced effects which arrested the attention of gross and unreflecting multitudes, and sealed as it were with a supplementary sanction that spoke to the outward sense, doctrines which carried their own authority with them by selfevidencing light, when they had been once admitted into the mind; that it was the vivid remembrance of such powers which formed the supernatural substratum of the gospel history, and meeting with and exciting a previous disposition to find the marvellous in everything relating to the Christ, developed unconsciously and in perfect good faith some traditions of his character and history into a shape that must be distinguished from the fact or thought which suggested it. But the wonderful personality of an actual historical Jesus must be assumed as the living centre of this whole system of belief, or we have an effect without a cause. In the idiosyncrasy of every individual, however humble and unnoticeable, there is something which is properly his own and cannot be communicated; and there is nothing beyond our belief in the supposition, that out of the endless combinations of which the
Essay on the Miracles recorded in the Ecclesiastical History of the Early Ages. By John Henry Newman, B.D., Fellow of Oriel College, Oxford. 1843
elements of human nature are susceptible, especially in their relation with things spiritual and divine, God may have bestowed on Jesus of Nazareth an idiosyncrasy unapproachable by any other inember of our ruce. Instead, therefore, of assuming that any one of the three theories which have been mentioned, suffices of itself to explain all the difficulties of the question of the miraculous in Scripture, we best meet perhaps all the conditions of the case, by admitting that there is an element of truth in each of them; that there are some narrations, for example, in the Bible--as that of the passage of the Red Sea, and the similar one of the first crossing of the Jordan under Joshua—which may, with great probability, be reduced under the old rationalistic mode of interpretation, as exhibiting a common fact made wonderful by the natural exaggeration of tradition; some, again, like the temptation, and perhaps the transfiguration of Jesus, which must be regarded as mythic or symbolical embodiments of a certain idea or belief; and, lastly, others, such as the innumerable instances of healing and restorative power, described in the New Testament, which allow of no unforced explanation that excludes the presence of some energy above what is ordinarily possessed by man. The recognition of the mythic element is in some respects a relief to the thoughtful, serious reader of the Scriptures; for many statements which are painful and embarrassing, while we are compelled to accept them as historical facts, appear in a very different light, and become pleasing and instructive, as soon as we permit ourselves to regard them as a display of that natural symbolism in which the popular mind, in all ages and countries, but especially in the East, has been accustomed to express its deepest feelings and thoughts.
From what we have now said, it will be evident that we do not dispute the possibility of what exceeds the known and ordinary laws of nature, as a fact in the religious history of mankind. Nevertheless we must observe, that both in a philosophical and in a religious point of view, those deep, imperishable instincts of our nature, which through all the phases of human development have clung to a belief in the supernatural, are unspeakably more significant and interesting than the clearest diplomatic proof which documents could yield, of the few insulated facts which, at a given time and place, may outwardly and visibly have satisfied them. The universal presence of such instincts, under some form or other, in humanity, implies beyond all reasonable doubt (unless we assume that our nature is, at bottom, mendacious), that there must be some objective reality corresponding to them; though the intensity of the feelings which they excite, may sometimes fail to discern where it lies, or look for it in the wrong direction; and though the doctrines heaped on them, when not duly checked and guided by a scientific reason, may run up into wild and fantastic shapes : the question here is not as to the rationality of the form, which it is the business of progressive education to correct, but as to the reality of the substance. The facts of history are always open to criticism, and to those who learn them by tradition can never exceed a certain amount of probability; but the ceaseless and manifold working of these inherent instincts leaves an indelible impress on humanity, in which the philosophic eye may discern with undiminished evidence from age to age its hidden affinities and the secret of its destiny. The strong and unalterable belief of the first generation of Christians, affecting their whole subsequent course of life, affords convincing proof, that they must have received what appeared to them an unequivocal token of Christ's actual resurrection from the dead : and not only is the evidence of their belief more clear and certain than that of the historical fact which was its subject, but it is of more value to us, and of far wider application ; for at once, by its own intensity and by the deep response of sympathy which it has called forth in the hearts of subsequent believers, it witnesses, expresses, and strengthens that dim but deep and inextinguishable sense of immortality, which, next to the trust in a righteous Providence, is one of the closest and most inseparable adjuncts of our being. It is a curious fact, which the historian and the philologist cannot overlook, and which must be embraced in any comprehensive philosophy of religion, that universally with every great development or revival of religious belief, from the commencement of the Christian church down to the most recent phenomena of the present day (and the remark might be extended, we believe, to the history of heathenism), we find associated some assertion of the manifestation of powers similar in kind to those which the first preachers of the gospel are said to have exercised. We are as yet only in the commencement of a true religious psychology; the subject must be traced down to far deeper principles, and surveyed from a wider point of view. We do not think that any one is at present entitled to dogmatise either on the positive or on the negative side of the question. Reverent caution and suspension of hasty judgment constitute the suitable frame of mind for approaching it. While we cannot admit, that the most clearly attested miracle would of itself prove the divine authority of a doctrine (for no impression on the outward sense can have any effect on the inward law of truth and right), and utterly dissent from those who lay miracle on the threshold of the Church of Christ, and demand
the acceptance of it as a condition of admission, we have as little sympathy with the cavillers, who treat all affirmation of the supernatural as the certain evidence of fraud or folly, who assume their competence to judge the deep, unsearchable ways in which God conducts the mysterious relations of things visible and invisible, and close their eye without further inquiry to what may prove after all the brightest side of the divine economy of things.
But it is time to draw these general observations to a conclusion. There is no feature in Ewald's work more refreshing than his hearty recognition of the historical reality and spiritual value of the person of Christ-so different from the mythical phantoms which recent theories have made to pass over the earliest scene of our religious history. Christ is with bim a living man, who descended with patience and humility into the dark depths of human weakness and suffering, that he might regenerate them by the spirit which he brought from God. We have the outer life of Christ in the first three gospels; the inner is revealed to us in that of John; and in both, the image exhibited, though essentially identical, and thus proclaiming its conformity to historical truth, is tinged perceptibly with the hues of admiring recollection and deep subjective sympathy. Yet the very extent to which the evangelical conception of the inner and outer life of Christ has been modified by wonder and love, is itself a measure of its vast moral power, and of the profound impression which it left behind it in the inmost life of others. The character of the effect, so conspicuous in the spirit of the early church, indicates the quality of the cause.
We regret that want of space will not allow us to cite some passages from Ewald's book, in which he eloquently expresses his religious veneration for Christ's person and work, and one in particular, where he has given an admirable description of the matter and style of his teaching. (pp. 186—188.)
The innumerable “Lives and Histories of Jesus Christ" which have issued during the last half century from the prolific press of Germany, each putting its own interpretation on the statements of the gospels, and exhibiting every variety of conclusion, from the grossest literalism of the orthodox school to the thinnest rarefaction of the mythic theory, are calculated on a first view to produce a painful impression on the mind, as though the whole question were involved in hopeless uncertainty, and not one solid fact would be left as the residuum of this critical analysis. But this searching process could not be evaded: the result is daily showing more clearly how muchand that of the most precious quality-remains, which is unassailable ; and, as a permanent benefit, we shall be able henceforth to discriminate more exactly the actual and the ideul in the primitive documents of Christianity, and to found on that distinction a truer and more satisfactory system of scriptural interpretation. What is more important still, men must be weaned, as the approved results of modern learning become more widely known, from their servile worship of the minutest details of the historical letter, to a profounder and more genial appreciation of the spiritual worth of Christianity. The unanswerable argument for this religion, which has carried conviction to the hearts of good men in all ages, is its adaptation to the wants and longings of the human soul. Humanity yearns after a redeemer, a reconciler, a sanctifier-a Christ who should fulfil its highest conceptions of spiritual excellence; for the heart is silently transformed into the image which it habitually loves and reveres. Christianity rests on a broader and stabler basis than technical theologians have arbitrarily assigned it. It has its roots in the depths of our moral being. It is not a fact sui generis, cut off from all living affinity with the general conditions of human nature; but it stands out from the page of history as the highest expression of man's inherent and imperishable religiousness. But then its very essence involves belief in a personal God, a historical Christ, an individual and immortal soul.
We have a greater dread of the temporary ascendency of a philosophy which impugns these fundamental truths, than of the freest historical criticism exercised on the narratives of the New Testament. To us the pantheistic basis of Strauss's “Leben Jesu" is far more painful and offensive than its mythic superstructure. On this point we subscribe entirely to the words of Neander, in the preface to the third edition of his “Life of Jesus Christ.” (p. 25.)
" In our view, this is no longer a contest between an older and a newer mode of conceiving Christianity, but between Christianity and a form of human culture in every respect opposed to it. We cannot otherwise describe it than as a contest between Christian theism and the principle which deifies the world and self-a principle, which from a certain relative necessity in the history of theological and philosophical rationalism, must first express itself in its whole extent, in order to be completely overcome by the power of Christian truth in the natural development of life and thought."
The day of reasoning and criticism will cease when they have done their work; and the great fact of Christianity, neither exaggerated nor depreciated by hostile factions, will preserve uncontested its true place and significance in the