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live. In common with all Scripture, and in a more than ordinary degree, they will be found profitable “for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”.”
Thus, regarded merely in an historical view, -as the recorded employment of our Saviour while on earth,—they are eternal monuments of his benevolence, and pledges of his power as well as disposition, to “help us in time of needs.” Though engaged in a work of what we might think absorbing importance,—no less than the sacrifice of himself for the welfare of our immortal souls,—he could still stoop to sympathise with the comparatively trifling sorrows of humanity, and make even the demonstration of his power subservient to the demonstration of his goodness. It had been as easy for him,it had as fully attested the authority which he claimed, had he visited a perverse race with the terrors of his just displeasure, not “crowned them with his tender merciest.” But his was no mission of war and death to the unbeliever. Jesus, the Saviour, the author of
peace on earth, and good-will towards men", came “not to destroy men's lives, but to save them !” “Despised and rejected of men?," he still “went about continually doing good® ;”
2 Tim. iii. 16.
3 Hebr. iv. 16.
4 Ps. ciii. 4.
and possessed as he was of omnipotence, that power was never wielded save for the welfare and comfort of mankind.
Nor did his marvellous works of mercy cease with his departure from earth. Though no longer personally present to “manifest forth his gloryl” in the extension of our worldly comforts, or the removal of our bodily diseases, we know that our High Priest, "touched with a feeling of our infirmities,” still “careth for uso.” The same divine power, which was then employed upon external nature, still “doeth wondrously4” in that spiritual world, the heart of
And the miracles,—for they are no less,which he now performs, transcend in value his terrestrial ones, as much as the soul is more valuable than the body. Every regenerate sinner is a more astonishing example of the infinite power and mercy of God, than was Lazarus raised from the dead.
And this suggests another view in which the miracles may be regarded. Many of them convey a typical allusion to our Lord's perpetual agency in the administration of the Gospel scheme of salvation. He is “the blessed Sun of righteousness, who arose with healing in his wings,” to dispense health not only to the
John ii. 11.
1 Peter v. 7. 5 Matt. iv. 2.
? Hebr. iv. 15.
diseases of the body, but to the far more dangerous diseases of the soul. If he furnished marvellous supplies of food to men, while sojourning with them, he is also “the living bread that cometh down from Heaven," which if any man eat he shall live for ever.” If he raised the dead, we are assured that he is “the Resurrection and the Life; and that he that believeth in him, though he be dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth, and believeth in him, shall never die?.” In this way his miracles were adapted to elucidate the doctrines which they confirmed,—to represent by significant emblems, the workings of that dispensation, which they were primarily employed to introduce.
This is the subject which is proposed for the following Essay, and the consideration of which, not without diffidence, we now approach : for, (from the terms of the question prescribed,) the investigation necessarily lies in apicibus :are called
called upon to determine the landmarks between the figurative and literal senses ; and upon ground so slippery and uncertain,where error too is so dangerous,—the wisest is but too apt to stumble, and it becometh the inexperienced to “take good heed lest he fall 8.”
* John vi. 51.
7 Ibid. xi. 25.
8 1 Cor. x. 12.
In prosecuting an inquiry “ how far Saviour's Miracles are typical of the nature of the Christian dispensation, we have said, the principal difficulty lies in the words “ how far.” That some of the miracles convey a spiritual sense, is incontrovertibly established by our Saviour's having himself vouchsafed the interpretation of them. But, whether this method of construction should be extended to all, or where we are to stop;—and whether, or how far the accessaries of the miracle are to be regarded as forming a legitimate portion of the type,—are questions, with regard to which we have but little light to guide our enquiries. And, as the only sure and infallible guide to the discovery of divine truth is Scripture, instead of embarking at once without a pilot on a voyage of conjecture and uncertainty, our wisest course will be, in the first place, to examine carefully all those passages in our Lord's history, where any information is afforded us on the subject'. We shall thus be better qualified to enter, in the second place, on the investigation of the principles upon which this branch of Scriptural exposition ought to be conducted.
To this similarity of subject, we beg the reader to ascribe the sameness of expression which unavoidably pervades a portion of our Essay.
I. As the greater proportion of Christ's miracles consisted in the removal of bodily disease, the analogy between spiritual and corporeal cures will frequently come under consideration. This analogy is followed out with some particularity: different diseases of the body find their parallels in different phases of spiritual depravation. But the subject may be appropriately introduced by the consideration of a case, in which, though a specific malady was removed, our Lord contents himself with intimating the general typical relation between sin and bodily infirmities, in their origin, nature, and cure.
Matthew ix. 2. “ And behold they brought to him a man sick of the palsy lying on a bed; and Jesus, seeing their faith, said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee.” One of the grand doctrines preached by our Saviour was, that he was authorized by God to forgive sins. Now Adam, and through him his posterity, by his fall from a state of innocence, had become subject unto death, and all those distempers which are the precursors of it. Disease, therefore, being the punishment and consequence of sin,-and of all its effects, that which was most subject to the cognisance of men, and the removal of which could be most easily verified by them,—the most natural proof that our Lord could give of the possession of such a power, was the cure of this, its exter