Sivut kuvina



ning to sink, Jesus caught him and said, "O thou of little faith wherefore didst thou doubt?" And just before he summoned Lazarus from the grave, he made that remarkable declaration, "Whoso believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live, and whoso liveth and believeth in me shall never die." These various and emphatic passages certainly intimate very strongly the importance of faith to the miraculous effects produced by Jesus.

But how-in what sense was faith important. Was it that Jesus accounted it meritorious and that he wrought miracles only for the deserving? This idea is countenanced neither by true religion nor sound philosophy. It was for the unworthy that he lived and died. Not the righteous but sinners came he to call to repentance. Faith is not a merit, but a privilege, an exceeding great reward in itself. Was the demand for faith then an arbitrary requisition, a mere caprice, having no foundation in nature? So it must be esteemed-there is no other alternative-if no natural, vital connexion is supposable between it and those miracles to which it was so repeatedly pronounced preliminary. It is a divine trait of the words of Jesus that they express truths, facts, which, the more they are studied, are found to be not the creations of a solitary mind, but truths, existing from eternity. Hence he declared that his teaching was not his, but God's. It was not the offspring of his own mind. It was true independently of him. If it be supposed that, although he laid so much stress upon faith, it still was not naturally, essentially neces sary, that it sustained no natural relation to the effects to which he so frequently represented it as conditional, then there is no test of the truth of these declarations concerning faith, and they are undistinguishable from



the fictions of a mere human mind. I do not say that we must be able to trace the vital tie between faith and the miracles, but that we must suppose the requisition of faith to be based upon the existence of such a connexion. Otherwise, the requisition was purely arbitrary.

That faith was insisted upon, because it was, in the nature of things, a necessary condition of the miracles, is a conclusion urged upon us by all our observations of human nature. It is a universal law of our being that we must believe in our power before we can exercise it. Whatever force there is in us, depends for its developement upon faith. Before we can act we must believe in our own ability. And if we act feebly or wholly fail, it is not so much because power is wanting, as confidence. Men are continually surprised at the discovery of faculties in themselves, degrees of force, which they never dreamed they possessed, till some emergency, pressing on them the necessity of exertion, has created a sudden confidence in their own power. The sight of her child in peril has urged many a mother to superhuman efforts. Indeed very extraordinary and quite miraculous efforts have been produced in this way. Stimulated by unexpected circumstances, the mind has been made conscious of itself, awakened to a just self-confidence, by which it has been prompted to efforts so novel and great that it has deemed itself moved by a force not its own. A volume might be filled with well attested cases of instantaneous and astonishing cures thus wrought. It is needless to dwell upon this class of facts. They are familiar to all. They indicate the existence of unknown forces in the human mind, or, to express the fact in a different form, they show that such is the constitution of man, that, under certain conditions, the divine force may

[blocks in formation]

operate in and through him, in new ways and unprecedented degrees. No limits can be assigned to the demonstrations of power possible by faith.

The application of these remarks to the extraordinary effects produced by Jesus of Nazareth will appear upon a more particular examination of his miracles.





His language was action, and his action language."

THERE are about thirty different miracles recorded in the Gospels with more or less minuteness. A number no doubt occurred, which are not particularly mentioned, but not many. Here and there we meet with a general statement that Jesus healed all manner of sickness and went about working miracles. But if only as many actually took place as are particularly related, these general statements are perfectly natural. Were there an individual now living who had performed only a few wonderful works, he would be described as doing all sorts of marvels.

Upon an examination of the records, the impression is produced that the miracles of Jesus were more numerous at the commencement of his career than at any subsequent period. When he first came forth "in the power of the spirit,” and with full faith in his singular gifts, he used his power freely and without constraint. But he soon saw what a tremendous excitement

[blocks in formation]

it caused, an excitement, before which he was compelled once and again to retire and hide himself for a while in the wilderness. He never appears anxious for opportunities of displaying his divine powers. And here is a general feature of his character as a doer of miracles, which is unspeakably impressive. Not only was there in his manner nothing of the air of an exhibiter, he showed no undue solicitude to exercise his gifts and vindicate his mission. His benevolence, active and comprehensive as it was, never betrayed him into excess in the use of his power. He always employs it with entire simplicity and naturalness, like all his other faculties. The harmony of his nature, a nature composed of rare and new elements, is most wonderful.

But leaving all general remarks, I proceed to consider some of his miracles somewhat at length.


After the delivery of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus descended, followed by "great multitudes." He had previously wrought wonders, as we learn from the 4th chapter of Matthew. He was met on this occasion by a man suffering under the terrible disease of leprosy. The leper addressed him, "Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. Jesus put forth his hand and touched him, saying, 'I will: Be thou clean.' And immediately his leprosy vanished."

To form any thing like an adequate picture of this incident, we must bring into view that immense crowd, heaving like a sea under the emotions of wonder and awe which Jesus, the central figure, had awakened. The exalted idea which every individual of that throng had of him was magnified, and rendered vivid and

« EdellinenJatka »